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What Is the Best Florida Region for Your Retirement

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Note: This is Part 2 of a 2 part article on Florida and its many different regions for retirement. Part 1 was “Florida Retirement 101: FL is Bigger and More Diverse Than You Might Have Thought“.

May 1, 2012 — In Part 1 we laid out the basic facts about the Sunshine State as well as descriptions of 8 different regions of Florida (our definitions):
– Panhandle
– Northeast Atlantic
– Mid-Atlantic – The Space Coast
– Central Florida
– South Atlantic
– Middle Gulf – The Nature Coast
– South Gulf Coast
– The Keys

In this article which we will call Retirement 303, we provide our opinions about the pluses and minuses of these regions, and why certain ones might appeal more to different people. Please note this is not a scientific study, merely a collection of our opinions. These areas are quite large, so generalizing is definitely a hazard – there will be exceptions to everything. The state is so big that people who can warm up to the idea of living in Florida could be happy in many, if not all, parts of the state.

1. Panhandle:
This area goes from Pensacola in the west to Tallahassee (Florida’s Capital) and the Big Bend Area. Much of the population is situated along the coast in the west, while the coast is almost totally unpopulated for a huge distance between Carrabelle and Homasassa Springs to the south. The non-coastal region is similar in terrain and feel to southern Georgia.

Old St. Augustine, an old Canopy Road

Long Coastline
Many Bays
Moderate Home Prices

Hurricane History
Spring Breakers
Coldest winter weather in Florida (but not that cold)
Not so great airline travel options

Who Might like living in the Panhandle
The area around Pensacola and Panama City has many military bases, so it is obviously very attractive to military retirees.
People who like beaches and boating will have plenty to do in the Panhandle.

2. Northeast Atlantic
Butting up against southeastern Georgia, this part of the state has the huge Jacksonville Metro and then goes down the coast with quite a variety of different towns – from posh Ponte Vedra to rough and tumble Daytona Beach. Jacksonville is like many other fast-growing American cities, although it is in Florida it could fit in anywhere.

Big city with major sports and culture
Beaches and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean
History around St. Augustine
Many developments to choose from
Reasonable home prices in many communities
Crime and traffic in Jacksonville
Snowbirds might be disappointed with cooler winter temps
Who might living in the North Atlantic part of Florida:
Jacksonville area multi-generational communities offers a way to live near children/grandchildren
Golfers will find plenty of courses including some very high end ones in Ponte Vedra.
St. Augustine offers history

3. Mid-Atlantic – The Space Coast
The central coast of Florida might offer the least traffic and congestion of Florida’s Atlantic coastline. It has beautiful barrier islands, plenty of birds to watch, and a lower key way of life.

Melbourne and the barrier island

A barrier island

Less traffic and congestion
Access to nature
Affordable real estate prices
No big towns nearby
Winter ocean is cold
Medical care
Who might enjoy living on the Space Coast:
People who are looking for a less congested, slower way of life away from big towns and cities but close to beaches might enjoy a Space Coast retirement.

4. Central Florida
The region we define as Central Florida goes from Gainesville in the north all the way through Orlando and down to Sebring. It is a relatively flat interior region with many lakes, along with the giant Ocala National Forest.

Some of the most inexpensive real estate in the U.S.
A choice of hundreds of 55+ communities, some of them very big
Opportunity to live on a lake
Places designed to retirement towns, like Winter Haven
Quieter than along the coast
Orlando Airport
It’s a drive to the beach
The Orlando area has some high crime and traffic
Quieter than along the coast

Who might like living in Central Florida
People who want a very big active community like On Top of the World or The Villages.
Bargain hunters will find the best deals in Florida.
Folks who prefer the country to the coast, including horse lovers who might gravitate to the Ocala area.

5. South Atlantic Florida
The region we are talking about is the Atlantic coast of Florida beginning in about Stuart and going south to Miami. This part of the coast certainly has the warmest winters. It is also the most congested, and offers the greatest variety of towns to live in. From the poor cousin Pompano Beach to Rolls Royce-afflicted Palm Beach, there are many towns to choose from. Miami is one of the most unusual and complex cities in the world. It has an Art Deco tourist section on the beach, super-affluent islands, ethnic neighborhoods and culture, a thriving international business community, and quiet neighborhoods for retirees.

Warmest winters
Great variety of towns and communities
Mass transit, big airports, cruise ship departures
Higher real estate costs
Hurricane threats
Who might like living in the South Atlantic part of Florida
Originally, and this is still somewhat true, the east coast of Florida attracted snowbirds from the Northeast – New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey. If you are used to a fast-paced lifestyle, attention to status, and a strong interest in things cultural, this might be the place for you.

6. Middle Gulf – The Nature Coast
Starting below Tallahassee the west coast of Florida is sparsely populated and eventually ends in the bustling Metro of St. Pete/Clearwater/Tampa. The beaches aren’t generally as well developed or populated as elsewhere in the state.

Less populated and developed
Lower prices
Nature is less disturbed
It is not generally not that exciting
Fewer choices in towns and communities
Who might like living on the Nature Coast
People who like less development and more access to nature (like the Suwanee River or an an undeveloped coast) will enjoy this area. So it appeals to those who are looking for a quiet, as well as inexpensive, place to live.

7. South Gulf Coast
For our purposes this region starts with St. Petersburg and eventually ends in Marco Island, just above the Everglades. It includes the huge St.Pete/Tampa/Clearwater Metro, sophisticated Sarasota, sprawling Ft. Myers, and chi-chi Naples. The beaches are fantastic, such as those on Sanibel or the Keys off Sarasota. There are also dozens of little towns with a low profile.

Downtown Venice, FL

Fabulous beaches
Warm winters
Tremendous choice of towns and active communities
Wide range of where to live – from big to small
Like most of Florida, great boating, fishing, golf
A history of hurricanes
Traffic and congestion
Suburban sprawl
Who might like living on the South Gulf Coast
As the East Coast of FL was traditionally populated with northeasterners, so is the West Coast home more often to midwesterners. Lots of retirees here followed their friends down here from western Pennsylvania, the Midwest, Canada, and West Virginia. As a result many communities have a more laid back, less frenetic pace. As just about everywhere in Florida, if you like golf, fishing, going to the beach, and shopping, you will have found your retirement heaven.

8.The Keys
Our final district starts in the Everglades below Miami and ends in Key West, the Bohemian center 90 miles from Cuba that locals refer to as Paradise. Along the way are many narrow keys, some of which host small towns and bigger ones that are home to Islamorada and Marathon. This area is about as different from Florida (and the rest of the U.S.) as it could be.

Restored Victorian in Key West, with electric car

Warmest winters of all
Arguably the best fishing in U.S.
A boating paradise
The Keys and Key West are unique in many ways
Some of highest real estate prices in FL
A hassle to drive to the mainland
Mandatory hurricane evacuations
Sophisticated medical care is a long ways away
Who might like living in the Keys
A lot of people who live here are escaping from somewhere else. Or they are obsessed with fishing, boating, or an artistic lifestyle. They might be gay and live in gay-friendly Key West. Or they want a very relaxed lifestyle where shoes and shirts are optional, or where you spend more time on your bike than you do your car.

Florida has just about something for everybody, except for cold winters and mountains. Its different regions are diverse and worth exploring to find which one offers you the best fit. There is no substitute for getting out and exploring different areas and towns to see what you like and don’t like firsthand.

Part 1: Florida Retirement 101: The Sunshine State is More Diverse Than You Think
Directory of Florida Towns and Active Communities

Comments: We hope you have enjoyed our rundown of Florida by region. We would love to hear your reactions, agreements, and disagreements with our assessments. Please let us know in the Comments section below.

Post-Publication: Given that we often get very valuable comments from our members about articles like these, we will try to use this section to mention changes to the article made after publication from those comments:
– Added reference to Ocala National Forest to Central Florida.
– Provided a bit more depth to discussion of Miami.
– Agree with David Lane that getting out and seeing it for yourself is the best option.

Posted by John Brady on May 1st, 2012


  1. John, I appreciate your breakdown of our areas here in Florida. Something I think you overlooked about Central Florida — although you mentioned horse country — is Ocala National Forest. This is an active adult and big toy-owners dream. The Ocala National Forest is 400,000 acres and holds over 60 miles of ATV trails, many walking/hiking trails, lots of RV camping, hunting/firing ranges, and over 35 natural artisan springs. Many active adults today love the outdoors outside of golf, such as fishing, hiking, and biking! This is something that the Ocala National Forest offers, and is the largest and oldest national forest south of the Mississippi.

    Neil: This is a very helpful addition for our members to realize about Central Florida. Thanks! John

    by Neil S. Schuster — May 2, 2012

  2. You know you’re opening up yourself to criticism and rancor by tackling such a big topic, something that requires broad and simplistic generalizations. I can’t even imagine writing a region-by-region breakdown for a small state like Connecticut, and you tackled Florida! I gotta give you credit for taking this on. Thank you for all your work.

    by Lee Steele — May 3, 2012

  3. […] it. Surprisingly, the people who don’t have a strong opinion seem to be a smaller group. In Part 2 of this article we’ll get into which region might appeal to different folks better than […]

    by » Florida Retirement 101: The Sunshine State is Bigger and More Diverse than You Might Think Topretirements — May 5, 2012

  4. I think you have done a good job alterting readers and retirement location researchers about the reasons why Florida should be on their short list. People, especially those in the Northeast section of the U.S. are thinking retirement may not even be possible or must be put on hold so they can build more retirement income including hold off on social security for several years or make more and larger congtributions to their 401Ks etc. Many people could retire now, or a lot sooner, if they were to take a careful look at Florida where many people are able to have a very rich and enjoyable retirement for a lot less money and do it NOW not five or ten years from now. Trouble is people read retirement magazines and think they need huge money and that real estate costs of an area are reflected in the costs quoted for exclusive gated communities. Nobody must have a brandnew home in an expensive retirement community. There are many other options that might well serve most people better. I still favor an area such as Winter Haven FL between Orlando and Tampa. Lots of excellent housing available but you need to look are the options carefully. If people want to go into those pricy gated retirement communities we cerytainly have those too. Come to Florida and spend a week or ten days in an area and look at the alternatives. Visit the Chamber of Commerce and city government office and pick up copies of the leisure services offered by the city through the local taxes, look at the library, look at the parks and look at the housing options. My best advice after relocating from New York State nearly 15 years ago. Good luck to those planning to retire. Have the courage and make it happen on your terms.:grin:

    by David M. Lane — May 5, 2012

  5. Again, John you have done a GREAT job. David Lane says it best: you need to visit and see ALL the options. Yes you can retire in a upscale community, but there are many very afforable ways to retire in Florida. Keep up the good work, John.

