Finding the best place to retire in Florida 101 – (part #7)

With low interest rates and a positive economy, you can imagine how busy we are in the beautiful state of Florida.

Many of you may have heard about the “world’s largest retirement community” called The Villages, Florida.  While this community may seem attractive at first, couples often find it necessary to relocate a second time shortly after purchasing in The Villages.  The book Leisureville, by Andrew D. Blechman, http://www.andrewblechman.com/leisureville/ is a must read for those considering a visit to The Villages.  Mr. Blechman investigates and describes his experiences in a world without children.

Let’s face it, a community of 110,000 people and growing that touts ‘The Disneyland of Retirement Communities’ may seem intriguing at first, although in reality after all the hype wears off, couples find themselves stuck in long lines at restaurants, heavy traffic congestion (golf cart and automobile), tee times that are anything but friendly, and a huge influx of renters during the peak season.  Imagine a tsunami of visitors that hits in December and recedes in April. The Villages does include golf in their HOA fees, but this included golf is limited to the par 3 executive courses only – good luck getting on one of those!  Couples that move out of The Villages can truly say ‘been there, done that, now let’s find the place that we really want to live’.

Central Florida has all the charm and grace that you would expect to find in Old Florida. One community in central Florida (not The Villages) is a stand out among 55+ resort style, country club, active-adult communities.  Remember when we were kids, Sundays were always special, life slowed down on that special day.  This magnificent community hasn’t lost touch with that feeling. Our golden years should be spent relaxing with enough activities to occupy as much or as little of our time as we so choose.

Stay tuned for more discussion during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” soon.

R

Finding the best place to retire in Florida 101 – (part #6)

I really hope that you and your entire family enjoyed the holidays as much as we did in Florida. I was talking to my brother in Illinois yesterday where the high for the day was -11 degrees. It was hard not to mention our beautiful weather in Florida while he described the nightmare of frozen pipes in his master bathroom due to the cold.

Beyond a doubt, Walt was right! Central Florida has a lot to offer over other areas of the state. But to put this in proper perspective, Walt’s dream is not necessarily your dream, or my dream. Personally, I like to relax and enjoy time with family and friends outdoors all year round. I’ve lived 30 miles outside of Chicago and have had my fill of congestion, pollution, crime, and miserable January and February weather to last a lifetime. The area that I live now is more likened to Long Grove, Barrington, or Inverness Illinois. This area is a little more relaxed and peaceful but with a lower cost of living. Here, a housing dollar goes far.

Combine the resort style architecture in today’s new 55+ communities with pools, palm trees, orange trees, and world renowned outdoor activities both on land and sea, and you have the perfect recipe for visits from friends and relatives during the holiday season.

I will continue with this discussion during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” soon.

R

Finding the best place to retire in Florida 101 – (part #5)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THIS SEASON

It’s true – central Florida has a unique appeal that makes retirement living simply irresistible!  Many people have the perception that Florida is pancake flat.  While that may be true in many parts of the state, it is not so true in parts of the center of the state. There is a ridge that runs north to south covering several counties in central Florida with elevations that exceed 240’ above sea level.  These areas generally have gently rolling hills and pleasant cross breezes from the Gulf of Mexico that give the higher elevations cooler temperatures in summer, and more pleasurable winter weather as well.  Interesting enough, Orlando has an elevation of 82” above sea level while Tampa sits at 48’ above.

Florida is a big state and it has lots of different choices of where to live.  What it all boils down to is LIFESTLYE – What is the lifestyle best suited for you? The question to answer is “Do you prefer a congested, hurried environment or a more relaxed lifestyle where you can finally enjoy what you have worked for all your life, to do what you like at YOUR pace – unrushed and leisurely?”.

After a road trip from the northwestern part of the state down the gulf coast to end in Key West, then back up the eastern coast to Jacksonville, with a return trip down highway #301 in the center of the state, my overall consensus is that I agree with Walt Disney – central Florida, and particularly the western portion of central Florida with its suburban charm and big city convenience,  has the ideal climate and conveniences that make this part of the state a very attractive place to call home.

