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Old 09-09-2009, 09:34 AM
 
3,225 posts, read 7,651,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsychic View Post
Well, I will add our experience just to round out the discussion here.

Back in 2004, we were living in Dade City (35 miles NE of Tampa) and after the hurricanes decided to purchase a second home in Asheville, NC (after vacationing there and loving it). At the time, we thought it would be an investment, a place for vacations, and maybe even future retirement. The reality was, hubby works full time and we never got to spend much time there - we went up every two months or so for a few days, a bit longer on holidays but we spent most of the time catching up on maintenance on the place. The double bills also became a burden. After three years of this we knew we couldn't keep it up, and also had decided we would never retire there, we had since moved to Sarasota which we love madly, and Asheville was just too cold in the winter. So we sold it.

If we had it to do over and still wanted another place, I would definitely just look into a small cabin, mobile or cheap condo there. But even then would think long and hard and about a second property. Plus, as someone above said, you are always locked into vacations at the same spot. I think I like to be able to travel to other areas and have a home base that I love.

Hope this helps!

Great points and very helpful insight, gypsyychic! Thanks also to Rusty, Vero, Danilella for their take.

I tell you, the experiences shared here are very eye-opening and worth its weight in gold!

It's so beautiful of everyone to freely share of their own experiences. Sometimes, people make life-changing decisions without the foresight or benefit of others' personal experiences to guide them. Kudos to all the posters who have participated in this thread.

My own gut feeling, confirmed by some posters here, is that owning two homes far apart and traveling back and forth to maintain/upkeep them is not as glamorous as it might appear to be. There's a lot to be said, as gypsychic suggests, and others have mentioned/implied, to own one very good home and perhaps rent that second place when one needs a break from the regular routine or the inclement seasons, whatever that might be for each of us - too much cold/frigid temps or too much heat/humidity.

Thanks again, all...and to any future particpants on this thread, I thank you in advance for sharing your opinions.

Best.

Miles/Moderate Guy.
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Central Fl
2,902 posts, read 10,891,486 times
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We did things a bit different, and i'm sure it is not for everyone, but we are happy with the choice.
I've lived almost all of my life in western NY, and 10 years ago, designed and built our own very nice, upscale home.

We are now early 50's empty nesters. After visiting friends who have homes in central Florida, we bought a home there. I am still working, and will continue for about 2 years. We rent out our Florida home in a gated golf community to snowbirds and folks also looking to buy in the area. We go down there a few times a year for a month at a time.

I love working on the house and we cherish our months down there, even though it is not during our peak snowbird season. The rent a few months a year pays for everything and we know our future and cannot wait to transition from being therre a few months a year to being there year round.

In two years we will sell the house we built and be full time Floridians.

We have had no problems. Renting our home has been a great tax break, and has allowed us to own two homes. Our neighbors are wonderful and keep an eye on things, and my VRBO listing gets me all the rents I need.

Frank
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:16 PM
 
3,225 posts, read 7,651,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faithfulFrank View Post
We did things a bit different, and i'm sure it is not for everyone, but we are happy with the choice.
I've lived almost all of my life in western NY, and 10 years ago, designed and built our own very nice, upscale home.

We are now early 50's empty nesters. After visiting friends who have homes in central Florida, we bought a home there. I am still working, and will continue for about 2 years. We rent out our Florida home in a gated golf community to snowbirds and folks also looking to buy in the area. We go down there a few times a year for a month at a time.

I love working on the house and we cherish our months down there, even though it is not during our peak snowbird season. The rent a few months a year pays for everything and we know our future and cannot wait to transition from being therre a few months a year to being there year round.

In two years we will sell the house we built and be full time Floridians.

We have had no problems. Renting our home has been a great tax break, and has allowed us to own two homes. Our neighbors are wonderful and keep an eye on things, and my VRBO listing gets me all the rents I need.

Frank
Thanks, Frank, for sharing.

Your post points out another facet of the snowbird cycle for some...many start out going back and forth between two homes, sometimes renting out one while they're not using it and defraying home ownership costs. Then they eventually settle for one location full-time. I believe that while many do enjoy the snowbird lifestyle for many, many years, sometimes they too eventually for a variety of personal reasons, decide to live in one location year-round.

To justify the costs of owning two homes far apart - especially if one is not renting out any of the two when away - becomes difficult after a while, I guess. Owning two homes within easy driving distance can always be justified more easily because one can manage both homes personally and one can enjoy the use of the second home more frequently.

Good luck, Frank, on the eventual sale of the NY home and on your final relocation to full-time living in Florida!
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:27 PM
 
110 posts, read 497,435 times
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Arrow Consider the financial analysis

I would definitely encourage you to run some numbers. Having 2 homes is a definitely luxury. Remember you have an asset consuming cash when you are not there.

We bought a vacation condo on the space coast 2 years ago. Do I love it? Yes! We looked at homes but sanity got the better part of me and we settled on a condo. I close up the hurricane shutters, lock the door and there is little upkeep. When I look at what the condo costs and how much time we spend there, it is hard to justify. It is a definite splurge and I look forward to being a snowbird when I retire in 10 years. It is more a hedge against rising real estate prices in the future. Five years ago I was priced out of the market. I know that won't happen again since we bought during the downturn.

It is however an expensive proposition. Some utilities which are inconsequential but significant property taxes, home owner association fees and assessments. This gets up into the thousands of dollars very quickly. I would encourage you to rent for one season before you take the plunge. You need to weigh that against the real estate bargains that are out there now. I am not a real estate expert and no one can predict home prices but you have to think we are close to a bottom on that one.

