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Old 03-23-2017, 10:37 PM
25 posts, read 68,730 times
Reputation: 34



I'm reposting this because I accidentally posted it in the Sarasota section and believe it fits better here.

I need some advice on the North Port, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Cape Coral areas. I've done A LOT of research on each of these areas and I've read MANY mixed reviews. I've read generally good things about both North Port and Punta Gorda (except higher taxes in Punta Gorda), but people either love or hate Port Charlotte and Cape Coral.

1. For people who have lived in the area for a while, how do you like the area? What is this general area like or what is the area like that you live in (safe? quiet? relaxed? etc...)? Is it still more relaxed or is becoming more chaotic and touristy now that the housing market is recovering?

2. What are some safe, low crime neighborhoods in these cities? (This is most important to me as I'm home by myself a lot and want to feel safe in my own home!) What areas should we stay away from? What are some up and coming areas or developments, growing areas?

3. What is the infrastructure like in these cities? (I read that Cape Coral's infrastructure isn't good as far as water quality. Not sure if this is still true...) Are most houses in these areas on well water and septic systems or are they connected to city or county lines? How are the roadways (paved? kept up? or city lets them go? etc...)? How are property taxes (is the average property taxes high or low compared to the rest of Florida?)?

4. Any additional information you think would be helpful would be great!

Anyway, here's our situation. My husband and I are looking to move back to Florida from the Pittsburgh area (closer to the Youngstown, Ohio border). We are both originally from the Pittsburgh area, grew up here and moved back up about 4 years ago from the St. Pete area. We lived in the St. Pete area for about 4 years before moving back up to PA (closer to Seminole about 7 minutes away from Madeira Beach and John's Pass) and the Clearwater area for the 2 years prior to moving to St. Pete right off of Gulf to Bay Blvd. We liked Pinellas County and that area of Florida, but what we're looking for now is way different than when we originally moved down to St. Pete.

We can afford way more of a house than when we originally moved down there. I think we're leaning towards buying land and building new because my parents might be coming down with us and we're looking to build a MIL suite on to the house, but we're open to buying an existing home if it has the amount of land we want and we're able to add a MIL suite to the house (so certain deed restrictions that don't allow add-ons or separate dwelling units would be out of the question). We're looking to move within about a year after we sell our house up here and are planning a trip down there in a few months to do some scouting of a bunch of areas, but we're pretty wide open to many areas so we're trying to eliminate some so we don't have to drive through 20-30 different cities within a week (While my husband is on vacation. Not sure if that's even possible to do...lol!). We'll rent first to make sure we like the area before buying. I would like to stay on the Gulf side as I've visited Orlando a few times and it's WAY too busy over there and we want to live closer to the water at least with 30-45 minutes of a beach. We both like the Gulf side better than the Ocean side. We are both in our early 30's; however, we're NOT looking for somewhere with nightlife and we're NOT looking for a place with a lot of hustle and bustle or even young family neighborhoods. We always joke that we're old people at heart. We do NOT need jobs, my husband works as a consultant from home and travels a lot and I'm lucky enough to have retired early! We do not have any kids (just 2 fur kids) and are not planning on having any (don't judge, that's just something we never wanted! ), so schools are not an issue. We're not religious, but wouldn't mind living close to a Roman Catholic church because my dad attends weekly, and him and my mom will be coming down to stay with us for a few months as snowbirds. Because my husband travels a lot, safety and space is the most important to us! We need a safe neighborhood and we don't want to live somewhere where the houses are right on top of each other. We want a quiet neighborhood that's within proximity to groceries and shopping, but not in a busy downtown area. We would be fine with a 15-20 minute drive within shopping complexes. So here's a breakdown of what we're looking for. What area in the Sarasota/Manatee Counties do you think closely matches what we're looking for?

