Where to buy in FL (Port St Lucie, Lehigh acres, Orlando, Tampa)? (St. Petersburg: high crime, house)
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Long post, sorry but I am trying to give as much info to get the best help from you all.
We live in Atlanta, married couple mid-forties,I am from Europe my wife is a Yankee, we have 1 daughter 18 Y.O. , going to college here starting in September 2011.
We are mid class people, our modest average Georgia 3bd-1 bath-2 car garage is paid off, both work for nationwide companies, we can move anywhere and have work.
We are looking for a 3-4 bdrm, newer type home (2000 to now ?), that we could offer for rent to vacationers and eventually move down there in 4 years when daughter is out of college (Or at least her 4 first years are completed if she wants to go on). We don't want to rent to locals as we want access to the house for our own vacations.
We don't like 100% city life (Downtown type life) but don't like total country either, somewhere in between these two. 15-25 Mn to beaches, groceries, movies, restaurants is ok but no more.
We live in a mixed neighborhood here in Georgia, blue collars, Spanish, blacks, whites with no crime. No HOA fees in our sub-division, some keep up nicely, some don't but overall it's a decent, affordable neighborhood.
We would like to avoid HOA, high insurance areas, we can't afford and don't want anyway to be on the water (Saltwater that is, a pond is ok).
Our next week vacation is in September and we will drive to a different area to investigate.
Now to what we have looked into and like and dislike:
1) We just came back from 1 week stay in the St-Pete, Clearwater, Tampa area.
We love downtown St-Pete and Fort Desoto, great park to hang out with fishing, kayaking, swimming, dog beach, picnic areas, showers.
Tampa didn't impress me, it seemed so poor and the homes look like little shacks, we didn't visit downtown Tampa. What I like is Tampa has everything you might need.
Clearwater is small, Largo seemed nice but we just drove through there.
All of the Clearwater beach, St-Pete beach, treasure island are cute but are vacation areas and would not consider living there.
Outside the St-Pete downtown we saw a lot of poor areas too.
If someone is familiar with especially Tampa, please clue me in on where, what to look for, I love the location of that city in the state, close to Orlando, far inland (Cheaper insurance), shopping, sports, dining, cruise terminal, it's all there.
2) Orlando area:
I was there maybe 10 years ago and was very impressed by the homes I saw and the general area. Lots of dining, shopping, lots of nice landscape areas (I love tropical plants) and of course the parks which we love. We have six flags and white water here in Atlanta and go often, they are so many parks in Orlando. It's close to both coasts 45mn-1 hour. We are 4 hours from Savannah here in Atlanta the closest beach, you can't do a day trip. I like the fact it's far inland far from the water to lower insurance cost. Homes can be rented to tourists (I know lots of competition but I plan to be able to stomach mortgage and all cost and if I rent it's a bonus.)
I have read about crime but we have crime in Atlanta too.
3) Port St-Lucie:
I recently discovered this area while browsing a forum. This is one of these areas that got hit hard by the crashing economy. Homes are very cheap.
I am not afraid of the 5 homes around me being empty and the grass not cut with windows boarded up, I am not buying to invest, I am buying because I want to live in Florida, I love the palm trees, the heat, the ocean activities and want something affordable.
I don't know this area, I google what I could and home depot, target, walmart and major retail seem to be well represented there which is a good sign for me. I know about Chinese drywall issues and would have home inspected twice (yes twice) to insure I don't get any.
Any info on this area is very welcome.
4) Lehigh acres:
Same as port st-Lucie but I am sure way worse. Homes are being given way down there.
I love the south location for tropical plants in the yard, but I read of crime ridden area and it's a solid 10 and 1/2 hours from Atlanta (Tampa 8, Orlando 8, port st-Lucie 9 1/2).
I am wondering about hurricanes too, it's about 45mn from the water and I read it gets hit bad. Also 45mn from the water, which tourist is going to rent my home? (Nobody).
5) Any other area you can suggest after what you read above?
Sarasota is too expensive, West palm beach to the keys is too expensive and hurricane prone. Jacksonville is a little too way north and is supposed to be redneck town. Panama city/pensacola we know well and what to do in the winter over there beside nothing? Talahassee and Gainesville are too far inland. I had also looked into Polk county which is close to both Tampa and Orlando and is well inland but was told it's a no man's land.
