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Old 09-07-2009, 05:25 PM
6 posts, read 8,663 times
Reputation: 10


I am planing on spending 6 months next year and another 6 the year after with my two kids somewhere in the gulf coast. It will be only me (a woman) with my two kids.

I am travelling from Europe and my stay will be focused on my kids learning English.

I plan on taking them to private school and renting a condo on the beach.

Since it will be the 3 of us alone living in a foreign country security is a top issue for us. So, I was thinking on a gated beach community.

I might be wrong but have thought it will be easier to find a furnished condo there and also can be very nice to live by the beach. The drawback is that there won't be kids there.

I have been looking at condos and schools in Clearwater beach. Also I have seen schools in Largo but I am not too sure where I could live. I am familiar with the Indian Rocks beach area, since we have spent a couple of holidays there but I don't think there are gated comunities there. I saw there is a place in Redington beach which looks nice.

Also I saw some places in St Pete Beach.

For our summer holidays we like very quiet relaxed places, that's why we like Indian Rocks, but maybe Clearwater beach could be more convenient since it will be and the kids and there is more things going on there to take them to.

Since specially in the begining I won't know anyone it could be better to be in a less isolated place (in case a child gets sick, or to be able to walk to places park...). On the other hand, since I don't really know Clearwater beach I am afraid there could be too much going on (maybe too much drink or night life...). Just don't know.

I have looked at condo rental prices and since is a limited time I could afford to rent something on the beach but I am a bit confused about the options.

I have looked for reviews of schools in the internet but there aren't that many and I am afraid they could be school-oriented and there is no way I can access to first hand information.

PLEASE, Anyone can recommend school or which place is best to live?

Thanks a lot in advance.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:58 AM
426 posts, read 1,127,866 times
Reputation: 254
It is hard to make a suggestion without understanding more of your motive. How old are your kids, and what are your goals? Expose them to American language, or culture, integrate into an established family-oriented neighborhood, live the beach lifestyle, etc?

No doubt some families live in condos on the beaches here but in general it isn't the first place I think of if I'm trying to conjure up images of "Hometown U.S.A."

Also, statistically I'm not sure you'd find that gated communities are safer than non-gated communities... it really depends on the the community itself more than having a physical gate.
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:18 AM
6 posts, read 8,663 times
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My main motive is for my kids to learn English. But there are other things involved, such as being involved in american culture and school. If I just wanted them to learn English I could go to the UK, which is much closer to here, but I just like it much much better in the US.

Since I spent a year in your country I have always liked it and have gone there as much as my work has allowed me, so yes, it is important to be in the US.

I thought about living in a more residential area, but from what I have seen in the internet it is not so easy to find a nice furnished place for a 6 months rental.

Also since I will be alone with them because my husband can not leave his job I thought leaving in the beach would make my life easier with the two kids (who, by the way are 7 and 8 now), because we can spend time in the pool, just walk down to the beach etc.

It might be sound a bit silly but when you think about being absolutele ALONE so far away from family and friends and not knowing anyone to ask for help, you think about things such as not driving a lot not to have an accident, and having everything as easy as possible.

I know there won't be a lot of families in a beach place (maybe none) but to integrate in a neighbourhood my kids would really need more time than six months since they would not speak much English in the begining.

Since they will be taking the rest of the school year in Europe and taking their tests they will also have to do some study at home, thus not having that much free time.

Also when I referred to a gated comunity I meant also a comunity with a security guard 24 hours a day. I just don't even want to think about someone breaking into our place while we are there.

Also I basically have to sort the rental from here, so I can make it too difficult to decide and I am just familiar with the beach area because of our previous holidays stays

In my country I just don't think about these things, but somew I feel mucho more responsible being alone with the two kids.

What do you think? Am I wrong? Should I do things differently?

Thank you very much for any imput you can provide and excuse me for the lenght of my posts and my story.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:40 AM
Location: Tampa
2,602 posts, read 7,491,224 times
Reputation: 1551
I'm not sure if furnished apartments are all that common. The beach towns are completely safe. I don't think confining yourself to a guarded compound will necessarily help you integrate into society, especially since I think lots of those places are populated mainly by seasonal residents. Out of all the beach towns, I think St. Pete Beach may have more year-round families, but I think that's a negligible amount to begin with. Why don't you look in towns like Largo, Seminole, St. Petersburg, or parts of Tampa?

I understand your concern with crime. Please be aware that most crime (especially violent crime) is concentrated in certain neighborhoods that are easy to avoid.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:53 AM
426 posts, read 1,127,866 times
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I think you can find a home in a residential area being rented for a 6 month term. There are lots of rentals in residential areas right now- folks who own homes but do not want to sell and absorb the loss. I have found that the "vacation rental" market which sometimes normally caters to weekly or monthly rentals is now much more flexible. It isn't unheard of to find someone who will rent you a home for 6 months, and you can negotiate. In most cases they're just happy to see it rented.

