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Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How Anyone Can Find An Affordable Warm Winter Retirement

Category: Retirement Real Estate

July 15, 2011 — Note: This is Part II in our series from Sandy, who has spent years researching how to find the perfect – and affordable – retirement spot. “Part I: What Sandy Learned in 8 Years of Visiting Dozens of Active Adult Communities” has attracted 49 comments so far.

For me and my husband the best way to a ‘perfect’ retirement is to enjoy wonderful Northern springs, summers and falls – and spend winters somewhere warm. In spite of what a lot of people think, it is possible for almost anyone, even those on a very small budget, to experience this dream. This article will tell about a successful strategy we used to get there.

A few years ago I was searching the Internet for a way to stay longer in Florida without the high cost of the Destin rentals, when I came across an unusual way to winter in Florida – yearly leasing a trailer or ‘cottage’ for the rent of two Spring months in Destin. We found a great deal! For either $4600 or $5600 a YEAR plus utilities, you can have your own place for whatever portion of the year you want to live in Florida. No packing and toting anything for each winter. You can have a winter cottage where you can keep all your warm weather clothing, favorite personal items and crafts without packing and unpacking each time you travel.

The Village of Casa Del Sol provides a single unit trailer with or without a same size screened porch that you can lease for a year, and for any subsequent years. You don’t pay a monthly maintenance fee when you are not there, nor electricity or cable bills, unless you choose to keep those utilities running while you are up north.

This community is a non-smoking, senior environment that charges a monthly utility fee of $30 per month for the months actually used. The fee includes water, sewer, daily curbside trash pickup, and lawn mowing.

Each cottage has one bedroom, one bath, living/kitchen area with an eating area. It comes furnished with the basics: Couch, chair, kitchen eating area with two chairs, dishes, silverware, and glasses for 4 people, basic pot and pan cooking and utensils , stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, queen bed, dresser, and a Murphy (in-the-wall) bed. Each resident provides their own linens for the bed, bath and kitchen. And any other cooking items they want. It is your place until you decide you no longer want to return to warm, sunny Florida.

It is a smaller community with around 300 units. Most residents are snowbirds, but several units have year-round residents. These snowbirds come from many different states, (mostly Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, several New England states and Eastern Canada.) It is a great mix of people who ALL want to enjoy the warm weather and each others’ company.

There is a volunteer social Director(s) that is a former teacher/principal with his retired teacher wife, who keeps things moving ALL the time. There are weekly coffee hours, dancing, bingo, euchre, dominoes, poker, bridge, and exercise classes, plus numerous parties and pot-lucks. A heated pool is available every day with pool exercise classes, plus a whirlpool, and an exercise room in the club house. You have a laundry room within the club house that houses all the events. And a kitchen to use for the bigger parties and there are monthly community events and activities. Even road trips and/or cruises are planned.

At least 1/3 of the residents volunteer at Give Kids The World. GKTW provides kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families a special week of activities that Orlando offers, including Disney, Universal and a Village to stay in.

The best thing about this community is that you are close to all the Disney/Orlando/Tampa activities. So, if the park’s activities don’t keep you busy, these local attractions will keep you as busy as you’d like, and you are an hour from either coast – Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. Many residents have season passes to Disney and enjoy all the entertainment including the wonderful Christmas displays, some even work at Disney part-time – many seniors love working there – there are many benefits. Plus, you can enjoy all the Bowl Parades in the area.

Of course, Spring Training is all over the state. You can see your favorite baseball team before they come home. This place is ideally located in the state of Florida to enjoy the entire state. In a couple of hours you can be on South Beach or a couple more in the Keys.

It is not a lavish setting; one would just say it is a ‘trailer park’, they are single-wide trailer with a screen porch but it is luxury when back home it is 10 degrees and you haven’t seen the sun in over a month, plus NO snow to shovel or icy roads – otherwise Paradise! It is a great place to winter. So, really any one can enjoy retirement with a warm winter and your Northern home. A thing I never thought I could afford!

Note: There are two others owned by the same holding company, at least I think it is the same holding company, the units look exactly the same, the renting/leasing approach is the same and their websites are designed very similarly. The one in Ocala is only $3500 for a year lease, but no screened porches and I have no idea on their activities. There are so many other low cost communities too, you just need to spend some time researching them.

More Options
There are so many low cost living options that almost anyone can winter in Florida or other warm state with very low rent. To find places use this website as a start (use the Retirement Ranger or Advanced Search looking for low cost options in Florida or Arizona). is great for finding places , as is Craigslist and other ‘rent through owners’ websites. You can start with 4-6 weeks to get the lay of the land, and many who start out this way now go for 6 months each year. To stay within a budget you won’t be spending the winter right on the beach or in Southern Florida, where rents are $2000 to $5000/mo. But you will be in a nice community where it is warm and there is plenty to do. Once you are wintering in a warmer location, you can then start to look for places to live in future years, or year round if that is your desire.

