Retiring in a High-rise Condo in South Florida

Retiring in a High Rise Condo in Florida

Fun beaches, city views and affordable condos...South Florida could be our retirement spot. 

Retiring in South Florida is an idea we had after a recent trip. Mr. Rover and I had recently gone to Panama City, Panama to check out the city and real estate. Panama City was high on our list as a retirement destination so off we went. Unfortunately, once we arrived, we realized there were a few deal breakers for us regarding retiring there.

One thing we really did love was the beautiful highrise buildings in the city and the amazing views that came with them. So it got us thinking...what about retiring in South Florida? There are tons of highrises that offer incredible views, a thriving multicultural scene and beaches galore.

So, I got to researching because that’s what I do. I’ll overdose on research, staying up late to look at every listing, reading local forums and finding every article about the topic I can. Mr. Rover sometimes thinks I neglect him at these times but a girl has to do what a girl has to do!

Anyway, back to Florida. I just knew this would be our place. There were plenty of options within our price range and surprisingly, around the same price that we could get in Panama City. So, I booked a trip. The main areas we looked at were between Hollywood Beach and Aventura.

Hollywood Beach/Hallandale/Aventura

These are the three areas that we searched for properties. The Hollywood Beach area has a vibe all it’s own. When driving down Ocean Drive, you’ll see towering buildings on both sides of the street. There’s a lot of traffic and city blocks of buildings, asphalt and cars. If you want to take a stroll, the beach is it. But, that’s the whole point. If you live by the beach, that’s your track.

A lot of condos are located west of Ocean Drive and you have to cross the causeway to get there. This means if you purchased on the West side, walking to the beach is not possible. You’ll have to get in a car. On the other hand, your surroundings will be a bit more calm. Many of the places have grounds where you can walk along the causeway and therefore still enjoy the water. But still, the sidewalks in front of the buildings were empty. No one was out walking.

Once we hit Aventura, we could see a difference. It has many high rise buildings but the surroundings feel a lot more suburban. There are walking paths where people were out walking, biking and skating. There were a lot more trees and grass giving it a more homey feel.

I really liked both areas but Mr. Rover wasn’t sold. And one thing I agree with him on is this is an area where we would definitely need a car. And worse yet is the amount of traffic. It wasn’t bad around Aventura (mind you, this was a weekend) but trying to go to the beach and find parking was a hassle.

Top 5 Things We Love about South Florida

  • The Views
    This is something that we agreed on hands down. Wow. Some of the views were spectacular. We saw one condo located right on the causeway. There was such a lively view of boats and jetskis going by and a deep blue slice of the beautiful Atlantic between the buildings across the way.
  • The breeze out on the balcony was delicious. The night view would have been just as spectacular. Lights from the surrounding buildings and boats. This is what I want when I think about retiring in South Florida. Ahh.
  • The Affordability
    We were surprised how affordable some of the condos are. When I think of a city condo, I think about prices in places like Chicago and San Francisco. Not so in South Florida. Of course, there are luxury buildings out there that are expensive so if you’re looking for something more upscale, you’ll have plenty of choices.
  • The Beach/Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
    In Panama City, you couldn’t just head out to the local beach. Finding a good one was quite a drive. But living in South Florida puts you right in the middle of some of the best beaches in the U.S.

    And the boardwalk is awesome. When the water is too cold or you don’t feel like a beach day, the boardwalk is a great place to walk with plenty of benches to sit and people watch. Palm trees, restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops line the walkway. It’s a fantastic place to spend a few hours or the day. 
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk

Beautiful day at the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk

Hollywood Beach Ice Cream

Lots of ice cream shops along the boardwalk. 

  • The Food
    The best Cuban food is in this area. If you love things like Ropa Vieja, Arroz con Pollo, Cuban coffee and Cuban sandwiches, this is the place for you!

Top 4 Things We Don't Like about South Florida

  • Hurricanes
    South Florida gets hit by hurricanes. Yes, this is something we already knew but still, it’s a concern. But in my mind, I thought that it would be better to live in a high rise because you wouldn’t have to deal with flooding and the building could withstand more than a house.

    But...we were looking at an apartment while the resident was there. He was so nice and was explaining how during the last hurricane, the rain was beating so hard up against the windows that the condo actually took on about 6 inches of water during the battering. Here was a 10th floor condo that was flooded due to rain.

    Oh and by the way, this meant that the board realized that new windows needed to be installed throughout the building. Hello assessments!
  • Traffic
    I’ve mentioned traffic here a few times but for us, we don’t want to spend more time in traffic when we’re retired. We’ve spent enough time sitting in cars commuting to and from work.

