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Discussion Starter #1
My family is weighing the option of moving to Florida in a few years. "Canal" homes or communities with a marina or community dock is very appealing to me. We have a daughter that will be in middle school at the time of move. Obviously, the reason for moving is weather and proximity to the water. We'll be looking for something no more than $200k.

I'm looking for recommendations/reviews of specific cities, neighborhoods, or communities to research. We don't want to get stuck in a "no work" area. I've primarily considered the Tampa area south to Ft. Myers. I've also thought of Jacksonville/St. Augustine although I'm thinking we'll end up on the west side. We have family in Ft. Myers.

Please... pros/cons, your experiences, talk me into or out of this. Both of our careers are fairly mobile and we'll need to be near decent middle and high schools.

Josh
 

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Much of this will pretty much depend upon your field of expertise. Some areas of Florida have fairly high demands for certain professions, while you would starve to death in others. The Fort Myers area is very nice, quite affordable, but geared more toward senior residents. Housing is modestly priced in the area as well, however, put the same home on deepwater canal and you'll double the price very quickly. You should really spend some time traveling around the various locals and looking closely at what is available, both for employment and housing, plus the school systems, which will vary dramatically. I, personally, would stay away from Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, and the Keys. While I absolutely love the Keys, the price tag on homes there are outa sight. It's touted as the most expensive resort area of the United States.

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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imasaluki

You are coming from a beautiful area. I hope you aren't driven mad by the flat strip mall environment of Florida. I would do it but I am lost without the forests, mountains and rivers - except when I am on the water. Then I am fine. Its tough. Good luck and I will read with interest.
 

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To live happily in Florida, it is my suggestion to be very selective about where you choose. Towns separated by only a few miles will have entirely unique and dissimilar personalities, population profiles, amenities & conveniences, cultural norms, social & intellectual capital, and will provide entirely different lifestyle experiences.

If I could not reside in the close Tampa Bay area I would, at this point in life, probably choose to not live in Florida.
 

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St. Petersburg (Tampa area) or just north of it is very nice and seems to have the lowest cost of living for any of the Florida coastal area.

Slip cost at most marinas is under $300

Good schools and lots of great activities for the kids.

The area seems to avoid most of the hurricanes that hit Florida.
 
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
imasaluki

You are coming from a beautiful area. I hope you aren't driven mad by the flat strip mall environment of Florida. I would do it but I am lost without the forests, mountains and rivers - except when I am on the water. Then I am fine. Its tough. Good luck and I will read with interest.
We do love our fair city (we both were born and raised here), but we despise our winters. Words cannot adequately describe our disgust for winter for the past five years or so.... :gunner -----> Winter
 

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Discussion Starter #7
To live happily in Florida, it is my suggestion to be very selective about where you choose. Towns separated by only a few miles will have entirely unique and dissimilar personalities, population profiles, amenities & conveniences, cultural norms, social & intellectual capital, and will provide entirely different lifestyle experiences.

If I could not reside in the close Tampa Bay area I would, at this point in life, probably choose to not live in Florida.
We have definitely noticed the quiltwork that is Florida during our travels. There's a little bit of everything all messed about.

So, Tampa, any particular single-family areas that meet our requirements that you're familiar? Neighborhood, town, zipcode? I'll look it up! I'm trying to drill down here. Zillow and Trulia are my friend. I don't want to waste a realtor's time just yet. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
St. Petersburg (Tampa area) or just north of it is very nice and seems to have the lowest cost of living for any of the Florida coastal area.

Slip cost at most marinas is under $300

Good schools and lots of great activities for the kids.

The area seems to avoid most of the hurricanes that hit Florida.
Thanks MarioG!
 

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Agree with MarioG. On the west coast in FL, in general the further north you go, the more reasonable the home prices. An exception might be the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area, which was hit hard by Charley in 2004 and then again by the bottom falling out of the real estate market in a middle class area.

In terms of jobs and working, most FL west coast communities are geared to tourism and 2nd homes, and so businesses (and employment opportunities) tend to be small and geared in that direction. The largest employers are in the Tampa area, which is commutable from St. Pete/Clearwater/Pinellas County (on the west side of Tampa Bay), and also from points north in Pasco County. The sand beaches also end in Pasco, if you are a beach person. So northern Pinellas and southern Pasco Counties might be places to focus a search, as a start.

All the water is skinny around here, and shoals abound - so a shoal draft or centerboard/swing keel is almost a necessity. FWIW.

Good luck!
 

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We're in Riverview, lower-middle class rising. 25 minutes to downtown Tampa, 10 minutes to Apollo Beach. $200k will get you a brand new 2100-2400sq' single-family home in a cookie-cutter subdivision. There are new developments less than 5 minutes from my front door.
Brand new is nice; houses built to modern hurricane codes make insurers happy.

Downtown Tampa has condos, if that's appealing. Great views, city-like conveniences.

15 minutes east of 33578 will get you a few acres of pastureland and 1500sq' and position you very close to the Hillsborough river and great mountainbiking. (yes, seriously).

New Tampa, 30 minutes north of me, in northern Hillsborough county, is upper middle class. Bruce B. Downs is the major artery in New Tampa, google maps will let you browse the area.