Comments: Have you had success finding an affordable place to retire in the sun? Share with your fellow members your successes and failures, using the Comments section below.

For further reference:
Part I: What Sandy Learned
Finding the Best Active Communities Can Be Fun!
How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter
Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings (Summer and Winter)
Rental Frustrations for Snowbirders and the Buy vs. Rent Dilemma
Annual Moving Challenges for Snowbirds

Posted by John Brady on July 15th, 2011


  1. This sounds like a very interesting idea ! I’m saving a link to this article in my Retirement Favorites Folder !

    by Scottp — July 16, 2011

  2. Hi Another aspect to leasing here is: When we sell our house we have an IMMEDIATE place to go to in Florida. Then we can find the community (right now it is On Top Of The World) that we want to rent in and see the ‘fit’. I hope this helps people to move to the area that is best for them. We have no family in Michigan, so moving now before we get too old and can’t make new, good friends easily is a BIG issue for me. But I have to say it is very easy to make friends in senior communities, but to make GOOD friends takes a bit longer.

    by sandy — July 17, 2011

  3. Sandy, Thanks much for pointing out this option. Would definitely like to learn of more places like this, including if there are any in MI, MN or New England for those who want to establish residency in FL and spend 6+ months a year but would like to enjoy summer for a few months up north.

    by KCS — July 17, 2011

  4. Sandy, once again thank u for the second part of your article. It really provides a wealth of information for my husband & I. At least we’ll have some
    good solid guidelines to follow when we’re ready to sell & leave MA. We’ll be living year round FLA., due to the fact we’ll need to pay off our current mortgage. I’m going to take a serious look at the communities you’ve recommended. Our concerns for retirement are almost identical to the issues
    you’ve addressed in both your articles. Again, thank you very much for sharing. Please continue keeping us posted regarding your decisions & opinions.
    Sincerely, Judy

    by Judy — July 17, 2011

  5. There are just so many options and talking to others helps, but going an visiting the area makes the real difference. Even if people don’t want to live in Fl or that area of Fl, they are closer to any of the coastal states, even the Atlanta coast towns of GA and the Carolinas. And still have a southern place to call home.

    The first year we stayed at LaCasa we traveled all day long 3-4 days a week. We covered lots of Florida, plus we have friends in various towns that we visited and they gave us their friends and relatives name and addresses and we visited them to get their take on their communities, included the cost of living and how they retired and what amount of money they retired on and how they manage their money. Most seniors will give you lots of financial information, that they wouldn’t have shared 10 years earlier. Seniors, I think, don’t have the ‘one upmanship’ that you have as a working person.

    An older friend told me how much her and her husband lived on, it was way under $25,000 and another one told me that they wintered in Florida for $600 a month. Putting all that together I figured we too could live the life of ‘Reilly’ – oops I’m dating myself. It all gave me hope that we too could retire and be in a warmer climate, since I figure we should have enough money to out last us – but we can’t live too long!

    by Sandy — July 18, 2011

  6. I thank Sandy for her informative write-up. Her’s seem to better focus to mine.

    A point:

    I physically called La Casa Del Sol today based on my reading hers from yesterday. I found the person who answered the phone there a little discomforting. The $5600.00 option is payable UP FRONT and not monthly. Minor to some and to others in this economic reality …

    NOT ALL who might call are ‘interested’ in the planned activities. As in the last posting, it’s a cheap way to have a base place to stay while doing other things in that FL area. DIRECT QUESTIONS seemed to be avoided.

    A ‘winter season’ seems to be what you make it to be.

    ‘Reservations’ are for 2012 ONLY. 2011 is FULL!

    Just some impressions.

    by Rich — July 18, 2011

  7. Sandy:
    My wife and I are looking for homes or condo/townhouses that accept dog, we have THREE golden retrievers Can you point ous in the right directions
    Thank you

    by robert — July 18, 2011

  8. Hi, Sandy again: To Rick. I would call la casa on a different day; they have different people on different days. I have not heard that you have to pay up front. My lease says 4 payments: July 1, Sept 1, Nov 1 and Jan 1. If they are full right now (verified by another person), I’d call back to see if they have any openings every couple of weeks; they seem to have people back out. Also, Karen is the office/park manager, maybe you can ask to talk to her. I agree this is the place to rent and look around – that’s what we did and continue to do; they do have great activities. We will be there this winter beginning Nov 1.

    If LaCasa doesn’t work, call some of the trailer parks and ask to rent their ‘park models’ – lots of trailer parks have park models to rent. You will pay more for these, but could be under $1000/mo and you could rent for only the winter months – still a cheaper way to look around. We rented in an extended stay hotel in Ocala and I DON’T recommend it – we did this sight unseen. If you use one of these extended stay place go in and see it. To me it looked like the local unemployed or underemployed live there. Just wasn’t what we wanted.

