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Subject: Where to live in Florida? Calling Florida experts! rss

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Filip W.
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Hi folks,

me and the Mrs are planning to go live in the States for 3 months next spring (jan-march) and we're leaning towards going to Florida.

We're be traveling with two small kids (too small for Disneyworld etc.) and would be renting an apartment/house. We'd like to end up somewhere friendly, not too bid (less than 100 000 people if possible, or on the very outskirts of a big city) and not too expensive.

Where would you recommend we go and why?

Thanks in advance.
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Moshe Callen
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Anywhere but Miami.

More specifically the weather would be best in Tallahassee which is a nice little town, but the drive to the Orlando area would be long-ish. The Orlando is close to where you want to go but the humidity and heat would be killer. It's bad in Tallahassee if you're not used to it, but Orlando is much worse in this regard.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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OK, it depends on what you want to do.

1)If you would like to do beaches and relaxation, then I would suggest the Gulf Coast as the waters are always warmer than the Atlantic and it is less crowded and noisy--more of a family atmosphere.

If you stay directly on the beach, it will be more expensive, but you will be directly on the beach!!!

Areas that I would recommend:
Bonita Springs - relaxed family atmosphere
Indian Rocks Beach (this is in the Clearwater area)
Sarasota or Bradenton
Crescent Beach/Siesta Key
Sanibel Island

You can also google "Best Florida Family Beaches" for more choices.

If you find a beach you like and it is too expensive to stay directly on the beach, then try to find if the prices for rentals a bit inland are a lot cheaper. A 30-45 minute drive to the beach isn't unreasonable.

2) Now.........if you want water activities: boating, fishing, snorkeling, etc., then nothing beats the Florida Keys for that. The beaches there are practically non-existent and not too great when you find one, but the water activities and laid back atmosphere is really great for families. You can bike and walk in many areas as well.

Key Largo is a great place to stay as it is big enough to have everything you need, including attractions like John Pennekamp State Park and more. Plus, you'd need a car to drive/explore the other keys that have their unique flavor and different stuff to do and see. Bahia Honda has nice beaches, Key West is a must see, Big Pine Key and Deer Key are also unique. Lots to do and see for families. I can direct you to a realtor in Key Largo for the rentals.

Key Largo is also 1.5 hours away from Miami, which has some good kid attractions, like Parrot Jungle Island, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, as well as Everglades Parks and tours. If you decide on this one and to drive into Miami, please be very careful to drive in safe areas!!!

3) Old Florida and Historical non-water activities. You can't beat Central and North Central Florida for this type of vacation. You can stay in smaller counties that are within 1 hour of bigger cities and can explore the springs, rivers, forests, natural attractions, and state and national parks the state has to offer.

Good places would be near and around Gainesville, Orlando, the Spacecoast, and Lake, Seminole, or Volusia Counties. For the east coast, try St. Augustine, Palm Coast, or Cocoa. For the central area near Gainesville, try Lake City, Alachua, or Silver Springs. Near Orlando is Lake Mary, Sanford, Deland, Mount Dora, or Leesburg.

The other plus is that most of these (not on the coast) are within 1 hour of the Atlantic and Gulf.

But remember, in Florida you will need a car to get around.

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Mystery McMysteryface
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whac3 wrote:
Anywhere but Miami.

More specifically the weather would be best in Tallahassee which is a nice little town, but the drive to the Orlando area would be long-ish. The Orlando is close to where you want to go but the humidity and heat would be killer. It's bad in Tallahassee if you're not used to it, but Orlando is much worse in this regard.


Moshe, Orlando in January to March is not hot and humid!! It is pleasant!!
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Filip W.
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Thanks! Ocala sounds real nice from what I can see and it's pretty close to everything (Silver springs, Orlando, Gainsville, the sea, etc.)

Now my major problem is how to "#¤!"#¤ find a decent rental house. I've been surfing the rental sites and they're, well, primitive by European standards. It's almost like craiglist adds and you have to call to get any real information. How do people get things done online in the States?
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Mark Hamzy
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I only have experience with the South Florida area (West Palm Beach/North Palm Beach/Palm Beach/Lake Worth/Atlantis/Boynton Beach/Boca Raton/Ft. Lauderdale). It is one mega-city really. There is no separation of the cities by empty land. With the ocean on one side and a swamp on the other, the land gets built up. But not with high-rise towers (except on the beach of course).

You are close to the beach, the swamp, Lake Okeechobee, the keys, the Bahamas, and even Cuba.

As for which waters to swim in, I prefer the east cost to the west coast.

And it matters where you stay in Florida if you are concerned about the temperature. Miami is warmer than Jacksonville.
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Bear Gordon
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Ocala is very pretty horse country.



It looks like this for miles down 301.

If I was going to live anywhere in Florida it would be St. Augustine.

You have lighthouses and the old fort, a lot of old Florida restaurants like http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/2890/osteens-rest... and in my opinion the best beaches of Florida. Everything is accessible by bike once you get there too. I have never looked into living there but I imagine that the cost of living is high.

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Mystery McMysteryface
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filwi wrote:
Thanks! Ocala sounds real nice from what I can see and it's pretty close to everything (Silver springs, Orlando, Gainsville, the sea, etc.)

Now my major problem is how to "#¤!"#¤ find a decent rental house. I've been surfing the rental sites and they're, well, primitive by European standards. It's almost like craiglist adds and you have to call to get any real information. How do people get things done online in the States?


A real estate agent? Try ERA realtors as they are pretty popular in that area. You can't go wrong with a good real estate agent--they will want the best renters for their clients--and will work with you to get you a decent deal as well. In my experience, the commission is usually worth it for your peace of mind. And Ocala is a medium biggish city, but it is close to a lot of stuff!!
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Dick Leban
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What EgorjLileli said.

And as I mentioned in the other thread if someone likes orange juice don't forget to find an orange grove. Go pick a couple crates very early on in your stay.
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