New Florida Residents Praise DeSantis after Fleeing High-Crime Democrat Cities
Gov. Ron DeSantis's policies praised: 'The governor has done a good job'
New Florida residents, who have fled high-crime Democrat-run cities, are praising Republican Governor Ron DeSantis's policies.
The pandemic sparked a trend of people moving to Florida in 2020.
It has continued into 2021 as former residents of large, metropolitan areas seek a higher quality of life in the Sunshine State.
"I'm one who told myself when I was younger, 'I am never moving to Florida. That's where people go to die,'" Paula Miller told Fox News.
"But I've changed my mind, and it really didn't have so much to do with the weather."
Miller used to live in Evanston, Illinois — just 12 miles north of Democrat-controlled, violent crime-ridden Downtown Chicago.
"The taxes I was paying in Cook County … were getting really insane," Miller explained.
"My property tax went up $1,000 in one year.
"And I realized that that trend was going to continue."
She added later that she is paying less for a three-bedroom condo in Florida than a two-bedroom condo in Evanston.
Miller is also happier with the politics in her new Florida town.
In Evanston, a majority of the city council voted in June 2020 to strip funding from the Chicago suburb's police department.
The city council also voted in favor of paying reparations to black residents in March 2021, becoming the first U.S. town to do so.
"I just saw that as a trend that I couldn't get behind," she said.
"And as the election approached … no one was sure of the outcome, but … if Trump won again, I was really afraid of riots breaking out, and I did not feel safe.
"And I wanted to get out for the inauguration.
"So I came to Florida in October and stayed with friends and looked at real estate.
"I bought something within two weeks."
Miller added that she feels "truly safe" in Florida because Gov. DeSantis "is a law-and-order governor."
"As long as he stays in office, I feel safe," she explained. "But I also realize that Florida is one election away from catastrophe."
Sarasota and Tampa both ranked in the top five metropolitan areas people moved to in 2021, according to a Dec. 20 report from Zillow, an online real estate marketplace.
The top metropolitan areas people moved to Sarasota and Tampa from were Chicago and New York City.
Miami was also the top designation for people moving from New York City, Zillow found.
Former Chicago resident Lauren Callahan said something similar.
Callahan was robbed in Chicago in October 2019 and became increasingly concerned that the city was not the right place to raise a family in the future.
"Our plan was to reassess in the summer of 2022 where we wanted to go," Callahan said, "but with COVID and city life in general … we decided to come to Florida in November."
The top driving forces behind Callahan's move were Chicago's COVID-19 protocols, which kept her and her fiancé inside a "small, one-bedroom" apartment for a long period of time as city businesses and restaurants shut down, as well as "out of control" crime.
"It was creeping up into the North Side, which is where we lived," she said.
"You know, it's a city, so everywhere has its issues, but it's typically one of the safer areas.
"Carjackings, robberies — just to the point where I didn't feel safe alone outside if it was dark out.
"It just isn't a good way to live."
The majority of respondents in a Dec. 9 survey from Move.org, a moving assistance company, of 1,000 U.S. residents who moved in 2021 said they went to Florida.
Nearly half of overall respondents said they moved in 2021 for affordability reasons, while 43% said they moved to experience a better culture, and nearly 40% said they moved for political reasons.
Callahan noted a large difference in COVID-19 policies in Florida, where residents can decide for themselves whether they want to go out to eat or wear masks indoors.
While she misses certain aspects of city living, "there's really nothing" she misses about Chicago itself in terms of "politics, crime [and] COVID," she said.
Florida's Office of Economic and Demographics Research (EDR) predicts that between April 1, 2021 and April 1, 2026, the state's population will grow by an average 309,867 net new residents per year, or 849 new residents per day, which is "analogous to adding a city about the size of Orlando every year," according to a Dec. 16 report.
Warren Cohn, the owner of a New York City-based digital advertising business, recently moved to Miami from Bergen County, New Jersey — just across the river from Manhattan.
He moved to Florida to avoid the high taxes of New Jersey and New York and embrace outdoor living.
"It's an opportunity to live outside, as well as get some tax benefits," he said.
"And also, it's a state that has …various freedoms. …
"I think that the governor has done a good job here allowing people to decide what's comfortable or not for themselves."
He added that "crime is on the rise" in New York, which makes him concerned for his parents, sister, friends and employees still in the New York City area.
"I mean, when we got out of our office in Midtown on 36th Street, when I packed it up…mid-pandemic, the city did not look like itself," he said.
"So, I think it's deteriorated, really.
"And I think it's a great shame. …
"It's really sad to see what has happened to New York or other great metropolitan areas."
Miami and other South Florida cities are seeing the emergence of new talent and businesses coming from other states.
More than 70 companies have moved to Florida from New York since 2020, according to ISG World's Miami Report 2021 Quarter 3 update.
Florida also had the No. 2 daily population growth in 2020 next to Texas, while New York and Illinois had the most population loss over the same year, the report notes, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.
Each of the new Florida residents who spoke with Fox News cited Florida's lack of a personal income tax and lower property taxes as part of their reasoning behind moving to the Sunshine State.