MIAMI – Nov. 27, 2017 – The 2017 Sunshine State Survey from the University of South Florida asked respondents to judge the livability of their own neighborhood and what would deter someone from moving in. It also asked them to predict what the neighborhood will be like in five years, according to Susan A. MacManus, project director.

For the survey, each respondent answered a series of question including this one: "Some community leaders are worried about having enough people to live and fill job openings in their communities. If someone you knew was considering a move, would any of the following keep them from choosing to move to your community? Would ___ be a big problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem?"

Respondents were asked to rate 10 possible deterrents listed here in order of concern:

Traffic congestion. Nearly three-quarters of Floridians feel the pain of traffic congestion: 72 percent feel that traffic jams are "somewhat of a problem" or worse, with over a third (34 percent) saying that congestion is "a big problem." There is some indication that the problem is getting worse as the economy improves and more people move to Florida. Those most likely to identify congestion as a big deterrent to in-migration are unemployed workers (40 percent), full-time workers (39 percent), persons of prime working age— ages 35 to 54 (40 percent), Hispanics (40 percent), and those with higher household incomes, who are more likely to live in suburbs (41 percent).

Cost of buying a home. Seven-in-ten Floridians say that the cost of buying a home would be a problem for someone considering moving into their community. These concerns track with rising home prices in the state – up 30 percent across most markets, according to some estimates. Younger Floridians are more likely than older Floridians to say that the cost of buying a home would be a problem for someone considering moving to their community: 76 percent of those ages 18 to 34, compared with 62 percent of those ages 80 and older. Three-fourths of black (75 percent) and Hispanic (77 percent) respondents say that the cost of buying a home is a deterrent to potential newcomers, compared with 65 percent of whites.

Those living in a household earning $75,000 or more are more likely to say that the cost of buying a house would be a problem for someone considering a move to their community (74 percent), perhaps because of a greater awareness of the costs of homeownership (as they are more likely to own a home) or the escalation in property values in their neighborhood.

Rental housing costs. About 70 percent of Floridians identify the cost of rental housing as a possible deterrent to potential residents of their community – 29 percent say it's a big problem, while another 40 percent say it is somewhat of a problem. With population steadily growing in the state and more upper-income residents choosing to rent rather than buy, the demand for rental housing is outstripping availability, and new developments are increasingly tailored to high-end customers. Both trends drive up prices.

With rents rising most in Florida's largest and most diverse cities, residents from racial and ethnic minorities and younger Floridians are hit hardest. Thus, it is not surprising that rental housing costs are identified as an in-migration deterrent by a larger share of Hispanics (83 percent), those ages 18 to 34 (73 percent), and women (74 percent) – each lower wage earners, on average.

Availability of public transportation. Overall, two-thirds (67 percent) say that the availability of public transportation would be a problem for people considering moving into their community; 38 percent see it as a "big" problem – a higher share than for any other issue examined. More women (40 percent), Hispanics (42 percent), those not in the work force (47 percent), those with a household income of less than $35,000 (41 percent), older Floridians ages 55 to 64 (42 percent) and ages 65 to 79 (40 percent), and college graduates (41 percent) point to the lack of public transportation as a reason to deter future residents from moving in to the community.

Except for college graduates, the other demographic groups have larger shares of low income and/or disabled persons, less likely to drive and more likely to rely on public transit to get around.

Availability of affordable long-term health care. Sixty percent of Floridians say that accessing affordable long-term care would be a problem for someone considering a move into their community – either "big" (22 percent) or "somewhat" of a problem (38 percent). Among those most likely to say that long-term care affordability is "a big problem" are Baby Boomers (30 percent) and lower-income Floridians (30 percent). Boomers are more attentive to the costs of long-term care; while those with low incomes worry that neither they nor others in similar circumstances could afford long-term care in their community.

Commute time to work. A majority of Floridians (58 percent) say that commute times would be either a "big" problem (21 percent) or "somewhat" of a problem (37 percent). Those most likely to identify commute times as a "big" problem are Hispanics (27 percent), those ages 35 to 64, full-time workers (25 percent), those with a household income of at least $35,000 but less than $75,000 (26 percent), and college graduates (25 percent).

Access to quality health care. Floridians are split over whether access to quality health care would be a problem for someone considering a move into their community. Nearly equal shares say that access to quality health care would not be a problem (49 percent) as say that it would be a problem (48 percent)" somewhat of a problem" (31 percent), a "big problem" (17 percent).

Majorities of millennials (57 percent), blacks (61 percent), Hispanics (54 percent), part-time workers (53 percent), the unemployed (62 percent) or not working (58 percent), and lower-income (56 percent) Floridians say that healthcare access poses either "a big problem" or "somewhat of a problem" to potential newcomers. These gaps in opinion follow health insurance trends: 13 percent of Floridians are uninsured, and the uninsured are disproportionately young, poor and non-white. Floridians, especially in these groups, are more likely to work in low-skill service jobs, and many of their employers either do not offer health insurance or offer plans that are unaffordable for low-income people.

Quality of schools. People with a child in school are less likely to say that school quality would be a deterrent to future buyers than current residents without children (51 percent vs. 46 percent). So, too are wealthier individuals, who can better afford to choose locations with good schools than those with household incomes of $35,000-$74,999 (52 percent vs. 41 percent).

Public safety. A majority of Floridians do not see public safety problems as keeping someone from moving in to their community, but 39 percent do (7 percent view it as a "big problem" and 32 percent as "somewhat of a problem.") Even crime rate data send mixed signals. While both property and violent crime rates have halved in the state since 1996, both rates are still substantially higher than the national average.

Black (49 percent), Hispanic (50 percent), and low-income (47 percent) Floridians are most concerned about public safety. Minority Floridians are more likely to live in urban areas, where the number and rate of crimes tends to be higher, while low-income people tend to live in poorer communities, also with generally higher levels of crime.

Availability of public parks and recreation spaces. Few say that the availability of parks and recreation places would be a "big" problem (6 percent) or "somewhat" of a problem (19 percent) affecting a potential in-migrant's decision. A larger share of women (29 percent) and lower-income persons –household income below $35,000 (30 percent) – cite the availability of parks and recreation spaces as a negative in their community.

Women (mothers) are generally more aware of the location and condition of the parks around them. And previous research has found that poorer persons tend to live a greater distance from green spaces.

More information about the USF study is posted online.

© 2017 Florida Realtors

Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.