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the daytona 250
Old 04-14-2007, 10:42 AM   #1
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the daytona 250

never thought i would like daytona. cars driving on a beach sounded tacky. after over 30 years in florida i finally went to visit on one of my mini-roadtrips to find a future downsize. i like daytona beach very much.

daytona is located 3 to 3.5 hours north of fort lauderdale, about 1 hour to orlando, 2 hours to tampa and an 1.5 hours south of jacksonville. i could have some palms but it is above the frost line so tropical planting is limited. daytona marks the eastern edge of what some urban planners predict will become one of the country's few megapolitan areas, stretching from tampa, though orlando, to daytona.

i came into town through port orange to the south. a very neat & tidy community with lots of landscaping and new buildings on the way into town. turning onto u.s. hwy 1, i immediately came upon a self-service car wash (one of my favorite conveniences) and got all of i-95's bugs off the car. driving up u.s.1, i passed some wonderful old houses right on the highway. i imagine these were built back when u.s.1 was a two lane road and were then set back farther from the highway, before the highway was widened and sidewalks were added. i imagined further that as the area develops, these houses would become professional offices, restored to their former glory rather than being torn down for new & ugly office buildings.

somehow i found myself right in daytona's downtown, so getting around there is easy. the downtown has a lovely restored area of old storefronts, a main street, then a linear park bordering some sort of canal or forking of a river, then a wonderful park with the jackie robinson ballfield, tennis, library, etc and then the halifax river section of the intracoastal waterway. here is downtown daytona...



four bridges make for easy access to the beaches. i didn't go to the beach right away as it was heading towards sunset and i wanted to view the area first. driving through sidestreets i found lots of houses for sale. also i spoke to the residents who were out in their yards or walking their dogs. i came across three hybrid wolves so of course i had to stop and say high. the puppy, about 120 lbs and just over waist high came running right over to me though the parents kept their distance. the owners insisted on bringing me their baby book to share their puppy experience.

here is a typical house for sale in this area. $250k asking price for a 2/1 with small inground pool just a block or two off the beach. i had no idea i could live that close to the beach for that kind of money. this is wonderful living. middle class on the beach. almost oceanfront single family houses for the working class. or for $250k you could also buy a condo with an ocean view. imagine that.



that house has been for sale for at least 1 year according to the date stamped on the pictures. it sits high on an old dune and so i would not imagine flood insurance too pricey. a few blocks down i asked another neighbor about wind insurance. he says he is paying just over $5k for $650 worth of house but i could not be sure if he was estimating his house value for giving me the actual value insured. for some reason i felt he gave me his 2005's house value (for reference, here are feb 2007 - feb 2006 delta percent for existing single family $215,500 $228,900 -6 and for existing condos $180,000 $250,000 -28). also the listing shows taxes in 2005 as $466.34, obviously misleading. according to county records, a new owner would pay $5,175/year in taxes.

my downsized window of opportunity would come only if florida changes how it charges property taxes. if i could take my "save our homes" homesteaded exemption with me it would cost me just $1,000/year to live 1 block from the beach. but if i downsize in half now, my costs go up 5 times, so i'd have to downsize out of state or just vagabond it.

as the sun started setting i headed back along the main strip that runs parallel to the beach and found what looked like a decent hotel, a comfort inn. i wound up with the honeymoon suite overlooking the pool & beach for $119/night plus 12.5% taxes. here's my room and view.





this is a truly great beach, a cross between coney island, what fort lauderdale used to be and what miami beach should have been. i've never before seen so much activity on the beach. nature designed it that way. the hard packed white sand slopes ever so gently up from the water so as to create about a 100 foot wide boogy boarding area of inflowing & outflowing thin sheets of ocean. this area is perfect for play. over the hard packed sand is a veneer of red sand which changes patterns with every wave like an etchasketch. it is beautiful. a lifeguard told me the red sands comes in with the tide from points farther north. on a latter drive north i found the farther north you go the more red sand there is.

here is one pattern of the bi-colored sand on daytona beach



this is a picture of the beach from daytona pier. at the pier are all sorts of amusements including arcades, some enclosed bungy looking thing that goes up between two crane towers and even a chair lift-type ride flying you 20 feet over the pier for a sea-gull's eye view of the beach.



and here is a picture of flagler beach pier, two cities north of daytona. note the large patch of red sand on the otherwise white beach.



between daytona and flagler beach is a town called ormond beach where i found small garden-style apartments, condos selling in the $200-400k range right across the street from the beach with no obstruction to their views. also there is a large stretch of state park right on the beach. miles with no buildings on the ocean, try finding that in fort lauderdale.

here is a listing on realtor.com of one of those condos which i happened to notice. it borders the park and i was thinking as i was driving, wouldn't that be a nice place to live (turns out it is not even $200K) http://tinyurl.com/2jg32a

yup, i could live here.
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Re: the daytona 250
Old 04-14-2007, 01:33 PM   #2
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Re: the daytona 250

Thanks for the review .I've been thinking about a week-end trip to Daytona .
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Re: the daytona 250
Old 04-14-2007, 05:03 PM   #3
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Re: the daytona 250

We've been going to Daytona Beach for about 7 years for two week vacations. We really like it a lot. It IS very easy to get around, and there is a lot to do, and to go see. We always stay 'beachside' along A1A. It's a nice location for 'day trips' because there are so many places to go and so many things to do within 1 to 2 hours drive!

