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Country Facts – Florida (USA)

This information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. Whilst this information has been compiled by the UK FCO and is therefore aimed at UK nationals, the advice may be appropriate to many nationalities looking to find additional information on a particular country.

FLORIDA (USA)

Think of Florida and many people immediately think of Orlando and the theme parks or Kennedy Space Centre. But there’s much more to the Sunshine State and it seems the 400,000 Brits residing there would agree. We talk to Dean Churm, the British Consul in Florida to get some valuable inside information.

Brits in Florida

“In peak tourist season, which runs from April to October, approximately 28,000 Brits come through Orlando’s two international airports each week; not forgetting the major airports in Miami and Tampa too. A significant proportion of these will own holiday homes and we estimate that approximately 400,000 Brits reside in Florida at any one time. It’s really difficult to know exactly though because Brits are not required to register with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But we always encourage people to join our Facebook page so that they can receive relevant travel advice and information.

There is a vibrant ex-pat community here and everywhere you go in Florida you’ll hear a British accent. The most popular areas tend to be in and around Orlando, particularly the Davenport area, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. If you are after a quieter pace of life, the West Coast of Florida would be a good place to start; Naples, or Fort Myers are good bets. Further up the coast, Panama City Beach is gaining in popularity, as is Pensacola, but anything on the Intracoastal Waterway on Florida’s East Coast should be considered too, particularly around Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.

A lot of Brits come to Florida for the winter. The ‘snowbirds’ as the locals call them stay in second homes or utilise the summer resorts to get better winter rental deals. The Visa Waiver Programme will permit a 90 day stay, but the B1/B2 visa can allow up to 6 months in any one year. It is fairly straight-forward to get as long as you satisfy the requirements. Most Brits tend to come in October and then leave again when it starts to get hotter around April. Our travel advice at www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo has some useful information on travelling to the USA including more on visas.”

Looking to buy a property

“For those looking to purchase a property, there has been a downturn in the market and compared to three years ago, there appears to be quite a lot of bargains out there. But, you need to do your homework! Research, research, research is always key. There are a lot of empty rental properties about, so the confidence of some British buyers could have been knocked if they are looking to buy a property and then rent it out.

Anyone thinking of buying should, of course, get some solid legal advice. It also helps to understand that there are annual property taxes, homeowner, and condo-fees to consider on top of the purchase price which need to be factored into purchase plans. And of course, always factor in contingency funds when calculating your budget to account for possible changes in the above costs, and exchange rate fluctuations. We have other good tips on moving abroad at www.fco.gov.uk/livingabroad.

A lot of residential property in Florida is in gated communities – a culture not really known in the UK. The thinking is to provide extra security, but gated-community living can mean many different things so it’s always best to check exactly what’s on offer. For example, some will be manned by security guards 24 hours a day, some for only certain times of the day, whilst others won’t have guards but the property owner can “buzz” visitors through the automatic gates.”

Healthcare

“Healthcare is always a hot topic in the USA and costs can run high if you don’t have the appropriate medical insurance. There are no special arrangements for British visitors and we advise you to seek medical advice before travelling to the USA and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.”

US healthcare reform*

“On 23 March 2010, US President Barack Obama signed his landmark healthcare bill into law. The bill – passed on 21 March after months of heated debate – was the biggest change in US health policy for four decades. While some of the reforms took immediate effect, the majority will not come into force until 2014.

But even then, this really only affects long term residents and US citizens and for most Brits it remains that individuals will have to obtain health insurance. Many get coverage through their employers, but others will have to sign up for private insurance schemes.”

For more information on moving abroad go to www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo or for more detail on Florida,
visit www.ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/florida.

*Healthcare information taken from the BBC. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8579658.stm  news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8160058.stm.

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