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Old 04-06-2010, 02:57 PM
14 posts, read 50,577 times
Reputation: 10


My family is currently living in Central KY and we're looking to relocate to the Western Coast of FL. I've heard and read that St Petersburg, Tampa(Brandon,Valrico), and maybe Ft Myers are good choices. Can someone, anyone please help, I don't want to get down there, have us take a job and realize we're in gangland or in the middle of a very bad area with high crime, nothing to do, far from the beach, bad schools etc.

We are hoping to purchase a home in the $200's-$250's. Want to be relatively close to the water even if it means driving there on the weekends. We want good schools with high scores and great teachers. Hoping for things for families to do, slower pace of life, safe town to raise the kids(3 & 5), desire good private schools for them eventually.

We definitely don't want a fast paced, snobby, loud, boisterous area to live in with people only concerned with what they wear and the car they drive. We make ok money but aren't rich by any means and don't want to live near or around rich snobs. We just want to live happily in peace, slow paced life with family environment to come home to.

ANY suggestions, experiences, thoughts(even sarcastic, negative ones) and maybe even links to good county/city websites would be MORE than welcome.

We're looking to make our move within the next 3 months at the absolute latest. I'm pregnant(8 months) and would prefer to move now if possible, if not then sometime early June.

Thank you kindly in advance for all your advice and help!
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:17 PM
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Just my opinion based on what i experienced and saw..all 3 of the places you listed I didnt care for. It was the typical maze of concrete , cars, hectic pace that was a turn off. People honking their horns for fun it seemed. I much prefer the calmer atmosphere of the Panhandle and i think you would too providing you can get the job you want there. Im talking perhaps Niceville or Valparaiso which would put you inland about half an hour so , close to incredible beaches...and great shopping/restaurants/family activities for a radius of about 15 miles . Job opportunities are the biggest drawback to the Panhandle though., but may not be for you depending on what you do. The Panhandle has some of the nicest people ive ever met and its foundation is a strong christian culture with predominate family values, morals, and ethics as compared to central-southern florida.

Last edited by 007.5; 04-06-2010 at 03:18 PM.. Reason: add
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:39 AM
Location: Beautiful Pinellas County
1,465 posts, read 3,012,122 times
Reputation: 1116
The Panhandle certainly is very pretty. Here is my take. I don't go crazy for the Panhandle because it's a little too slow, education is not great up there unless you pay private - and with your housing budget I'm guessing you don't have tons of dollars to put that way, or maybe you do and you have your priorities right
The job opportunities are not so good up there, less population than larger urban areas that come with the concrete and stuff but also businesses and - hopefully soon again - jobs!
St Petersburg city (not beach) is delightful, I don't think 007.5 could have been there of late, as it has much to offer, though public schools not so great. We live about 10 miles from St Petersburg, but closer to St Pete Beach, in fact we are 2 mins from Indian Rocks Beach which is lovely, in a nice suburban area called Seminole with excellent schools, and it's mid county in Pinellas, so close to most things, and just 30 mins from Tampa, the airport (though we have a local airport in Clearwater too) and 90 mins to Disney and all those attractions (if you really have to go!)

Brandon Valrico area of tampa is more new town and some rural spots that have been encroached on by Tampa but they are ok, nothing exciting but I dont' want to put you off there. The better parts of Tampa may be out of your price range, you can still buy a 3/2/2 for under $250,000 in a good school district in many areas of the Tampa Bay counties though.

Cant really offer advice on Ft Myers but I think you will find it has pockets with schools and homes that will work for you also you just need to look around and research.

This is very tongue in cheek 007.5 but I'm assuming you feel the county ethics up there have improved since this happened ? Scandal Shakes Escambia - Orlando Sentinel I remember the headline, you know why there is 'scam' in Escambia county!
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:26 PM
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 22,515,971 times
Reputation: 2871
Sarasota county has one of the best school systems in the state of Florida. It also has Pine View School for the Gifted, which was ranked the top school in Florida and one of the top schools in the Nation. It is a public school and the requirements are that you live in Sarasota county, have an IQ of 130 or more, pass the achievement tests required and have teacher recommendations. I have two children that attend PV and we are more than pleased with the school. It services grades 2nd-12th. Here's some more info on that subject:
Welcome to Pine View School
Pine View School - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Public Elites - Newsweek.com
Pine View wraps up perfect Olympics | HeraldTribune.com | Sarasota Florida | Southwest Florida's Information Leader
America's Best High Schools: Gold Medal List - US News and World Report

There are many other fantastic school in Sarasota county. Here's a website where you can see how the schools are rated:
School Accountability Report...
or www.GreatSchools.com

Alright, if I were checking out schools other than Pine View these are the schools that I would look into, in order.

