7 Things To Do In Northeast Florida For Retirees


Northeast Florida is a great place to live. It’s filled with activities for retirees, regardless of what you’re interested in. There’s no denying people love retiring in Northeast Florida, in fact, more and more retirees are happily buying a vacation home in the area. This interesting region of the state is a blend of old and new, offering residents numerous things to see and do.

You won’t grow bored in the First Coast. Here are seven things to do in Northeast Florida for retirees.


1. Take In Northeast Florida’s Rich History

st augustine

Do you consider yourself a history buff? If so, you’ll love touring St. Augustine, where you can get to know the place where America developed its roots. People have been living in Northeast Florida for over 6,000 years, as St. Augustine was founded in 1565, 38 years before Jamestown and 55 years before Plymouth Rock. It’s a historical area with attractions that include the Colonial Quarter, Flagler College, and the St. Augustine National Cemetery.


2. Go Horseback Riding On Amelia Island

horseback riding amelia island

Have you ever dreamed of riding a horse on the beach with your significant other? You’re in luck, as Amelia Island, only forty minutes away from Jacksonville, offers horseback riding next to the Atlantic Ocean. As the island is home to thirteen miles of beautiful beaches, the opportunities for watching the sunset on horseback are seemingly endless. Don’t miss out on Fernandina Beach, a throwback to the Victorian era.


3. Visit The Area’s Art Galleries and Museums

northeast florida museums art galleries

Northeast Florida is a cultural hub, boasting many art galleries and museums for you to get lost in. Some of our favorites include the Cummer Museum in Riverside, The Museum of Contemporary Art near City Hall, the Museum of Science and History by Friendship Park, and the Karpeles Manuscript Library just off Main Street in Springfield.


4. Spend Time Surrounded By Nature At A Park  

northeast florida parks

From small neighborhood parks to large regional parks, you can’t help but become a nature lover once you move to Northeast Florida. Jacksonville alone is home to the largest urban park system in the country. Get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy the great outdoors.


5. Check Out The Fountain Of Youth

the fountain of youth

Living in Northeast Florida will make you feel young again, in more ways than one. According to legend, 500 years ago Ponce de Leon found a magical spring that lengthened the lives of those who drank from it. Whether or not you believe this old wives tale, you should check out The Fountain Of Youth. It’s a great spot to spend an afternoon and is one of our favorite out of the box activities to do in Northeast Florida.


6. Practice Your Swing At One Of The Many Golf Courses  

northeast florida golf courses

Get your clubs together and book your tee time, because the greatest golf courses are in North Florida. There are also TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse Tours, where you can see where golf legends like Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples have won THE PLAYERS Championship. See where it all happened and give the course a go yourself.


7. Sit Back And Relax On The Beach

northeast florida beaches

You worked your whole life, and you deserve to kick back on the beach. Luckily, the best beaches are in the Northeast part of Florida. South Beach (no not Miami) is perfect for getting some alone time, Fort Clinch is home to a historic fort and Jacksonville Beach is made for having some fun in the sun. Check out the white-sand coastlines of Ponte Vedra Beach and the grassy dunes of Anastasia Park.


7 Reasons People Love Retiring In Jacksonville


It’s no surprise Florida is at the top of the list when it comes to states to retire in. With 1,3500 miles of coastline to choose from the difficult part is deciding where to settle down.

We’re here to make the case for Jacksonville. People move to Jacksonville for many reasons. It’s relaxing and fun, the neighborhoods and communities are welcoming and warm, the weather is great, and there are so many dining and entertainment options.

Keep reading to see the 7 Reasons People Love Retiring in Jacksonville.


1. The Suburbs are Welcoming

jacksonville suburbs

Jacksonville is home to numerous suburbs perfectly suited for retirement. The Riverside neighborhood is filled with volunteer organizations, while Orange Park is known for their close-knit community and local produce. You really can’t go wrong, as no one neighborhood is better than the other.


