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Lakefront living in Florida?


SSG223
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Probably an old topic, but as a lifetime resident of wet and cold western Washington for 50+ years, the family is starting to consider moving to a warmer place. We love the lakefront life, and when you try to balance weather, affordability, number of lakes, jobs, etc., (plus motocross which we also do), Florida sure looks attractive. Places like Austin are brutally expensive, Phoenix doesn't seem to have many lakes (duh, it's the desert), which has pointed me towards Florida. So a few questions for those that are familiar to the state:

 

1) Is there much difference in weather, etc between Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville? Or is it pretty much the same across the state? Does lakefront property tend to be more / less expensive across these main cities?

 

2) Less for me, but my wife is freaked out by the gators and snakes (ok, admittedly, I'm not fond of either as well!). I try to explain that all these people have lived down there for years and years, so clearly they can't be THAT big of a problem. But how bad are they? I read articles that say "look for the signs", etc., but how does a newbie know what to look for? Are they more or less prevalent on the bigger lakes vs smaller lakes?

 

3) How difficult is it to build boat houses, etc. I love to ski, but the family loves to surf (we are actually a two boat family here). But in the "green" northwest, it's a pain in the ass to build anything near the water. Was curious what the building codes were (generally) in Florida?

 

4) Near those three cities, are there lakes that are better / worse for skiing? I'm an open water guy, so don't really care whether there are courses laid out. Was really thinking about wind, etc.

 

Any simple guidance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for your insight.

 

Scott

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I’ll take the easy ones. There is a pretty big temperature difference between Jville and Otown, but less between Otown and Tampa.

 

There are gators all over the south. If you want to see a gator, go golfing. That’s not to say there are no gators in ski lakes, but they aren’t much of an issue. Telltale sign of a gator in your neighborhood: your poodle is missing. Telltale sign of a big gator in your neighborhood: your lab is missing. Snakes can be anywhere, but usually they are of the non-poisonous variety. That said, I have seen moccasins, copperheads and rattlesnakes around lawns, docks and lakes. HOWEVER, your chance of being attacked by a gator (assuming you aren’t stupid) is probably about the same as being bitten by a shark.

 

Most communities allow boathouses. Some communities allow only one-boat boathouses. If you’re a two boat family, you may have find the right lake or a pre existing two-boat boathouse.

 

If you like to free ski and surf, you probably want a bigger lake. In central Florida, there’s a gazillion of them.

 

Start with a knowledgeable broker and work from there. There are several good skier/brokers. Drew Ross for one. My wife and I used Kris LaPoint and he did a great job. https://www.realtyexecutives.com/agents/jennifer-lapoint

 

FYI, we live on the Conway chain of lakes in Orlando. Several houses for sale. Come be our neighbors.

Lpskier

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1. Yeeaassss

2. If you swim at night ..very bad. Ski and swim in the daytime ..no worries at all. It's that nocturnal thing.

3. Not hard. Lots of areas don't really check. Lake I'm on only 2 owners got permits.

4. Depends. But in general there are so many damn lakes that u will find something you like.

 

Visit as often as you can and dip your toe in the waters. Get a feel for diff places and times of year. And always try before you buy.

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Tampa and Orlando weather is about the same. Jacksonville is colder in the winter, freeze more often and sees more storms in the summer. There are many lakes in central FL. there are small privet lakes that do not have gators, the lake owners have them removed if one finds it way in. I live on such a lake in Orlando. Prices do very quite a bit around a 30 mile radius of Orlando. From Orlando its an easy hour cruise to the beaches. If you need a good realtor PM me I will hook you up.
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I’m either a lot poorer than I thought or tighter than I thought because I’d hardly call Florida’s lakefront living affordable. Seems like Jacksonville doesn’t have much for lakes, and Tampa has a few on the northern side. Gators aren’t a problem unless you’re stupid or you’re a dog. Snakes are everywhere but only moccasins are a threat. About a month ago I pulled a pretty big moc out of LaPoints boathouse (man I felt like a hick). As mentioned some areas have mega ordinances on docks. I’m getting the feeling the state basically will only allow a single boat house. I see doubles but I’m not sure how it’s happening. There’s probably a few lakes to stay away from, but the only ones I could say are Apopka and Jesup. As far as climate goes I’ll post a picture of Florida’s climate band. Above that line and you are in the real north. a8ynuhv500xt.jpeg

Anywhere in the Polk or Highland counties have awesome lakes, nice towns and will be the least expensive.

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I’m an Orlando area native but I’ve hunted in cold weather, real cold mountain weather where I park my truck ON the lake.... but our 7-10 days of winter we get.... that winter gets deeper & colder into your bones than anywhere else I’ve been. And it’s the 45* mark that hurts, if it drops to 35* it’s not as bad.
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@lpskier I'd say chances are GREATER of getting bit by a shark than a gator, especially in the New Smyrna Daytona area, seems to have been a lot lately. Lots of people skiing, in areas where gators are known to be around, and you never hear of a gator bothering a skier.

 

Budget is going to be a big factor, and of course it reflects the more desirable area also (depending on perspective.) Orlando, especially SW orlando will probably be the most expensive. As you move on out the west side and out toward Clermont, then also on the east/NE side of Orlando, things get a little cheaper. The farther you move from Orlando the less expensive things get. The winter haven area has some good areas too and are pretty affordable.

