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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Driving to Florida

Since our recent foray into the world of retired Canadians we've spent a bit of time travelling back and forth to the US (oh yeah, I know ... we need to spend more time travelling in Canada). And have discovered some good and, some not so good things.

The highways we have been familiar with (mostly the I90 and the I75) and have travelled along for some years in shorter holidays are usually a pretty easy drive, with fairly simple navigation along the routes. The interstates have lots of areas to stop for a break (rest areas in the northern part of the States seem to provide less options that in the lower and southern States), and it's easy to find hotels/motels if you haven't bothered to make reservations. Gas and truck stops, hotels and restaurants are all easily spotted from the highways.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Deciding on a Home - Cypress Lakes, Lakeland, Florida

While on holiday in Florida, we began wondering about owning our own place. After all, we figured that the rental fees for 3 or 4 months in a place like Cypress Lakes (as much as $2,500/mo) could almost cover the cost of the yearly fees to own a place. And for some folks, that could be very true. For us, after buying the yearly cost to keep things running there is a little less than a 4 month rental at $2,500/month.

One of the ponds on the golf course at Cypress Lakes.
If you can afford to buy your unit outright, without needing to borrow or have a mortgage, then depending on where in the park your unit is located ... you could probably own a place instead of renting a place. Whether you decide to rent or own is really a matter of individual needs and tastes - we like things that we feel comfortable changing, and feel comfortable inviting family or friends to come stay in. We wouldn't feel comfortable doing that in a rental because it is, after all, still someone else's property.

However, when you purchase your unit ... that's only the beginning. There are lot fees associated with each unit. For the most part, you own the "home", but not the property (although there are some properties in Cypress Lakes that are "owned", most are rented lots) so in some ways, it's a little like renting a camping space for your travel trailer or motor home, but more complicated because you also pay your utility fees separately.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our Cypress Lakes Rental Experience

In my previous post (Vacation Rental in Florida) I left a little "teaser" about our time renting at Cypress Lakes. There are things that first-time renters may not know if their "landlord" hasn't let them know about the rules prior to their arrival.

The tops of palm trees against a blue and white sky.
Cypress Lakes is a "gated" park/resort. You only get in if the gatehouse is aware of your arrival (something the person who rented to you needs to take care of). When you reach the gatehouse (always friendly staff on hand ... all the time) if they're aware of your arrival (your name is on "the list") you get a numbered hang tag to leave in  your car so when you leave the park and return (like to shop, or sightsee or have dinner in one of the hundreds of restaurants in Lakeland or other nearby towns ... or even to visit Disneyland for the day) you won't have problems getting back in.

We didn't have any issues there - the person we rented from let the gatehouse know and left instructions for us at the gatehouse. We got our hangtag, and directions to the rental unit. Exploring the unit didn't take long - it was about 960-970 sq. ft. and the main area was fairly "open plan". Walking in you could immediately see the kitchen, dining area, and most of the livingroom. A few steps from the dining area we could see the master bedroom, a second bedroom and a small but complete washroom. In the master, there was a second small ensuite washroom with a shower.

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