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Anything I should know about Lake Weir, Florida?
Old 02-20-2013, 06:49 PM   #1
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Anything I should know about Lake Weir, Florida?

We know we aren't going to want to stay in Austin, TX when we pull the plug. The cost of living is too high and we are too far from the things we like to do - which involve the ocean and Disney World/Sea World.

We've been researching Marion County, Florida - around the Lake Weir area.

Some things we like about it:

1. About an hour to the Gulf coast
2. About an hour to the Atlantic coast
3. About an hour to Orlando
4. The Florida Keys are within driving distance
5. Property taxes are about half what they are in Austin
6. Home prices are currently lower than Austin
7. Appears to be one of the lower-crime areas of Florida
8. Some areas are close to local retail, entertainment, and medical ("The Villages")
9. Area schools seem to be as good as Austin area (we have a son who would be attending middle and high school)
10. We can purchase property that would allow us to keep our toys on site (RV, large boat/trailer, dirt bikes/trailer, jet skis/trailer, etc)
11. We would be close to a very large national park

So does anyone know of or experienced any tangible negatives for that area?
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:34 PM   #2
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I have lived in Florida for seventeen years and I had to google it . I asked my SO who has lived in Florida all his life including a stint in Marion County and he had to google it . Have you been there ?
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:45 PM   #3
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I live about 30 minutes from there, in Lake County. That's a very nice area. It will enable you to do everything on your list. The Villages is a very popular retirement community with lots to do. In addition you'll be close to Ocala with its beautiful horse ranches. You'll be in central Florida, which means you're in driving distance to everything in the state.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:57 PM   #4
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I have lived in Florida for seventeen years and I had to google it . I asked my SO who has lived in Florida all his life including a stint in Marion County and he had to google it . Have you been there ?
Have not been to that area yet - like you, had not previously even heard of it. Had been exploring areas more to the south and southeast, one of the things we didn't like so much about those areas were the heavy transient resident populations (more short term rentals, snowbirds, etc).

This particular area (Lake Weir) seems to have a larger percentage of permanent residents. We may fly out there in a couple of months and check out the area.

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I live about 30 minutes from there, in Lake County. That's a very nice area. It will enable you to do everything on your list. The Villages is a very popular retirement community with lots to do. In addition you'll be close to Ocala with its beautiful horse ranches. You'll be in central Florida, which means you're in driving distance to everything in the state.
Thanks! It does seem to be very favorably located, and just doing some simple R/E searches for the area brings up some interesting results. Nice to see a relatively new, larger home on acreage listed for under $350K.

What I can't tell quite yet are the minor details in regards to infrastructure. Some of the properties are septic/well and while I'm no stranger to those it's because I'm no stranger to those that I know to be diligent in checking on what types, what the local regulations/licensing/permitting/maintenance requirements are, etc.

But it's definitely looking like a several day site visit will be in order.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:48 PM   #5
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Check out Gainesville ( home of U of F ) . Pretty area , great college town , lots to do & still has the lower prices you are looking for . Since you have a younger child I would concentrate on Florida areas that have younger populations and steer clear of the Villages .
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:08 PM   #6
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It's on my short list, as well. One of our employees moved from southern FL to the Ocala area and much prefers this part of FL. Lower cost - less crime. The down side is that it's colder than southern FL in the winter.

I subscribed to their e-mail list. Lake Weir Living : Marion County, Central Florida, FL.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:11 PM   #7
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We live about 15 miles away, in a manufactured home community on Lake Griffin, 6 mo./yr for the past 23 years.

Lake Weir is mostly rural, and for the most part, not built up. It depends on what you are looking for. I would guess, not too different from rural Austin.

The Lake is landlocked, so limited boating. Lake Griffin, which is similarly rural at the northern end, is just 6 miles away, and offers 212 miles of shoreline for boating through the interconnected chain of lakes. Lakefront property, is not prohibitively priced.

If you plan a visit to the area, you might go to The Villages website, and request a brochure and the free video. The Villages offer reduced priced lodging in exchange for a short no-pressure tour, which, even though you won't be buying, will give you an excellent overview of the facilities and the entertainment/shopping options that you would certainly use.

