Retirement Options in Florida


Whenever I bought a home (and I have owned 10 that I lived in), I bought those homes figuring I would live there forever. But, statistically people move every four years. (Since I bought my first home in 1972, I fit right into the statistic). Folks looking to retire or looking for a second home choose Florida for many reasons, and when they come to Florida the choices on what to buy and where to live are endless.

Gregg and Gail FousIf you are thinking of moving here and want to explore your alternatives, Market America Realty can help. I do have one word of warning: If you are not ready to move here now, DO NOT ASSUME YOU KNOW NOW WHAT YOU WILL WANT FIVE OR SEVEN YEARS FROM NOW WHEN YOU FINALLY ARRIVE FULL TIME. This does not mean you should not buy something but, do not make the mistake of thinking you can predict what your life will be like in the future. Better you should buy a “toe hold” in the market: A house or investment that you can always sell in order to get exactly what you want when you do arrive. Yes, prices are on the increase so, now is the time to buy.

What to buy? Two major influencers of what folks buy are economics and life style. Most people buy and move where they know other people. Start with that. Secondly they go where they can afford to go.

But if you don’t know prices, how can you answer the questions often put to you. How much house can you afford? At first, you can’t. You need to get around, look at options, and learn.. Fortunately the internet is a huge help in this area. The search tab at the top of this page is one of the best on the internet. You can virtually tour homes, prices, and walking tours.

Here are some alternatives, some mutually exclusive, some cumulative.  I have made some comments by each.

On or off Water - This is not a very narrow qualifier, it still leaves lots of decision to be made.  Lets break this one down further:

Beach Front – Houses ON the beach start close to $1 million. Condos much cheaper. The insurance cost and up keep costs are high as are the taxes. Because of the beach these homes are easy to rent.

River Front - Great views, wonderful privacy and unlike beach front many of these homes have docks. Prices also starting in the low millions and those are mostly tear downs. Taxes, Insurance and up-keep are very high.

Inter-coastal – Refers to boat access or views like on the back bays. These homes are great for boater and are generally CLOSE to the beach. Many are within in a block or two.

Canal Front - On canals you have three choices. First is called sail boat access – no bridges to go under, second is direct access, but not with a high boat, and third is no access. Some that have access, access takes so long it might as well be no access. (I have put links to examples) Cape Coral is the canal home headquarters although all along the shore line there are canal home.

Lake Front - Lake front is about the views and the privacy.

Gated or Un-Gated Communities

Many first time home buyers enjoy the density of like minded buyers in the gated communities, the stability of the pricing (and the easy ability to pull comparable sales) and the maintenance of the common areas. Some don’t like the generally smaller yards and the lack of privacy but, others enjoy the easy upkeep. Many communities have condos, townhouses, coach homes as well as single family homes to chooses from. Many second home buyers enjoy the security and the comfort of leaving their home for months at a time.

Old or New Home

South Florida is blessed with many older homes as well as recent construction. The energy efficiency of the newer home can often outweigh the unique character and eclectic neighborhoods of the older homes.

Condo or Single Family Home

You may want to read my column; Buying by the Square Foot or What is a Condo?. For me the choice between the two is all about life style and privacy.