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Another Florida Question - Retirement location
Old 01-02-2021, 12:00 PM   #1
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Another Florida Question - Retirement location

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!
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:14 PM   #2
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To answer your (OP's) questions from Our perspective, been retired in NE FLA for ~15 years Came from SoCAL via the Caribbean.

(1) prefer to live in a retirement community, so I can be involved in activities.

Personal Choice, we prefer gated multi age communities with a Good HOA and Finances

(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

Pretty much anywhere in Florida is ~60 - 70 Miles from a beach. Our preference was walking or biking distance YMMV

(3) an area less prone to hurricanes

This is a good one, basically ALL FLA can be affected by Hurricanes. The Southwest and Southeast being the worst. All coasts can be affected as well as the interior

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

You will need to do research, but being near a Major City will probably be required

(5) good quality of healthcare nearby

As long as you stick to Affluent Counties, there is no issue with healthcare. We have some of the best. Ours in the NE is Outstanding and we trip over doctors and Specialists

(6) an area that is at least somewhat progressive

Ha Ha, it is Florida, about as progressive as a soap dish.

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

Personal Choice, research required.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:21 PM   #3
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Thank you for your comments. Maybe I should have been clearer. I was hoping for names of places that might fit some or even all of these categories..and it is a wish list, as I said, I realize there are limitations.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:30 PM   #4
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Thank you for your comments. Maybe I should have been clearer. I was hoping for names of places that might fit some or even all of these categories..and it is a wish list, as I said, I realize there are limitations.
+1 on ShockWave's response. I think he lives in/near Jacksonville, which would likely fulfill all your criteria. Another location to consider is Sarasota; a little further south but, should score well with your criteria. I used live in Cocoa Beach and, if it's just Florida we're discussing, I'm partial to the weather on the north half of the FL east coast. But, I wouldn't recommend Cocoa Beach as it will not fulfill all your criteria. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:30 PM   #5
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Thank you for your comments. Maybe I should have been clearer. I was hoping for names of places that might fit some or even all of these categories..and it is a wish list, as I said, I realize there are limitations.
We live on the coast and you indicated that you may not be so keen, or at least that is what I picked up. We would not live anywhere that is more that 10 - 15 mins from a nice beach.

Remembering these are OUR opinions and others may vary. We have visited pretty much all areas within 25 miles of a decent city in Fla, and we think that NE Fla is the best for us. We get a respite from the oppressive heat and have a cooler winter than the South.

Pretty much anywhere from the South of Pointe Vedra to New Smyrna Beach suits our lifestyle. Again YMMV
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Old 01-02-2021, 12:35 PM   #6
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Do you have any specific thoughts on St. Augustine? I spent the day there once, so obviously that's not long enough for an assessment.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:00 PM   #7
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+1 on ShockWave's response. I think he lives in/near Jacksonville, which would likely fulfill all your criteria. Another location to consider is Sarasota; a little further south but, should score well with your criteria. ....
No, Sarasota would be not be good at all.

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Do you have any specific thoughts on St. Augustine? I spent the day there once, so obviously that's not long enough for an assessment.
St. Augustine would be great!

No seriously, we have a friend who lives just south of there and loves it and we have visited there and like it. I also have another friend who winters at Palm Coast, just south of St. Augustine and enjoys it there.

Also, my Mom used to live in Sun City Center, about 1/2 south of Tampa off of I-75. It was one of the first few Del Webb communities and in non-covid times has a lot of clubs and activities... I have an aunt and uncle who still live there.

And then there is always The Villages, that would probably tick off a lot of your boxes other than the progressive box... of course that is a hard slog in Florida. I actually would consider The Villages if it were a little warmer there in Dec-Feb.

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...(6) an area that is at least somewhat progressive

Ha Ha, it is Florida, about as progressive as a soap dish....[/COLOR]
How appropriate that you used the color red!
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:08 PM   #8
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Do you have any specific thoughts on St. Augustine? I spent the day there once, so obviously that's not long enough for an assessment.
We have been here for ~15 years. That should say something. It is getting a little dense but NOWHERE near as bas as Naples, the West Coast or Southeast. Hopefully it will be good for our lifetime. Healthcare is Top Shelf. Beaches are clean and well maintained. St. Johns county is pretty affluent and it is reflected.

There is one problem I can see at the moment, that is homes are starting to sell fast, at least here by the beach, that means prices are going to be rising proportionally or even exponentially.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:28 PM   #9
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One way to start looking at over 55 communities in Florida is to use "55 Plus Places". It's a site that can be searched country-wide, and it provides community-specific websites.
There are also reviews by residents, as well as homes for sale. Contacting one of the realtors listed may lead you to rentals as well.

https://www.55places.com/

I would recommend Del Webb communities, and there are lots of them in Florida. St. Augustine, Orlando, and Tampa are just a few. They are well established, large with lots of activites. It's a place to start.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:35 PM   #10
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I would stay close to the coastal areas of Palm Beach County. Nothing beats being walking distance to the beach. I would avoid the 55+ communities. They are located in-land where the weather isn't exactly pleasant during the summer months and neither are the surroundings outside the gated communities.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:40 PM   #11
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I would stay close to the coastal areas of Palm Beach County. Nothing beats being walking distance to the beach. I would avoid the 55+ communities. They are located in-land where the weather isn't exactly pleasant during the summer months and neither are the surroundings outside the gated communities.
+1 for NE Coastal Areas. But Palm Beach is too crowded for us, and Taxes are pretty high.

