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Old 01-02-2021, 04:49 PM   #21
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In this world you get what you pay for and sometimes you can get the bargain of the century. We live in a high rise condo that was built in 2006-2007. It is designed to withstand a category 4 storm. It has impact glass on all windows. We have views of the intra coastal and the ocean. The condo has a roof top pool with beautiful views, fitness center, private cinema, and many other amenities. We bought this condo in 2011 at 22 cents on the dollar when the market was collapsing and the bank repossessed the property from the developer. High end restaurants, live theaters, and concert halls are just a short walk away. We can also walk to the Brightline train station that can take us to downtown Fort Lauderdale and Miami. We will be able to take the train to Orlando soon. The one complaint I have has been property taxes that have tripled since we bought the property and the growing homeless population.
Well done with your purchase timing. Would you mind sharing the name of the complex?
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Old 01-02-2021, 06:26 PM   #22
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We live in Northern Tampa, FLA and do love it. We are within 45 minutes of many activities in downtown Tampa. Around 50 min - 1 hour to the beach.
We live in a gated community. It is cookie cutter types, but that is fine with us.
As for progressiveness, one needs to really do their homework in FLA, especially in retirement communities. Our community is a diversified community with a political split probably around 50/50.
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Old 01-02-2021, 08:16 PM   #23
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Well done with your purchase timing. Would you mind sharing the name of the complex?
Two City Plaza - West Palm Beach

https://www.highrises.com/west-palm-...-plaza-condos/

The prices have increased substantially since the crash bottom in 2011. The area is really nice.

Here is a short video I made of the area earlier this year before all the madness. It covers South East Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami Dade).

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Old 01-02-2021, 09:00 PM   #24
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The thing to keep in mind is that moving to a "55+" place doesn't stop people from aging. And once people move in, they tend to stay until old age difficulties or death take them out.

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I'm not sure if this is relevant for you, but I lived for a year in Stuart at a 55+ community and it turned out to be more like a 75+ community. I have since learned that 55+ communities can vary quite a bit, regarding the average age of the residents. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:19 PM   #25
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I'm on the Gulf coast of FLA, snowbirding as transition to full retirement come this spring (April timeframe). This is a good temp stay, but don't see establishing myself on the Panhandle for various reasons.

I would really appreciate your suggestions as to areas, towns, retirement communities, whatever you suggest!

I would like to rent in FLA for a couple of years while deciding whether to buy a permanent home or even retire somewhere else...but I need a landing spot to begin with.

I am familiar with various parts of the state, but for short trips, no long hauls.

Here's my WISH list. I realize the final decision may be a compromise, but it doesn't hurt to dream lol.

(1) prefer to live in a retirement community, so I can be involved in activities.
(2) I'd like to live where it's at least close enough to drive for a day at the beach, but I don't need to live on a beach or in a beach town
(3) an area less prone to hurricanes
(4) an area with culture: live music, academics, performances, lectures, etc. (I realize its different now in he pandemic)
(5) good quality of healthcare nearby
(6) an area that is at least somewhat progressive
(7) some diversity would be good - I have lived rural and urban, so I am flexible and open minded.

Appreciated!
The only thing I have to add is a different perspective. Been in FL since 1998, first 17 years in a Ft. Lauderdale suburb, Panhandle since 2015.

To your wish list:
(1) prefer to live in a retirement community, so I can be involved in activities.

Plenty of those in the state, but mostly in the Jacksonville area and from Ocala south. The prevalence of your cultural and political desires depends on the area. Need to be near a metro area for cultural experiences, and in Palm Beach County south to find political preferences on the less conservative side.

As mentioned, The Villages (south of Ocala) checks a lot your boxes except the political one. As an offset, you have a sexually libertine environment with one of the higher STD rates in the state

(2) I'd like to live where it's at least close enough to drive for a day at the beach, but I don't need to live on a beach or in a beach town

No problem anywhere but Lake City, which fails all your other tests anyway.

