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Old 01-02-2011, 01:06 PM
 
16 posts, read 25,702 times
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I currently live in Michigan with my wife and we have both lived here all our lives. We are looking for a place to live short-term, possibly long-term. Short-term being that we are looking for a good graduate school to attend for a few years; long-term being if after we graduate and we like the area then we may plan to stay.

We are in our late 20’s/early 30’s, have 2 dogs (boxers), and no children (currently, but planning to have them soon) and are both special education teachers. I personally don’t mind the snow or colder winters, but my wife hates them. After living in one place for 30 years I wouldn’t mind a change of pace, even a drastic one at that.

Cost of living – how is it in the area?

Crime – I’ve lived in some areas with higher crime rates. I’m also licensed in my state to carry a pistol, very aware of my surroundings, and try not to put myself in situations where I’m likely to be a victim. I’m a little more concerned for my wife’s safety than anything. So how is the crime?

Gun Laws – Being a proud gun owner, I’d like to live somewhere that is gun friendly; meaning that the state/city doesn’t prevent its law abiding citizens from carrying a firearm for the purpose of self defense, or have a bunch of regulations in place. I’m licensed in Michigan to carry concealed, and you may also open carry in the state with/without a license. How are the gun laws/regulations there? Is there any “state/national/federal land” nearby where you can target shoot/hunt?

Activities/Events/Things to do – I’d like to live somewhere where there is always something to do/see.

Kid friendly – Even though we don’t have children at the moment, we will in the future. If we stay I’d like to raise them somewhere that has a good school system and is relatively drug free (at least as possible – I realize drugs are everywhere). Also, is there plenty for kids to do? Lots of parks?

Dog friendly – We have 2 (bigger) dogs. Any breed restrictions? Are there any dog parks where the dogs can run off leash?

Teaching Jobs/Pay – How is the availability of teacher jobs (particularly in special education)? How is the pay for a first year teacher?

Schools – How are the schools? Not just to teach in, but also be a student in?

Tourism – Is it a touristy area? If so, when?

Traffic – How is the traffic? If it’s bad, when/where?

People/Locals– Are the locals friendly? What is the population mostly made up of?

Weather – What’s the truth about the weather?

Housing market/good areas to live – How’s the housing market currently? Buyers or sellers market? What does an average house cost? Where are the more desirable areas to live (nothing fancy, but I’d like to live around less crime)?

Taxes – What are the taxes like in the state?

Insurance – Anything we should be aware of? I know some areas of the country have higher insurance rates.

Pests/Bugs/Animals – Since I’m used to have cold winters kill off various forms of life, the pests/bugs animals aren’t that bad. We really don’t have to worry about anything too deadly. While we do have rattle snakes, you rarely come across them (same with black widows or brown recluse). Of course in the more northern areas we have bear, cougars, coyote (which seem to be spreading to more cities),etc. We also have freshwater so we don’t have to worry about sharks or jellyfish; overall not that bad. Anything I should be aware of? If so, where and when?

Last edited by TDubbbs; 01-02-2011 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:04 PM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 21,343,359 times
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All right I'll tackle this one...

Cost of living – Since I was born and raised here I don't have much to compare it to so I'll let someone else answer this one.

Crime – As I stated previously I was born and raised here. I'm in my mid 30's and not a big gal. I've never run into any issues. I've found, for the most part, if you don't put yourself into bad situations you should be OK.

Gun Lawshttp://crime.about.com/od/gunlawsbystate/p/gunlaws_fl.htm
http://suncoastgunshows.com/gun_shows/tampa_gun_show.htm
http://local.yahoo.com/info-14611364-take-aim-shooting-range-sarasota
http://sarasotagunclub.com/
http://local.yahoo.com/info-14613446-sarasota-county-gun-range-nokomis

Activities/Events/Things to do – There's tons of stuff to do here. What kind of things do you like to do? Boating, beaches, golfing, tennis, kayaking, biking, festivals. There's just so much going on all the time.
Mote Marine
The Children's Garden
GWiz
Selby Gardens
Ringling Museum
Soloman's Castle
Spanish Point

