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Old 03-25-2012, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Berlin, Germany
6 posts, read 7,716 times
Reputation: 11

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Hey everyone,

I've been reading on this forum for a while but now it looks like I need to ask for my own advice so I can finally make specific plans! Warning: I'm afraid that by the time I describe my situation and what I'm looking for, this is going to be rather a rather long post.

So here's the deal: I've been living in Northern Europe for around 23 years now (with frequent extended stays in southern Spain to get some decent weather + a bit more open/friendly people - so you'll already be getting the idea with Florida!). I'm 45 and a single mom with two daughters aged 16 and 19. I'm very fortunate in that I'm self employed and only need an internet connection to be able to work, so that's not an issue in selecting a location. The whole thing with Florida started a few months ago when my younger daughter decided she wanted to finish high school in the States to make it easier to get into college there, and I thought why not. I'm ready for a change and it makes sense from a perspective of getting in-state tuition by the time college rolls around (also for my older daughter who will probably join us after a few months and go to community college). Also, I'm interested in transitioning career-wise to something involving more contact with people and moving around than just sitting in front of a computer all day like I do now, so - since I've always been really passionate about real estate - I've started an online course to study for my Florida sales associates license. Now I bet some of you are going to be rolling your eyes at that and thinking "yeah right - you and everybody else" and you're not wrong!! But on the other hand I'm not worried; I've got income from my regular work and I don't mind if it takes a while to get going.

So what I'm looking for is advice on specific locations that would suit our needs and high schools (my daughter will be starting 11th grade this August). I like older neighborhoods with a bit of charm, trees and sidewalks and where you can walk someplace to get a cup of coffee or a beer. I have a dog so being close to a park that allows dogs would also be good. And since it's Florida it would be really great to be close to or even on the water (I would forego some walkability for that!). I also like to hike so proximity to trails/national parks would be good, but I don't think that's a problem in Florida. Just to explain a bit more - I grew up in Northern Virginia and that is the epitome of what I do NOT want - nothing but cookie-cutter developments, malls and chain stores. I breathed a real sigh of relief when I got to Richmond, Virginia for college with its great downtown neighborhoods where you can walk or bike absolutely everywhere you'd want to go, including down to the river. And of course none of that has been an issue any place I've lived in Europe.

Now, I know I'm not going to replicate Europe in Florida. I really believe that the best attitude is to look for a place where I can enjoy what Florida itself has to offer. I do really like the old Florida style - as a kid we spent a good bit of time in older parts of central Florida because that's where my dad's side of the family is from, and my grandparents still live in Apopka. So I thought about Central Florida but ended up thinking might as well be on the water if possible!

I was originally looking at the St. Pete/Tampa area, even up to Tarpon Springs. Seems like there are some nice areas there, and that Pinellas Trail thing seems kind of cool. But I started getting the impression that that area had a lot of traffic congestion, and I don't want to be sitting in some maybe great neighborhood in St. Pete but not be able to get anywhere else without dealing with either traffic or walking though more crime-ridden areas.

So, I started gravitating towards Sarasota, and since everyone on this forum seems especially nice and helpful this is where I'm finally writing! (Plenty of nice people on the other forums too but I just ended up here for whatever reason. :-))

So - finally! - a couple of specific questions: What is water access like in Sarasota without having to get in your car and drive out to a beach? Not that I wouldn't do that occasionally but I'm thinking about daily dog walks etc. Can you recommend any areas that are better than others for that? When I look at the map I think great, water everywhere, but in the end it won't do me that much good if it's all private access and I'm walking along a busy street just able to glimpse the bay between buildings! Any actual walking/biking paths along the water?

BTW I don't know if this makes any difference as far as areas go but I will be looking to rent rather than buy. I've even thought about some kind of high-rise with a water view, but I think it would be better to have someplace with a yard for the dog. Here in Berlin I take my dog literally everywhere except the movie theater and grocery store but I'm aware that the situation is totally different in the US.