(3) an area less prone to hurricanes

Lake City, but that's been ruled out already.

Realistically, the hurricane risk is reduced as you move inland, especially north of Orlando. The Villages, Ocala, and Gainesville have experienced little damage in the time I have been here. That includes the horrific 2004-05 seasons.

(4) an area with culture: live music, academics, performances, lectures, etc. (I realize its different now in he pandemic)

Metro areas-MIA/FTL/WPB in the south, Tampa/Orlando in the central part. Jacksonville and Tallahassee are second-to third-tier cities for those things.

(5) good quality of healthcare nearby

Seconding what you've already read-metro areas all good. Jacksonville punching above it's weight with a Mayo facility (a Ft. Lauderdale 'burb has one too)

(6) an area that is at least somewhat progressive
The areas most consistently "blue" in my time here are Broward/Palm Beach counties, Volusia County (Daytona Beach), Gainesville (Univ of FL) and Tallahassee (will come back to that one shortly)

(7) some diversity would be good - I have lived rural and urban, so I am flexible and open minded.

From my experience, there are a very few truly urban areas in FL. Central Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa. Everything else is city center/suburban, semi-rural, or rural. If you're looking for high rise living and walking to restaurants and shopping, you'll be in one of the large metro areas.

A few other thoughts...

In 22 years, I had Cat 1 and Cat 2 hurricanes go over my house, as well as several tropical storms. Plus major hurricanes make landfall less than an hour away. It all sucks. Only the Cat 2 storm did any damage. It's also random. Being out of a storm surge zone is the first step to mitigate the risk, and being further inland is the next step. Moving to the Iron Range is the 3rd

I've lived in places with nasty weather (-20, feet of snow, tornadoes, etc.) I'll take the hurricane risk. Personal choice/preference.

Finally, you said you wouldn't move to the Panhandle. Given your wish list, I can see why. The pace of life in the Alabama part of FL is slow, the military presence brings certain political preferences, and the lower population density means much of what you're looking for isn't available.

But, I encourage you to look at Tallahassee. I've spent more time there lately with a student enrolled at FSU, and I'm starting to like it. Metro area population is >350,000, the state government and universities means it's less conservative, healthcare is good for the same reason and the cultural amenities are more than you will find in areas outside of the major metros. St.George Island/Apalachicola (oyster capital of the US) are a short drive, and Jacksonville is less than 3 hours away. If I leave the Panhandle and don't go to Tampa or points south for warmer winters, it will be Tallahassee.
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Old 01-03-2021, 04:29 AM   #26
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Ssssssshhhh...... Venice, Florida
Quiet and boring, some like it that way. Nowhere in FL is safe from hurricanes. A number of Tampa residents drove to Orlando during the multiple hurricanes in 2004 and the hurricane eye went up I- 4 right through Kissimmee and Orlando. The price gouging on contractors fixing your damaged homes at that time was out of control. The snakes and some gators came out of the lakes at that time.
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Old 01-03-2021, 07:06 AM   #27
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I can't imagine that avoiding hurricane country would not be the #1 criterion in picking a retirement area. I deployed with Red Cross for Hurricane Michael and could never have imagined the devastation I saw. Most striking were the 50+ year old trees knocked over like bowling pins. How many lesser hurricanes had they survived? How many stronger hurricanes are coming? How many more years after this one will they run out of hurricane names?

With respect, to fear the insurance cost more than the hurricane is, I think, due to not paying attention.

My point is that the entire state is hurricane country.... even as far from the coast as possible (if not swamp) you are within 60 miles of the coast which is not enough to weaken a storm if it's on the right path. Live in FL and you accept the risk. I absolutely do not recommend buying in flood zone unless the buyer is willing to view the house as "disposable" and price the possibility into their decision. After all, the barrier islands are simply above water sandbars....



