Where to retire is as important as when to retire. For Joe and Julie Hederman, the “where” landed them in Florida. Living in St. Louis, they were ready to escape the unpredictable winter weather. The warmer temperatures and year-round access to their favorite activities motivated their decision.
“We bought the first one we looked at, primarily because of the boating community,” Julie shared.
Their first and only stop was Mount Vernon in Bradenton, Florida. This 55+ community is located on the beautiful shores of Sarasota Bay, near Anna Maria Island and a short drive from Sarasota/Bradenton airport. Mount Vernon was built in 1976 with 434 condominium/townhouse units.
This community also comes with less stress. Since Joe and Julie are only in Florida part-time, they feel comfortable leaving their townhouse and knowing it’s being maintained, which is just one of the reasons they’re happy they made their decision.
What They Love About Their 55+ Community
The amenities played a big role in their move to Mount Vernon. Julie suggests looking around at the amenities these communities offer and making sure they fit your lifestyle and interest.
“This community had the amenities we were looking for, especially the boat dock, which is within walking distance of our townhouse and only cost a one-time fee of $25!”
Joe and Julie were also excited about the tennis and pickleball courts, library, and host of activities Mount Vernon offered.
2. Free Outdoor Activities
The Hedermans enjoy being outdoors as much as possible. So when they found out they could kayak for free from the community on Sarasota Bay, they were thrilled. “We regularly see herons, spoonbills, dolphins, and manatees. We actually have a unique bird sanctuary on our property,” Julie commented.
3. Warm Weather
In addition to no Florida income tax, it’s the weather that’s the main draw for retirees. While the Hedermans do make it back to St. Louis every few months, they enjoy the Sunshine State’s year-round warm weather. They did note that some residents do leave for cooler climates from April to November.
4. Proximity To Beautiful Beaches
Not too many beaches in the U.S. compare to the white sandy Florida beaches, and Julie and Joe are just minutes away from some of the most beautiful. Anna Maria Island is a short 5 minutes from their townhouse. Consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., you can collect shells at sunset, eat at one of the many beachside restaurants, or just watch the dolphins playfully enjoy a summer’s day.
5. Great People
The people make the community at Mount Vernon. Julie says the folks living there are nice and easy-going. They are very friendly and welcoming. She has noticed the demographics starting to change.
“We’re seeing more active people in their 50s and 60s moving in. I’m hoping more of the new folks stay year-round,” Julie says.
Pro Tip: “Be open-minded to get acquainted,” the Hedermans suggest. “We were hesitant to attend many functions due to COVID, but we plan on getting more involved in the next year and look forward to being more active.”
What They Don’t Love About Their 55+ Community
While they are thrilled they moved to their 55+ community, there are a few things they would change.
1. Limited Amenities And Activities
Some age-restricted communities offer hundreds of activities, fitness classes, and outings. While Mount Vernon does have a fitness center, it’s small with no windows and limited equipment. It’s fine for Joe, but Julie would prefer more exercise classes. Julie suggests asking the communities what types of classes and activities they provide and making sure they align with what you’re looking for. If not, you can always start your own!
Different communities have different rules. Julie says Mount Vernon is no different. For example, residents can’t have pets, trucks, or motorcycles. Julie is hoping some of these rules relax in the future because she feels it could affect their property values.
3. Unexpected Assessments
Also ask about yearly assessments. Julie and Joe had an increase due to flood insurance. They had to pay a one-time fee of $2,000. “We’re hopeful that isn’t a normal situation in the future.”
Final Piece Of Advice
Julie and Joe suggest looking over the HOA costs and what they cover. At Mount Vernon, their HOA includes outside maintenance, cable, and internet. The costs do go up each year, so be prepared for the additional expenses.