Here's what we're looking for:
-SAFE neighborhood
-Quiet neighborhood
-Lot of land that's .5 acre or more where houses aren't on top of each other.
-Our budget for an existing home is: $200,000 - $350,000.
-Our budget for a half acre or more lot of land is up to $45,000 (preferably with lot already cleared with available utilities to connect to) and then we would build new.
-Neighborhood that allows new construction without restrictions like what color you can paint your house and what kind of mailbox they require. I want to be able to build a new home to my specifications not an HOAs. We're not opposed to HOAs and deed restricted communities as long as they're not really strict with their rules and regulations.
-Laid back and relaxed area (preferably where roads aren't packed and chaotic)
-Within 30-45 minutes of beaches/water and other outdoor amenities like kayaking, golfing, trails, etc...
-Within 15-20 minutes of grocery stores, medical offices, shopping, etc...
-Within 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours of an airport.
-Paved roads and established city infrastructure and high speed internet availability (either cable or FiOS).
-We have NO preference of neighborhoods with a lot of retirees and/or young people with families as long as the people are friendly and the kids don't cause damage or vandalism (and most importantly not criminals).
-Possible up and coming neighborhood (area where the market is growing)

We moved back up to PA to be closer to family, but we also left a lot of friends when we left Florida and we miss the relaxed, coastal living and the sunny, warm weather. My husband doesn't miss the weather as much as I do, but he also travels to cold climates often so he won't be missing out on the depressing, cold, snowy weather that he likes so much and I loathe. Haha! PA weather has been so wacky this year and it's been SO WINDY, you'd think this was Chicago! It rains, snows, gets up to 70 degrees in the winter, drops to 20 degrees the next day, snows, rains, dries up, snows again, it's a vicious cycle. It's just so up and down. The inconsistency makes it hard to live here because you don't know how to dress anymore and lately we've had more cloudy, depressing, dreary days than sunny days. We know it's time for us to be happy in the FL sunshine again! Also, PA is killing us on income taxes. Insurance rates might be higher in FL, but we'll still have more take home pay at the end of the day in Florida than we do in PA.

For the Florida naysayers: We know what the weather is like as we lived there for 6 years before moving back up here and we know about the bugs and lizards (they're honestly no worse than the huge freaking black, furry spiders that I kill on a weekly basis in my basement up here and don't get me started on the stink bugs! Gross! There are critters everywhere no matter where you live!). Also, we prefer FL weather over PA weather any day of the week (at least I do). We know what the economy is like, it's no worse than PA's where they tax you to breathe here! I'm asking about these areas because when we lived in Florida, we unfortunately never got the chance to visit these areas, so that's why I'm asking for any helpful information and expectations of these areas for when we come down to scout the areas. All negative remarks about Florida in general is not of any use or help to me as I have already lived there, so please refrain from replying to this board if that's where you're going with you're answers. Pros and cons are what I'm looking for, not all cons. And again, we do NOT need jobs, that part is already taken care of!

I apologize for my long winded post, I figure the more info I give the more info I'll get! Thanks in advance for all of your help!!
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:24 AM
Location: Port Charlotte
252 posts, read 384,844 times
Reputation: 91
We made the same study about five years ago and chose Port Charlotte.Would suggest not looking at Cape Coral as there are too many negatives there.You are making a good decision in renting before you buy and Port Charlotte would be good as you are between North Port and Punta Gorda
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:42 AM
Location: Lemon Bay, Englewood, FL
3,179 posts, read 5,944,414 times
Reputation: 1170
There are currently 2 properties in the entire area with min 1/2 acre and an in-law suite under $350k. One is in Englewood, the other in Port Charlotte. A couple dozen lots over 1/2 acre for under $50k to choose from. East Englewood is nice for no restrictions, some space, but still close to everything.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:31 AM
Location: Port Charlotte, FL
306 posts, read 385,761 times
Reputation: 198

We're building in South Gulf Cove in Port Charlotte, for many of the reasons you mentioned, quiet, very safe, affordable. If you're looking at 1/2 acre, you can certainly buy two lots together. However, not for $45k combined.

Our lot is on a canal and was about $75k, off the water I'm sure is less, but we weren't looking there.

North Port has cheaper land, but it's kind of in the boonies in some areas and a bit rundown in others.

Kind of depends what you're looking for, newer or older homes for instance. SGC is almost all new homes, which we liked. Englewood and North Port has older homes in general, many newer too of course.