    Editor’s note: Sandy and Lee and Neil and David – I am blushing. Thanks for your encouragement and very helpful tips as well. This is a community and it is great to see people pitching in to make it better!

    by sandy — May 5, 2012

  6. :cool:I like the information/comments presented by David M. Lane. I’m Thinking about and Looking @ different areas around FL,NC,TN. Thanks for the Heads Up!!

    by BarbaraInGA — May 5, 2012

  7. Thank you for posting Part 2 of Florida Retirement 101. My husband and I would like to retire to Florida within the next two years and have been researching the pros/cons of the different cities/areas. Your article gives great insight and will definitely help us with our decision.:smile:

    by cdault — May 6, 2012

  8. John, You’re becoming a #1 Online Resource! Thank you for your invaluable site!

    by Neil S. Schuster — May 6, 2012

  9. My husband and I are in our early 50s and want to move to a warmer climate with lower taxes. He loves FL; I like Asheville. The problem is we both need to work. We’ve thought about buying something cheap in FL and opening an ice cream shop to support ourselves. We like Venice and Naples, not cheap… We spent time in Asheville, Venice and Naples last year. It’s hard to explore a lot of places while you’re working and only have so much vacation time. I know that by delaying making a decision, we could miss out on real estate deals. I wish you would do a show similar to House Hunters, covering areas, towns, developments, etcetera geared to retirees or
    soon to be retirees.

    by Joyce WNY — May 6, 2012

  10. Joyce, that is a great idea. I can’t believe that with all the boomers out there thinking about retirement that a TV show featuring retirement destinations hasn’t already been done. If anyone knows of such a program, I’d like to find out about it. A similar idea would be a centralized video showcase on the web. My son is a high school senior and was interested in colleges all around the country. We couldn’t visit them all but most have a video about the attractions of their college available. That should work for retirement destinations as well. Anybody willing to take up the challenge?

    by LS — May 7, 2012

  11. Interesting you mentioned that, Joyce and LS. I suggested this exact same idea to AARP on May 2nd! I’m publishing a book with John Wiley & Sons in conjunction with AARP and I know it would serve a big need.

    by Jan Cullinane — May 7, 2012

  12. Joyce WNY-I have thought about that many times-why isn’t there a House Hunters geared towards the Baby boomers AKA retirees! We should all write to them and ask them! However, it would be a couple years before we’d see anything, I bet. Does anyone know anything about Bluffton, SC??

    by diandto — May 7, 2012

  13. @Joyce, Think about more reasonable places in Florida… Research Marion County! Marion and Lake counties have the largest population of active adults — the commercial industry is good here — with low taxes and affordable real estate for existing and new construction. Do you know anything about coffee and pastries? I always thought that the town of Ocklawaha (located on CR25 — heavy traffic) could use a coffee/ice cream shop? There’s a couple of small storefronts available in this little town that’s perfectly located on Florida’s Lake Weir, and nestled near The Villages, Del Webb, Ocala, and Belleview! A great little town with lots of opportunity!’s worth checking out. (In my opinion.)

    by Neil S. Schuster — May 7, 2012

  14. Can anyone tell me about Loxahatchee, FL? Thank you!

    by Karen — May 7, 2012

  15. @Joyce. Do you really want to own a small business like an ice cream parlor? Think about it owning a business in semiretirement could be very confining, stressful and maybe not very profitable in the end. One nice thing about central Florida is that there are lots of theme parks. We live in Winter Haven, home to Legoland Florida which just opened in October and is doing great. We are also 30 minutes from Disney and several other parks are an easy reach also. Winter Haven has some very reasonable good housing. Why not look into a parttime jobe at Legoland maybe 3 or 4 times a week with lots of flexibility in your hours and days. That would give you some flexibility for travel and time at the beach and visiting all the great stuff you want to see and do. Go to the websites for these theme parks and press the tab for employment possibilities. Lots of early retirees down here do just that. In addition to a little pay there are some great perks too. And, you’re not strapped to a mom and pop business and overhead. Just a thought.

    by David M. Lane — May 8, 2012

  16. @Karen, I what I know about Loxahatchee, is that it’s a West Palm suburb (main point of business — 18 miles). You can get some great real estate deals, but traffic can be brutal. It’s a very congested area. (In my opinion.) I hope that helps a bit…

    by Neil S. Schuster — May 8, 2012

  17. Thank you for your input, Neil. From what I’ve read about it you’re on the mark. I was hoping it wasn’t as congested as it sounds. My husband tried to tell me that West Palm Beach County could have high property taxes. Thanks again.

    by Karen — May 8, 2012

  18. My family and I are looking for a small town in Florida, with a college, that is an artist community. Is there such a place?

    by Phyllis — May 8, 2012

  19. Hi, all: What a great resource this site has been for me! I appreciate everyone’s comments and suggestions. Maybe someone out there can help me and my husband. We just returned from a ten-day trip to investigate the Gulf Coast as a possible retirement spot. We both fell in love with Sarasota, but I have read that the crime rate there is quite high. Is this true? Is it all of Sarasota, some areas only,etc? I’m really confused! We spoke to several retirees there that seemed to love it, but no one mentioned the crime problem. Can anyone out there shed some light on this for me? Many thanks!

    by KimbeeJeanq — May 8, 2012

  20. To David Lane-we are coming down to Winter Haven at the end of the month to check out the area. Any suggestions? We both will still need to wrk-I am a nurse and husband is a truck driver……the real estate looks so promising…have a few houses picked out to see….

    by Roxanne — May 9, 2012

  21. To Kimbee-Jean – I know this does not answer your question but I am curious of what you thought of the Naples area? We are going down in a couple of weeks to look at the area and to see if it is a fit for us. I hear Sarasota is wonderful but is it alot more expensive housing wise than Naples? Thank you.

    by MKB — May 9, 2012

  22. RE: Sarasota: I will attempt to respond to Kimbee-Jean’s crime question and MKB’s housing cost question in this post.

    According to Sarasota has a crime index of 488 vs national average of 319.

    We caution that looking at this number only might not tell the whole story.

    We wouldn’t reject any city just on the basis of the overall crime rate. We see a lot of towns in the south that have above average crime rates. Most times i think the crime is confined to the poorer areas that a retiree from the north would probably never go into. Particularly if you live in an active community or in the more upscale downtown areas, crime will be invisible to you, in our opinion.
    The other aspect to think about is what kind of crime is being reported (Sarasota’s crime rate is above average for both violent and non-violent crime). Trends are also important to look at (crime rate is going down here).

    As far as housing prices, Sarasota vs. Naples. City-Data says Sarasota median selling price was $150,000 in late 2011, vs. Naples at $230,000. Of course, both of these towns are big and sprawling – you can buy a place for less than $100,000, or you can pick up something a bit nicer for $10 million or so.

    That’s our opinion anyway. You should visit, talk to people who live there, and see for yourself.

    by John Brady — May 9, 2012

  23. @Roxanne. you asked about employment opportunities in Winter Haven FL. Nurses are in demand. Winter Haven Hospital (private not for profit) has 500 beds in all specialities and a separate womens hospital. Google Winter Haven Hospital employment. There are trucking jobs here as well. Suggest you check out Polk Works. or They have a large office here and are helpful. The website has lits of jobs and you can put a resume on their site as well looking for job opportunities. Keep in mind that housing designated 55 plus has 20% of the units open to those under 55 as long as they have no children under 18. There is lots of good housing here as well. Contact the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce for their magazine. It is excellent! I think the Winter Haven Days Inn offers a special rate for a week of around $200.00 restaurants within walking distance. you might give them a call as well. Enjoy Winter Haven FL.

    by David M. Lane — May 9, 2012

  24. @Phyllis, Central Florida holds many large art events (Fine Arts for Ocala: FAFO, Mt Dora Art Festival, McIntosh Art Festival). This area is close to University of Florida in Gainesville, as well as Central Florida Community College is the annex program for UOF. Look into the countries: Marion, Lake, Citrus, and Alachua. All the best, Phyllis.

    by Neil S. Schuster — May 9, 2012

  25. To MKB: Naples was very nice, but not for us. I found the downtown area to be beautiful and the neighborhoods around it very nice, but the folks in the stores and restaurants were pretentious, and the housing was expensive. It reminded us of all the negatives of California, where we lived for many years. The area west of I75 is very different from the area east of it, which looks like any nameless suburb: sprawling, fast food and stores everywhere, and one subdivision after the other. We were told by several people in Florida that Naples is a haven for wealthy golfers and is extremely conservative politically, and if you aren’t of that persuasion, you will not fit in. I really felt more comfortable and did prefer the environment in Sarasota, Clearwater, and Venice…seemed like the people were friendlier and more down-to-earth, lots more cultural opportunities, and certainly less pricey. Hope this information is helpful to you!

    by KimbeeJeanq — May 9, 2012

  26. David Lane-thanks so very much for the info on Winter Haven. I didn’t know about those two websites. Going to check them out.

    by Roxanne — May 10, 2012

  27. To kimbeeJean – I am so sorry I put Naples and mean’t Venice – I always do that since my husband and I honeymooned in Naples. We are looking at Venice/Englewood so what did you think about that area? Sorry for the confusion. Thanks.

    by MKB — May 10, 2012

  28. We settled in Fort Myers. Looked from Tampa/Clearwater south to Naples. As you travel south the prices of homes trend higher. Naples was definitely the most expensive and unless you are very conservative and play golf it is not the place for the average retiree. We have been in Fort Myers now for 6 weeks. In that time, we have found everyone to be helpful – in the community we are building in and in all the stores. As we establish ourselves with doctors, etc. we are finding no problem with doctors taking new patients/Medicare. We are in a wonderful gated 55+ community with excellent security. Am sure crime rate overall is high in Fort Myers also but as someone pointed out, it is usually not in the areas/communities retirees settle in….we did like Sarasota and Venice when we looked but could not find a community to fit our needs.

    by Toni — May 10, 2012

  29. Hi, MKB: No problem! I’ve done that myself more than once!Yes, we spent time in Venice and we really liked it. The neighborhoods were very nice and it’s close to Sarasota with all it has to offer.Venice is definitely on our list of places that we want to check out in detail on our next trip. We picked up some real estate information, and the prices and value were excellent! Everyone in the shops and restaurants were very nice, and as a Midwesterner, I was happy knowing that there were several retirees from my area of the country who RAVED about relocating there. It really seems to have everything, but of course one trip doesn’t answer all your questions, especially if you’re going to make the life-altering decision to relocate. My husband and I both gave Venice two “thumbs up” and when we visit again, I will post any more info that I’m able to glean.

    by Kimbee Jeanq — May 10, 2012

  30. Kimbee Jeanq – thank you so much for your valuable information. We will be there on May 20th for a week so I am really anxious to see the area. I will give you my thoughts when we return. We are also looking in Englewood, too. Take care and happy house hunting.

    by MKB — May 11, 2012

  31. Does anyone know anything about Cocoa Beach, Florida?

    by Mary Gennett — May 11, 2012

  32. Same to you, MKB! Let us all know about Englewood…I’ve read some good comments about it, but we were not able to get there on our trip. Thanks!

    by Kimbee Jeanq — May 11, 2012

  33. To Mary – we were in Cocoa Beach in November – to us it was old looking and not a really pretty place but also we were not looking to retire there so we did not look at any communties. Loved seeing the cruise ships going out though. The area just seemed depressed. I hope this helps.

    by MKB — May 12, 2012

  34. I have lived in Central Florida for 20 plus years. The past two years my wife and I have invested in researching the active adult communities from Jacksonville to Tampa to Viera for our next home. We have found some great communities with lots of amenities however you will pay for them.

    John’s newsletter has been an enormous help and guide for our travels around the state. Thanks John for all your good work.

    by Steve — May 12, 2012

  35. @Roxanne. In preparation for your visit to Winter Haven FL you might want to take a look at the new You Tube video that came out this afternoon Winter Haven Reaches New Heights. It is an aerial tour of the city and some of its latest economic developments. You can also see some of the 50 lakes that are within the city limits. Here you can actually have a home or condo or villa with a lake view for well under $95,000. I thought of you wen the video appeared on You Tube this afternoon!

    by David M. Lane — May 12, 2012

  36. @Mary Gennett. You asked about Cocoa Beach. We are retired and living west of Orlando in a small city but we need our “ocean fix”. Since January we have been visiting Cocoa Beach (one hour ten minutes from our door) a couple of times a month. It is a delightful small city on the ocean. It is near Cape Canaveral and Port Canaveral. You can see space launchings and cruise ships departing in the late afternoons. We wouldn’t choose it for full time retiremnt, housing is costly as are the expenses for upkeep. Just a few miles west of Cocoa Beach on Route 520 there are beautiful homes and condos on the Bananna river that are nice and maybe less likely to get damage if there is hurricane activity. We prefer driving a little over an hour to get our ocean fix and then driving back to Winter Haven FL where it is calmer and much less costly. Full time beach living has its minuses.

    by David M. Lane — May 12, 2012

  37. That was a very well researched and written article on the various regions of Florida! Super helpful…..except for those of us seriously looking at Arizona for retirement.

