Renting in Florida

Having just signed our lease for another year, I thought I would give all of you insight on how it has worked for us so far. Enjoy!

Now, when we started this process, it was very delicate. Unless you have the time and money to explore and educate yourself about the new home you will live in, you have to take the word of agencies or private landlords and what they show you online. Yes, this can be a dangerous game of “I hope it’s what they said and shown it to be” but sometimes that is what life hands you and you just go with the flow on it.  If someone asked me what I recommend, I would still stand by the fact that EVERY landlord is different and so is the place, so it is really a case by case thing when it comes to seeing it before you rent.  It makes common sense to see it first, but when relocating across the U.S., sometimes the cost is not feasible in the budget to do so.  We rented by pictures only and our gut feeling that these people were very kind and helpful. For us, this method paid off.

I will also continue to stand by the fact that renting for the first year, if not more, is one of the smartest things you can do when moving to a new city/state.  In most cases you have enough to worry about with a new job possibly, new surroundings, new friends, new schools…why worry about now having BOUGHT a new home and then finding out you hate the area? You will never “really” know the area you choose, whether renting or buying, until you have lived there for awhile. You get the feel of the pace of the neighborhood, whether the store is close enough for all those milk and necessity runs, plus you find out quickly if you live in a safe area or not. Keep in mind that when someone is showing you a home, its more or less during the day, so everyone is usually at work and kids are in school. Take a look again after the 5:00 hour to see how it REALLY is… are the new neighbors playing basketball in front of your home,  playing loud music with the rest of them, or all sorts of cars coming in and out? I know, I sound like a crabby old man, but you get where I am going with this. Trust me, I have lived in enough places to know what to look out for now.

We love renting, and we have great landlords. They live close by, but far enough away that we don’t feel we are babysat.  I love the fact that when something breaks or is in need of repair, they foot the bill and the labor for it.  Again, it’s a nice thing to know they will come and fix it when something happens and that I can concentrate on other things for the day.  You also have to keep in mind that renting is a give and take process that if you allow is to freely happen, you are usually good to go.  Be reasonable.  If something breaks and it’s dangerous to us or my family, they won’t hesitate to help us. But if it’s a screen or a pool issue, they will schedule a time because they both work full time as well and have kids.  I highly recommend finding out who your landlords are as far as their day to day life, because it helps you understand how things will work.

Now we have private landlords, where most homes down here are through an agency. They are a bit tougher on how much you have to have down, when the rent must be paid, BUT they will also cover your back with a bit more legality than a private might.  I know that having the security of a big company it is comforting to some, but I really like being personable with mine and having a relationship that I know we can communicate without it being some huge deal as well.

Now we have to do our own pool upkeep and also the yard, whereas some do not have to deal with either and hire their people to clean and cut for a cost to you that may be included in your rent. For us, we really don’t mind since only when it really rains does the lawn need a good cut, and the pool us easy to maintain as long as you check it every day.  We also have hired Bug people, then eventually to save costs, just sprayed on our own and it seems to usually do the trick.

We were able to have Dory, our beloved cat, with us in our home and had to pay a small pet deposit which is refundable at the end of our stay.  Because Dory was a surprise to us, they worked with us very kindly on it and we appreciated their understanding on the situation.  When they advertised the place, we had known that one pet would be ok, so we knew it wouldn’t be too big a deal when Dory came home.

I know that some say that renting is throwing your money away, but I feel the opposite. I feel like throwing your money away is buying a home where you potentially could hate the area in a year and now have to figure out how to sell it in an economy that is still struggling to survive.  I would rather live out a year, then give notice and move without having to deal with selling anything then have to go through that entire process in AGAIN a brand new city and state where how they do things  could be completely different.  I guess it is all on how comfortable you are with what you find that will make the decision for you.

If you like to paint the walls, or change things in the place, most you just have to ask and read the fine print before signing. We were fortunate enough to find a place with a great color scheme, even though Kyra would love to paint her room, but we still have things we would love to change if we owned it. But here is the catch, to change them, like carpets, etc.. takes money when eventually they will do it on their dime and we can STILL enjoy it, so we will wait it out for now and see what happens.  At this point they just need a good cleaning and we are good to go.

