WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Some Florida residents told WPTV they are not looking back as they head north on interstates 95 and 75 in search of a new home state.
Many said they're looking for a better quality of life that includes more affordable options following a surge in housing and insurance costs in the Sunshine State.
Sascha Bennemann and his family recently left Florida for South Carolina.
"It was being flooded by people from elsewhere, and I thought that the vibe was a little bit different than it had been in the past," Bennemann said. "I just wanted something different for our family."
New Census Bureau data shows that residents from New York, California and New Jersey top the list of out-of-staters moving into Florida. However, there are a number of Floridians saying farewell, heading to states like Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.
Real Estate News
Some Florida residents departing state in search of affordability
Bennemann's new home is in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, near Charleston.
According to Business Insider, U.S. Census Bureau numbers show between the years 2021 and 2022 that early 739,000 people moved to Florida and nearly 490,000 residents moved out
"[We] essentially doubled our square footage [of our home]," Bennemann said.
Those leaving Florida include young families. One mom that WPTV spoke with, Samantha Mahnke, works as a bartender while her husband works as a special effects designer. They moved to Georgia in search of better finances and desired schools.
"That's really what forced our hand to sell our house in Florida and pack up," Mahnke said.
The pattern all starts here in Florida.
"If you make $200,000 or less, our area is challenging," South Florida real estate agent Holly Meyer Lucas said. "It's challenging to live in our area, and it sounds absolutely bananas coming out of my mouth, but that puts you in an extremely different income bracket to the states just north of us or within a short drive of us."
So, what do real estate agents in these southern states say about the Florida residents moving in?
"How many Floridians are you talking to?" asked WPTV reporter Tory Dunnan to Christi Hill, a real estate agent in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
"More so now than I'd say three or four years ago," Hill said.
"[South Carolina] seems to be a hotspot for Floridians," Dan Hamilton, a real estate agent in Greenville, South Carolina, said. "What I'm hearing mostly is just quality of life issues."
Real Estate News
South Florida real estate agent sees signs of loosening rental market
Near the Georgia-South Carolina line, real estate agents are hearing similar statements from residents moving to their state.
"At closing, all she talked about was just insurance [costs in Florida]," Peter Larson, a real estate agent in Augusta, Georgia, said.
"It's always like a wow moment of, 'Hey, this house in Florida would be $200,000 more just for a little starter home,'" Skylar Topper, a real estate agent in Atlanta, said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by real estate agents in Alabama.
"I have heard that they're sad about the idea of not being able to see the beach, but because of the affordability, they've had to work such longer hours," Amanda Howard, a real estate agent in Huntsville, Alabama said. "The hope is that they're going to move here and have a better life."
Real estate agents also mentioned that some people may have moved to Florida but are now also leaving.
"Some of them moved to Florida, kind of looking for something different maybe from up North and have come sort of halfway back up," Hamilton said.
"We call those halfway backers," Hill said.
The dust continues to settle as families look for a lower cost of living.
"It's a big move if you've dedicated decades of your life to live somewhere to uproot," Dunnan asked Bennemann. "What, what would you tell other Floridians?"
"It was a really positive experience, to be honest with you," Bennemann said. "A little scary at first, you know, 40 years in Florida."
However, the grass isn't always greener for some of these Florida residents once they move out of state.
WPTV recently spoke to Leanne McClaren, who moved to South Carolina, but returned back to the Sunshine State.
"I really would say to really really think about it before you do it," McClaren said. "Because I kind of did it on a whim. Because ultimately, at this point in time, buying my house back would be double."