2. The Food Scene

jacksonville restaurants

With new restaurants popping up regularly, barbecue joints to satisfy your cravings, breakfast spots to start your morning on the right foot, and an array of interesting food trucks, there are so many delicious dining options in Jacksonville. When it comes to what the area offers, you’ll never run out of places to eat at.


3. The Proximity To Other Places

jacksonville proximity other places

Jacksonville’s ideal location in Northeast Florida makes day trips easier than ever. Have friends in the next town over? Want to check out that new Mexican restaurant outside of the city? It’s no problem getting anywhere and everywhere. There are several short road trips you can take from the city that make for fun excursions.


4. The Amenities

jacksonville amenities

Area Vibes gave the amenities in Jacksonville an A+. When it comes to getting groceries, going shopping, and grabbing a coffee, you really can’t beat what the city offers retirees. Not to mention the incredible parks, the amazing libraries, the entertainment options, and the number of great fitness centers. Jacksonville’s public transit is top notch as well, so getting around to see all these things is as easy as can be.  


5. The Low Cost Of Living  

jacksonville low cost of living

People love retiring and living in Jacksonville because the cost of living is so low. In fact, it’s lower than both the state and national averages. The housing costs in Jacksonville are also a lot more affordable than in similar cities across the state, coming in at 5% less than the national average. Even transportation, utilities, and groceries all boast a lower than average cost.


6. The Golfing is World-Class

jacksonville golfing

Do you enjoy hitting the links and spending time on the green? Or are you new to the sport and looking to work on your backswing? Regardless, the best golf courses in North Florida will be right around the corner from your new home. To name a few of the popular ones in the area, there’s the Bent Creek Golf Course, Panther Creek Golf Club, and Hyde Park Golf Club.


7. And, Of Course, The Weather

jacksonville weather

Aside from the weather elevating your mood, it also helps your overall health. The Arthritis Foundation shared a study from Tufts University in 2007, where they discovered every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in arthritis pain. Your kids and grandkids will want to visit all the time due to your warm and sunny location.

The long and short, Jacksonville is a great place to retire and we’re happy to call it home ourselves.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Sally Yousef Mchantaf to the Mandarin/St. Johns office.

Sally joins Florida Network Realty as a Realtor with an extensive background working in the Human Resources Department, as an HRIS Specialist in the Mashreq region, for Kraft Foods. In this position, Sally managed the migration of Cadbury’s SAP system (EuHReka) to SHARP, Kraft’s SAP system during the integration phase between Kraft and Cadbury. She led the interface process between these two systems, and worked to troubleshoot that crossover, train all users to become certified SAP users, and audited the accuracy of all systems on a monthly basis – for all the HR systems for Egypt, Levant, and Algeria.

Originally from Egypt, Sally graduated from Ain Shams University in Cairo with a B.A in Business Administration. She is fluent in Arabic – her mother tongue – English, and French. As a Realtor, Sally is eager to utilize the skills she’s learned – in sales, marketing, and customer service – to help her clients buy or sell their house and to help guide them through each step of the real estate process.

“I am excited to welcome Sally to the Mandarin office! With Sally’s strong background in business, customer service, and sales I know she’ll find success here. Sally is a true people-person who takes pride in taking care of each of her clients’ individual needs. I am excited that she has chosen to begin her career as a Realtor with Florida Network Realty,” shares Christine Scalf, Broker/Manager of the Mandarin/St. Johns office.

For more information, Sally Yousef Mchantaf can be reached by phone at 732.895.4798 or at Sally.Yousef@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: JaxHomeCatchers.com. The Mandarin/St. Johns office is located at 11576 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32223.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Mark Stuart to the Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office.

“I am excited to welcome Mark to the Beaches office of Florida Network Realty. Mark is a very successful Realtor who is joining us from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. With over 100 million in real estate sales, his proven Private Client Services approach yields unmatched results for his clients. From your very first meeting to the final closing, Mark provides best-in-class service to his clients. He has the experience you can count on and the passion to make things happen even with the most challenging circumstances,” shares Don Cline, Assistant General Manager and Broker/Manager of the Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office.

