Best places to retire in Florida: Ocala

Retiree couple walking alongside beach

The city of Ocala was founded in 1849, but its history goes all the way back to the Native American village of Ocala, which existed on the same site and contributed to the rich history that permeates today’s modern city. Also known today as the official Horse Capital of the World, a beautiful countryside and an incredible equestrian industry exist alongside a bustling urban center.

As a destination of retirees and the growing center of Marion County, Ocala offers you an array of entertainment, dining, shopping, and relaxation options within a city that overflows with history and beauty. If you are considering a move to this exciting city, here is everything you need to know to enjoy the retirement you desire.

What to expect

Area

Fisherman standing waiting in front of beach

Ocala is a medium-sized city of about 63,000 that serves as the county seat of Marion County. Centrally located less than 2 hours from Orlando, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach, Ocala is a highly desirable retirement location for those looking for a quieter place to live that offers easy access to the amenities of larger cities. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report named the city the 6th best place to retire in the entire country, thanks to its low-cost housing and high-quality healthcare.

Weather

Ocala enjoys the beautiful Florida weather that draws 150,000 seniors to the state every single year. This means hot summers with average highs in the 90s and winters where the temperature rarely, if ever, dips below the 40s. While the city receives somewhat more rain than the U.S. average (53 inches per year instead of 38), it also enjoys 233 days of sunshine a year and so little snow that even snow flurries occur only once every few years. Warmth, sunshine, and little snow make for a retirement that is relaxing all year round.

Safety

Ocala is exceptionally safe, not just compared to other Florida cities but also compared to cities throughout the nation. In fact, according to the U.S. News and World Report, Ocala is the 4th-safest place to live in the entire United States, thanks to its low murder and property crime rates. While some neighborhoods in the city are safer than others, retirees can relocate here with the confidence that they will enjoy a safe environment that can make their retirement years feel secure.

Practical Living

Airport

Ocala has its own airport, the Ocala International Airport, but this location does not provide passenger flights to or from the city. Instead, residents use one of 3 airports within a 2-hour radius: Jacksonville International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Tampa International Airport. All three of these airports provide numerous options from all of the major airlines for getting into and out of the area. To get to the airport, you can use a bus, a shuttle (The Shuttleliner to Orlando International Airport), or your own transportation, all of which are relatively affordable options for making your flight on time.

Getting Around

The best way to get around Ocala is by car. Thanks to the smaller population of Ocala compared to the larger surrounding urban areas, and thanks to the dominant equestrian industry which cuts down on commuters, traffic tends to be very manageable around the area. That means you can enjoy stress-free driving throughout the majority of the day.

If you need assistance getting around Ocala, however, Ocala-operated SunTran offers 7 public transit routes throughout Ocala and from Ocala to nearby Silver Springs. SunTran offers affordable cash fares, discounts for seniors, those with disabilities, and veterans, and low-cost monthly passes to make getting to specific areas of Ocala easier, even if you do not want to drive.

Shopping

If you love to shop, then Ocala is one of the best places to retire in Florida. The city is home to a number of shopping centers and malls, including Paddock Mall, known for its variety of shops and clean atmosphere, the more upscale Shady Oaks Shopping Center, and Ocala Spring Shopping Center. These areas offer everything from department stores to specialty shops, food courts to restaurants, to meet all of your shopping needs. In addition, Ocala is home to numerous grocery stores, clothing stores, and bargain stores where you can complete all of your errands and shop within a budget of any size.

Doctors/hospitals

Quality healthcare is one of the reasons Ocala earned a high ranking for livability from the U.S. News & World Report in 2020. One of the drivers of this quality medical care is AdventHealth Ocala, which holds a B ranking from a national patient safety ranking report. Also part of the backbone of Ocala healthcare is Ocala Health, a system that includes both Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community Hospital. They provide freestanding ERs, a comprehensive stroke center, a Level II Trauma Center, and award-winning services across areas such as orthopedics cardiology, neurology, and more. That makes Ocala a place to retire in confidence that all of your healthcare needs will be met, regardless of their complexity.

Banks

Ocala is home to many banks and financial institutions. You can choose from among regional organizations, such as MIDFLORIDA Credit Union and big names such as Wells Fargo and BB&T. You can use these places to conduct all of your financial business and manage your retirement resources without having to travel to larger urban areas.

Mail

Multiple UPS stores, FedEx shipping sites, and post offices make Ocala a place where you can accomplish all of your postal errands conveniently and quickly. If you choose a retirement community such as Bedrock’s Dogwood Acres, you may even be able to do some of your mailing right within the community.

Things to Do

Nature Parks

Ocala Florida river cruise

Despite its urban center, Ocala is also a mecca of outdoor beauty and activities. For example, you can visit nearby Silver Springs, which is a state park which offers 350 acres of beautiful natural land and water. Boat tours, kayaking, hiking, and even dining opportunities abound in this beautiful and sought-after area. In addition, the area is home to many parks, trails, and more where you can hike, bike, and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Beaches

Great Florida living for seniors has to include beach access, and Ocala does not disappoint. The city sits just an hour and a half from Daytona Beach and 2 hours from the renowned Clearwater Beach. If you want to enjoy a smaller beach closer to home, you can visit the lake beaches at Hampton Beach or Eaton’s Beach. Visiting the local beaches allows you to enjoy all of the swimming, sunbathing, and fishing you desire without dealing with the crowds and traffic that accompany the bigger and more famous beaches.

Equestrian Culture

Ocala is officially nicknamed the Horse Capital of the World for a reason. The area is known for its 400 thoroughbred farms, training centers, and equestrian operations that make it THE location for racehorse training and development. Even if you do not own your own horses, you can satisfy your love of horses within the area with farm tours, horseback riding, and lessons.

In addition, Ocala is known for its equestrian events, primary of which is the Horses In The Sun (H.I.T.S.), a hunter-jumper circuit that puts on horse shows annually between January and March. These horse shows give you the opportunity to enjoy incredible displays of equestrian finesse and performance throughout a large portion of the year.

Museums

Ocala is home to a number of unique museums that go beyond the standard museums available in most major cities. For example, the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, which is focused on generating ideas, innovation, and creativity among visitors. The Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center focuses on educating visitors about the natural area, Native American history, and local animals. If you seek a little more excitement in your museum visits, you can also check out the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Find a Home

Bedrock Communities Living

Ocala Florida birdeye view

With a median home price of $209,000, Ocala housing is not exorbitant but could be burdensome for retirement Florida living. If, however, you choose Bedrock Communities’ Dogwood Acres community, you can enjoy beautiful, quality mobile homes for an affordable price far below that of the average home price in the area.

Features

Our Dogwood Acres community is designed to fit your lifestyle and your taste. When you move here, you can enjoy retirement living in Florida that includes all of the following features:

Amenities

In addition, our Dogwood Acres provides numerous amenities intended to make life within the community busier and more rewarding. Move here and find the following amenities:

  • Shuffleboard court
  • Clubhouse with activities
  • Swimming Pool
  • Boat/RV storage

The best Florida living for seniors is right here at Bedrock Communities’ Dogwood Acres community. Take advantage of the safety, history, beauty, and affordability of Ocala here at Bedrock. Contact us today to learn more!

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