We’re not done wandering yet. Not by a long shot. But, for a number of reasons (which I may get to eventually in another post), it’s time for us to select a winter quarters. Having spent the past few years wintering in the desert southwest, this year we headed to Florida to see what that was all about.
I was somewhat familiar with Florida, having spent several months in pilot training near Miami, flew multiple times in the big air show at Lakeland, and visited numerous times for spring break as a kid, not to mention many vacations at the beach as an adult. One of my favorite areas is Destin, in the panhandle, with it’s amazing white sand beaches.
But much of Florida is overwhelmed by traffic and people in the winter. Where could we find a quiet haven, near the ocean, that we could afford? Oh, I know. Let’s look in one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. What?
Our exploration took us south along the west coast of Florida. We considered Clearwater, Sarasota, Venice, Fort Myers, Estero …… And when the road ended, we found ourselves in Naples.
This city of 20,000 is a place you have to aim at to get to. It’s not on the way to anywhere. This is the end of the road, unless you want to turn east on I-75 and spend a couple hours crossing Alligator Alley to Miami. If you go any further west or south of Naples you’ll get your feet wet in the Gulf of Mexico.
Naples, because of it’s unique location, is a quiet place. There is zero road noise at our little cottage. It is abundant with nature, and we’re close enough to the ocean that we’ll get a sea breeze most days.
So how can two homeless paupers such as us afford to buy property in Naples, one of the wealthiest cities on the planet? Well, first, let me be clear. As with most things in our marriage, I come up with the strategic plan, the big picture. But Wendy does the real work – all the tactical analysis and research.
Wendy is amazing and relentless. She found this place. Basically, I told her, “Yea, sure, if you can find a place that costs next to nothing and can decrease our living expenses, that is by the ocean — I’m in. Just make sure it has palm trees.”
Don’t ever give Wendy an impossible challenge unless you’re ready to commit. The greater the challenge, the happier she’ll be. Here’s what she found:
(Here’s the website: Naples Land Yacht Harbor)
So let me skip to the important part, and then we can fill in the other non-essentials. Here’s the amazing thing. Because we live in (and are shareholders of) Naples Land Yacht Harbor, for $30/month we can have a boat slip a short walk from our cottage that gives us access to the intercostal waterway and the Gulf of Mexico. Endless exploration! $30/month? Uh oh. Looks like there’s going to be another boat in our future.
- RV pads. Each RV community we looked at had a great social atmosphere with pickle ball and all kinds of gatherings. However, the cost would be twice as much for a bare cement pad as we paid for our 2 bedroon, 2 bath cottage (plus we would pay $1,000/yr property tax). We don’t pay property tax on our mobile home because the property is permanently leased to us.
- Condos. These cost 3-4 times as much as our home with the same HOA fee/month that we are paying at the cottage, plus $1,500/yr property tax. And although these have a community pool, they have no social gathering programs. And you actually have less privacy with shared walls and the possibility of noisy, smoking neighbors. No ambiance.
- Other mobile home parks. The typical park with 30-40 yr old mobile homes has smaller lots and less green space and costs twice what we paid. If they have water access to the Gulf of Mexico with boat slips, they cost 3-4 times more.