    We ( Arizona bound future retirees) would greatly appreciate reading about the east/west valley, the high desert, the southern region, the snowy region to the north and maybe a bit on neighboring New Mexico (both states comprising the very popular southwestern region).

    Just a thought, but many, many of your readers would totally enjoy and value such a topic. :twisted::shock::???: Dave Coughlin

    Editor’s note: Dave, good suggestion. We just wrote the companion piece: Arizona Retirement 101. Any additional input from people familiar with the area would be appreciated to help us – please post Comments there or send to us with “Contact Us” link and we will incorporate.

    by Dave Coughlin — May 12, 2012

  38. Thanks for above comments Dave, we agree wholeheartedly. For all the relative popularity of Arizona there is a surprising dearth of information from current retirees who are living there. Also, info re: comparisons and contrasts of different locations there would be nice. We were just in Tucson and the West Valley for several weeks in April and will probably be making the move to Trilogy..Beautiful and active retirement community.

    by Mark — May 13, 2012

  39. Lots of great comments here; and the article – JUST FANTASTIC! My wife and I retired in December, 2011 and moved from Asheville NC to Bradenton FL into a mobile home retirement community. Are lot rent is only $469/month for lot, water, sewer, trash, and mowing. We are only 20 – 40 minutes from some of the most perfect beaches and 1/2 mile from almost any store we need. We have found the Bradenton area a real blessing. Crime is here, but basically in the ‘bad’ areas. We don’t see it, tho, we just hear the sirens. The further south you go from Tampa, the more expensive everything is. Naples, as stated above, is for those with MONEY, and lots of it. Two websites to use are and Happy hunting!

    by Randy — May 20, 2012

  40. My husband and I are considering Asheville for our retirement. I’m curious as to why you left when we hear so many great things about the area.

    by Maddux — May 22, 2012

  41. @Randy We are curious as to why you left Asheville as well. We are looking at Asheveille to reire. Could you please tell as why you left?

    by Lisa — May 23, 2012

  42. We too are going to check out Asheville and Hendersonville next week. From what I have found, Asheville is a little more expensive than Hendersonville area.

    by Locobill — May 23, 2012

  43. My wife was born in the Asheville area and I moved their in 1979. Time for a change as the changes that have happened do not appeal to me. Asheville has become the gay capital of the east coast and that does not coincide with my beliefs. That lifestyle and other extreme liberal lifestyles have overtaken the area. Asheville is expensive. Go anywhere else in the state and your costs drop easily by 10%. My standard of living increased and my costs decreased when I moved to Bradenton. Asheville is an extremely beautiful place to live with lots of mountains, hiking trails, waterfalls, etc. Post any question and I will attempt to answer it as honestly as I can.

    by Randy — May 25, 2012

  44. TO: Randy, We have been thinking of taking a trip to Asheville as we here it is very pretty and has good 4 season weather. We have lived in FL. 15 years now and the traffic and heat are killing us. I want 4 seasons but mild in all seasons. What is the winter and summer really like there? Also we hare they do a lot of nice things at Christmas time there. They light up Asheville and make it very festive. Do you know of any other areas where they make it as nice at Christmas time like they do in Asheville? How are the housing prices? Are there a lot of places to rent there? We are thinking of renting at least 6 months no mater where we go to be sure we like the area. Thanks for any info! Glad to be able to get info from someone who has lived there for years.

    by Kathy — May 26, 2012

  45. Kathy – The seasons are really very nice. I grew up in Minnesota and know what winters are like! I am sure that you will enjoy the seasons. Winters provide temps ranging from 0 – 50. When the cold days hit, they don’t last long and normal snow falls usually clear within 24 hours, unless it is a large storm. Summer temps range from 60s at night to 80s during the day. 90s are not that often, but the relatively low humidity keeps the heat from being unbearable. Christmas is beautiful and one place to see is the Biltmore House, which they decorate for Christmas and open the day after Thanksgiving for the special Christmas season. However, Asheville refuses to celebrate Christmas. It is now the Holidays. Also, take a day trip to a little town called McAdenville, North Carolina, near Charlotte. Here is their web: It is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! Housing prices should not be too bad. Go to craigslist-asheville and take a look around. Also, I would encourage you to look into Haywood County, instead of Buncombe County. [Personal preference here] Waynesville is a great little town in Haywood County, perhaps 20 – 25 west of Asheville. It has lots of small town charm. But, if you like the larger city life, then Asheville would be better for you. Need references for attorneys, doctors, auto mechanics? I’ll share who has done good jobs for me. Oh – hospitals. Mission Memorial Hospital is the local trauma center for all of WNC (western North Carolina) and has a great reputation for medical care, especially their heart center.

    by Randy — May 26, 2012

  46. TO Randy, Thanks for the info. Someone told me that Asheville lights up the Christmas holidays and the city is beautiful during Christmas. I love the holidays and between Thanksgiving and New Years I love to be in an area that does special things and the streets are filled with lights and such. When you say, Asheville refuses to celebrate Christmas. What do you mean? I would like to live in an area that has (food) shopping and drug stores and all kinds of restaurants from fast food to good dinning with in a 10 minute drive. I also want very little snow and not steamy heat for to long. I would also like the area NOT be congested with tons of traffic. My son lives in Riverview FL. and we looked around there even though I hate the long hot summers and the area is so busy with traffic I hated it. You seem to be the perfect person to ask as you & your wife have lived in NC or SC area for ever…(: So with this being said do any of these places fit the bill? Thanks much! Kathy

    by Kathy — May 27, 2012

  47. To Kathy: I celebrate Christmas to honor and glorify the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Asheville renamed the Christmas Parade to the Holiday Parade and refuses to acknowledge the holiday for what it is. Asheville is now the gay capital of the east coast. I do not agree with either. Geographically, Asheville and the surrounding area is extremely beautiful. The area has talent in the arts and has many shows/displays for it. Asheville will fit the needs you require: GREAT food with a great variety (restaurant and groceries), name drug stores, a nationally accredited major heart hospital, fast food, fancy dining within a reasonable commute [depending upon the area you choose to settle in], not much snow or oppresive heat (relatively low humidity), and laughable traffic. Take a week or two and enjoy the area. You will love it. About 30 miles east on I-26 is Hendersonville; a quaint little enjoyable town, also.

    by Randy — May 31, 2012

  48. My husband and I just got back from Venice Florida looking at homes. We love Venice. Everyone is smiling and so nice. Needless to say we are having a home built in a beautiful gated community that is not age restricted. We asked someone why everyone was so happy and smiling all the time and their answer was “why wouldn’t you be when you live in Paradise” That is how we felt the whole time we were there. Would highly recommend Venice and if you need a great Real Estate agent that goes the extra mile let me know.

    by MKB — June 1, 2012

  49. We just finished a weeks tour of some towns in NC and TN. Our primary goal was to see more of Asheville, Hendersonville, and Fairfield Glade. We are wanting to move closer to family in SC and FL. Not interested in extreme heat or cold anymore. Looking for a vibrant area.

    We enjoyed Asheville a lot. It has a lot of energy. We drove up to UNC Ashville to check out their Creative Retirement Center. Lots of activities there with great opportunities to learn new things.
    I would also recommend stopping at the Asheville visitor center for info. We took the Grey Tours trolley ride tour. Highly recommend this to get acquainted with the city. You can use the pass for 2 days and get on and off as many times as you want.
    Someone told us that downtown Asheville reminded them of a Grateful Dead concert but no one left when it was over!! Humerous but somewhat accurate. Lots of characters there, but we liked it.

    We stayed overnight in Hendersonville, about 25 miles south of Asheville. We really like the town and area. They have a really nice downtown that a lot of work has been into. Lots of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. Very friendly people and a good small town atmosphere. I suspect this might be a place we could end up.

    We stopped in Fairfield Glade and were shown around by Brian from the sales office. I had heard that the area was big,but was surprised at how big it was. In fact it is so big that you don’t feel any crowding at all. There are some great housing opportunities ther. My wife liked a resale house with a big lot for under $200k. I was quite taken with the opportunity to live in a new townhouse overlooking the 17th fairway for $250k. This would be a nice place to settle, but it’s over 200 miles from family, while Hendersonville is only about 45 miles.

    One thing we have decided is that we are not ready for an Active adult community after all. Can’t explain it, but just doesn’t feel right to us. We can find our own activities. We looked at three on this trip, and a couple a months ago in Phoenix. Fairfield Glade is mostly 55+, but all activities are mostly Ala Carte, which would work out for us.

    We are not finished in our search yet. A friend recommended Johnson City, TN to us….maybe next trip. We still have two houses to sell in Indiana, before we can move on. But in the meantime, we are doing our research.

    by Locobill — June 1, 2012

  50. @Locobill Thanks so much for the update on your trip. We are going to Asheville/Hendersonville in July to investigate. Can you recommend a good place to stay while we investigate?

    by Lisa — June 1, 2012


    by kathy — June 1, 2012

  52. We stayed at a B&B in Hendersonville called The Melenge. It was nice but you could find hotels cheaper.

    by Locobill — June 1, 2012

  53. MKB: it would be very nice if you could send us the name of your Real Estate Agent. We are planning to go house hunting in that area in June and we want to see the smiling people too!

    by PAF — June 1, 2012

  54. TO: MKB what is the name of the place your moveing into in Venise please? Thanks

    by kathy — June 2, 2012

  55. To Neil,
    By the sound of your location it must be near The Villages in Fla. We recently moved here after visiting for three years from NC. Although The Villages has many wonderfuly things to do it is quite another to visit and have fun and then live here.We were not expecting the problems with medical and finding good doctors, the heavy congested traffic when the snowbirds are here and long waits at most places. We came for the weather and staying sctive. We love Florida and would like to find a smaller community where we can get to know community folks and be involved in giving back to the community. We have looked at a of lot of sites of retirement communities in Florida but it does help to hear first hand from people who live there. We have found that visiting is one thing but living at a place is quite another. We have been back to NC to see about moving back as we still love our home state. Any ideas there? North Carolina has some retirement communities but not many except for Del Webb and we have looked at those. Thank ou for any and all help.
    Linda L

    by Linda L — June 2, 2012

  56. To Kathy and PAF – We bought a home in IslandWalk in the West Villages in Venice -really pretty. Here is the information on our realtor:
    Laurie Molnar Realtor
    reply :
    She is fantastic and will be very upfront with you.

    by MKB — June 2, 2012

  57. Congrats to you, MKB! Looks like your trip was a success! I loved Venice, also, so I’m keeping your agent’s name and will contact her when we return to FL this summer. Thanks for including her info on your post!

    by Kimbee Jeanq — June 2, 2012

  58. TO; MKB… Thank you! I hope you are very happy there. I will keep your info and check the area out….

    by kathy — June 3, 2012

  59. Dear Linda L, We’re in the small town of Ocklawaha in Marion County of Florida (8 miles from The Villages). There are several medical facilities all around the immediate area from Alchucha County to Lake County. In Lake County, you will find various specialists through Waterman, the VA, The Villages Medical Center, and the Moffitt Cancer Center; Marion County has West Marion, Ocala Regional, Munroe; and for Alchucha County, you will find Shands and more! I sincerely believe that Central Florida has some of the best facilities in the state because of the very large boomer and retired population.

    I think most individuals who live in The Villages, it is a matter of acceptance with congested traffic — because everything is within a mile or two. However the active adults that live in Ocklawaha, who prefer spacious lots and privacy — and a quieter lifestyle in pristine treed surroundings, they love the 8-mile drive to The Villages because they don’t have to deal with the daily congestion.

