Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Snowbirding: buy or rent?
Old 12-24-2012, 10:44 AM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 145
Snowbirding: buy or rent?

Hello, everybody...

Due to my absolute distaste for snow shoveling, slippy-slide driving, ice storm power outages and so on (not to mention the stress and anxiety of it all) I am planning to become a December-to-March Florida snowbird. I'm looking for and would appreciate pro and con input regarding whether to buy a house down there, or rent a house every year. I see a lot of pluses to renting, but my wife sees only negatives.

Does anyone have experience doing a seasonal rental type of thing every year? Good or bad comments OK. And it doesn't have to be specific to Florida; experience anywhere will help.

One thing. Moving down to Florida full time is a non-starter. Andrew, David, you name the storm -- I've been there and done that, and no way am I anchoring myself in Florida between June 1st and September 30th.

I'm looking in Central Florida north of Lake Okeechobee. Ocala, Lake Wales, Avon Park, Sebring, and so on. Not the usual seasonal rental areas, so that may have some bearing on what's possible.

Thanks!
__________________

__________________
Alex in Virginia is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 12-24-2012, 11:22 AM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 182
We've been doing the snowbird thing in FL for a few years and have been renting. It's just a personal thing, but I'm not interested in owning more real estate, so renting is the only way for us. I see renting as great value and unless you are looking to take advantage of possible price appreciation by owning your own place, for us, there's just no way you can justify the cost of owning. We can rent a great place and even pay up for a better-than-average rental and still be way ahead financially.

Having said that, it's always fun to look at real estate down there and there's no doubt it can be tempting to buy. Regardless, I'd recommend renting for a while to make sure you know where you want to be and whether you really like it there...or not. Good luck!
__________________

__________________
lowflyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 11:44 AM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
Richard4444's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: South Florida
Posts: 402
I live in So Florida after moving from the NorthEast 15 years ago. Just too cold for too long there. Renting obviously gives you the option to come and go as you please and try different locations. Prices have started to go up after a long stretch of half-off sales. Renting or owning depends upon whether or not you know the area you want to continually go to (sounds like you don't) more than price, IMHO.
__________________
Richard4444 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 12:02 PM   #4
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 572
I would be worried about the hassle of having to find a place to rent every year and having to move back and forth enough household belongings to furnish a house twice a year.
__________________
bondi688 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 12:56 PM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Indialantic FL
Posts: 1,201
We found snowbirding was not for us. It was too much like moving 2x a year.
__________________
JimnJana
"The four most dangerous words in investing are 'This time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
jimnjana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 38
My wife and I leave for Florida on January 12 and will return north on February 28. This will be our 4th snowbird season and we love it! We rent a condo in the Punta Gorda area on the Gulf Coast. Our retirement plan was to snowbird in Florida, and starting about 20 years ago we used various vacations to Florida to scout out all the areas of Florida. We soon decided that southwest Florida was the area for us. We also seriously considered buying a property but after running the numbers many times decided that renting was the way to go for us.

We have rented in Burnt Store Marina near Punta Gorda each winter since I retired three years ago. In those four winters we have stayed in 4 different condos, all within the Burnt Store community. For the most part I use VRBO.com to find property. We started out renting for the month of February, and each year we have extended the time to where this year we will be there about 7 weeks.

The one thing that surprised me the first year was how difficult it is to rent for the month of February only. The high season down there is January through March, and owners prefer to rent for all 3 months. If they rent the month of February that splits the high season and makes it more difficult for them to fill all 3 months. We have been fortunate each year to find owners who due to various circumstances are willing to rent to us for 4 to 7 weeks in the middle of the high season. But it takes a lot of work with many emails and phone calls.
__________________
PatSea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 02:27 PM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 4,616
We've been snowbirding Illinois to Florida, for 23 years. Our florida home is in Leesburg, and is a 350 unit manufactured home park, for seniors. Very high energy activities of all kinds, busy social life, lake and Marina.

The decision to rent or buy, has a lot to do with what you're looking for. If it's senior housing, one thing, if mixed neighborhood, another... Depends on the price range. A vast difference... In our park, average price is probably around $40,000. In Lady Lake, The Villages... (between Leesburg and Ocala,) is a senior community of about 150,000, with over 60,000 homes, all built since 2000. three Walmarts to give you an idea of the size. 34 golf courses. Price range about $135K to 600K+.

Many of the communities that were selling houses in the $150K to $250K range, during the heydays... 1985 to 2003... are now selling for about $100K
to #200K.

For snowbird housing, in our park, the break point for buying or renting is about 4 months... As mentioned in an above post... it takes a special type of person to be able to bring enough belongings to stay in a rental place for 3-4 months. We wouldn't think of it.

