Help my parents find a place to live in Florida
October 3, 2013 2:18 PM   Subscribe

My parents have decided to relocate from Long Island, NY to Florida sometime in the next year. They will be taking a few trips down to try to get a sense as to where they might want to be, but are pretty clueless about the different areas/cities and what would work for them. Can you help me narrow it down for them? More details inside...

They are in their late 60s and both in good health. They would prefer a house to a condo. They are used to life in the suburbs of NYC, with lots of greenery but also easy access to restaurants, shopping, etc. I think another suburb that is close-ish to a city would be a good fit.

They would like to spend as little as possible for housing (and they will be purchasing)--that being said, they understand that they will pay more for the conveniences they want. My mom is a housewife and my dad will be retiring prior to the move. My dad has been looking at short sales and foreclosures--any insight on this process and whether it is a good idea or not would be appreciated.

My dad has been looking at the West Coast, at Tampa and St. Pete so far. I know they would like to be close (driving distance) to the water--right now they live maybe 15 minutes from a harbor in NY.

A community of other NY/CT/NJ transplants would be nice, as would a Jewish community in the area.

Other data points:

-My dad is an extremely liberal ex-hippie.
-Mom is a TERRIFYINGLY bad driver, so someplace where she wouldn't need to be driving long distances/on any highways to go about her day to do is best.
-They're more or less homebodies, they like going to the park to take walks, out to dinner near their house, shopping together on the weekends, and occassionally a movie.

Based on the above, where should my folks be looking?
posted by msjoannabanana to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

A community of other NY/CT/NJ transplants would be nice, as would a Jewish community in the area.

All of my NJ Jewish relatives wound up in Boca Raton which is sort of a stereotype, but there you have it. On or near the water. Democratic reps. Good university and hospital there. Art museums. Up here where I live there are a lot of people who almost go down to FL en masse around Thanksgiving and all live sort of near each other down there until April or May. It might be worth doing a survey of some of their local folks (from the synagogue if they are practicing) to see if such a location down there exists for people from their region.
posted by jessamyn at 2:28 PM on October 3, 2013

The traditional promised land of the new york jews is canonically Boca.
posted by elizardbits at 2:29 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hit post too fast! There are a number of senior-oriented communities in and around Boca, at pretty much all income levels and many focused around various activities. Almost all have golf, and many have boat-friendly homes with private slips.
posted by elizardbits at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2013

Best answer: Pasadena, which is sort of part of St. Pete and has a large Jewish population, or nearby Gulfport, which has the aging hippie kind of thing. I used to live there, I'm your parents's age and somewhat similar in background. Feel free to memail me.
posted by mareli at 2:35 PM on October 3, 2013

Where are they from on LI. Do they want Great Neck/Roslyn-by-the-sea. Or something more chill
posted by JPD at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2013

Best answer: We are in our early 40s and my partner and I moved to St Pete so I could take a job in Tampa in May. It's been a big adjustment but we're starting to find our stride. As a proper city kid I don't know that I would live in any other city in Florida. We live 12-15 minutes from some of the best beaches in the US.

St Pete and the surrounding area is pretty liberal for Florida, but it's still Florida. There's plenty of hippies and the like in the St Pete area.

Lots of green spaces as well as a waterfront that is very popular and active. Not to mention that we're home to the amazing St Petersburg Shuffleboard Club down at Mirror Lake. St Petersburg is really reinvesting into wonderful redevelopment. It's exciting to see this city reinvigorate itself.

Greenlight Pinellas is working on bringing a proper transit system to the bay area and I'm hopeful that it will happen but getting around St Pete is pretty easy as it is and if you live in a handful of the inner neighborhoods you really don't have to drive much at all.

There's lots of northeast transplants as well as folks from all over.

Feel free to have them get in touch with us via email. Be happy to answer questions or point them in the right direction when they visit. Seems like there's not a lot of good information on the web.