For more information, Mark Stuart can be reached by phone at 904.990.8140 or at Mark.Stuart@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: PrivateClientRealtor.com. The Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office is located at 375-1 Atlantic Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, Florida 32233.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Ashley Gibson to the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

Born and raised in Northeast Florida, Ashley is eager to launch her career as a Realtor with Florida Network Realty. Before joining the Ponte Vedra Office, Ashley was self-employed as a Floral Supply Wholesaler and in this position, Ashley honed her sales and marketing skills – marketing products, cold calling potential clients, managing customer relations and achieving her sales goals.

Ashley’s strong sales background and her ties and connections within the Northeast Florida community are sure to give her a ‘leg up’ in the real estate market of Jacksonville – helping her clients to find not only a house but a home in a community where they can settle in and put down roots.

Throughout Ashley’s adolescent years she played national volleyball and was blessed to have been able to play in eight different countries. She continued her love for the sport through college and have now transitioned into a different phase of her life where family is her passion. Ashley is a wife and a mother of three – a one-year-old boy, Easton, two rescue dogs and a rabbit.

“I am pleased to welcome Ashley to the Ponte Vedra office! With her business experience in sales and marketing and passion for helping others, I know that she is the path to success here at our company,” shares Holly Hayes, Broker/Manager of the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

For more information, Ashley can be reached by phone at 904.994.2654 or at Ashley.Gibson@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: AGibson.FloridaNetworkRealty.com. The Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office is located at 333 Village Main Street, Suite 670, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Eileen Morrison to the Fleming Island/Orange Park office.

“Please join me in welcoming Eileen Morrison to Florida Network Realty! Before becoming a Realtor, Eileen was the business owner of a logistics company in Jacksonville, and she has extensive business, sales, and contract experience that will translate well to the real estate world. I’m confident she’ll succeed here in the Fleming Island office,” shares Linda Benson, Broker/Manager of the Fleming Island/Orange Park office.

For more information, Eileen can be reached by phone at 904.610.4440 or at Eileen.Morrison@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: EileenMorrison.com. The Fleming Island/Orange Park office is located at 3535 Highway 17, Suite 10, Fleming Island, FL 32003.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Sharon Qualls to the Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office.

Sharon is a successful local business owner, opening her coaching practice in 2009. Prior to this, Sharon founded and owned another small business, led a community-based nonprofit group serving women and children, facilitated healthy lifestyle education group for naval personnel, and collaborated on the production of life-changing workshops and training events across the U.S. and Canada.

With over thirty years of training and experience in communications, listening, self-awareness, individual and group process, and organizational psychology, Sharon is thrilled to use the skills and experience she’s gained to provide value to her clients’ experience of home purchase. When asked why she joined Florida Network Realty, Sharon states, “When looking for a company to begin my career as a Realtor, Florida Network Realty stood out immediately. They are a fine company, the value they place on service and developing relationships aligns completely with my own morals, goals, and desire for success.”

In her free time, Sharon enjoys volunteering with the local arts community, reading and studying human behavior, bicycling, the adventure of travel, the privilege of being a mother and grandmother, and being in nature with the ocean and the trees.

“Sharon makes a great addition to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty team! With her focus and dedication to her goals, she is sure to excel here. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard,” shares Don Cline, Assistant General Manager and Broker/Manager of the Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office.

For more information, Sharon can be reached by phone at 904.327.4875 or at Sharon.Qualls@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: SharonQuallsRealtor.com. The Beaches/Intracoastal West and Southside office is located at 375-1 Atlantic Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, Florida 32233.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Anne Marie McGowan the Metropolitan office with locations in Avondale and San Marco.

Anne Marie is a fourth generation Jacksonville native and grew up attending Jacksonville schools – graduating from Assumption Catholic School, and Bishop Kenny High School. At the University of Florida, Anne Marie graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Elementary Education and most recently worked for the St. Johns Classical Academy as an Educator.

When asked why she became a Realtor, Anne Marie states, “I know all areas of Jacksonville by land or water. As a Realtor, I’m excited to help my clients accomplish their dreams of homeownership, and to help them find a house in a community that they can call their home.”