    I just remembered there is a rental in Ocala’s Oak Run that is $600 a month if you rent for 4 or 6 months. I haven’t seen the inside, only the outside and it seemed ok. I found it on – good luck

    To Robert: The best way to find a place for such big dogs and so many is to check and look for the places that are ‘pet friendly’. I’ve seen that many dogs in the Destin area, but you will pay for it. Since we don’t have dogs, really can’t comment. You might want to put an ad on in the city/area you want to rent and see what happens. Or look at craigslist’s rentals. Good luck.

    by sandy — July 19, 2011

  9. […] For further Reference Virginia Directory of Active Adult Communities Sandy’s Active Adult Adventures: Part I Sandy’s Adventures: Part II […]

    by » Destination Williamsburg, VA: Hop on Jay Michael’s Retirement Tour Bus Topretirements — July 26, 2011

  10. I would like to thank Sandy for all the information she provided. You clarified for us conclusions that ironically, we had already come to!
    We started our search 7 years ago and focused on California for 5 years. We switched to Florida two years ago.
    Each of us has different wants and needs and what works for you may not work for us. There is a significant difference between those who want to live there 12 months of the year and snowbirds. We do not care how hot the summers are, we will not be there.
    We started our search looking at mobile home parks and every place we looked at we always looked total cost. I don’t care if one place charges $100 a month and another $500 if the higher one includes taxes and golf etc. Financially we only considered Total cost.
    There are over 200 +55 mobile home parks within an hour and a half of Orlando . . . let me rephrase . . . within an hour and a half of Disney World . . . *smile* . . . my parents retired to Arizona and in twenty years we went to Arizona 3 times and to California 15 times . . . for us being warm is not enough . . . it must include access to beaches and Disney . . . grand kids . . . other requirements for us are golf, many clubs and a bonus would be an adult university . . . we looked at La Casa Del Sol and I think their sister Golden Pond at 3233 SE 110th Street Ocala, and considered both places. The down side is having a place for company to stay and when there is no company an office for me . . .
    We looked at the Villages liked it a lot however the monthly expense is a lot higher then On Top of The World. As added detractors they do not have Villas with outside maintenance. We have a lovely garden and yard at what will soon become our summer home (Retiring in 20 weeks and one day, not that I am counting). We do not want to take care of yards and gardens 12 months of the year. The total monthly expense to live in a nice +55 mobile home park (and there are some Gorgeous Parks!) is about the same or higher then the total monthly cost to live in On Top of the World.
    We had already picked OTOW before we read Sandy’s first article and we found it interesting, amusing and reassuring that you Sandy looked at a lot of the same things we did.
    Oh one other issue for me not my dear wife . . . I did not want to be on the beach, just within an hours drive . . . My friend who is also looking tried very hard to get us to go to California however I refused to live on the West side of The San Andrea’s fault which is the main reason we picked Florida over California . . . He said yea but Florida has hurricanes . . . I said Yea but you have three days notice to leave . . . after the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan . . . he agreed with me . . .
    Crime, we checked and yes Ocala has high crime rates. There are places in every major city where people should not go at night. We also signed up at . . . if you have never been there you can put in an address and it will show you all the crime that occurred on a daily basis within a radius you choose. We have been watching SpotCrime around OTOW for 9 months. There is crime around the area as in all metropolitan areas . . . however inside of OTOW itself there have been fewer then 10 crimes that I remember . . . mostly things like some poor old demented guy wandering off (hopefully I am a long ways from that) a few neighbor disputes . . . and one or two suspicious activities on the golf course . . . we could live there and with the access to all the shopping close by . . . never go to Ocala itself . . .
    Thank you Sandy . . . we put in an offer on a Villa and if it works out we will move in after Christmas . . .To all good luck in your search!
    And Thanks to Topretirement for all the information . . . both good and bad . . . it is wise to be aware of everything before making the decision . . .

    by Randy — July 28, 2011

  11. To Randy: I sure hope to meet you and your lovely wife very soon. Not sure how we can connect. I loved their ‘patio homes’ Tell Teri and her partner (old age – forgot her name and we spend much time with her!!) for used homes ‘hi’ for us. I found Teri very helpful. Much happiness in OTOW.

    by sandy — July 29, 2011

  12. I would like to thank Sandy for all her insight and wonderful information. Along with everyone else. Randy’s comment was great, too. My Husband and I are interested in On Top of the World. But we have concerns about buying a leased land property. What are the advantages and disadvantages? I haven’t seen much talk about that on this website so hopefully I will get some insight. Thanks.

    by Cyndy — July 30, 2011

  13. Cyndy: I haven’t dug deep on this topic yet; but since it is a 99 year lease, I figured it wouldn’t affect me – I’ll be long gone. But it is a good question if you plan to leave the house to your relatives. Hope some real estate lawyer gives us an answer on this.

    by sandy — July 30, 2011

  14. Messages for Sandy and Cyndy,

    Hi Sandy, it would be great to meet you. As you know the people at TopRetirements I give them permission to give you our email address. *smile*

    For Cyndy, we looked into the 99 year lease issue ourselves. Our conclusions are as follows. If we rented a lot in a Manufactured home park, (there are some gorgeous parks), potentially any year they could close up and ask us to move our home. Not a high probability but a possibility.