I know I have come to really enjoy the area we chose. At first, I was concerned with highway 192 and it’s looming tourist hold it had on me. But then I found roads around it,  and it has just gotten easier and easier.  I like that our neighborhood has huge yards and lots of space, I am not a fan of being on top of each other when it comes to homes.  Yes it is an older area, but it is safe, close to Emily’s school, close to awesome places to eat and shop at, and of course, our beloved Disney World. If you had told me when we started this that I would find a home where I could see and hear Wishes and Illuminations every night I would have thought you were certifiably nuts!

We would like to own eventually, but with a child heading to College in the Fall and another one going back to school, my plate is full right now with those life changes.  I would like to own in time, but neither Craig or I feel any rush to do so.  It has been a positive experience so far and I feel we will be here for many years to come.  I hope this helps someone who is trying to decide on renting or not, have a great day!

8 thoughts on “Renting in Florida

  • Thank you for writing this post!! My fiancé are planning to move to FL spring 2013 or spring 2014. Currently we rent an apartment up here, but are looking to rent a house in FL within 45 mins of WDW. Thank you again! I have enjoyed reading your blog about your process!

  • Great blog Amy. I understand the renting verses owning right away. I will also add that some “landlords” are even located out of country so be careful when renting. Have a great day!

  • Thanks for sharing this! Although I have just relocated to Tampa this past April, My family and I would like to live closer to Orlando so right now we are renting a small bungalow from my brother that just recently got married. It was a win-win on both our parts. It’s given us time to get to know the area and decide exactly where we want to live and since he is a newlywed he can save some money and not worry about having the added stress of a stranger living in his home for the first year. Since my daughter is home schooled and I stay at home we can feel out neighborhoods and check out the school system if we decide to go back to public school. Orlando is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from us so we get to spend time down there when we please instead of being 17 hours away back in Arkansas. We haven’t gotten to enjoy Disney just yet but we will soon! Right now we just enjoy Downtown Disney and love it! 🙂

  • thanks for the post amy – we do see a florida move in our future – the warm weather is perfect for my husband. All in do time and these blogs help us to make the right decisions.

  • Thanks for this post! We’re moving June 15, 2013 and finding a rental home is one of our biggest worries. We live 2500 miles away, so it’s not feasible to pop down there for a weekend trip to check out homes. We’re really debating between doing what you did and hopefully finding a great place without seeing it or sending my husband out there 2-3 weeks early and staying in a weekly rental/vacation rental while he finds somewhere for us to live. (We’re getting a moving pod, so there’s no moving truck or anything like that…)

  • Excellent advice. We were a little worried renting an apartment (I had never lived in an apartment before) long distance, but it turned out to be the best thing ever. And many apartments will let you paint and redecorate, as long as you pant it back when you leave. And thanks to YouTube and many great websites, you really can ‘visit’ the homes virtually to get an idea as to whether it is something you’d like. That helped us eliminate many apartments while doing our search. It must be so much easier to make this move now than it would have been even 5 years ago thanks to the internet. 🙂

    ~Mark.

  • When I was looking down here last summer someone gave me a website to help assist me with seeing how crime was in the area. For anyone else looking to move (anywhere really) you can use website: http://www.mylocalcrime.com/ All you have to do is put in the potential address you will be looking at. I used it when I was looking at various neighborhoods. I ended up in a very nice gated condo community. I can see Wishes from my balcony nightly too. It is rather nice and a great idea to rent before settling on a place. Look at it as an investment while you get acclamated to the area or potential area of where to live when relocating. Good post Amy.

  • My wife and I have talked about rent versus buy. The concern is with relocating the kids to a new school, then finding we don’t like the area and having to relocate them to another new school. Perhaps it is impossible (or impractical) but we would want to research the best location and then live with the choice to minimize the disruption. Are there websites to help determine what location might be the best for us?