Thanks a lot and sorry about the long post.
Patrick & Kris
Only read part of your post, since we on the gulf side, can't answer for the other side. North of Tampa, around 12 miles is Carrollwood and Lutz. Bedroom communities middle to upper middle to rich. Good schools, lots to do, great complete communities. 12 minutes from aiirport, lots of resturants, movies, 12 minutes to downtown Tampa (right in the middle). Can get to all the locations you liked as day trips but you are out of the big city of Tampa in the suburbs. Lived their 7 years, loved it.
Just happened upon your post since it isn't in the city area forums you are looking in .
I live in Port St Lucie and the reason we have a lot of homes on the market is because during the building boom we had the land to build on when other areas didn't or wouldn't. Prices are good now and you can get a nice house for a great price that was build in the last 6 years or so.
Chinese drywall can happen in ANY home, ANY where since it is not just in one area. It's all over the entire country. Nobody knew it existed when it was used and it wasn't done on purpose. It's easy enough to spot so 2 inspections are not really necessary but that's up to you.
Port St Lucie is not a metropolis area and has never tried to be. More of a bedroom community with low crime, lots of families, retired people, and everything else. It's low key. We don't have high rise office buildings and such. Many of the people choose to live here and drive to West Palm Beach for work or for the faster pace night clubs and such.
Feel free to ask me anything, or private message if you want
Leehigh Acres is disgusting. It's Lee County's armpit. Other towns in Lee County include include my hometown Cape Coral, which can be nice, has a lot of cheap homes, not much to do though. Fort Myers is right next to Cape Coral, very beautiful and tropical. Nice downtown area. Has it's own beach, Ft Myers Beach, but the water is murky and still. Naples is even further south and the best of the 3. VERY classy. Can be expensive, but I'm sure you can find deals.
Port St Lucie might be too boring, but the area is also pretty, very safe, and close to nice Atlantic beaches
Every Florida town has it's good and bad sections. Other towns I would check out are Bradenton, Venice, Englewood, Port Charlotte, Estero, if you want to be on or very the gulf coast. These towns are all small, and not so much touristy like Clearwater. They are also very safe and have VERY FEW bad areas, with the exception of Brandenton which does have it's dumpy sides. They are also very close to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Manasota Key, Nokomis, Venice & Englewood beaches, all much prettier and cleaner, and not to mention less crowded than Clearwater's beach! Captiva and Sanibel Islands are also nice and offer great shelling if you like collecting shells. Good luck!
I also would not suggest Lehigh Acres if you plan on renting. No one who comes to visit Southwest FL stays in Lehigh, it's just too far from the beaches. If I were in the same situation I would pick either Orlando or Tampa as there is strong demand year-round for tourist looking for rental options.
Having been a Realtor in South Florida for 27 years.... I spent 2 years criss crossing the State looking for a very SPECIAL place that had a rural feeling, yet close to everything and within max 1 hour to major airport. We feel so fortunate to have found an area called CITRUS HILLS .... its like a special oasis nothing like the REST of Florida.... 45 minutes to Tampa Airport... 20 - 30 minutes to Ocala.... 45 minutes to Gainsville... One drives by wonderful horse ranches.... We are located on 1 acre on masters golf course that in Ft Lauderdale would have cost close to million dollars. The amenities are 2nd to none... Bella Vita Spa & fitness center would rank as 5 star with major Fitness Centers. We go to the Art Centers in Sarasota... Tampa.... St Petersburg... then thank goodness we drive home to pure tranquility. One can be as Social as one likes or live as a hermit. 3 Restaurants.... Spa/Fitness center of 52,000 sq ft... 3 major golf courses.... quaint downtown Inverness where Elvis filmed .... EVERYONE who comes to visit us cannot believe we found this bit of haven on earth. VERY affordable. & no comparison anywhere.
Do not even think of Port St Lucie... cracker box houses... more foreclosures than reported... and to DO ANYTHING ONE HAS TO DRIVE MILES. It is not cheap. Jensen Beach is just a spot in the Beach Road with several decent restaurants. Happy to give more info.
When was the last time you were in PSL or are you just advertising for Citrus Hill?
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