Where to raise a family in Florida?

Old Jan 21st, 2011, 08:02 PM
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Where to raise a family in Florida?

My husband and I have weathered many a snowstorm and harsh winters in Maryland, so we are seriously considering moving to Florida. I am a pharmacist , so employment doesn't worry me, it's the crime and schools I have read about. What are property taxes like? Our son is 12, and we want a good school district. I have visited various parts of Florida from March through November, so I know how hot it can get. Suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 03:28 AM
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All of Florida will be hot in the summer.

Parts of Florida will be cold in the winter, though warmer than Maryland has been for the past couple of years. The inland parts of the state are colder than the coasts. From Ft Myers south is generally frost free, places right on the coast north to Sarasota are generally pleasant.

Places where rich people live will generally have better schools than places where poor people live, sadly but truly.

The West Coast is generally less crowded than the East Coast.

Do you see the pattern here? I am suggesting somewhere in Southwest Florida, from Naples to Sarasota. The Sarasota area is not as easy to get to by plane as the Naples-Ft Myers area, which might be good if you don't want friends and family visiting you all the time!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 04:04 AM
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Just one thought re your screenname - some Westies do not do well in the heat and humidity of the deep south. If yours have any problems with skin allergies, it would be someting to consider.

If you want warm all the time, you want south Florida. Personally, I'd be bored with no hint of the change of seasons. Northern Florida and the panhandle will still be a lot warmer than Maryland in winter.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 07:28 AM
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I'm not worried about visitors and Sarasota is mainly retirement, so that's not an option.
I wanted to see if anyone could tell me which areas have the most crime and which have the least amount.
Thanks.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 07:34 AM
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I chose my screen name for my deceased Westie, who I still miss terribly. But thanks for the heads up.
Two years ago on this site, Floridians were helping a Maine family decide. They mentioned a few decent places with less crime, better school districts. Does anyone on here pay property taxes? We have been paying over $6,000 annually!
How about Apopka? Where is it and what do you all think?
Thanks again!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:34 AM
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"what do you all think"?

My first thought was that 13 years old isn't a great time to be entering a new school/ making new friends.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 12:31 PM
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sarasota is a great place to live, not just retiree, lots of families and younger people.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 04:01 AM
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I did not find good recent tax data, but almost everything else you are asking is at www.city-data.com. Click through to Florida, then the town you are interested in. Some of them have more than one subfile.

Apopka, for example, is 37% minority, 22% of the population graduated from high school, and the crime rate, though getting lower, is still modestly above the US average. It covers property prices, the real estate market, income and job prospects, water purity, and just about anything else you want to know.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 06:27 AM
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Cape Coral is a great choice...
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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 06:48 AM
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Ackislander just mentioned Apopka as an example, but I hope it is not meant as a serious example to consider.

Shortly after we moved to Central Fl in 1987, There was an article in a local newspaper about Apopka. It seems that the local KKK wanted to sponsor a float in the annual Christmas parade. The theme of their proposed float: "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Fortunately, their application was denied.

The real estate agent who was showing us homes in the local area, refused to show us any properties in Apopka. She said that we would have to find another Realtor, if we were interested in Apopka. We understood perfectly.

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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Vic, the OP asked about Apopka in her last post above. She doesn't seem to be doing much research.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 08:34 AM
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Yeah, I see it now.

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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 03:39 AM
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I live in Miami and would not recommend it instead a son of mine lives in Jupiter in a beautiful
place called Abacoa, this is a huge , there are no gates but it is a developed area with houses and townhouses. The school is inside the premises also there is a branch of the state University, Atlantic university. I think this is a very nice place, frankly when I go there I see a difference between the clerks and personnel of the Publix supermarket with those here. It seems everyone is more polite and professional. May be it is my personal view, but this is how I see it. Jupiter is not far from Palm Beach where you can find great museums an also not that far from Miami Either. THe beach is very nice also in Jupiter, although Abacoa is not by the beach, they have golf and tennis inside this huge development.
He is happy with the school for his children who both have up graded courses and are good at sports.
I always thought it is better to live in a real world than communities but may be in Florida this is a good deal to raise a family. My son and family likes it. He is an architect and at this time has a lot of work in Miami in varies sometimes he has it right there in Jupiter, so he commutes a couple of times a week. i mean there should be work between Jupiter, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami and you access to all these different cities.
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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 05:03 AM
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You asked about taxes. Are you aware of how real estate taxes work in Florida; i.e., when YOU buy a place in Florida the local taxing authority can RE-SET the tax level for your purchase so you could be paying a LOT more in taxes than the previous owner did.

I am sure there are other savings but you might want to compare the sales tax levels; price of car insurance and by all means CHECK the cost of HAZARD insurance for your new purchase..I strongly suspect that is going to coast you more.

Overall, you may very well spend less with perhaps milder year-round temperatures, etc., etc., but don't move down there thinking, "Oh it will be a lot cheaper because they don't have any state income tax."
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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 05:38 AM
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Westie,

Florida is a very diverse state, some more info may help. What do you like to do, do you want city/country/beach, how much do you want to spend on housing. I would not recommend Apopka either. I live in southwest Orange county (near Orlando) and love it. Great schools, traffic not bad at all, crime situation not great but not to bad, easy access to everything, shopping, entertainment, beaches, attractions, etc. Can't offer much on property taxes as what I am paying and what you would pay is very different as I have been in my home for 15 years. Like Dukey said, if I were to sell you my home you would pay a LOT more than I am.
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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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One word: Tampa. OK, two words: South Tampa. Great public schools as long as you can find affordable housing in the Gorrie-Wilson-Plant school district. Excellent quality of life, with lots of very family-oriented neighborhoods. Crime not an issue. Look, if you Google "Tampa Crime Rate" or some such, you will be alarmed, but it's a diverse city; check out the 33606 zip code for the area I'm talking about. Established, leafy neighborhoods where kids play in their yards--it's pretty ideal, IMO.

Property taxes in FL are high, but that's b/c there is no state income tax. So property taxes throughout the state will look high to you; I'm betting it will be a wash compared to where you live now.

Yesterday was sunny and 65 on Tampa--again, pretty ideal
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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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I want to say more about crime rates: they may be low in landlocked little towns, but that doesn't mean you'd like living there. They tend to be higher, of course, in larger cities or areas with a large and diverse population; but that doesn't mean you can't find lots of safe, liveable neighborhoods.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 07:26 AM
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Check out Auburndale, small town between Tampa and Orlando. Low crime, small town feel, love it. My real estate taxes last year were $450.00. I have a small cracker house, live in the city limits, there are some beautiful lakes here with many houses for sale. Not sure about schools but there are charter schools here. Easy to get to the big city if you want.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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A friend (and former teacher) lived in Polk County too and loved it. She lived in the picturesque town of Bartow, where the movie "My Girl" was filmed -

http://www.thestanfordinn.com/bartow-florida.html

Schools in FL are based on county school districts.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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My husband and I had the same kind of questions when we decided to move down to Florida a year and a half ago. We looked around and thought the Stuart area of Martin County fit the bill for most of what we were looking for - its very pretty here, right on the ocean, has low crime, and plenty of rich people in Martin County to keep property taxes reasonable and school districts good. Its close to bigger cities - West Palm Beach is only 40 minutes away as is a major airport (PBI). Also there is an ordinance in Martin County that keeps buildings at a 4 story maximum so we don't get all the congestion and ugly high rises that (I think) blight so many other cities in FL. Anyway, we love it here so take a look. We ended up settling in Palm City which is just a couple miles from Stuart.

Hope this helps.
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