bradfordAs we approach retirement age, questions arise as to whether we have planned adequately for our financial well-being during the time when we may not be employed.

Archived Story

Bill Bradford: A place in the sun? Florida a buyer’s market

Published 8:56pm Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And then there is the question as to where we may want to live when we no longer have ties to the schedule of an employer.

About 20 years ago I learned about a small house for sale in Florida. It seemed like a good plan to provide a place in the sun where we could spend the time of our dotage.

The house was on a large lot with frontage on a small lake.

The two bedrooms and a bath seemed adequate for an older couple. There were two large holly trees in the front yard and a persimmon tree in the side yard. There was a detached car port for two vehicles.

We liked the quietness of the community and purchased the home for about $ 30,000.

A local carpenter agreed to make some minor renovations.

But our ties to our northern home persisted and we did not spend time in our Florida home. When vandals began doing a little damage to the Florida home, we sold it without financial loss to a couple who were ready to live in the house.

We still maintain a Dowagiac home and tend the garden and orchard in the summer and shovel the snow in the winter.

We watch the seasons roll by and need not endure the heat and humidity of Florida.

Two weeks ago we drove to Lakeland, Fla., to visit a younger brother and his companion.

A year ago, he offered to purchase a double-wide with car port on a 100′ x 60′ lot in Village Lakeland. The asking price was $45,000. His offer of $35,000 was rejected, so he went back home to Massachusetts.

Then the owners phoned him their acceptance of his offer.

Brother purchased the property, moved in and spent about $10,000 for new windows, a new heat pump and some flooring.

Since he owns the lot, there is no monthly rental. His taxes will be about $600 per year.

Joining the village property owners’ association is optional.

There is a plethora of properties for sale in Florida. On one of my days there, I drove around that double-wide community and wrote down information on about 20 places for sale.

Asking prices varied from  $39,000 to $125,000. Older places require a cash transaction since the banks will not finance depreciating trailers having an older date of manufacture.
Features vary as to number of square feet; number of baths and bedrooms; whether there is lake frontage; storage building; lot backing to a pasture; and age and condition of the double wide.

If you are a winter time occupant, there is also the cost of yard maintenance when you are away. And don’t forget that the semi-tropical climate in Florida supports many creepy-crawly creatures. While I was there, a cockroach about half an inch long dropped off my shirt onto the floor. My brother’s casual comment was, “I guess I need to spray again.”
If your dreams include Florida living, you may decide to rent or rather to venture into ownership of your own property.  At the present, Florida property is a “buyer’s market.”

Bill Bradford retired to the rigors of a small farm in Pokagon Township.
He has served as director of clinical laboratories in physician group practices and hospitals.

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