However, if you want to be on the beach, and schools/neighbors are not a concern, you can probably find an equally decent deal there. Most of the beaches here cater to tourism. Areas like Clearwater and Treasure Island may cater to a younger crowd. There are a lot of different beach communities, most are pretty built up and commercialized and I'm not sure any one in particular stands out in regard to safety (either good or bad.) Driving through them, they all look about the same... hotels, condos, restaurants, tourist shops, etc. There are always exceptions- for example, Pass-a-grille beach breaks the mold, it is much less commercialized.

Honestly, from what you're saying, I'd just find a community that you like in any of the area beaches... St. Pete, Treasure Island, Maderia, Clearwater, etc. You're not going to be far from amenities in any of these areas, they cater to a ton of tourists every year who all need shopping, places to eat, even hospitals.

Best of luck!
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Old 09-08-2009, 01:35 PM
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Isn't England closer? here they'll learn Spanish first, then English.....sorry....couldn't help it...the top of your post is pretty vague as I can't imagine coming all the way from Europe for my kids to learn English here! also not sure where in Europe you're from, I am from Europe too and we have 2 foreign languages mandatory in every school there....English is always one of them!!!

Clearwater is very touristy...I wouldn't raise my kids there.......most gated communities are north of Tampa with few around Dunedin, Palm Harbor...per what I've seen....there are few in Clearwater and they are north towards Dunedin....

Finding a gated community with a 24 hour guard guarantees NOTHING, and there are not that many, and in the areas you're looking at there are none that I have seen! plus, we live in a 24/7 gated community with guards about 40 minutes away from Clearwater and we got our DVD player stolen from our car!!!!!!!! so much for 24/7 security!

Also, you have to remember that "liking" to be here and "living here" are 2 different things, Florida/Tampa is very different from Living here to Vacation here! You will have to drive, as grocery stores aren't really within walking distance and then who's going to carry your groceries in this heat????

The other thing to remember is that your kids are probably a few grades more advanced than the kids here, actually kids from New York/New Jersey, Delaware and other northern states are more advanced in curriculum compared to kids here, so you'll be subjecting your kids to a back and forth that I am not sure it worth it!!!!!!!!!! I highly suggest that once you find a school, compare what they do here with what your kids are doing there.........I am pretty sure there will be quite a difference.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:25 PM
Location: Beautiful Pinellas County
1,447 posts, read 2,662,990 times
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My question is this, are you legal permenant residents? Do you have a visa that will be something other than B1 or the tourist visa? Because you say you are coming for six months then another six months it leads me to think that you maybe on a visitor visa, which will not allow you to put the children into school. Though there is schooling for non english speaking, sometimes illegal alien children here, so you may succeed. You have to register and give proof of residency I think.

I don't think you will find most of the coastal towns a problem with security. There is a gated beach community at Redington Shores, and they do rentals furnished minimum of one month at a time. I would say that many of the owners, who are desperate to rent, would be thrilled to rent for six months. You should rent for just over that, or you will be liable to 12% tax. I know someone who rents their place there for $1650 a month plus utilities. It's very spacious, and 3 bed 3 bath, tennis courts, pools, club house and across the street from the beach. There is a beach trolley. School will depend on where you live unless you pay privately. Depending on when you plan to be here will depend on the rates, if you come Jan through April it will be high season and you will be paying a lot more than if you came July to Dec, but of course School is closed for a month of that time, but it would give you time to orientate yourself.

The grade level is not quite so important if they don't speak english, getting to grips with the language will slow them down a little anyway and you don't want the class to race ahead and leave them behind because they don't understand what is happening.

Making friends is hard for the first six months of a move I would say - we did it too, from Europe, and only started to make friends when our children joined soccer clubs. Schools are very anonymous, due to the nature of bus and car transport. Unless you walk to school and start talking to other parents you will not really make friends. Beach communities are quite transient but some have long term residents, my beach rental townhome is in a small community where there are some children and a large amount of the townhomes are lived in, one of our neighbours is even a congressman!

So don't be so concerned about gated, find the school you need first and be sure you can actually sign the children up
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:28 PM
426 posts, read 1,127,866 times
Reputation: 254
I assume you could enroll kids in a private school, even if you are on a vistor visa? But, I wonder if private schools accept such enrollments? e.g., short term. I've heard enrollment is down due to the economy at a lot of private schools so perhaps anything is possible.
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