As far as temperatures... whether because of the lake effect, or the distance, our temperatures seem to be about five degrees higher than Ocala in the winter time. Maybe one overnight freeze a year.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:36 PM   #8
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So does anyone know of or experienced any tangible negatives for that area?
Well, not for that area specifically, but we have friends in Florida and they said that it is difficult to buy homeowners insurance in the state due to the hurricane history. To get coverage on a newly purchased house, certain storm protection criteria has to be met and the cost of coverage is pretty high. This is, of course, information relayed to me and I have no verification of what's required.

Just raising some caution here.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
Check out Gainesville ( home of U of F ) . Pretty area , great college town , lots to do & still has the lower prices you are looking for . Since you have a younger child I would concentrate on Florida areas that have younger populations and steer clear of the Villages .
Thanks for the suggestion - starting looking into the Gainesville area as well. Noticing that there are still a large amount of foreclosure and short sale listings, hard to tell if RE there is still going down, stabilizing, or beginning to trend upwards.

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If you plan a visit to the area, you might go to The Villages website, and request a brochure and the free video. The Villages offer reduced priced lodging in exchange for a short no-pressure tour, which, even though you won't be buying, will give you an excellent overview of the facilities and the entertainment/shopping options that you would certainly use.

As far as temperatures... whether because of the lake effect, or the distance, our temperatures seem to be about five degrees higher than Ocala in the winter time. Maybe one overnight freeze a year.
Great tip, thanks! In regards to climate, I actually prefer cooler/colder temps over warm/hot/humid. After 25 years of central Texas 110 degree summers and getting worse, 90 degrees doesn't sound so bad even with high humidity.

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Well, not for that area specifically, but we have friends in Florida and they said that it is difficult to buy homeowners insurance in the state due to the hurricane history. To get coverage on a newly purchased house, certain storm protection criteria has to be met and the cost of coverage is pretty high. This is, of course, information relayed to me and I have no verification of what's required.

Just raising some caution here.
Hmmmmmmm..........insurance. It's one of the reasons we abandoned the idea of canal/waterfront property, the ongoing expense of property taxes and insurance were just too high at over 4.5% of appraised value per year. Will need to look into the insurance climate in FL, we are probably a little spoiled right now with our primary home annual policy running $550 and our second home annual policy running $575 - total insured property values are kissing $650K. But the taxes make up for the cheap insurance (3% of appraised value). Maybe FL is the opposite - more reasonable property taxes but higher insurance?
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:33 PM   #10
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LakeTravis:

You may want to read some of the Florida threads on Bogleheads. here is one:

Bogleheads • View topic - RANT - 2013 Florida Home Insurance Rate Increase
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:24 AM   #11
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LakeTravis:

You may want to read some of the Florida threads on Bogleheads. here is one:

Bogleheads • View topic - RANT - 2013 Florida Home Insurance Rate Increase

Interesting thread. It appears that most of the insurance rate horror stories come from those in coastal counties less than a mile from sea.

Someone on a barrier island with a $600K=$1M home is faced with a $10K annual insurance policy. Doesn't seem out of line to me, it's the same thing we saw when checking out insurance coverage for canal/waterfront in gulf communities in Texas (figure 1.5% of value per year in property, wind, and flood coverage). Moving inland a hundred miles or more drastically reduced insurance costs.

It looks like it could still be less in FL when compared to Austin -a $200K suburban Austin home will see an annual property tax ($6K) and insurance cost ($700) of $6700 a year, while a comparable inland home in FL is $2100/1500 for a total of $3.6K a year.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:44 AM   #12
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Interesting thread. It appears that most of the insurance rate horror stories come from those in coastal counties less than a mile from sea.

Someone on a barrier island with a $600K=$1M home is faced with a $10K annual insurance policy. Doesn't seem out of line to me, it's the same thing we saw when checking out insurance coverage for canal/waterfront in gulf communities in Texas (figure 1.5% of value per year in property, wind, and flood coverage). Moving inland a hundred miles or more drastically reduced insurance costs.

