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ahudson217 Feb 8th, 2016 05:53 AM

Beaches in Florida
Hi, I'm a mother to 3 younger boys and I have never been to the Panhandle but love the Sarasota area and beaches and proximity to so much. My mother in law wants to buy property in Panama City beach, Carillon beach to be exact. It's gated and has pools etc so she sees the appeal in that, I'm just not keen on ongoing HOA fees. Is this area generally safe? I'm just not so sure it will have the same feel as further south, the weather will be a little cooler and also the activities wont be the same. I also think the water and sand would be very similar in both places. I'm originally from Winter Park,FL and love the Park Ave atmosphere and vibe. Can anyone help with suggestions? I'm not really sure how to approach her decision as I've never been to PCB. She went for one day and fell in love with Carillon Beach a few weeks ago, which I'm assuming is low season there. She has also never been to Sarasota and its hard to explain somewhere without actually having traveled to it and she is not interested in visiting there to just see. Thanks!

Ackislander Feb 8th, 2016 06:11 AM

You have to understand that how one feels about different areas of Florida is religion, not reason.

I find the Panhandle way too cold in January-April for reliable beach and pool activity. Maybe your MIL is from the UP of Michigan or Minnesota.

All beaches in Florida are open to the public, so you gain nothing as far as the beach is concerned from being in a gated community.

There are also real issues about the safety of gated communities (everywhere). Do they offer improved safety or do they just advertise that a lot of well-off, nervous people live here? I have never found any evidence that gated communities have less crime. If it existed, it would be easy to find.

As a Floridian, you know that "exclusive" as applied to real estate means "his check won't bounce." It doesn't mean that anyone checks up on social status, manners or even, to my knowledge, criminal record.

You should go visit, and you should find an alternative further south to take her to visit. Every one of these places is different from every other.

One of the critical policies of any HOA is who can rent to whom for how long. How about loaning the place to relatives and friends? Good HOA's generally have minimum 3 month rentals.

Another is pets. Some people can't live without Little Foofoo, who is a member of the family, and others can't stand the yappy little devil when Mommy goes to the beauty parlor.

I hope you have better luck convincing your MIL to change enthusiasms than I have ever had.

doug_stallings Feb 8th, 2016 06:16 AM

I've been to Carillon beach and love it, so I can see why your mother might have fallen in love with it. It's a particularly safe area, far outside the hubbub of Panama City Beach and the spring break crowd. And the sand is luxuriously soft and powdery. It feels a bit like Seaside but much quieter if that helps (it was VERY quiet when I was there in mid-September). The development abuts a state park. Only some residences are beachfront. Otherwise you have to use one of the access points, but there are several. The development has a wonderful (albeit kind of expensive) restaurant, a gym, a hotel, and a few other services, but it's not that close to town.

Winter is indeed low season, and it can be pretty cold there in the winter. The weather is best from April through October. There are some surprisingly good restaurants in Panama City Beach along with far too many chains and touristy spots.

However, I don't have anything to compare with Sarasota. I haven't been there. I think you have a good point about the weather in Sarasota. It's going to be much warmer down there in the winter.

Dukey1 Feb 8th, 2016 08:01 AM

I think the two above descriptions are pretty accurate (I live on the beach in SE Florida).

Some people are going to tell you that the beaches and the sand are not the same in the panhandle as they are in other parts of the state.

We are continually told about the "powdery white" sand up in the northwestern part of the state and that is not the case in the southeast. And then there are the beaches, particularly along the lower Gulf Coast where shelling is a major activity and some of the beaches (think Sanibel, for example) are full of them.

Yes, it will be warmer down here than up there in the "winter" which is the high season down here for many. But be aware that even down here it can get cool at times in the winter. Last night the temps dropped into the low 40's at the beach (it is often a bit colder inland).

Florida's beaches are, in fact, public but it is the access to some of them that can be difficult.

ahudson217 Feb 8th, 2016 10:41 AM

Thanks for the responses. We have pleaded countless times with her to just have a look at one other area in Florida, she seems to be tired of traveling, a whole other issue in of itself as this is 17 hours from our home in Delaware. Im wondering how busy is it compared the SW florida in terms of tourists during high season since Panama City is much more accessible by many other southern states. She has talked about renting it out to cut some costs, since it will cost in upwards od 20,000 to maintain. I personally would like to know how the pools are in high season?
I also didn't seem to interested in Pier Park because it seems pretty run of the mill things and chains like I can go to locally but if anyone has any opinions on that, that would be great too.

ahudson217 Feb 8th, 2016 10:46 AM

Doug, since you have been there, I was told there are shops and restaurants in their main street. They made it seem like there was several things to choose from, can you elaborate what exactly is there and is the entire mainstreet like a little town/village, as if you don't have to leave the resort?

Ackislander Feb 8th, 2016 11:46 AM

High season in the Panhandle and other places in North Florida sort of begins when high season in South Florida ends, that is, sometime in April, and it continues through, well, I don't know. I never stayed that long. A lot of Southerners go to the beach in the summer when it is way too hot for snow birds. I lived there when I was a kid and didn't when I could get away.

So when does she want to rent it and when does she want to use it? Does she get the seasonal thing? Does she understand hurricanes? My sister had property in the Rosemary area that got hit twice. After the second time they replaced the roof, they were outa there.

The big issue, as I noted above, is CAN she rent it?

When we lived in Naples, the minimum rental period in our association was three months, and the renter had to pay a fat fee to the association. Believe me, the association knew every trick in the book ("loaning to friends", "sharing it with family," etc). Every association is full of people who hate renters, and they will inform the association of anyone they suspect of being a short term renter, and the owner will get fined.

Most prudent people would avoid owning a second home that HAD to be rented to make it a viable proposition.

I loved owning a condo in FL, but we got tired of feeling that we had to spend the winter the same place every year. When someone made an absurdly high offer, we took it though the condo wasn't even for sale.

Good luck, though she seems to have the bit between her teeth!

doug_stallings Feb 9th, 2016 09:33 AM

There are definitely shops, but they are basically for necessities, not for browsing. You won't find a real grocery store, for example, just a general store. And it appears that Bridgespan 14, the restaurant that I really liked, is no more but is being replaced.

Rentals aren't a problem here. They are allowed. There are many Carillon Beach listings, and people get good prices.

I don't want to give the wrong idea. I thought it was a lovely place.

ahudson217 Feb 10th, 2016 05:04 AM

Ackislander, this property can be rented for any amount I time, I believe. The neighborhood is mixed with homes, condos and a hotel type property so everything is shared amongst these people. Another problem is access to decent air fair. It's so much more expensive to fly into a local airport like PCB than an international one. It will cost my family anywhere from 1600 to almost 2000 to make the trip and its about a 17 hour drive, my inlaws are trying to "save money" and fly into Tallahassee and drIve 2.5 hr drive. It makes so much more sense if we lived in TN, Georgia or Alabama. They put a near full price offer on the home so obviously it was accepted...the realtor made them feel nervous by saying a couple from TN was looking at it as an investment put bids on that were low and they were getting closer to what the owner we will see how it all pans out. I just know my family personally likes to vacation in different areas and I also will always love the Sarasota area!

Dukey1 Feb 10th, 2016 10:21 AM

Would it be cheaper to fly into Pensacola?

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