Monday, February 6, 2017

Vacation Renting in Florida

March isn't always spring like in Canada - this snow and ice storm came in March 2016.Back in late 2015 my husband and I spent considerable time discussing the possibility of a "longish" holiday in Florida during the next winter (2016). In the end, all we did was discuss it, but if I tell the absolute truth about it, I had been poring over websites for vacation rentals for many months before discussing it with him.

I checked out holiday condo rentals, and mobile rentals, and home rentals, and even trailer parks (ie: camping type parks). I was entranced with a couple of the camping parks because they offered exactly what I'd hoped for ... a place to park your camper/trailer/motor home right on the ocean ... nothing between you and that ocean except the sand. The pictures showed exactly my dream and I was pretty excited about that until I checked the rental pricing. Most of those beach front slots appear to have been rented by the same people for years, and there was already a huge waiting list for a space when someone didn't return. On top of that, the lots had no "hook-ups" ... no water (well, of course the ocean was right there, but that isn't potable water), no sanitation hook up, no electricity. Okay, I could deal with that. Any camping trailer we've ever owned was self-contained and you could run pretty much everything on propane. BUT, for the joy of putting your camper in the sand with nothing else you paid a whopping $109 a night. Yes, a NIGHT!  I thought about what that would cost for a month ... or 3 months (a standard length of stay for Snowbirds).


A couple of seagulls along the beachfront.

Some of the 2 bedroom condos were a lot less than that fee, and had walking access to a beach and ocean, and shuttles to shopping areas, as well as activities (shuffleboard, cards, dances, bbqs etc.) that you could participate in while staying there. The problem I found with a lot of the condos that provided all these things was that the rentals were typically 3 months at a time, and many were booked already for 2016 (that would have been during the summer of 2015 when I was looking).

Heavy snow bows tree branches into a tunnel over a rural roadway.
Ditto all that for most of the mobile rentals I looked at.

For a while after our discussion, I didn't bring it up to him again (he seemed very uninterested) but as winter drew it's frigid arms around us, and the snowstorms started ... I think he finally realized we needed a break from the 6 months of misery winter often brought to our neck of the woods (central Ontario is in the middle of the "snow belt").

Rather by accident I found a mobile rental in a resort style 55+ park in Florida. We have friends who've been wintering in Florida for 5 years (bought their own place) in the Tampa area, and I was searching for something not too awfully far away so we could visit while on holiday. I actually had little hope of finding something available for a month, and thought in the end we may have to suck it up and take a hotel for two or three weeks instead. But, just as I began a concerted effort to search out such a find ... someone had posted an ad to Kijiji for a mobile rental for the month of February. Hurray!  I didn't actually think it would still be available, but as it turns out, the couple had only just posted the ad when I found it.

One of the many ponds in the Cypress Lakes 55+ community.
View from backyard of rental unit!
We got the rental, sent the fees and waited impatiently (it was early January when we booked) for February to roll around.

That began our sojourn towards the Snowbird habitat, and to a park in Lakeland, Florida called Cypress Lakes.  Staying long-term in one of these parks (and there are many such places in Florida) is a little more involved than just arriving and unpacking ... but we didn't know that until after we got there.  More on Cypress Lakes later ... much more actually :)

(oh ... and just so you aren't wondering ... we love it!)

Cypress Lakes 55+ Community in Florida has an entrance pond with a spray fountain.
Cypress Lakes 55+ Community in Lakeland, Florida

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