Thursday, January 25, 2018

When You Turn Off Your Water

I can't speak for other states but in Florida, if you turn off your water while you are away, it is important to take certain steps.

1. Block all your drains, sinks, shower, tub and overflow. I use metal pot scrubbers and paper towel and in the tub drain covers. 

2. Fill the bowl of your toilet

3. Saran wrap your toilet. I know this sounds weird but I have done it for the last two years and this year I realized just what a good idea it was. When I arrived this year, my guest bathroom had a huge palmetto bug in it, when the water evaporates the bugs can get in. If I had not Saran wrapped the bowl and held down the seat with a heavy cookbook that bug would have been in my house. As it was I waved bye-bye as I flushed him down and then I removed the wrapping. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Getting Things Turned Back On

The first two years we were in Florida, we didn't turn off the water when we left. This turned out not to be such a good idea as the toilet was flushed by a visitor and it didn't stop running. Luckily the water company noticed the severe increase in our water usage and we were able to get someone back over to the house to check it out. It cost us an extra $150. We now pay the turn-on fee to get the water shut off right after we leave and turned on right before we arrived. It worked perfectly.

What didn't work perfectly was the cable. We have extended basic and Internet when we are living here. I called in December to arrange to have it turned on January 4th. We arrived on January 6 and we had no cable. Not even the basic we are entitled too as part of our HOA. I called the cable office but of course, no one got back to me until late Monday morning, after I had already gotten through to the office. Oops, they didn't do what I had requested. 

I did learn one thing, however, if I had attached the wire directly from the wall to our TV we would have had Basic. They disable the box and of course, the TVs are connected to the boxes. 

This year I have also arranged to have the newspaper delivered every day, I like the local Ocala newspaper and when I tried to buy one Monday at CVS, they were already sold out. 

I do know that some people also turn off their electricity as well when they leave. I don't want to do this since if there is no AC in the summer, we are more likely to have mold and mildew growing in our home. Yes, it costs me on average about $45-50 a month but to keep my house safe, it is well worth the cost. 

We also have pest control. We get four exterior treatments each year and then we also get termite treatment and a once a year inspection. Do we find bugs, yes when we get here we always find bugs but they are dead, they have crossed the perimeter and been terminated. 

These are just a few of the things that snowbirds need to know and deal with but I figure that all told, including monthly lawn care and our HOA, insurance and taxes, it costs us just slightly over $5,000 to keep our home in Florida. Of course, we will need to replace our roof every 15-20 years and maintain and eventually replace the AC system but it is not nearly as expensive to have a winter getaway as you may think. 

Again this year we are considering whether we want to rent our house out while we are gone. It is a hard decision and we have not decided yet what we prefer to do.  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

This Snowbird is Heading South

We left the frozen north on January 1st and the first two legs of our journey south were quite uneventful. Had I been more alert I would have known that I really should have driven twice as far each day so that we could get south before Grayson hit but of course, I wasn't paying attention and we realized when we got to Mooresville, NC that we would not be able to continue to head toward Savannah which had been hit with a record-setting cold and snow event. If that wasn't enough, Charleston was also pounded so I-95 was a nightmare as only snow and ice in the south can create. 

We hunkered down for an extra day here in Mooresville but since the cold seems to want to hang around we have decided to change our route and go by way of I-85 from Charlotte to Atlanta and then I-75 home. Which brings up a good point, knowing the alternative routes. We usually just go the same way with the big decision coming once we are on I-10 in northern Florida. 

So, instead of Friday, we got home on Saturday. It is only one day late and since we spent the night at my brother's, we didn't end up spending more money but it is the uncertainty that was not a lot of fun. I should have planned better for contingencies. I have to say too that our hotels have been very cooperative in allowing us to change dates without penalty. Thank you to both Candlewood Suites and Fairfield Inn for their generosity.  

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. 


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. 


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. 


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 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.