Florida has long been one of the top destinations for retirees, either those seeking to live there full time or the snowbirds who live up north during the summer and flock to Florida during the winter. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, however, many retirees are beginning to rethink that decision.
Florida’s summers may be hot and humid, but its winters are balmy, drawing travelers from all over the world. Many retirees relished the respite from cold, snowy winters and the relative lack of inclement weather. Until Hurricane Irma, popular retirement regions such as the Tampa Bay area hadn’t seen major hurricanes in almost a century. That lulled many into thinking of Florida as a safe haven, a paradise free from the weather worries that beset other areas.
Irma’s path through the state brought destruction and upheaval, destroying houses and farms, uprooting trees, and leaving millions of Florida residents without electricity. That led directly to the deaths of many nursing home residents who perished after their facility was left without air conditioning in the sweltering, humid summertime.
While the paths of future hurricanes will necessarily be difficult to forecast, just the likelihood of future storms is enough to cause many retirees to second-guess their decision to settle in Florida, and it’s likely to convince many soon-to-be retirees to think about retiring elsewhere.
The prospect of having not only to face a hurricane but also to have to rebuild after a hurricane is a daunting one for most people, but especially for the elderly who may not have the financial assets and the physical ability to rebuild. Other popular retirement destinations such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona will likely see greater influxes of retirees in the coming years, as they offer many similar warm-weather benefits as Florida, but without the same risk of hurricane damage.