Sarasota / Bradenton might work for you also; it's charming and has character. Smaller than Tampa but not as rural as Lakeland / Winter Haven.
I suggest staying near the coast. The further east you go the more stagnant it feels and you're just that much further from good sailing.

St. Petersburg and Clearwater are on the other side of the Bay. I drive through it often but cannot speak to the housing situation. It doesn't seem to be in "growth mode" like Riverview or New Tampa.

Hope that helps. Happy to help with specifics as you need.

Dad lives in Louisville. I'm from Lake Cumberland area. Spent time in Lexington and still have family dotted all along from Hyden to Somerset. I suspect I know how you feel. :)
 

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St. Petersburg and vicinity are wonderful areas with good access to sheltered water and reasonable access to the Gulf. Another great area is the Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Hobe sound area. Low crime in both areas, decent price on good dock space, and access to large cities with anything you might want to buy/see/do.

I would avoid Ft. Lauderdale as it is very expensive and the social climate is a little hard for a boy from flyover country like me to take; everyone seems to be on the make if you understand my meaning.

My personal all time favorite is the middle keys but its a bit far afield, Marathon probably has the best prices for slips, etc...
 

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It's hard after living in the Key's to live anywhere else in Fla. It depends on what you do for work. You can get a house on a canal on some of the smaller lesser known key's, like Big Coppit, and work in Key West. You may have to switch to a service industry job, but a good work ethic goes a long long way down here, as a lot of people suffer from keys disease. A lot of people live in Key Largo and commute to Miami as well. You may be surprised how cold Fla. is in the winter as far north as Tampa. It's certainly mild, but cold by my standards. Ft. Meyers and Cape Coral are ok, but buggy in the suburbs. We have the bugs under control in Key West. Coconut Grove is nice, south Miami is pretty good, near Black Point Marina is a decent area. Hollywood is a great little town as well. Just my 2 cents.
 

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The southwest coast of Florida, from Clearwater south to Englewood and particularly the Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch area is a rapidly emerging High-Tec, Medical Science and Higher Education center, not unlike the Silicon Valley was in the mid-1970's. There is good, convenient, shipping via the Port of Tampa/Port Manatee, an educated and willing labor pool, affordable housing, decent schools, reasonable regulation and low taxes that have made the area very desirable to businesses abandoning the tax and spend states such as New York, Michigan and California. (It is not a matter of "if" we can get them to move here so much as ensuring we have the facilities they need ready "when" they come.) It seems business relocations are announced daily.

The Sarasota/St. Petersburg areas also offer rich cultural opportunities with fine museums, theater, symphony and ballet and similar attractions. Recreational amenities are too numerous to described and the sailing is great, virtually year round. Moreover, the area is relatively safe from major storms due to the topography of the land and off-laying sea bed and the vagaries of the Gulf Stream which seem to direct storm tracks away to the northwest or northeast (although nothing is guaranteed). Despite Nay-Sayers, save for the east coast from about Deerfield Beach through south Miami, there are few "strip malls" although shopping malls do tend to cluster at major freeway intersections hence are visible from the highway from time to time (although one can drive for hours at a time through woodlands.) One also finds that the temperament of the people on the west coast is much more personable and amenable then is so on the east. I believe that’s because folks here-about are largely from the mid-west/west while the east coast is largely populated by ex-New Yorkers and others from the northeast that have brought their aggressive habits and dispositions with them.

While living "on the water" sounds great, we decided to live inland (15-20 minutes from the boat) because of the more rural setting, somewhat less costly land/housing, and to be more remote from areas subject to surge/flooding in the even a storm does come ashore. As mentioned previously, the terrain is “flat” such that surge can make its way inland, up bays, estuaries, creeks and rivers, quite far so one does need be aware of the flood plains, particularly now that flood insurance is being priced more according to risk (some areas along the coast have become completely unaffordable for many due to the need for flood insurance and its relative costs). While moving here from California was somewhat of a shock, simply because of the terrain, once having arrived we’d never go back. We were able to re-create our house here, all up, for only 20% of its cost in California while our land—when we bought it—was twice as large and only 10% of the cost of our land in California. (And obtaining zoning approval and a building permit took only 3 weeks verses 3-5 years!)

My two cents worth…
 

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We've vacationed on Anna Maria Island a few times, which is nice, but even then a week in Florida is about my max. The larger communities which I have experienced, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm, are definetely not my thing. Too many people, traffic, crime, people, old people.... Yuck.
 

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You might want to take a look at the Charlotte Harbor area, and the towns of Punta Gorda , Port Charlotte and Englewood. Lots of waterfront property , great boating and sailing, and prices are reasonable
 

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+1 for Coconut Grove. That area has real flavor and character and its right in Miami. +1 for the Keys too....
 

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Jacksonville has very nice sailing on the St Johns River and offshore - prices will be a bit lower thanTampa area unless you want waterfront - lots of marinas - good sailing club that is very reasonable - Rudder Club of jacksonville - a bit cooler in the winter.

The Grove and the keys - yes very nice but better have deep pockets.
 

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I love the west coat of Florida, less expensive, less crowded and seems to be tad safer from the dreaded hurricane that is only a season away.

I plan to relocate there and live aboard in the next 5 years. I don't mind sleepy and quiet, actually looking forward to it.
 
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