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    Coastal Living, Florida

    10 Great Reasons to Retire to Florida

    Florida Retirees
    Photo courtesy of

    Welcome Guest Contributor, Danielle K Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits.

    While you’re reading this article and trying to decide whether Florida is the best place to retire, about 1,000 people have already made the move. Roughly 350,000 people a year relocate to the Sunshine State to take advantage of the climate, the people, and the low cost of living. 

    If you’re approaching your golden years and want to know the perfect place to retire, here are 10 reasons Florida makes the grade. 

    1. Florida is a Boomer state

    You’ll have plenty of company if you choose to call Florida your retirement home. There are currently 3.3 million seniors in Florida, a number expected to reach 6 million by 2030. Depending on where you settle down, you’ll probably be surrounded with people just like you. 

    Top choices for retirees?

    • Punta Gorda, where the median age is 65
    • The Villages, with over 100 miles of golf cart paths
    • Naples, for its great beaches, healthcare, and its Blue Zone rating
      —one of the happiest places to live
    • Palm Beach, where the wealthy have always gone to retire
    • Venice, for its low crime rate and big-city amenities

    2. The sunshine is reliable

    Most Florida cities have sunshine about 240 days a year—and even when it’s raining or overcast, it doesn’t last long. Tolerable temperatures, limited precipitation, and lots of sun means you can be outside pretty much every day of the year. 

    3. It’s super tax-friendly

    You can save a ton of money if you move to Florida from a heavily taxed state. In fact, the state ranks in the top 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees, possibly because it has no state income tax. 

    Sales tax, however, is a different story. The state’s 7% sales tax is just a baseline; some cities or counties add their own sales tax on top of it. Be sure to read applicable tax laws before you decide to move. 

    4. You can still find a cheap home

    Although there are beachfront homes that sell for well above $1 million, the median sale price for a three-bedroom home is about $250,000. In Daytona Beach and Gainesville, that figure drops below $200,000.

    If you’re looking for a place where you get a lot of bang for your real estate buck, it doesn’t get much better than Florida. 

    5. The cost of living is low in most cities

    According to Area Vibes, the average cost of living in Florida cities rates a 93 out of 100. Housing, utilities, and health care are all below the national average. 

    At the granular level, several cities are exceptionally cheap in terms of overall cost of living. Kissimmee, Cape Coral, and Orlando are just a few where you can stretch a dollar. 

    6. Florida’s health care is world-class

    With so many seniors living in the state, is it any wonder geriatric health care is near the top in Florida? The hospitals are world renowned and the doctors are recognized for their excellent treatment of seniors. Overall, state health care costs are well below the natural average so your Medicare costs will be low—and there are plenty of great Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. 

    7. You have access to international airports no matter where you live

    No matter where you settle in Florida, you’re close to an airport that can get you close to family members and friends in both the U.S. and overseas. When your newest grandchild is on the way or you want to celebrate the holidays with one of your children, you’re always just a few minutes from your flight. 

    8. An active lifestyle is part of the culture

    Gorgeous golf courses, beautiful beaches, and thousands of pools and fitness centers make it clear this is a state for people who love exercise and adventure. You can swim, golf, play tennis, surf, fish, and do any number of outdoor activities to stay in shape. 

    And if physical exertion isn’t your thing, there are hundreds of galleries, museums, concerts, and restaurants. You’ll never be bored. 

    9. Eat it all

    Florida’s major cities boast some of the best restaurants in the world. If you’re a foodie, places like Miami, Palm Beach, Naples, Orlando, and Boca Raton have world-class restaurants to tempt your palate. And if you like to go more low-brow, you can’t beat the fresh seafood at the local cafes and eateries. 

    10. Your grandkids will love it

    Miles of white-sand beaches, abundant public parks and playgrounds, plus the best theme parks in the world are right here in Florida. What could possibly be better than a trip to Disney World, Universal Studios or SeaWorld with Grandma and Grandpa?

    No matter where you make your retirement home in Florida, you’ll fall in love with the endless sun and mild winters. 