Here's a website that has some activities listed.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34618-Activities-Sarasota_Florida.html

Kid friendly – I have three kids- 18, 13 and 6. We're always doing something. We spend a lot of time a the beach. They ride their bikes and go to parks. Yesterday we packed the ferrets up and headed down to Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda. We let the little guys run around in the big open field they have down there. Sarasota county school system has one of the best school systems in the state. It also has Pine View School in Osprey. It has been ranked the top rated school in the state of FL for many years. Sarasota county also has a wonderful homeschooling community. There are also lots of extracurricular activities for the kids. My oldest is an artist, my middle does Sarasota Crew (rowing) and my little one is into gymnastics.

Dog friendly
Parks
Here are the dog friendly parks in Sarasota county. My two favorites are Brohard Beach Park in Venice where you can let your pups run freely with other dogs at the beach. The other park that I like is Woodmere Paw Park in Venice. They have many acres of shady oak trees for the pups to run under and they have a small dog section. There are also lots of pet friendly restaurants. One that we like is Ophelia's in Nokomis. After a long day at Brohard Beach we bring them there for buckets of ice cold water and chicken. Here are a few other pet friendly restaurants in town:
Dog Friendly Restaurants in Sarasota, FL, US

Teaching Jobs/Pay – I'd call the school board to see the availability of jobs. Here a pay scale chart I found online: http://webap2.sarasota.k12.fl.us/vacancies/SalarySchedules/004.pdf

Schools – I think the district as a whole is excellent. You can check out greatschools.com to get specific opinions on certain schools. I also wrote a blog on this website that talks about the local schools.

Tourism – The traffic and lines in the restaurants pick up after Thanksgiving until just after Easter.

Traffic – Generally during snowbird season I take I-75 more instead of US 41. I don't really notice it that much anyone.

People/Locals– I'd say we're pretty friendly. If you're out going and a friendly person yourself, I find that people are that way back. Lots of people from NY, NJ, MD. Most everyone that I have met are pretty happy. They seem to just be glad to be out of the snow.

Weather – Ah, yes. The weather question. Well, it's pretty much hotter than Hades in June-August. I try to time my day around the weather. If I want to go for a jog it will be in the late afternoon or early morning. In the summertime around 4 or so in the afternoon we usually get thunderstorms. From about Nov-Mar it's really nice weather. You should probably look up my blog on this website that is titled "tell me why I wouldn't want to live in FL".

Housing market/good areas to live – It's not really a buyers or sellers market currently. If the home is priced well, is in a good location and shows well-it will sell quick. Most people are looking for a good bargain. In Sarasota county last month 697 homes sold. The average list price was $234,775 and the average selling price was $213,706. That would be 93% of list price. Hmmm...more desirable? What kind of things do you like to do? What's your price range? If you can answer those questions I can point you in the right direction.

Taxes – Here's the tax info for Sarasota county. You should find this website helpful:
http://www.sarasotataxcollector.com/PROPERTYTAX_PAGES/PT_GeneralInfo.htm

Insurance – Oh yes, lots of info on insurance. This website should be helpful to you: http://www.shopandcomparerates.com/HOCompareRates.htm

and this one:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20101231/ARTICLE/101239982

I'll go over a few basics. Generally, the rates are cheaper if you have a hip roof as opposed to a gable. The newer your home is the better. The closer your home is to a fire hydrant or natural body of water, the better. They look at what type of wind protection your home has-roll down shutters, corrugated aluminum, none, etc. How is your roof tied on? What is your home made of? Generally block is best. How old is the roof?

The next thing you need to know about is a wind mitigation report. You can usually get this done for a few hundred bucks and it's well worth it. Here's a website that tells about it: My Safe Florida Home

Let me give you an example of potential savings by using my home as an example. My home was built in 2003, has a hip roof, corrugated aluminum shutters on most of the house but the back lanai has stationary pull together aluminum shutters. I have no pool and my home is made of block. Before I had the wind mitigation report done my insurance was $1987 per year and after it was $727 per year. Big difference!

