Investing & Moving to Florida

Now that it’s fall, residents and visitors to Florida’s many attractions will invariably start to enjoy the changing of the license plate colors.  Northern state dwellers with orange, yellow and non-Floridian plates start to become plentiful and quickly the Sunshine State becomes even more diverse than usual. 

Meme:  It's the First day of Fall in Florida and the colors of the license plates are beginning to change. (Autumn Colored Out of State Plates)

The good news about getting adjusted to life in Florida is that you’re not alone as millions around you also know exactly what it feels like to be a newbie. Besides contacting the Chamber of Commerce in whichever community you end up investing in or relocating, to get all of their new resident information, you can count on the following points to be consistent throughout most parts of Florida.

As with all states, various permits, forms, and licenses are also necessary for boats, the use of beaches and coastal areas, docks, burning, vehicles, and fishing which will often vary according to the county.  StateofFlorida.com offers information specific to each of these needs and breaks them down into categories. It also has links to Florida State agencies to help individuals or businesses who are relocating.

Be sure to call or visit the website for the Florida Department of Education to find out how local schools rate in your area. Even if you have no interest in starting a family, if you are looking to invest, good school districts typically provide more long-term rental income.  Once a family starts renting in a good school district, they typically don’t want to switch. Flipping houses is also easier in better school districts. Each school also has a report on it done by the School Advisory Council Report which rates schools on performance, attendance, and various features so be sure to check that out. 

Getting the right insurance for your Florida real estate property and belongings while you live in Florida is a necessity.  The recent rash of hurricanes has inspired the Office of Insurance Regulation to reorganize themselves to serve this important aspect of Florida living.  Crosscheck some of their links to make sure that your insurance covers all of the possibilities. Investors in Florida should be well aware of flood and windstorm zones, as this will greatly impact the overall value of the properties you might wish to invest in.  Nothing is more disheartening than finding a sweetheart of a deal, especially at auction, and then to be hit with being denied for any type of insurance. Since Florida is hurricane-prone, the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation or FAIR Plan was implemented by the Florida Legislature in 2002.  It is a non-profit government entity whose mission is to enable real estate property owners in Florida to obtain coverage even if they’ve been flagged as high-risk. The FAIR Plan doesn’t provide the insurance itself but is an agency that facilitates matching to the private insurance marketplace.   High-risk homes are flagged as such often due to too many home insurance claims or specific locations automatically deemed high-risk.

Big tax breaks on property and personal income tax are some of the big bonuses to living in Florida.  If you are looking to also secure a primary residence, be sure to file for the Homestead Exception to see if you qualify for further cuts.  Unlike getting a driver’s license, filing for the Homestead Exception, registering to vote, or filling out a declaration of domicile, will establish your residency in Florida.  A driver’s license will only establish your intent to reside in Florida.

It’s important to note that in 2013 the Florida legislature rejected the proposal during the revamping of the LLC Act for the state to provide for a Series LLC.   The reasoning was convoluted but mostly it boiled down to committee members being ill-versed in this newer legal strategy and not having faith that small business owners or investors would operate their Series LLC correctly, especially in addition to maintaining distinct books and records to follow corporate formalities.  So while this greatly frustrated savvy entrepreneurs, who know the Series LLC is the ideal structure especially for real estate investors, the Texas Series LLC can still be used because Floridians are not shackled to the limited corporate structures available in that state. The only requirement is that you do the record-keeping and bookkeeping in the proper manner for your structure.  Needless to say, Leafy Legal Services loves helping investors all over the country invest in the Sunshine State while protecting their assets at the same time by using the versatile Texas Series LLC structure. 

The most obvious aspect of investing and moving to Florida is that you will most likely see a lot more of your family and friends as visiting you will become a vacation for many of them.  ProTip: If you are lending it to family or looking to sweeten a real estate deal, it may save you money to buy year passes to some of the attractions in or around your town or city. Gift baskets to new owners or visitors unfamiliar with the area that includes collected brochures from the local Chamber of Commerce, as a mini-library of resources for day trips and exciting attractions is never a bad idea. Florida relies on tourism for one of its biggest economies so even if you have decided to invest in a home that has a garage apartment you might wish to rent out, there is no reason you can’t keep that “on vacation” flavor alive.

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