Florida has long been considered the best destination for retirement. Warm, tropical weather lets you enjoy the great outdoors all year long. The vibrant communities and beachfront views lend themselves to a high quality of life. And because so many people consider it the place to spend their golden years, the hospitals are top-notch.
Of course, that’s not all Florida has to offer. This state, which experiences one of the fastest rates of annual growth, is known just as much for its family lifestyle as its booming nightlife. Depending on where you move, you might find everything from affordable neighborhoods with plenty of kids running around to upscale condos with streets that never sleep.
The Florida Real Estate Market
Because Florida is such a popular destination, home prices here tend to be a little steeper than the national average. City living (Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Jacksonville) usually comes with higher real estate costs, while life in the smaller towns and outlying areas tends to be a little friendlier on the wallet. And of course, anytime you want to live directly on the water or overlooking it, you can expect to pay more for the privilege. Apartments and condos can soar well into the million dollar mark, especially if you’re looking for gated access and all the perks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find more affordable housing here.
Where to Live in Florida
Looking to get more for your dollar? Hoping to capture a certain kind of atmosphere in the place you call home? Then check out these up-and-coming Florida homes.
For a Smaller Beach City: Fort Meyers, which is located on the less popular side of the state (opposite the big destinations like Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale) is a tourist town, but not to the extent of its neighbors to the east. With just 65,000 residents and more real estate options, you can enjoy a quieter way of life that still puts you in touch with all the activities.
When Safety and Quiet Living Matter: Parkland, Florida was voted the safest city in the state—and with a population under 25,000 that’s made up primarily of families, it’s easy to see why. Although living here is a bit more expensive than many other locations, the great public school system and quiet setting make it well worth the investment.
For a Great Retirement: Whenever you talk about retirement in Florida, The Villages is likely to enter the conversation sooner or later. This entire community (located almost in the exact center, northwest of Orlando) is designed to be a place for active retirees to enjoy the weather, local lakes, and quality homes.
For Quality Big-City Living: If you don’t want to miss out on the big cities in Florida, but you want a setting that’s still safe and accessible, you probably want to stick to Fort Lauderdale. Efficient roadways, a fairly stable job market, and safe communities make it more appealing than many of the larger metropolitan areas, and it still has the benefit of all the activity of a main city center.
Lists and checklists are your best friend when relocating to a new home or city. Whether you rely on moving apps to help you get everything done, or if you’re a tried-and-true notepaper sort of person, make sure you follow this handy guideline for ensuring you successfully change your address (and/or cancel services) with the organizations and people you rely on every day.
A. Utility Providers
___ Cell Phone
B. Household Services
___ Yard/Garden Maintenance
___ Handyman Services
___ Pool Cleaning
___ Water Delivery
___ Food Delivery
C. Local Business Providers
___ Family Doctor
D. Family Services
___ Child’s School
___ Tutor/Private Teachers
___ Sports Teams/Coaches
E. Financial Accounts
___ Loan Providers
___ Credit Card Companies (including individual department stores)
___ Health Insurance
___ Auto Insurance
___ House Insurance
___ Life Insurance
___ Pension Plan/Retirement
F. Government Offices
___ Social Security
___ Unemployment Office
___ Car/Boat/RV Registration
___ Driver’s License
___ Book Clubs
___ Music Clubs
___ Monthly Deliveries
___ Alma Mater
___ Professional Organizations/Clubs
It’s always a good idea to register your change of address with the U.S. Postal Service, as well. A forwarding address form will help make sure all mail is directed to your new address. (Remember, though, that this service doesn’t last forever, so you will need to eventually change your address at each individual provider.)
One great tip for ensuring that you don’t forget anyone is to start a list about two months before your move. Take note of every piece of mail that comes in and who you’ll need to contact to update your information. You can also make an announcement on Facebook (assuming your profile is private) to your family and friends so that everyone can be sure to find you in your new home.
As we get ready to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer, it’s time to turn our attention to the new school year.
Whether you’re a student yourself or a parent responsible for one, make the often harsh transition a lot easier with these tips for starting the school year off on the right foot.
Create Calendar Central
Each school year floats on a sea of schedules. School functions. Lunch menus. Scout meetings and music lessons. What do you do when you’re drowning in paper?
Nothing calms school year chaos like Calendar Central: a centralized site for all family calendars and schedules. You’ll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.
Form is less important than function. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily. Pre-printed white board calendars are easy to revise when necessary. Color-coding entries by family member helps keep busy lives straight.
Paper planner fans dedicate a planner section to serve as Calendar Central, while tech-savvy cybergrrrlz store the info in a smart phone or tablet and sync with multiple computers. Choose a calendar format that works for your family.
Post the family event calendar in a public place near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or tack it to a bulletin board.
Add other calendars to Calendar Central: school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, sports practice schedules. When the room mother calls for field trip volunteers, you’ll know at a glance whether you’re free to join the group on the bus that day.
Plan before you shop
August is the second-biggest sales month for clothing retailers. Back to school clothing sales begin as early as July! Are you prepared to run the school clothes gauntlet?
Take an afternoon and assess each child’s clothing needs.
Empty drawers and closets of outgrown or worn-out clothing, and either store or donate the discards.
Working with your child, clean and organize clothing storage before new garments are added–and cut down on school morning calls of “Mom! I don’t have any clean . . . . “
Develop a wardrobe needs list for each child. Check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings as you make your list. If you discuss the needs list and the family budget with your children before you shop, you’ll avoid in-the-store tantrums.
Similarly, ask the school for classroom supply lists before shopping for school supplies. Forewarned is forearmed … and helps protect the family budget.
Do shop early! With back-to-school sales beginning in mid-July, tardy shoppers have a tough time locating needed supplies among September’s Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations.
Gather your papers
School entry may require documentation from immunization records to report cards from the previous school year. Athletes need proof of medical examination. A little preparation can prevent frantic last-minute searches for a birth certificate or registration confirmation.
Call your child’s school or check the school district Web site beforehand to find out what paperwork will be required–then find it! You won’t be sorry come registration day.
How to help your child battle with back to school worries:
Happy New School Year!