Southside services most of the downtown area south of Main St. North of Main would be mostly Booker school district. The Palmer Ranch area is mostly Ashton school district. There are other schools in the area but these are ones that I have either had personal experience with or I have friends that have kids in the schools.

Sarasota ranks as one of the top districts in the state by a number of measures, including test scores, graduation rates and teacher compensation.

It offers distinctive programs tailored to different student needs, including Florida's only school for the gifted, the state's largest special needs school and one of a handful of career-focused high schools.

For Elementary
Southside Elementary
Venice Elementary
Ashton Elementary
Cranberry Elementary (North Port)
Taylor Ranch (southern Sarasota county)
Lakeview Elementary
Gulf Gate Elementary
Laurel Nokomis Elementary (mid Sarasota county)
Tatum Ridge Elementary
Garden Elementary
Phillipi Shores
Fruitville Elementary
Englewood Elementary (southern Sarasota county)

For Middle
Sarasota Middle

High School

There's always something going on in the downtown area. Southside Village, which is the area west of US 41 and just of Main St and north of Siesta Dr. It's also close to the hospital. Right over the bridge is Siesta Key Beach or if you go over the John Ringling Bridge you have Lido Beach. Southside Elementary School is the districted school for Southside Village. You can look up what people have to say about Southside on these to websites: School Accountability Report... or www.greatschools.com The only problem is that nothing comes up when you search under SouthSide village because it's kind of a locally used term for that area but in the MLS they have that area broken down into a ton of little subdivisions. I'll list some here so you can look through and see what you find. If you have a little one I would suggest visiting The Children's Garden in downtown Sarasota. It's a really cool whimsical place for the little ones that is within walking distance of the downtown area. My five year old loves it there. Also, GWIZ,Mote Marine, Selby Gardens, Jungle Gardens are all within minutes of downtown. Every Saturday they have the downtown Farmers Market. Then there's the Hollywood20 Movie theater and The Burns Court Cinema, which has some really cool foreign films. Burns Court and Towles Court are neat little villages that are great to spend the afternoon catching a bite to eat or doing a little shopping. Selby Libraryis a fantastic library right in the heart of downtown. A great little organic grocery store is Morton's Gourmet Market, Southside Village, Sarasota, Florida. Marina Jack’s is always great for an afternoon out with the kids, a picnic under the trees or a leisurely walk by the bay Welcome to Marina Jack.

Some of the downtown neighborhoods are:
The neighborhoods are:
Hyde Park
Hartland Park
Poinsettia Park
Floyd & Cameron
Riverwood Park
Laurel Park
McClellan Park
Oyster Bay Estates
Bungalow Hill
Aqualane Estates
Graham Heights
Burns Court
Cherokee Park
Badger Heights
Paradise Shores
San Remo Estates
Harbor Acres
Mandarin Park
Morton Terrace

You can search for homes on the local MLS: www.MyFLoridaHomesMLS.com

Most of the above are known as a whole as the Southside Village neighborhood. I listed a few that are on the fringe of that area. Here's some more info on the downtown area:

Sarasota Florida Downtown | Shops Downtown, Sarasota Hotel | Downtown Restaurant | Sarasota Rental
Downtown Merchants Association of Sarasota

Another area worth consideration is Palmer Ranch. Palmer Ranch one of Sarasota's most popular and largest master planned communities with over 10,000 acres. Palmer Ranch actually consists of many neighborhoods, all individually operated under their own HOA. The common areas of Palmer Ranch are maintained by a master association. The overall look and feel of PR is "green" - the roads are grass and treelined, the sidewalks wind throughout the entire community, and they have recently been able to add the Legacy Trail to the many great aspects. The Legacy Trail is a paved walking/biking trail that runs through the woods along the path of the old railroad track.

Palmer Ranch is districted for great schools, is only 10-15 minutes to the beach, and is next door to the mall, new 12-screen movie theater and a fantastic YMCA complex, including a huge waterpark. Palmer Ranch is very popular with families.

Silver Oak and Prestancia are going to be your more upscale neighborhoods. Silver Oak has a championship golf course, tennis, canoeing, nature and bike trails, clubhouse, pool/spa, exercise facility. All home sites back up to a lake or preserve. It is one of the newer neighborhoods in PR.

Prestancia has two championship golf courses, country club, etc. The boundaries for Prestancia are-Palmer Ranch Way, McIntosh and Beneva. It pretty much runs inside of those streets-it encompasses 565 acres.

Reymore St is the southern boundary for Palmer Ranch. The eastern boundary runs out to I-75, the western boundary goes to Beneva and the northern boundary runs nearly to Clark Rd. This tells a little more about Palmer Ranch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Ranch Within Palmer Ranch is CJ Lofino YMCA Complex. It has a full aquatic center, gym/fitness, basketball, swimming, tennis, and water park for the kids.

