Florida Retirement: Gulf Coast vs. Atlantic Coast

They both have beaches in common, but what\'s different about Florida\'s Gulf and Atlantic Coasts?

If there’s any reason to complain about retiring to Florida, it’s this: with so many options around the state, how do you pick one place to live? There are nearly 1000 active lifestyle communities in the state and more than 400 exclusively for people 55+, so choosing a region can be a challenge. No matter where you decide to settle in, you’ll enjoy the beautiful weather, plenty of recreational opportunities, and some of the best active adult communities in the country.

When being close to the coast is important, you’ll need to choose either the Gulf Coast to the west or the Atlantic Coast to the east. Take a look at the benefits of each.

Gulf Coast Retirement: Art and Culture

Two seashells on a beach on Sanibel Island in Florida
You can visit the National Shell Museum, an interesting look at how shells are formed and where they can be found.

On the Gulf Coast, you’ll find fairly large cities with a lot of history, culture, and art. People retire to the Gulf Coast when they’re looking for a warmer, more affordable version of their hometowns. There are plenty of shows to see, museums to visit, and top-rated restaurants to try.

In Sarasota, the Ringling Museum of Art may make you think of the circus. Named after the same family, this museum features dazzling collections of ancient and modern pieces, educational opportunities, and even a circus museum.

The Tampa Bay area is home to the Salvador Dalí Museum which showcases the surreal artist’s work and hosts special traveling exhibits. On Sanibel Island, you can visit the National Shell Museum, an interesting look at how shells are formed and where they can be found. The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is the perfect place to catch a musical, ballet, or concert, and tickets cost a lot less than in New York, Chicago, or Boston.

Atlantic Coast Retirement: Nature and Shopping

A white egret wading in a marsh at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida
The barrier island has its own ecosystem, where it’s easy to spot manatees, alligators, and hundreds of bird species.

On the Atlantic Coast of Florida, there are tons of little beach towns as well as large cities like West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. In the north, retiring to St. Augustine means living in the oldest city in the U.S.

Living near the Canaveral National Seashore is great for those interested in local wildlife and rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center. The barrier island has its own ecosystem, where it’s easy to spot manatees, alligators, and hundreds of bird species. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is not far from Melbourne and provides a host of opportunities for birding, hiking, and wildlife drives.

The Atlantic Coast is also known as a great place to shop. West Palm Beach has CityPlace and a popular outlet mall. In Boca Raton, the outdoor retailers of Mizner Park are a top place for visitors to browse, stroll, eat, and even see a movie.

Beach Battle: Which Coast Is Better?  

Aerial view of a beach dotted with beachgoers in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
The best beach experience really depends on what you’re looking for in a coastal community. 

The best beach experience really depends on what you’re looking for in a coastal community. If you’re planning to learn how to surf during retirement, head to the Atlantic Coast. If you’d rather wade into calmer waters, Gulf Coast beaches have fewer waves.

Some of the best Gulf beaches include Treasure Island near St. Petersburg, Bradenton Beach near Sarasota, and Venice Beach to the south. Pier 60 in Clearwater is one of the most popular spots on the Gulf Coast for catching a sunset. On the Atlantic side, you’ll find more iconic beaches like Daytona Beach and South Beach in Miami. There’s also Cocoa Beach, home to the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop.

Sports Showdown: Follow Your Team

Football fans celebrating in the stands of a stadium
If you’re still having trouble, think about your sports allegiances.

If you’re still having trouble deciding whether you want to retire to the Gulf or Atlantic side of Florida, maybe think about your sports allegiances. When it comes to baseball, to the west are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins are in the east.

Your Gulf Coast football team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and on the Atlantic, you’ll either cheer for the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars. If hockey is your game, you’ll be choosing between the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Florida Panthers in Miami.

The good news? There’s no bad decision. Whether you choose the Gulf or Atlantic coast, you’re in for a retirement filled with warm winters, plenty of pool time, and a long list of potential 55+ homes for sale in active, neighborly communities.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

A hand holding a red arrow pointing up with wood model homes in the background.

5 Reasons Not to Overprice Your Home

When selling a property, trying to get as much money as possible is a given. But, being aware of why you might be overpricing your home, and why it’s a bad idea, can be the difference between a deal and deadweight property.

Tiny, colorful model homes on stacks of coins.

Should Residents of 55+ Communities Pay Less Property Tax?

Active adults often have a particular budget in mind. In addition to the sticker price of a home, however, active adults may need to plan for other expenses, like utilities, repairs, and real estate taxes. Homeowners may start to wonder, “Do senior citizens pay property taxes?”

A mature woman smiling while sitting on the couch and using an app to help her sell her house.

Online Resources to Help Sell Your Home Fast

Selling your home can be difficult, especially if you’ve spent a lifetime raising your family and building memories within those walls. The process may be easier if you use some simple online resources to understand your home’s potential value and find professionals who can help you make your home look its best before it goes on the market.

A bag of money balancing on a seesaw with a wood house model.

10 Financial Benefits of Downsizing Your Home

Not only will downsizing relieve some of the stress of maintaining a larger home, but it will also provide some hefty financial benefits. Here are 10 ways downsizing your home can lead to an upsized bank account.

Inexpensive Ways to Boost Your Home Value Before Selling

Sellers want to get the best price for their home as this can have a significant impact on their budget for their next home. Luckily, there are lots of low- and no-cost ways to boost the value of your home. A bit of cleaning and sprucing up can pay serious dividends by the time you sign the papers on closing day.

A "For Sale By Owner" sign in front of a beautiful house.

Suburban vs. City Retirement: Which Is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing your ideal retirement location, you’ll probably be flooded with options. To pare it down, it’s important to weigh the options of retiring in a city or the suburbs. 55places is here to help.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top