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Florida living
Old 03-14-2023, 10:01 AM   #1
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Florida living

Iím looking for advice on whether DH and I are missing any important factors or steps in the process we are going to use to evaluate relocating to FL.

We decided to plan an extended visit to FL this summer to evaluate whether we may wish to relocate there. We will be staying mostly in homes with kitchens so we will definitely visit grocery stores and be outside of tourist areas. Since summertime has the worst heat, humidity, bugs, and is hurricane season, we figure if we can enjoy a few months there at that time of year, weíd probably enjoy it all year. Weíve already done a lot of research on home prices, home insurance, property taxes, weather, red tide and sea temperatures and have narrowed down our focus to SW or SE Florida. We will spend several weeks on each side of the state.

Some other things we plan to think about are:
- 55+ community or unrestricted age neighborhood
- How far from the coast we could enjoy living vs avoiding flood zones
- High rise condo, SFR with pool/boat dock, or SFR/attached villa in a community with lots of amenities.

Initially we were dreaming of our own pool and boat dock not too far from open water, but as much as we enjoy extended international travel, we likely will prefer a ďlock and leaveĒ place. Also by definition an SFR with a boat dock would probably flood during major hurricanes. We are in our early to mid 60ís now, but donít want to buy a place that will be too difficult for us to maintain as we age.

Iím not asking for advice on whether we should move to FL or whether we should consider anything north of tropical FL - temps are just too cold for us in Central and Northern FL and we donít value having four seasons. We like warm all the time. I realize home prices and general COL are higher in S FL but thatís what we require to get the weather weíre looking for.

Iíd really appreciate suggestions on things we should think about other than the things I already listed in my post, and/or things we should do during our visit to understand the various areas as well as we can with a limited stay. Also any tips about sources to expand our knowledge will be helpful.

If anyone who lives between Sarasota and Naples or Melbourne and Miami would like to meet up for coffee or a drink, please PM me. We will be there most of June, July and August, and possibly part of September.

Thank you so much!
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:18 AM   #2
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Not specific to FL, but things to consider before any relocation:

Medical - how far to primary care / specialists / emergency care?

Hobbies - how close are you to the things you like to do?

Political - how well do you you fit in the area? (This may not be important to you, or it may be critical)
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:23 AM   #3
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Elevation is relevant to flood much more than distance to coast, you can possibly have your cake and eat it too but it won't be cheap. Also, some seemingly inland areas are at pretty high risk of flood. My former house was across the street from a public boat ramp on Boca Ciega Bay but high and dry (no flood, evac zone E). It does get flatter and lower south of Tampa Bay though.


I'm slightly north of your target area but if you pass through Pinellas Co/St Pete I'd be happy to meet up.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:26 AM   #4
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Elevation is relevant to flood much more than distance to coast, you can possibly have your cake and eat it too but it won't be cheap. Also, some seemingly inland areas are at pretty high risk of flood. My former house was across the street from a public boat ramp on Boca Ciega Bay but high and dry (no flood, evac zone E). It does get flatter and lower south of Tampa Bay though.


I'm slightly north of your target area but if you pass through Pinellas Co/St Pete I'd be happy to meet up.


We will likely fly into Tampa when we arrive and the first place weíre staying is Northport so would love to meet up. Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:28 AM   #5
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Well, Iím quite sure the State of Florida will benefit from this move, should it happen.

Not sure how to add to your list, as choosing a place to live is very personal. A few thoughts

There were no townhomes on your list. Lots of construction over the past decade has been townhomes, so you may be missing an opportunity.

Thereís not a lot of public transportation in South and Central Florida, so distance from or access to a major transportation artery, such as I-75, I-95 or the Fl Turnpike may be important.

Spending summer months here is a good idea. If itís not too late, also spending a couple of weeks during peak ďsnowbird seasonĒ is also worthwhile, just to get a feel for how congested your target areas may get.

Not sure how you will deal with homeowners insurance. Buying a home built after Ď02 will help, as it will meet the current building codes Safer for wind and hurricane, also easier to insure. Likewise, once you start looking at specific addresses, checking them for flood insurance will be informative.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:28 AM   #6
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I think, and maybe FL folks can confirm. It matters a lot when you move there, as there is a short time to declare FL as your resident state.
I think I read once, you had to live there Jan 1st , to be considered for the year .

Is that true , or can a person move in March/April and still be a FL resident and get the homestead exemption (and other stuff) ?
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philliefan33 View Post
Not specific to FL, but things to consider before any relocation:

Medical - how far to primary care / specialists / emergency care?

Hobbies - how close are you to the things you like to do?

