Florida has become one of the most popular places for people to retire. This state has a lot to offer to people of all ages, but retirees, in particular, enjoy the year-round warm weather and planned communities. Our real estate agents have helped many clients find their dream home in Florida. Here are some tips and tricks they've picked up along the way.
Moving to Florida is certainly a wise choice if you want to spend time in a warmer climate near lovely beaches and golf courses. Contact us to learn more about our real estate services. We'd love to help you find your perfect retirement home.
You're ready to start the process of searching for your next home, but you're a little apprehensive about all the steps associated with the process. One stage that our real estate agents suggest you learn about is the closing process.
The closing process is the last major stage of buying a home before you're officially a homeowner. Here's what you should know.
Ready to find your next home? Our team is ready to help every step of the way. Contact us today to start your search!
National Wildlife Week is celebrated every year in April. This year, it'll be observed from Tuesday, April 5, through Saturday, April 9. As an initiative of the National Wildlife Foundation, it has connected nature lovers of all ages and backgrounds since 1938 – and that includes our real estate agents.
In the United States, there's virtually no place better to be for National Wildlife Week than right here in Florida.
Throughout the Sunshine State, you have the opportunity to meet animals the likes of which you'll find nowhere else. Wildlife ranges from the prehistoric alligator to the Florida flamingo, which has a niche distinct from any other bird on Earth. These and more can be encountered on public preserved land.
Let's take a look at some of the best nature preserve lands throughout Florida:
Ready to experience all the natural beauty Florida has to offer? Contact us to find out more about Florida real estate today.
Do you love exploring the diverse, unique natural beauty that you can only find in Florida? This is the perfect time of year to plan your next hiking trip on the Florida Trail, which stretches for more than 1,500 miles from the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Northern Region of the trail is the perfect place to start your next adventure. We've got all the exciting details on what you'll find on the Northern Region of the Florida Trail.
Northern Region Overview
The Northern Region of the Florida Trail features something for every interest, from sprawling, gorgeous natural forests to trails that will take you through the sites of historic battlefields. Before you head out on your trip, be sure to check out the Trail Safety guide, which provides plenty of helpful tips that will help you enjoy your experience and practice good safety habits while you explore the Florida Trail.
Lake Butler Forest
Take a trip southwest from Jacksonville to link up with the Lake Butler Forest portion of the Florida Trail, which runs for 23 miles from the City of Lake Butler to the historic Olustee Battlefield. The forests here feature a mix of old hardwood and planted pines, with beautiful natural vistas throughout.
Just a short drive from Gainesville, you will find the Camp Blanding section of the trail, which features some of the most diverse terrain that the Florida Trail has to offer. This part of the trail stretches for nearly 36 miles, featuring sandy hills, forests, lakes, and even desert-like terrain. Take a break along the beautiful waterfront areas, navigate your way through dense forests, and spot various local wildlife throughout your exploration. If you're hungry for more hiking, this trail also connects with the Palatka Lake Butler State Trail.
Osceola National Forest
On the northernmost section of the Florida Trail's Northern Region, you will find the Osceola National Forest trail, which runs for 24.2 miles through old-growth forests before wrapping up along quiet country back roads. If you love hiking through thick, beautiful, ancient forests, then this part of the trail should be near the top of your destination list. After you exit the forest, you will travel toward the scenic Suwanee River before heading into the town of White Springs, where you can enjoy a rest and resupply.
Rice Creek/Etoniah/Gold Head
The Rice Creek/Etoniah/Gold Head portion of the trail, just north of Ocala, will take you on a journey that lasts just over 34 miles and features more elevation than other parts of the Florida Trail. There are multiple bluffs that provide incredible views of the floodplains, forests, creeks, and swamps below. This part of the trail features ancient cypress trees, along with a variety of Appalachian trees that you won't find in other parts of Florida. Stop for a picnic in the designated picnic areas along Little Lake Johnson, then keep traveling through Gold Head Branch State Park, which features its own scenic, three-mile-long trail.
