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Old 10-11-2009, 09:13 AM   #61
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DUH, My fault, I thought the post said Mileage not millage. Old age setting in. Thanks for clearing it up.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:30 AM   #62
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Russian jewelry, anyone?
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:23 PM   #63
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you can learn a lot about Florida on the city data forums, in particular, I recommend the fort myers/cape coral forum.

if you rent and live in an area for awhile, you will most certainly make a different purchasing or location decision than if you purchase on a short visit, or even buy online, which one of my neighbours did.

generally, I would say that renting longer term may be a way to keep your options open, change your situation as your interests change, and most importantly, limit your risk of getting trapped in a situation that becomes awkward for any reason, which can happen very easily in Florida.

later in life, I would suggest that extreme risk aversion and a few happy worry-free decades is more important than reaching for a big capital gain for your heirs, which ;may end up as a trap in a situation you can't get out of.

at this time, I believe the sweet spot for retirement and snow birding is North Naples up to Punta Gorda.

there is only one builder that is actually selling new construction in that area due to the uniqueness of the development, which is where I bought, without regret (in spite of my beliefs expressed above).

google Paseo Fort Myers
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:25 AM   #64
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Can you believe that existing condos in Orlando are now selling for $52,000 (median price)!!! You know darn well that Orlando--with Disney there--will escalate in the future. (This just came out and is very current information from 8/2009.) Get your Florida dwelling while they're hot!!!

Florida's Existing Home, Condo Sales Rise in 2Q 2009 | Reuters


There are so many articles now on how retirees are choosing any place but Florida, but I have a hard time buying the fact that one of the most beautiful States in the nation won't lure retirees and others again soon. Maybe it's just me....
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:20 AM   #65
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at this time, I believe the sweet spot for retirement and snow birding is North Naples up to Punta Gorda.
We are considering a move to Florida and are going to look at Sun City Center near Tampa in the next few months. We have friends in the area and it seems warm enough to us. We don't plan to move until 2011 to wait until I am 59.5 years old and to wait for the Florida real estate market to calm down.

From looking at homes on the Internet (ziprealty), we think we would be interested in one of the 1960's homes in SCC.

In the area that you mentioned, do you know of any 55+ communities that have older homes like SCC?

We would like to minimize our home insurance and property tax costs -- and it seems that a great way to do that is to purchase an older home. The older homes in SCC can be puchased for 80-120k.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:31 AM   #66
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In Florida, newer homes are built according to recent, more stringent hurricane standards. This could affect your insurance (not to mention your repair bills after hurricanes and other tropical disturbances).

I prefer 1960's to 1970's homes personally, but Florida is one place where I would not go for a home this old.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:44 AM   #67
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In Florida, newer homes are built according to recent, more stringent hurricane standards. This could affect your insurance (not to mention your repair bills after hurricanes and other tropical disturbances).

I prefer 1960's to 1970's homes personally, but Florida is one place where I would not go for a home this old.
Our plan is to go with liability insurance only if we think that the home insurance is too expensive. Our understanding so far is that SCC has not ever had significant storm damage.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:33 AM   #68
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Our plan is to go with liability insurance only if we think that the home insurance is too expensive. Our understanding so far is that SCC has not ever had significant storm damage.
I remain unconvinced! But then you are the one looking into it. As long as you are aware of this issue, I guess doing the research is up to you (I have my hands full investigating tornados and sinkholes in southwest Missouri).
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:08 AM   #69
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We are considering a move to Florida and are going to look at Sun City Center near Tampa in the next few months. We have friends in the area and it seems warm enough to us. We don't plan to move until 2011 to wait until I am 59.5 years old and to wait for the Florida real estate market to calm down.

From looking at homes on the Internet (ziprealty), we think we would be interested in one of the 1960's homes in SCC.

In the area that you mentioned, do you know of any 55+ communities that have older homes like SCC?

We would like to minimize our home insurance and property tax costs -- and it seems that a great way to do that is to purchase an older home. The older homes in SCC can be puchased for 80-120k.
I can't speak to that myself, but there are definitely deals to be had in that price range. If you post the question on City Data forum for Fort Myers/Cape Coral, I am sure you would get many opinions.

For single family in older neighbourhood, I would agree that it is important to move where you already know someone....generally, one needs to think about social appetites and social strategy, or you are going to start feeling edgy from being isolated.

For insurance you have to consider being away from the coast and inland rivers/sloughs. You need to learn about FEMA risk ratings and make sure you are not in a high risk area. For older homes, you need to think about the status of hurricane upgrades to get discounts...post 2000 (can't remember exact year) homes were built to higher hurricane standards in Florida. Talk to an insurance rep BEFORE buying a property...better yet, educate yourself as a renter first...simply by talking to neighbours and hearing about all the mistakes they have made.