    Art, Florida, IMAGINATION, Naples, TRAVEL

    Save the Sea on Land at the Naples Zoo

    Washed Ashore at the Naples Zoo

    Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Naples, Florida

     The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens here in Naples, Florida—a half mile from our house—is hosting an upcycled art installation throughout its’ walkways, Washed Ashore:  Art to Save the Sea until April 21, 2019.

    Founded by Angela Haseltine Pozzi, an artist and teacher from Oregon, Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea manifests her passion for protecting the oceans and educating a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways to spark positive changes in consumer habitats.

    Since the project began in 2010, thousands of pounds of trash have been removed from beaches. That trash was then processed into more than 70 works of art, which travel the country to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s oceans and marine life.

    This exhibit is extremely poignant here in Southwest Florida, as our waterways—mainly the Gulf of Mexico—continually fight red tide, blue-green algae blooms and runoff pollution created by man-made toxins.

    All of the sculptures are of animals affected by plastic pollution. The Naples Zoo has 11 pieces on display throughout the zoo’s walkways. Each one magnificent with tiny, fun touches you only see if you stop and study the details.

    What you can now do to help

    • NO PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS: Use a reusable shopping bag whenever possible.
    • SKIP THE STRAWS: Many states are banning plastic straws, but if offered—skip it!
    • AVOID SINGLE-SERVE CONTAINERS: Recycle it, don’t trash it.
    • USE A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE: Skip the bottled water!

    You won’t find plastic bags, straws or lids at the Naples Zoo.
    The Zoo is keeping wildlife safe by not using these items!

    Florida, Orlando, TRAVEL, Walt Disney World

    Renovation Review: Disney’s Pop Century Resort with Video Walk Through


    This year, Disney surprised us Disnerds by announcing plans to build the SKLYINER gondola transportation system in Walt Disney World, Orlando. This system will link the Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, Art of Animation, and the new Riviera Resorts with both Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

    The Riviera promises to be mostly high-end, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property with a rooftop lounge for fireworks viewing, a la Top of the World in Bay Lake Tower. But besides Riviera the choices on the SKYLINER route seemed curious at first, until other WDW Magic board insiders announced this was the first phase by Disney to blur the lines between hotel categories and do away with the “value,” “moderate,” and “deluxe” labels altogether.  Of course, by doing away with the tiered  labels, this would open the door for Disney to charge more for their prominent value resorts—Pop Century and Art of Animation.

    Disney Pop Century Renovation


    With this first phase out underway, Disney has begun a total renovation of the Pop Century rooms. For those unfamiliar with Pop Century, it was Disney’s second foray into the value resort category, after the huge (over 6,000 rooms) and sprawling All Star Resorts opened on the western end of the property.

    The first section of the resort, “The Classic Years,” opened in late 2003. It consisted of approximately 2,800 rooms in basic motel style buildings that my mother-in-law described as Russian prison chic.

    To get away from the prison chic, Disney themed these building with huge, colorful, pop culture icons representing the last five decades of the 20th century. Initially, The Classic Years were to be followed by The Legendary Years representing the first five decades of the 20th century. Due to the economic downturn of the early 2000s that followed 9/11, this section sat  as partial cinder block buildings until in 2010 when Disney decided to finish these as the Art of Animation Resort, their third value resort.

    Ok, Amy said that’s enough history.


    You want to know are the renovations to Pop Century successful– enough so to justify any increase in price Disney may charge in the near future?

    YES…with a few caveats.

    The first two buildings renovated are the 1980s and 1990s. Outside, the look is exactly the same. Our building was a basic motel building painted teal blue and themed with rollerblade icons, sans balcony, with outside corridors. Inside, however, almost everything has changed!


    Disney Pop Century Renovation

    No More Carpet:   I immediately noticed the absence of carpet. All flooring is now laminate wood, in a kind of golden oak (pun may or may not be intended) color, with modern white moulding. The wood tones dominate along with the colors of orange and white; everything looks very modern, very IKEA-like. In fact, the new interior design is somewhat reminiscent of Universal Studio Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort mid-century modern, which ironically was Universal’s answer to Pop Century.