    If a person is buying a home in a place with a 99 year lease such as OTOW, one consideration is that they are still building. The long term plan I saw was to build 35,000 homes. As it took them 30 years to build 10,000 homes it could potentially take them another 75 years to complete the project. They are a family business with no debt. The same cannot be said for many HOA locations. Lots are in trouble.

    I also believe because of the reasonable prices and OTOW being a +55 community, there are far fewer mortgages which means far fewer foreclosures then in the non +55 market. I do not think there will be many great investment quality properties for the next 5 to 10 years.

    Last time I checked there were almost 50 homes under $50,000. We went through 7 or 8 in early June and could have lived in any of them.

    As our kids are in their early thirties . . . if we pass a 15 year old property on to them in 30 years they will be early sixties . . . our grandchildren will be in there early thirties and there will still be 54 years left on the lease . . . I suspect that if OTOW follows through with their plan to fully develop the land they have (which I believe used to be Orange groves till the oranges suffered frostbite), then they will continue to build for many years to come. That means renewing the leases on the older properties to continue the cycle.

    For OTOW this is a huge investment with a secure and significant return on their investment. To not renew the lease would mean demolishing all the homes and using the land for some other enterprise. What is the probability, because of their location, that there is anything they could use the land for that would be more profitable?

    It is wise to consider everything and I do not think that a property with a 99 year lease will increase in value as much as a property without one. For us that has no significance. This is not an investment for us. It is an inexpensive way to spend our winters out of the snow, in a beautiful community with everything we hoped we could have, and more.

    When we drove through OTOW the first time, both of us expected it to disappoint. How could it possibly be as good as the information available. In our opinion it is better. Whether you buy at OTOW or at another beautiful community, good luck in your search.

    by Randy — August 2, 2011

  15. Thank you Randy for your detailed response. These are things my Husband and I will keep in mind. We appreciate your willingness to share the information you have learned as well as your point of few. This website is a great forum to share information with Folks in the same point in their lives. Thank you to all for your input.

    by Cyndy — August 5, 2011

  16. Sandy, I will be a newbie at casa del sol this year and would love to meet you. How will I find you??

    by margie — August 20, 2011

  17. Has anyone tried Stone Creek next to OTOW?

    by Bill — January 7, 2012

  18. Hi Margie,
    Guess I’ve been too busy to read this blog on a regular basis. I’m in unit #146 and will be at coffee on Tuesday and serving lunch on Wed. Look forward to meeting you.

    We visited Stone Creek yesterday and it is very nice. My only issue is that I can’t go shopping in my golf cart; they don’t allow golf carts on the main roads and there isn’t a way to get from Stone Creek to the shopping area. However, Stone Creek is VERY nice.

    by sandy — January 9, 2012

  19. […] For further Reference “Part 1: Destination Williamsburg, Jay Michaels Retirement Tour Bus“. North Carolina Directory of Active Adult Communities Ohio Directory of Active Adult Communities Pennsylvania Directory of Active Adult Communities Sandy’s Active Adult Adventures: Part I Sandy’s Adventures: Part II […]

    by » Jay Michaels’ Pursuit of the Perfect Active Adult Community – Part 2 Topretirements — May 15, 2012

  20. […] Further Reading: Buy, Rent, or Stay Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How Anyone Can Find an Affordable Warm Winter Rental […]

    by » Your Best Place to Retire Might be…. a Rental Topretirements — July 8, 2013

  21. Hi all
    This is Sandy again, now July 2013. We’ve sold our house in the North county (MI) and moving down to LaCasa within 2 wks. Again we will look around to make sure OnTop OfThe World is the right place for us. Rainbow Springs just hit our radar,as well as Spruce Creek Preserve, so we will check these places out (has anyone checked them out?). LaCasa has been a life saver, we just packed our stuff, stored and going back to our unit in LaCasa. Such an easy way to make this state to state transition. I am thrilled to leave all the work of taking care of a house and property to the ‘easy’ life!
    I will keep you posted on where we end up buying and why.

    by sandy — July 10, 2013

  22. Sandy we are new to On Top Of The World. About 8 months but love the community,and area around Ocala. Not too far from most areas and away from the busy parts of Florida. If you do want to do Disney or such only an hour an half drive, which we find vey do able. I see a lot of comments on cost of home or car Insurance, not here. Check it out. Enjoying it in Ocala, Brad.

