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Old 01-08-2015, 02:01 PM
 
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It's my turn to ask what to look for, what am I missing, etc. We are headed to Florida for a few weeks to "look around" spending two weeks in a place. I'm calling it a "taste of Florida". We may become snowbirds but still aren't sure if we really would want to buy something there. If so, I'm inclined towards a condo so not to deal with outdoor issues. Also, right now, think we want to be near the coast, although not sure which one.

So, what's the best way to explore a place? I want to know where shopping is, libraries, activities, but also want to find out just what is available for places to live. I know, get a real estate agent to take us around. Will they be serious with us as we know we aren't getting anything this year, and maybe even not next year? How do we find one? I'm most likely also going to post on the Florida forums, in the area where we will be but thought I'd start here first.
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,973,893 times
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Floridians will give you the best advice.

That said, if I were considering Florida, before I went "on the ground" I'd do research online comparing areas.

- Safe places (look at sinkhole maps and places likely to get hit by hurricanes; abundance of critters)

- Home insurance costs for particular areas

- Crime stats over last 5 years — and what kind (home invasions?)

- Places where you'd do the least driving as you age

- Most highly rated medical

- How much of the kinds of activities that you love are there

That should pinpoint a good half-dozen places. Then line up realtors to show you homes in each. (My realtor tour of NC was most informative, and the best reality check.)

When you get down to two or three, spend several weeks in each. Then you'll know.

PS: Good realtors will shower you with time and attention and take you around. We had the best. He took us everywhere we wanted to go, and then some, in his car on his dime and even bought us coffee on the way. He knew we were just exploring and were not buying right away. We told him that if we ever did buy, he would be our buyer's agent and I still, after 7 years, have his magnet on my fridge. In calling realtors, I would be upfront saying you're exploring for a year or so down the road, you want to make a solid connection with someone (but don't sign any buyer's agent agreement until you're completely sure where you're moving; some will pressure you to sign).
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:31 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,494 posts, read 62,152,821 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choff5 View Post
I'm calling it a "taste of Florida". We may become snowbirds
So, what's the best way to explore a place?
Unless you're truly the Lone Wolf sort...
being near family and friends is the starting point for most.
People that you already know (and like!!) that can form the nucleus of a new social life.

The rest, like the specifics of WHERE the golf course or the Grocery Store or the Library is
and even which neighborhoods to avoid/seek are the easy part.
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:44 PM
 
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Check out the super markets of areas your interested in , shows what type of people live and work in the areas . When we were searching for a area to move to in Florida, I asked police officers who were at community events about certain neighborhoods etc . Just some ideas ... We moved to the "Treasure Coast " of Florida , if you have any specific questions feel free to ask or DM ....best of luck to you
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Sunny Florida
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We started our Florida search with areas within 30 minutes of a major airport since we'd be leaving our previous location behind and anticipated travelling. We then made our wish list of what we had to have in our retirement location/home, things we wouldn't budge on. If I remember correctly there were 28 items on our must have list. I researched and made exploratory trips for over two years before we found a spot that met all of our criteria, the hardest one was walkability to a grocery, library, doctors, dentist, vet, restaurants, park, pool, etc.

Make sure you check out crime stats, predator maps, school ratings, flood zones, CDD fees, HOA fees and regs, insurance rates, etc. before you buy. Try to enjoy the process as you crisscross this lovely state looking for a place to call home.

Btw, we've been here since June of 2011 and still are quite pleased with our choice. There have been a few things we couldn't have anticipated, like the school district rezoning our community and the library making plans to relocate, but those have been our only big surprises. We've never regretted our move, but we like it warm, and I'm still in awe of Florida's weather and natural beauty.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:59 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,558 posts, read 39,944,045 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choff5 View Post
It's my turn to ask ...

So, what's the best way to explore a place?... I know, get a real estate agent to take us around. ....
When exploring new areas... I stay with locals. Been doing it for 25+ yrs, can't be beat for the inside scoop on a locale, or the price ($10 - $20 / night), or food, or fun, but certainly extraordinary in quality of local information. Many hosts are retired librarians, profs, teachers...(there is a profile of the host when you book lodging).

Hospitality exchange - Wikitravel
  • Attend community groups within your interest (you will quickly understand if you like the 'feel / friendliness / accessibility' of a locale.)
  • Observe the library and hang around the help desk to hear what patrons are seeking. (are they educated, or are they illiterate?)
  • I visit the stores / suppliers who I will be frequenting.
  • Know your geography and weather patterns, and insurance rates (for determining coasts),
  • talk to the tax assessors (know the voter approved levy history) and
  • county growth planners, review the comprehensive plan (see where new roads / parks / commercial districts will be). Buy Urban in the path of progress (for resale / $500k tax free gain every 24 months)
  • county extension agent (I only buy rural (to keep)),

The LAST person I ask is a realtor, but when / if I do, I know precisely what I'm looking for. If they don't 'get-it', I move on to a better resource. (But you can't find a higher priced resource... the realtor gets 10x what I pay my attorney). Bought 5 properties last month in a different geography, only one had a realtor involved. It was by far, most problematic. (negotiations run through 4 parties, rather than 'on-the-spot' solved and implemented.) I have very little time to waste on people (professionals?) who think they know what I want and how much I want to pay. I find most my places by determining the best area that fits my requirements, then I drive, walk, and talk to residents and business owners, then I start my 'stealth' / sleuth efforts, usually researching props from GIS data. Send out my offers during tax season, and see who bites.

I use a 'weighted' spread sheet to refine search. It has my MUSTS and wants.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 01-08-2015 at 06:16 PM..
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:05 PM
 
1,829 posts, read 2,597,382 times
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Thanks. Love the comments so far. Grocery stores, exactly, forgot about that. I chuckled about the extension offices because I know exactly what your mean. I grew up in the country, 4-H, etc. and spent two summers in college working as a youth agent intern.

I'm already a little familair with CDDs in Florida and have heard horror stories about the cost of home owners insurance near the coasts. That partly why if we ever do buy I'm leaning at a condo rather thana SFH. This trip will be "eyes wide open". WhAt we need to do is get our checklist made of what's important.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,735,102 times
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Two or three years ago didn't poster LauraC have an extended piece on this topic? I am too lazy to look for it, but maybe she or someone else will find it and provide a link.
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Old 01-09-2015, 07:40 AM
 
1,829 posts, read 2,597,382 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
Two or three years ago didn't poster LauraC have an extended piece on this topic? I am too lazy to look for it, but maybe she or someone else will find it and provide a link.
Hmmmm, I'll go digging. I thought I'd seen something like it before. Thanks.

Edit: obviously not that hard to find. Here it is for others as well,

How to Research Retirement Relocation 2012

Guess I should have done what is always suggested, go search first!
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,973,893 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
Two or three years ago didn't poster LauraC have an extended piece on this topic? I am too lazy to look for it, but maybe she or someone else will find it and provide a link.
Yes, LauraC's posting on this subject is a classic, and should be made into a sticky. I think she covered all the bases and then some.
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