Climate Change: Two Homes for Comfortable Golf Year-round
The only way to play golf in the Southeast every month of the year in relative comfort is to own a home in Florida for the winter and in a more temperate area for the summer. The following are a few combinations of homes currently for sale and available through our network of professional real estate agents in Florida and other golf-community-rich areas of the region. We've searched for listings that, in combination, price out at less than $500,000 total. Please contact me if you would like further information on any of these or visit the new Golf Homes for Sale section of my blog site; or, for a free, no-obligation list of golf communities that match your requirements, fill out our Golf Home Questionnaire.
Venetian Golf & River Club North Venice, FL
2 BR, 2 BA, 2 car garage, with lake view. Club membership included with common fees (golf membership separate and not required)...$199,900. North Venice is located between Sarasota and Ft. Myers.
Kenmure Country Club Flat Rock, NC
3 BR, 2 BA one-level single-family home of almost 2,000 square feet with hardwood floors, fireplace, fresh paint inside. All appliances included. Kenmure is 10 minutes from Hendersonville and 35 minutes from Asheville. Flat Rock is home to a famous summer theater...$284,900
Palm-Aire Country Club Sarasota, FL
2 BR, 2 BA first-floor condo, 1,100 square feet with golf course and lake views. Memberships available for 36 hole club and fitness center. Low HOA fees and just six miles to Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, shopping and restaurants...$125,000
Linville Falls Country Club Marion, NC
3 BR, 3 BA, 3,550 square foot single-family with plenty of mountain views and next to the Lee Trevino designed golf course. Membership just $1,500 annually for couple, or pay as you go green fees. Large screened-in porch for the views...$359,000
Fiddlers Creek Naples, FL
3 BR, 3 BA, 2,200 air-conditioned square feet brand new coach home. Garage, lanai and other space adds almost 900 more square feet. Award-winning community just 15 minutes from Marco Island and half hour to Mercato Shopping Center in Naples...$289,000
Rumbling Bald Resort Lake Lure, NC
2 BR, 2 BA, 1,175 square foot end-unit condo with balcony overlooking pond. Access to resort's private beach, swimming pools, gym, spa, golf (two courses) and tennis. Currently generating rental income...$199,000
Some Like It Hot: Handling the Elements of a Golf Home Search
Most people who relocate from north to south cite climate as among their top two or three reasons for the move. During this last winter in New England, for example, I've heard over and over from neighbors and customers how fed up they are with snow and cold. But because they are fleeing bad weather, they are especially sensitive to the climate where they are headed. Most want "warm" winters and, yet, when pressed to define what they mean by "warm," they are literally all over the map.
Climate is one of the easiest to research topics fundamental to the choice of a golf community. I like the web site weatherbase.com for its month-by-month statistics, simply displayed, for thousands of cities and towns. In preparing for this article, I looked at a selection of Southeast cities both in the mountains and on the coast, with a few in between, to determine if there is a perfect climate east of the Mississippi where golf can be played year round in relative comfort, which is to say moderate temperatures and not too much precipitation. My conclusion is that if you must have that combination of atmospherics year-round, you may very well need to buy two homes.
No Goldilocks climate -- neither too hot nor too cold -- exists in the Southeast every month of the year. For example, who wouldn't want to live in the mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, during July when the average temperature is 74 degrees Fahrenheit and the average lows and highs are 64 and 84 degrees, respectively? Compare that with the July highs in Florida towns like Naples, Sarasota and Jacksonville, which average around 92 (yes, it's humid too). On the other hand, golf in the Asheville area is essentially unplayable in January, when temperatures average 37, with an average low of 27. Naples golf weather in January is perfect, at an average of 65 and an average low of 54.
Summer golf in most parts of Florida can be an exhausting experience, with heat and humidity making early morning play and the ingestion of plenty of liquids an absolute must. But oddly enough, average and high temperatures in Florida during July are only a degree or two higher than those in places like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, SC. And the average July high in Savannah is a degree higher than many Florida coastal towns. The bigger difference between Florida summers and Carolina summers can be measured in rainfall (and the consequent humidity); the Gulf coast city of Sarasota, for example, gets a whopping average of almost 10 inches of rain every July, more than twice as much as Greenville, SC, and about 60% more than Savannah. The extra few inches of rain over a 30-day period can certainly put a damper on golf plans...if the high temperatures and humidity don't.
Golf courses along the Carolinas and Georgia coasts remain open throughout the winter despite the colder temperatures. As I have evolved into my 60s, I have invoked a policy that keeps me off the golf course unless the temperature is at least 50 degrees. (And if it is raining, or clearly threatening, I will also wait to play another day.) I spent most of January and February at our condo in Pawleys Island, SC, and although I didn't keep a ledger, I would estimate that the weather was good enough to play about half to two-thirds of the days, albeit with a sweater or lined windbreaker on. That would also be true for Myrtle Beach and points south. Therefore, those looking for a year-round golf community where they can tee it up three or four times a week, and are willing to don a sweater or jacket, will be comfortable enough on the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. Those who want to play almost the year round in short pants and golf shirts, and are willing to suffer high humidity in summer, should look to Florida. And those looking for the ultimate in comfort every month of the year should count on a home in Florida for the winter and one in the mountains of the Carolinas or Georgia in summer, assuming they can afford it. We've included in the adjacent column a few "combinations" of homes in Florida and the mountains that could make sense.
Tax Day Reminder for Retirees
Texas, Florida and Tennessee are the only southern states that do not levy an income tax; yet only Florida among them shows up on a Kiplinger publication list of “Most Friendly Tax States” for retirees. The most tax friendly states in the South for retirees include Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Delaware and the aforementioned Florida. (OK, we know Delaware is considered a northern state but we list properties for sale in its fine golf communities so we are stretching the geography a bit.)
In the Kiplinger article last September, Tom Wetzel, president of the Retirement Living Information Center, noted that "higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax." The reverse is true as well; just because a state has an income tax does not mean its overall tax burden is higher than one without a state tax. Kiplinger’s editors reinforce the point: “Many of the…41 states (and the District of Columbia) that impose an income tax offer generous incentives for retirees.”
Georgia is an excellent example. Social security is exempt from taxes in Georgia, and retirees over the age of 65 are exempt from income tax on the first $65,000. The state’s retirees can also take advantage of a number of homestead exemptions. Florida’s exemptions are similarly structured, although property taxes run a bit higher, offset somewhat by slightly more generous homestead exemptions. One retiree told me recently she hates the traffic in Florida and always defers to the toll roads, “which are expensive,” she said.
Big spenders may want to seriously consider one of the golf communities in Delaware, where there is no state sales tax. Income tax rates are considered modest, social security benefits are exempt for tax and those residents over the age of 60 can exclude investment and pension income up to $12,500. Those 65 and older can qualify for a credit up to $500 from school property taxes.