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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Snowbird heads back home

Some snowbirds may fly back home, this snowbird drives home. Having a car that remains in Florida isn't in the cards for us yet but in the future will be. 

It is always sad saying goodbye to your winter home, winter friends and winter life but with the advent of spring, the snowbirds head home until next year. 

Goodbye house, goodbye home, goodbye warm sunny skies.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oak Run Ocala

I feel like it is about time that I introduced you to the place that we chose, Oak Run. It is a 55+ golf resort community. It is complete now, no new homes are being added so it is all resale. 

There are 3509  homes in this community. I know it sounds like a lot but compared to other larger communities, it is small. On Top of the World has 10,000 and The Villages covers 4 counties!!

What Oak Run has to offer

Oak Run has 2 golf courses, an 18 hole course, and a 9 hole executive course. It also has a golf club and restaurant. We have a social membership so we can eat at the club. 

There are three community centers. The Palm Grove Club is located close to the golf course and offers lots of space and a large health club which is free for residents. It also has a large outdoor pool. 
The Orchid Club is close to our house and has an outdoor pool, hot tubs, gym and lots of meeting space. 

The Island Club is the newest addition and it has a health club, three pools, and hot tubs plus meeting space. 

Additionally, this is a real resort, we have tennis courts, bocce courts, shuffleboard and more. There is also an aquatic center with an indoor heated pool. 

All this is for the use of residents and their guests. 

As for the homes, prices range from about $70,000 and go to over $300,000 depending on the size of the house and the location within the community. Townhouse units are also available in either 2 or 3 bedrooms designs. 

We love this community, The location is close to stores and restaurants as well as healthcare, which as we age is rather important. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Condo vs house for snowbirds

Obviously, personal preference will play a role in this decision. My husband is not a condo kind of guy, he likes to own a freestanding home. For me, a condo makes good sense and might be easier to maintain but I will be honest, when it came time to make the decision, I just fell in love with our house and I didn't care that it wasn't a condo. 

Home

When you own a free standing home you have more responsibilities. You need to arrange for lawn care when you are not at home. This has not been an issue, we have a very good lawn man but it is something you need to think about. You are also responsible for your roof and air conditioner. With some condos, you may also have this responsibility so don't think that you are off the hook on this one especially if you chose a townhouse style. 

Condo

A condo can be in a multi-story building or it can be a townhouse style. either way, you will have neighbors on at least one side of you. I hate having people over me, I invariably get under a tap dancer!! lol  I prefer not to have to hear my neighbors but that is just me, it is why I don't live in an apartment. 

HOA

Another thing my hubs hates is HOA, me not so much. In my opinion, it offers us great value. For our $110 w get basic cable, garbage pickup and access to terrific amenities including the gate which makes me feel much safer both when I am here and especially when I am away back in Connecticut. 

So, while I can't tell you what will work best for you, I can suggest that you look at both options and consider all things including cost. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Beach or not to beach

For many people, the dream is a beach front getaway. Somehow, Florida,  in particular, is seen as one long beach. Well,  that is true, it is one long beach. From Jacksonville on the east to Pensacola on the west, if a beach is what you want, you can certainly find it. 

The beach, however, is accessible to everyone in Florida with just a short ride. We are about an hour from the gulf coast. If you are looking for a 55 plus community, they are available all over the state and gated communities as well. 

I am a big fan of the website www.55places.com. It works not just for Florida. It tells you about the different communities and also lists all the available homes or units for sale. It is a very good place to start your search. 

I think it is important that you visit and actually stay in the area you are considering. Renting for a season is a good idea, this way you can see if the beach is as important to you as you think or if you are willing to drive a little farther. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why I believe a gated community is a good idea

Once you have decided to be a snowbird, have chosen to buy a home and have decided on a freestanding or condo home style, the next thing to consider is do you want a gated community. 

To me, unless you have a caretaker or a friend who lives in the same building and even on the same floor, your home will be unoccupied and alone for at least part of the year. If you have someone who can keep an eye on your home every day, then you don't need to be in a gated community. 

In our particular case, Al's brother does keep an eye on our house, which means they come over occasionally. This is all right since we are in a gated community. If we were just in a neighborhood, our home could be broken into and it might be weeks before anyone would know. 

In our community of Oak Run, two of our three gates are manned 24 hours a day and the third gate closes at 10 p.m. You need an up to date barcode to get in without stopping to register.  While I realize no place is completely safe, this does make me feel much safer when I am in my home and when I am away. 

Do we pay for this feeling, certainly, it is part of our HOA fee which is very reasonable. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where to Buy Your Snowbird Home

If you decide to buy a cold weather home, there is one very important factor that you may not have considered. What is the closest airport? I know that since I drove down I didn't consider where we would have to fly into to get here. Ocala does not have its own commercial airport. It has a lovely airport but no scheduled flights come here, it is all business flights and private aircraft. 

What that leaves is Gainesville which is only 31 miles north of the Ocala Airport, Tampa, Clearwater, Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando, and Orlando -Sanford. We obviously have a lot of choices, unfortunately, none of them are great. Orlando is busy with lots of traffic and $10 in tolls. Tampa also busy with lots of traffic. Gainsville is the best option but it is usually almost twice as expensive as the other two. Sanford is also a better option since there is a little less traffic if one travels in that direction. Clearwater is a nice airport but quite a lot farther as is Jacksonville. 


At this time, we are still driving so it is irrelevant but it is something we need to consider for the future. One option is to just fly into whichever airport is the cheapest and hire a driver to take us home. We will most likely opt for that when the time comes.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To buy or to rent that is the question

When it comes time to be a snowbird, there are obviously two options, you can rent or you can buy. I have always thought that we would rent, perhaps even timeshares by the week so that we could escape the cold and perhaps move around during our time away. There are some good reasons for choosing to rent. 


Rent:


Less expensive up front. You will not have to get a mortgage or deplete your savings. 

You can go someplace different every year. 

You don't need to pay for repairs or upkeep. 


We opted to buy. We had some good reasons for doing this. 


Own:


You can rent the property to others to help defray the cost. 

There are tax benefits from having a rental property. 

You can have your own things around you. 

You like going to the same place every year. 

Once you decide that you want to be a snowbird, you will need to decide which way you want to go. You may want to visit and rent the first year just to see if first of all, you can stand being away from family and friends for months at a time. 

We chose to buy without doing that but we had Al's brother and his wife and all of our nieces here in Ocala so we were not going somewhere without a support system. Having said that I sometimes wish we had taken our time because I think I would have preferred to own a townhouse. Here at Oak Run, townhouses have a higher HOA but it includes lawn care which is one less thing to think about.