    by Brad — July 11, 2013

  23. Brad, who are you using for car insurance – I just recd a quote and one car for a year is over $1200- very high when I’m coming from Michigan’s $600/yr ins. Have you heard anything about the county increasing taxes? I keep reading in the Ocala StarBanner about the 24-48% increase in taxes……OUCH! I’ll look you up in OTOTW – what community did you buy in?

    by sandy — July 11, 2013

  24. Sandy, we have AAA insurance for our home, car and 4×4 truck also an umbrella policy. $2400 per year much less than in Washington state. Insurance can be expensive if you live on the coast of Florida but not so in Central Florida.
    As for property tax , they may want to increase taxes but wanting and doing is another thing. Home taxes are not out of line from where we came from and the sales tax is 6% I believe.
    There is a homestead tax break if you are a full time resident. Hope this helps. Brad

    by Brad — July 13, 2013

  25. oh yes it does help! we are leaving on Sat, the 20th to hopefully call Florida and OTOW HOME!

    by sandy — July 14, 2013

  26. Brad: forgot to ask, if you hear of any GOOD buys in OTOW, PLEASE let me know!thanks – hope we meet down there.

    by sandy — July 14, 2013

  27. Sandy what kind and size of home are you looking for? A lot to chose from new or used. We had a sales lady named Val who was very helpful in showing us around , before and during the construction of our home. Brad

    by Brad — July 15, 2013

  28. Hi read the chat between Brad and Sandy..please, do not take my comment about my insurance experiense ant trying for a solid policy on a new home in Florida..first let me say that when a insurance cost of a policy is stated it is also important to know the home/price/size a 1000 ft home that costs 120,000 would cerataimly cost less than a 2000 square ft home that had a sales price of 225,000..
    next I would like to summarize my experiences,,I had found a home inn Fla and went to a State Farm agent who told me State Farm had not issued a home owner policy in Fla since 2008…only they would continue existing policies..
    then searching on the web I found an article in Tampa Bay Times that stated the State Farm officially announced they had not issued a policy since 2008 as they could not bear addittional costs ..stating up til that time they had paid 4.4 Billiion..the article then stated other companies like Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide have gradually been retreating from Florida policy writing..stating Allstate had dropped 400,000 existed policy holders from renewal..I wrote to a sales agent at the Villages and he stated that was the case of very few companies still writing..and the State of Fla has their own insurance company..
    so what I would suggest is first find the house and location and before any purchase find a home owner insurance writer..Brad I also checked on AAA and they have a very poor rating in Cinsumers..not only in Fla but at many other State as I said before don’t anyone feel like I am trying to cricize anyone for their experience and comments..RATHER I find this site as a wonderful source of information’s just my opinion ..Thanks
    lets keep on ‘blogging’,,and Good Luck

    by Robbie — July 15, 2013

  29. […] For further reference: This isn’t the first time we have come up with a list of affordable places to retire. Check out our previous lists! How to Find an Affordable Retirement The Affordable (and More) Best Places to Retire List 8 More Affordable Places to Retire Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How Anyone Can Find an Affordable Place to Retire […]

    by » 10 Affordable…and Highly Livable… Places to Retire Topretirements — July 24, 2013

  30. […] further reading: Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How to Find an Affordable Warm Winter Place to Retire Our Ideal Snowbird […]

    by » How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter Topretirements — December 10, 2013

  31. […] How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings (Summer and Winter) Sandy’s Adventures Part ii: How to Find a Great Snowbird Location for the Winter (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ||[]).push({}); What do […]

    by » Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter Checklist - Topretirements — October 15, 2014

  32. I’ve been reading the articles and comments of Top Retirement for over a year. I lived in Ohio and PA from age zero to age 23. When I then followed my husband Westward for the next 45 years, I cried for 2 years before making it my home. My parents eventually sold their home in Ohio and moved to Florida. I could not understand that concept at 23 and now at 68, it still makes no sense.

    When Sandy ( not me ) began this article by describing the beautiful seasons of the NE and suggesting just a winter get away I thought ” finally, a Retiree who is making sense”. Everyone else seems so willing to “throw out the baby with the bath water”. My friends and family who are still in the NE seem to fall apart in the months of February and March. I think they enjoy cocooning in January to recover from the family holiday months of Sept- Dec,

    If anyone is still reading this Blog, PLEASE explain to me why NE retirees must sell homes, leave family and friends, and run permanently to the horrible humidity of Florida because of 2 months of bad weather. As one who has lived for 45 years in areas where people also retire I must tell you that we have just spent our lives doing the average day- to- day things middle America does in the NE. Moving doesn’t make everything that is bad or annoying go away. As the old rock song goes you still ” wake up with yourself”. Please don’t say that you are moving for lower property taxes, state taxes, and lower utilities. I’m a retired Numbers person and it just doesn’t make that much sense. We both know you are just using any extra money you have visiting and entertaining the kids and grandkids any way.

