In this article, I provide you with a moving to Florida checklist to help you navigate this significant life change. Learn the things to do before, during, and after you move to Florida.
My family and I recently move from Louisiana to Destin, Florida.
As a result, I navigated the nuances of moving to Florida firsthand.
From researching schools to overcoming the logistical challenges of moving, this article serves as a full moving guide fueled by my personal experience.
I share valuable tips and firsthand perspectives to ease your transition before, during, and after your move to the Sunshine State.
Here is a list of jump links to the main sections of this article to help you find the information you need quickly.
Pros and Cons of Moving to Florida
Every new place has its own set of pros and cons and Florida is no exception.
Before making the big move to a new state, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Florida..
- No State Income Tax: One of the biggest financial benefits of living in the state of Florida is the absence of personal income tax. This saves you a significant amount of money, especially if you’re coming from a state with high income tax.
- Diverse Housing Options: Depending on the city or town, Florida offers a wide range of housing options. These options range from beachfront condos to suburban homes.
- Year-Round Warm Weather: If you’re tired of dealing with snow and cold weather, moving to Florida might be the perfect solution. The state is known for its warm, tropical climate throughout the year.
- Great School System: Florida offers a variety of excellent public and private schools. These schools offer a quality education for children of all ages.
- Job Opportunities: Thriving economy with diverse job sectors.
- Outdoor Lifestyle: Abundant recreational activities such as pristine beaches, theme parks, and public parks.
- Natural Disasters: Hurricane season in Florida produces dangerous hurricanes and tropical storms. Make sure you get renter’s insurance or, if you decide to buy a home, your new home is adequately insured.
- High Humidity & Warmer Weather: Hot and humid weather can be challenging for some.
- Traffic Congestion: Urban areas may experience heavy traffic.
- Wildlife Challenges: Due to its warm, humid climate, Florida is known to have problems with pests. These pests include mosquitos, roaches, alligators, and even pythons.
- Property Tax and Insurance Costs: Homeowners insurance costs and property tax may be higher than other states.
- Tourist Crowds: Some of Florida’s popular destinations, such as Disney World and popular beaches, get crowded during peak tourist season.
Before You Move to Florida Checklist
My wife and I bought a house in Destin, Florida in 2012 and spent 3 to 4 months per year here since then.
As a result, my wife and I only needed to research schools and understand Florida taxes before moving to Florida.
- Research Parts of Florida
- Identify Neighborhoods
- Research Public Schools and School Districts
- Rent or Buy
- Understand Taxes
Research Parts of Florida
Before making the leap to the Sunshine State, research the best cities and regions in Florida.
South Florida offers cosmopolitan energy with its cultural melting pot.
Also, southern Florida includes popular cities such as Fort Myers, Key West, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Central Florida, centered around Orlando, offers a great place for theme park enthusiasts and families seeking entertainment.
On the West Coast of Central Florida lies Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg.
North Florida offers a more relaxed southern charm.
Cities like Jacksonville and Tallahassee offer coastal living with popular schools such as Florida State University.
The Gulf Coast, encompassing Pensacola and Destin, offers a coastal lifestyle with beautiful beaches and a laid-back atmosphere.
On the East Coast (Space Coast), technology and innovation meet coastal living to create a blend of opportunities.
Understanding the distinct characteristics of the best places in Florida will help you find the ideal place..
Estimate Cost of Living
The cost of living significantly varies from one new city to another in Florida.
It is a good idea to take time to estimate the cost of living in specific cities.
Consider factors like housing, groceries, healthcare, and transportation.
If applicable, consider the corporate income tax if you’re planning to start or move a business to Florida.
Search for a Job
If you’re not moving to Florida for a new job, you may need to find a job.
Florida offers a diverse job market with opportunities in various industries like tourism, healthcare, aerospace, and aviation.
Job search centers such as CareerSource Florida and Employ Florida connect old and young professionals with employers and explain labor laws.
Once you’ve pinpointed the region and zip code you prefer, identify the right neighborhood.
Consider factors such as safety, proximity to amenities, community atmosphere, and your daily commute when looking at a new neighborhood.