Also - Real estate is heating up here, but there's still plenty of affordable homes in good to decent areas of Pinellas - particularly if you don't have to worry about schools.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:44 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah I was going to say Boca, which is basically the Long Island of Florida. You can see on the Zillow map that it has a lot of green spaces/parks/golf courses. It has some nice local theater. It makes a nice bagel. If they've never really lived in Florida at all before, make sure they know they really, really want a fan in every room and a Florida room. There are a TON of properties, including foreclosures, for sale. What they need to find is not a house but rather a buyer's agent, because the market down there is kinda wild. And they'd need some help finding a property that alleviates your mother's driving issue; it is possible but you're going to be very location specific within Boca.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:51 PM on October 3, 2013

A community of other NY/CT/NJ transplants would be nice

My understanding is that Northeasterners tend to move to the Boca/Fort Lauderdale/Miami metro area and that Midwesterners tend to move to the Tampa area.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:25 PM on October 3, 2013

The further north you go, the further South/Red State you are.

My suggestion is short term rentals, bum around PBC, Broward, Dade, & the Keys. Use the time to figure out where they really want to live, find a congregation; where to live may branch from that.
posted by tilde at 5:39 PM on October 3, 2013

Boca sounds like the most likely place. Another consideration is, do they have any friends or family already living somewhere in Florida, someone who'll help ease their transition? It's easier if they're not dropped completely cold into nothing but strangers in a strange place.
posted by easily confused at 5:39 PM on October 3, 2013

Your parents might also look to settle on Amelia Island, perhaps even in the small city of Fernandina Beach on Ameila, which is just south of the Georgia/Florida state line, and about 30 miles northeast of Jacksonville. As New York suburbanites, there's a lot to recommend Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach to your parents, as a retirement destination. First off, Fernandina Beach has all the necessities for retirement living, including a large range of housing types at many price points, and yet it still has a small town feeling, with a population of only about 12,000. Driving around the island is easy, and there are never any traffic jams, as a New Yorker might recognize one. Yet it also sports a Ritz-Carlton hotel and resort, top notch golf courses, other multi-million dollar resort and shopping developments, and it has an active local culture scene, including a sailing school, and a good library system, not to mention various excellent fishing opportunities. Fernandina Beach is also the county seat for Nassau County, FL, making doing business with the state (taxes, drivers license, vehicle tags, etc.) pretty easy. The local hospital is a direct affiliate of the larger Baptist Hospital network in Jacksonville. And because of all the tourists, there's always an active restaurant scene.

Living on Amelia, you're on the north side of the Jacksonville metro area, with a straight shot at the Jacksonville International Airport, also on the north side of town, without the need to go into Jacksonville proper, to meet guests arriving at JIA, or to make flights leaving there. And, you're only a couple hours south of Savannah, GA, and the Golden Isles. Atlanta is about 6 hours driving time, all on Interstate highways, and if they just take I-10 West out of Jacksonville, they can be in Tallahasse, Pensecola, Mobile, Gulfport, or New Orleans, easily, by car, and mostly, in less than a day. Or, take the Interstates south to Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, or Boca Raton, if that's their thing, all easily within a day's drive.

And believe it or not, Fernandina Beach is still a working international port, and you do occasionally see freighters and other ocean going vessels pulling in, and often, still, the remaining shrimp fleet going in and out. If they're adventurous, they might even book passage on a freighter heading out to Central or South American destinations, only a quick cab ride from their retirement home!

Try doing that in Boca...

Finally, you write: "-My dad is an extremely liberal ex-hippie."

Well, half the folk of Fernandina Beach are ex-pirates! 8 out of 10 are probably public Republicans and closet Libertarians, but Nassau County as a whole is a pretty live-and-let-live place. If your dad doesn't fight dogs, doesn't bounce checks, nor opens an abortion clinic, he'll probably fit right in with some bunch in that town. And if he doesn't, at first, he's probably just not drinking enough, and believe you me, they can fix that.
posted by paulsc at 5:55 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

My Jewish from Long Island relatives are in Ft. Lauderdale, and my Jewish "old hippies from Brooklyn" relatives are in the Fort Meyers/Matlacha/Pine Island area. Fort Meyers is more suburban; Matlacha/Pine Island is more hippie-ish, and is like living inside the song "Margaritaville". Lots of interesting characters there. My cousin owns an acre or two on Pine Island, and he has papaya, mango, banana, guava and other fruit trees on his property, and he regularly goes fishing and shrimping in the Gulf. So, free food, very relaxed atmosphere, VERY hippie-ish.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:12 PM on October 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for their responses--now I have someplace to start!

JPD they are from the North Shore in Suffolk County--so more chill than the Great Neck/Roslyn areas.

FlamingBore and Mareli, thanks for the offers to help, I will pass them on to my folks.
posted by msjoannabanana at 8:03 AM on October 4, 2013

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