Searching for a home that makes it easy to enjoy all of the amazing natural attractions that Florida has to offer? Our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes in Northeast, North Central, and Central Florida communities.
2020 saw some major shifts in housing markets around the country. With so many people working from home, many chose to leave more expensive and densely populated areas to find new places to call home. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Jacksonville, Deltona, and Port Saint Lucie ranked as three of the top 15 cities in the country for inbound migration. We've got all the details on why so many people are choosing to move to these popular Florida cities.
The largest city on our list, Jacksonville ranked seventh overall on the list from the NAR. Jacksonville homes for sale are popular in part because the city offers an affordable cost of living compared to other major metro areas while still providing all of the amenities that you'd expect from a big city. Jacksonville is the largest city by landmass in the United States and also boasts the largest park system of any city in the country.
New residents love the fact that Jacksonville has about 270 days of sunny weather every year, with a temperate climate year-round that makes it easy to enjoy the city's 1,100 miles of shoreline and 22 miles of pristine, sandy beaches. You'll find plenty to do close to home, whether you're attending a Jaguars game, watching some college sports, visiting a museum, watching a live show, or dining at one of the city's many outstanding restaurants.
Deltona checked in just behind Jacksonville at number nine on the list of cities that people are moving to, thanks to a prime, central location that offers a mix of big-city amenities and small-town charm. By population, Deltona is about 10 percent the size of Jacksonville, with a population of just over 90,000 residents. The city is bordered by beautiful Lake Monroe on its south side, while Deltona homes for sale offer a location about equally distant from both Orlando and Daytona Beach.
The close proximity to popular attractions makes Deltona a great city for families, and you'll also find plenty to do close to home. Like Jacksonville, Deltona has one of Florida's best park systems, including some fantastic playgrounds for the little ones and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities for adults. There's always another performance to see at the Deltona Arts Center, while the Deltona Club golf course has long been a local favorite.
Port Saint Lucie
Port Saint Lucie was the top-ranked Florida city on the list at number six, and it's no surprise that Port Saint Lucie homes for sale are so popular. Built around the Saint Lucie River with a warm climate and extensive park system, Port Saint Lucie is a paradise for nature lovers. Local environmental preserves provide endless opportunities for exploration, while the city's growing arts and performance community means that there are plenty of great events to enjoy all year long.
The city's population of just over 200,000 people makes it one of the largest in South Florida, but there's plenty of open space and nature to enjoy. It's also a great place to start a business, with a supportive local government and all of the modern infrastructure to help your business thrive.
Ready to find out first-hand why so many people are flocking to Florida? Let our team help you find the perfect home in your new favorite city. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the area.
Do you wish you had a place you can go to relax and have a good time? A place all your own, by a beautiful beach, where you can get away for a few weeks or months each year and swim, sail, surf, and bask in the Florida sunshine.
Our real estate agents have helped turn that dream into a reality for many families.
But before you buy that vacation home you've been dreaming about, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Know What You're Looking For
You know you're looking to buy a vacation home, but what, specifically, does that mean to you? How much of the year do you plan on using it? During what seasons will you be there? Is there a possibility of eventually using it as your primary home? All of these things have an impact on what kind of home you get and how much you should spend.
You should also take a look at the surrounding area. Where are the good restaurants and entertainment nearby? Will they be enough to hold your interest over multiple stays, or will they get old quickly? What about more practical needs, like grocery stores? Talk to the locals and get their perspective on what it's like living there and what you need to know about the neighborhood.
Look at Expenses
When budgeting for a second home, did you consider all the costs? It's more than just a down payment and mortgage. There are also property taxes, which are 0.98% in Florida, or an average of $1,750 per year.
You need to pay for maintenance as well, to keep the property in good shape while you're away and ensure it's ready for when you arrive. Consider hiring a caretaker or property manager. They can clean the place periodically, make sure the yard looks presentable, and make any necessary repairs throughout the year.
