Living in Destin on the white sand beaches and beautiful emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast has significant advantages. It's a fabulous lifestyle.
If you've been coming here to the Florida Panhandle for years and wondering what it would be like to move here full time, Destin can be everything you dream of and more if you know what it takes.
There are many good things, but also some bad things you need to be aware of in the Destin area. Luckily you already know and that's why you're here! But how will this affect you as a future local?
10 pros and cons of living in Destin Florida.
Destin Pro No. 1- Tourists and snow lovers keep the economy booming with year-round tourism
The first advantage of living in the luckiest fishing village in the world is that it is a major tourist destination during the mild winters and summer months.
Our Emerald Coast beaches are attractive year-round, with only a rotating clientele in the Destin area.
Every year, when the snowbirds start arriving, a ripple effect begins that brings more business to open stores and more jobs to fill. And then their kids start arriving too, which means more summer business for all of us! Which leads to even MORE jobs being filled!
This can be a powerful insight if you are also investing in rental properties in the area. As an investor, it is very important to know this type of information when making decisions. In the Florida Panhandle in particular, summer is the peak time of the season, with June, July and August being the busiest.
Check out this article I wrote aboutwhat you need to know before renting a property on 30A.
Destin Pro No. 2- The beach, THE BEACH AND MORE BEACH
We all know that living in Destin, Florida puts you on the Gulf of Mexico! That is why it is called the Emerald Coast, because the water here has an obvious green tint.
Often the waves rise to allow for even surfing! Even if you're not a good surfer, there are other water sports available in the area. Family activities like paddle surfing and kayaking.
If you're the more adventurous type, stand-up paddle boards are also available for rent from most beach vendors.
Destin Pro No. 3- Low taxes and the opportunity to avoid state income tax with a Florida address
As long as you own a home here with at least one housing exemption, the state income tax rate is 0%. And when taxes are low...dollars go further. In fact, you have MORE purchasing power when taxes are lower... or at least SHOULD be lower, right?
Living in Destin is a great option for those who travel frequently to other states, as they can take up residence in Florida and save a lot of money by not having to pay sales tax on many items.
Destin Pro No. 4- Best Golf Courses
There are courses that are literally washed away! They have sand traps, deep holes that could swallow your golf cart whole, and the greenest grass you'll ever see.
You can choose from semi-private, country club and everything in between. There are even plenty of timeshare opportunities here that can offer some affordable rates on top golf courses and you'll need to book tee times well in advance, so don't wait too long!
There are also many activities and restaurants to visit in the area. Take a look at our article on the48 Best Restaurant and Date Night Ideas in the Destin Area and 30A.
Destin Pro No. 5- The sunset is unparalleled
It's not just the sunrise that gets all the attention, but the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico as well. We think it's completely unfair since they're both equally amazing! If you're looking for some Instagram-worthy photos, this is definitely the place to find them! All you need is just a smartphone with an app or two and an internet connection, and you can shoot all day without fear of running out of memory space thanks to all those clear skies.
And there it is! Sure, living in Destin, Florida has some definite benefits, but what about the cons? We've saved them for last, because if these issues were a hindrance, we wouldn't want to live here either!
Destin Con No. 1: If You Can't Pay, You're Not Alone
Housing costs in the area are double the national average. Increasing with demand and some sell for over a million dollars. You know not all are "starter houses", obviously there are people here who make a lot of money!
That's not to say there isn't anything available if you're close to the median household income. But to get more for your money, I'd suggest looking into neighboring cities like Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, and Freeport.
This is NOT a place for people looking to escape the rat race or even recoup their debt... it's more of a destination for those who are at the top of their game financially. If you are happy with where you live, this may not be the area for you right now.
Destin Con No. 2- The traffic is crazy
No matter the time of day, there will be traffic here in Destin Florida any day of the week! Most tend to be around the main shopping areas and just after school-leaving time, so buckle up and have a few extra snacks handy if you have kids, these lines can take longer than expected.
With Highway 98 connecting Fort Walton and Panama City Beach, all it takes is one accident and the 20-minute drive you were planning to take could take over an hour.
Destin Con No. 3- Traffic jams
People started living in the area because of the tremendous real estate deals here shortly after Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 and many people bought homes at extremely low prices.
This has become an issue because we can't build any more roads, and there are literally thousands of people who would like to visit every weekend during prime time (i.e. spring break) and they all use Highway 98 to do so.
Parking is always a problem and traffic jams, especially on summer weekend afternoons, can be awful... be prepared for that! Many locals now take the back roads and avoid the beaches during this time, or simply leave early.
Destin Con No. 4 – Risks of hurricanes
Looking in from the outside, you'd think full-time residents would be crazy to live here during hurricane season. In fact, they are the exact opposite.
Also understand what a storm means if you live on the coast. During Hurricane Michael, for example, wind and rain were the main wreckers, but it was water that did the most damage.
Destin Con No. 5 - The beach can get crowded on holiday weekends and summer afternoons
If you intend to live here for a long period of time or especially if you have children, you should be aware that this area can get congested, especially during the summer.
Know your beach access, public beaches and hotspots. The larger and more obvious they are, the fuller they are likely to be.
My favorite places in town are the gated gateways and state parks. These usually cost money to join, but not a lot.
There are also two GREAT MUST PLACES here in Destin to visit: Henderson Beach State Park and Miramar Beach. Both places are great for avoiding the tourist crowds and have public access for a very reasonable fee.
When is Destin's beach season generally?
Beach season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day in this part of Florida. If you're looking to skip school or work that week or two at the end of the summer, you'll find plenty of businesses in the area.
Beach service and companies that operate rental equipment will normally be available March through October, with some exceptions.
What days are the worst for traffic in Destin?
Saturday afternoon is the worst for traffic, especially if you're trying to get into Destin that way. Avoid or expect something too slow. Everyone is trying to get to town or go home. Plan ahead and get that ice cream early!
Try not to drive during peak hours on weekends (5pm to 8pm) unless your destination is near the 98 or you have a specific reason to go there.
Everyone will want to buy groceries when they get to town, so be careful if you stay for one of these days.
Why is Destin considered the luckiest fishing town in the world?
There is a story where the Governor and Captain Salty take a 20 minute trip from the dock 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 luckiest fishing village in the world?"
Some of the world's largest Marlins, Red Snapper and Grouper have captains who hail from the port of Destin.
Not only does Destin have the largest fishing fleet in the gulf, it also has a wide variety of fish that can be caught in the Gulf of Mexico.
Is Destin Florida a good place to live? ›
Destin is in Okaloosa County and is one of the best places to live in Florida. Living in Destin offers residents an urban feel and most residents own their homes. Many young professionals live in Destin and residents tend to be conservative. The public schools in Destin are highly rated.What kind of people live in Destin Florida? ›
White: 85.03% Black or African American: 5.07% Two or more races: 4.74% Other race: 3.14%
The Destin area offers the ideal small town beachfront community setting that is absolutely perfect for anyone who is passionate about fishing, golfing, or just relaxing on the beach. If you are looking for a retirement destination where every day feels like a vacation, Destin is a great place to start.Is Destin Florida affordable to live? ›
Higher Cost Of Living
And that means the cost of living in Destin is considerably higher than the national average. You can find a much cheaper place to live in Florida. Without a doubt. Consider that BestPlaces.net marks the median home value at 68% more.
Is Destin Florida worth visiting? Yes! It is worth visiting because of its fishing, beaches, watersports, and family-friendly atmosphere. You can learn about what you can do in and see in Destin, Florida on your visit below to help you come up with a travel plan.