Re: Living in Florida
St. Petersburg and vicinity are wonderful areas with good access to sheltered water and reasonable access to the Gulf. Another great area is the Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Hobe sound area. Low crime in both areas, decent price on good dock space, and access to large cities with anything you might want to buy/see/do.
I would avoid Ft. Lauderdale as it is very expensive and the social climate is a little hard for a boy from flyover country like me to take; everyone seems to be on the make if you understand my meaning.
My personal all time favorite is the middle keys but its a bit far afield, Marathon probably has the best prices for slips, etc...