What Anne Marie loves most about Northeast Florida is the access to the river, ocean, and the year-round warm weather. She loves getting outside and exploring nature, boating, traveling, sports, reading, real estate, listening to music, and spending time with her family and friends.

“I’m happy to welcome Anne Marie to the San Marco office. She is ready to jump right in with both feet in her new career as a Realtor, and with her drive and passion for helping others I’m sure she’ll succeed here at Florida Network Realty,” shares Josh Cohen, Broker/Manager of the Metropolitan office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty with locations in Avondale and San Marco.

For more information, Anne Marie McGowan can be reached by phone at 904.759.1647 or at AnneMarie.McGowan@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: AnneMarieSellsJax.com. The Metropolitan offices in Avondale and San Marco are located at 3627 St. Johns Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32205 and 1983 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32207.

9 Unique Things To Do In Northeast Florida


Northeast Florida, also known as the First Coast, is home to many distinct and special places, activities, and restaurants. The area is simultaneously filled with history and natural wonders. For more on the beauty of Northeast Florida, check out these Instagrams everyone needs to follow. From spooky spots to fun activities for the whole family, it would be difficult to run out of unusual and incredible things to see and do. There are no worries of falling into a routine or growing bored in this area of the country.

If you’re looking to do something a little different and to have a great time doing it, here are nine unique things to do in Northeast Florida.


1. Fountain Of Youth

The Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is the original site of the Nation’s oldest city. According to legend, Ponce de Leon found a magical spring 500 years ago that gives youthfulness to those who drink from it and, oddly enough, apparently makes them taller. While this legend has never been officially proven, hundreds of tourists visit this spot every day. Take a fascinating, informative, and entertaining tour of the park and don’t forget to take a sip of the fountain.


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2. Amelia River Cruises

Want to see horses in the wild? Go on a tour with Amelia River Cruises. You’ll see around 160 feral horses who have been roaming around Cumberland Island, in Georgia, for centuries. It is just a short day trip from Amelia Island and, trust us, it’s worth it. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.


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3. University Of Florida Bat Houses

The University of Florida Bat Houses are right across from Gainesville’s little Lake Alice. Next to the student garden, these bat houses look like oversized birdhouses, but they in fact house more than 300,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats. The houses were built in 1991 as a solution for the amount of bat feces that was stinking up the University’s campus. Watch at sundown as they fly from the houses at an amazingly fast rate to feed.


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4. Theatre Jacksonville

Theatre Jacksonville is the oldest continuously operating community theatre in the country. Open since 1919, the small theatre is consistently putting on entertaining productions you need to see to believe. Theatre Jax also offers theatre programs for kids and babies, along with summer and spring break camps. You can get involved with the theatre by volunteering, sponsoring, advertising, or donating to the organization.


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5. Dark Of The Moon

Climb to the top of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse, visit the 1876 Keepers House, and check out the Nature Trails for the Dark of the Moon events. These haunted hotspots have been featured on the television show Ghost Hunters. The Ghost Tour gives you history and hauntings of the lighthouse, while the Investigation Only tour is 2.5-3 hours of investigation. Limited space is available so be sure to get your tickets in advance.


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6. The Happy Grilled Cheese Truck

The Happy Grilled Cheese Food Truck takes your favorite comfort food to the next level. The ‘No Hangover Melt’ features three different types of cheeses, mac and cheese, pulled pork, slaw and pickles. The ‘OMG Melt’ is made with mozzarella sticks and topped with a tomato soup drizzle. Have a sweet tooth? The ‘S’mores Melt’ contains chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, graham crumbles, and chocolate sauce. If you’re feeling crazy you can even add bacon.


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7. Ichetuckee Springs State Park

Go diving or relax in a giant tube and float through crystal clear waters at the popular Ichetuckee Springs State Park, located on the lazy spring-water of the Ichetuckee River. It’s only a short road trip from the city of Jacksonville. Between the months of May to September there is a free shuttle service that brings you from the north to south entrance of the park. You can float for 45 minutes to 3½ hours, as there are launch points all along the river.


