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Old 09-08-2007, 09:50 PM   #21
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I live way up here in Alberta Canada. I haven't been to the Southern states before, but I have spent some time looking through real estate listings and weather data. Compared to here, the home prices look like a bargain. I plan to wait until I think that the whole U.S. mortgage mess has settled itself out before buying, and in the mean time take a trip by rental car across the states. Researching online is very confusing. There seem to be so many micro-climates and societal differences down there that I really don't know where to start. Everyone here goes to Arizona and Florida for winter. I'd appreciate hearing about areas within those states, but are there others in between that I should check into/visit as well?

My wish list in order of importance to me follow....

-NO snow or at least very rare.
-sane levels of humidity (very dry where I live)
-more sunny than cloudy days
-comfortable outside in winter months with sweater
-some wind is OK, but not all of the time
-greenery and rolling terrain
-near a clean lake that allows jet skis (if I wear a full wetsuit is the water warm enough there in winter some days?)
-within 25 min. of city of at least 70K
-mainly english speaking
-reasonable residential tax levels
-within an hour of decent college/university
Scottsdale, Az has all of the above but is a lttle short in greenery
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Old 09-09-2007, 02:02 AM   #22
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I've actually already checked into Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale. Both do seem (on paper at least) pretty compatible with my list and were on my "to visit" list as well. I'm really looking forward to researching the other ideas given to me here.

Sadly I have dial up so couldn't see a couple of the links. Seriously folks, why do all of you seem so at ease with alligators in your lakes. Do sane people go swimming there? I read some stats that said no fatalities ever in Texas from alligators, but I have a tough time imagining myself not being just a bit freaked out if I knew that an animal who is bigger than me and potentially a tad hungry or angry shares the water with me. :confused:

Hard to believe that Texas could be as bad as the earlier post describes, but all stuff that I'll check into, thanks

Bon Secour looks to be a pretty slick concept.

No long winded speeches on this one please, but I'm curious. Is there much racial or religious tension presently in the south? Scale of 1-10 (10 being lots of tension) and areas where it could pose a problem. Plain and simple, I just don't want to be where I won't feel welcome.
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Old 09-09-2007, 05:37 AM   #23
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I'm at ease with the gators, because I don't go into a body of water I can't see the bottom. If you go into decent moving rivers normally the gators stay away They don't like moving water.

As far as racial tension go. I think it depends on the person and how sensitive they are. I don't think it is out in the open like it was a few years ago, however, like the lakes, don't go to areas where you don't think you'll be welcomed. There are plenty of areas where people don't care who you are and your welcomed, no matter what race you are. It doesn't matter which race you are their will always be some group who doesn't like you because of the color of your skin.
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Old 09-09-2007, 09:43 AM   #24
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You are thinking of lakes in an up north way . In Florida ,the lakes are for fishing and boating no swimming .Swimming is done in the ocean or gulf if you can avoid the sharks and sting rays .That's why so many people have pools or a community pool which is the best because it's usually a large pool with little users that's taken care of by somebody else .As far as racial or religious tension is probably slightly above minimal (about a 3 )on the west coast of Florida. I know you said rolling hills so I'd recommend Gainesville Fl home of U of F and the gators . Lots of activities ,rolling hills ,moderate real estate ,and lakes . Racial tension a 1.
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Old 09-09-2007, 09:54 AM   #25
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I'd check out Tallahassee, Tampa, Gainesville, and the St. Augustine area.

This is a great time to buy. DW is a realtor and she tells me the recovery is likely still a year away and that the nicer properties are already starting to plateau (as opposed to dropping) in price.

As pointed out, Florida has had its share of insurance and property tax confusion but that has only served to make it an even more enticing buyers' market. Those issues will get sorted out - likely on the expensive side - but with no state income tax it all comes out in the wash. Hurricanes are what they are, but as we watch the news, it seems to us that other regions are equal or worse in their share of floods, blizzards, tornados, power outages, fires, earthquakes, mudslides, and heat waves. Name your poison.

The winter weather is spectacular. Summers are bad, but near the coast they are better than many southern, midwestern and southwestern states - I've lived in Tucson and here and prefer summers here. It's rarely hotter than about 92-93 degrees near the gulf.