    Transforming Furniture:  The rooms are far more attractive than in their previous iteration. The small tables previously in the room have been replaced by Murphy bed furniture of sorts; the the second bed in the room, when not in use, can be folded into the wall cabinet to form a large rectangular new table.

    Major Caveat No.1:  My wife and I loved this configuration as a couple. However, this may make for a very crowded room with a family of four. Also, when folded down you effectively lose the table, which I always use as a catch all when returning from the parks. Even though the rooms are better designed, more functional, and much more attractive, they are still only approximately 260 sq. ft.– still a tight squeeze.

    Killer Artwork (and TV):  The artwork in the room has been replaced by a Warhol-esque Mickey Mouse light box above the bed. This, along with the other fixtures, provided more than adequate lighting. The TV is massive for a room of this size, I would estimate 50-55 inch. For perspective, it looked to be about double the size of the TV in my brother-in-law’s room in Bay Lake Tower.

    Super Storage:  On to the bathroom/vanity area where the changes are both extreme and extremely successful. This area, like the rest of the room, has ample new cabinet and storage space. In addition, the curtain that separated the room from the vanity area has been replaced by a sliding door—a huge upgrade, as now you can get ready early without disturbing others in the room. The bathroom also has a sliding door, an automatic fan and the shower now has a rain fixture with a sliding glass door replacing the previous curtain.

    Major Caveat No. 2:  The bath/ vanity area remodel caveat is once again—space. With only one sink, my wife and I found we were getting in each other’s way while getting ready. Other than that, the remodel in this area is a huge upgrade. Also, upscale Disney H2O+ soaps and shampoos were provided.

    Other Amenities:  The new mattress and bedding are a huge step up from the previous; both are super comfortable. There is still a fridge in the room; this new version has a clear door, which helps to see what’s inside and looks nice, but I found I missed the door storage. There is also a microwave and for the first time—a coffee maker. The pantry area has plenty of shelves for storage, especially great for snacks, fruit and other beverages you bring yourself. Again, this area is much better than before.

    Disney Pop Century Renovation

    So, is the room remodel a big enough upgrade that Disney can charge more? YES.

    The room is still very small, but the upgrades have helped enormously. The problem, however, lies with the resort itself. The amenities at Pop Century Resort are spartan to say the least compared to other Disney resorts:   Minimal theming. No sit down restaurant or lounge in the main building. Pools that are basically unthemed, with no slides. Unless these things improve as well, Disney is going to have a hard time raising the price of this resort, SKYLINER or not.  

    Perhaps there are plans, as there is a current rumour of a sit down restaurant planned for the All Stars Resort, but until then, Universal Studio Orlando’s Cabana Bay will set the standard for value resorts in Orlando.


    > Upgraded and updated rooms far more attractive and functional than the previous iterations

    > SKYLINER transportation coming soon, providing upgraded access to Hollywood Studios and Epcot parks


    > Rooms are still small with no balconies and only one small window

    > Hotel outside retains its Russian prison chic minimal theming

    > Spartan amenities

    Watch my walk through
    Please keep in mind, this is my FIRST video walk through.
    Yes, I know now NOT to flip the camera.

    DESIGN, Florida, Interior Design, Naples, Tips + Advice

    Simple Staging: Easy Elegance to Sell Your Home Fast

    The Golden Girls
    The easiest and fastest way to sell your home is to give potential buyers a canvas as blank — or as neutral — as possible.  Potential buyers need to be able to instantly envision where their stuff is going to go in your home.
    • De-Clutter. No, Really. Pack the Knick Knacks.

      Potential home buyers want to see the space. Not your collection of Princess Diana plates. Take this opportunity to start packing, sorting and purging your belongings. Give home buyers a clear view of wall, floor and shelving spaces. Make your home unforgettable — for all the right reasons.

    Read more

    Florida, Orlando, TRAVEL

    WEEKEND IN: Walt Disney World, Orlando


     Walt Disney World, Orlando

    Amy B. Perrault, Naples-based editor of DREAMPORT
    and owner of Naples Bay Blinds & Shutters shares her off-duty local favorites




    Escapism at its best. Escaping daily worries and grind is easy after driving through any one of the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom’s welcoming arches. A seemingly leisurely stroll down Main Street USA can quickly lead to flying through the air on different space missions, on the backs of elephants or carpets, and end thundering through mountains. It’s, as they say, simply magical.