    Linda, Florida is still at top of the retirement list. You can’t top living in a top retirement location like Florida when — from where I sit — I can hop on my motorcycle or classic ride — and take backroads to either the Atlantic or Gulf within an hour! I love having Sam’s Club only 8 miles away, and yet my closest neighbor lives on the next lot that’s a 1/2 an acre away.

    Here is a medical directory of our tri-county area that you might find helpful!

    All the best! – Neil S. Schuster

    by Neil S. Schuster — June 3, 2012

  60. My husband and I are reconsidering FL to retire. It has a lot to offer on the financial side. It’s the heat I’m afraid of but I can suffer through if I live in an affordable place and have a good air system! We lived in Savannah for 3 years and I hated it. We lived in The Landings on Skidaway Island and were not smart about that. It is extremely expensive to live there and the HOA fee includes nothing (no lawn care, only common areas, etc.) The annual HOA fee is up to over $1,500 a year now. The cost to “join” the club is seperate, so the HOA does not include even use of the pool or fitness center which most places include. If you are very wealthy and like to play tennis, swim, golf, eat dinner in the clubs then it would work as you can afford the extreme cost. this aside where in FL can one live and be able to take their dog to the gulf or ocean to run? We have a lab/golden and she loves to run once a day and when we lived in GA we drove to Hilton Head or St. Simons Island to let her play. Appreciate any insight to dog friendly, FL beaches. Also need to be very close to good medical because my husband has serious health issues. I know Jacksonville has a good facilityf but do not want to live in Jacksonville, thanks.

    by Monica Bickley — June 4, 2012

  61. If anyone needs any information about the Venice area please let me know or if you are coming down and checking out the area we would be more than glad to show you Island Walk and our villa. I will keep checking this site. Will probably not be moved in until the middle of Nov. or so. When I have a FL. phone number if you are interested in getting together I will send it to via email. Good luck with your search.

    by MKB — June 4, 2012

  62. Monica Bickley,
    Sounds like I should send you information about an Active Adult HOA-free community (i.e. no HOA fees) in Ocklawaha, Florida. Ocklawaha’s beaches at Lake Weir are dog-friendly, as well as the many surrounding natural artisan springs have walking trails and are dog-friendly. Ocklawaha is 18 miles south of Ocala, 8 miles west of The Villages, and 55 miles north of Orlando. Please let me know if you would like information.
    – Neil S. Schuster of Lake Weir

    by Neil S. Schuster — June 5, 2012

  63. Monica, Look up Venice Beach FL. They have a dog beach and a dog park. Beautiful area. We are moving there this winter and can hardly wait to take our dogs to the beach. Good luck.

    by MKB — June 5, 2012

  64. TO Neil, What is the name of the Active Adult HOA-free community with no fees? Is it a mobil home area? Thanks

    by kathy — June 5, 2012

  65. TO Monica, why did you hate Savannah If it is the heat you will hate FL. It is just as hot and muggy. Tampa has a good hospital if your looking for a good cancer center. It has Moffitt. LIve below Tampa near Ft. Myers. I here it has dog friendly beaches and lots of them and there are areas not to expencive. My sister has a golden and has been there 12 years and would not live any where else.

    by kathy — June 5, 2012

  66. Neil – I’d also like the name of the Active Adult HOA-free community with no fees! Thanks!

    by Don — June 5, 2012

  67. If you hate heat Fl is not for you. Large dogs are a tough sell to HOA’s and make sure your ready for High Car Insurance and the ever changing Home owners insurance costs. HOA Fee’s also can be high. Get all your numbers, good luck. Jupiter has a dog friendly beach

    by Jim — June 5, 2012

  68. Hi Monica,

    I have lived in Florida for the past 23 years relocating here from NJ. Over the past two years my wife and I have been researching the Active Adult communities in Central and Northern Florida. We have visited approximately 15 communities from Solivita to Terra Vista to Heritage Hills and The Villages and more.

    A couple of important things to share is be very careful in understanding the HOA fees and services provided. We have seen some of the most expensive HOA’s include very few amenities (other then a club house) to lower HOA fees including all the services to make your lifestyle maintenance fre..

    One of the hidden fees we found are the communities that have a CDD (Community Development District) fee. This is a 30 year fee on top of the normal HOA fees and can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands a year.Personally.

    Over all the communities are very nice but there are significant differences once you get through the glit & glamour the sales office shows you. THe best advice is walk the community without the sales people and talk with people who live there. You willlearn so much more about the community this way.

    As for the heat…people who live in Florida do it for the winter, spring and fall months. After 23 years I still have not gotten use to the summer heat but thank heaven for A/C.

    by Steve — June 6, 2012

  69. Savannah was so different and we lived in a gated community that was removed from “reality”, we were slightly misled about the clubs and HOA fees. It was beautiful and very expensive. It was very much a tourist town and Savannah was expensive. There is not much beyond the Savannah border. Great town to visit but living there was very different. It was just not a good fit for us and our life style. I can deal with the heat if I can afford to pay the bills, our bills were higher than when we lived in Pennsylvania!
    We love to golf and need an affordable lifestyle on a fixed income, we will be smarter this time wherever we end up. Thanks for all the good advice.

    by Monica Bickley — June 6, 2012

  70. Dear Don, Monica, & Kathy,
    Please check out Lake Weir Living in Ocklawaha, FL. This development is custom home construction on at least 1/4 acre homesites. Homeowners have either an RV, boat or motorcycle, and have enclosed garages for their big ‘toys’. Residents relocated from the East Coast to the Midwest, and retired from law-enforcement to medical backgrounds. They’re simply hardworking folks who don’t want the frustrations or fees of a homeowner association. It’s worth checking out for curious sake, and a comparison to typical active adult Florida communities. All the best. – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — June 6, 2012

  71. Monica, If the heat does not bother you try “The Villages” lot’s of people seem to like it there. It’s to conjusted for me there but everyone I spoke to there loved it. I’m going to go look out in WA state. Good luck. Kathy

    by kathy — June 7, 2012

  72. MKB: I just spoke to Laurie, your real estate agent, who was very nice and seemed very knowledgable about Venice. She has sent me some valuable info and we plan to meet her when we go back to FL this summer. She told me all about the area where you are relocating and will take us over there to check it out when we visit. Thanks so much for “sharing” her with us, and I’m looking forward to seeing your area when I get there!

    by Kimbee Jeanq — June 7, 2012

  73. To: Kimbee Jeanq – that is fantastic that you got in touch with Laurie. She will lead you down the right path. I hope you like Island Walk – gosh we could be neighbors. Where are you coming from to relocate to FL? We live in Winchester, VA in the Shenandoah Valley – quite a change from mountains to the coast. We hope to be moved in around November. Let me know what you think when you get back from looking in that area. Take care.

    by MKB — June 8, 2012

  74. To MKB – Why are you leaving Winchester, VA? It’s on my list of possibilities.

    by Judy — June 8, 2012

  75. Hi, MKB: Wow! That would be awesome! We are probably going to get down there in late June or early July. I’d like to see what summers are like down there. My husband is retiring on August 31st, and he’s trying to tie up some loose ends at his company, so our schedule for the next few months is rather tenuous. We are living in the Twin Cities…we’re in what they call the East Metro, just east of St.Paul. I will take you up on your offer to send your phone number in FL when you get a phone. We are also considering building, as I know you are. Take care!

    by Kimbee Jeanq — June 8, 2012

  76. Judy- it is beautiful here but we have a log home on 17 acres and need a change like warmer weather in the winter and we love the gulf coast. Interested in buying a log home if you decide on this area? It will be hard to leave but sometimes change is good. All of our kids and grandkids live so far away so it really did not matter where we lived it would be a haul for us all. Let me know where yoy decide to retire.

    by MKB — June 9, 2012

  77. Kimbee – let me know how you make out. Best of luck to you and you husband.

    by MKB — June 9, 2012

  78. Neil,
    Thanks so much for the info about the extended area. It sounds like you are in the area of “Ma Barker’s”. We were over there and discovered the history by a very nice couple that own and run the “Hotel”, now a consignment shop and produce stand. It was interesting ot hear all about it. I have read about your area with homes built to include “toys” RV, motorcycles, boats,ect. It does sound like it would be a great way to have a good lifestyle. However, my husband has had heart surgery and is a little older and we need to be very close to medical services and close to neighbors. In living in The Villages we have every possible service and fun things to do. We just were surprised by the change of living here when the population extends with the snowbirds. Also, we have not had the best of luck with doctors. This time of year things are so much more pleasant as to getting around here and using the facilities. We are still thinking that a smaller community will be more comfortable for us now and for the future. We have traveled over Florida over the years and love the state. We recently went back to NC and were able to realixe that as much as we still love our home state of NC, Florida has quite a lot to offer for a sunny, fun filled way of living. So, we are looking on the web for smaller communities in Florida while still keeping NC in mind if we need to get back there. Since my husband is a little older, it is very much on our minds to make a change soon and get setteled. Any advice you and the other readers can offer will be appreciated. Thanks!

    by Linda L — June 9, 2012

  79. Locobill,
    WE are from NC and would love to hear about the areas you visited. I know about the area of Hendersville as our daughter lives near Asheville. We have visited her and a lot of that area over the years. We probably are not suited for the Western NC area because of the winter weather, rainfall ect. and a muscle situation. Did you visit other towns and areas when you were in NC? We are native of NC and know a lot about the state. However, we have not been to every town and sometimes s jewel of a town or city can be out there and can be discovered by others talking about their visits. Please let us know if you have visited or seen other interesting places in NC and or even SC. Thanks.
    Linda L

    by Linda L — June 9, 2012

  80. Neil,
    Sorry, I forgot to thank you for the medical website. It is a great site and is very imformative. We will use it to try to find a better Cardiologist. Thanks!
    Linda L

    by Linda L — June 9, 2012

  81. Linda L., You’re welcome. And remember, Lake Weir Living residents don’t pay an homeowners association (something that Florida developments are notorious for). Also, the 8 miles to The Villages is an easy drive on CR25; also ambulance service is only 4 miles, with a Sheriff station less than 1 mile. It’s amazing how close things are once you live in Ocklawaha on a daily basis. Again, you’re welcome for the medical directory; I hope it proves to be helpful. And let me know if there’s anything else that you need as you continue your search. All the best. – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — June 10, 2012

  82. Linda,
    Black Mountain was a nice little town east of Asheville. There was a nice downtown area and it seemed to be a nice suburb type town for Asheville. We also really enjoyed Greenville, SC. It had a vibrant downtown and seemed to be a destination for a lot of folks to visit and wander theough. They also have a great park on the river called Falls Park. The winters are mild but summers are a little too sticky and hot for us. The local economy in the Greenville-Spartanburg area is booming too.

    by Locobill — June 10, 2012

  83. Black Mountain: I found Black Mountain a nice place to stay when competing in Asheville, but know nothing about what it is like to live there. Just wanted to suggest reading “One Second After”. A fiction book takes place in Black Mountain. Since the author actually lives there and teaches at the college, I think some of the insights about living in BM would be interesting. Seemed like a neat college when I visited.

    by Elaine — June 10, 2012

  84. We enjoy this website with the information everyone provides, but it seems most retirement areas everyone talkes about are in the hot, humid, sticky areas of the country. Does anyone have any real suggestions for those like us that really do not like humidity and heat? We enjoy the change of seasons so much and wonder if there is anywhere, affordable and enjoyable for retirees in areas with cooler weather but not bitter cold in the winters. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you.

    by Rory — June 11, 2012

  85. perhaps some of the other blogs would suit you better than this one(What Is the Best Florida Region for Your Retirement). This one is active and sometimes mentions other states (usually hot and humid), but perhaps another blog would have more variety in the states it discusses. I know I have read some things about Colorado, MN, MD, etc. but not sure which blog and when. I like the one that discusses NC and SC. Forget where that is! Maybe “best states 2012”??

