It’s early 2018, but probably fair to say, many folks living in the Midwest have had their share of the cold. The Northeasterners have likely had their winter fix of cold and snow, given last months’s “Bomb Cyclone” that hit the Atlantic northern coast.
Mother Nature usually has a way of reminding folks who no longer have to live in the northern states each winter that it just might be a good time to relocate. They no longer have kids at home they would be disrupting with the school they’re attending, and, now in retirement, they don’t have to remain in places like New Jersey, Illinois or New York for their job.
Given the blistering cold temperatures and heavy snow fall that fell in the northern states, winter is off to an early start! We are busy here at Southeast Discovery with email inquiries and phone calls from folks living in places like Chicago, Cincinnati and Boston, requesting guidance as they begin to navigate through the process of relocating – effectively, and with informed insight.
The economic recovery, which began in 2012 has positively impacted the real estate markets in many areas of the country. This rings true of the Southeast region – given the climate it offers, along with the region’s natural amenities – lakes, mountains and coastal areas. The Southeast region has, and continues to appeal to a broad range of real estate buyers. From retirees, Baby Boomers, as well as recent college graduates, young married professionals, families raising children and second home buyers – many are attracted to this region’s economic activity, business-friendly environment, robust job market and individual states’ (FL, GA, NC, SC and TN) favorable tax treatment for residents.
If you are planning to relocate in 2018 – here are some factors to think about, as you determine which areas and communities to consider visiting and seeing firsthand;
1. Climate – you’ll want to determine if you are looking for a milder four-season climate, or, if you’d prefer to reduce the seasonal change to three seasons – foregoing a winter climate as much as you can. Tennessee, North Carolina, Central to Northern Georgia and Western South Carolina are ideal for those seeking a moderate four-season climate. Central and coastal South Carolina, southern and coastal Georgia and the state of Florida offer a three-season climate with a winter that typically feels more like fall in the northern states.
2. Budget for new home – many migrating out of the northern states anticipate they will spend far less for their next home in the South. This can be the case, but it depends on where you are looking in the Southeast. As more flock to the region, prices are increasing. And, desirable areas such as Asheville NC; Nashville TN; Charleston SC and Lake Keowee SC real estate has become pricier. Other areas such as Knoxville TN; Wilmington/Brunswick County NC; Bluffton/Hilton Head SC and St. Augustine FL continue to welcome new residents and as inventory lessens, prices are firming. Lot prices vary from area to area but build costs have gone up just about everywhere as the price of lumber and other materials have increased. Sub-contractor costs are on the rise as subs continue to be in high demand, keeping up with the brisk build activity in the Southeast region along with the rebuilding of areas hit hard by Hurricane Irma in both Florida and Houston.
3. Size of new home – efficiently sized homes are IN, oversized homes can be harder to sell. This is especially true for empty-nester buyers and what they are looking for. Many have had the big house when they were raising a family. So, when they think of a larger home; maintenance, more costs to operate, a bigger time commitment to keep it up – all come to mind. Give thought to the rooms you’ll need to live your life, so you’re not overbuilding and exceeding your desired cost for this next home. Think twice about building a home to accommodate the two weeks or so out of the year when family comes to visit for the holidays. Instead, think of creative ways to design your home so it’s a great fit for your everyday lifestyle – that you can make work when guests visit. Great rooms, spacious kitchens and open floor plans have taken the place of choppier floor plans that have more rooms and more walls. IE: living rooms and family rooms. Master suites on one side of the house with bedrooms 2 and 3 on the opposite side of the house are desirable. FROG – finished room over the garage can be used as a man’s cave, home office or exercise room year-round for you – but transition nicely into a guest room space when visitors come.
4. Type of home – what is going to fit your lifestyle for this next phase of life, and as you continue to age? Would it be a condo, villa, town home, single family home, or lot to build a custom home on? If you plan to do a lot of traveling when you retire and relocate, perhaps a “lock and leave” home may be best. If you are single and don’t want to contend with exterior maintenance of any kind, then a condo, villa or town home may work well. If you like to garden, tinker in the yard or have some elbow room and privacy from neighbors, then a single-family home may be most suitable for you.
5. HOA fees – all master-planned communities have an HOA or POA fee. Some neighborhoods without many amenities may still also have a POA or HOA. Find out before buying property what the fee structure is, and what has been the history of increases over the last 5 years, so you can get a sense of what the incremental increases will be year over year. You’ll also want to find out what the HOA fees include. For some communities, various amenities offered are broken out and paid for by the residents that directly use them. For other communities, all the amenities and their operating costs are shared by all the residents, whether they use the amenity or not. HOA and POAs shouldn’t be seen as a negative when buying real estate in a community or neighborhood. Having a well-run home owners association is positive for any community and actually enhances property values over time.
6. Lifestyle / Amenities – have you given thought to what amenities you’d enjoy having in a community? Golf, marina, walking and hiking trails, dog park, indoor and/or outdoor pool, fitness center, gated entrance and roving security, community garden, restaurant on site, clubhouse for social gatherings. There are many different communities out there, and each has different amenity offerings. Find the community that’s a good fit for you!
7. Healthcare nearby – do you have special health care needs? Quality health care is important to most buyers we work with. It’s important to know what the health care options are in an area you are considering relocating to. Do your homework as quality health care, and easy access to it, will become increasingly important as you age.
8. Airport – most airports in the Southeast region are experiencing population growth in the respective areas they serve. Hence, most airports continue to expand. You can go online and research weekly flight paths an airport offers. You’ll need to decide if you can live near a regional airport, or, if you need to be near a major hub. With remote working on the rise, we work with many clients that air travel throughout the month – so the airport and logistics of flying is important to them. For others relocating, especially those who are fully retired, their use of an airport may be much less frequent – therefore, not as critical to their overall decision.
9. Natural amenities – is your decision of where to relocate based on having proximity to natural amenities such as a lake (for boating, fishing and other recreation), a river (for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing), near the mountains (for hiking) or at the coast (for shrimping, crabbing, boating, fishing, walking and enjoying the beach). The community or neighborhood you choose is very important – but so is the area and the attributes it offers.
10. Continuing education – for those who have always had an academic interest, or a hobby they’ve wanted to explore and experience … but due to time constraints and responsibilities (work and raising a family) they haven’t had the time to pursue. Live near a university setting and you’ll find most offer continuing education courses – or the Osher Lifelong Living Institute (OLLI) where one can pursue interests in a variety of topics such as woodworking, astrology, computer science, personal finance, gardening, cooking classes and so much more.