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Hawaii or Florida: Where Should You Retire?

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
If you're getting ready for retirement, one of the most important decisions you need to make is where you're going to live. Will you continue to stay in your current home, or is it your dream to retire somewhere warm?

Retirees have historically been drawn to tropical environments because milder temperatures tend to be easier on the body and the spirit. If you relocate to a warmer climate, there'll be no more shoveling snow or nervously walking along icy sidewalks. There'll be no more winter blues, and no more isolation due to winter weather conditions. You'll be able to walk around outside any day of the year, and be more independent because of it.

In addition to seeking gentler weather, people also yearn to fulfill a lifelong dream. We associate the word 'paradise' with warm breezes, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and a laidback lifestyle. This utopian vision of life is what many of us have been working for all these years. In fact, many people find that retirement is the first opportunity to truly go after one's dreams, so now's the time to go after your idea of paradise.

Two of the most popular retirement destinations in the United States include Southwest Florida and Hawaii. Both offer mild climates, amazing views, and gorgeous beachfront. Their waters are warm and brightly colored, their sands are white and powdery, and they offer summer-like temperatures nearly all year long.

SW Florida and Hawaii are similar upon first glance, but how does a retiree choose which one to go with? It all truly depends on what you're looking for in terms of living costs and real estate values, geography and climate, business and medical services, amenities, and lifestyle.

Real Estate Values & Cost of Living

The cost of living in Southwest Florida is definitely cheaper than in Hawaii. Staples such as food and gas are priced higher on the islands because most things need to be shipped there. By its very nature as an island state, Hawaii is cut off from the rest of the country, so many items cost more.

Hawaii is renowned for having some of the most expensive real estate in the country, though there are more affordable properties like condominiums and older homes available as well. If you're planning to buy a home right on the beach, be prepared to pay a mint for it.

Florida has its share of multi-million dollar houses as well, and like Hawaii, waterfront property in Florida is quite expensive. There are however, properties available at more price points in the Sunshine State. Groceries, gas, and other basic costs of living are more on par with the rest of the nation as well.

In terms of real estate values, the Florida housing market is one of the worst affected in terms of foreclosures. There are deals to be had if you're a buyer, but sellers are having a tough time offloading their homes. Hawaiian property values haven't been affected nearly as much by foreclosures, and properties there continue to sell.

Geography & Climate

Southwest Florida is a sunbather's dream. Temperatures stay quite mild throughout the winter, but can be unbearably hot and humid in the summer.

In Hawaii however, temperatures remain fairly consistent all year long—usually in the mid-70s. There's also a wonderful breeze that keeps residents feeling comfortable even in the warmest months.

In terms of geography, Florida is quite flat and somewhat uninteresting as soon as you move away from the water. Hawaii, on the other hand, features wonderful mountains and gorgeous scenery throughout. Florida is also more vulnerable to strong hurricanes that develop along the Gulf. Hawaii is not immune to storms, but their impact is usually less dramatic than along the Florida coast.

Services & Amenities

Hawaii has less stores and services than on the mainland, but all your needs can be taken care of on the island of Oahu. SW Florida will be more convenient simply in terms of the sheer variety of shopping, entertainment, and transportation options. Honolulu will also have pretty much everything you'd need, like you'd find in any large city.


Florida's cities are quite fast paced. The traffic is heavier, and people are bustling about. The lifestyle in Hawaii though, is pretty laidback. Business suits can be put away, and you can leave many of your stresses behind. The pace on Oahu is slower, and communities are more close-knit. One caveat however, is that some people get "island fever," and need to visit the mainland once in a while. The area can become a bit claustrophobic for some, so it's important to leave once or twice a year to gain clarity and renew your love for island life.


Florida is a wonderful retirement destination for many retirees. It's convenient and easy for family members to get to, with beautiful Gulf views, and a lower cost of living when compared to the islands. Hawaii is for those who can afford to pay a little bit more for their version of paradise. The people are friendly, the scenery incomparable, and the weather is among the most enviable in the world. It all depends on what's important to you. If you like city life, then Florida is perhaps the better bet. If you're looking to get away from it all, while still being within arm's reach of the services you need, the Hawaii is your golden ticket for retirement.

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