Looking north, south and west from my hotel in South Beach you can see tower cranes at work erecting more high rise condominiums, giving no hint the great real estate boom in Florida is letting up. But things aren't always as they appear. As recently as a year ago, you could put a downpayment on one of these condos while it was still under construction and flip it without ever occupying it for a quick 25% profit. Those days are over for now.
As it rained outside this morning for the third straight day, I caught a political roundtable discussion similar to our own Indiana Week In Review on the public channel. The talk all centered on what the panel was calling "Trouble In Paradise." That real estate boom has officially busted. One of the panelists speculated that some of those new buildings under construction are going to be sitting empty when construction is completed. But the real estate bust is Florida's least concern. People and businesses are being hit hard by rising property insurance as a result of recent hurricanes and the near-doubling of utility bills. Some businesses are being forced out of business altogether while others are looking to move out of state.
The middle class is taking a beating according to this panel. Schools are having trouble recruiting teachers because the pay isn't enough to cover the cost of living. Prosecutors are also struggling to find attorneys to work in their offices because the pay isn't enough. Florida's middle class is being replaced by super rich out-of-staters who spend no more than two months a year in the Sunshine State the panel complained. It seems Florida is having a lot of the same problems as California, which has also experienced an outflow of people and businesses because of rising costs. Maybe things aren't as bad in Indiana after all.