To use Destin, Florida as an example, neighborhoods like Crystal Beach offer a beachfront living experience with lots of tourists.
On the other hand, Kelly Plantation provides a more quiet, upscale, and golf-centric community.
Research local parks, school districts, and community centers to gauge each neighborhood.
Online platforms and local real estate agents provide valuable information.
While online research is beneficial, visiting the neighborhood is the best way to get a true feel for the area.
Spend a day or two to explore the area, check out local amenities, talk to locals, and get a feel for the community.
Research Public Schools and School Districts
Most importantly, you want your children to receive the best education available.
A great way for families to narrow down school choices is to thoroughly research public schools and school districts.
Investigate the academic curriculum, school’s performance history, extracurricular offerings, and overall reputation of schools in your chosen area.
Look into the school district’s policies, teacher-to-student ratios, and available educational resources.
Often times, online reviews and discussions with local parents provide the best advice.
Once you find a school, send the school records to make sure the transcripts transfer goes smoothly.
Rent or Buy
Deciding whether to rent or buy depends on your long-term plans, financial situation, and current housing costs.
Renting provides flexibility and allows you to experience an area with a permanent commitment.
Keep in mind, renting offers the best option for those who still own a current home in a different state.
In contrast, purchasing a home allows you to establish roots in an area with the potential long-term investment benefits.
As I mentioned, Florida’s general weather trends make homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance expensive.
Consider factors like your job stability, market trends, and personal preferences.
Ultimately, find a local real estate agent you trust to help you find the perfect home to buy or rent.
They provide invaluable information into the current real estate market and help you make the right choice.
Florida’s tax laws are important to understand before moving to Florida.
Florida does not have a state income tax.
However, property taxes, sales tax, tolls, homeowners insurance and other fees exist.
A consultation with a Florida tax professional offers an explanation of the different taxes in Florida to ensure a smooth move.
Moving To Florida Checklist
So, you made the decision to move to Florida and found the perfect place to live.
As a next step, use this moving checklist as your to-do list during the moving process..
- Create a Budget
- Declutter, Sell and Donate
- Inventory Everything to be Moved
- Pack and Box Everything
- Hire a Moving Company or Move Yourself
- Complete Change of Address
- Setup Utilities
- Change of Address on Credit Cards
Create a Moving Budget
The cost of moving to a new location quickly adds up.
As a result, it is important to create a budget before your move-in date approaches.
Include expenses such as packing materials, moving truck, storage unit cost, travel expenses, and add 15% to your final budget for unexpected expenses.
Declutter, Sell, and Donate
Although moving involves a lot of work, it provides an opportunity to declutter, make money, and start fresh.
Obviously, this reduces the amount of things you need to transport.
For example, I made roughly $4,000 by selling items I did not need before I moved to Florida.
This extra money paid for my moving costs and put some money in my pocket.
Additionally, I received a small tax deduction by donating items I could not sell to Goodwill and Vietnam Vets.
As a quick tip, use Facebook Marketplace to sell used items you no longer need.
Inventory Everything to be Moved
After you declutter, create a detailed inventory of all your things.
A detailed inventory not only helps track your belongings, but also serves as a safety net in the event of loss or damage during the move.
Next, categorize your items by room and include a brief description of each.
This inventory helps you stay organized when unpacking.
Pack and Box Everything
An efficient packing process helps with a smooth relocation.
As a quick tip, pack items you do not use often and progress to items you use everyday.
Utilize sturdy boxes, packing materials, and labels to organize your belongings systematically.
Fragile items should be wrapped securely, and boxes should be labeled with their contents and destination rooms.
If all family members follow the same packing process, unpacking will be more manageable.
Hire a Moving Company or Move Yourself
Deciding whether to hire a professional moving company or undertake a DIY move depends on various factors.
If time and convenience are priorities, hiring movers alleviate much of the physical and logistical stress.
However, moving yourself saves moving costs if you have the resources and time.
Weigh the pros and cons to make the best decision for you and your family.