It looks like it could still be less in FL when compared to Austin -a $200K suburban Austin home will see an annual property tax ($6K) and insurance cost ($700) of $6700 a year, while a comparable inland home in FL is $2100/1500 for a total of $3.6K a year.
My experience in South Florida shows the insurance problem to be much greater.
Just looking at the map, I suspect a property in Lake Weir will have the same homeowners iinsurance challenges.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:31 AM   #13
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To add to the coverage cost issue, a new insurance policy will come with having to meet specific hurricane construction and upgrade improvements to the structure being insured. I would suspect that existing homes with current (long term) coverage have not had to upgrade unless policy renewals dictated it.

So, buyer beware when planning to move to Florida and purchase a new or existing home is the message.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:26 AM   #14
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That part of Florida is extremely hot and humid in the summers. If you don't like heat and humidity, you won't like summers there.

On the other hand, north central Florida, from Ocala to north of Gainesville, is really pretty. Spring and fall are great and winters are generally very mild. I grew up in Orlando and spent 7 years in school in Gainesville. It took me years to get over feeling homesick for Gainesville. I've still got a kid in college there and every time I go back, I get that same feeling.

Good luck.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:36 AM   #15
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My experience in South Florida shows the insurance problem to be much greater.
Just looking at the map, I suspect a property in Lake Weir will have the same homeowners iinsurance challenges.


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That part of Florida is extremely hot and humid in the summers. If you don't like heat and humidity, you won't like summers there.

On the other hand, north central Florida, from Ocala to north of Gainesville, is really pretty. Spring and fall are great and winters are generally very mild. I grew up in Orlando and spent 7 years in school in Gainesville. It took me years to get over feeling homesick for Gainesville. I've still got a kid in college there and every time I go back, I get that same feeling.

Good luck.
I suspect that is the same for a lot of people that move away from their roots. I know I missed Maine dearly for a good while. Now not so much. Yeah it helps that I am only 3 hours away by car from my home but....

Will I experience that sort of thing when I move out of MA to (maybe) TX? I suspect so. I am sure I will get over it. I know my DW missed Korea when she married this crazy kid from Maine and moved with him to Massachusetts. Since 1982 up to even this day she nor I have stepped foot back in Korea.
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:32 AM   #16
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Don't forget flood insurance.

As for homeowners' insurance, I wonder if Florida has the same issues with writing new policies that we have had here. Maybe some of our Floridians can tell you.

Our issues are that for many years after Hurricane Katrina, no company would write new policies in New Orleans that included hurricane coverage ("wind and hail"), for ANY price, at ANY time of year. Think about what a lovely surprise that is for a potential new homeowner to discover.

The only way to insure a home when buying one, was to buy insurance from the state. The cost of state insurance here is over twice the cost of existing private homeowners' insurance for a similar home. AFAIK that is still the case. Frank is paying for state coverage for wind and hail, plus allstate for other homeowners, plus flood insurance, all of which comes to maybe around $4,000 for a $160,000 home? I am not sure but I do know he is paying a lot more than I am.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:06 PM   #17
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In Florida my homeowners insurance is $1250 for a house assessed just under $500,000 . My house is on the water My Avatar is my backyard. My flood insurance is $900. My house was built in 1998 and is elevated so it is all according to hurricane standards . Friends of mine with older smaller houses not on the water pay $1400 . It is common to be dropped by insurance companies in Florida but then the state pool picks you up and it is sometimes cheaper than regular insurance. I have yet to hear horror stories about inability to get insurance .
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:14 PM   #18
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As for homeowners' insurance, I wonder if Florida has the same issues with writing new policies that we have had here. Maybe some of our Floridians can tell you.
Basically, insurance companies you want to do business with, won't do business with you. Major carriers all stopped writing new policies. All new policies now come from small, local insurance companies - the kind one doesn't want for hurricane and wind risk - or we use Citizens, the state based insurer of last resort. The State, however, is actively trying to reduce this and is actually transferring policies to those same small local insurers (and at the same time lending them money to take on the policies). Homeowners insurance is not a good situation here, and nothing is on the radar screen to change that.
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