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Old 11-26-2006, 08:09 PM
Location: Warren, Ohio
10 posts, read 58,920 times
Reputation: 17


We plan on retiring to Florida in 7 years when our youngest child starts college and we'll be in our mid-50's. We want to have everything in place and ready to go long before then and want to start looking for a place now.

Here's what we know for sure- We love the Keys, but they are too expensive and too far from major health care centers (not mileage-wise but time-wise). But we still want to have access to open water. Oceanfront/Gulf access would be prohibitively expensive, but we do want river or canal access to open water. And we prefer the Gulf coast areas.

We would like to be within an hour's drive to a decent size airport- one large enough to have direct flights up north.

So anyway, someone suggested Naples to us. Someone else suggested Cape Coral- in fact every neighborhood search I do brings up Cape Coral as meeting about 96% of our criteria. Yet I've seen other places where the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area is having major problems from too-fast growth.

And we really would prefer suburbs or (even better) a smaller city under 100k population.

So, anyway, I'm getting overwhelmed. We want to make a couple of mini-trips (we're in Ohio) to "check-out" potential areas and eventually purchase a home BEFORE we retire. But other than the major cities, how do we find NEIGHBORHOODS, or smaller cities, or suburbs? We don't want to use up all our retirement money taking trip after trip after trip to try and find an area. I'd rather figure out a specific area to concentrate on and then spend some time there getting to know it.

So we could really use any and all advice!! How to start our search, what to look for, even recommendations!

Thank you!
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Old 11-26-2006, 08:51 PM
Location: St Pete -- formally LI, NY
628 posts, read 1,782,349 times
Reputation: 235
Here’s some advice I’ve given before. Get a good mapping software program. MS Streets and Trips is one. With it you can take a point on the map then draw a radius outward from the center, check what points of interest (POI’s) are within a radius of your choosing or plot a drive time zone where the program computes an area on the map that you can reach within a given time. In addition to that get the free version of Google earth it’s good for the visual side of things.

You know you want to be (very) near the coast “Gulf coast” medical care regular flights and neighborhoods, sounds like it should be simple.

Think about the Tampa Bay area. It has a huge amount of coastal land area, Tampa International, top rated doctors and medical facilities with great neighborhoods. Cost factor is less than Cape Coral/Ft. Myers

Good luck
PS get a gps nav system when you visit – very helpful
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Old 11-27-2006, 10:47 AM
Location: Florida but not for long :) :)
1,130 posts, read 1,435,051 times
Reputation: 50
I would also suggest Charlotte County. It's in between Ft. Myers and Sarasota and has homes that are lower in price than those two areas.
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Old 11-27-2006, 11:01 PM
4,948 posts, read 18,073,829 times
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the Tampa Bay area also came to mind. It also has USF for college.

However, in 7 years alot may change. You need to visit, however this area is building housing alot. Prices are going up also, and we have the HOI Crisis.
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:26 AM
1,418 posts, read 9,914,610 times
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Mini-trips with a realtor is probably your best bet. When you don't know an area, don't think that you can figure it out on your own. I don't like using realtors when shopping for a home in my own back yard, but when going to an area foreign to me, the first thing I do is hook up with a mild-mannered, reputable realtor.

There are too many things to considere like: price, location, size of land/lot, taxes, flood zone, sewer/septic/well, water front, water access, water view, wetlands, HOA's, restrictions, gated v. non-gated communities, size of structure, make of structure, condition, etc. Plus, being from another state you won't know how to structure a contract/offer, what local customs are, etc. I wouldn't go to Ohio and look for a house just anywhere in that state without using realtors - I don't know the first thing about Ohio! Florida is no different.

FWIW, I am not a realtor.
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:49 PM
Location: New Tampa
49 posts, read 274,894 times
Reputation: 61
I have to agree with Prichard's recommendations. I would also add that I would highly encourage you to take several mini-trips downs to visit various areas. Trying to see too much in one visit can become extremely overwhelming!! Lastly, I would say, take your time and enjoy the process. Don't try to rush a major decision like that!
Good Luck!
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:40 PM
Location: Warren, Ohio
10 posts, read 58,920 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks to all for the advice. We are hoping to make a few mini-trips once we've narrowed down a smaller area to scout. I'd not thought of going as far north as Sarasota and Tampa, but it sounds like it might be worth some investigating. Tampa itself would meet all my criteria except that it's a large city, but I'm sure there are probably some smaller "satellite" cities or suburbs that would work out nicely.

Yeah, that area DOES meet enough of my criteria. Thanks again!
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:10 PM
Location: Hopewell New Jersey
1,398 posts, read 7,514,761 times
Reputation: 1066
Default Location Hunting

Very good advise from shores9. I am in the midst of a similiar search..but a little further north Apalachiacola etc.
A cpl more tips:

go to a local book store (Barnes& Noble , Boarders etc) and buy a usa set of state maps/atlas etc. I find it better than staring at a cpu screen but the mileage/radius tricks still apply. When in a area you want to explore stop in a relestate office. I don't like dealing with them either but 1: they can quickly resolve many of your questions AND...they've got the best detailed local maps you can get...and they're free.! I now go nowhere without my laptop. Email, eats,motels...and Garmin for example has GPS nav system for just over $100 that has many more features than the little nav boxes and those of us over 40
can actually read the screen without glasses...a big plus if you're on your own for awhile..
Good luck
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