WRT insurance, rates are crazy here and often it is hard to get insured (at least with a good carrier). A storm doesn't even need to hit your area/make a claim in order for your rates to dramatically rise. Flood insurance can even be more fun as the risk maps get reworked... I had coworkers have their renewals jump from $5k/yr to over $15K/yr a few years back for their flood policies! Google some old news articles and you'll see some sob stories....



Many carriers may not be not underwriting in your area due to risk exposure... doesn't seem to make sense how they draw the lines from the consumer perspective. For instance, in Feb 2019 I had a condo (1980's code) on Treasure Island under contract and USAA would underwrite that property... on the beach. I ended up buying in St Pete (post 2004 code, 70' elevation, off the beach/highest risk zone) and they wouldn't underwrite. Got "Podunk Insurance" to get through closing. If you have a preferred insurer, call regularly to see if they will underwrite you as they are constantly updating their maps/risk assessments/gaining/losing exposure. After living in this home for 3 months, I was calling USAA about my auto policy (auto is also very high in FL compared to a lot of the US) and had them transfer me to property just to check... low and behold, on that day they were willing to underwrite when they wouldn't 3 months prior. On other homes I owned, I was never able to get a preferred underwriter. I picked the best of the worst that would cover me after looking at their balance sheets (pretty much all were pretty bad but the catastrophic fund would eventually bail out the homeowner in a major event). I pay a bit more for USAA (glad they'll cover me as they never would my other house) but I've been with them a long time and am happy with their service and comfortable with their financial position.


I love living here but don't think anywhere is "safe" from tropical weather events!



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Old 01-03-2021, 08:02 AM   #28
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Good Points made here, another important for consideration for insurance availability is being in an "X" flood zone. There are very few of those left in desirable beach locations. As a result the home prices reflect the good fortune.

Tower Hill just dropped a lot of beach communities after 25 years of covering them. Frontline still insures well built properties in "X" flood zones ...... don't ask me how I know.
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Old 01-03-2021, 09:35 AM   #29
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I can't imagine that avoiding hurricane country would not be the #1 criterion in picking a retirement area. I deployed with Red Cross for Hurricane Michael and could never have imagined the devastation I saw. Most striking were the 50+ year old trees knocked over like bowling pins. How many lesser hurricanes had they survived? How many stronger hurricanes are coming? How many more years after this one will they run out of hurricane names?

With respect, to fear the insurance cost more than the hurricane is, I think, due to not paying attention.
In my opinion, hurricane prone areas are worth avoiding. But hurricanes run in cycles. The last really busy hurricane year prior to last year was 2005. Over the next 11 years no major hurricanes hit the US mainland, a historic low point.

Forecasting future hurricanes based upon recent storm activity has not worked too well.

I do think the northeast coast of Florida, or even up into SE Georgia (St Simons, etc) have historically been less hurricane prone but actual results may vary
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:03 AM   #30
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With Respect to the 55+ communities we have been to in our area. We have found that we really prefer Regular Gated Multi family communities with a good HOA and well managed finances. (The last 2 being the hardest to establish).

Here are some of our comments as to why we decided against the Area or the individual Community. This does not mean there are not a lot of positives, just what we found not to our liking, again YMMV. Our current community over the last 5 years has pleasantly become a good mix of families, still not overrun with small children, mostly all professional. I guess the Golf Club is an attraction for some, but not us. The HOA is still reasonable, but the finances are VERY good. BTW, we are VERY particular about the general Location, Area, and surrounding neighborhoods, and ease of access to a nice beach. That and we will never buy a Wood home in Florida, near the beach.

We reviewed, actually visited and toured the following:

Dell Web Pointe Vedra

While not far from the beach, because of the traffic, it takes a while to get there, and when one does the parking is restrictive.

Same for Shopping in PV. Traffic around Sawgrass is too much for our liking. But everything you want is available. But has very good access to Jacksonville if that's what turns your crank.

Homes are now being built of wood, and general quality seems not to be as good as the older properties. The older homes are concrete block and as a result reflect a premium. This is a BIG deal for us. Lot sizes are also getting smaller.

