Welcome to Florida!  Now What?


After all those years as a Snowbird, you've finally done it.  You moved to Florida full time!  Year 'round golf. No state income tax.  Florida resident discounts at Disney.  You went out and got your fishing license and purchased a lifetime supply of sunscreen.  But did you forget anything?

Becoming a new resident of Florida requires that you do a few things to take full advantage of your new status:

1.  GET A FLORIDA DRIVER'S LICENSE.  Florida law requires that you obtain a Florida license within 30 days of becoming a new resident.  You will need to provide a form of primary identification (birth certificate, passport) and a form of secondary identification (Social Security card, out of state driver's license).

2.  RE-TITLE AND REGISTER YOUR VEHICLE.  You must apply for a Florida certificate of title for any vehicle you own and operate in the state of Florida.

3.  REGISTER TO VOTE.  Now that you are a Florida resident, you may want to have some say in how things are run around here.  You can register with your county's Supervisor of Elections as long as it's not less than 30 days prior to an election.  In that case, you will have to wait until after the election.

4.  APPLY FOR THE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION.  If you are a Florida resident and own your primary residence, you are eligible to receive the homestead exemption.  This can have a tremendous effect on the amount of property taxes you will pay.  The homestead exemption reduces the value of your home for tax purposes by $50,000 for all ad valorem taxes except school taxes.  For school taxes your taxable value is reduced by $25,000.  In addition, the value of your home for tax purposes can only increase by a maximum of 3% each year -- no matter how much its market value goes up.  A few years down the road, this can result in substantial savings in your property taxes.

5.  REVIEW YOUR ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS.  Every state has different laws regarding Wills and other estate planning documents.  For example, if your previous state did not require two witnesses to the the execution of your Will, it's likely it won't be valid in Florida.  Have a Florida estate planning attorney review your documents and prepare new ones, if necessary.

6.  BUY "THE OFFICIAL SNOWBIRD'S GUIDE TO BECOMING A FLORIDA RESIDENT."  It's available at Amazon and is the most comprehensive book ever written on moving to Florida and becoming a resident.  Also, the author is really smart and good-looking.