    Editor’s Note:
    If you look on any Blog page on this site to see how we have categorized these posts. Look under news Categories and then click on Best retirement towns and states for more regional comparisons. Also see our state retirement guides under

    by Elaine — June 11, 2012

  86. Everything RORY SAID IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR TO SEE. I HATE THE HOT STICKY SOUTH. ANYONE HAVE ANY GOOD IDEAS? We enjoy this website with the information everyone provides, but it seems most retirement areas everyone talkes about are in the hot, humid, sticky areas of the country. Does anyone have any real suggestions for those like us that really do not like humidity and heat? We enjoy the change of seasons so much and wonder if there is anywhere, affordable and enjoyable for retirees in areas with cooler weather but not bitter cold in the winters. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you.

    by kathy — June 12, 2012

  87. Kathy and Rory, I am not suggesting that you do not use this website, but I think “What is the Best “FLORIDA” Region for Your Retirement” may not be the best blog on the website for you How about “Tell Us Where You Are Going to Retire – And Why” also on might be less active than this blog, but have more targeted info for you. I do not want to retire to FL, but enjoy this blog.

    by Elaine — June 12, 2012

  88. I have been reading articles about FL retirement for the last 2 months and have gained a lot of knowledge.I especially enjoy the comments about the various places to retire. My wife and I are making a visit to the Orlando area to visit Heritage Hills, Del Webb Orlando and Poinciana next month. We want to leave Steeler Country and make a permanent move to the hot and humid paradise of central Florida. We would like to hear any comments about these three 55+ communities to help us in our quest for a new residence. We have visited FL many times but only on vacation. That is the extent of our knowledge of FL.
    We have concerns about the HOAs, CDDs and whether it is worth the expense to live in these communities or is it best just to purchase a house outside of these communities. We are not sure.
    So, sharpen up your pencils and let your comments come flying through cyberspace to help a northener make an informed decision. Jim

    by Jim — June 12, 2012

  89. Hi Elaine, how do I find other blogs? Not to good on finding stuff. I just happened on to this one.

    by kathy — June 13, 2012

  90. We lived in Orlando, FL for 13 years. I loved every minute of it. So many things to do and being a resident allowed great discounts on theme park passes. It is hot and humid but I have lived in Ohio, Kentucky, Utah, Florida and now North Carolina. They all get hot! But you don’t have flowers blooming in your yard all year either! For Jim’s inquiry about HOA’s etc. We lived in a very nice subdivision called Tuscany in Winter Garden with only $200.00 a year HOA. It was more than worth it. No pool, etc. but nice. I recommend Winter Garden if you like that small town feel in an area that has it all. But if you are looking for the social aspect of the retirement communities the fees may be worth it. Good luck and enjoy Orlando! I hope to visit often. As for those who want to move to areas other than Florida. Try North Carolina. We moved here 5 years ago from the Orlando area. (work related move but since retired) We are three hours to either the beach or the mountains. It is so beautiful here you can’t imagine. The people are friendly, kind, neighborly and respectful, etc. That is something that become rare in Florida. We have 4 seasons and this year have enjoyed the most wonderful spring with barely any sign of winter in 2011-12. The housing is very reasonable, as well as, the cost of living. We live among some of the finest universities in the country. Many opportunities for culture, outdoor activities, and so much more. I will admit that I do miss Orlando. I hope to visit as often as I can but I really think that there couldln’t be a more perfect place to live out our years than North Carolina. You all need to take a look at this wondeful state. It has so much to offer and the people make it even better.

    by Beverly — June 13, 2012

  91. I forgot to mention another plus for North Carolina… best doctors and hospitals in the country. My husband called this morning for an appointment at Duke Medical. Will be seen in two weeks. How’s that for service!!! Good medical care was one of the criteria I had when moving to this area. We have the best doctors we have ever had!!!

    by Beverly — June 13, 2012

  92. Kathy, Good to my June 11th post and see the Editors note to find other blogs. They are by category: for example there are 84 blogs under Best Towns and Communities. Probably one of those would be better for you than this one if you are against hot and humid. Some are more active than others…look around and have fun finding a blog and then a good community for you.

    by Elaine — June 14, 2012

  93. Beverly, Where do you live in NC?

    by Billy — June 14, 2012

  94. Bill, we live in Alamance County, Burlington/Mebane area. We are close to everything in the larger cities but without all the traffice, higher taxes, crime, etc. We are only 25 minutes away from these areas (Greensboro, Durham/Chapel Hil). But we have great local shopping including a Tanger outlet and other great newer shopping. Our hospital is award winnin in cardiac and cancer care but if needed we are close to Duke, UNC, Bowman Gray (Winston Salem), Mose Cone and more. We are also only 45 minutes to Raleigh or Winston Salem. While, I loved living a faster paced life in cities like Orlando and SLC, this is a great place that meets and exceeds the needs of having to live a slower and aging life style without giving up quality, convenience or all the things that make life fun in the big cities.

    by Beverly — June 18, 2012

  95. Beverly, We live in Wilmington but our daughter lives in Durham. Alamance County interests me. Do you live in a development? Visited Mackintosh on the Lake. The nearby shopping and restaurants are outstanding.

    by Dick — June 19, 2012

  96. I live in Graystone Subdivision in south Graham east of Burlington. A small subdivision of about 45 homes tucked away from but near I-85 and St. Rt 87. Most people don’t know it exists. I have the most wonderful neighbors. Several retired couples. There are still lots available and I know of 5 homes just listing to sale. Mackintosh on the Lake is nice but a word of caution, there are several lawsuits concerning construction of homes in that community currently being fought. I believe some homes were build to soon on fill dirt. Mackintosh is very close to Alamance Crossing Shopping Center which has opened since I moved here and is continuing to grow. There are some other nice areas in west Burlington too. Mebane, east of here, is really nice too and growing fast. Tanger Outlets is there. A good real estate agent can help you discover more. I am sure you will find something you like in an area and price point you want. The area is getting better all the time.

    by Beverly — June 20, 2012

  97. My spouse and I grew up in different parts of Florida but have lived away for more than thirty years. We are surprising ourselves by considering retiring to Florida as the cold, damp weather of our current location aggravates the arthritis we’ve both developed, and salt air seems to help my allergies. I like hiking and nature photography; he’s an amateur musician; we will have a secure but relatively small retirement income and a paid-for home to sell. (There are already nibbles, and we’re probably 3-5 years out from retirement.) We’ve visited relatives in the Space Coast area and like many things about it, though I miss GUlf sunsets. We’re both uncomfortable with Tea Party politics but not crazy about large cities–would any Gulf Coast regions be appropriate for us?

    by Rebecca — January 9, 2013

  98. Rebecca, my wife and I retired Dec 2011 and moved to Bradenton, FL [between Tampa Bay and Sarasota]. As with you, we have a secure small income and live comfortably here. The further south you go, the more expensive it becomes. We are only about 20 minutes from the beaches and the Gulf waters are beautiful! Much gentler and warmer than the Atlantic. Good luck!

    by Randy — February 27, 2013

  99. I grew up in Florida and lived in the Keys, West Palm Beach and Clearwater areas before leaving for about 40 years with vists back periodically. We, too, because of pollution, allergies and general weather issues to leave Texas in March of 2012 and move to Florida. Made several trips back to look and decided on somewhere south of Tampa to Naples. As someone else mentioned, the further south you go the more expensive it can get but not necessarily so as we found out. Anyway, we looked at numerous communities and settled on Fort Myers, FL. We had a home built in a 55+ community, moved in last November and could not be happier. The area is wonderful with great medical care, excellent beaches, shopping, arts & entertainment,etc. Did not take us long to settle in….

    by Toni Olsen — February 28, 2013

  100. To MKB (and anyone living in the Venice area)I would appreciate learning more about Venice and the surrounding area, as well as being able to contact the real estate agennt you mentioned. I am currently living in the Fort Myers, Fl. area: after having lived (and worked in education) in several places in Florida. I am now ready to start looking for a place to retire, and I like the Gulf Coast area. I am currently residing an hour away from the beach, and would like to be a little closer, with possibly less traffic. Would appreciate hearing from you. Karen

    by Karen — February 28, 2013

  101. Karen-on a recent house shopping trip to Venice, we toured with an agent that I highly recommend. He has lived in Venice for the last 25+ years. His name is Joe Hayden and he can be reached at 941-321-2964 or His office is on West Venice Ave. in downtown Venice (ERA Preferred Properties.)

    by Carole — March 1, 2013

  102. Hey Randy, I was wondering what housing and taxes are like in your area. Are you in a 55+ community? Thanks

    by Billy — March 1, 2013

  103. Carole: Thank you very much. I appreciate the information. I am from Indiana. However, I have lived in Florida for several years, and enjoy living in the warm weather. Thanks again.

    by Karen — March 1, 2013

  104. Hi KarenL

    I too am originally from Indiana. My Aunt winters in Naples and is considering buying a home with a pool. She now lives in a vill bordering a golf course not far from Vanderbilt beach and really loves it. I am concerned about the year round aspects of living in Florida as she has a lovely lake home south of Indianapolis in Brown County where she lives from May to Octber. This past summer of 2012 was brutal and when I visited her in July at the lake in Indiana we ended up staying inside as the days neared 103 degrees and we only got in the boat in the early morning or in the evening –same with swimming. I am wondering if Florida might not have been that bad last summer, surely no worse. It gets God awful humid in Indiana in the summer anyway. So I am rethinking Florida–so long as those pythons are not around.

    by Jennifer — March 2, 2013

  105. does anyone know if there are senior communities without golf courses backed up to national parks or places where you can hike or take off road vehicles? we don’t golf. Colleen

    by Colleen — March 2, 2013

  106. Anyone living in Indio, Calif.?
    Am contemplating a move to Del Webb retirement community.
    Any comments?

    by Tami — March 2, 2013

  107. I second Colleen’s comment. From this site I have learned that golf courses are expensive to maintain so if you do not golf, do not buy into a community where you will be paying for the upkeep of one. I do not have to be next to a National Forest, but would like biking and walking trails and view of a lake with occasional boating and Regatta activity and swimming.

    by Moving South — March 2, 2013

  108. To Tami…Del Webb in Indio is nice, it tends to be windy there as it is on a wind tunnel belt there. So be aware of that. It also seems to have older retires and a lot leave in the summer to escape the heat, but it is well maintained. Some of the newer homes are charged an extra mello roos tax,so check into that! Indio has had some fiscal problems, because of the ecomony. The whole cochella valley is a nice resort area, with a lot to do in season. Good luck on your search…

    by Liberty — March 3, 2013

  109. I’m re-thinking Florida since the whole sinkhole issue has arisen. Apparently Florida is much more prone to sinkholes and hey…that’s just scary.

    by Ginger — March 3, 2013

  110. To David Lane,

    We have been ‘snowdirding’ in Winter Haven the past two years. We are not ready to buy, so we rent for 3-4 months, and have thoroughly enjoyed the life style. I play senior softball four days a week, as there are two leagues very close (Winter Haven and Lakeland, 20 miles west).

    The problem we are having is finding quality rentals, where the owners agree not to move us out if they sell before March 31 every year. We have been lucky so far, as the current owner did sell, but she agreed ahead of time she would not move us out, and she kept her word. Very classy lady! So, now we are starting over again. We would appreciate any leads, recommendations, etc you (or anyone else in this area) might have. We are willing to look anywhere in the Winter Have/Haines City area, Auburndale, or Lakeland.


    by Greg — March 3, 2013

  111. Hello Jennifer: it’s great to hear from another Hoosier! I am very familiar with Brown County. I received my last 2 degrees from I.U., in Bloomington, and lived and worked in education in an adjoining County. Your Aunt is VERY blessed, as she lives in two of the nicest areas to live in; in Indiana, and Florida. Indiana’s air is stagnate in the summer, and can be very polluted (such as New Albany/Floyd Knobs, which gets the pollution from Louisville, Ky.) depending on the area. I have lived in several areas in Indiana. I graduated from H.S. on Guam, worked as a Coordinator for the State of Hawaii(on Kauai) worked in education in Ga., traveled to Alaska (father was the Head of the Health Care Services for the State) as well as outside of the U.S. The best thought is to live with your Aunt in the Naples area (if possible) to see if that area is what you are looking for, and would meet your needs. I am healthier here than I was in Indiana, and so was my child, who is now grown, and lives in another state.

