I'm old enough to have been through many of these "boom and bust" economic cycles, and the question is not if, but when, the next correction occurs. Unfortunately, I don't have the advantage of being in my 40’s and would greatly prefer to be enjoying a nice Florida home before I'm drooling in a nursing home!
Many of you who are now approaching retirement age are facing many questions. Do I want to retire? Do I have enough money saved to support the lifestyle I would like to enjoy in retirement? Do I want to buy or rent? Where do I want to live? In my case, I had always expected an early retirement. I was seriously involved in boating and knew that I would have endless ways to keep busy and involved. Well, it all reminds me of the old saying, "Man plans, and God laughs," and so it has been with me. I experienced financial disaster in the 1990's, and it took years of effort for me to rise above it, clawing my way back. Ironically, being in a position where I had to work, came to make me understand that I was beginning to enjoy what I was doing, and had no interest in retiring. That is still the way I feel. Yes, I am cutting back, taking steps to share the responsibility of running the businesses; however, I'm just not ready to be turned out to pasture!
So, our plan is to figure out where we would like to live in Florida and move towards buying a home there. As I have said before in my blogs, the choices in Florida are unlimited! Two sets of friends of ours recently moved to northeast Florida, and the prices are significantly lower there than in south Florida. My guess is that the weather has a lot to do with it. It can get a lot colder in Jacksonville than in Miami, but not the twenty below temperatures expected in parts of Maine this week! It is not easy to decide, because there are so many excellent possibilities in the state. My own preference has long been for the Keys, especially the upper Keys. We love Key West, but it is a long, slow ride to Miami International, and all the amenities (and necessities) one may sometimes require in Miami.
When asked what areas of Florida we like best, I cite the Keys, and northern places like St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach. People ask how we can prefer two such totally different areas, but they each have their own charm, and that's the conundrum. Still, we feel the Keys have the edge. After introducing Phil to Key Largo, it didn't take him long to decide he wanted to live and work there. Soon, our daughter- Phil's wife- expects to follow him there, which is another reason for us to live nearby.
There is also the very big question of whether to buy a single-family home vs. a condo. My very best advice is for a prospective buyer to rent, ideally several times, in the area where they are planning to buy. If you are coming from a single-family home, and are considering a condo, you better be sure that you will be happy living in a condo lifestyle, because it is a lot different! A lot also depends upon whether you will be living there full time or using it as a vacation home. What may be acceptable for a few weeks, may grow tedious over the long haul. And there are many different scenarios when it comes to condo living, which I will explore in my next installment. Missed Chapter 8 or 9? Keep reading to follow the story.