My wife and I are looking to retire in three years from New Jersey to Florida or a Florida-type atmosphere â warm weather, no snow!
We will be getting around $5,000 from Social Security monthly and will have a little over $1 million spread among savings/401(k)/house equity. We want to buy a condo for about $250,000 that has all the extras like pools, restaurants, social activities and near the beach.
Can you make any suggestions?
With 1,350 miles of coastline in Florida alone, never mind the rest of the South, you have many possibilities for your retirement. But as you can imagine, properties closest to the beach are more expensive, so ânear the beachâ may involve some compromise.
I started my search with Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.) and its picks of affordable beach communities, but didnât stick to it exclusively.
My three suggestions are just a starting point. No place is perfect, not every development will have all the amenities you want, and every town has its own personality, so you may want to think about what else is important to you. You also may want to consider gated communities and townhomes, not just multistory condominium buildings.
As you narrow down your list, I recommend you visit at least twice â once in the winter to experience the crowds in high season and once in the summer to understandÂ what southern humidity is like. Itâs worse than in New Jersey.
Think about how you will build your new social network, even with all the social amenities in your condo building. Donât rule out the local senior center or the townâs recreation department.
Consider renting for the first year to test it out to make sure youâve picked the right area.
Then there are the money questions. The last thing you need is a surprise.
Youâll have condo fees; they can be quite high, particularly in a high-rise building along the beach. What do they cover and what donât they cover? How much have fees been rising over, say, the past 10 years? How does the board budget for bigger repairs? More broadly, are you OK with the condo associationâs rules?
Ask about the cost of both flood and wind insurance given that the southern coastline is regularly threatened with hurricanes. Thatâs on top of homeownerâs insurance. Or are you far enough inland that you can get away without them?
Walk into the tax assessorâs office to try for a more accurate tax assessment than your real-estate agent may give you. And since this would be your primary residence, ask about the homestead exemption.
And donât forget that youâre trading your New Jersey heating bill for more months of air conditioning; what will that cost?
Finally, three years isnât that far away.Â Start decluttering now. Thatâs hard work, too.
Here are three coastal towns to get you started on your search:
This town of nearly 25,000 on the Gulf Coast is part of the Sarasota metro area, deemed by U.S. News & World Report to beÂ the best area in the U.S. to retire. Venice is 25 miles south of Sarasota and its big-city amenities; itâs 60 miles north of Fort Myers, the runner-up in the U.S. News listing.
It also made Realtor.comâs list ofÂ affordable beach towns for 2020.
This is a retiree haven â 62% of residents are 65 and over, according to Census Bureau data.
While you can always travel to the nearby big cities, when you want to stay local, see whatâs on at theÂ Venice Performing Arts CenterÂ and theÂ Venice Theatre. Walk or bicycle along the 10.7-mileÂ Legacy TrailÂ toward Sarasota and the connecting 8.6-mileÂ Venetian Waterway Park TrailÂ to the south. The latter will lead you toÂ highly ratedCaspersen Beach.
Temperature-wise, youâll have an average high of 72 in January (with overnight lows averaging 51) and an average high of 92 in August (with an overnight low of 74).
HereâsÂ what is on the market right now, using Realtor.com listings.
Boynton Beach, Florida
On the opposite side of the state, smack between Palm Beach and Boca Raton, is this city of about 80,000 people,Â plenty of whom are from the tri-state area. More than one in five are 65 or older.
Weather is similar to that in Venice: an average high of 73 in January and 85 in August.
Boynton Beach is in the middle of developing theÂ 16-acre Town Square projectÂ that will include a cultural center and residential options, among other things. Still, this is an area where one town bleeds into the next, so whatever you donât find in Boynton Beach, youâll probably find next door.
At the western edge of town is theÂ Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 145,000 acres of northern Everglades and cypress swamp. TheÂ Green Cay Nature CenterÂ is another natural attraction.
You can also hopÂ Tri-Rail, a commuter train line that runs from West Palm Beach to the Miami airport with a stop in Boynton Beach, when you want to go elsewhere. The fancier Brightline train isÂ adding a stop in Boca RatonÂ to its existing trio of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami; the current plan is for a mid-2022 opening.
This city has many amenity-laden retirement communities, and the median listing price for condos and townhouses fit your budget, according to Realtor.com data. HereâsÂ whatâs on the market now.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
If youâre ready to look beyond Florida, Myrtle Beach, S.C., with nearly 35,000 people, made Realtor.comâsÂ 2018Â andÂ 2019Â lists of affordable beach towns, and Murrells Inlet, just to the south and home to just under 10,000 people, made the 2020 list. The broader Myrtle Beach area, known as the Grand Strand, extends for 60 miles along the coast.
Summer temperatures in Myrtle Beach are a touch cooler than Florida; an average high of 88 in July, with lows averaging 74.
A word of warning: In the winter, average overnight lows get down to around 40, and average daytime highs reach the upper 50s. Is that acceptable, or too cold?
Myrtle Beach boasts of its low property taxes, especially when combined with the stateâs homestead exemption. While you may think of the city as a vacation destination, 20% of residents are 65 or older. (Nearly 32% of Murrells Inlet residents are seniors.)
Hereâs whatâs for sale now inÂ Myrtle BeachÂ and inÂ Murrells Inlet.
The post We Want to Retire to Florida or a Florida-Type Atmosphere and Buy a Condo With Lots of Amenities for $250,000âWhere Should We Go? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.