    So yes, traffic in this area is bad. We decided to go to Miami mid-day on a Monday. There was a restaurant we wanted to try so we set off. Well...Miami traffic in the middle of the day during the week was insane. But...same as any other big city.
  • The Humidity
    This bothers me much more than it bothers Mr. Rover. But hey, I have baby fine, straight hair. The humidity makes it want to sit flat against my head all day, every day. Boo! His hair looks great even walking out of the ocean, he has no clue. But even so, it doesn’t feel good when there is oppressive humidity.
  • Mosquitoes
    These annoying creatures are my sworn enemy. Some of the buildings have screened porches which is nice. But most don’t. Apparently the average mosquito usually only flies as high as 25ft but has no problem flying higher than that. So, if you’re higher up in a building there is still a chance of mosquitoes stopping by for a quick bite.

Fun Fact

There is a three-tiered living coral reef off the coast of Fort Lauderdale and 75 artificial reefs!

Things You Should Know about Retiring in a High rise in South Florida

There are a few important things to consider when considering retiring in South Florida in a high-rise condo. Whether you're in Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale or Miami, these considerations apply State-wide. 

  • Monthly HOA Fees
    This is typical of any condo. You have to pay a monthly fee to the association for maintenance of the common areas. The frustrating part is that exorbitant fees are what priced us out of some of the newer condos.

    We just couldn’t see spending $1200 per month on condo fees in addition to our monthly mortgage. If you’re trying to retire on a budget, this can be an issue. Most listings on list the monthly fees.
  • HOA Boards
    The HOA boards in the general area tend to be made up of older folks. Many of whom never had any type of management or budget management experience. We got an earful from a resident of one of the condos we were looking at. He was in his 80s and moving to a retirement home. He was on the board and warned us about the situation.

    I’m sure not all boards are the same but it’s a good idea to inquire about the board and absolutely request to see the condominium documentation which includes the declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation of the association, bylaws of the association, and the frequently asked questions and answers sheet. A good realtor will be able to help guide you through this.
  • Rental Restrictions
    If you’re interested in buying something now and renting it out for several years before you’re ready to retire, you’ll have to make sure there are no rental restrictions in the building you’re looking to buy into.

    Some buildings say you’re not able to rent your unit at all and others restrict the first year or two.
  • Parking
    Parking is an issue in many of the older buildings. You only get one spot so if you have two cars, you’ll have to figure something out as you’re not able to park in guest parking as a resident.
  • Another common complaint is that there isn’t enough parking available for guests. Make sure you explore the parking situation if you have more than one car or if you’ll have frequent guests over.
  • Fire Safety
    In the 90s, a law was passed that all new high-rise condos in Florida were required to have a sprinkler system in all units. Many of the high-rise buildings were built pre-1990s. Another law was then passed to require all high rise buildings built before the new code retrofit the units in the buildings with sprinkler systems.

    The HOAs of those buildings had a choice to retrofit at about $2k to $10k per unit or vote to opt-out, thus saving all residents from a huge expense added to their monthly dues.

    If you’re looking for a condo, make sure you understand if the HOA opted out of the retrofit, if it’s been done and paid for or if it’s still in the work thus passing on the expense to you.

Fun Fact

The Hollywood Beach Boardwalk is nearly 2.5 miles long!

Fort Lauderdale Cost of Living Chart

Data from Numbeo and Zillow



Cost of Living Rank

38th out of 517

1 Bdr Apartment in City

$1800 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City

$1400 per month

Median Home Price


Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line

For us, retiring in South Florida in a high-rise condo isn’t in the cards. I’m more for it but Mr. Rover wants more of a small, beachy town feel. So we continue on our journey to find our paradise. But, it could be something you would love. For those craving the activities provided by a larger city, this area may be somewhere to consider.

However, if you're craving to live in a destination outside of the U.S., Panama City, Panama could be the prefect spot!

Quick Facts about South Florida 




9,340,000 (entire area from Fort Lauderdale to Miami)


9 ft


Long, hot and wet summers. Pop up showers in the afternoon occure most days. Winters are short, humid, windy and clear. Average temps are from 61°F and 89°F

Tax Friendliness

FL is rated as very tax friendly. No State taxes, Social Security income in not taxed. Withdrawals from retirement accouts are not taxed. Public and private pension income is not taxed and wages are taxed at normal rates. 

About the Author Mrs. Rover

Evelyn (AKA, Mrs. Rover) has a few passions in life: real estate, traveling and dreaming about retiring with Mr. Rover. She's excited to share her ideas, thoughts and experiences and hopes to help anyone else looking for their dream location.