This is only my perception as someone who researched, visited and is now building there, haven't lived there yet.

Good luck.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:10 AM
Location: Punta Gorda
2,609 posts, read 2,784,904 times
Reputation: 763
Originally Posted by kyjake39 View Post
We made the same study about five years ago and chose Port Charlotte.Would suggest not looking at Cape Coral as there are too many negatives there.You are making a good decision in renting before you buy and Port Charlotte would be good as you are between North Port and Punta Gorda
X2 on not suggesting Cape Coral. Most of Punta Gorda will be tough if you are looking for property size, but if you are looking for safety PG is tops. Port Charlotte, Northport, Englewood, Venice are all nice options. Best of luck in your search.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:48 PM
Location: Englewood, FL
82 posts, read 101,377 times
Reputation: 87
I have lived in this area in my entire life (I am now 28) so I will offer some insight as a local.

North Port is nothing but a sprawling suburb with nothing of notoriety except for a new shopping mall. It's just one giant neighborhood with cookie cutter houses, nothing special. Port Charlotte is more city like but is more run down with more sheisty characters, though there is lots of shopping. Cape Coral reminds me of a nuke town, where everything has been placed and staged for a bomb experiment. Boring. Punts Gorda has the best of both worlds, it has a down town with some character and is bay front with the Charlotte Harbor yet also has rural areas with lots of space. There's a WMA if you are into the outdoors down the street. Venice is the nicest most upscale of them all and is surrounded by the water, lots of old people (even by FL standards) with a thriving down town, plenty to do and see, and a quick trip from Sarasota. I personally live in englewood because it is more low key, everywhere you look is the water, and there are places to be had affordably. That being said I would avoid east englewood, it is much like North Port in that it's just one big suburb with nothing to note, and the more shady (read drug addicts) tend to live out that way. South Gulf cove could really be a diamond in the rough as it is quiet, spacious, on the water with bay access, and a short drive to stores and the reknown Boca Grande.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:51 PM
Location: Englewood, FL
82 posts, read 101,377 times
Reputation: 87
I forgot to add that while south Gulf cove and that area technically has a port Charlotte address, it is much more part of englewood than what we consider port Charlotte.
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:20 PM
25 posts, read 68,730 times
Reputation: 34
Thanks everyone for the information! We will keep this in mind as we continue our research into these different areas. Our next step will be actually coming down to look, but this helps eliminate some areas and now we have some actual neighborhoods to check out. I'll definitely add Englewood and South Gulf Cove to my list. I've been hearing a lot good things about both of these neighborhoods. Thanks so much for your help, it's always good to hear from people who actually live there because it gives actual insight into what a city is really like instead of just reading a bunch of statistics.

Last edited by BacktoFL17; 03-24-2017 at 04:21 PM.. Reason: Emoticon
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:29 PM
Location: Englewood, FL
82 posts, read 101,377 times
Reputation: 87
I love it here in Englewood, you are steps from the beach and everything water related with world class fishing. It has character and a charming down town with regular events. There is much more of a small town community feel in Englewood as opposed to the other areas. There's great parks, and plenty as far as stores and privately owned restaurants, won't find any corporate like Applebee's or Chilis here. If you have a boat, it truly is an oasis. Though you certainly don't need one to enjoy the water. Like I said before south Gulf cove is much more so part of Englewood than Port Charlotte despite the address, so I include that area in my observation as well .
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:03 PM
25 posts, read 68,730 times
Reputation: 34
Sounds like our kind of place and very similar to the neighborhood we live in up here in PA. The area we lived in when we lived in Florida was nice but the houses were right on top of each other and it was not a place that you could go for a walk at night time and feel safe. When we left FL to move back up here, the neighborhood we lived in was growing a lot and a bunch of new shops and high-end condos were being developed, but we drove through there about a year ago and many of the houses in our old neighborhood were beginning to look rundown so I'm not sure what happened to the area. It's amazing how fast things change down there, so I'm happy to find out that there are places down there like Englewood that still have a sense of community like there are up here and you can actually feel safe walking at night without feeling like you're going to get attacked or mugged.
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