Nocatee is too close for our liking.

The Clubhouse seemed full of "Nearly Deads" (Not being derogatory, just to us everyone seemed VERY Old. We are in our Early and Mid 60's.)

Sweetwater

Did not like the location, called and cancelled the appointment once we were near the location.

Stillwater

Too far from the beach. Too Crowded. Close to Jacksonville, so it may appeal to some.

Del Webb Nocatee

Well it is Nocatee, to crowded and location not to our liking. similar to Del Web PV.

Villages of Seloy

Small Semi Detached Homes. (Too Small for us) We want a fully detached property.

Small Club House. No saving graces as far as we were concerned.

Various 55+ Developments in World Golf Village

The area is nice, but too far away from where we like to be.

Homes mostly wood. We are not fans of WGV.

Rivertown St. Johns

Did not like the home construction or Styles, seemed cheap. Again made of Wood.

Soooooo far from everything.

Once you get near shopping the traffic is ridiculous, Think Orange PArk and Blanding Boulevard.

Margaritaville in Daytona

Homes VERY Well Built.

Too Far from a decent beach, but they do have a clubhouse at the beach for residents.

Too Much Buffet everywhere, gets tedious even for the length of an averare Tour.

Once again we are particular, YMMV. For now we will stay put.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:03 AM   #31
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The thing about Florida hurricanes, is they might not always hit, but they do disrupt. You can count on at least one near-miss in most parts of the state, most years.

That means a rush to stock up supplies, maybe put up shutters, clean off the patio, and at best ride out a messy tropical storm that puts your power/net out for a bit and wrecks your garden. Maybe takes down a favorite palm or part of your fence. Or it stays off coast, you've still done the prep and got almost nothing - good problem to have.

But whether or not they actually do damage you need to be ready for them every year. If you go away over the summer (June to November), you need a plan. It's just an extra thing you need to be concerned with. I'm sure many in the middle of the country have their earthquake plans, and those in fire country have their go bags.

It's just a factor.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:09 AM   #32
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Good Points made here, another important for consideration for insurance availability is being in an "X" flood zone. There are very few of those left in desirable beach locations. As a result the home prices reflect the good fortune.

Tower Hill just dropped a lot of beach communities after 25 years of covering them. Frontline still insures well built properties in "X" flood zones ...... don't ask me how I know.
That's true. We just got notified that the company that has insured us for the last 8 years isn't going to renew our coverage. Never made a claim, but the area did get hit pretty hard when Irma came through a few years ago. Our new company is called Typ Tap. Sounds more like an app than an insurance company. I've been tempted to self insure, since our house is small and would be cheap to replace. Also it's been there for almost 40 years, and made it through many a hurricane. But I'm just a bit too conservative for that. When they drop us and I have to go with Joe's Insurance, I'll reconsider.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:35 AM   #33
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Tampa fits most of your requirements, with Clearwater and St. Pete nearby. If you want lower cost of living and less hurricane disruption you could live in Lakeland (we did for 3 years). That would also give you access to arts & culture in Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando. Many other choices all along I4 between Tampa and Orlando. 55 plus communities are everywhere in FL - but diversity and progressives may be (very) scarce in most.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:39 AM   #34
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My point is that the entire state is hurricane country....
Yup. Mine too. No way would I move to anywhere in Florida or, really, to any coastal Atlantic or Gulf area, this based solely on hurricane risk. Working Michael with the Red Cross made a huge impression on me.

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... Forecasting future hurricanes based upon recent storm activity has not worked too well. ...
Agreed. Forecasting pretty much anything from recent data doesn't usually work too well.

The difference here (Yes, "This time it's different.") is the recent history of increasing frequency of severe weather events (fact, not debatable) blamed on global warming (probably, but hard to know absolutely for sure.) I would also avoid places with risk of wildfires, places that rely on getting water from somewhere else, flood plains, etc. I would also avoid at least the most dangerous of the earthquake-prone areas like most of the left coast. I don't think there's any reason to expect earthquake probabilities to be increasing, but "the big one" would be such a high-impact event for retirees that I just wouldn't take the risk. The New Madrid Fault? I don't know.

