Freezing winters, a struggling economy, rising property taxes – there can be many reasons to uproot your life in Illinois and move to Florida. Offering gorgeous year-round weather, sandy beaches, fantastic nightlife, unique food, and diverse culture (influenced by the Caribbean and much more), the Sunshine State checks a lot of boxes that the Prairie State simply can’t. And the place isn’t just for retirees. There’s something for everybody here! Before you leave behind your snow shovel for a sunny change of scenery, check out the following guide on the critical factors involved in moving to Florida.

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What to Know About Moving from Illinois to Florida

Are you looking to trade endless winters for year-round sun and sandy beaches? From climate and culture to the cost of living, there are several vital things to consider before making a move to the Sunshine State.

Taxes

Does anyone like talking about taxes? When it comes to seeing how much more money you can keep in your pocket, it’s a good idea to take a look. You’ll be happy to hear that Florida comes in #46 in terms of its overall tax burden. This ranking depends on a total average tax burden (the proportion of personal income that residents pay towards taxes) of 6.82%, property tax (2.79%), individual income tax (0%), and overall sales & excise tax (4.03%). Oh, and if you didn’t catch it already, Florida collects ZERO personal income tax! Illinois, unfortunately, makes the list of Top 10 states for worst tax burden, taking ninth place with some of the highest tax rates in the United States. The total average tax burden in IL is 9.62%.

Economy and Job Growth

Ready for more great news? According to economy rankings by US News, Florida ranks #9 overall. This ranking depends on three subcategories: the business environment (#12), employment (#31), and growth (#3). As for Illinois, things aren’t as rosy. Sitting in the Bottom 10 at #41, the Prairie State’s ranks #15 in business env., #40 in employment, and a dismal #45 in growth projections. If you’re leaving behind the midwestern state for brighter job opportunities, Florida is a great option! At the beginning of 2020, the unemployment rate in Florida was 3.6%. Future job growth is projected to be an outstanding 41.6% over the next decade.

Weather and Climate

What can we say about the climate in Florida? It’s iconic! The clichés of year-round sun and sandy beach fun are true. On the flip side, even though it does offer areas with milder conditions, for the most part, Illinois is a place with what feels like endless, depressing winters. Enjoy sunshine? Florida offers nearly 40 more days of it, with a total of about 237 sunny days vs. 198 in the Midwest state. It does rain more in the Sunshine State (55 inches per year as opposed to 40 inches in Illinois), but there’s zero snowfall here (compared to an average of 22 inches of snow up north). When you’re packing for your move, you can leave the parkas, scarves, and snowblower behind!

Geography

Florida is the southeasternmost state in America. It sits on a large peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Atlantic to the east, and the Caribbean to the south. The Bahamas is only 50 miles off the coast of Florida, while Cuba is about 90 miles away. You can classify The Sunshine State in three regions: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Florida Uplands, and the East Gulf Plain. Illinois, in contrast, is a midwestern state comprised of hilly areas and rolling farmland. It is primarily landlocked, except for Lake Michigan along its northeastern border.

Housing and Cost of Living

Wondering how much all the benefits of living in Florida will cost you? Overall, Illinois is a bit cheaper. But it’s really not that far off. The state of Florida currently has a cost of living index of 102.8 (compared to 93.4 in IL). The median home list price in Florida is $299,000, while the median rent price is $1,780 per month. By comparison, Illinois has a median list price of about $204,000 and a median monthly rent price of $1,570. Both states have hot real estate markets. Yes, Florida is slightly more expensive. But when you factor in the quality of life, job opportunities, and more, it’s a small price to pay to live in a beautiful state!

Things to Do

Illinois has its fair share of stuff to do, but there’s no denying the entertainment powerhouse that is Florida! Known for having the highest density of attractions & destinations in the United States, it’s home to 1,350 miles of coastline, gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, diverse art & culture, soul-invigorating music, delicious cuisine, and of course the Most Magical Place on Earth – Walt Disney World. More of an outdoorsy person? The southeastern state is filled with an overabundance of spectacular landscapes and wildlife, waiting to be discovered and explored. Simply put, Florida is the place to be for fun!

Educational Opportunities

Curious about education in Florida? According to education rankings by US News, Florida ranks #3 overall! For comparison, the state of Illinois makes the Top 20 at #19. Even more impressive, the Sunshine State claims the #1 spot for higher education. Acclaimed universities in Florida include the University of Florida (#34 nationally), Florida State University (tied for #57), the University of Miami (tied for #57), University of South Florida (#104), and the University of Central Florida (tied for #106). In search of the top K–12 schools in FL? Sought-after schools are Ransom Everglades School (Coconut Grove), American Heritage School (Plantation), and Pine Crest School (Fort Lauderdale).