Indeed, in this particular environment, monthly upkeep is more important than price. Home Ownership Associations (HOA) fees, Taxes, Community Development District (CDD) fees, Insurances (Plus flood), Cable, Home Minding (required by insurance if not gated), AC electric, phoneline all adds up. Not being in an HOA area saves money, but then you have to make sure lawns are cut etc and then there is the problem of neighbours not doing upkeep and leaving junk in thier yards.

You also have to manage the risk of bankrupt and mismanaged cities, counties, builders, HOAs, neighbours, affiliated golf clubs and so on. The best way to enjoy Florida, with none of the risks, is to settle in as a long term renter, that way you can pack your bags and move to the next better area when trouble starts, and all your owner neighbours will be crying. This is a conclusion I came to when analysing a retirement move to Panama a few years back, that did not get executed.

It is hard however to give up the pride and control of ownership, and to have your neighours look down on you as a "mere" renter, then there are the risks and tax consequences of where you will put your house money capital and income if it is not sitting in your residence.

The sweet spot is to start out as a renter, and at some point, once all the skeletons are out of the closet, and you are fully aware of the various crises at the city, county, builder?, HOA? level, you see a deal that you cannot pass up at end of season or summer, and make a clever insider move, rather than an impulsive yankee sucker move.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:50 AM   #70
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The idea of making a quick buy doesn't bother us. Megacorp transferred me every 2 or 3 years for 23 years. We usually purchased a house during a 5 day house hunting trip before each move. It always worked out well even though we knew virtually nothing about the neighborhoods we moved into. The only regret we had was one house had a swimming pool - we used it 3 times - and it cost over $5000 in repairs before we left.

We are not particulary concerned about the insurance aspects as we plan to self insure (except for liability). Risk would still be interest to us though.


BTW, Sun City Center is having golfing "crisis" right now. The golf courses are losing money. WCI, the developer, just came out bankrupcty and they shut down one of the golf courses last week and are trying to sell two others. All the residents are interested in what will happen to these golf courses.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:03 AM   #71
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The idea of making a quick buy doesn't bother us. Megacorp transferred me every 2 or 3 years for 23 years. We usually purchased a house during a 5 day house hunting trip before each move. It always worked out well even though we knew virtually nothing about the neighborhoods we moved into. The only regret we had was one house had a swimming pool - we used it 3 times - and it cost over $5000 in repairs before we left.

We are not particulary concerned about the insurance aspects as we plan to self insure (except for liability). Risk would still be interest to us though.


BTW, Sun City Center is having golfing "crisis" right now. The golf courses are losing money. WCI, the developer, just came out bankrupcty and they shut down one of the golf courses last week and are trying to sell two others. All the residents are interested in what will happen to these golf courses.
if you are buying in an area where you already know someone, I suspect you will be ok, and it sounds like you are building in enough margin for error to be able to absorb any financial awkwardness

maybe factor in the possibility that the risk profile in Florida is very different than most of the country.

also, the chinese word for Crisis=opportunity...maybe the local golf crisis is a chance to pick something up at a ridiculous price.

At Paseo (Fort Myers) we have a "block" pool that is just a short waddle, with martini in hand, from our back door...excellent setup with 40 townhouses sharing expense of the one regular size pool - never seem to get around to walking over to the bigger resort type pool, except to eat at the tiki bar over there. (gratuitous plug, I know ;- ))
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Old 10-24-2009, 04:35 PM   #72
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My wife and i bought the "2nd home" last year in Florida after looking for a couple of years and seeing many of the cities you mentioned.
I think the best advice is to move and rent ... there are ton's of rentals. We bought on the East coast between Jacksonville and Daytona .
The real estate tax situiation is a bit confusing but our taxes went down this year. Lots of places in Florida we liked and you will too, just take a bit of time and check them out.
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Old 10-24-2009, 05:03 PM   #73
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Our plan is to go with liability insurance only if we think that the home insurance is too expensive. Our understanding so far is that SCC has not ever had significant storm damage.
We lived in Lakeland in 2004 when 3 of the 4 hurricanes that hit Florida blew through Lakeland. Lakeland hadn't seen a hurricane in 44 years and got hit with 3 in a single season. You never know.

I recommend you spend one really heavy rainstorm in the location you are thinking of living in. Hurricanes are infrequent but standing water and other water issues can happen on a regular basis. We found that proper drainage was a severe issue in many of the newer sub-divisions.

I fear water much more than wind. Ultimately, the water (rain, floods) seems to do the most damage. You may not purchase wind insurance, but I would purchase flood insurance. If you are in an area that is low risk, your premiums will be cheap. If you are in a high risk area, you need it. You can sleep like a baby when it rains and rains and rains and ...
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Old 10-24-2009, 05:55 PM   #74
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The risk of major hurricane damage in any specific location is low, but unless you can self-insure the rebuild of your house withoiut side-tracking your financial plan, it would be very risky to go bare.

Among other things, a hurricane can "miss" your location but the secondary effects such as outer bands, rising or falling water, and widespread power outages can create havoc. Complacency is always a concern for the emergency agencies around here.

