Being one of the original 13 colonies, Florida has a proud position in the earliest part of American history. It is also the modern home of Disney World, Miami Beach, Cape Canaveral and the U.S. space program, the Everglades, and the beautiful coastline of Tampa and Daytona Beach. Florida's history began early on with Spanish explorers in the New World. Today, the state is a varied mix of cultures including American, Cuban-Hispanic, Caribbean, and Native American.
Some of the major urban centers include Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami, St. Petersburg and Tampa. However, Florida has so many cities and towns; the state is dotted with communities from the very end of the territory in the islands of Key West to the upper regions of Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Despite the generally warm weather most of the year, Florida is home to major citrus agriculture production. Other industries include, of course, tourism and a growing technology industry.
FL is the fourth most populated state in America with a total population of nearly 20 million people. It is also the fourth largest state economy, with an annual GDP of more than $700 billion. Per capita income is around $40,000, which places Florida right near the middle in the US income distribution.
In 2013, the average home value in the state was $150,000, which is right in line with average home values in the American south; states such as Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina have home values in the $120,0000-130,000 range. The most valuable homes in the state can run in the millions of dollars - a house in Miami Beach, Coral Gables, or Longboat Key, for example, will cost an average of $2-3 million. At the lower end of the spectrum, homes in Holiday and Port Richey cost under $100,000.
Florida is a large state, there are many options to consider if you're interested in relocating. We'll cover the largest cities next.
Home to the NFL's Jaguars, the city of Jacksonville is located in northeast FL. It is the largest city in the United States by area and the 12th largest by population. Jacksonville's economy is defined by its large port - it is the biggest port in the US for car parts and the second biggest overall port on the east coast. The city is also home to four Fortune 500 companies.
With its beautiful scenery and abundance of cruises, Miami is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Though the population of the city is a bit small, Miami's Metropolitan Area is actually the fourth largest in America at nearly 5.5 million people. The economy is driven by tourism, finance, media, and trade. The public sector is the largest employer in the city, and various branches of the local and federal government make up the four largest employers in Miami.
Like Miami, Tampa is actually larger than the city's population implies - greater Tampa is home to more than 4 million people. The city has won a number of informal honors over the years; Forbes Magazine called it the fifth best outdoor city, and a poll by Pew Research found it to be the fifth most popular big city in the United States. Tampa's economy is driven by finance, tourism, real estate, and more.
St. Petersburg, not to be confused with the city in Russia, is known locally as "St. Pete" and "the Burg". It is also a part of the Tampa Metro Area. St. Pete is notable as a popular retirement destination, due in part to its 360+ days of sunshine annually. The city's largest employers are Raymond James, All Children's Hospital, and that old staple of television, the Home Shopping Network.
Orlando, the fifth largest city in FL, is the home of Disney World along with Universal Resort and Sea World. It's also home to a booming technology indu
stry worth over $13 billion per year. Engineering firms with branches in the city include Mitsubishi, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T. If you're an engineer looking for great weather and interesting things to do, Orlando, Florida is a city to consider.
Florida is a big state, and naturally its large population is served by many banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, and more. We've compiled a few lists to help you with your search, with links to RateZip reviews where relevant.
These banks are headquartered in Florida, and they range from large banks to small community institutions:
If you're looking for a credit union rather than a bank, you are still in luck. There are many options for Floridians, over 160 in total. Here are the largest credit unions in the state:
The following national chains maintain branches in Florida:
You may be wondering why the banks are ordered in this manner. The ordering is based on this article about the best big banks in FL, published in 2012. PNC fared best while BofA fared worst.
Florida is a great attraction for those lucky to relocate to the state, and RateZip.com can help with detailed mortgage rate comparisons for the region. Let's break down the major options for homeowners in Florida who are looking to buy a new home or hoping to refinance.
With today's record low interest rates, fixed rate loans dominate the home mortgage market. Over the past few years, fixed rate mortgages - whether 10, 15, 20, or 30 years - have made up 90%+ of all originations. Consumers enjoy the security of the exact same monthly payment for the entire life of the loan.
ARMs have been relatively unpopular in recent years, but these loans made up 60-70% of the market as recently as 1994. Adjustable rate loans offer a lower initial interest rate, often called a teaser rate, and then adjust to according to an index every year later in the life of the mortgage. ARMs will make a comeback as rates rise over the next few years.
Loans backed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) have risen in popularity in recent years. These loans are great for first time home buyers, those with less than perfect credit, and individuals without a large down payment for their homes. VA loans are available to veterans of the armed forces.
If you're looking to move to Miami Beach or another area with sky high home values, you will likely need to obtain a jumbo mortgage. These loans are for homes that are too expensive for conventional mortgages.