Despite the negatives of a populous resort-ridden state, there are plenty of great places here for someone in your situation. You just have to choose your spot thoughtfully. We like it here a lot.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:58 AM   #26
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I would suggest Huntsville and Athens, Alabama (but South east Tennessee and North western Georgia could work as well). Plenty of clean, (almost) gator-free lakes that allow water sports (jet ski, boating, swimming, fishing...), winters are mild (snow falls are rare) though the temperatures might dip in the 20s some time to time, rolling hills, larger cities nearby (Nashville, Birmingham, and Chattanooga are all within 1.5 hour drive, Memphis and Atlanta are about 3.5 hours away). Huntsille has a pop. of ~350K for the metro, a well served airport, good hospitals, one of the most educated population in the country (lots of engineers), striving economy, and it is neither too conservative nor too liberal. In northern Alabama housing prices are very affordable, property taxes are cheap. No housing bubble here either according to the media. Home prices are up nearly 8% year over year (top 15% home price growth in the country for the past year). Humidity levels are very high in the summer but reasonable in the winter.
The gator situation is this: we have a fairly small population (less than 100 in our larger lakes from what I can gather) and no recorded attack on humans as far as I can tell. Northern Alabama is geographically on the bubble: if you go south of here, the winters are milder and the gator population strives, if you go north of here, the winters are colder but you have no gators.
Racial tension is very low as far as I can tell.
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Old 09-09-2007, 08:02 PM   #27
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If you can stand exposure to ebola and other terrible things about which REWahoo writes, consider East Texas ... Tyler, Longview, etc. Beautiful lakes, rolling forested land, low housing prices, lots of rain and well inland (away from hurricanes and such). Mild winters, hot summers... but fairly high humidity compared to Western Canada.
Small University of Texas campus in Tyler, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, otherwise not much in terms of higher education institutions...
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Old 09-09-2007, 08:37 PM   #28
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Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches...
Home of virgin pines and tall women.
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Old 09-09-2007, 09:20 PM   #29
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Not sure about the accuracy of some of the "gator" data being provided here but I live on a large, clean lake (Lake Martin) in central Alabama about 45 miles northeast of Montgomery (and 2 hours southwest of Atlanta), and there are zero gators in this part of the world. Gators have been reported in the Alabama River south of Montgomery but not north of the coastal plain region. This area seems to meet the criteria on your list and real estate is very affordable, except on the lake.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:04 PM   #30
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Proof of the presence of Alligators in Northern Alabama:

Here: Wheeler NWR | Southeast Region (Huntsville-Decatur-Athens, AL)
Here: See ya later, alligator? Gator sightings in Decatur (near Decatur, AL)
and Here: Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas - Alligators spotted in northern Alabama (again near Decatur-Athens, AL)

I read somewhere that they were introduced in the area to reduce the beaver population. When people complained about it, they only could capture a small number of the gators they had released. As I said, not a huge population, but they're here all right! Personally I don't worry too much about it, I was swimming in lake wheeler near Athens last week-end and saw plenty of other people doing the same.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:20 PM   #31
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'Course, ya'll are aware that there are more water moccasins in southern lakes than 'gators, aren't ya? Oh, and be reeeeal careful when you go to clean the strainer in the swimming pool.

I lived in the American south about half of my working life. I ain't fixin' to go back any time soon.

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Old 09-09-2007, 11:06 PM   #32
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Not sure about the accuracy of some of the "gator" data being provided here but I live on a large, clean lake (Lake Martin) in central Alabama about 45 miles northeast of Montgomery (and 2 hours southwest of Atlanta), and there are zero gators in this part of the world. Gators have been reported in the Alabama River south of Montgomery but not north of the coastal plain region. This area seems to meet the criteria on your list and real estate is very affordable, except on the lake.
I guess real estate value all about what you're accustomed to. I looked at some waterfront Lake Martin listings, and it looks like $400K will get you a pretty nice place. The equivalent here would go for more like $750-$850K,(amazing where an oil boom will send prices) AND ITS FROZEN OVER FROM NOV-APR, and not very clear for the rest.

45 mins to the nearest city is a bit far for me though. Are there any sizeable towns with good amenities that are closer? Can the lake be used for waterskiing in winter if we used wetsuits?
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:19 PM   #33
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If you can stand exposure to ebola and other terrible things about which REWahoo writes, consider East Texas ... Tyler, Longview, etc. Beautiful lakes, rolling forested land, low housing prices, lots of rain and well inland (away from hurricanes and such). Mild winters, hot summers... but fairly high humidity compared to Western Canada.
Small University of Texas campus in Tyler, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, otherwise not much in terms of higher education institutions...
Actually already have Tyler on my short list of places to check out. Is it terribly gloomy and overcast in winter? You can probably sense that I like a fair bit of sun. Thanks
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:21 PM   #34
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If your new place doesn't freeze in winter, expect plenty of bugs and reptiles. What is normal to a local, may not be acceptable to you. Having kayaked in the winter in Arizona, I'm sure your can waterski anywhere with the right equipment e.g. a drysuit over fleece.
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Old 09-10-2007, 12:34 AM   #35
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Actually already have Tyler on my short list of places to check out. Is it terribly gloomy and overcast in winter? You can probably sense that I like a fair bit of sun. Thanks
If a westerner can afford the west he should stay in the west. Other places are fine if you are from there, but not too nice compared with the mountain west or the west coast.