    Why can’t the NE just sell the 200K homes they say they pay 12K in property taxes for and use the money to travel/rent in the sunshine for 2 winter months a year. It sounds as if most come from 2 wage earner households so I’m guessing 2 pensions and 2 social security checks total 4K a month or more. I’ve checked rents in the East and, except for NYC, Boston, DC, etc; I can rent for less than the Prop taxes they complain about. I understand and agree that if you have illnesses and lower income, the year-round sunshine helps and I highly recommend a move to Tucson. But for the rest of middle America with houses, income etc….

    HELP, please explain this NE Retirement madness to me.

    by Sandy SW — March 31, 2015

  33. I just re-read my above Comment. It may be unclear. I am suggesting that those who sell their home in order to travel/ rent in the sunshine for 2 months also down-size to a rental apartment year-round in the NE. They would save on the yard and snow maintenance, rental insurance is cheaper than home- owner insurance, utilities should be less, the kids can host Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you pay for the rental with your Prop Tax money.

    by Sandy SW — March 31, 2015

  34. Sandy – Maybe their tired of being COLD. Io non capisco ur logic.

    by Robert — April 1, 2015

  35. Sandy SW, it is all about the money. You are a numbers person and know renting isn’t the same as owning, especially in a place like N.J. Peole are tired of paying. It’s a rob Pete to pay Paul game. N.J. is broke and unless your a public employee pensioned retiree it could be tough, not to mention inheritance and estate taxes.

    by Billy — April 1, 2015

  36. Sandy SW – having just experienced one of the worst winters in Maine in the 36 years of living here, these are my reasons for counting the days to move to SC: endless bone rattling cold, slippery ice everywhere forcing only occasional walks to the mailbox, being stuck at home for days on end because the roads are too poorly plowed for for any vehicle that isn’t an emergency vehicle. More reasons: rare opportunities to walk the dog – the poor thing hated going outdoors to do his business, snow perfect for snowshoeing, but the wind chill factors at dangerous levels, dear husband aging too quickly while snow-blowing, scooping, shoveling, salting, and sanding the snow and ice! Looking forward to being active and outdoors almost every day in the South! We will visit friends and family here in July and August only! BTW – woke up this morning, April 1, to 21 degrees! Not an April Fools joke!

    by SandyZ — April 1, 2015

  37. Sandy,

    The bad weather in the NE lasts way more than two months, so leaving for two months won’t help. The cost of living is higher in the NE and midwest, than it is in the South. My suggestion would be to reverse. Establish permanent residence in the South, spend 8-9 months out of the year in the South and rent for a few months during the summer “up North”. It might work. Does anyone know where there are affordable short-term rentals ‘up north’ for the summer?

    by Lynn — April 1, 2015

  38. Sandy SW, I’ve been to many 55+ communities in Florida and almost everyone I meet is from NY or NJ. There isn’t a single person that we’ve talked to that would go back to living in a winter climate. I’ve never traveled to either of these locations, but have had family that lived in NJ and they couldn’t wait to get back to the Midwest. Weather, cost of living,etc. I’m not sure how the pay and pensions are in these areas, but honestly 4K a month for social security and pensions is a little unheard of in the Midwest. Pensions are really hard to find these days. Good for you if that is your retirement amount, but I think it’s unrealistic for most people. We’ve saved for our retirement for 40 years and certainly won’t be spending that much just to live somewhere. Everyone has their owns desires for retirement, we for one are looking for a warmer climate and enough money to travel!

    by SandyM — April 1, 2015

  39. This comment came in from Ella but we have moved it here as a more relevant place to be (please try to stay on topic, folks – there is almost always a topic that yours will fit with!)

    Being that you are posting regularly these days, i’m asking a question again hoping to receive an answer from you.
    You stated you didn’t like Franklin NC as much as Waynesville NC. Can you tell me why?
    Many thanks,

    by Admin — April 1, 2015

  40. SandyM,
    Thank you for setting me straight on the average pension situation in the MidWest. My estimate came from trying to read into the egos of the more ” boastfull” Easterners who have posted on all the sites. I know most Midwest pensions have disappeared ( an America shame ) and I’ve met many realistic people from there who find a much deserved budget fit in the South West.