Political - how well do you you fit in the area? (This may not be important to you, or it may be critical)


Medical is definitely a good point, especially since DH had open heart surgery last year. Thatís one of the main reasons we arenít looking at moving to the USVI.

Hobbies is also a good one. Love the beaches and water sports in FL, would miss the great hiking we have now in CA but weíve never enjoyed CA beaches other than looking at them because of the cold water.

Political is also somewhat important. We try to avoid discussing it, but it would be nice to be in an area where beliefs are relatively consistent so policies we disagree with arenít regularly enacted.

Thanks - great suggestions!
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:32 AM   #8
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I think, and maybe FL folks can confirm. It matters a lot when you move there, as there is a short time to declare FL as your resident state.
I think I read once, you had to live there Jan 1st , to be considered for the year .

Is that true , or can a person move in March/April and still be a FL resident and get the homestead exemption (and other stuff) ?
Thereís no date or time requirement for Florida residency, Thereís also list of prerequisites. Show up, grt s local address, get a drivers license, domicile the financial accounts. register to vote and declare yourself a resident. Itís really that simple.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:37 AM   #9
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Political - how well do you you fit in the area? (This may not be important to you, or it may be critical)
My wife has issues with this, so I'm inclined to consider politics as a factor.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:42 AM   #10
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We have been snowbirds since 2014. We rented in Naples in 2014 and Sarasota in 2015 and then bought in Sarasota in mid 2015. We changed our residency to FL in mid 2020. Out FL place is a 1,450 sf 3/2 second/top floor, end unit condo with a screened in lanai (not in the 1,450 sf). We are about 30 min to Lido Key Beach and 45 min to Siesta Key Beach and 1 hour to Ft. Desoto Beach (our favorite).

I can't imagine spending summers here, but many friends do. We have visited during late August a couple times... it is very hot and very humid.

While our condo neighborhood is not age restricted, the vast majority of people here are 55+. Occasionally there will be a renter with kids, but they normally don't stay too long. A few years ago our neighbor rented his condo to a family with 3 young kids who had bought but were having renovations done to a house that they had bought before they moved in. It was actually quite noce having a few kids around and hearing kids voices.

One of the things that I like about the condo is the minimal maintenance and that it is truly lock and leave. We just clean out the fridge of perishables, move flour, sugar and spices to the fridge so pests can't get to them, turn off and clean out the icemaker, turn off the water and hot water heater, set the thermostat to 78F, lock the door, set the alarm and we're done.

Compared to the NE, real estate prices are good and cost of living is low. Our all in costs for property taxes (homesteaded), insurance, Assn fees, and electricity is about $8k a year. No mortgage payment because we bought for cash.

One thing to keep in mind that it is very hard to find good quality tradesman in Florida if whatever you buy needs some cosmetic work. We fouund one guy who did our kitchen who was incredible but is now hard to schedule since he does great work at a reasonable cost he is in high demand. We hired someone else for another project and the quality was so poor that we ended up redoing it ourselves (luckily, we're handy).
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:46 AM   #11
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I think, and maybe FL folks can confirm. It matters a lot when you move there, as there is a short time to declare FL as your resident state.
I think I read once, you had to live there Jan 1st , to be considered for the year .

Is that true , or can a person move in March/April and still be a FL resident and get the homestead exemption (and other stuff) ?
No to the first part, you can declare residency at any time. We needed to wait until after April 1 which was the homestead date for VT, so we registered to become Florida voters by mail in July and then did drivers licenses, car registrations, etc when we got down there for the season in October.

However, you are right, FL's homesteading is based on your residency on Jan 1, so we did that paperwork when we got down there in October for the subsequent year. So we received a homesteading credit in VT for the year that we moved and a homesteading credit in FL for the next year.

What was interesting is that the county wanted proof that we had "cancelled" our hometeading in VT, but it doesn't really wotk that way... you apply for homesteading if you will be resident on April 1 when you do your VT state tax return so once you're no longer a resident you just don't include that form any longer. I was able to get our town clerk to sign something that satisfied them.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:47 AM   #12
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Check the flood zone maps in your target areas of interest. If you can find a home that is not in an evacuation zone that would be helpful, and cheaper to insure. Flood zone and evacuation zone maps are usually available on the county websites.