In my situation, I chose the DIY approach when I moved from Louisiana to Florida for two main reasons:
- Distance: My home in Louisiana to my home in Florida is a 3.5 hour drive. This distance enabled me to make multiple trips back and forth to transport my stuff.
- Existing Home: I bought my home in Florida in 2012 and moved there permanently in 2022. Since my home in Florida was already furnished, I simply moved the items from Louisiana to a storage unit.
Complete Change of Address
To start your change of address, complete the following 3 tasks:
- Notify the post office of your new address by completing a change of address form online.
- Change your address on credit cards and bank accounts to avoid any disruptions in financial transactions.
- If applicable, change your address with your employer, government agency, or any other agency you receive money from.
As a quick tip, you may receive various discounts via email after you complete the USPS change of address form.
Once you complete these 3 tasks, your change of address for less important items can be done gradually.
Coordinate the setup of utilities well in advance of your move.
Arrange for the transfer or start of services such as electricity, water, gas, internet, and cable.
Contact utility providers in both your current and future locations to ensure a smooth transition.
Whether you buy or rent a home in Florida, setting up utilities makes sure your new Florida home is ready for occupancy.
After You Move to Florida
After you complete the long-distance move to Florida, you need to complete a series of steps to become a permanent Florida resident.
Establishing your permanent residence in Florida involves various steps beyond physically moving.
Below are the sequential steps I took to become a Florida resident:
- Complete a Declaration of Domicile
- Obtain a Florida Driver’s License
- Register to Vote
- Vehicle Registration
- File for Homestead Exemption
Complete a Declaration of Domicile
First, visit your county clerk of court office and file a Declaration of Domicile.
This document legally affirms your intent to make Florida your permanent home by declaring your residency status.
Ultimately, it serves as a formal statement that you consider Florida your primary place of residence, reinforcing your commitment to the state.
Obtain a Florida Driver’s License
First, your local Florida DMV serves as a one-stop shop for :
- Driver’s License
- Register to Vote
- Transfer Vehicle Registration
You must obtain a valid Florida driver license within 30 days of establishing residency to drive on Florida roads
To become a licensed Florida driver, you must gather the required important documents as listed on the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Additionally, you must take a vision test and pay a fee.
As a quick tip, I registered to vote in Florida at the same time I received my Florida Driver’s License.
Register to Vote
At the DMV, complete the voter registration process to have your voice heard in United States elections and Florida’s elections.
This involves submitting a voter registration application to the Supervisor of Elections in your county.
Once approved, you receive your voter registration card in the mail.
In my situation, transferring my vehicle registration to Florida was the most difficult task.
I hope the information I provide you helps make this moving to Florida checklist item easier for you.
Transferring your vehicle registration to Florida requires coordination with lien holders, insurance transfer, and documentation.
- Contact your insurance company and get a Florida insurance quote. Normally, this quote is valid for 30 days.
- If your vehicle has a lien, contact them to get instructions on transferring your vehicle to Florida. In my case, Toyota financial sent my title to the local DMV. Once the DMV received my vehicle title, they contacted me to visit their office and transfer the registration.
- If you have the title to your vehicle, gather your out-of-state title.
- Before you visit the DMV, verify you have all documents needed for a successful transfer.
- If applicable, download your car insurance app.
- Drive to the DMV.
- Before entering the DMV, contact your insurance company and activate your Florida insurance.
- Verify your Florida insurance card is updated in the app.
- Enter the DMV and provide proof of Florida insurance and payment for registration fees.
File for Homestead Exemption
Florida offers a Homestead Exemption to eligible residents, providing property tax relief on their primary residence.
Apply for this exemption with the county property appraiser’s office where your new home is located.
Make sure you meet the criteria to benefit from potential tax savings on your Florida home.
Moving Supply Checklist
In addition to the moving checklists, these moving supplies made my move to Florida much easier.Boxes
Labels and Markers
Basic Tool Kit
Furniture Moving Wooden Dolly
First Aid Kit
Free Checklist Download
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In conclusion, I hope this moving to Florida checklist helps you before, during, and after your move to Florida.
By using this checklist, you set the stage for a fulfilling and enjoyable new life in the Sunshine State.
And finally, welcome to Florida!