In my next update we will look at some areas that seem to have it all.

Stay tuned for the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” soon. Enjoy your holiday season.

R

Finding the best place to retire in Florida 101 – (part #4)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Why did Walt Disney choose central Florida to build Disney World? This question may seem off topic, although it is completely relevant.

Mr. Disney could have selected anywhere in Florida, anywhere in the country for that matter. Why central Florida? Orlando at the time was little more than a juice processing town surrounded by citrus groves, not unlike many other areas in the state. He could have chosen northern Florida at a substantially savings, or southern Florida for about the same investment, but he purposely selected Central Florida because it offers a climate that is conducive to year-round outdoor entertainment and recreation that other parts of the state cannot offer.

Central Florida is comfortable and warm throughout the year. Perfect for an active lifestyle! Few Florida retirement destinations provide a more ideal backdrop for boating, trophy fishing, year-round outdoor recreation and endless Florida retirement recreation opportunities as central Florida. We enjoy easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Orlando, Tampa, Ocala, and Gainesville.

Central Florida has a unique appeal that makes retirement living that’s simply irresistible!
There are areas with gently rolling hills that just feel like home.

I will continue with this discussion during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” soon after finishing my Thanksgiving holiday. Enjoy your holiday season.

R

Finding the best place to retire in Florida 101 – (part #3)

As mentioned in my last post, of the three zones mentioned, northern Florida is the least populated zone in the state due to its rural setting.  Northern Florida is about as close to a four-season climate that you will find in the state.  Now – take a 180 and travel about five hundred miles to the southern end of Florida – down near Jimmy Buffets ‘Margaritaville’ in Key West, we find that a two-season climate is more in line with this latitude.  Here the season goes from hot to hotter, back to hot.

The Keys are beautiful, no one will dispute that – but is it the best place to retire?  Well, for a select few – yes.  My wife and I think It’s a fantastic place to vacation for a few days.  Living in Key West, or any of the Keys for that matter, is life on an island connected by road.  It is a long commute back to the main land.  The Keys could almost be classified in a separate zone by themselves.

Now, looking at the majority of the southern zone from points on the west (Naples to Bradenton), to points on the east (Fort Pierce to Miami), you can expect the weather to be hot and humid in the summer due to the swampy everglades.  A large percentage of the southern zone is marshland that contributes to extreme humidity in the height of the summer.  Mosquito abatement crews are most definitely kept busy in this region.

For the most part, the majority of population in the southern zone falls within that two mile wide band outlining the state that I talked about in my last post.  The everglades take up a nice portion of the interior, so that leaves the narrow two-mile band on the exterior.  It is beautiful but on a recent trip we experienced crowded and congested roadways, higher crime, and a higher cost of living.  Is it the ideal place to retire?  Good question!  Some retirees are attracted to towns on the west side like Naples, Sarasota, and Venice.  Nice places for sure – but do we really want to live there?

An interesting tid-bit of information checked off on questionnaires from several new communities in Florida regarding where people are moving from, noted that quite a few responses indicate that people are moving out of the southern zone because of the excess heat, humidity, congestion, higher crime, and higher cost of living.

One couple relocating from Naples felt that airport services did not adequately satisfy the city’s needs.  The long 2 – 2 ½ hour drive to either Miami or Tampa is a necessary commute for residents picking up guests that arrive by air.  The same couple also mentioned that when family drives from up north, that extra 2 ½ hours takes a toll on their total travel time.

The eastern side of this zone has some interesting cities as well including: Ft.Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami.  Again, these are nice areas to visit, but would we want to spend our Golden Years in a stressful, crowded area of the state?  Some would say yes, others no – but by the end of this weblog you will have enough useful information to help you in your search for the best place to retire in Florida.

I will continue with this discussion during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” soon.  Food-for-thought, did you ever wonder why Walt Disney chose central Florida to build Disney World?