Insurance companies have started requiring roofs to be replaced at around 15-18 years, even though the roof is supposed to be rated for 25-30 years. If a home you are considering has a roof whose age is in this range or older, expect to be replacing it soon.
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:53 AM   #13
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... Political is also somewhat important. We try to avoid discussing it, but it would be nice to be in an area where beliefs are relatively consistent so policies we disagree with aren’t regularly enacted....
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My wife has issues with this, so I'm inclined to consider politics as a factor.
We are definitely ducks out of water on politics. We're purple and while VT was bright blue, FL is bright red so we're used to living in a state that is extreme... it's just the inverse of how we lived before we moved. We just are judicious about who we discuss politics with.
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Old 03-14-2023, 11:19 AM   #14
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I can't imagine spending summers here, but many friends do. We have visited during late August a couple times... it is very hot and very humid.
Err.....
Last night at 2 AM I awakened with my teeth literally chattering loudly as I shivered dramatically under my thick comforter. I got up and checked the thermostat... and yes, inside temperature in my house had gone down to 70F!!! BRRRRR

How could that happen? Well, I didn't have the heat on, and outside it went down to 55F so temperature inside dropped too. I turned the heat on and brought the temperature back to a sane 75F, where "normal" people would need for it to be.

After 27 years living in South Louisiana I'm fully acclimated to our delightfully warm, humid weather, as you can tell. I have never had problems with heat or humidity here in New Orleans, or when visiting Florida in the summertime. You know the saying, "different strokes for different folks" or some such thing.
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Old 03-14-2023, 11:57 AM   #15
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^^^ I thought it was readily apparent that was my personal opinion. I would melt like a candle in LA or FL summer heat and humidity and would be very unhappy... hence, I flee north for the summer.
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Old 03-14-2023, 11:59 AM   #16
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We will likely fly into Tampa when we arrive and the first place we’re staying is Northport so would love to meet up. Thanks!
You may want to look at flying into SRQ, Sarasota/Bradenton Int'l Airport. Lately I've been flying a new airline, Avelo. Avelo has nonstop flights Raleigh/Durham to SRQ, which works for me. They are about $79 one-way plus seat plus checked baggage. I see they are in a few CA airports too. I think they have two-fer Tuesdays, I know they do out of RDU.
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Old 03-14-2023, 12:14 PM   #17
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+1 TPA is about an hour for us but a lot of traffic. SRQ is only 15 minutes away. We even look at St. Pete (PIE) and Punta Gorda (PGD).

We've been flying Allegiant out of SRQ... cheap flights and not so bad since they are nonstops to where we go.
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Old 03-14-2023, 12:21 PM   #18
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We have a 2/2 condo, 1256 sq ft, on one level in Bradenton. So far, our situation/experience is a lot like pb4uski's, so I won't repeat. We are in a golf course community, but we don't play.

In 20-30 minutes we can be at one of a dozen different beaches. Our go to is usually Holmes Beach on Anna Marie Island. It's a public beach, with chair and umbrella rentals, cafe, shops and live music every night.

We bought the condo in October, 2021, so we are still baby snow birds. We probably won't be there in summer; too hot.
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Old 03-14-2023, 01:23 PM   #19
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... Insurance companies have started requiring roofs to be replaced at around 15-18 years, even though the roof is supposed to be rated for 25-30 years. If a home you are considering has a roof whose age is in this range or older, expect to be replacing it soon.
Or, some companies will only insure an older roof for actual cash value, which is fine with me IF the premium is reduced to reflect the underwriter's huge risk reduction. Unfortunately, what I'm seeing so far is higher premiums nevertheless. Interestingly, so far Citizen's Property Insurance (supposedly the insurer of last resort) isn't coming in cheap.

The OP could make a purchase offer contingent on securing "acceptable" homeowner's insurance. Now that it's less a seller's market in SW Florida some sellers might accept such an offer.

The bottom line for the OP is that FL homeowner's insurance really is a mess and not just media hype.
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Old 03-14-2023, 02:04 PM   #20
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I'm twenty minutes from the Fort Meyers airport, and I really like that. For us, and for picking up family members occasionally.

Look at the flood maps. The houses on the canals near us flooded from Ian.

I met another snowbird couple from MN. They started out on the east coast, and then moved to SWFL. I asked why, and they said the traffic was half. I was shocked, because it seems very heavy here during the prime winter months.

My cousin has a SFH with pool. Says it costs $500/week to heat properly. I'm in a community, and they heat and maintain two beautiful pools. I'm glad they are doing that.

The maintenance crew in our community are really working hard. I never see them taking it easy. I think three guys full time. I'm glad I'm not doing it.

I think I lucked out with the association. It is run by owners. Many volunteers doing nice work in the community, and they try to not go crazy with the rules. My fees are very reasonable. Older community three miles from the beach, and walking distance to stores.

My biggest complaint: very poor effort to accommodate bicycle riders. Sarasota has done a much better job. They are planning a new trail along an old railroad line, but I'm sure that is at least 5 years away.

Good luck.

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