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:
Ft. Myers, FL................5.6
Daytona Beach, FL.....2.6
Myrtle Beach, SC........2.6
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.