On average, you can expect to spend around 2% of your home's value per year on maintenance. However, certain vacation homes can be a bit more than that. If your house is right by the beach, it may also need regular repainting every couple of years, as salt, sand, and wind are corrosive.
Finally, look at travel expenses. How will you get to your vacation home, and how much will it cost? Will you drive? Take a plane? Make a couple of trips back and forth before you buy the house and note the costs. Then, multiply it by the number of times you plan on going there per year.
Research Rental Options
One way to offset your vacation home's costs is to rent it out to other people when you're not using it. This takes a bit of research and preparation too. Check Watson Property Management and other rental sites to see what similar properties in the area go for. Then see if the community has any rules about rentals. Some homeowners' associations frown on vacation rentals by the week and only allow them by the month.
You should also know what the area is like throughout the rest of the year. The weather may be great in winter when you stay there, but what about in summer? How appealing will this house be in the off-season, and will it be able to draw enough renters to make it worthwhile?
These are just a few of the things to consider before buying a vacation home. Ultimately, having an experienced real estate team by your side helps make the vacation home buying process as smooth as possible.
Once you have your dream house, the next step is to make it your own. And the best place to start is with the front door. It's the first thing people see before they walk in; it should make a decorative statement about who you are and what kind of home this is. Here are some paint options to consider.
Your door may seem like a simple thing, but there are all sorts of color and design options to choose from. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect house to meet your needs - but choosing your colors and aesthetics is up to you. Contact us to help you find your new home today.
Summer is here, and there are few things that kids love more than spending a hot day cooling off at the local splash pad. From the piers near St. Augustine to the parks of Green Cove Springs, there are plenty of local splash pads throughout Northeast Florida that the kids will enjoy. Many of the region's best splash pads are also part of larger attractions, making it easy to plan a full day of family fun. We've got the details on five Northeast Florida splash pads where you can plan a fun family outing this summer.
Splash Park at the Pier – 350 Beach Blvd., St. Augustine Beach, FL 32080
The Splash Park at the Pier is conveniently located by the water near St. Augustine Beach, next to the popular St. Johns County Ocean & Fishing Pier. Enjoy views of the water while the kids play in the large, open splash park framed by palm trees. Just next door, you will find all of the attractions the pier has to offer, like a playground, picnic areas, beach access, a gift shop, and a full-service tackle shop with gear rentals for fishing from the pier.
Shipwreck Island Water Park – 1944 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
A shipwreck-themed water park with a splash pad and so much more, Shipwreck Island is your destination for cool summer fun near Jacksonville Beach. This is a great place to plan a group outing, with an arcade, go-karts, mini-golf, and laser tag to go with all of the fun rides at the water park.
Jacksonville Zoo Splash Pad – 370 Zoo Pkwy., Jacksonville, FL 32218
The Jacksonville Zoo has long been a favorite family attraction close to Jacksonville, and it features a splash pad that adds an extra dimension to summertime visits. Kids love splashing around before seeing all of the animals and shows at the zoo, while parents love the many fun and educational programs the zoo offers for young visitors.
Nocatee Splash Water Park – 245 Nocatee Center Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081
There are many reasons to check out Ponte Vedra Beach, and access to this exclusive water park is certainly one of them. The Nocatee Splash Water Park offers countless ways to cool off in the summer heat. This is a private resort-style water park for residents to enjoy. Features include a lazy river, two slides, Splash Cove for the kids, and a shallow-access pool.
Spring Park – 106 St. Johns Ave., Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Head over to Spring Park near Duval County for some fun in the sun. Nestled on the St. Johns River, the park is open from sunrise to sunset and is a perfect option for families to visit. Kids will love the splash pad and other playground equipment for them to burn off some energy and cool off simultaneously. Plus, don't forget a picnic basket to enjoy lunch in one of the covered picnic shelters!