I'd recommend that you take a look at (Google) these communities in the Leesburg area... Highland Lakes... Royal Highlands... for stick built housing... and Lake Griffin Harbor. There are more than 100 communities in a 50 mile radius.

BIL lives in Tanglewood in Sebring... nice active commuity... 100 miles further south.

Much more important than buying or renting, is what you're looking for. First time new retirees looking abound Florida most commonly look for the housing, and make big time mistakes... Lifestyle first... absolutely! Don't look at the house... look at the community, and the people. Find your own level of financial comfort, and the activities that suit your interests. I'd like to have a dollar for every resident of our park, who spent two or three unhappy years in Florida in a park that didn't suit them, before finding ours. The house is secondary.

If you post your interests, I'd be happy to share what I know about the better parks.
__________________
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 02:49 PM   #8
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,487
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex in Virginia View Post
Does anyone have experience doing a seasonal rental type of thing every year? Good or bad comments OK. And it doesn't have to be specific to Florida; experience anywhere will help.
Hi Alex, welcome to the forum. We have friends and relatives that live in the inhospitable Yankee northern climates and flock south to spend the colder months basking in the glorious Florida sun. For most, renting is a better option than owning, definitely less expensive and fewer headaches. In fact, even if you do choose to buy there is an advantage to renting for the first year or two, just to make sure you are comfortable with your choice.

Personal experience shows that owning a second home is like putting a never ending stream of children through college. You play a lot in the beginning, then you keep on paying forever, or until you go broke. Here's an interesting discussion A Second Vacation Home a Good Thing?
__________________
MichaelB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 03:10 PM   #9
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,437
My DW and I are contemplating the same issue. We've always been owners and renting is a new frontier. However, I really like the flexibility that renting gives the situation. My DW is concerned that if we bought we would feel compelled to go there if for no other reason than to get our moneys worth out of the place.
And even though we've travelled extensively over the years we may not be ready to settle down in yet a third location.
We really enjoy coming home but plan to travel, albeit at a more relaxed pace when we fully retire. Rental is probably how we'll go. There is no correct answer. Everyone must determine their own priorities.
__________________
Retired in 2016. Living off dividends / interest and a mini pension. Freedom.
foxfirev5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 03:21 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
RockyMtn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: North Scottsdale
Posts: 1,233
Rented in Az for a couple of years till we decided on the right place then bought. Prices were attractive, we don't have to move stuff back and forth anymore and it seems more like our home instead of someone else's.

Just my two cents for what it's worth.
__________________
FIRE'D in July 2009 at 51...Never look back!
RockyMtn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 05:46 PM   #11
Moderator
Ronstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: A little ways southwest of Chicago
Posts: 9,356
I rented in az for a week in a Fairfield Inn before I bought our condo in 2002. No regrets. It's a great getaway. Pros- all of my stuff is there. Cons - not much flexibility - we stay at the same place all the time. Definitely make sure the place is right before you buy. I got lucky - I would advise to rent a few months in an area before buying.
__________________
Ronstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 06:47 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
haha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Hooverville
Posts: 22,386
To me it would depend on whether sonwbirding was a want or a need. I felt I might commit suicide without 3 months of winter spent in Florida or California or Arizona, then after getting comfortable in some community I might buy if it were cheaper than renting. But if a month in the tropics or Florida will take care of needs, it has to be cheaper and a lot less hassle to rent.

Also, it will always be cheaper to stay home, and that has its benefits too. Or, when Mexico settles down to where more Americans are comfortable away from vacation spots, this would also likely be cheaper than buying in the US sub tropical zone. But a good place on or easy walking distance from beaches on either coast could be a good speculation. This is a mostly northern country with unpleasant winters, but we do have Florida, and it is still reasonably priced.

I would never he interested, but although I live in the north, it has been a very long time since I endured a cold, windy, and slushy NE winter. I can still remember how awful it was when some car went by and drenched me with cold, dirty slushy water.

In my current home, the winters can sometimes seem too short. I can be just getting used to the short days and long nights of easy sleeping with no birds announcing the coming dawn at 3:45 or so, when suddenly those birds are at it again.

