Two Popular States for Baby Boomer's Second Homes
Florida, the Sunshine State
Moving to Florida, the "Sunshine State" is a dream come true for many retirees, families and singles. With tropical weather in most parts of this giant peninsula, and miles of sandy beaches, it's easy to daydream a new life in Paradise. As the fourth most populous state, the dream is a reality for more than 16 million residents. If you're wondering how to pick out your dream property in Florida, here's a few tips to keep in mind.
Arizona, the Grand Canyon State
My husband and fellow real estate agent, Jimmy Herter, and I fell in love with Arizona. We purchased a 2nd home in Scottsdale AZ, a cute townhome located in north Scottsdale. My parents retired there and lived in Mesa for many years. I had no interest interest
in Arizona until I visited them for the first time. I fell in love! When I'm there I'm happy. The sun, the desert, the warmer winters, the cacti and beautiful southwest flowers and that ever-popular dry heat.
Do Your Research
1. Be sure to research the different areas of Florida and Arizona real estate to make sure you are selecting a development or town that has the atmosphere you are looking for. Miami life is completely different than life in Pensacola, which is more like a southern town. Gulf Coast towns and cities are known for being more relaxed, while the East Coast of Florida is a little more fast-paced. Central Florida will vary greatly on whether one chooses South-Central or smack-dab Central, and of course, inland properties are going to be more affordable than their coastline cousins.
We chose Scottsdale, AZ because it was close to the airport and Phoenix and had a lot of things to do in this popular retirement town. We weren't raising kids here so we wanted to be close to "the action" and didn't want or need a typical bedroom community. Scottsdale is higher priced than many other Phoenix suburbs. Some people prefer to be more rural and choose other towns out of the Phoenix area. Another popular but very expensive retirement area is Sedona. It has beautiful, colorful mountains and soil and has been built-up drastically over the years. There is a quaint downtown area and more and more places to shop and dine.
My brother purchased a new 2nd home in north Scottsdale in a prestigious gated subdivision with natural desert landscape under a mountain. Because it is new construction he finally sealed the house because every time they'd come to visit they had to clean out the scorpions and other bugs that made it inside. I've learned to stay away from new construction in AZ. Our place was built in the 80's and is in a developed area so we've never seen a scorpion or snake. In fact, we've seen very little wildlife or bugs.
Our friends bought a fixer-upper in rural Sedona and have had to battle with rattlesnakes and javalina pigs. They found a rattlesnake in the kitchen one visit. Javalina pigs are considered pests and ruin landscape, can hurt or kill pets and smell very bad.
2. Unless you have a big budget, forget waterfront properties. To keep from spending tons of money on insurance and taxes, try to live a little further inland. It's always easier to rent a beach house for a week or two, than to pour money into a beach property year-round. Buying Florida properties five miles or more inland will save you thousands. And, no matter where you are in Florida, it's never more than a few hours drive to the beach.
We learned that some properties in Arizona are located on land that have a 99 year lease with an Indian tribe. The monthly fee for these places were over $400.00. There is a beautiful condo complex where the prices are affordable to make up for the $900+ monthly fee! I don't think that was on Indian land but it was a very exclusive complex that was built to attract high end buyers. Those high-end prices have fallen since so many units became distressed as buyers realized that the high monthly fee wasn't worth it. I don't know how anyone can sell one of those condos.
With most 2nd home states, you do need to do your research. Gated communities are always priced at a premium. There are no beachfront homes in AZ, but certain parts of Scottsdale are more expensive than others. Rural towns are usually more affordable, but not all. It depends on the town's infrastructure and what they offer and how large they are.
My sister-in-law's sister purchased a 2nd home in AZ for a very low amount and was quite proud of it. Unfortunately, they didn't do their homework as it is a crime ridden area with a recent drive-by shooting death of a teenage girl. Super low prices aren't always the best value, and this home will most likely not increase in price much because of its location.
3. Homeowner associations. Many subdivisions have them, especially attached properties. The stereotype of the hyperactive condo board or homeowner association is a reality for many planned and gated communities, and condo complexes in Florida or Arizona. But, in the long run these HOA boards can be your best friend. After all it's their job to keep the place in top notch condition and in doing so your investment will be more secure. Should you find the rules to be too strict for your comfort, there are always non-deed-restricted communities in which to live in.
We wanted our first 2nd home purchase to be a townhouse with a Home Owner's Association and management. Our particular unit is tucked in the back and we feel it's a very secure location. We are happy to have the association keep up the complex and keep our investment safe. We're considering buying a single family Scottsdale home in the future, but we'd have to be there for longer periods of time to do that.
Wherever you decide to make your 2nd home, please do your research so you don't regret your purchase. And if you plan on staying in Northern IL, use our home search to see what you can get for the money.