You would also want to be mindful of the flood zones. Most areas closer to the coast are in a flood zone. You would need an elevation certificate to determine the height of the home. Here's another website with some more helpful info: Flood Protection

One more thing I would like to add. I think it's great that you're doing a lot of research but since it seems you're not too familiar with the area you might want to think of renting first. This would give you an opportunity to find an area that fits your needs.

Good luck with it and I hope I've been of some help.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Ohio/Sarasota
913 posts, read 2,203,737 times
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I would not expect to getting a teaching job anytime soon. They used to have the "Great Florida Teach In" every year in June. I'm not sure if they still have it, you may want to check.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 21,343,359 times
Reputation: 2846
One thing you may want to look into is Florida Virtual School- www.flvs.net My middle daughter does this and loves it. It's like taking college distance learning courses. I have a neighbor who teaches for FLVS and she says it's great. Seems like a pretty good gig to me.

According to the Sarasota county website it looks like there are a few openings in the county for teachers:

Instructional Job Posting List (http://webap2.sarasota.k12.fl.us/vacancies/ExternalPostings/Instructional/ExternalInstructionalJobPostingList.aspx - broken link)
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:06 PM
 
16 posts, read 25,702 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoFLGal View Post
Housing market/good areas to live – Hmmm...more desirable? What kind of things do you like to do? Anything outdoors with the dogs, tennis, skateboard, wakeboard, bike, hike, swim, walk on the beach, rollerblade, eat, shop. What's your price range? $150,000-$200,00 (hoping for a turnkey w/a pool, but willing to put SOME money and sweat equity into if needed. Just don't want to live in an area where I have to always worry about crime) If you can answer those questions I can point you in the right direction.

One more thing I would like to add. I think it's great that you're doing a lot of research but since it seems you're not too familiar with the area you might want to think of renting first. This would give you an opportunity to find an area that fits your needs. I was planning on that as well. I still figured I would ask people on here there thoughts so I know where to start looking for a house. Even if I stay in an apartment, or rent a house (most likely I'll try to find a house to rent) I still want to know what areas to rent in.

Good luck with it and I hope I've been of some help.
Thanks for the helpful advice so far.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:10 PM
 
16 posts, read 25,702 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by davery5872 View Post
I would not expect to getting a teaching job anytime soon. They used to have the "Great Florida Teach In" every year in June. I'm not sure if they still have it, you may want to check.
Actually my wife had numerous job offers from Florida all over last summer, but none from Sarasota. Also we weren't as serious about moving at the time. We recently found a graduate school in the Sarasota area that we are considering attending, but wanted to know more about the area before we decide to fly down and check it out.

Thanks for your help!

Last edited by TDubbbs; 01-02-2011 at 06:36 PM..
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:19 PM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 21,343,359 times
Reputation: 2846
You should be right at home here then. Most things are geared toward the outdoors. You might like The Legacy Trail: Friends of the Legacy Trail Home Page It's a great place for biking or walking. Downtown Sarasota has many cool/funky places for shopping and dining. Every city has lots of parks.

There are plenty of foreclosures around where you could get a good deal and put in some sweat equity.

You could get a newer, larger home, pool in the North Port area in that price range. In Sarasota you might be able to find a decent place in the South Gate or Gulf Gate area that meets your needs. These areas would also be good places to find a rental and do some exploring.

The people on this forum are really informative and always willing to help out or give advice. If you have more questions while exploring I'm sure some one will jump in and answer.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:35 PM
 
16 posts, read 25,702 times
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What are some nice surrounding areas that you would recommend?

Thanks again!
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:42 PM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 21,343,359 times
Reputation: 2846
In Sarasota you might want to check out the Gulf Gate or South Gate communities. Many of these homes were built in the 1960's and early 1970's.

Down south a little North Port would be a good bet. Especially if you like the outdoors. Many of the homes are on canals (no access) and have wooded lot next to them. Most homes are newer as well.

Just trying to come up with ideas of areas in your price range that you might end up in after renting.
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