5 Things Not to Worry About in Your Golf Home Search

        The thoughts of moving to a new location and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it can cause stress and anxiety. There are plenty of things to worry about, such as costs of ownership that might not be apparent on first look; proximity to services you count on (supermarkets, medical facilities, a decent airport); and seemingly small things that might be especially important to you (e.g. easy access to the golf course, a men's or women's golf club). We can help you sort through these criteria; fill out our confidential Golf Home Survey, and we will provide you with some initial observations about which golf communities match up the best.
        In the 10 years we have been working with people moving to a Southeast golf community, we have found that some people add unnecessary worries to their considerations, increasing the anxieties of the search. Here are five anxiety-producing questions that you should ignore as you do your research for your golf community home.

Will we make friends easily (or, "Are the people friendly there?")

        Are you friendly? Then you will make friends in whatever golf community you move into. In general, the larger the community, the easier it is to make friends quickly because of the number of clubs and programs available and the opportunity to play golf with a wide variety of players of your own ability (through the men's or women's golf club). In virtually every one of the 150 or so golf communities we have visited, people hail from all over the country. They have faced the same issue you do, moving to a new place filled with "strangers." The residents you find in your new community have been through exactly what you have, and unless they are raging hypocrites (the vast majority are not), they will greet you with the understanding that comes from having had the same experience.

Is this community & house a good investment?

        With apologies for answering a question with a question: Do you intend to live in your new golf community home for more than 10 years? Then, yes, it should be a good investment, assuming you have done your homework about the community itself and it is financially stable. (We can help with the homework.) But don't even think of the home you will live in as an investment. If you choose wisely, you will derive years and years of pleasure from your new home and community, which is payoff enough. When the time comes to move and you have made some money on your golf home, consider that a wonderful bonus.

If we buy near the coast, what are the risks of a hurricane destroying our home?

        The chances of a major hurricane affecting your coastal home are very slim, especially if you pay attention to the history of hurricane landings and professional forecasts (see below). Atlantic hurricanes do affect life on the eastern seaboard every summer, but they tend to land more often in the southern half of Florida; even on the coasts of the Sunshine State, however, you can find excellent locations for golf homes with only the slimmest chance of a major storm annually. According to weather experts Dr. Bob Sheets and Jack Williams, who wrote the book "Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth," these are the major hurricane probabilities (111 mph winds, passing within 75 miles) for areas popular with retirees on the east and Gulf coasts:

Naples, FL.....................6.3%
Ft. Myers, FL................5.6
Daytona Beach, FL.....2.6
Jacksonville FL............1.9
Savannah, GA..............1.3
Charleston, SC.............2.2
Myrtle Beach, SC........2.6
Wilmington, NC...........2.1
Virginia Beach, VA......1.3

(Note: The low probabilities for Savannah and Jacksonville are a matter of geography. These cities are located well west of the Gulfstream, which tends to sweep Atlantic hurricanes northward)

Shouldn't we move to Florida (or Tennessee or Alabama) to avoid state income taxes?

        Yes you should –- if you will generate a lot of money in retirement, and you identify a golf community in Tennessee that you prefer to, say, one in North Carolina. But if, like most retired couples, your income will come substantially from Social Security and savings from your IRAs and 401Ks, you should worry more about the overall cost of living in your next location than about the state's income tax situation. State and local governments that do not assess an income tax have to generate money to provide services to their citizens; expect to pay higher sales taxes, property taxes and other less obvious assessments. The overall cost of living in Naples, FL, for example, is about 30% more than it is in Charleston, SC.

Shouldn't we visit a couple dozen communities before we choose one?

        Any decision that involves hundred of thousands of dollars and, possibly, the next couple of decades of your lives should be approached with careful analysis. But too much research can be self-defeating, paralysis by analysis. When you find the golf community that is right for you, you will know it by how you feel as well as what you think. Think back to when you met the love of your life. (I assume he or she is looking for your golf community home with you.) At the time, did you think to yourself "She/He's great, but I wonder if there is someone better out there?" No, you spent time to get to know your new love and, over a period of time, probably not that long, you made your commitment. When you find the golf community you both love, spend some time there, either taking advantage of a "discovery package" (we can help with that) or renting for a few months. Then save yourselves the delusion of thinking there is something better out there.

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