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Old 09-10-2007, 03:56 AM   #36
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Send them to the coast(any coast) - the Missouri Ozarks are already too discovered.

My sister called me the other day from yet another I-5 traffic jam south of Seattle - 58 and still working heh heh heh.

You ain't getting me back to the PacNW after I've lived in New Orleans - except in chains.

heh heh heh - of course never say never again. In thirty years I learned to love 'da swamp'. Now it's back in the hills time again(above the mighty Missouri floodplain). First 26 in the PacNW, 4 in Denver,2 in Huntsville AL, 30 in New Orleans - bogey the Midwest for a while - and then? and then? the desert? We'll see. I know a few Arizona/Washington types from my high school class - ?wetbirds in contrast to snowbirds? How about a few bars of this land is your land? Got a little RV itch? - eh. Tough decisions in ER.
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:40 AM   #37
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I guess real estate value all about what you're accustomed to. I looked at some waterfront Lake Martin listings, and it looks like $400K will get you a pretty nice place. The equivalent here would go for more like $750-$850K,(amazing where an oil boom will send prices) AND ITS FROZEN OVER FROM NOV-APR, and not very clear for the rest.

45 mins to the nearest city is a bit far for me though. Are there any sizeable towns with good amenities that are closer? Can the lake be used for waterskiing in winter if we used wetsuits?
$400,000 is about the entry point for smaller homes that are typically cabins, more than 45 minutes from Montgomery, and/or have only seasonal water. The lake is over 40,000 acres and about 30 miles from one end to the other so location also determines price with the homes closer to Montgomery being more expensive. To have year-round water (the lake drops 10 feet over the winter months), it will cost you at least $500,000 on the south end of the lake which is closest to Montgomery. Auburn (and Auburn University) is about 20 to 30 miles from various parts of the lake. I have a 1400 sqft house on the south end of the lake with year-round water and it would sell for over $600k in the current market.

Winter waterskiing is doable with a wetsuit, and the lake gets very little use from Labor Day through early April (my favorite time to be on the lake).
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:00 AM   #38
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$400,000 is about the entry point for smaller homes that are typically cabins, more than 45 minutes from Montgomery, and/or have only seasonal water. The lake is over 40,000 acres and about 30 miles from one end to the other so location also determines price with the homes closer to Montgomery being more expensive. To have year-round water (the lake drops 10 feet over the winter months), it will cost you at least $500,000 on the south end of the lake which is closest to Montgomery. Auburn (and Auburn University) is about 20 to 30 miles from various parts of the lake. I have a 1400 sqft house on the south end of the lake with year-round water and it would sell for over $600k in the current market.

Winter waterskiing is doable with a wetsuit, and the lake gets very little use from Labor Day through early April (my favorite time to be on the lake).
Just to be clear, when you say that the water drops 10 feet in winter, you mean that you gain 10 feet of shoreline, not actually lose 10 feet of depth, right? Also, again comfortable water temperature is about what you are accustomed to, and I'm guessing that the water temps that we are accustomed to here would probably make your Sept.-Apr. water temp seem like home.

To be honest though, if I were a full timer there, the $600K for a decent waterfront place would seem like a bargain, but as a second home/winter getaway, yikes! I'll spend some more time looking at maps and checking weather and demographic stats for the area. Lakefront is nice, but even a nice place nearby with good public access to a clean lake would suffice. Any small communities nearby? (I'm thinking 10 min. drive) Also, is there a significant tourist or seasonal employment draw such that I'd have a hope of renting it out during the summer months?
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:12 AM   #39
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If a westerner can afford the west he should stay in the west. Other places are fine if you are from there, but not too nice compared with the mountain west or the west coast.

Ha
You could be right, but I gotta see it to believe it. Who knows, I may be a Southeasterner at heart. Sometimes a place just feels right, even if all of my preconceived ideas of perfection aren't met 100%.
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:15 AM   #40
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Charleston, SC is lovely, but we do have gators, sharks, and snakes. But those are just the lawyers....Lots of folks move here for the weather and the cultural amenities.
Sarah
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