Palm Coast (Flagler County) can be nice if you choose the right spot. Not so nice if you do not.

Whatever you do make sure you get a Home built with Concrete Block, preferable post 2000 with CPVC Piping. Builders are cutting corners again now. Stick home are more expensive to insure and a lot more susceptible to Termite infestation.
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:54 PM   #12
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(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
Together these two conditions considerably narrow the list, as just about any location in Florida that is convenient to the shore is also heavily exposed to hurricanes. Almost mutually exclusive.

Quote:
(4) an area with culture: live music, academics, performances, lectures, etc.

(5) good quality of healthcare nearby
These two requirements narrow the list even more. You’d need to be close to one of the major metropolitan areas. Jacksonville, Tampa / St Pete, Orlando, WPB, Ft Lauderdale or Miami.
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(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.
You probably won’t find much diversity in a senior community. Generally speaking (always risky) you will find greater diversity and more progressive in Central and Southern Fl, so Orlando and points south.
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:18 PM   #13
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(1) prefer to live in a retirement community, so I can be involved in activities.


No first hand knowledge or opinion (only 47 but have some friends in 55+ communities that enjoy them). I have friends between 25 and 70 and don't think I'll be looking to a retirement community myself.



(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


Nowhere in FL is too far from a beach for a day trip... different beaches have different "flavors" so seek out one that appeals to you! I prefer the lesser developed more residential beaches but they are fading fast with the exception of parks. I'd recommend closer to the coast as that is where most of the culture you seem to crave is and also the microclimates along the coasts are nicer than the middle (lower lows/higher highs than closer to the ocean).



(3) an area less prone to hurricanes


Pick a different state! IMO, you are fine as long as you pick high ground and if you want to be even safer, invest in a newer home/mitigation measures. Insurance is more scary than the storms!



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


I live and love St Pete and love the city... a lot going on. Can't speak to other cities but sounds like you'll want to be in an urban area.



(5) good quality of healthcare nearby


Medical infrastructure in Tampa Bay is pretty good, can't speak to others.



(6) an area that is at least somewhat progressive


St Pete is pretty progressive and keeps sliding left along with the rest of the state. I don't find FL to be very red other than pockets in the middle. I'll leave out any opinion other than hope I that those moving here don't bring the policies that caused them to leave where they were with them.



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


Most cultural options are going to be in urban areas. I'd recommend an urban area near a coast but off the barrier islands that you find is a good fit for you and your interests.
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:20 PM   #14
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What about Gainesville? does the university presence make a difference in terms of available amenities, culture, diversity, etc.?

I wouldn't mind driving to the beach for an overnight stay and heading back the next day if it's under 2 hours...so wondering about Orlando as well, as it checks other boxes. Another negative would be congestion and traffic - I found the city a challenge on my last trip with respect to traffic...of course that happens in most major cities.
It bears repeating that I recognize nirvana does not exist...but I gotta live somewhere
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:23 PM   #15
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Stick home are more expensive to insure and a lot more susceptible to Termite infestation.

Even block/concrete have plenty of termite food. I certainly lean towards masonry and agree with the recommendation but almost all structures in FL will eventually get termites. Those dry wood termites are evil buggers! If buying, find a pest control company with warranty for your prepurchase inspection and pay to renew the warranty... tenting is expensive and too often the only way to eradicate them successfully!



Keep any wood well protected and painted.. watch those eaves!
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:27 PM   #16
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What about Gainesville? does the university presence make a difference in terms of available amenities, culture, diversity, etc.?

I wouldn't mind driving to the beach for an overnight stay and heading back the next day if it's under 2 hours...so wondering about Orlando as well, as it checks other boxes. Another negative would be congestion and traffic - I found the city a challenge on my last trip with respect to traffic...of course that happens in most major cities.
It bears repeating that I recognize nirvana does not exist...but I gotta live somewhere

I do not recommend Orlando unless you like Cartoon Mice! I-4 is a nightmare of locals trying to go 90mph and lost tourists. Orlando is nothing but traffic... a lot better during COVID from what I hear but it's a temporary reprieve.


FLSunFire (strongly hating on Orlando/I-4 corridor)
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:37 PM   #17
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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, 03:24 PM   #18
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+1 for NE Coastal Areas. But Palm Beach is too crowded for us, and Taxes are pretty high.

Palm Coast (Flagler County) can be nice if you choose the right spot. Not so nice if you do not.

Whatever you do make sure you get a Home built with Concrete Block, preferable post 2000 with CPVC Piping. Builders are cutting corners again now. Stick home are more expensive to insure and a lot more susceptible to Termite infestation.
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.
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Old 01-02-2021, 04:01 PM   #19
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(3) an area less prone to hurricanes

Pick a different state! IMO, you are fine as long as you pick high ground and if you want to be even safer, invest in a newer home/mitigation measures. Insurance is more scary than the storms! ...
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.
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Old 01-02-2021, 04:04 PM   #20
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