Ha
__________________
"As a general rule, the more dangerous or inappropriate a conversation, the more interesting it is."-Scott Adams
haha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2012, 08:40 PM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Moemg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sarasota,fl.
Posts: 10,036
Frankly I think Snowbirds miss the best months . November in Florida is perfect as is April . December through March depend on the weather . They may be chilly & definitely no gulf swimming plus they are crowded . If it were me I would rent a small condo for three months. Most condos come with everything you could need for a short stay & usually have heated pools .Even though Florida prices look good right now you still have to deal with condo dues ,bug control, insurance & maybe flood insurance
__________________
Moemg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 07:54 AM   #14
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 145
Thanks everyone for that great set of initial responses. (BTW, what's with the "dryer sheets")

I ran a quick financial comparison between buying and renting for 4 months. All in (including caretaking costs for our main home while we are away), owning would cost double, and would require at least $14K upfront capital. Score one for renting.

If renting, my solution to the moving furniture thing would simply be to do a combo of furniture renting and thrift store buying. Electronics we would move down (yep, we would drive down in the covered pickup). Even if we just abandon or give back the furniture, I'm figuring $1K to $2K per year, and I factored that into the renting/buying costs comparison. Reactions?

Oh, I should emphasize that I would want to rent an unfurnished house (or manufactured home), not a condo. The big problem would be our pets. Cats(4) and dogs(2) I imagine would put off some landlords. Any thoughts?

I'm actually glad to hear landlords prefer a 3-month seasonal rental. I would be planning to rent for 4 months, which might give me an edge. Yes?

Our big interests while in Florida would be hiking/canoeing/camping in the national and state parks, which is part of the reason the Ocala area looks attractive. Also snorkeling/diving, but I could see just driving down to West Palm for an overnighter to do that. Renting would keep options open to move around the various park areas.

If owning, I would really worry about security during the 8 months of the year I would not be there. Any experiences or advice on that would be very welcome.

Still, my wife thinks it would be just too much hassle to hunt for a rental each year. She also can't see us transporting back-and-forth the very large bird cages her parrots require. I say there's a buy-and-store solution for that, but she's very resistant right now. Oh, well... I'm still evaluating and researching.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And let me hear from you!
__________________
Alex in Virginia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 08:04 AM   #15
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,487
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex in Virginia View Post
Thanks everyone for that great set of initial responses. (BTW, what's with the "dryer sheets")
See here "What's the deal with the dryer sheets?!?" The FAQ section is your friend
__________________
MichaelB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 08:05 AM   #16
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
Seems like you could rent a very small storage unit and store the things you want duplicates of, like pots and pans, household items, the large cages for the birds, etc. And then only move the stuff that has to come with the animals.

I suspect that at some point, perhaps years after starting this, you will both pick a midpoint and move there permanently. I think that when you are younger and more enthusiastic, the hassle factor doesn't seem like a big deal, but at some point you wont enjoy the transit. Which is a vote for renting, for sure.
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 08:10 AM   #17
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 230
+1 on the renting first. We started renting in Florida a couple of months ago and have found that we are not necessarly crazy about the resort we are in. We are going to try a couple other places before making decisions. I am back home right now but will sure be glad to get back down in a week!
__________________
xyz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 08:40 AM   #18
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 572
Alex in Virginia
I have friends who have summer cottages in decent communities in Cape Cod. The houses were winterized and boarded up for the winters, and I know at least a couple of friends returned in the summers to find the places burglarized. Leaving a home sits empty for months does pose a security problem.
__________________
bondi688 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 03:27 PM   #19
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: northern Michigan
Posts: 732
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowflyer View Post
We've been doing the snowbird thing in FL for a few years and have been renting. It's just a personal thing, but I'm not interested in owning more real estate, so renting is the only way for us. I see renting as great value and unless you are looking to take advantage of possible price appreciation by owning your own place, for us, there's just no way you can justify the cost of owning. We can rent a great place and even pay up for a better-than-average rental and still be way ahead financially.
I agree. We rent a really nice house on the coast of Texas every winter for 2 months, and it works out great for us. The rental price is quite reasonable, in my opinion. The house is furnished, and has everything we need, and more. So, we really don't need to haul a lot of stuff down there with us, other than clothes and personal gear. We have not had to look for a new place every year, because the owner of this house gives us first dibs on the house each winter. You mentioned that you would be bringing 4 cats and 2 dogs, though, and that might be a problem for a rental. Some rentals accept pets and some don't, but 6 pets might be a bit of a stretch (you'd have to look around and see if you can find a rental that would be okay with your pets). We have a large dog (lab) that we bring with us, and the owners of the house we rent have not had a problem with that at all.
__________________
RAE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2012, 04:06 PM   #20
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 38
From my experience having dogs definitely reduces the number of rentals available to you. We have a small ShihTzu dog and I would estimate that over 50% of the type of condos we look to rent are not available to owners with pets. For the most part it is the rule of the condo owner, but in some situations the condo association will not allow pets even though the condo owner may be OK with it.
__________________

__________________
PatSea is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:17 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.