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

A melting pot of various influences and immigration history, the culture of Florida is anything but boring. Though most residents identify as White (about two-thirds of the population), the state’s colorful tapestry is woven with distinct elements from the Caribbean, as well as aspects of Southern, Latin, and European cultures. When it comes to the breakdown of race & ethnicity demographics, Florida is about 53% White, 26% Hispanic & Latino, 15% Black, 3% Asian, and less than 1% Indigenous American. Illinois is 61% White, 17% Hispanic & Latino, 14% Black, 6% Asian, and less than 1% Indigenous American.

Transportation and Traffic

Sick of driving through heavy snow and trying to avoid ginormous potholes? Good news! When it comes to transportation rankings, Florida lands in the Top 10 at #7. This rank derives from four subcategories: commute time (#41), public transit usage (#18), road quality (#7), and bridge quality (#3). Illinois, on the other hand, comes in at #24. Next, let’s take a look at commute times. Florida currently ranks #12 in states with the longest commutes, with an average travel time of 27.8 minutes. However, considering it’s the third most populous state in America, it could be worse (like Illinois, which comes in at #7).

Crime Rates

This statistic might be a significant consideration for you, particularly if you’re coming from a crime-ridden area like Chicago. Overall, the state of Florida currently ranks #30 in public safety rankings by state. This ranking depends on two subcategories: the property crime rate (#28) and the violent crime rate (#31). Overall, Illinois does rank higher at #23, which makes it arguably a safer state as a whole. However, when comparing the most dangerous city in each state, Chicago has a violent crime rate of 49.9 and a property crime rate of 46.3. In contrast, Jacksonville has a violent crime index of 26.6 and a property crime rate of 40.7. For comparison, the US average is 22.7 for violent crime and 35.4 for property crime.

Food

The cuisine is ‘fuego’ (aka excellent) in Florida! Yes, there’s a lot of excellent cuisine in Illinois (particularly Chicago) – deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, old-fashioned buttermilk donuts, and so on. But if you’re looking for a bit more heat or excitement, the Sunshine State serves up a unique selection. Blessed by myriad influences – Cuban, Latin, Floribbean, Euro, Southern – Florida shines with its Cuban sandwiches, key lime pie, delicious oranges, strawberries, conch fritters, gator bites, Apalachicola oysters, smoked fish, stone crab, and Cedar Key clams. Thanks to ample diversity, there’s always something new and tasty on the streets and in the finest restaurants around the state.

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Best Places to Live in Florida

From the Panhandle to the Keys, there are lots of great places to call home across the Sunshine State. Here are some of the best:

Cape Coral

Do you dream of fishing the river or napping on white sands every day? Cape Coral, Florida, is a beautiful southwest Florida hideaway nicknamed “Waterfront Wonderland,” thanks to its reputation as a boating and sailing destination. But is Cape Coral the right town for you? Read everything you need to know in our moving to Cape Coral guide.

Cape Coral, FL

Fort Lauderdale

At 180,000 residents, Fort Lauderdale is the third-largest city in the Miami metro area and offers the perfect mix of peaceful suburbs and bustling city life. If you’re planning on packing everything up and moving down to SoFlo, here are a few things you might want to know.

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Miami

Famous for its beaches, year-round sunshine, and a social scene that is second to none, Miami is unlike any other U.S. city. Here you’ll find the perfect combination of culture, relaxation, and outdoor adventure. Find out more about moving to Miami.

Miami, FL

Orlando

Orlando, with 280,000 residents, is located smack in the middle of the Florida peninsula. Its centralized location, flat open terrain, and reliable weather make it the perfect place to develop theme park attractions and vacation resorts. Want Disney World in your backyard? Find out more about living in Orlando with our moving guide.

Orlando, FL

Tampa

The city of Tampa sits on the north shore of the Tampa Bay just across the water from St Petersburg. The region is right in the middle of the Florida Peninsula along the western coast of the Sunshine State. It has a stable economy, thriving communities, and is home to several unique entertainment attractions. Sound idyllic? Learn more about Tampa here.

Tampa, FL

Lakeland

Located between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland is known for its quaint old Florida charm and beautiful historical architecture. Affordable home prices, a growing job market, and proximity to Florida beaches and attractions are just some of the reasons why young families, professionals, and retirees are attracted to the Lakeland lifestyle.

Lakeland, FL

Clearwater

When you move to Clearwater, Florida, the beach and the fabulous weather will be part of your everyday life. Whether you’re moving for work, school, retirement, or for a change of pace, there will be no shortage of sunshine waiting for you. Voted one of the best beach towns in Florida, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy once you’re ready for a break from the sand and sun.

Clearwater, FL

Jacksonville

Jacksonville wins the prize for “large.” At 892,000 residents, Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city. Covering 840 square miles, Jacksonville is the largest city by geographic footprint in the continental US. And, at over 80,000 acres, Jacksonville has the most extensive urban park system in the nation. All that size adds up to plenty of space, nature, culture, history, arts, and sports, so you can find exactly the quality of life you’re looking for.

Jacksonville, FL

Cost of Moving from Illinois to Florida

On average, it costs about $3,200-$4,000 to move from Florida to Texas. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 1186 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination cities, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best IL to FL movers now!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More