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Pensacola Escambia County, Santa Rosa County
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:32 PM
2 posts, read 18,246 times
Reputation: 12


Hello! I currently live in the Tampa Bay area. I have 2 kids, 5 and 7. My husband works in the oil field as a captain and commutes to work to Louisiana several times a month. 13 hours is really getting to him now since he is getting older. We do NOT want to live in Louisiana and want to stay in Florida. I have found 2 areas. Gulf Breeze and Santa Rosa Beach. I have not been to either places but my husband has gone through Gulf BReeze several times to look into the area and he says it is beautiful. Seems like it would be great to me as well since researching the heck out of it for good schools etc. HOWEVER, I do not like the homes. They look old, 70 style, brick from what I can see on line. It seems they want an awful lot for these houses as well. Just a standard old ranch style 1700 feet, not on water for over 200,000. I don't mean to be snobby but the streets and homes look dumpy and dated. Maybe because I am not looking in the high end communities? I live in a very nice beachy stilt home now so I would like similar. That is why I am liking this Santa Rosa Beach area. Every house I have looked at is just beautiful. Completely difft than Gulf BReeze. However, my husband drove through the area and it seemed very underdeveloped. Like trekking miles to get to a store. Is Santa Rosa Beach a good place to raise a family? Are the people nice? I hear Gulf Breeze is wonderful in that regard. I would like to live in a tight knit community with nice people who look out for one another. We are also avid fishermen with a 24 foot boat so is there a boat ramp close with Gulf access in Santa Rosa? How far to Destin? Are the taxes higher in Gulf Breeze too? Any help would be appreciated. I know these are a lot of questions!!! Thanks!
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Old 11-16-2013, 08:20 PM
Location: Niceville, FL
13,099 posts, read 22,030,025 times
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Quick note on locations to prevent confusion- Gulf Breeze and Navarre are in Santa Rosa County. Santa Rosa Beach is in Walton County. Fort Walton Beach is in Okaloosa County.

The coastal area between Pensacola and Panama City Beach is more expensive in general than it seems like it should be. It comes down to Eglin AFB owning 95% of the land south of I-10 that would normally be considered to be prime development turf if it was in civilian hands. Gulf Breeze is relatively expensive because of excellent school reputation from K to 12, lots of bayfront, and an easy commute into Pensacola.

Santa Rosa Beach- newer development but largely built for tourist purposes, not year round residents. You can find community there, but it will involve putting a fair number of miles on your car to meet up with people. Walton County schools are seen as pretty mediocre once you hit secondary grades, save for a really excellent charter school in Seaside. Boat ramps are limited for anything bigger than a kayak- I think you'd have to go to Destin to find a public one. Possible to find decent sub-300K single family homes, but they are in a fairly small number of neighborhoods and tend to get snapped up quickly when they go on market. Lots of newer commercial development in that area, which is more of a zip code covering a dozen smaller beach communities than one distinct city.

Navarre- newer construction, schools are generally seen as good, and definitely better than Walton County at the secondary level if not quite as good as Gulf Breeze. Lots of newer construction with a little bit of architectural diversity, and generally a bit more affordable than the Okaloosa cities (Destin, Ft. Walton Beach, Niceville) especially if you want new or newer construction. Seems like it's becoming more and more of a proper community out there every year.

Niceville- very family friendly, established community, several public boat ramps and private marinas, excellent schools even slightly better than Gulf Breeze. Con- your housing dollar won't go as far as Navarre or even Gulf Breeze. $250K will get you new (1600sf) construction, but it's on a small lot and backs up to public housing. Or alternately 1600sf in the popular Bluewater Bay area, but with an interior that is essentially untouched since the house was built in 1982. I know a lot of people who put up with the original clamshell vanities there for the schools and easy beach access just across the toll bridge to Destin.

Tax-wise both Okaloosa and Walton counties have some of the cheapest property taxes in the state. The relatively small year round population base is effectively subsidized by the million dollar vacation homes and $400K beach condos. Santa Rosa County taxes are higher, but still significantly less than Hillsborough County rates.
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Old 11-16-2013, 09:30 PM
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Default thanks so much still a toss up for me

I thank you so much for the info! I think Gulf Breeze would be much nicer community wise it seems, but I am hearing that Walton/Santa Rosa Beach is a nice small beachy relaxed town. The schools seem slightly better in Gulf Breeze too. I just cant seem to get past the look of the homes. It also seems that real estate is booming in Walton. I guess I will not be able to tell until I actually GO THERE. I just want a place with really nice people, things to do with the kids and to make some GOOD friends.

Thanks again for the help!
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:29 AM
2,265 posts, read 7,214,684 times
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You should set aside your problem with the "look" of the homes and consider the more important things, like schools and community. Gulf Breeze, especially Gulf Breeze Proper (the city limits area) is highly desirable. The kids can walk to school and everyone is involved in sports, etc. There is a public boat launch at Shoreline Park with a short ride to the Pass and into the Gulf. If you want/need access to the Gulf, you better keep that in mind when you look at areas as many are a long boat ride away.

Lots of people in the area work in the oilfield and commute to Louisiana. Santa Rosa Beach is very nice and if you were asking which place to pick for a vacation, I would definitely recommend the beaches east of Destin. But for the "community" you are craving for your family, especially considering your husband's profession, Gulf Breeze is a much better fit.

What is your budget? A beachy house on stilts will be on water (canal, etc.) and you certainly will have to pay more than $200K.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:26 PM
Location: Philadelphia
5,302 posts, read 9,949,155 times
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Santa Rosa Beach:

Gulf Breeze:
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:26 AM
2,265 posts, read 7,214,684 times
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That bottom picture may be Pensacola Beach, but it's not Gulf Breeze. Gulf Breeze beaches are on either Pensacola Bay or Santa Rosa Sound. Your picture is definitely a Gulf of Mexico shot.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:16 AM
Location: South of Cakalaki
5,551 posts, read 4,286,608 times
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We chose Santa Rosa Beach, but we have different needs. We live near the Walmart just west of 30A. It's about 14 miles all the way down to the Destin Harbor, but we rarely go that far.

Either place has bad traffic, but 98 in Destin during the tourist season is horrible. Things are more spread out in Santa Rosa Beach. But the amount of available shopping for such a small town is incredible. That said, the tourists season can make shopping a nightmare. (Never, ever, shop on a Saturday evening during the season. It's when all the condos switch out and the grocery stores are packed.)

Beachmouse is usually dead on, but I must disagree this time. There are a lot of places to put your boat in. Grayton Beach immediately comes to mind.

Schools are OK, (my wife is a teacher) but not great. Beachmouse is exactly right about the high schools. Niceville is much better than South Walton.
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