A boomer moved back to Virginia after living in Florida for a decade. She says she'll 'never own another home' in the Sunshine State and loves the slower pace of life.

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A boomer moved back to Virginia after living in Florida for a decade. She says she'll 'never own another home' in the Sunshine State and loves the slower pace of life.
Blacksburg, Virginia near Virginia Tech.Brett Maurer
  • Nancy, 68, moved back to Virginia from Florida because of escalating costs and the heat.
  • Despite Florida's population growth, many like Nancy are moving to other states for cheaper living.
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Nancy, 68, was ready to move out of Florida. The costs for insurance and home maintenance were rising in Cape Coral on the southwest coast, and she missed living in Virginia, where temperatures weren’t as blistering.

After more than a decade in the Sunshine State, Nancy and her husband sold their home for double what they paid on it and moved back to Virginia, this time to a smaller home near Virginia Tech. She says the pace of life is slower, prices are cheaper, and politics aren’t as public.

She says she has no intention of moving out of Virginia — and vows never to live by the water again.

“There’s so much you don’t know about living in Florida and owning a home in Florida until you’re actually living it,” Nancy said. “I’m glad to be back in Virginia.”

The Census Bureau found that Florida’s population grew by 1.64% from July 2022 to July 2023 — or more than 365,200 people. The Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey found that from 2021 to 2022, nearly 23,800 people moved from Florida to Virginia, while almost 33,000 moved from Virginia to Florida.

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A Business Insider analysis found that the typical mover leaving Florida was a millennial who was making almost $48,000 a year, wasn't married, and was moving to states including Georgia or Texas. Some former Floridians previously told BI that Florida had lost its feeling of "paradise" amid skyrocketing home prices and recent natural disasters.

Moving to Florida — and leaving

For 37 years, Nancy lived in Northern Virginia, working as support staff at a high school in Fairfax County. Her husband was a teacher for decades, and both retired early.

To start their retirement, they settled on Florida, and they sold their home in Fairfax County for nearly $600,000.

Nancy moved with her husband to Cape Coral 11 years ago after four of her five kids moved there. Her kids loved the weather, the outdoor activities, and the cheaper housing prices.

They settled on Cape Coral for the beach access and warm weather, and for the first few years, they made the most of their time there.

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At the time, Cape Coral had one of the highest rates of foreclosures in the US, meaning she and her husband got a good deal on their home. They built a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home with a three-car garage and saltwater swimming pool. They built the home for about $375,000.

“At first, we built a gorgeous home, never thinking we would leave,” Nancy said. “Our builder was my son’s best friend.”

Nancy said she didn’t anticipate the costs of home upkeep in Florida. The heat and humidity got worse and worse every year, she said, which took a toll on her house. She had to pay lawn-service workers, landscapers, pool people, and pest-control workers. She also had to install a home water system since, she said, the city’s water wasn't drinkable and ruined her appliances.

She said her electric bill was consistently more than $200 monthly — and $300 in the summers. Her water bill was consistently more than $100 a month. She said her car, homeowners, and flood insurance had also shot up recently and were much more than in Virginia.

Several home-insurance providers have left Florida altogether or moved from the coast to former inland, despite efforts by state lawmakers to make the market more stable. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual premium in Florida had risen to more than $4,200, triple the national average, this time last year.

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“Good god, the sun was so strong. We had to have the whole outside of our house repainted before we moved because it fades everything,” Nancy said, adding that the heat was often unbearable in the warmer months.

“It wasn’t really crowded when we moved, but now they’re building on every available inch, and the price of the homes is insane,” Nancy said. “We were very lucky since we sold our house six months before Hurricane Ian.”

She said the hurricane severely impacted many people she knew, and they couldn’t rebuild their homes or reopen their businesses.

“I have a friend who also left and went back to New Hampshire, and she went down with her husband a couple of weeks ago and said you won’t recognize it; it’s so different since the hurricane,” Nancy said.

The politics in her area also made her feel out of place. She said she and her husband made many good friends, whom they often visited now, but she couldn’t handle the “in your face” politics daily.

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After two years of planning when to leave, Nancy and her husband sold their home for $700,000.

“We couldn’t believe they were giving us that much money,” Nancy said. “We took it, and away we went.”

Moving back to Virginia

Nancy moved back to Virginia in January 2022, settling in the state’s southwest near Virginia Tech. While still living in Florida, Nancy and her husband bought a small townhouse for $127,000, which they owned for three years before selling it for $215,000.

The home was an 805-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bathroom townhouse with wood floors, gas heat, and a fireplace. She said it was much easier to maintain that home, and upkeep prices were small compared with those in Florida.

They recently bought their current Virginia home for $560,000, which has everything she wanted. Her home isn’t as big as the Florida home, but she says it didn’t break the bank for them and is in a quieter community.

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One of her daughters wasn’t happy about their decision, but Nancy says she was sure the move was right. She says she never wants to live by the water again, as she's paying a lot less in insurance and maintenance costs in Virginia.

“We’re in a rural area, very conservative, but it’s not in my face,” Nancy said. “I also have Virginia Tech on one side, and we’re 10 minutes from Radford University, so we have young people here too.”

Nancy says she has no intention of moving, as she was enjoying the slower pace of life, the minimal traffic, and the small-town feel of her area. She and her husband go to lots of sporting events on campus, she says.

“I didn’t realize how much more I paid for things until I left,” Nancy said. “We have gas heat, and the bill is next to nothing, even in the summer with my air conditioning. My house is a little over 3,000 square feet, so it’s not a little house.”

Nancy says living in her part of Virginia is much cheaper than in Cape Coral, particularly on utilities. She says her car insurance is half as expensive as in Florida, and her car-registration fees in Virginia are way lower. She acknowledges that homeowners insurance may be similarly high between Cape Coral and Fairfax County, considered one of the wealthiest counties in the US.

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“I miss my Florida house, and it would be great if it was up here, but we made the right decision,” Nancy said.

Have you recently moved to a new state? Reach out to this reporter at nsheidlower@businessinsider.com.

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