Title: 4 Tips for House Hunting in St. Petersburg
Choosing St. Petersburg for retirement is a great choice for seniors looking for sunshine, fun and relaxation. The good weather in the Sunshine State is renowned, there are golf courses as far as the eye can see, and there’s a large population of active seniors to share your retirement with.
According to the Florida Census, the state has a large and growing adult population. People over 60 make up nearly 23% of 20 million total state population, and by 2020, the State is expected to have a population of more than 23.5 million. At that time, people over 60 will make up over 28% of that population.
Read to begin the house hunting process? Below you’ll find a few things you should keep in mind during your search:
1. Research the Housing Market in St. Petersburg
This may seem obvious, but buying a new home in a new city requires a great deal of research - even if you enlist the help of a real estate agent. The good news for the St. Petersburg market is that housing is very affordable. According to real estate website National Association of Realtors, the median price of homes sold in St. Petersburg is $235,000, which is below the national average of $289,000. Because of St. Petersburg’s location on a narrow strip of land, you’ll want to factor in the cost of flood insurance into your home budget. Not all homes require this insurance, but some do, so you’ll want to speak with your real estate agent about this.
Home values in St. Petersburg are sweet as it is - but as a bonus incentive, the state of Florida offers exemptions that make owning a home as a retiree even more reasonable. Florida’s homestead exemption is available to homeowners for their main home - that is to say, if you ultimately have two homes only your principal residence would qualify. The policy exempts $25,000 of a home’s assessed value from school district property taxes and $50,000 for all other types of property tax.
In the majority of cases, the exemption adds up to be in approximately $500 - $800 in tax savings for Florida residents. In Pinella County, where St. Petersburg is located, senior citizens age 65 and over could also qualify for an additional homestead exemption of up to $50,000. This may seem like a complicated system, but your real estate agent can help you navigate the policies and help you determine your levels of eligibility.
If you want to get a little supplemental income from your new home, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgages for Seniors (HECM) program monitored by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in the US Department of Housing and Ubr5an Development could be a great option for you. The HECM is FHA’s reverse mortgage program that enables you to withdraw a portion of your home's equity. Your real estate agent can help walk you through the pros and cons to see if the program is a good fit for your needs and goals.
2. Review the Tax Situation for Retirees in St. Petersburg
The tax-friendly environment is one of the top reasons why seniors make their way down to Florida for their Golden Years. Consumer finance service SmartAsset refers to Florida as the “ultimate destination” for seniors who want to make the most of their retirement income sources. The state has no income tax, which means all forms of retirement income, including Social Security, public and private pensions, are also tax-free.
Additionally, it’s important to know that Florida’s sales and property taxes are in line with the national average. The separates Florida from other income-tax-free states, who generally make up for the lost state revenue with high taxes on property or sales.
3. Know What to Look for in a House
Buying a home when you’re a senior is very different from buying a home during your younger years. You have to consider the idea that your changing health needs and evolving mobility limitations can ultimately affect the way you navigate and live in your home.
Enlisting the help of an experienced real estate agent can help ensure your next home is one that you can keep for the long-haul. Examples of senior-friendly home amenities include:
No step entryways
One story floor plans
Open floor plans with extra floor space
Bathrooms with safety features for seniors
4. Research Alternative Senior Living Options in St. Petersburg
If you ultimately decide buying a home in retirement isn’t the wisest choice for you, just keep in mind that St. Petersburg has many different living options for seniors who want to call the city home.
As one alternative option, you can consider the idea of buying into a retirement community. Living in a retirement community, also referred to as a “55-plus” community, allows you to be a homeowner without having to deal with the full scope of responsibilities that normally come with owning a home. Cumbersome chores like landscaping, exterior maintenance, termite extermination and other home maintenance issues are instead handled by management in the community you choose. 55-plus communities also offer many different recreational amenities, such as pools, fitness centers and organized activities for residents to enjoy their retirement to the fullest.
If you think you will likely need help attending to activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, bathing, keeping up your home and managing your medications, you should consider living in an assisted living facility in St. Petersburg. There are a variety of communities in the St. Petersburg metropolitan area, and these facilities offer peace of mind that comes with having assistance nearby whenever needed.