If there is a bright side it is that you generally have days and days of warning unlike with an earthquake or tornado, and it is over fairly quickly. This is the price for living in the tropics and subtropics in the USA. The 8-9 months of spectacular weather each year is the reward.

Our plan is to insure fully as reasonable, and if an approaching storm starts to get scary we'll take of in the RV for a few days.
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Old 10-25-2009, 10:56 AM   #75
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Take a look at Ponte Vedra Beach. Near Jacksonville and lots of golf courses. I was raised in that area and I always enjoy going back. Also, your very close to Jacksonville Airport, which in my opinion is one of the easiest airports to get through. 45 to 60 mins your in Atlanta by plane and from there you can almost go everywhere.

Good Luck

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Old 10-25-2009, 04:25 PM   #76
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Although we are yet a few years away from "the move" we are fairly certain it will be FL. The issues for us that still need more effort are how close to the coast vs. inland and on a golf course vs. no golf and in a home vs. a condo. Right now Kissimmee/Poinciana are high on our list and specifically the community at Solivita as it is near Cypess Cove Resort. On the other hand we have a large amount of time already spent in and really like the South Ft. Myers area and Lee County in general. The proximity to the beach/coast is nice but the hurricane risk a bit more. Research and more research and hope for the best with taxes and healthcare options...that is the phase we are in now. Access to multiple airports out of Kissimmee area is nice (MCO, SFB, TPA, PIE) vs. only 1 in Ft. Myers (RSW).

Good luck on your quest and remember...it won't be the last decision you make most likely so you can always change if you need to find a new environment.
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:52 AM   #77
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I really do appreciate all the input that this thread has generated.. as it appears now we will not be buying in FL for now... we are now leaning more towards buying an RV and traveling the country for a while until we are sure where (and IF) we want to settle... I am sure many others will appreciate this thread as well.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:31 AM   #78
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very clever decision. We travelled the southeast coast (Galveston all the way around to Charleston) for years before figuring out where we belonged.

I was pondering at one point picking up a cheap century home in Galveston a few years back (like, $40k for a run down place walkable to the beach), but I thought the hurricane risk was just too great, and that turned out to be a good decision).

I felt a stong pull to New Orleans, which meshes with my quirky point of view on things and interests, but crime appears to be just a tad too out of control, especially for Canadians lacking the skillsets to cope with this (which direction do I point this gun?)

The Panhandle would have some potential, I like the new urbanist developments and the pristine beaches, but its just too darn cold in January, and that is the issue for us clear down to Sarasota.

We are not country or even suburban types, so we like some urban action, but not crazy-like the southeast coast of Florida, so that leaves South West Florida.

The keys are too expensive or too rural or too isolated, and Naples is too demoralizing if you are not a billionaire and Marco Island is too isolated. Sarasota to Cape Coral are either too suburban or 70s style architechture, and regular Fort Myers is downright scary.

That leaves South Fort Myers down to North Naples, (Bonita, Estero in the mix), the sweet spot in the universe, and real estate being affordable as there is limited industry, as opposed to Orlando/Tampa where you are competing with young families with real jobs for housing.

In that strip, Daniels and Trail is one locus, then there is Coconut Point mall. Further south, I would say Waterside Mall is another locus point.

Part of the issue is figuring out what you like or want to do apart from watching Oprah, and maybe locating where that activity is accessible.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:55 AM   #79
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I felt a stong pull to New Orleans, which meshes with my quirky point of view on things and interests, but crime appears to be just a tad too out of control, especially for Canadians lacking the skillsets to cope with this (which direction do I point this gun?)
As someone who has a strong aversion to firearms and who has never allowed a gun in her home, and who lives in New Orleans, I think you probably made the right decision. The widespread violent crime here has become even worse in recent years. Even if one is never a victim of a violent crime, many feel imprisoned in their homes after dark even in the best of neighborhoods. I look forward to living in a region with a lower rate of violent crimes after our move north, hopefully late in 2010.

Don't get me wrong - - I love New Orleans and until September, 2005 planned to live here until I drew my very last breath. This has been a heart-breaking decision to make and was not solely based on crime rates. There are many positive aspects to our planned ER location in Missouri that are drawing us there. We can always return to New Orleans on vacations, and plan to do so now and then.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:01 PM   #80
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As someone who has a strong aversion to firearms and who has never allowed a gun in her home, and who lives in New Orleans, I think you probably made the right decision. The widespread violent crime here has become even worse in recent years. Even if one is never a victim of a violent crime, many feel imprisoned in their homes after dark even in the best of neighborhoods. I look forward to living in a region with a lower rate of violent crimes after our move north, hopefully late in 2010.

Don't get me wrong - - I love New Orleans and until September, 2005 planned to live here until I drew my very last breath. This has been a heart-breaking decision to make and was not solely based on crime rates. There are many positive aspects to our planned ER location in Missouri that are drawing us there. We can always return to New Orleans on vacations, and plan to do so now and then.
have you already shared with us how you made out during the hurricane, flood, and "recovery"?
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