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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.


The unit we got was very prettily finished and furnished. Light furnishings and walls gave it an airy feeling, and the living room always looked (to me anyways) like it should have been shown in a magazine. So lovely in fact, we were sort of afraid to use it.  The white leather furniture was comfortable and modern - gorgeous really, but ... well it was WHITE. I admit, I loved it but I was afraid to get it dirty so we spent little to no time in the livingroom area.

The kitchen and part of the dining area at a rental unit.
We spent most of our time in the kitchen (at the small island area) or the dining table. Oh, of course we used the master bedroom and the bathrooms and cooked in the kitchen but to be honest, we spent a lot of time out exploring the restort, using the gym, checking out Lakeland itself and just touring around the area. Even though the weather was coolish (full time residents told us it was one of the coolest February's they recall, and it wasn't normally that cool) ... it was still way better than our cold winters in Canada!

A small part of the lanai - basically a screened in porch.
Part of the screened porch (called a lanai here).
What we didn't know at the time was something we found out closer to the end of our month's rental. To be honest, there really wasn't any reason for the person renting to us to mention it because we only expected to stay for the month of February. If you plan to rent or stay (ie: by purchasing your own place) there is a required background check - and there is a fee attached to that. For US citizens the fee is (or was in 2016) $50, but for Canadians (probably for other countries as well, but the fees may not be the same) the fee was $150 (that's in US funds by the way).

A manufactured home in Cypress Lakes in Florida.
This is our place now - not the one we rented.
We found that out by accident ... like when we actually bought a home in the park before the end of our one month holiday. Thankfully, the couple we purchased from were amazingly helpful and our closing date wasn't until the beginning of March, so we had time (the background check can take a couple of weeks when you're from Canada). Ours ended up only taking two days. (More on our purchase next time.) Even better ... the couple we bought our place from became friends - the type you feel as though you've known forever. We try to get together for dinner whenever we come down to Florida.

When we initially arrived at Cypress Lakes, I didn't expect much except a chance to get away from the cold for a month. When I looked up the park online it looked ... like a place for rich people and we are a long way from rich people. I sort of expected it to be populated with people that have a "silver spoon" mentality ... but it wasn't. It was a warm and friendly place that we almost immediately fell in love with, even though we didn't expect to.

One of the two pools at Cypress Lakes in Florida.
The resort style kidney shaped pool, the building at the back has several rooms, but the windows you see are gym.
The park has many things to do: 2 full size golf courses; a driving range; fishing in some of the ponds; two pools - one lap style pool and one traditional resort style kidney-shaped pool; two hot tubs; a fully equipped gym; tennis/pickle ball courts; bocci ball, horseshoes; shuffleboard; a bar & grill; entertainment ... and the list goes on. The large and modern clubhouse has a media library, a computer room, a book library, a large hall, craft room and many other activities that take place within it's halls. There are many associations and groups within the park that owners can join, a lot of fitness activities (like yoga classes, zumba, acquarobics, etc.), crafting and art activities, and other groups like bible studies (even a church service is available on Sundays).

The lap style swimming pool at Cypress Lakes.
The lap-style swimming pool at Cypress Lakes. Beyond you can see the shuffleboard area.
There is far more than I could mention in just one post. So far, I haven't joined in any group activities, although there are a couple I thought I'd like (acquarobics, but ... I'm not a fan of going out in 50 degree temps early in the morning to get in the pool, even if it is heated) but this year we are focusing more on getting the new house in order, and I'm sure in time I'll have settled on a couple of groups of interest.

The front of the clubhouse at Cypress Lakes in Florida.
Cypress Lakes Clubhouse



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