Updated: Mar 9
Living in Destin on the pristine white sand beaches and beautiful emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast has significant perks. It is a fabulous lifestyle.
If you have been coming down here for years to the Florida Panhandle and you are wondering what it would be like to move down here full time, Destin can be all you dream and more, if you know everything that comes with it.
There are many good things, but also some negatives that you will need to look out for in the Destin area. Luckily you know that already and that's why you are here! But how will it affect you as a future local?
10 Pros and Cons of living in Destin Florida.
Destin Pro No. 1- Year Round Vacationers And Snowbirds Keep The Economy Booming With Tourism High Year Around
The first pro of living in the World's Luckiest Fishing Village is how it is a major tourist destination through the mild winters and the summer months.
Our Emerald Coast beaches are just attractive all year round, the clientele just rotates in the Destin area.
Every year when the snowbirds begin to arrive it starts a cascade effect that brings more businesses to open up shop and more jobs to be filled. And then their kids start arriving too, which means more summertime business for all of us! Which leads to even MORE jobs being filled!
This can be a powerful piece of knowledge if you invest in rental properties in the area as well. As an investor, it is very important to know this type of information when you are making decisions. In the Florida panhandle in particular, the summertime is a peak time of the season with June, July and August being the busiest.
Check out this article I wrote about what you need to know before getting a rental property in 30A.
Destin Pro No. 2- The Beach, THE BEACH, AND MORE BEACH
We all know that living in Destin, Florida puts you right on the Gulf of Mexico! This is why it's called the Emerald Coast, because the water here has an obvious green tint to it.
Often times the waves will pick up to even allow for surfing! Even if you aren't a good surfer there are other watersports available in the area. Family friendly activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking.
If you are the more adventurous type, stand up paddle boards are available for rent too at most beach vendors.
Destin Pro No. 3- Low Taxes And The Opportunity To Escape State Income Taxes With A Florida Address
As long as you own a home here with at least one homestead exemption, the state income tax rate is 0%. And when taxes are low…the dollars go further. You actually have MORE purchasing power when taxes are lower…or at least they SHOULD be lower right?
Living in Destin is an excellent option for people who travel frequently to other states since they can establish residency in Florida and save themselves some serious cash by not having to pay sales tax on many items.
Destin Pro No. 4- The Best Golf Courses
There are courses that are literally brought to you by the water! They have sand traps, deep roughs that could swallow your golf cart whole, and the greenest grass that you will ever see.
You can choose from semi private to country club and everything in between. There are even many timeshare opportunities here that can offer some affordable rates on prime golf courses and you will have to reserve tee times well in advance so don't wait too long!
There are also plenty of activities and restaurants to check out in the area. Check out our article about the 48 Best Restaurant and Date night ideas in the Destin and 30A area.
Destin Pro No. 5- The Sunsets Are Unparalleled
Not only do the sunrises get all of the attention, but so do the sunsets over the Gulf Of Mexico. We think it's completely unfair since they are both equally stunning! If you're looking for some Instagram worthy shots this is definitely the spot to find them! All you need is just a smartphone with an app or two and an internet connection and you can snap away all day without any fear of running out of memory space thanks to all of these cloudless skies.
And there you have it! Living in Destin Florida has some definite benefits for sure, but what about the cons? We saved them for last because if these issues were deal breakers than we wouldn't want to live here either!
Destin Con No. 1- If You Can't Afford It You Are Not Alone
Housing costs in the area are twice the national average. Increasing with demand and some are selling for well over a million dollars. You know that they aren't all "starter homes" there are obviously people here who make very good money!
Not to say there isn't anything available if you are near the median household income. But in order to get more for your money I would suggest looking at neighboring cities like Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville and Freeport.
This is NOT a place for people who are looking to escape the rat race or even catch up on their debt…it's more of a destination for those that are at the top of their game financially. If you're currently satisfied with where you are living then this may not be the area for you at this time.
Destin Con No. 2- The Traffic Is NUTS
It doesn't matter what time of day it is, there will be traffic here in Destin Florida on any given weekday! Most of it tends to be around the major retail areas and right after school dismissal times so buckle your seat belts and keep some extra snacks on hand if you have kids these lines can take longer than you would expect.
With Hwy 98 connecting Fort Walton and Panama City Beach, all it takes is one wreck and the 20 minute trip you were planning on taking could take over an hour.
Destin Con No. 3- Traffic Jams
People have begun living in the area because of the tremendous real estate bargains to be had here just after Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 and many people bought up homes at extremely reduced prices.
This has become a problem as we can't build any more roads, and there are quite literally thousands of people who would like to visit every weekend during prime times (spring break for example) and they all use Highway 98 to do it.
Parking is always an issue and traffic jams especially on summer weekends afternoons can be horrendous…be prepared for this! Many locals now take the back roads and avoid the beaches during these times, or they just leave early.
Destin Con No. 4 – Hurricane Risks
Looking from the outside in, you would think that full time residents are crazy for living here during hurricane season. In fact, they are quite the opposite.
Also understand what a Storm Surge means if you are living on the waterfront. During Hurricane Michael for example, the wind and rain were major destructors, but it was the water that did the most damage.
Destin Con No. 5 – The Beach Can Be Crowded On Holiday Weekends And Summer Afternoons
If you plan on living here for any length of time or especially if you have kids then you will need to know that this area can get congested especially during the summer.
Know your beach accesses, public beaches and access points. The bigger and more obvious they are, likely the more packed they will be.
My favorite spots around town are the protected accesses and state parks. These will often times cost money to get into, but not much.
There are also two DO NOT MISS GREAT SPOTS right here in Destin to check out: Henderson Beach State Park, and Miramar Beach! These two spots are great to avoid the tourist crowds, and they have public access for a very reasonable fee.
Commonly Asked Questions:
When does the Destin Beach Season typically run?
Beach season runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day in this part of Florida. If you're looking to skip school or work that week or two at the end of summer then you'll find plenty of company in the area.
Beach Service and the companies that operate rental equipment will typically run from March through October, with some exceptions.
What days are the worst for traffic in Destin?
Saturday afternoon is worst for traffic, especially if you're trying to head into Destin that way. Avoid it or expect some very slow going. Everyone is either trying to get into town or leaving to go home. Plan ahead and get that ice cream early!
Try not to drive during prime times on the weekends (5 pm - 8 pm) unless your destination is right off 98, or you have a specific reason to be heading down that way.
Everyone will want to get groceries when they first get into town so be aware if you are staying through one of those days.
Why is Destin called the World's Luckiest Fishing Village?
There is a story featuring the Governor and Captain Salty back in the day taking a 20 minute trip just out of the Jetty's and back.
They quickly caught a 29 pound King Mackerel and after asking how they did it so quickly, the Governor boasted, "Well what else would you expect from the World's Luckiest Fishing Village!?"
Some of the largest Marlins, Red Snapper and Grouper in the World have Captains that hail from Destin's Harbor.
Destin boasts not only the gulfs largest fishing fleet, but also has a wide variety of fish that can be caught in the Gulf of Mexico.