    What confuses me are the NJ/Ny retirees who say they live in 4 bedroom 3000+ sf homes with 12K in Prop Taxes that they complain LOUDly about. After they move and acclimate to the sunshine they Always begin to compare what they got in their old town for 12K with the paultry service they now get for 2K a year in taxes. How quickly the sun sets for them. I’m just suggesting they dump the McMansions and enjoy the Services they feel they deserve at the expense of a landlord. Anyone willing to tell me the average pension plus social security in NY/NJ?

    by Sandy SW — April 1, 2015

  41. New to posting here, been reading a lot. After 65 years of living in the same city in Upstate/Central New York, and having tried to rationalize staying, we just cannot do it any more. We have two seasons, winter and wishing it was summer. We have gone from a thriving manufacturing city of 100,000 to around 45,000 now. No matter how much NY tries to entice new businesses, they cannot change the weather. Thus, our taxes and cost of living continue to rise yet retirement monthly income stays the same. Snow blowing, shoveling, studded snow tires not to mention, lack of progress and growth, continuous gray and overcast skies, no sunshine, wearing multi layers of clothing to try and keep the utility bills down, it just doesn’t make sense any more. We are now looking at two areas, Raleigh Durham triangle and Wilmington, NC. Raleigh area does not seem to have any 55 and over communities that do not start with a $200k price range. If anyone knows of a more reasonable area in Raleigh, we’d like to know about it . Jensen Community in Hampstead NC outside Wilmington seems something in our price range. If anyone is familiar with this community, I’d like to know about this too, having found it via this blog. Thanks for your thoughts and input.

    by MemaRo — April 1, 2015

  42. Wow sandy sw you really dislike us New Yorkers. Shame we’re actually very nice, caring people. No one can give you the answers you seek. Social security depends on your salary over a 35 year period. The more you made, the more you’ll get up to a maximum amount. So everyone is different. I don’t know of any structured pensions anymore except for government workers. I have a structured pension for a Job I only held for a bit over 5 years which comes to around $204 per month. Not much. Hope that answers some of your questions

    by Stacey — April 1, 2015

  43. To Ella, Gosh that’s kind of a hard question to answer – Franklin over Waynesville NC. Just a feeling I/we had visiting both places. I feel there is much more to offer in Waynesville as far as quaintness, shops and restaurants etc and just the look of main street and the town in General.
    Franklin IMO seems to be a much more rural setting – nice but not for us. According to our prior Pastor – Waynesville location is better protected from severe weather (??????). 🙁

    Having said all that we decided that the COLD and snow are not something we want to live with anymore in our “Seasoned years” so back to Florida for us. I use to ride a motorcycle to work in 10 Deg weather in Maryland – Now that I am “seasoned” and lived in Fl for the last 25 some years I have become a WHIMP want only warm snugs and hugs. 🙂

    We lived in Daytona & Ormond Bch the last 25 years before making the big mistake of moving to Pa to be near family and not doing our financial home work (readers -sorry for being so repetitive). We are hopefully moving to Port Orange, Fl. as soon as our house sells here in Pa.
    Nice house here in a upscale 55+ community – Anyone want to buy it??

    One more thing – NC taxes (IMO) are not friendly to Seniors on a limited budget.
    CAUTION – Be very diligent in your choices BEFORE U MOVE. Respectfully suggested.
    Hope this helps Ella = buon fortuna!

    by Robert — April 2, 2015

  44. SandySW, A NJ police officer in his early 50’s took a public job in south jersey for about 120k on top of an approximate 85k pension. Probably a political handout. Don’t know about averages but his is nowhere near the highest, correction officers will probably be higher not to mention school administrators. It’s just one of the reasons NJ ain’t cheap.

    by Billy — April 2, 2015

  45. Robert,
    Thanks so much for your answer to my question. Being that main street Waynesville is so pretty and appealing with interesting shops, galleries, and fairly low-priced restaurants i can see how Franklin, or most any town, wouldn’t compare. However, we have other reasons we’re still looking. One being we want to go hiking without having to drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway to do so. Hiking is our #1 favorite activity, and it would be wonderful to find a town with a park at ground level with trails that go on and on. For now driving isn’t a problem, but i’m looking 10 years out at minimum.
    Summer is almost as hard on me as winter, so Florida isn’t for us. But i’m glad for you that you and your wife know where you want to be!
    Regarding NC taxes. Do you (or does anyone reading this) have data comparing NC to the surrounding states? All i’ve heard, so far, is hearsay.
    Buon Fortuna to you too, my friend!

    by ella — April 2, 2015

  46. Whew, Sandy SW, your comments are pretty harsh!
    NY is a big state. Economically it runs from NYC to the tiniest farm town in the middle of nowhere, with commiserate salaries and retirement income. Most people do not have pensions, and of those who do, the pensions can run from great to extremely small. The same with soc. sec. as it’s based on earned income. $46,000 a year in soc. sec. would be a dream for the vast majority of us. So, please, scale down your thinking on the economic conditions of most NY’ers. Economically, we are probably more similar to folks in the Mid-West than those in NYC or surrounding areas, yet (as many have stated) our taxes are very high.

    As for the weather, not only does winter last for 4 – 5 months, but our summers are often hotter than in certain areas down south (i’m speaking of towns i’m looking at in or very near to the Blue Ridge Mts.). Lastly, NY is a super liberal state, and many of us are sick and tired of being dictated to by a tyrant governor.