Here are the communities within Palmer Ranch:

Arielle: 2 and three bedrooms coach homes built in the mid 2000's, Prices are from $239,900-$279,900. There are 5, no foreclosures

Botanica: on Palmer Ranch: 172 luxury condo styled apartments. Prices are from $294,500-$359K, there are 4 condos-no foreclosures.

Bella Villino: Gated, 2/3 bedrooms resort like low rise condos. Prices are from $69K-$230K, there are 19 condos, 0 foreclosures

Country Club of Sarasota: Gated, single family homes. Prices are from $229K-$550K, 8 properties, no foreclosures

Deer Creek on Palmer Ranch: 285 acres, 400 luxury homes, private and guarded gate. This is one of the original communities at Palmer Ranch. Prices $229K-$985K, 21 properties, no foreclosures

Huntington Ponite: Single family homes. Prices are from $295K-$349,900, 4 properties, no foreclosures

Marabella: 139 single family homes and villas, gated community. There are currently no properties in here for sale but a few months back here's how it looked. Prices are from $199-$499K, 5 properties, no foreclosures

Mira Lago: Mediterranean style, 180 single family homes and villas, maintenance free living. Prices from $269,900-$289,900, 3 properties, no foreclosures

The Palisades at Palmer Ranch: 43 maintenance free and single family homes. Prices $325K, 1 property, no foreclosures

Palmer Square: Mediterranean style maintenance free coach homes and town homes. Prices $311-$365K, 2 properties, no foreclosures

Pinestone at Palmer Ranch: Maintenance free condos. Prices $139,900-$241,777, 11 properties, no foreclosures

Plaza De Flores: 200 Mediterranean style condos. Prices $145K-$185K, 5 properties, no foreclosures

Prestancia: This is probably one of the more upscale developments in Palmer Ranch. Two championship golf courses. Prices $245K-1.295 mil, 30 properties, no foreclosures

Serenade on Palm Ranch: Affordable Condo community. 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms. $64,900-$188K, 9 properties, no foreclosures

Silver Oak: There are 181 single family homes here. It is very upscale and probably one of the nicer developments in PR. Prices $498-$997,110, 11 properties, no foreclosures

Stonebridge: Single family homes with preserves and lakes. Prices $315K-$449K, 5 properties, no foreclosures

Stoneybrook Golf & Country Club: Has single family homes, villas and condos. 18-hole golf course. Prices $189K-419K, 900, 47 properties, no foreclosures

The Hamptons at Palmer Ranch-Is comprised of three subdivisions and has from two bedrooms homes up to executive homes. Prices $279K-$599K, there are 7 properties, no foreclosures

The Isles-Is a DiVosta community. Single family homes, villas and townhomes. Prices $189K-$449K, 8 properties, no foreclosures

Turtle Rock-751 single family homes and villas. Executive and estate homes. Pool, recreation building, canoeing, tennis courts, bike paths. Prices $295K-$799K, 14 properties, no foreclosures

VillageWalk on Palmer Ranch-1,177 townhomes, villas, and single family homes. 500 acres. It's like a small town. Prices $224,900-515K, 31 properties, no foreclosures

Vintage Grand-One, two and three bedroom condos. Prices $54,900-$176K, 24 properties, no foreclosures

Wellington Chase-Single family homes. Prices $295K, 1 property, no foreclosures

Good luck with your search
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:25 PM
66 posts, read 196,589 times
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How friendly is Sarasota? I live in Austin where people will strike up a conversation anywhere and your neighbors gather on the street and chat, even bring you meals if you're sick. It's very easy to make friends here. (I had preiously live in NW D.C., where I think the only way my neighbors would have known I existed was if I had died and the eventual stench had caught their attention.

Also, how are jobs there, particularly in high tech?

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Old 04-11-2010, 08:12 AM
Location: Niceville, FL
13,089 posts, read 21,996,813 times
Reputation: 16102
Originally Posted by lavender View Post
The Panhandle certainly is very pretty. Here is my take. I don't go crazy for the Panhandle because it's a little too slow, education is not great up there unless you pay private - and with your housing budget I'm guessing you don't have tons of dollars to put that way, or maybe you do and you have your priorities right
You must have missed the part about how Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County schools are consistently two of the top three school districts in the state, and how there really aren't many private school offerings in the area because the vast majority of the people in those area are happy with the public schools there.
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Old 03-12-2011, 02:06 PM
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The Fort Walton Beach/Destin area (including Niceville and Valparaiso) is a great area with great schools. I grew up there and still own a home up there, although I live in Naples now. Naples is less "snobby" than it used to be with more young families and working people moving in. It is a great place to live with good services, shopping, beautiful beaches and low crime. The Fort Walton Beach area is also a beautiful area - it actually has the most beautiful beaches in Florida, or anywhere else, for that matter. People there are a lot more friendly than they are in South Florida. I would stay away from the Sarasota or Tampa area (or any of the large cities).
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