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8. Annie Lytle Elementary School

The Annie Lytle Elementary School, also known as Public School No. 4 or Devil’s School, is another one of Northeast Florida’s supposed haunted sights. The abandoned structure is located off of the I-95. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, there is some pretty interesting graffiti to check out. If you’re on the hunt for a unique photoshoot location, this is the perfect spot.


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9. Palace Saloon

The Palace Saloon on Amelia Island is as nostalgic as it gets. Open since 1878, it is the oldest continuously operating saloon in the state of Florida. When you first walk in, you’ll notice the 40-foot bar is lit by gas lamps, the drapes are made of velvet, and there are mosaic floors along with painted murals. It’s quite the throwback. Come for the ambiance and stay for the cocktails at this historic pre-Prohibition bar.


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Know Your Proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments

General Election is Nov. 6, 2018

 When Floridians head to the polls in November, they will decide on candidates seeking seats in the U.S. Senate and House, the Florida Senate and House and the state executive branch, among others. They will also vote on 12 proposed constitutional amendments.

Three of the proposed amendments – Amendment 1, Amendment 2 and Amendment 5 – may impact property taxes. The amendments are written by lawyers and contain a lot of information that is not easy to decipher. Political observers say voters could get confused and even vote against their true preferences.

“We know these initiatives are of the highest importance to every citizen,” said President and CEO Christy Budnick, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty. “Constitutional amendments play a pivotal role in the governance of our state. We encourage everyone to review all of the amendments so that you can make an informed decision on Election Day.”

To pass, each amendment must receive at least 60 percent approval by voters. The following are summaries of Amendments 1, 2 and 5, including the impact of a yes or no vote.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 – Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption. Grants another $25,000 homestead exemption with the exception of school district taxes. Those with homes valued at $125,000 and above would receive the full $25,000 exemption. Those homes valued between $100,000 and $125,000 would receive a pro-rated benefit.

A YES vote on Amendment 1 would allow homeowners to deduct an additional $25,000 from the taxable value of a home worth more than $100,000, starting on Jan. 1, 2019. It would exclude local school taxes from the new exemption. It would likely result in cuts to services or higher local rates to make up for the revenue losses, or possibly both.

A NO vote on Amendment 1 would retain the current homestead tax exemptions, which total $50,000, and have no effect on the amount of tax revenue collected by city and county governments.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 – Limitations on Property Tax Assessments. Makes permanent what is a temporary cap of 10 percent on annual property value increases for vacation homes, apartments and commercial property, effectively limiting increases on tax bills.

A YES vote on Amendment 2 would make permanent the 10 percent limit on increases in tax value for non-homestead property, thus reducing tax bills. It would continue to deny local governments (excluding school districts) tax revenue they would otherwise collect from rising property values.

A NO vote on Amendment 2 would end the practice of limiting tax increases on non-homestead property by limiting property-value increases to 10 percent. It could possibly lead to higher tax bills for non-homestead property, resulting in additional revenue to local governments of about $700 million, according to the state Revenue Estimating Conference.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 5 – Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize or Raise State Taxes or Fees. Requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees, rather than a simple majority in a bill containing no other subjects.

A YES vote on Amendment 5 would require a two-thirds vote by the state House and Senate to increase existing taxes and fees or impose new ones. It would require that any new or increased taxes or fees be voted on in stand-alone bills, and would exclude local governments from any supermajority requirements if they choose to raise taxes or fees.

A NO vote on Amendment 5 would allow the Legislature to continue approving increased or new taxes and fees through a simple majority vote, and bundling tax and fee increases with bills that include other measures.

“It is our personal responsibility to weigh each of the amendments objectively before heading to the polls.” said Founder and Chairman Linda Sherrer, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty. “Be informed by reviewing all amendments and then make your voice heard by voting on Nov. 6.”

For more information, visit www.BeReadyToVote.org/Constitutional-Amendments.



  1. Clip Art
  2. Proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments
  3. BHHSFNR logo 

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Three Proposed Amendments

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1

Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2

Limitations on Property Tax Assessments

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 5

Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize or Raise State Taxes or Fees