Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ugly storm clouds 

  

I took Daisy out for a walk this morning in The Villages, Florida. This a picture of the sky that greeted us. 

We still managed to get a half mile in before the wind said “go home”. 

Brodie

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Secrets of The Villages

  

What do you know about The Villages? Probably not much unless you’ve been here. Or maybe you’ve heard rumors.

My guess is that, like us, you think it’s a giant country club filled with million dollar homes and snobby white people over the age of 55 that are secluding themselves from the real world. Kids? They came here to escape those dirty ankle biters.

You may think it’s a wrinkly drunk fest filled with debauchery. Yep, we heard that, too.

Well, here’s the dirty little secret of The Villages:

It’s like your average medium sized town. You can purchase homes staring around $30k and all the way up to Scruge McDuck prices. There are beautiful mobile home parks, villas, town homes, apartments, average homes, and lovely custom homes. You can even rent.

People come here from all over the world. Some live here full-time. Many are snowbirds. A large number of people are just passing through or on vacation.

Yes, it’s a retirement community but there are so many people under 55. Do the retired folks take kindly to us young’ns being here? Yes! And honestly, we have been pleasantly surprised by this.

Since it’s Summer, there are many grandchildren visiting. For two weeks, The Villages provides a Summer camp. It’s so cool! The kids and their grandparents can attend and participate in the many planned activities. This is like NO camp I ever went to! You wouldn’t believe the fun stuff these kids get to do and I think the grandparents are having more fun than the kids!

Anyone can stay here. You don’t have to be over 55 to rent. They only require that owners are over 55. 

It is NOT expensive to rent here!!! In fact, we have decided that this is our go-to spot to stay when rates are high everywhere else in the Southeast. Of course, the Winter months are more expensive. This month we are paying $1400 for a 3 bed 2 bath home. This includes the guest amenities pass that gives us access to 29 golf courses, over 30 pools, tennis, bocce ball, archery, and fitness centers. Our rent also includes all utilities. Of course, there are less expensive rentals available but this house was perfect for us.

Now, to address the other more juicy rumors:

Yes, they are all true. There are swingers. Yes, they advertise openly in some very strange ways (including but not limited to red shoes, pineapples, and shower scrubbies). But, just like every other place in the world, you can find any “activity” if you’re looking for it. These “activities” do not dominate the landscape of The Villages.

Overall, this is a very happy and friendly place.  I think you should just come and find out for yourself!

-Jodi

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Travel Perk: Meeting new people

We’ve been at this traveling lifestyle for 6 months now.  There are a lot of great things about it, but one of our favorite things is all of the new people we meet.  We may meet and talk to them only once, but it’s never been disappointing.

Take today for instance.  We went down to the pool before it got too hot and in between Jodi’s work things.  First we talked for a while with a man that is originally from the western states, but has also worked overseas in several places.  We learned some of his and his wife’s favorite places and why.

Next, also today, we met a retired couple who now live in The Villages, but still work.  We learned about some of his Vietnam War experiences and Jodi spent a long time talking to his wife about work she still does.

We also learn a lot about the areas we’re staying in.  Things we may not be able to learn otherwise due to our usual short stays.  There’s nothing better than learning from the locals.

Brodie

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Miles of walking space at the Villages

I’m not exactly sure how many miles of sidewalks there are in the villages, but it’s a bunch.  If you happened to be here when you can stand the heat, I think you could take a different path everyday for a month before you had a repeat trip.  Unless you’re a marathon runner and then you’d probably finish them all in a couple of days.  If that’s the case, then yay for you.  I’ll catch up later.

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Our Village Square

There are several village squares within the Villages. 

It’s basically divided up into small neighborhoods. This is ours.  


 

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Budgeting to live in vacation homes full time

When we talk to people about how we live full time in vacation rentals, the first thing people say or think is how do they afford that?  Or, we could never afford that?

So, let me show you how to budget for this way of living.

First, you must know everything that you currently spend.  It’s easy to let a lot of small expenses go by without being accounted for.  You have to stop this leak and account for every dollar.  We use two budgeting tools.  First is Mint.com and second is Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Budget.

I handle our budget and spending.  Nothing gets spent that I don’t account for.  Other than spending money, I don’t track what Jodi spends of her own money.

Jodi gets paid twice per month, so I start the budget with what we need to save and pay from each pay period.  In order to know what we can afford for each vacation rental I took the total of what we paid to live in our old house and split it between both months paychecks.

