Are you retired and do you dream of buying a Florida vacation home, but are afraid you can’t afford one? Think again! If you know how to go about it, you can buy a very livable, Florida vacation home for $25,000 or less. Forget beach front property with an ocean view, but I am talking about homes within 10 miles or less of the ocean in the Sarasota-Bradenton area of Florida. You can make your retirement years truly your ‘golden years,’ on a very modest income.
Sarasota is the cultural center of Florida. It is noted for performing arts activity. The Van Wezel Performing Arts auditorium, a magnificent, purple, modern, structure near Sarasota Bay, hosts entertainers like Tony Bennett, Englebert Humperdink, the Smothers Brothers and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Seniors really enjoy these. They also have great operas, symphonies from around the world, classical soloists, Country Western and contemporary artists.
Seven miles away is a retirement haven, Bradenton, with miles of white, sandy, public beaches and an abundance of fine seafood restaurants. Two Walmarts are available. Both communities are served by the Bradenton-Sarasota International Airport.
The area offers many golf courses, museums, movie theaters, state parks, camping and others forms of entertainment. There is also plenty of activity for the grandkids. The whole state of Florida is very tourist-oriented.
This article is not addressed to people who would not be satisfied with anything less than the luxury provided by a beach front condo with an ocean view. This is for people who would love to spend several months in Florida near the ocean but can’t afford the rent.
This can be accomplished by buying a home in a mobile home park. I am not speaking of a stereotypical park with dilapidated mobile homes, very narrow streets which are actually dusty, unpaved alleys, with many dogs running everywhere and with residents who take no pride in their homes.
I am speaking of an older, established, mobile home park where most residents own their own homes and often the land. The homes are neat and well-maintained. Some of the residents are year-round dwellers. The homes have well tended yards, landscaped with flowers, shrubs and trees. The residents pick oranges and grapefruit from their own trees. The palm tree-lined streets are paved and have storm sewers. Most residents take pride in their homes.
Most of the older mobile homes have room additions with a ‘roof-over’, a new roof constructed to cover the mobile home and the new addition, giving it the overall appearance of a conventional house. Several of the homes are new ‘double-wide’ manufactured homes. The photo with this article is an example of the type of home described in this article, complete with palm tree.
It is possible to own a two bedroom, two bath home with laundry room situated on land you own for a very modest price. I say on ‘land you own’, because you can buy a home situated on land you don’t own, in a mobile home park. These homes would cost even less, but you would probably pay at least $350 to $450 monthly as rental on the land, so buying the land and receiving a deed is much more economical long term. A typical park fee when you own the lot, may be $100 – $130 monthly and may include water service. Trash collection may be about $12 monthly for twice weekly pickup, but you will probably pay that year-round, whether you are living there or not. Taxes and insurance would probably total about $1200 annually.
When we first began going to Florida, we had a travel trailer and rented a lot near the beach for $1200 per month for the winter time we were in Florida. We didn’t want to drag the trailer back to Ohio every time, so we rented storage for the rest of the year at about $85 monthly. We then decided it would be advantageous to own a small home instead, sell the travel trailer and also save money. We could still be within a few miles of the ocean.
Our First Florida Vacation Home: Purchase Price – $14,250
Our first purchase, in 2001, was a home in a park like the one described. It was an older one bedroom, one bath 10′ x 39′ mobile home. It had no room addition but had a carport on one side and a 10′ x 20′ concrete patio on the other side, covered with an aluminum roof. Behind the carport was a 8′ x 8′ aluminum utility building. There was no laundry.
The home made a poor appearance, needing cleaning, painting and repair work. The roof leaked but had not caused much damage. There were two wall air-conditioners and an electric baseboard heater with thermostat. We had 1 ½ lots which meant about 45′ by 60′. Most importantly, it was old but in reasonably solid condition. The asking price was $15,000. The owner was eager to sell, so we negotiated the price down to $14,250 which we considered a real bargain.
We made the following changes: replaced the roof with a new rubber roof, enclosed the patio with white plastic lath panels, replaced the carpet and padding. covered the kitchen walls with patterned vinyl wall paneling and did some electrical upgrading and repair. We did what work we were qualified to do and contracted the rest. We painted the entire exterior, a limited amount inside and installed vinyl shutters for decorative purposes. The purchase price plus remodeling totaled about $23,000.
We wanted live there while remodeling to save motel bills, but didn’t want to bring in furniture before the work was completed. We had a furnished kitchen and a table and a few chairs, so we purchased an air-mattress for sleeping, which was very comfortable. When finished with the the interior work after about three weeks, we bought a new queen-sized bed and several pieces of used furniture at a quality used furniture store.
An Indoor Laundry Room has the Advantage of No Bugs, Geckos or Snakes.
About 2006, we decided to winter in Florida as long as we were physically able. Our home was livable but rather cramped for space and we were spending about $40 monthly at a laundromat.
We decided to look for a larger home in the same park with two bedrooms, two baths, central air and heat and an ‘indoor’ laundry. I say ‘indoor’ laundry because surprisingly, many Floridians in modest homes have outdoor laundries located in a small utility building, to save space in the home. That works because it rarely or never freezes in most of Florida, but I don’t relish the possibility of bugs, geckos, or snakes in your outdoor laundry room, not to mention the inconvenience.
After looking a while, we found a home in the same park which met our qualifications. It had about 700 sq. ft. It was an old but solid mobile home with a room addition and a ‘roof-over.’ It had two utility buildings and an extra long carport. It needed nothing but paint and minor repair.
In the years we lived in the first property, the value had increased from $23,000 to $30,000. This was at the height of the Florida real estate boom, so we had to pay $50,000 for the new property. We sold our old home to our realtor for $30,000, for a $7,000 profit, so for $20,000 out of pocket, we had a nicer home with about twice the space. Also, since we sold the old home to the realtor, there was no commission due.
You Can Now buy a Florida Vacation Home for $25,000 or Less
Since the housing bubble burst, our home has lost considerable value, but we don’t consider that is of any great consequence, since we plan to winter in Florida as long as our health permits. I believe real estate values are more depressed in Florida than in many areas of the country. There is now property of this type and quality selling for $25,000 or less. That presents anyone desiring a Florida vacation home with a ‘golden opportunity.’ A person may have difficulty borrowing money on this type of property, but if they have another source of funding, they can realize their dream.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be taken as advice. It is written for informational purposes only and is correct to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot guarantee the accuracy. I do not accept any responsibility for the results of actions on your part taken as a result of reading this article. All actions are taken at your own risk. I am just relating my own opinions and experiences and my opinions could be wrong.