    Hope that gives you some understanding of why many of us want to leave.

    by ella — April 2, 2015

  47. To the ‘Original” Sandy, it seems we have not heard from you in a while with regard to your move to Village of Casa Del Sol? Are you still loving it?

    by virginia — April 2, 2015

  48. SandySW,
    Everyone we met from NJ/NY were very pleasant and we would be happy to be their neighbor. I honestly have to say that I also labeled people from the area, but I was wrong. They were very friendly and enjoying their life. Why not, golf, swimming, clubs, riding in their golf carts – what’s not to LOVE! They also were not boastful at all or acted like they deserved more because they were from NJ/NY. Maybe we were just lucky, but I don’t think so. Everyone has bad days, but retirement is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and that’s what we intend to do. We want to make friends with people from all over our great country!

    Our budget might be smaller than theirs, but yes, we can still afford to live out a wonderful retirement because we scrimped and saved a lot of money over the years. We haven’t had one person ask us how much money we made, what we did for a living or how much money we saved. No one really cares once they are retired, because it’s time to relax and enjoy all the fun things in life! I hope you are able to meet some really special people like we did!

    by SandyM — April 2, 2015

  49. I apologize to All for sounding so harsh. I must be more of a SnowBird or a Retire in Place person. I understand the COLD and have experienced it even in the SW. However, it only lasts a day or a week – if it is really bad.!

    I’ve never lost my love for Ohio, PA , and East and have tried to keep in touch with it through friends and TopRetirement. You end up with a hodge lodge of thoughts and sometimes people present their situation in the most favorable light. I know that the ego and income level of the “Big City Folk” differ greatly from that of middle America . I listen to their impressions of life, but it makes just a fleeting impression.

    It seems that your main reason for relocating is the warmth and sunshine and if you are going to downsize you feel you might as well get the smaller house AND the sunshine in one shot rather than just downsizing in the cold. Got it – but summer humidity in Florida or the South? Convince me because I’d rather live in God’s air than air conditioning. My husband and I will be renting out our SW home to rent an apartment year-round in Western PA for the next 5 years – sorry Robert ( I’ve read all your posts). I’ve got to “walk the walk” rather than just talk about it.

    by Sandy SW — April 2, 2015

  50. Sandy SW,
    Where do you live now? Glad you’ve made your peace with us NE’ers!

    by ella — April 3, 2015

  51. Ella,

    I live in Albuquerque,NM. We use evaporative coolers instead of air conditioning in our 1450 sf house. AC is also available and works when the humidity is high, but we prefer the cooler. You can leave the doors open and it feels like a more natural cool to me. Love the culture, climate, food, and people here. Just have to go Back Home for a bit.

    by Sandy SW — April 3, 2015

  52. Looking at the Leesburg, Summerfield area, any suggestions or comments?

    Driving down for 1 month, hoping that we like the area and 55 plus community to buy a home.

    by nancy — February 5, 2016

  53. Interesting that this blog should be re-posted now, as i just had a conversation with a friend about Pennsylvania and her description was very different than Robert’s previous comments. (By the way, hello Robert, if you’re out there!) Her in-laws live in Bucks County, PA and pay only $800 annually in school and property taxes. She and her husband are considering moving out there simply because, she states, the cost of living is so low. Just thought i’d add this in case any readers are considering PA.

    by ella — February 6, 2016

  54. Ella, is that $800 per month ?

    by Billy — February 6, 2016

  55. I know this is an old thread, but I want to address comments regarding homeowner’s insurance in Florida. I lived in Stuart, on the east coast just north of Palm Beach County for 18 years and worked in the mortgage industry. The closer you live to the coast, the higher your premium will be. Being in a flood zone could increase your premium significantly. I lived approximately 15 miles from the coast and my insurance was very reasonable. I had my homeowners with Southern Owners and my car with Auto Owners. This is a wonderful company and I highly recommend it. The state offers insurance, Citizens Property Insurance, but it is to be used only for those who are unable to get insurance from any other company. It is not cheap. You will not get a multi-policy discount. It is insurance of the last resort and they have a reputation of not paying claims quickly and/or without legal intervention. But if you’re right on the coast, it may be your only option.

    I now live in Atlanta and love it but it’s too expensive for me to retire here. I’ve been looking at the Palm Beach area again because I still have many friends there, but most HOA fees are $375 and up. Ouch! I’m considering Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, although I need more information about the management. There are many inexpensive, although older, homes and I could live on my SS. The climate is similar to Atlanta, has many clubs, and it’s reasonably close to Hot Springs and Little Rock. I’ve been a Sweet Adelines member (women’s barbershop) for almost 30 years, and they even have a chorus there, plus a larger, more accomplished chorus in Little Rock.

    by Louise H — September 21, 2017

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