And about schools, Sarasota High School looks good, and they apparently have some new program allowing you to get a lot of college credit which would be great for my daughter because she is highly motivated. However for some reason I'm not able to access the Sarasota County Schools website (server down maybe?) to get specific information on admission. Just from looking at other counties though it seems like in Florida it's not as simple as just moving to within a certain school's boundaries and you're in. There seems to be a complicated application process where you have to rank your choices and of course we're missing out on all that since we don't have a Florida address yet. So what happens when a transfer student shows up at the beginning of August and wants to go to a certain school?

Ok that's my questions for now, though I'm sure I left some stuff out! Anybody who's read this far - thanks!! And I'm really looking forward to your suggestions.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:32 AM
 
Location: sittin happy in the sun :-)
3,637 posts, read 6,463,481 times
Reputation: 1848
before you even consider all that, have you looked into visas ? you cannot 'just move' here (oh boy if only it were that simple), you will need a route either thru family (USC) work (not easy) or a large investment.

once you have cleared that small (oh yea I am being sarcastic) hurdle then worry about location.


FYI it took us approx 7-8 years of planning , around $40k and lots of stress.............................
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Berlin, Germany
6 posts, read 7,716 times
Reputation: 11
Hi mr&mrssunshine, thanks for your reply. Visas are not an issue; we all have US passports. I probably should have mentioned that I'm American but I thought it was clear from my life history - guess not though!
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:35 AM
 
16,219 posts, read 34,748,419 times
Reputation: 20997
BellaVistaSue - you will love Sarasota, it has all you are looking for. There is too much to mention, but we have several great helpful realtors on this forum who have posted many informative posts and blogs, you can probably do a search at the top of the page for more info. I am sure they will eventually chime in.

Sarasota is a very dog-friendly, European feeling town, lots of sidewalk cafes and restaurants downtown where people bring their pooches. We have the most beautiful beaches in the country, plus the beautiful Sarasota Bay, so you are never far from water. Sarasota also has some of the best schools in the state of Florida. It's an artsy small city with a lot of big city amenities.

There is even an article in today's online paper about how cosmopolitan our city is becoming:

Recession brings diversity to Sarasota | HeraldTribune.com

It is a wonderful place to live.

Good luck to you!
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Berlin, Germany
6 posts, read 7,716 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for the link, gypsychic, and the good wishes! That is exactly what I was hoping to hear, even better in fact. Looks like this is really going to be the right area for us!
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:47 AM
 
287 posts, read 545,239 times
Reputation: 107
Dear BVS,

When initially reading your post our immediate thoughts were that St. Augustine, FL would "ease" you into the Floridian atmosphere as it is the oldest Spanish-based Floridian city. The architecture and downtown would be most familiar to you perhaps, judging from your amount of time in Spain.

Reading further into the post about quality education for college entrance really triggered a changeover from St. Augustine to southern Sarasota. In southern Sarasota county the number one ranked school in Florida is Pine View School. Here is the link:
Florida State High Schools - FL School Rankings

In our opinion, finishing this school successfully would allow the best chances for getting into colleges/universities of choice.

Southern Sarasota also has quick access to the "best" beach in the USA -"Siesta Key Beach". In our opinion a lot of the tourist traffic originates north of this beach. We live south of this beach and experience less traffic getting to it.

Moderator cut: snip
Good luck to your new career and your daughters education.

Your friends -WPR

Last edited by Keeper; 03-26-2012 at 04:00 PM.. Reason: Constantly hawking Palm River Ranch.. if you are a realtor you need to join the greoup
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:17 AM
 
287 posts, read 545,239 times
Reputation: 107
A large area of southern Sarasota is a master-planned community that has a uniform, mature, lush landscaping feel as it is "older" by Florida standards.

Many of the sub-communities in this area have water view scenery in addition to the colorful large birds that these waters attract. Many, many dog walkers are here and on the nearby "Legacy Trail" which extends to Venice for biking also. The trail cuts right through Oscar Scherer park. On this part of the trail you'd think you're in Africa because you'd see large expanses of scrub land, with some horses, cows, and occasional turtles-so much to see.



