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A dream to come true for "Freedom 55 in Florida"?

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Hi All experts,

I have been thinking long and hard about getting retired after 55 in Florida for the last few years. The year 2011 could not have come a better time for a Canadian like me thinking to retire and invest in the realty property in Florida, especailly with the curent low Florida housing prices and the strong Canadian loonies.

I understand there are many factors to consider for a Canadian to buy condos/houses in Florida, such as property taxation for new buyer, for foreigners, insurance and others. For now, I am thinking about a gated community, by or close to the beach front, 2 or 3 bedrooms, either villa or condo in the southern region of Florida. I have seen advertised prices for 3 bedrooms for about $70K. The price is almost too good to be true compared to the housing market value in Canada. So, my gut is telling me ... "if anything that is too good to be true, then it is!. Better run fast!"

I know I should go personally to Flordia to check out properties and other regulations first hand. I will do that for sure. For sure, I am trying to gather as much information or insight from anybody who can provide. The more information I can get, the better decision I will make.

Please share whatever information you can.

Thanks a billion. (a figure of speech, of course. :-) )

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    A lot of posters ask questions similar to this, then never respond when the answers aren't what they want to hear. It has made it frustrating for people who spend time responding, so fewer do.

    However, your questions are intelligent and thoughtful, so here is a beginning to answers.

    Yes, a three bedroom house for $70K is too good to be true. It will not be near the beach, and it may well be in one of Florida's failed developments, ones where owners simply abandoned their properties and walked away.

    There are a few real advantages to being in a gated community and some downsides. You don't have to mow your own lawn and you are likely to have access to a pool and other amenities, but there may be personal restrictions on such things as the number and ages of overnight guests, whether you can rent your property, and the like. The real horror is when you own a property or condo and the developer fails or your neighbors default: your share of the operating costs can go up dramatically, to crippling levels. Examining the condo and association documents in Florida is unbelievably important, and if you don't know what to look for or how to interpret them, you need a lawyer.

    I wouldn't want to live north of Sarasota. In fact, I wouldn't want to live north of Pine Island, but you may feel differently. Frost is very, very rare south of the Peace River. Not so rare north of there.

    The West Coast is somewhat calmer than the East Coast, and there are a fair number of Canadians who live there. The Miami area, however, is wonderfully multicultural and lively in a way that the West Coast is not. The interior is less interesting to me except in the Everglades. We owned in Naples, but if we were moving back I might look at Miami, though beach access is important to me as it is to you.

    You need to look carefully at airline schedules and your distance from a major airport. You will need to get back and forth from your place, and presumably family and friends will want to visit. Because traffic is heavy in the winter, the nearer the airport the better. MIA, FLL, and RSW (Ft Myers) are the big ones in the south. Many people leave a car at their residence here, usually an older luxury model known generically as "condo cars", but you still have to get from the airport to the car. Driving from the north at the beginning and end of the season is odious enough that you won't want to do it more than you have to.

    You have a lot to think about on the Canadian end if you are planning to become a permanent resident (legally defined) or even a year round resident. The Canadian government, even under the Liberals, made it very hard to transfer assets out of Canada, much harder than for US citizens going in the other direction. What happens to your pensions, and far more important, what happens to your health insurance when you live abroad.

    I figure you don't need to know about summer heat, hurricane season, and critters like poisonous snakes, monitor lizards and alligators. You can figure it out!

    If you find at some point that you want to settle in the Naples area, I can recommend an extremely competent and experienced real estate person, but you don't know enough yet.

    If I can expand on my answers or respond to different issues, please let me know. If you get lucky, NeoPatrick may be watching the forum and can respond on Naples issues as well.

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    Excellent advice from Ackislander.

    Freedom 55, if you do decide to come to Florida, you will be joining many other Canadians (the vast majority are snowbirds). That is certainly true where I live in east central Florida. I would recommend googling to see if there is Canadians in the US forum that might be helpful.

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    I agreed wholeheartedly with 321go on his comment on Ackislaner's repy.

    Apparently, Ackislaner's reply is a very thoughtful and insightful piece of information for any potential snowbirds that are thinking of enjoying their the 2nd half of life in Florida.

    I appreciate the multiculturalism that is practised in the areas that he is referring and it plays an important part in my decision. Different cultures (and less by the money) is the one that makes the world go round and round.

    Thanks for the reponses.

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