 

Its hard to throw a rock without hitting a lake around here, and LOTS with courses.

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With respect to boat houses, when we rebuilt ours (hurricane Jean took out the old single slip one), permits at the time allowed 10 square feet (above high water mark) per 1 foot of shore line. If you have 150 feet of frontage, you are allowed 1500 square feet over water TOTAL. We built a double slip boat house and cost was a one time permit fee. You can build larger structures with greater square footage, but you then pay an annual fee for that structure. Lastly, the structure must be built 25 feet from the adjacent property line.

The HOA simply ok'd the plans. This was in Lake County outside of Orlando.

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I dont think there has ever been a documented case of a skier being attacked by a gator in Florida

1000 square foot max coverage over water including wetlands in Polk County. Expect to pay approx 30k for boathouse.

Smaller lakes and definitely tournament lakes will not allow wakeboard and surf boats!

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SSG223, your wife should Google "alligator attacks on water skiers in the US". It will be a quick search. She won't find any in the entire country (at least I haven't) let alone Florida. Given that the greater Orlando area is the epicenter of professional and high end water skiing in the world, with lakes and courses and skiers everywhere, if gators, or moccasins for that matter, poised a problem, the area would never have achieved that status. By contrast, pit bulls killed 40 people in the US last year. You live in Washington? There's bears there, right? There have been 28 fatal bear attacks in the US since 2000. A bigger concern living in Florida would be lightning strikes with 10 people killed annually across thte state. Driving to buy groceries is a more serious threat to life and limb than gators. (I've learned to drive very defensively since moving here). As for better or worse lakes for skiing, if you're primarily an open water, free skier, a larger lake will always give you a calm lee shore to ski on regardless of wind direction or velocity (within reason). The long, narrow lakes, naturally occurring or man-made, can get quickly blown out by wind blowing in the direction that the lake lies. It's never a bad idea to research the prevailing wind direction during different seasons of the year and match that info to the lake you might be considering, as well as the location of the house... i.e., which shoreline it's on. A big lake might always offer a lee shore, but it would be nice not to always have to drive to the other side of the lake to find calm water because your house is situated on what is typically the windward side of the lake.
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Great feedback as always from this group, many thanks for the guidance. I think we will be taking a couple trips down there next year, just to get a feel for the different cities and just check out a few lakes.

 

Just looked at my phone, ten day forecast is in the 40's and rain every single day. Florida sure looks attractive right now!

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@SSG223 I’ve never been to Florida but we all know it to be humid in the summer, if it’s anything like Central-Northern Queensland here in Aus then I think that’s going to be your biggest hurdle to overcome. There’s plenty of people who like the idea of moving to warmer climates (definitely me) but find it very difficult to adjust to that humidity and end up moving back. See it here all the time.
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@rockdog made a valid point. Took me a couple years to get used to the muggy summers down here.

8 months above 85° combined with that crazy humidity Is definitely wearing on you! And it’s not for everyone. I’ve been to Arizona, Nevada & Utah this summer (94° - 98° at the time there) and it felt totally different, the dry heat is much easier to handle and not as exhausting as the south Florida climate.

My advice would be, to come down during the really hot and muggy months (June - September) and spend a couple days in our climate before you make any decision.

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Spent 45 minutes riding a Yamaha Stand up jetski this afternoon at 5pm with no wetsuit. It was great! Don't give a 2nd thought to gators/snakes. Jacksonville gets too cold! Orlando to Tampa, and all points in between are awesome (south is even better)! Winter Haven in the middle is very central to the state. We never have more than 4 or 5 days in a row when you don't want to take a ride.

ps: Gators taste great with the right sauce!

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Dont worry about the rain in Florida. It rains for less then a hour mid afternoon then it's over. Lived here since 2000 and can probably count on 2 hands ever driving to work in the morning with it raining. Moved here from WV and my only regret is I wish I would have moved here sooner.
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The rain patterns here vary with seasons. Summer rains are like @skierjp said....almost daily, but usually mid to late afternoon, and they don't last long. The sea breezes from both coasts move across the state, and collide in the Orlando area. Better run for cover though, as they can be pretty violent (thunderstorms with MUCH lightning.) Winter is more random, as it comes with the cold front moving across (kinda like this morning.) We'll have a line of storms moving across late morning today, but they can come anytime (even over night.) They can be pretty violent also, sometimes bringing tornados. They usually don't last long either, but colder weather coming in behind. Springs are usually pretty dry though, but windy.
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Re: wind, even a fairly light wind can trash a slalom course in no time. But remember, SSG223 said he's an open water guy who doesn't care much about a course, so he wouldn't be tied to any fixed location on a lake. There will always be a lee shore with smooth, skiable water somewhere around a lake of any size, length and width. There are thousands of lakes in Florida. I've only skied on 8. But of those 8, each one you can ski right up against the shoreline weeds unless there are docks in the way of course. My point is to SSG223, here there are no rocks to worry about in shallow water, in my experience. So you'll be able to tuck yourself close to shore and find flat water pretty much any time for free skiing.
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