Every once in a while it’s good to sit down with your partner in retirement and discuss where you are, where you’ve been and where the two of you want to go. In other words, have a conference regarding your dual goals.
This past month, Nick and I were thrown into a tizzie when we realized we had a smoking neighbor problem (click here). We thought we could somehow solve the problem and when we realized the difficulty of it all, we decided to move. So DH and I went on this wild goose chase, trying to find a single family home to replace our condo, when the two of us had something like a nervous breakdown.
WTF? What The F**k were we doing? Somehow along our pre-thought out retirement plan, we went off course. (mostly ME…..I blame myself for our recent discourse) We had NO intention of buying and living in a single family home here in Florida (or anywhere else for that matter)! And the proof of that was in our written Mission Statement, proudly displayed on this blog’s ‘About’ page (click here).
We summer in upstate New York on our 3.5 acre estate. We winter in our gorgeous 2 bdrm, 2bath condo in Sarasota, Florida. And in between all of that, we are traveling to as many National and State Parks in America that we possibly can in our 17ft(RB) Jayco Hummingbird travel trailer.
Duh? Where oh where did I write the word ‘retirement’ when I wrote that particular statement? Nick and I have NOT decided where our final retirement location is going to be (goal: one house, one car, one life!) So why the heck were we looking for a single family residence here in Florida? Florida, for us, was only good to stay warm in the winter. Technically, we really can’t live here all year long. The summers, as we found out, are just too brutal. You wind up staying indoors over the summer which is contradictory to our love of outdoor living. Which is the exact opposite of our living conditions in upstate New York in the winter. We wind up trapped inside our home during the winter months there. So the New York/Florida balance has worked for us for over 36 years.
Yes, every once in a while I let the full-time-retirement-Florida-living thought pass through my brain BUT once you investigate that type of living arrangement, the thought quickly evaporates. The reality of Florida is that over 1,000 (that’s one thousand!) people move into Florida EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Do you have any idea what this has done to the economy here in Florida? It has made housing costs jump through the roof, the cost of living skyrocket AND it has made Florida a very crowded, congested place. Throw in Spring Break and you’re in stand-still land.
Somebody has to pay for all the new roads, highways, traffic and new schools (elementary, high school, college and career vocational schools) being built. Since Florida has NO income tax or retirement benefit taxation, the state has chosen to heavily tax homeowners! Good luck with that!
I think the Florida boat for most anyone has passed. What used to be a very good retirement deal years ago, has now become a very expensive lesson in retirement planning. When we bought our condo in 2016, we bought at pre-construction prices. We paid $163K cash for our condo when barely the building structure was erected. We knew what we were getting into, on paper AND because we trusted the builder felt confident in our buying vs renting. Today, just barely two years after we bought our now-finished condo, the purchase price has risen to $225K. In just two short years, Nick and I have made a $62,000 profit (plus we got to live and enjoy the resort-like community) If we had to buy our condo today, we could barely afford it.
Here is our condo living room & lanai water view of a natural river water way. We did NOT pay extra for this view upon purchasing BUT we can now charge extra upon selling our unit.
If Nick and I get back to our core goals, that’s what property ownership had been for the two of us these past 36 years together. We have bought and sold properties AND that is how we have made (and lost) our money AND retired young! Where or where, or better yet, why oh why did we lose our way? Personally, I thought that cigarette smoke changed our brain waves. LOL! (simple solution: we installed a $900 smoke eater!)
Our condo is a resort-style, vacation home! It is NOT our final destination. It’s a place to come out of the brutal northeast winters and with a plethora of activities and ammenities, it is the perfect place to unwind, have fun and simply enjoy oneself! (10 har-tru tennis courts, 26 holes of golf, 9 heated pools, 2 hot tubs, pickle ball, spa-like restaurant, Tiki bar, planned activities, concerts, dancing, yoga, palates, yada, yada, yada….the choices are endless) If we were to rent a similar condo for the three brutal months of winter (January, February and March) our costs would have been $9,000 ($3000 per month) a $500 non-refundable pet fee, a $200 non-refundable property management fee and at least a $300 to $500 cleaning fee. Throw on top of all of that an $18% Florida rental tax and we were looking at a annual cost of $12,036. For only $8998 annual (property taxes, HOA fee and Social Club membership fee), we can vacation all year long (if need be) here in Florida PLUS earn approximately $30,000 in increased equity!
Side Note: we tried the RV living in Florida and realistically, we couldn’t live in an RV for weeks or even months at a time. Eventually you want a real kitchen, a real bed and space to walk around!
If Nick and I didn’t want to winter in Florida, for whatever reason, we could rent it out at the prices listed above. There is no shortage of renters nor buyers here. At 1,000 people relocating to Florida per day, recent sales here have been completed, from beginning (listing) to end (closing), within three to four weeks. Our Florida condo purchase is an ‘investment’. Once we re-aligned our thinking, everything fell into place.
After DH and I had our Family Retirement Goals Conference (to be honest, our meeting was more like a four hour screaming match while driving recklessly on Interstate I-75 when the reality of living full time in Florida was the realization we would be living a cookie-cutter life, on a cookie-cutter street, in a cookie-cutter home! So NOT for us! Technically, Nick and I had a nervous breakdown. More so him than me! LOL! We came to the conclusion that our original plan was still the best and was working out fine and dandy for the two of us. Everything was great. Everything was affordable.
We still are on the quest to find our perfect final retirement location(s). That’s why we have the RV. We have fallen in love with the mountains in the state of Tennessee and are scheduled to further check out other areas in TN, such as Nashville. We also like North Carolina for the beautiful beaches on its Outer Banks. Nick and I have always owned two homes because we could never settle on one place to live. We like the mountains. And we like the beach. And we hate and despise California which could give us both equally.
I still have visions of myself living out west on hundreds and hundreds of acres, in a homestead spread out to include a barn filled with horses, goats and sheep. Dogs. A few dogs. All property care and management is handled by a working family who live with us also, on the homestead, for free, in exchange for working the property, maintaining the home and cooking Nick and I three squares a day!
Hey! I can dream, can’t I?