Question Info on moving to South FL

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archman

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Ana is correct about scouting the area. Most of my colleagues and friends who moved down there and purchased a house immediately, ended up very much regretting it.

I recommend renting an apartment or house for a year, and spending that time exploring the area, the housing market, the people, the dive sites, boating access, shopping, blah blah. Most of SE Florida is a beehive of small to large-sized towns, all jam-packed together but each with very different features.

I have also found that most southerners do not stay long in Palm Beach/Broward/Miami-Dade counties, once they belatedly discover that they've entered what is often referred to as the "6th Borough of New York City". A lot of goods and services will charge a lot more than you're used to, real estate will definitely cost much more than you're used to, and the NYC culture can be very... different.

A 350k budget is fine for a smaller and older 2-bedroom home in most areas that aren't on the waterfront. So with your budget, cost isn't a problem if you're not needing a large house and not needing a bayside view. The *real problem* is that houses sell instantly down here, like the same week that they are listed. There is precious little inventory for home buyers.
 

Divin'Papaw

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Here are a couple of lists. They are a bit tongue in cheek for sure but have some real truth behind them. Ignore the relative rankings themselves as that is very subjective, but the descriptions are helpful to get a sense of where to possibly start. To @archman's point, they also help you understand just how these counties are composed of distinct cities all crammed together but each having a very distinct feel.

Palm Beach County

Broward County

ADDITION: I rarely mention Miami-Dade simply because I know absolutely nothing about it. I've visited there enough to know it's not for me, but I know many people LOVE IT. It is definitely worth considering, I just have no data to share. I didn't want you to think I was sending the message that you shouldn't consider "Miami". Most that live there love it, those of us that don't are glad we don't. It's just a very unique place.
 

Divin'Papaw

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A 350k budget is fine for a smaller and older 2-bedroom home in most areas that aren't on the waterfront. So with your budget, cost isn't a problem if you're not needing a large house and not needing a bayside view. The *real problem* is that houses sell instantly down here, like the same week that they are listed. There is precious little inventory for home buyers.

... and don't forget to take into account the property taxes, homeowners/condo owners insurance, flood insurance and HOA/maintenance fees (primarily for condos/townhouses). All together those can double or triple the cost of a mortgage.

Not trying to dissuade you, just want to make sure you are considering the total cost of ownership of a move to South Florida. We moved down over 5 years ago and haven't regretted it for a day. However, it is very different than owning a home in the Midwest where we moved from. We rented for awhile and learned A LOT before deciding where and what to buy. We are VERY glad we did that.
 

Ana

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could always buy a place in Gainesville or Lake City area where that will get you quite a lot and then learn to cave dive! 😈
Well... I wouldn't suggest to buy up there right away but definitely visit, and do it often. People who doesn't like South Florida, specifically SE Florida sometimes fall in love with that area up north.

I came to SE Florida in '85, Broward county too far inland for my taste. Little by little I moved closer to water with a small hiatus to the Panhandle that felt like a life sentence but was extremely educational. Since then, either personal experience or through my relatives I have a pretty good ideal of what is like to be anywhere from the Keys to Pensacola... I'm ok in the middle of the SE.
 

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In south Florida your price ranges will be based on East or West of major roads. Generally, the further west you go, the "cheaper" the properties will be. From East to West, US1, I95, Turnpike, SR 441, University Drive.

Now understand that is "generally" speaking. But there are smaller homes in that price range in up and coming neighborhoods.

Find the county property appraiser websites, go to the map and find the drop down for recent sales. That will allow you to target your home options.
 

archman

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... and don't forget to take into account the property taxes, homeowners/condo owners insurance, flood insurance and HOA/maintenance fees (primarily for condos/townhouses). All together those can double or triple the cost of a mortgage.
Oh yes, "HOA" fees down in south Florida can be ridiculous. Eventually you come to realize that "HOA" in many cases is actually just the neighborhood developer's code for "secret rent", that there is no actual homeowners association per se, and that most of your fees are siphoned off as somebody else's profit and do not get churned back into the neighborhood. It's pretty scummy.

So, always closely check for HOA and other monthly/annual fees. Expect them to be there, but possibly hidden and/or difficult to find.

Often times, a pretty great house will stay listed for weeks and you can't figure out why nobody has purchased it. But drilling down into the details, there will be something like a $700 monthly "HOA fee" stashed in the fine print. Bleah.
 

jadairiii

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Oh yes, "HOA" fees down in south Florida can be ridiculous.

they can but in Dade and Broward there are more properties without an HOA than there are in an HOA, especially east of University Drive. North into Palm Beach county you will encounter more HOA developments.
 

Ana

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Oh yes, "HOA" fees down in south Florida can be ridiculous. Eventually you come to realize that "HOA" in many cases is actually just the neighborhood developer's code for "secret rent", that there is no actual homeowners association per se, and that most of your fees are siphoned off as somebody else's profit and do not get churned back into the
neighborhood. It's pretty scummy.

Just as bad as those Associations are, the ones that do have homeowners involved can be worse. At least the ones above only take your money, the ones with owners involved can suck your soul.
I've never owned a home with HOA but my parents did and it was ridiculous, my parents were never targeted but you'd see the condo commandos armed with a ruler and a clipboard, literally measuring blades of grass. I've heard of places where nothing on the outside of the house can be changed without approval. Not sure I could handle that very well.

My place has a neighborhood association but they only exist for silly things, they put luminaires in front of every house on Christmas Eve or flags the 4th of July... I do have a neighbor that goes around bitching about everybody and has the Code Compliance # for the city in speed dial but that's about it, I think people like that exist in every country of the world.
 

Divin'Papaw

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Our condo community is actually well run, very transparent and I feel we get value for our HOA fees. When I moved to Florida I was done with external maintenance, lawn care, landscaping upkeep, etc. I WANTED an HOA to share the cost of taking care of that. But we rented in the community first before we bought. Got to know many of the neighbors, learned the good and the bad, found out where the drama was and wasn't and made an informed decision. Five years later we still love living here. Now they keep trying to get me to run for the board. Most likely I will when I retire but I don't have the time now.

The key thing is to ALWAYS research THOROUGHLY the association in place, if there is one, for the community in which you will be buying. If you don't, than shame on you. You really need to know what is required/expected to live in a given community before you buy, otherwise you may very well regret your purchase.

As far as rules (covenants), I'm of the opinion that if you don't want to follow them then why did you buy there? I don't agree with being anal about it, but community rules are there for everyone. Read them because you will sign them before you buy. If you can't/won't follow them, then buy somewhere else.
 
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