    Our favorites are endless when you add up in-park restaurants and snack areas, resort restaurants and cafes, and the endless Downtown Disney food stops, however, this time of year, EPCOT’s International Wine and Food Festival is our family’s ultimate favorite MUST DO.

    My parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece and my love, have our World Showcase tasting routine down pat. We circle multiple times sampling cuisine and beverages such as Parisian dessert trio — Passion fruit coconut creamsicle, blueberry lime cheesecake roll and chocolate espresso opera cake, Greek vegetarian moussaka, Ireland’s Kerrygold Cheese Selection, South Korea’s Bohae Black Raspberry Wine, my love’s favorite, Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll from Germany. The menu from over 20 countries, seems endless!


    My all-time favorite store in all of Walt Disney World is the Cirque du Soleil Boutique housed inside their La Nouba Theater at the West Side of Disney Springs {the new name of Downtown Disney}. Beyond the draw of my heritage {Canadian French}, the boutique is full of hand-made jewelry and artwork, CDs and DVDs from all Cirque shows around the country, unique clothing and extraordinary home decor.


    Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock {Burt’s Bees Sunblock}. I am hooked on Nerium for face and body, mascara and lipgloss frame my face for daytimes Saturdays and Sundays. Other weekend rituals include some sort of Disney graphic tee, my TOMS espilladres, my Mickey Mouse two-tone watch and my Gucci waist bag {that’s right, waist bag, NOT fanny pack}.


    Weekend reading at Walt Disney World begins with your hotel literature — what events are happening around the grounds, transportation information, etc. — continues with endless park maps, show and performance schedules and doesn’t end as each stop around the parks has different brochures, rack cards, trivia and all the information you could think of to make your stay with the Mouse, most magical.

    Florida, Naples, TRAVEL

    WEEKEND IN: Naples, Florida

    DREAMPORT Naples Florida


     Naples, Florida

    Amy shares her off-duty local favorites

    Seaside Excursion :: My Weekend :: Naples, Florida





      Sleeping late (late means 8:00AM to us), drinking coffee in bed with my love watching the morning news, and cocktails on the lanai watching the sunset. We also do a lot of napping, reading, working out at the North Collier Regional Park Rec-Plex and rounds of golf at our home, High Point Country Club. We also love to walk to one of our favorite spots, the 12st Pier, at least once a weekend.


      With tacos in Joe’s blood {no, really, his dad founded and created Taco Joe’s, a chain of Mexican restaurants in the Northeast}, we love to cook homemade tacos and burritos for lunch on the weekends – complete with the family secret spice recipe.
      We eat out at one of our favorite local spots, which are put on rotation. We absolutely crave Campiello’s on Third Street, Rosedale Pizza on Pine Ridge Road, Harold’s Burgers on 41 and cocktails at Dusk in the Ritz-Carlton on Vanderbilt Beach Road.


      Little known fact about shopping in Naples beyond the luxurious hot spots of Waterside Shops, The Village on Venetian Bay and the Coastline Mall are its’ fabulous and many times close to divine consignment, second-hand and thrift stores. Some of my favorites include Home and Salvage Consignment on Taylor Street, Salvation Army Family Store on Davis Boulevard, Avow Hospice Treasures & Books on 41, and Options Thrift Shoppe on 2nd Avenue. What’s better than a great deal on designer treasures – helping phenomenal charities at the same time.


      Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock {Burt’s Bees Sunblock}. I am hooked on Nerium for face and body, mascara and lipgloss frame my face for daytimes Saturdays and Sundays. Other weekend rituals include some sort of graphic tee, my Tory Burch flip flops and an assortment of beach shopper totes.


      Begins Thursday with Naples Florida Weekly hot off the presses; if something is going on in Naples during the weekend, it will be in this paper. Gulfshore Life magazine and endless interior design books on my Nook.