Last edited by WantPalmerRanch; 03-27-2012 at 07:52 AM..
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Berlin, Germany
6 posts, read 7,716 times
Reputation: 11
Hi WPR,

I do love the idea of lush vegetation (don't exactly have that here!) and the legacy trail sounds wonderful. So it looks like I won't be missing out on anything by not being near the Pinellas Trail going up from St. Pete after all! Everything I'm reading is making me really feel that Sarasota will be the right place for us - now I'm looking forward very much to getting there.

Thanks for the link to the school rankings too. I will look into Pine Valley for my daughter. The problem I'm having right now thought is that for some weird reason I can't access the Sarasota County schools website - I've been trying for several days and it just never works. Right now I would at least like to know when the first day of school is in August, and the last day of school before Christmas vacation, so I can plan our flights - can anybody help me out there? Also I saw a link somewhere to a school boundaries map (probably in another post) but I couldn't access that either. Can anyone tell me how it works in Sarasota - do you just move to within the boundary of the school you want, and then you're in, or is there some kind of special application process?
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:51 PM
 
287 posts, read 545,239 times
Reputation: 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaVistaSue View Post
Hi WPR,

I do love the idea of lush vegetation (don't exactly have that here!) and the legacy trail sounds wonderful. So it looks like I won't be missing out on anything by not being near the Pinellas Trail going up from St. Pete after all! Everything I'm reading is making me really feel that Sarasota will be the right place for us - now I'm looking forward very much to getting there.

Thanks for the link to the school rankings too. I will look into Pine Valley for my daughter. The problem I'm having right now thought is that for some weird reason I can't access the Sarasota County schools website - I've been trying for several days and it just never works. Right now I would at least like to know when the first day of school is in August, and the last day of school before Christmas vacation, so I can plan our flights - can anybody help me out there? Also I saw a link somewhere to a school boundaries map (probably in another post) but I couldn't access that either. Can anyone tell me how it works in Sarasota - do you just move to within the boundary of the school you want, and then you're in, or is there some kind of special application process?
Dear BVS,

Here is the County schools link:

Calendars, Sarasota County Schools

If you open the Calendar PDF school opens August 20th, 2012
and the last day of school for 2012 is December 21st.

Here is a .PDF of the school district of map of Sarasota County:

http://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Communication_and_Community_Relations/!Main_Content_Navigation/District-Map-08-web.pdf

Pine View School is #44

We can feel your excitement! Hooray!

Welcome to Sarasota!!

-WPR Any more questions more than welcome.
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,511 posts, read 21,307,079 times
Reputation: 2846
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaVistaSue View Post
Hi WPR,

I do love the idea of lush vegetation (don't exactly have that here!) and the legacy trail sounds wonderful. So it looks like I won't be missing out on anything by not being near the Pinellas Trail going up from St. Pete after all! Everything I'm reading is making me really feel that Sarasota will be the right place for us - now I'm looking forward very much to getting there.

Thanks for the link to the school rankings too. I will look into Pine Valley for my daughter. The problem I'm having right now thought is that for some weird reason I can't access the Sarasota County schools website - I've been trying for several days and it just never works. Right now I would at least like to know when the first day of school is in August, and the last day of school before Christmas vacation, so I can plan our flights - can anybody help me out there? Also I saw a link somewhere to a school boundaries map (probably in another post) but I couldn't access that either. Can anyone tell me how it works in Sarasota - do you just move to within the boundary of the school you want, and then you're in, or is there some kind of special application process?
I had two children who attended Pine View. One went from 4th-12th and the other from 2nd-7th. If you are considering Pine View for next year you need to contact Liz Elliott, 941-927-9000 at the school board and get things rolling.

Your child would have to pass an IQ test, achievement test, and they need several other documents and testing. PV is the only school in the district that has an early enrollment requirement.

You can live anywhere in Sarasota county and have your child attend PV but they must pass the testing requirements.

As far as other schools go, you must live in that schools district or apply for "school choice", which I believe is only one week in Feb. Most schools are open to school choice but the most popular ones are not. You would have to live in that district to attend.

Like I said, start out with Liz at the district and if you have any further questions, I'd be glad to help
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