Oakleaf Village and Plantation Oaks – 370 Oakleaf Village Pkwy., Orange Park, FL 32065
Oakleaf Plantation residents have multiple amenities to enjoy, and during the hot summer months, it's safe to assume most residents love having access to two water parks. At these parks near Orange Park, residents will have access to water slides, spray grounds, and pools. Be sure to check out their website for pool hours.
Ready to find the perfect home close to all of the amazing attractions in Northeast Florida? Our local real estate team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout Northeast Florida communities.
If you're looking for a new home, one thing you may be thinking about is gardening and landscaping. Many homes have plenty of yard space for growing plants. You may want a home with room for something else, too: a compost pile. If you've never had one before, they're a great tool for anyone with a green thumb. Here's how to start your first compost pile.
How Does Composting Work?
An estimated 30-40% of the food supply in this country becomes food waste. Composting takes those leftover scraps, breaks them down, and turns them into a nutrient-rich substance that, when added to soil, facilitates plant growth, from flowers to trees to vegetables and more.
Turning organic matter into compost requires water, air, and microorganisms. Microorganisms can take the form of bacteria and fungi, as well as earthworms and certain bugs. You also need organic matter that's rich in carbon (brown materials) and organic matter that's rich in nitrogen (green materials). The water and air help the microorganisms to decompose carbon and nitrogen in the plant matter. Those elements then act as nutrients to help future plants grow.
What Can and Can't Be Composted
Food waste isn't the only thing that can go into a compost pile. You can also use twigs and leaves that come from raking the yard and the clippings from mowing the lawn.
However, some things shouldn't be composted. Meat, dairy, oils, and fats can attract local wildlife. Don't compost animal waste either. You can compost wood ash, but not coal ash or charcoal. Finally, don't compost weeds, or plants with diseases, as they can cause problems for whatever you try to grow next.
Building Your Compost Pile
Find a large, open area in your yard that's level and allows for good water drainage. If water pools up, it can ruin your compost. Next, build a wooden enclosure around the area - four sides, but no floor. Clear out any grass in that area as well, so the pile sits directly on the dirt. Build a door or panel into one side that can be opened, allowing access to your compost.
Once you've built the enclosure, it's time to add your scraps. This requires a bit of planning. Your compost pile should consist of even layers of alternating brown and green materials, starting with brown.
Brown materials are "dry" items, such as dry leaves, branches, wood chips, and pine needles. Green is the "wet" materials - food scraps, grass clippings, green leaves, etc. Your pile should be approximately 2/3 brown to 1/3 green.
Maintaining Your Compost Pile
Your compost pile should be watered and turned regularly. Give it light water every day or two as needed to keep the pile damp but not saturated. If you squeeze the dirt and water flows out, it's too wet.
Turning the pile keeps it aerated, so it decomposes better. Stick a shovel or pitchfork into the pile and turn it over, mixing up the various materials. Do this every two weeks or so.
Once it's ready, take the compost from the bottom of the pile and add it to the dirt of whatever you're growing.
We can help you find the perfect house to create your compost pile and grow beautiful gardens and landscaping that any homeowner would be proud of. Contact us to learn more!
The 90s were a simpler time. Clothes were baggier, music came on cassette tapes, Blockbuster still existed. If you're anything like the rest of us, you likely spend at least a few hours a day pining nostalgically for all things 1990s. Especially if you lived in Jacksonville, FL during the 90s. Because we can't help but revisit what feels like better days, join us as we tour things only 90s Jacksonville, FL residents will remember.
Sinking Quarters/Tokens into Games at Aladdin's Castle & Tilt
Thanks to barcades like Keg & Coin – an arcade bar in Jacksonville's Riverside neighborhood – and entertainment hotspots like Dave and Busters and Adventure Landing, there are still places you can get your arcade cabinet fix.
But there's nothing like the originals. Bereft of the other distractions – Keg & Coin is a bar first, arcade second, while Dave and Busters and Adventure Landing prominently feature an entire restaurant and a water park, respectively – these classic arcades existed purely for the endless joy of arcade games.