    The humidity has not bothered me, as yet, and I have lived in this area for over 5 years. The humidity is what keeps my face less wrinkled! As long as a person lives within an hour (not more) of the Gulf Winds, the breeze off the Gulf keeps things cooled down. The midday in July and August are hot, making it undesirable to go for a walk, or go to he beach on Sanibel, during those hours. I have lived in Florida from the Panhandle,and Gainesville (where I worked as an Administrator for the U. of Fl., as well as the State of Florida) through the Central part of the State, and on the East Coast. The Gulf Coast is my preference, and “IF” I could afford it, the surrounding area around Vanderbilt Beach would be great. Naples is noted for wealth, and has many people from Europe residing in a second home in Naples.

    Florida is “NOT PERFECT”, the houses are NOT built as well as they are in the North, which is an understatement. Usually there is only a few feet between two houses, or Villas (Duplexes in Indiana). The educational system is extremely poor to undescribeable,and that’s being kind. This is NOT meant to be unkind to anyone. However, I was an administrator, counselor, teacher, in Indiana, and the same in Florida (as well as worked as an administrator at the district office in Fl)and the two systems are not comparable. The last administrator, and his assistant (who were my supervisors in a public school district) who were over me, both had records. The Healthcare in Florida is of concern (to put it mildly) and I drive to Naples to see a GYN who graduated from the University of Kentucky.

    The crime rate is high, and will only get worse. While it is necessary to live in as safe a neighborhood, as one can afford, it is wise to realize it is impossible to get away from it, and/or to completely protect yourself from it. I had H.S. students who would sit in class, and brag about the houses they broke into, the drugs they took and sold, the three counts of lew acts they performed: that were responsible for getting them into the JJSystem before they were released to attend regular H.S. The Middle class that makes up a country, as well as a community, from which work ethic, and standards originate from: started shrinking in this area many years ago. (I lived in this area previously). The despairity between the VERY wealthy, and the very poor, is blatantly obvious here, as I am sure it is in other areas of the U.S.

    The pythons are nothing to be concerned about as they live in the Everglades. If you are concerned about “sink holes” you can check them out, however, they are in (in normal circumstances) the Central part of the State, and from Tampa on down. It is unusual to have them this far South, although it has happened. My Best to You, Jennifer.

    by Karen — March 3, 2013

  112. Four other plusses for NE Florida: its scarcity of hurricanes – you can see the stats on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville; if you live here full-time, you might enjoy three seasons; access to three airports – Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Jacksonville. Disclosure: I live in NE Florida.

    Jan Cullinane
    AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement
    The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life

    by Jan Cullinane — March 4, 2013

  113. Thank you, Liberty, for your helpful comments re
    Del Webb Indio, CA

    by tami — March 4, 2013

  114. Hi Karen and Go I.U.!

    I must say that I was surprised that you feel the air quality is so much better in Florida. My Aunt lives on Sweetwater Lake in the summer and it is a clean spring fed lake. I know Bloomington and Nashville Indiana very well. The humidity was my main concern and it seems that be it in Indiana or Naples, Fl, in the summer, both are very hot and sticky. I was hoping for a trade wind situation as in Jamaica for Florida in the summer, but I am not hearing that. Naples is upscale, no doubt about it, but my Aunt worked hard for what she has and as she grows older if she wants a nice community and can afford it, I am very supportive. I have no children so the schools are of little concern to me but the way the kids act in school there as you described really shocked me. I hope to possibly live near my Aunt in naples and cultvate my Patient Advicate practice. I am a former nurse and I have to work as I am not near retirement age yet. I hope to be of service to others.

    By the way the pythons have been found as far north as Tampa and the are also invading neighborhoods in North Miami. I know that coral snakes and rattlers as well as nonpoisonous black snakes also live in Florida. Just gives me the creeps–so I will probably buy a condo in a walkable community if I decide on Florida.

    Thanks for your comments Karen,
    Best Wishes,

    by Jennifer — March 4, 2013

  115. Someone mentioned Gan Village in NC could that person or anyone who has been there please resend information I lost the post.. thanks Ruby

    by rubytuesday — March 5, 2013

  116. Hello Jennifer: A specialist in Bloomington who I took my child to, explained that I needed to get my child to a specific section of the East Coast of Florida, where the ocean breeze washed away the spores, mold, and mildrew. He explained, that the air was stagnate in Indiana, as the state did not have the above situation. I was thankfully able to do this, and my child went from being sick to healthy. As the doctor explained there are areas in Indiana that are polluted, and the New Albany area is one of those, as the polluted air from Louisville, Ky., blows across the Southern part of Indiana. In the summer, even counties an hour away from Louisville, have stagnate air masses, that are identified by a red haze that can linger in the air for days. I also lived in DeKalb Co. Ga., where the air quality was much worse, as the weather channel (and doctors) would advise people to stay in, during many warm, muggy, stifling days.

    I live minutes away from Pelican Preserve (where Toni lives) in a Gated, Golf Course Community (and have had two windows broken from golf balls). The pesticides, and chemicals (toxins) used on the golf course, and by the lawn care service, kills off a lot of the insects, and keeps the snakes to a minimum. ( I am not sure it is in the best health interests for people, or pets). I have only seen one snake (corn) and it was after the lawn service did a major cutting out of the bushes and etc. I assume the area you are thinking about (and the area where your Aunt lives) will also have lawn care service, and that there will not be any problems. As I am sure you are aware,there are snakes in Brown County, including the Copperhead, but a person typically has to go where they are. Under normal circumstances, it is the same in Florida. They recently had a contest to see who could kill the most pythons in the Everglades.
    I live about 30 minutes or so from the airport, which is great.
    Since I lived on Guam (when my father was the hospital administrator on the island) and Hawaii, I compare the humidity here to there. Guam has a monsoon season where the rain can last for weeks on end, and the humidity is on a different level there. We were able to live there for two years, with only going though one typhoon, and it did not have the devastation that a typhoon did years later, which wiped out the new high school that I was fortunate enough to attend. On Kauai, it was part of my responsibilty (with the State job in Education) to daily note the weather, and the water table for a school; as when the rains came, the water could rise over the bridge that connected parts of the the North Shore (where Pierce Boslyn who stared in the 007 series, and many other actors have homes) with the rest of the island. I also was blessed with living on the North Shore, in the town of Princeville; and was blessed that I did not live on Kauai years before that when a major typhoon hit the island.

    However, I was not so fortunate when Hurricane Charley hit the Central part of the State of Florida, as I was living right above Orlando in August of 2004, and we were without electricity, and water for days, and could not open the windows for air. I had a plane ticket to go to Hawaii, and the Orlando Airport was closed down for several days, and I could not leave until it reopened. I lived in the Panhandle in the Destin area, and in Walton County on the beach right before Seaside, on two separate occasions, as well as Panama City, a third time. I was fortunate in living there, between the hurricanes, but arrived in the area right after a major one hit. The beach areas, and some of the homes were totaled. The area along the beaches of Okaloosa and Walton County have been hit repeatedly by hurricanes. It is also damp, and cold there in the winter. Of course everything is relative, and depends on the experiences of the individual person. I took a Graduate Course from a University in Jacksonville, and found it to be cold and damp in the winter months.

    With the warning systems which are in place, the hurricanes are announced before they hit, unlike the earthquakes. It’s the earthquakes that they do not know when they will come. Did you know that much of Indiana, including the Evansville area, is on a earthquake fault line? My parents went through the 7.5 Earthquake that hit Anchorage, Alaska in the mid sixties. I was living in Indiana at the time: and the rest of my family, nor I, knew if they were living or dead for several weeks, as all communications were down. We finally got ahold of a ham radio operator in Kentucky. This was of course before the days of the cell phone. My Mother wrote of the horrible deaths and events that occurred during the earthquake, and the article was published in my aunts newspaper in Indiana. They were without water, and electricity for on or about a month. I have learned to live with faith.

    Since you have been a nurse, I am sure you would be interested in knowing that the hospital in Collier County, has begun an affilation with Cleveland Clinic, as did a medical center in Weston, Florida, located in southwest Broward County. The ratio of the population and people who have the HIV virus in Collier County, is one of the highest in the state. Maybe you will be in a position in you ”

    I could add that a bank located between Pelican Preserve, and where I live was robbed on or about 3 months ago. Hope this has helped you or someone.

    by Karen — March 5, 2013

  117. Thank you Karen for all of your information on Southwest Florida! An insider’s views are worth so much more than the retirement magazines and website articles. I absolutely love SW Florida weather most of the year, as I have visited my parents in Ft. Myers for many years. There does seem to be a lot of crime in Florida – I would only consider a gated community with excellent security if I were to move there in retirement. I will say that the cost of living is so reasonable compared to New England where I live. My mother, now that my dad has passed away lives
    comfortably on her small pension and smaller SS check. SW Florida has many options for a comfortable and affordable retirement!

    by Sandy — March 5, 2013

  118. THANK YOU SANDY: for your KIND response. I just wanted to let people know the situation, as I would appreciate knowning the facts. Living in this part of Florida (or any part of Florida that I have lived in)is not like living in a small Midwestern community. There used to be a bumper sticker that stated: “Things are different here”, and that is most certainly the case, on many levels.

    I forgot to tell Jennifer: that a Professor and his wife at I.U., live next door to me, in what is their second home, as he is not retired as yet. However, so many of the people here are “Snowbirds” as they have a house in the North, and live here only part of the year. That would be wonderful, if a person could do it. The climate is great for my health, (and was for my child)as I had rheumatic fever as a child (two times) in Indiana, and the heat and humidity help my joints. I really have not had a problem here. The cold, dampness,and rain; that I found in the Panhandle, and the N.E. part of the state, was very similiar to Indiana’s climate. However, each individual has their own particular needs, and what suits them the best. A couple from Germany, staying here for a couple of weeks, stated that they could not stand to live here in the summer, it would be to hot and humid for them.

    Along the beach in the winter time around Destin, and Seaside: it is bleak, cold, and windy, with fewer inhabitants. The beach in the cold, windy, weather; takes on an entirely different persona. This far south, if it turns cool, it only lasts for a day or two, and then it warms up. I would live in the topics in Hawaii, if I could.

    However,I do want to mention that even though the majority of the readers of this site are retirees, for those people who are younger (such as yourself) or who are looking to continue to work, (other than the self employed) Florida is is a “Right to Work State.” This means that within the first ninety days of employment, that the employer can let an employee go without giving a reason, or exchanging any words whatsoever. Friends of mine (who had their doctorates in education) in separate school districts, found themselves unemployed in this situation. Both were females, and the principals turned around, and hired male coaches. The employees in like manner, have the same option.

    THANK YOU SANDY, for including the information regarding your Mother! I have not been retired that long, and I am looking forward to enjoying the amenities that living in a college town offers. I might add for information purposes, that it costs $6.00 to go across the Sanibel & Captiva causeway, and additional parking fees, once a person gets there. Years ago when I lived in Indiana, when my child was small, I would drive to Walt Disney World, and then onto Sanibel, as we loved Sanibel so much. It’s the closest place that I can live next to, that reminds me of the Pacific. We lived on the East Coast when my child was growing up, and went to WDW all the time.

