Florida exodus? Statistics show
residents starting to leave for less costly locales
By Paul Owers
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted January 11, 2007
For the first time in 30 years, United Van
Lines Inc. says it moved more people out of Florida than in, and analysts
see that as a sign that consumers are looking elsewhere for a cheaper
slice of life.
The nation's largest moving company reported 16,212 inbound shipments to
Florida last year and 17,019 outbound shipments. United moved more people
to Florida in each year from 1999 to 2004, but the number of inbound moves
fell in 2005, spokeswoman Jennifer Bonham said.
The study isn't scientific, but it does underscore a recent trend in which
fed-up Floridians are moving to other parts of the country, in part to
escape rising property taxes and insurance rates.
United's report shows that North Carolina, Oregon and South Carolina were
the top destination states in 2006. Michigan, hit hard by automobile
industry layoffs, North Dakota and New Jersey were the states that saw the
most people leave.
The housing boom brought more people to the Sunshine State at the start of
the decade, but the run-up in home values during the past five years sent
property-tax rates soaring. Many residents now say they can't afford to
move elsewhere in Florida because of the huge hit they'd take on taxes.
What's more, busy hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005 led to massive rate
hikes from the state's largest home insurance companies.
"It all just pushed us past the breaking point," David Levin, a Delray
Beach-based housing consultant, said Wednesday.
A couple of years ago, Paul Mount saw an early-morning infomercial about
cheap land in Tennessee. He and his wife ultimately moved there from
Wellington in July 2005.
They live in a log-cabin home on two acres near Chattanooga. In
Wellington, their property taxes were $9,300 a year; their tax bill in
Tennessee is $1,100.
The threat of hurricanes, rising utility rates and the cost of homeowner
insurance also convinced the couple that they should leave Florida.
"We just got tired of it," said Mount, 52, a former Broward County
sheriff's deputy. "Everything is financial. The state of Florida is just
Recent U.S. census figures show that Florida gains 1,000 people a day
while losing 400, said Grant Thrall, a professor of business geography at
the University of Florida. But some residents clearly are reconsidering
because of the cost of living and other factors, Thrall said.
"People move to where their well-being is going to be the greatest," he
said. "Many people find the urban-built environment of Florida totally
As Floridians struggle with housing affordability and wages that have not
kept pace with the cost of living, other states are aggressively trying to
capture the Northeast migration that Florida once relied on for its
growth, said Levin, the Delray Beach housing consultant.
"They're eating our lunch," he said.
Although Florida remains attractive compared with cold-weather states, "it
is losing some of its luster," said Charles Longino, a Wake Forest
University professor who studies the exodus of Florida senior citizens to
United Van Lines, based in suburban St. Louis, has tracked shipment
patterns on a state-by-state basis since 1977. Its 2006 study is based on
227,254 interstate household moves among the 48 contiguous states and
Paul Owers can be reached at email@example.com or 561-243-6529.