When we first started going there the beaches were almost all 'white' sand, but the hurricanes a couple of years ago, washed away 2 to 4 feet of sand (depth)!!! You can still see the old sand/beach line on some of the hotel's seawalls....esp. the hotels that are no longer there!!! We never saw that reddish sand until after the hurricanes.

We 'drove' the beach for the first time last year, just to be able to say we did. Whoopee!!

There are all sorts of VERY good places to eat, and many of them (if you hunt for 'em, or ask the natives 'locals') are VERY reasonably priced. "Shell's", in the 200 block S. Atlantic Av. (A1A) (about 100 feet north of International Speedway Dr.) has REALLY good, very reasonably priced seafood....I ate there a LOT!!! We went down to "Sherry's" in the 1400 block of S. Atlantic Av., and had a really nice AND delicious breakfast buffet. It's a family owned/operated place, and the food is 'southern' home cookin'!!!! And about 2 blocks south of Sherry's is "Steve's Diner"...it's a 'family-style' restaurant with very good food (and portions!) very reasonably priced.

We drove around quite a bit, and just looked for the "out-of-the-way" places...off the normal "tourist" routes...and found other good places that way, too.

Most everyone we met down there was very pleasant and friendly. We felt more like 'locals' than visitors/tourists (unlike a lot of places we've traveled). Actually the only people who were down-right UNfriendly, were the ones at the Daytona Beach Visitor's Center on Orange Av, just down the street from Jackie Robinson Stadium. Somebody must have p*ssed in their Wheaties that morning...they were just plain RUDE!!! So we walked across the street to the county courthouse and got directions and info from them...THEY were nice!!!

Being located where it is, it IS cooler in the winter and early spring than Cocoa or Lauderdale and places like that....we even thought it was much cooler than Orlando at the same time of year. And when the wind is out of the northeast....BRRRR!!!! We've not been there in the summer....and WON'T be...because it would be a bit too hot and humid for my liking!

There are a lot of nice homes....many for sale...over on Peninsula Dr. That's about 2 blocks east of A1A/Atlantic Av. Actually it runs along the Halifax River. We drove it a few times from up by Ormand Beach down to Inlet Harbor (the far south end). Also, as a side note, there is a very good restaurant at the Inlet Harbor Marina! Inside or Patio dining overlooking the Halifax.

So if you buy something there, we might get to run into you when we're down!
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Re: the daytona 250
Old 04-15-2007, 11:10 AM   #4
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Re: the daytona 250

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moemg
Thanks for the review .I've been thinking about a week-end trip to Daytona .
don't know for how long you've been in sarasota but if you've been there for 30 years and liked it better then, you will like daytona. i have a high school friend whose family moved from south florida to sarasota in part because it was less intense there. so i've been visiting sarasota for these 30 years, watching it become fort lauderdale. congrats, you've arrived. you know have all the buildings and all the traffic. well done (if you like that sort of thing).

what i like about the daytona area is it reminds me of the florida of my youth. expanses of oceanfront with no buildings. lots of public access to the beach where it is developed. kitschy hotels that haven't yet been replaced. middle class values with an ocean view. my guess is daytona area will take at least another 20 years before it gets crapped up is improved with a higher class of people becomes inundated with money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goonie
We 'drove' the beach for the first time last year, just to be able to say we did. Whoopee!!...So if you buy something there, we might get to run into you when we're down!
i can't believe i didn't bother to drive on the beach. i thought about it for a moment but the thought struck me as i was packing to leave and once my home beacon turns on there's little that veers me off course.

if daytona lost beach i wasn't aware when i was there. compared to what little beach is left here i thought their beach was huge. i was not so fortunate on finding good food. next trip i'll bring my blender so i can have my protein shakes. peninsular drive indeed does have some wonderful old homes. i almost went off the road because i lost track of time while staring at a particularly beautiful one.

i don't know yet if this is where i'll wind up downsizing--and that's completely dependent upon florida changing the property tax rules--but daytona strikes me as a very possible future for an early retirement life.
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