    My Best to you, and to the Readers.

    by Karen — March 6, 2013

  119. For those of you intersted in the Fort Myers area, Karen is giving everyone very good information so I will only add a few comments to her wonderful narrative. Oh…Karen…which community are you in? Sounds like you are very close to me in Pelican Preserve!

    The Fort Myers, FL area has the cleanest air we have experienced in years. We came from the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area last year and so far, after one full year of residency we are completely clear of allergies, no sinus problems, our skin is no longer dry and dull (humidity is good for something!) and we are both healthier than we have been in years.

    We enjoyed last summer here. It never got uncomfortably hot or humid and afternoon rain squalls helped on almost a daily basis. Most of time we have a wonderful breeze here that keeps it from being hot and still and we are approx. 18 miles inland from Fort Myers Beach/Sanibel Island. Absolutely love Sanibel Island for beach time!

    Over the years I lived in the keys, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Clearwater and I can say, without reservation, this area of Florida has the nicest year around weather.

    On the subject of real estate, if you are interested in buying a condo or home in this area, you may want to think about it sooner rather than later. Prices have gone steadily upward since we got here a year ago in new construction. Inventory of existing homes/condos is steadily decreasing. We are very glad we got our new home built last year. There seems to be a pent up demand developing as folks elsewhere are able to sell their homes and/or the are feeling better about the economy in general and are ready to buy a second home….

    by Toni — March 6, 2013

  120. Hi Karen and Sandy:

    My Aunt’s Villa is in Tarpon Cove and she has been there a ten years but is eager to get a single family home preferably with a pool. She told me that the gated communities sound nice but are rarely monitored so anyone can just walk in without warning and one can get a false sense of security by the term “gated”. So I assume you really have to be sure what you are buying. Apparently if one is also too close to the beaches there are flood planes to worry about. She likes Vanderbilt Beach and spends time there each day walking. I have stayed the Ritz Carlton there and loved it.

    I am glad the air quality is so good. That is a real plus. I will ponder all you have mentioned. I am not near retirement age yet but I do not want to waste time now if I can live near my Aunt. Either in Florida or in Indana.

    by Jennifer — March 6, 2013

  121. Gosh after reading these post I am ready for a move to OUTER SPACE.
    At least my living accomidations will be “outta this world”!

    by Robert — March 7, 2013

  122. Does anyone have any info about The Plantation at Leesburg, FL?

    Any insight good or bad

    Thank You

    by JEB — March 7, 2013

  123. After reading the article Florida 101, my choice would be around the Ft Meyers area. My questions for those of you who already live in Florida are; How Much is auto insurance and home owners insurance? Does Florida have a car tax (Property? Even though Florida does not have an income tax; it seems to me the savings of a no state tax and lower property tax may be made up in higher auto insurance, and home owner’s insurance. How much is water and sewer tax for a the average 3 bedroom home and someone told me that trash pick up is included in some areas water and sewerage fee. For those of us who wish to continue working, how is the employment picture?

    by MarkG — March 7, 2013

  124. or JEB – this showed up my email yesterday:

    How or why I am not sure but perhaps this is what you are looking for.

    Robert from Outer Space

    by Robert — March 8, 2013

  125. To MarkG – My husband and I live in Fl going on 16 yrs coming from New England area-my family has lived for many years in south Florida. Insurance rates, both home and car are some of the worst in the nation due to hurricaines, of course, and fraud of any kind imaginable. My father, now deceased, was retired from one of the largest insurance companies and very well known. Water and sewer varies due to county government. Every county taxes their municipalities differently. Need to check where you want to relocate. My husband works for an agency of the State of Florida and always complains that County Government does not work as we are used to everything being governed by the state as a whole. Insurances also vary from county to county in Florida well because of the subjects I mentioned above. We pay some of he highest here in Palm Beach County as well as gas because this county has the highest gas tax in the State.

    As far as employment, it #$%^#$ here. Not too many good paying jobs here. Mostly services jobs and, of course, because of the day-jobbers that get picked up in various locations, are working for a daily rate w/o any benefits because most of them are either immigrants or illegals. The governor may paint a different picture, but believe me, it is not all that great. Still a lot of foreclosures, unemployment and poverty that the outside does not realize is here in Florida unless you have lived here for sometime. We are retiring in a little over 2 years and getting out of town. Planning on the Greenville, South Carolina area (Upcountry) foothills of the Blue Ridge Mts. We’ve been there and fell in love with the ares. Upbeat, and lots to do. Healthcare is also an issue. NOT too good here is Florida.I’m a retired nurse and working in the field since living here, my suspicions are right after nursing in New England. Cannot compare. Healthcare in the Carolina’s is top-notch with the affiliations of your major teaching hospitals and universities like we are used to from back home. If you you like more on the area, please contact me thru this site. We also go to the west coast of Fl a lot as well-have family and friends there too. Thank you.

    by marsha — March 9, 2013

  126. Looking into Iland Walk Venice Fl. Can anyone comment on CDD in IslandWalk being $643 per year, which gets added to your tax bill, and is on top of the quarterly HOA (homeowner association) fees. I cameacross this but was not told about it from a realtor. I imagine it goes up but my fear is how much and how often ..

    by RUBYTUESDAY — March 9, 2013

  127. to rubytuesday – on any CDD for any development that has one, you are paying off the builders’and/or developers’ companies bonds for the development of the property and roads. Generally, these bonds are for 30 years and takes the burden off those companies in paying them off and socks it to the buyers. Most of the time, the buyer does NOT even know this exists until its too late. Yes, the fee is above and beyond the HOA fee. The realtors DO NOT tell their perspective buyers about it unless you KNOW to ask. They are afraid their buyers will back off hearing about another fee. I have confronted many on this. I even acted “stupid” once visiting a new development and confronted the sales people on their CDD. They were shocked I even new to ask as you can see there was no information whatsoever about it. Other people visiting the site overheard me and started asking questions. The rest is history.!!!

    by marsha — March 9, 2013

  128. Development fees. Do you think there is ever any free lunch! No matter it be Florida , New Mexico , California, New York or your home state. You pay development fees. It is figured into the cost of every home where ever you buy. They may be a bond, or just lumped into the cost of your new home. They could be already payed off if it is an older home. All developments have fees and in the end you will pay. Developers will recoup there costs! No free lunch!

    by Brad — March 10, 2013

  129. I have a question about the Summerfield /The Villages area of Central Florida. I was wondering about health care in terms of home heath care. Is it hard to find and I was wondering about the cost of such an arrangement by the hour or day? We are considering this for my mother. Thanks so much for any help you could supply regarding this topic!

    by Constance — March 10, 2013

  130. Brad I’m not looking for a free lunch I’m looking for honesty from a realtor.. Are you one cause you sound like your defending this one I mentioned..

    by Rubytuesday — March 10, 2013

  131. Marsh thank you for your response to something we ALL should be attuned to no hidden charges was the point I was making. Lets have lunch my treat! 😉

    by RUBYTUESDAY — March 10, 2013

  132. Marsha, good choice on Greenville, SC, in my opinion. Don’t know if you and hubby are golfers, but late last year I visited a few of the golf communities in the area and played their courses. They represent a wide range of pricing, from the low $200s in a community called Pebble Creek to Green Valley (starting around $300K) to the neighborhoods around Greenville CC (prices in all categories) to the Thornblade Club neighborhood in Greer ($500s and up). Because of the success of the nearby BMW plant in Spartanburg, the area is economically stable.

    by larry — March 11, 2013

  133. Rubytuesday, no neither a developer or a realtor. We have owned a few homes and yes there have been fees they may not be called CDD fees but they are a development fee. I do agree that one want’s the person you are working with to be honest and up front with you, but that is not the rule. Make a list of questions you want answered and keep with you when you are looking. If they won’t give you straight answers then you may want to ask others or write them off and look else where.
    I’m sure you will find the right home that will fit. Just keep looking and ask Your Questions!
    Nothing is free you will pay one way either in the cost of the home or in the CDD fee. PS: the higher the cost of your home the higher your property taxes for ever!

    by Brad — March 11, 2013

  134. I love visiting Florida (have relatives in Coco & Orlando) but never felt I wanted to live there until my daughter and son in law moved to Lakeland. However, after visiting with them and a few other places – Sarasota – very nice beaches, Bradenton – ok, and the Orlando area (too hot & crowded) I’ve decided Florida is a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. For those considering it…you might find this book helpful:Florida Move Guide: The Unofficial Moving To Florida Warning, Decision and Help Guide

    We did decide on Myrtle Beach which is not too far from the family.

    by Barb — March 12, 2013

  135. Is anyone out there concerned about Florida sinkholes?

    Editor’s note: Interesting, this same comment came up this week in our Forum and there were a few comments. The smart buyer will research the presence of sinkholes in an area and steer clear of problem areas.

    by Jim Rogers — March 13, 2013

  136. Barb
    I sent for the book you posted and found it so negative about Florida I couldn’t imaagine anyone wanting to live there. What I found so interesting this author is a realator. I guess he doesn’t plan on selling houses just books.

    by Ron Jacobson — March 14, 2013

  137. Sinkholes? No concern. It costs us all of $22.00 a year on our homeowners policy to have coverage for sinkholes. I’m more concerned about driver in-attention on the roads!

    by Toni — March 14, 2013

  138. Try Earth Quake Ins. It sure isn’t $22.00 a year!

    by Brad — March 14, 2013

  139. Brad, I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, for 8 years so I know about earthquake insurance. I also lived in Texas for many years where we had to worry about tornados and hail. There is something just about anywhere you live that is unique to the area that needs insurance.

    by toni — March 15, 2013

  140. In Arizona..Phoenix-Scottsdale…we don’t have earthquakes, sinkholes, or tornadoes. Pretty darn nice, I think!!

    by Loralee — March 15, 2013

  141. There is a site you can go on to check on insurancce rates by county in Florida. There is also a term they use called wind mitigation. I think you can get and engineer to make recommendations to your home to make it more wind resistant. If you make these improvements you can get a better rate. I checked Orlando and for a comporable home that we have now the insurance rate was 4 times what we are paying, but if you do your research you can find areas with better rates that are less hurricane prone. We also lived in Alaska for a while and only experienced a few tremors. We had an earthquake in Oregon while living in Alaska. From that point on we carry earthquake coverage on the Oregon house, which adds $135 per year?? It carries a $10,000 deductable on the earthquake covergage itself. Yes that is a high deductable but considerably better than no insurance at all, especially if the house is knocked off its foundation!

    by Mark P — March 15, 2013

  142. Mark P ,
    You mentioned a website in your remarks that tells insurance rates county by county in Florida. Would you share that with us, so that we can check areas in Florida for ourselves? Thanks!

    by Constance — March 15, 2013

  143. Mark I would also be interested in the link to insurance rate by county in Florida. Whether I check for home owner’s insurance quotes from Sarasota to Naples in the $250-$350K range I am getting quotes in excess of $4000!:roll: Upon questioning the variety of insurance companies I have called, the response seems to be the same. It is not only the recent hurricanes and wind damage along with flooding that has caused the rates to skyrocket, but I’m being told it is the high crime rate. Evidently with all of the foreclosures and vacant properties throughout the state the insurers have seen a substantial rise in property crimes. Who would have thought?!!!:cry: Existing homeowners are blessed to have the low rates they do!