Many of us lost countless hours in Aladdin's Castle in the Orange Park mall. Parents shopping for boring stuff? Give us $5 and we'll be content basked in the warm glow of arcade cabinets for at least an hour. The same goes for Tilt at the Jacksonville Landing (itself an icon of the 90s that no longer exists). A few rounds of Street Fighter with friends at Tilt would be enough to make anyone's weekend.
Playing Mini-Golf with Rex at Goony Golf
Before he became the orange sentinel of Beach Boulevard as we know him today, Rex, Jacksonville's famous T-Rex statue, presided over innumerable mini-golf games at Goony Golf. He was one of several, um, interesting obstacles and characters for which Goony Golf was known. For all its kitschy charm, Goony Golf felt like a staple of a fun Saturday afternoon.
And while the chain's Jacksonville location went extinct early in the 2000s, we still thankfully have Rex's beautiful mug to remind us of just how great things used to be.
Going to a Drive-In Movie
Going to a movie in a normal theater is a treat in itself, to be sure. But there was just something special about rolling down the windows, audio pouring out your radio, and watching a movie in the crisp night air.
In the 90s, Jax residents had a few options. They could pull up to the Playtime Drive-In off Blanding Boulevard or the Beaches Drive-In. These excellent and unique date destinations from the 90s sadly no longer exist. Playtime had its screens shut down for good in 2008, while Beaches Drive-In had its proverbial windows shuttered in 2003.
Feasting on the Wagon Wheel at Famous Amos. Ordering a Camel Rider on-the-go from The Sheik. A full chicken platter from Beach Road Chicken Dinners. Sipping on a Slush Puppie from the local Little Champ gas station. Barbecue from the short-lived Rumboggies (or maybe you just bought the sauce?). Eating Chinese buffet in a dimly lit indoor dining area surrounded by koi ponds and bridges at Garden of Tiki.
We could go on, but we're making ourselves hungry.
What were you doing for fun in the 90s if you weren't at the mall? Maybe your commerce hub of choice was the Regency Square Mall, with its bustling storefronts and unique eateries at the food court. Or maybe you favored the newer atmosphere of the Avenues mall, which opened its doors in 1990.
If you lived in Orange Park, though, we know you loved the Orange Park Mall. Dozens of storefronts, a thriving food court, the aforementioned Aladdin's Castle, and, of course, the classic carousel.
With no major league sports teams calling Jacksonville home in the early 90s, the city still had plenty of sports to get excited for. Baseball was never hotter than when the Jacksonville Suns lit up minor league ballparks (of course they still persist today, though rebranded as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp).
Meanwhile, possibly the coolest local sports team in terms of uniforms, colors, logo, and name: The Jacksonville Lizard Kings. Sure, hockey doesn't have a strong foothold in Florida, but the Lizard Kings captured the hearts of many Jax residents on sheer coolness alone. Just look at that logo above!
Then, of course, the big daddy arrives in 1993: Jacksonville gets its very own NFL franchise. The Jaguars were born, and a city fell in love with its team in teal. The 90s seasons were special for the Jags, too, as the team found immense success within its first three seasons playing in the formerly named Alltel Stadium.
Keep Max in Jax
The intoxicating smell of coffee beans is familiar to anyone from Jacksonville thanks to the Maxwell House coffee plant located downtown. However, in the early 90s, the plant was nearly shutdown. The city launched a "Keep Max in Jax" campaign to convince Maxwell House to keep the plant open. It turned out to be wildly successful, not only saving the plant but motivating the company to double down in Jax with a multi-million-dollar expansion.
Classic Jax Radio Stations
The 90s had some outstanding radio stations for Jax residents. We spent many an afternoon cranking up the dial on all our favorite modern hits on 97.9 KISS FM. There was 93.3 Planet Radio for crunching new rock, while 104.5 pumped out all the classic rock your heart could desire. Then, of course, we had Cool 96.9, showering us all with "good times, great oldies."