We accounted for everything that was spent to live the old way.  These are the budget items that were involved in living in our old house:

1. House payment

2. House insurance

3. Home repairs

4. Yard maintenance

5. Electricity

6. Gas

7. Cable

8. Internet

9. HOA Dues

10. Property taxes

11. Home Maintenance and cleaning

12. Landline phone(if you have one, we didn’t)

13. Water

14. Miscellaneous “pop-up” items

Total all of these individual expenses for a month in your current home, divide by how often you get paid and viola!  You now have what you truly spend each month to live in your house and presumably what you can afford to live in a vacation rental.  We don’t rent houses that max out our budget if we can help it.  This allows for more money to go into savings and provides a cushion for those unforeseen expenses.  We do our best to account for everything, but sometimes we get surprised by some expense, usually a small one.

So, there it is.  If you were thinking we were living in vacation homes because we’re super rich, you thought wrong.

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Doggie Paradise

 We live in a neighborhood of Courtyard Villas. They are the only homes in The Villages that have fenced in yards. As you can imagine, every home in these sections is occupied by animal lovers and their pets. Animal lovers are good neighbors!

This is the grassy half of our little courtyard in The Villages. It’s not huge but it’s perfect! Most of the vacation homes that we’ve rented, so far, have had decent yards. And I would say that all of them have been bigger than this one.

But folks, it is not the size of the yard but the area of the fence that makes life fun for the doggies and easier on us!!

This is the other side of our courtyard. You may be wondering why we would be so excited to have a fenced in, concrete, runway. Well, I’ll tell you why:

This is where we throw a ball and run Miss Daisy until she drops.

It’s awesome! The ball bounces off the fence, the house, the bushes…She loves it! We love it! We love Daisy when she’s a little less awake and less in love with life.

Boogie, of course, just likes to go out and lay his belly in the warm concrete and charge up his solar panels in the Florida sun. 

Oh, and this is the first house that we’ve stayed in that has NO steps. Do you know how happy that makes an old Beagle with 4 inch ground clearance? Boogie thinks The Villages were made for him and I would have to agree.

-Jodi

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Golf Carting to McAlisters

Scène from the Police Academy Stunt Show

Scène from the Police Academy Stunt Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So far, one of my favorite parts of staying in The Villages are the golf carts.  Each individual village also has a town square kind of place.  You’ll find various restaurants and stores in each village.

So today we took the cart and headed to our town square for lunch at McAlisters Deli and a brief stop at Publix.  There are several stores for various shopping wants in each town square.  We don’t buy much if we don’t need it, so we haven’t been into any of those yet.  Maybe we’ll get bored and go look at what we don’t want to buy.

Brodie

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Racing the Rainbow Rocket in the Villages

When we got here at the Villages one of our first orders of business was to find a golf cart.  The ‘official’ cart rental place was way too expensive and all of the carts have governors on them.  FYI, governors keep the speed down.  Not fun.

We wanted to spend way less and wanted no governor.  Jodi and I have the need for speed.  So the gas powered rainbow colored rocket we rented elsewhere has no governor.

Under the right conditions we can hit speeds a little over 30mph.  That doesn’t sound like much until your going around a sharp curve and straight into a tunnel.  The cart is a little top heavy, so we have to lean into the turn to keep all the tires on the asphalt.  It definitely works better with two of us on board.

P.S. Having a golf cart here is another one of those, “learn as we go” things.  Neither of us did research on what a golf cart rental would cost, so we weren’t concerned about renting a house that didn’t come with one.  In the future we’ll try to find a rental that comes with a cart.

English: A picture of a Club Car 84 golf cart....

English: A picture of a Club Car 84 golf cart. Italiano: Foto di una golf cart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brodie

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Video Tour/Review of Disney Area Vacation Home VRBO #280384

 

Update!!! Video links corrected. Oops!

We had a great time staying at this beautiful home in Davenport, FL. The home is just 2 exits from Downtown Disney and provides easy access to the Kissimee area and all theme parks.

Brodie and I stayed the entire month of May but we had the entire family join us for a week.

The size and bedroom layout was perfect for 3 couples and two singles. But, there was room for two more people in beds and 4 more on pull out sofas. With three different living areas, there is plenty of space to get away from the crowd.

CLICK HERE – Outside and first floor
CLICK HERE – Second Floor

This is a perfect home for a large group traveling to the Orlando area. 

PARKING IS LIMITED!!! You can bring 20 people but make sure they fit in 2 vehicles. You can park on the street but it’s very narrow. I have no clue what the developer was thinking when they designed the driveways!

-Jodi

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