    Earthquake Insurance – Our basic earthquake insurance while living in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills of the SF Bay area of CA in 2009 cost $2400 just for the earthquake portion and this carried a deductible of 10% of the value of the house. With the elevated CA house prices, our deductible ran over $90K should there be a big one. We felt tremors fairly regularly so if you are thinking of moving to CA try to stay on solid bedrock and not areas that have been filled, such as the Marina District in SF. Happy Hunting everyone . . . we are all looking for that little piece of heaven, aren’t we?

    by Jane — March 15, 2013

  144. Ron… I know what you mean that his book. The guy was very negative but I don’t recall him telling us what part of Florida he lived in (so he could keep selling those houses:). He also wrote that that happiest people he knew were the ones he called sixers…six months in Florida (he could sell that house)for the best months (Oct to March) and then six months back at home. I actually like that idea and we contemplated doing that but then decided against it because we didn’t want two homes to maintain. But for the most part I found the book very informative.

    by Barb — March 15, 2013

  145. We had an earthquake in Virginia and there is a fault line near Charleston SC. So who knows what will happen where. When I lived in Birmingham AL, the county I lived in had had more deaths from tornados than any other county in the US. That was in the late 80s so that stat has probably changed. I lived in Wilmington NC for 7 years and never had any real problems with hurricanes. I rarely even lost electricity. My folks had very little problems with hurricanes in the Margate,FL area and used hurricane shutters, but really did not need them for their 40+ years there.

    Do your homework, but be realistic.

    by Elaine — March 15, 2013

  146. During a talk by a geoloist, he suggested all prospective homeowners/lot purchasers have an inspection for such things as sinkholes and the stability of the ground (so your home won’t slide into the ocean, for example) before making a purchase. Florida certainly doesn’t have the lock on sinkholes – a golfer in Illinois just fell into a sinkhole on a golf course several days ago!

    Jan Cullinane, author, AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    Jan Cullinane, AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    by Jan Cullinane — March 16, 2013

  147. Can anyone tell us the best places in the Tucson, Oro Valley, Arizona area for retirees to live? We are very interested in that area of Arizona and would appreciate some information from someone who lives there or lived there. Thanks.

    by Rory — March 16, 2013

  148. Whoops – meant geologist – I’m on a strange computer!

    by Jan Cullinane — March 16, 2013

  149. I lost the web site for insurance rates by county in a crash…but here is one for storms. Lake county Central Florida seems to be less hurricane prone. I seem to remember Miami being the highest…I will continue to look for the site I sopke of and post ASAP

    by MARK P — March 16, 2013

  150. MKB…could you share the name of the realtor in Venice.

    by Marilyn K — March 17, 2013

  151. Check out this Florida Insurance Website provided by the State of Florida. Part way down the article you will see a link to “online” and it will take you to the site to compare homeowners and auto insurance rates throughout the state.

    by jane — March 17, 2013

  152. Jim Dixon, Venice Shores Realty is awesome (941) 488-6644 Office

    by Debbie Richards — March 18, 2013

  153. I have been researching a possible move to Florida. The central area south of Ocala is my current focus. I reviewed listings for a complex known as Cherrywood. The prices are a lot lower than any I have seen in that area. The houses and lot sizes seem very nice and the complex is near many other 55+ communities. Does anyone have an idea why they are so cheap? Thanks.

    by DC — March 23, 2013

  154. DC, you are right, I googled cherrywood in Fl and discovered that the first 10 listings for sale were from $62-75k, and these are single family homes, not mobile homes. They seem to have a nice clubhouse and pool. For those folk who said they could ot find omes under $150k, this seems to fit the bill. I would be curious to find out too why they are so inexpensive.

    by Bill — March 24, 2013

  155. Bill & DC,
    I also looked at the Cherrywood Estates site and I am wondering if some of the reasons for the prices might be:
    1. No golf courses to build or maintain
    2. Only one outside pool to maintain
    3. Did not see that it was a gated community- therefore no security to have to maintain.
    4. Did not see anything about an activities director one way or the other so that expense may not be there,either.

    Maybe they did not build in all of these extra costs into the original house sales and therefore the prices can stay lower. Also, the houses were all built in the mid to later nineties and ended in 2003 when homes were cheaper to buy/build. Also, they could also be a land lease program?? that way you are just buying the house on top of the land and therefore reducing the cost of the homes. You would need to talk to a realtor to find our all of the scoop to know for sure, of course.

    by Constance — March 24, 2013

  156. The Orlando pros and cons were spot on. As mentioned in the cons, fact of the matter is that the crime rate is somewhat on the rise, but really where isn’t it? I would suggest looking into a tool like this one if you’re considering living in Orlando. It will help you decide if Orlando is what you’re looking for.

    by Jami — June 14, 2016

  157. My family moved to Florida when I was in grade school and later I traveled all over the state during college singing; now I am retiring. Florida, like other places, is varied. One thing that must be said is that it is consistently ranked among the highest regions in crime, medicare costs, home insurance and hazardous weather and sinkholes. Once you can get passed all that, it is a good place to live- lower taxes, warmth, and water.

    I have my own thoughts on the regions. Visiting a place is quite different than living there. Sharing your hometown with a large migrated population five or so months every year can get old- traffic, eating out crowds, etc., so the comments on warmth in the winter for snowbirds, well, you aren’t a snowbird if you move there. That’s another way of saying crowds. The panhandle beaches are beautiful. The west coast peninsula is wild and wooly except for the cities. The southeast coast is congested and the rest of the eastern coastline varies greatly. I strongly suggest people rent in an area they plan on living before jumping. Some places are like a third world foreign nation in language and culture while others transform into congested nightmares at certain times of the year. It depends on the level of tolerance you have and what you are willing to put up with to live somewhere with heat year-round.

    by RLW — August 13, 2017

  158. We just got back from a one week visit to Orlando to visit our new grandchildren, Before deciding to relocate, be sure and experience Orlando in August. The heat and humidity are a big difference from January February March. The weather stays like this from May to November.

    by Bill — August 14, 2017

  159. About Florida…AND they don’t tell you these things in the tourist information…We thought we wanted to retire in the panhandle area because we had visited Destin, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach so many times. We are in the Gulf Breeze area. Luckily we are renting because we won’t stay after our one year lease is up. There are gnats everywhere. They live in the sandy soil…you cannot get rid of them. Mosquitoes, flies are very prevalent too. They love to annoy you whenever you go out in the yard to enjoy gardening or tending plants and they bite.
    Snakes CAN be anywhere…It is not enjoyable to go out and work in the yard and have to be aware of the possibility of a snake out there. There was a cottonmouth in our garage a couple weeks ago…a garter snake trying to get in one of my 24″ potted hibiscus plants…and the day before I had my hand in there removing some leaves turning yellow. There are so many ponds and backwater for them to multiply. Also, bears are around also.
    Too much rain!!! If you like to garden…forget about it…the rain and humidity plays havoc on any tomato or vegetables you want to grow. And expect stuff to rust quickly…Had a shovel in the back yard that we’ve had for years. A couple months now and it looks like it’d been left out for 10 years.
    Originally from Iowa, we’ve lived in San Antonio, Mississippi, Virginia Beach, Phoenix and Maryville, Tn and now here…I really liked Phoenix, but my husband was fed up with in illegal immigration stuff going on. We considered going back but at our age to invest around $275,000 to buy our house back seemed like a dumb investment when our son is still in Iowa. We feel our smart investment would be to go back to Iowa where our son and grandkids are and possibly travel to warm places Jan, Feb and March.
    But the good news is: we are so thankful we rented because now we know this is NOT the place we want to end up. Honestly, there is not another place in the United States that has a draw for us to check it out. We are in our late 60’s and time is running out to try something new, you know?! Have to settle in somewhere.
    Oh, and when we moved here in March, doing 2 Florida driver’s licenses and new plates for a 2015 Chrysler Town and Country Van and a 2005 GMC Envoy cost us $975.00. I realize the cost will come down considerably after the first year, but we won’t be here.
    Any inspirational ideas are truly welcome!!

    by Brenda — August 14, 2017

  160. To those interested in Cherrywood. My cousin bought in Cherrywood as mentioned above, yes there is a pool, outer grounds, no security, nice clubhouse that does offer guest speakers and musical arrangements monthly. One thing not mentioned that really bothers my cousin is that the monthly fee keeps rising at a ridiculous rate. Seems the property manager is the owner and is getting rich off of the monthly fees to the residents. Check this out before you buy.

    by Odilia Sumner — August 14, 2017

  161. Does anyone have information on Spruce Creek in Dunellon Fla (Ocala) and Ocala Palms retirement communities? I am interested in the central Ocala area…I think

    by Dave — August 17, 2017

  162. Hi Dave,
    If you go to Find Retirement Towns by State, Ocala will appear under Florida and show a vast array of retirement communities. You can also type into the search bar the specific communities you’re looking for.
    Hope this helps!!

    by Moderator Flo — August 18, 2017

  163. Does any one know a good realtor for the Ft Myers Fl area, as I am interested in Pelican Preserve. I recently purchased a nice Lennar home in Heritage Homes, when I bought I didn’t know we (the home owners) did not own the club house, so we have to buy that when Lennar builds out which will be soon, I expect the fees to go up, including lawn care the HOA & Maintenace is over $350 a month, No CDDs, a plus.
    For those that visited HH how did you like the environment,

    by jean — August 18, 2017

  164. Jean, I live in Pelican Preserve. We bought a new home here 5 years ago. It is the best 55+ community in the area and we researched and visited them all from Tampa south to Naples. We had an excellent realtor who lived in Pelican Preserve at the time and she is still selling/renting homes in Pelican. Highly recommend her. Beth Champion, Berkshire Hathaway Realty, Cell 239-246-1601. I am a bit confused over your remarks about the club house, etc. Assuming you are referring the Heritage where you live now….understand though at Pelican Preserve we are in the same situation. Lennar Homes bought out WCI who started Pelican Preserve just recently. So far we are seeing no changes to quality of homes, etc. Homeowners do NOT own the clubhouse and surrounding activities; nor do we own the Golf Club and 27 holes of golf. That is an entirely separate entity and if you do not play golf, you do not pay for the facilities or membership. It is not expected Pelican Preserve will be “built out” for several more years, at which time the residents have first option to buy the town center and related real estate. We have a residents organization we all contribute to yearly that is already researching and contracting with experts/attorneys to ascertain whether it is in our best interests to buy. So far it appears that will be the best approach so we can maintain the integrity of the facilities and surrounding acreage. We do have CDD fees. Yes, we were apprehensive of this approach having never lived anywhere with CDD. However, our CDD turns out to be excellent and our roads, landscaping, etc. are well maintained. Hope this information helps. Your best bet is to get a good Realtor to help you that knows Pelican like Beth does.

    by Toni — August 19, 2017

  165. How about Estero near 41? Does anyone have any information on that area as well as Bonita Springs–I want to hear from those who have lived there recently or are currently living there. How are the winters? My Aunt often says she has had 45 degree days in the winter. How would this area be as an investment? Many people say it is over priced and over built…comments? If I buy there, it would be near 41 so I hope the insurance is not too expensive in that area.


    by Jennifer — August 20, 2017

  166. RE: Spruce Creek and Ocala Palms

    yes thanks; the website (retirement towns) does give broad overview. I am now looking to hear from anyone who actually either visited or lives in either of the two. HOA, expected future costs, insurance, flood plains, occurrence of sink holes etc. I see that both have lots of amenities, but cant find information on the costs associated with buying in either of the two. Thanks for any and all information. Have a great day!

    by Dave — August 21, 2017

  167. Jennifer,
    We have owned in a 55+ community, Cypress Bend RV Resort, in Estero, for 5 years.
    It’s a great area, but like a lot of Florida, it is getting more crowded during high season.
    There is a lot of home and apartment construction in Estero, which became a village a few years ago.
    The beaches are only 20-30 minutes away, and Costco, Publix, and several malls are close by.
    The winters in SW Florida are warmer, but you will get a few days when the heater is needed.
    I wouldn’t call the area around us overpriced, but prices have steadily gone up since we bought.

    by Tom — August 22, 2017

  168. For those interested in the ocala area I would recommend researching oak run. The community has multiple pools at 3 different locations, golf course, over 100 clubs, billiards, tennis, and much more. HOA fees can be as low as $105, compared to On top of the world HOA around the $400 range. I moved here a year ago and love this community.

    by Rhys Anderson — August 22, 2017

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