R

 

Finding the best place to retire in Florida – 101

As mentioned in my last post, Florida is so long from north to south that we can separate the state into two-season, three-season, and four-season zones (let’s call it semi four-season).  These zones are south Florida (two-season), central Florida (three-season), and north Florida (semi four-season).  When speaking of central Florida we are looking at it from north to south, not necessarily the center of the state east to west.  Delineation lines could be drawn just north of Gainesville and just south of Orlando.

Where is the population?  This is Florida after all – where do you think the majority of population would be?  If you said in a band about two miles wide that outlined the state you would be correct.  This is especially true in south Florida and along the length of the eastern side of the state.  Gainesville and Orlando are the exceptions, but considering that the state is surrounded by water on three sides, and it has terrific semi-tropical weather, it’s no wonder why people live in that narrow band around the state – they like the ocean and the gulf of Mexico.  This makes Florida one of the ideal best places to retire.

Let’s look at northern Florida first.  Jacksonville and Tallahassee are the largest cities in this section of the state.  Tallahassee being the capital of Florida naturally maintains its steady population, as does Jacksonville with its seaport on a direct route to Europe.  Other than these two larger cities, the majority of north Florida is slightly on the rural side.  St. Augustine is located in the north, and is definitely worth a visit.  St. Augustine is the oldest city in America! http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/visitors/nations-oldest-city.cfm

The weather in northern Florida is mild for the state without the extremes of south Florida.  Wintertime will have frost and on rare occasions snow flurries with no accumulation.  Because of the cooler temperatures northern Florida does not have the citrus groves that are so common in locations closer to the middle of the state.  Air transportation to and from the larger northern cities are at the international airport in Jacksonville, and a smaller regional airport in Tallahassee.   Of the three zones mentioned earlier, northern Florida is the least populated zone in the state due to the rural nature of the zone.

I will continue with the central and southern zones during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida” very soon.

Where is the best place to retire in Florida?

A noteworthy question indeed!  The answer to this question is one that only you and your spouse can answer once you both agree!  Florida is a huge state.  It measures almost 700 miles from the northwestern border at Louisiana to the southern tip at Key West.   In between those two points the choices for the best place to retire in Florida are plentiful.  It all boils down to – what are your likes and dislikes?

Let’s face facts – if you live in the North and want to retire in the South, you will undoubtedly be making a significant change in your current lifestyle.  For one thing, you can clear out the clutter of gloves, scarves, and winter coats.  But more importantly, the most significant change will be shifting from your current routine into your new lifestyle, whether it is ending your work career, or you simply know that this is your time.  This is where the fun really starts.

Before you begin looking for the best place to retire (there are soooo many choices) you need to think about how you will spend your time in retirement and what interests you have.

This Blog is going to help you systematically sift through the decision making process and allow you to connect the dots from point A (where you are now) to point B – “The Best Place to Retire in Florida”.  It is not a long process, but it does require some input on your end.  Over the next several weeks I am going to point out some features of the state that you might not be aware of that will give food-for-thought!

As we begin this journey together, I’ll tell you that I’m a northerner. Silly of me, but I do have regrets of selling my snow blower (only because it was the best tool I ever owned), but  the nightmare of dealing with the  two season freeways “winter season” and “construction season” is something that is gladly in the past.

Florida is the 3rd most visited state in the United States, only behind New York and California in some circles, 2nd in other circles.  It is the vacation capital of the world.  There is surely something for everyone here!  The state is so long from north to south that we can separate the state into two-season, three-season, and four-season zones.

More information coming soon during the continuation of “The hunt for the best place to retire in Florida”.

Retirement Lifestyle!

This weblog is designed to help help all those interested in finding the right active lifestyle community in Florida!  There are many, many choices out there.  Finding the one that suits your lifestyle and dream is the driving force behind this blog.

www.thevillagesfloridaretirement.com is a great place to start!