10 best affordable places to retire in Florida

Florida has gotten a lot of press lately because of its escalating real estate prices. Several factors have contributed to the increase in property values, including the softening of the stock market and aging baby boomers interest in locating retirement destinations.

But affordable real estate still exists in Florida, in abundance. Here are 10 areas around the state where you can still find a good deal on real estate.

  1. Mexico Beach
    Never heard of Mexico Beach? It’s a tiny town on the Gulf, where development is just now making inroads. This small community between Panama City and Apalachicola maintains a strong sense of old Florida. It’s a quiet community where life centers around fishing and beach going. And it’s in the panhandle of Florida world, and area renowned for it’s fine white sandy beaches. 
  2. Tarpon Springs
    Tarpon Springs is worth a look if you like quaint towns with working class roots. The natural sea sponge capital of the world, Tarpon Springs was settled by Greek immigrants and still has a strong Greek community. A river entering the gulf nearby makes for lots of waterfront home sites here, with older communities of small homes interwoven with newer developments. 
  3. Saint Petersburg
    If city living in a tropical climate is your idea of heaven, check out downtown Saint Petersburg. Older neighborhood homes, condos and apartment buildings are being revitalized, but the downtown condos may be the best value.Saint Petersburg is one of the oldest retirement communities in the state, and a good sized city as well. It’s close proximity to good beaches, Tampa, and the cultural amenities of Sarasota make it a viable option for city lovers.
  4. Englewood
    About midway down the Gulf coast of Florida, Englewood is a small town in Sarasota County that has long been attractive to budget minded retirees from the Midwest. Today, it’s a burgeoning artists community but not much of a tourist town. Like most of Florida, Englewood has its share of snowbirds or winter-only residents. 
  5. Bonita Springs
    A former fishing village, Bonita Springs is located between Fort Myers and Naples on the Gulf coast. It’s only recently been discovered by outsiders, but its growth has been pretty impressive. It’s a beautiful area with decent access to two metropolitan areas and all the amenities they have to offer. 
  6. Live Oak
    In the north central part of the state, Live Oak is a small inland town poised for development. If it’s land you’re looking for, this area is worth a visit. Currently, it’s a mecca for bicycle riders, scuba divers (in the nearby Suwannee River) and hobby farmers. 
  7. Ocala
    Small communities on the outskirts of Ocala are attracting many fans with rolling hills, horse farms, and a laid back attitude. Ocala and Gainesville are strong regional shopping and medical centers, but the bucolic countryside is the big attraction here.If you’re into horses, Ocala is the southern outpost for high end equine operations. Smaller farms with good horse facilities sometimes come on the market at reasonable prices.
  8. Fernandina Beach
    On the Atlantic coast, Fernandina Beach is a perennial favorite for those seeking true peace and quiet. This historical town is surrounded by wild natural areas, including the high duned beaches and salt marshes. It feels a bit isolated compared to much of Florida, but congestion and high density development are only an hour of so away by car. 
  9. Fort Pierce
    Built around the fishing industry along the coast, Fort Pierce is growing into a very diverse town. The downtown and dock area has been revitalized into a charming destination. While real estate prices along the water have escalated, plenty of lower priced housing options are available inland. 
  10. Vero Beach
    Vero Beach is a small town with a very hot arts community. Like many coastal towns, it consists of a mainland and nearby beach. Typical of Florida, the more interesting — but also more expensive — areas are those closest to the beach.The mainland, however, has plenty of affordable housing, and the beaches are literally minutes away.

Florida Keys
The Keys are just about out of the average person’s price range these days. But many people still dream of living there.

If you’re one of them, be prepared for high prices. Just don’t expect much of a house, as location is everything here. Warm weather, the exotic locale, fishing, diving, boating — access to these activities, plus the limited amount of land in the area, has driven prices out of site in the last few years.

Old mobile homes start in the mid 100,000s and prices quickly rise from there. One recent listing read, “Lowest price single family home on Marathon Key. Needs TLC, but has lots of potential. 50 x 100 lot, $275,000.”