Congratulations, if you have finally reached retirement, and are looking for a new home in sunny Florida. There are certainly many places you can live, with a wide range of amenities available. But keep in mind, those amenities, and the location of many communities, can drive up both your purchase cost and the ongoing fees associated with Homeowners’ Associations.
Here are some things to consider when looking at retirement homes:
Are you planning to use the amenities they offer? Sure, having a choice of several pools might be nice, but there are a lot of ongoing costs to keep them up. If you don’t play a lot of golf, being attached to a golf club can get expensive. As you explore your new home options, look at what you might be paying for over time, because those costs will add to the effective price of your home.
Is the real estate market stable in your area of interest? We are not talking about national real estate trends, such as the market slump that occurred after 2006. But real estate values should be stable or improving in the area you are interested in, or you might be making a bad investment.
What does the economic market look like in the area? There are many sites that can show demographics for specific areas. One is city-data.com, and many real estate apps now available for computers and smart phones also have economic data available. It doesn’t hurt to check out the areas you wish to buy into.
What is the climate like? Many residents come to Florida and move into communities well north of the east-west I-4 corridor that connects Tampa and Orlando. Then they are amazed in the winter when the freeze sets in, a common occurrence north of I-4. You may have also heard of the sinkhole problems that occur regularly in that same area. Although freezing weather is possible in the southern Sarasota County area, it’s rare. So are sinkholes, due to a different geology in southern Florida versus further north.
I’ve heard of “resident-owned” communities? Why would they be an advantage? If you buy a home in a community owned or primarily managed by an outside owner or company, you can be at their mercy when it comes to ongoing maintenance fees. Even worse are possible assessments they deem necessary for unexpected repairs, or just bad management. A resident-owned community is exactly that — a community owned by the residents within, and managed by them. Their Home Owners Association (HOA) is residents, not outside parties, although in Florida they are still under the oversight of state government. Residents vote on major issues affecting their park, and they also choose their own Board from residents during scheduled elections.
What is La Casa? La Casa is a resident-owned manufactured home community. We have two main resident Boards, the HOA noted above, and an Activity Association Board that manages all the ongoing activities and clubs in the park, with oversight by the HOA Board. Residents are encouraged to be involved, to run for the Board positions that routinely open, and to help manage clubs and activities. It’s a system that has worked since La Casa’s inception, and it keeps our community strong. With our 974 homes, it also keeps our maintenance fees quite low compared to many communities in the area, while providing lawn mowing, common area maintenance, two recreation halls, community lighting, two pools, tennis courts, bocce and shuffleboard areas, and open areas for other activities. We even have two boat ramps for access to a canal connecting to the Myakka River.
Come to La Casa, and you may have just found the retirement community you have been looking for.