I would advise you to "dip your toes in" cautiously. Figure out all the numbers and make sure you can comfortably manage it. If you rent for one year you may also decide you love it. If not, then you can walk away and it would not be an expensive mistake.

Just a thought.....
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:39 AM
 
3,048 posts, read 6,541,208 times
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Renting first I agree would be the way to go. It is way different to live somewhere vs vacation. Also it enables a person to find the area in FL that is right for them. Coming from out of state and not being familiar with different parts of FL I found a rental in an area I had been but don't know if I would want to buy something and be commited to this area. I need to get out and explore. Though Frank it does not sound like an issue for you I know a few people who rent their places out and due to the economy are not getting the amount they are used to. So if that plays a role in someone being able to afford this lifestyle it may be something to look at. Also the headache that comes along with some tenants I would think. I am dealing with that but the opposite with the renter.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:45 AM
 
Location: Michigan
266 posts, read 757,263 times
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I haven't done it myself (yet) but my grandparents were snowbirds for DECADES. They had a home in Michigan, and started off by renting a Florida condo for several winter months each year. Eventually they decided that if they were going to go to the same place every year anyway, it would be nice to just own one. They also figured that their kids and grandkids could use the condo all year, both to visit when they were in FL or to just take vacations whenever they wanted.

For them, it worked out marvelously! I think they started off making the drive each year just because they had so much stuff to bring with them, but as they got older that was too much so they just flew. For a few years they packed up their essentials and shipped them via UPS rather than attempt to fly with everything, but eventually they accumulated just about everything they needed in both households so there really was just clothing to pack. And my grandma was a world-class shopper so she could easily purchase two households worth of clothing in an average afternoon!

Their condo was/is near St Pete Beach and they used to spend every Jan-May there, plus Sept-Oct. I don't know if switching utilities ever annoyed them, if it did they never mentioned it. I do know they never encountered a problem at either home while it was vacant. Granted, the Florida situation was a gated condo complex so the management kept an eye on it. In Michigan, they were friendly with the neighbors who kept a close eye on the house for them - once they called the police when my mom was over there planting flowers while my grandparents were in Florida! Actually, now that I think about it, they did have a handyman stop by and winterize the Michigan home right after they left, and set it back up before they returned; plus one of us would make sure they had milk and bread and juice in the fridge upon returning.

As far as the rest of the family using the condo, we definitely did and still do. My husband and I had our honeymoon there because we were broke and it was free (and we had a BLAST) - so did my brother and his wife! My aunt & uncle and my cousins still go down there regularly, if just for a long weekend to get outta the snow. My grandparents are both gone now, but the condo is all paid for so we plan to stay on top of the expenses in order to have this gem in the family for years to come.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
330 posts, read 956,515 times
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Great thread with several points of view !!
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:26 AM
 
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My parents migrate from East Tennessee to South Florida every October 15. They hated being cooped up during the cold and snowy mountain winters. Residency requirements won't let them stay longer than 6 months, so they leave about April 15. They started out in their early 50s driving a motorhome around Florida and 22 other states. They're not beachers, so they ultimately settled on a manufactured home in a park. They own the home and pay lot rent. For the utilities, there are plans for part-time residents (automatic start/stop service). When it's time to leave, they empty fridge, tighten everything down, lock up and go. They are friends with their fulltime neighbors and they watch out for each other.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Central Fl
2,902 posts, read 10,891,486 times
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For most, I think renting is the way to go.

Florida is a big, diverse place. The different regions differ greatly. Renting allows one to check different places out each year. Then after a few years of checking things out, one has a good knowledge base to make a good decision as to where and what they want, if they in later years decide to move to Florida full time.

VRBO is one good way of finding places by region or city. I cannot say for all places, but at least where we are the snowbird months get taken almost a year or more ahead of time. I turn away about 100 folks a year who wait too late to book.

That said, if one knows where they want to be each year, or eventually full time, then the next few years may be a good time to buy. It depends on many factors........your personality, risk tolerance, age, money situation, HOA costs, taxes, etc,etc. clearly there is no one right answer.

Frank
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:36 AM
 
3,225 posts, read 7,651,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnc19694339 View Post
Great thread with several points of view !!
Indeed it's great to hear different perspectives and to see how different people handle the snowbird lifestyle!

One thing that is obvious for everyone who goes this route is that for a variety of reasons - not least of which is weather - many are willing to put up with the logistics of shuttling back and forth. Many are dissatisfied with extreme weather situations - snowstorms, below freezing temps, risky driving and walking, gloomy skies as well as with oppressive heat/humidity, hurricane threats, etc. So they choose the snowbird life as an alternative to experiencing the worst of the north or the south.

For many, after a while, it seems that the travails of maintaining two homes far apart, long-distance travel, one foot here, the other there, no longer cut it - while for others it works out just fine. While the latter scenario prevails for many - a conclusion based on posts here and observations of others - many eventually decide that they need to choose one location over the other. Either be a Florida resident and take Florida for all its beauty as well as its problems, or be a northerner with an occasional trip down for a week or two.

Of course, the decision is not predicated only on the logistics of watching over two homes far apart and the ordeals of air travel or time-consuming road trips but also on issues of homestead exemption, state income tax factors, financial issues, etc.

I think it's wonderful to be able to enjoy a home here and one there, so to speak....but like everything else there's a cost factor - not necessarily just financial. Some people snowbird for years...then decide to become a full-time Florida resident or alternatively to sell the Florida home or cease the annual migration south to rent and just stay up north.

Last edited by Moderate Guy; 09-10-2009 at 09:53 AM..
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