This morning's WaPo has a story about a new FEMA report that is very germane to the OP's question: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency has calculated the risk for every county in America for 18 types of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes and even tsunamis. ... National Risk Index" https://www.washingtonpost.com/healt...46b_story.html (sorry to say it may be behind a paywall, but a FEMA search should find it.)
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:29 AM   #35
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This morning's WaPo has a story about a new FEMA report that is very germane to the OP's question: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency has calculated the risk for every county in America for 18 types of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes and even tsunamis. ... National Risk Index" https://www.washingtonpost.com/healt...46b_story.html (sorry to say it may be behind a paywall, but a FEMA search should find it.)
Nice find. Is this it? https://hazards.geoplatform.gov/port...3eed96bc3345f8

Or this? Choose state then county. https://www.fema.gov/data-visualizat...s-and-counties
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:38 PM   #36
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This morning's WaPo has a story about a new FEMA report that is very germane to the OP's question: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency has calculated the risk for every county in America for 18 types of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes and even tsunamis. ... National Risk Index" https://www.washingtonpost.com/healt...46b_story.html (sorry to say it may be behind a paywall, but a FEMA search should find it.)
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I am also grateful for the FEMA reference from OS. However, I spent some time with it after he pointed it out, and I don't think the results of the NRI are that helpful to an individual.

As the WashPo article points out (and can be read in the 50-page NRI primer ), FEMA defines "risk" as (likelihood of happening) * (the total cost if it happens). Therefore, as the WashPo article points out, my home county of Philadelphia is one of the "riskiest" counties in the US for tornadoes, much riskier than Oklahoma City. Why? Because if a tornado wiped out Philly, it would cost much, much more than if a tornado wiped out OKC.

But I would argue that measures risk the to society, as is appropriate for FEMA. But that is not the risk to an individual. I as an individual am far more likely to be harmed by a tornado in OKC than in Philly.

Now, if you want to drill down on the likelihood of adverse events, I imagine you can find it in that report, but I found it difficult to get that info.
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:45 PM   #37
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... I don't think the results of the NRI are that helpful to an individual. ...
Yeah. Agree. I used @Midpack's link and spent some time looking around. Interesting information and it probably has some value but it is not a magic bullet for individual decision making.
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Old 01-03-2021, 02:57 PM   #38
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The thing to keep in mind is that moving to a "55+" place doesn't stop people from aging. And once people move in, they tend to stay until old age difficulties or death take them out.

I agree. I guess I didn't realize that in this particular community, everyone must have moved in around the same time and consequently, most younger folks who were considering moving there visited first and apparently most decided to move elsewhere. Unfortunately for me, I had not visited the community first and had relied on the descriptions of the community put out by the homeowners' association and realtors. I ended up being the only person in their 50's who lived in a community of people over 75 and did not have much in common with anyone else. That being said, it was an interesting experience and I learned quite a bit about the aging process, both emotionally and physically.
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Old 01-03-2021, 04:16 PM   #39
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Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment, a lot to consider here, for sure. Helpful comments. A big shout out to FLAGator - that type of information was exactly what I was hoping to receive. Capital areas and university towns do seem to fit my speed and interests.

Of course now I am thinking of other questions. Is anyone planning to leave Florida permanently on account of the predicted hurricane/storm risks? Do climate predictions impact real estate pricing in certain areas? Insurance I can see - what about local property taxes?
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Old 01-03-2021, 04:22 PM   #40
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Is anyone planning to leave Florida permanently on account of the predicted hurricane/storm risks? Do climate predications impact real estate pricing in certain areas? Insurance I can see - what about local property taxes?
No, and St. Johns County taxes are reasonable. We also live in a College Town. If one already owns Real Estate it is moot as Florida has Tax portability and homesteading.
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