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Thinking of Moving to Florida -- Advice Needed

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  • Thinking of Moving to Florida -- Advice Needed

    I am thinking about moving to Florida, and I was hoping to get some opinions and advice.

    Are there any particular areas that you recommend for small horse farms, and why? I was thinking about moving near Ocala, and a friend of mine is thinking of moving to Pascoe County. If anyone knows both areas and can point out the pros and cons of each, it will be appreciated.

    Moving a farm and horses is not easy. I own a farm in Pennsylvania that I want to sell. I was thinking that it might be easier to find a rental property in Florida, board the horses and then use that time to look for a nice property to buy. Any thoughts on this? If there are decent rental properties that allow dogs, I think it will be the fastest way to get down there. Then I can take my time finding "my" property, and then move the horses once I buy something.

    I have 2 x-large dogs, and no cats. As I stated before, I could leave the horses up North until I can find a place to move them down. I could also move them to Florida if I can find a good boarding stable. What is the typical cost to board a horse in these areas? How realistic is it to think that I can find a rental house that will allow 2 x-large dogs? I have no cats, so the 2 dogs would be the only animals in the house. I am single, and live alone. Paying an extra security deposit is not a problem.

    Can anyone recommend any good realtors? Are there are any trade papers that list rental properties? it has been my experience that the local horse papers usually have the best properties for what I am looking to buy, and rent. For instance, when I took a job in Eastern Pennsylvania and had to move from SW Pennsylvania, I found a carriage house on a boarding farm in The Horse of Delaware Valley that I rented sight unseen! It turned out great, and it was an easy, no hassle transaction.

    I look at the classifieds at the COTH, but it seems there is more in Virginia than Florida. Are there any online websites that list properties for sale and rentals?

    Any tips anyone can give me is truly appreciated! My life situation has changed, so I am now free to move anywhere in the country that I desire. Thanks for your help!

  • #2
    I used to live in Loxahatchee (Wellington area) and couldn't get out fast enough! Great place to visit for 3 months during show season but terrible all year long. No grazing grass to speak of, too hot for the horses from May-Oct, and EXPENSIVE...hay, grain, land, homes and HOME/ PROPERTY INSURANCE can be exorbitant due to the hurricanes (Fl has the most expensive insurance rates and is considered the highest risk place due to the hurricanes).

    Ocala is definitely better, less expensive, insurance should be better, and better quality of life for the horses. I have spent a fair amount of time in the Ocala/ Gainesville area for veterinary acupuncture courses and thought it was much nicer. Plus the risk of hurricanes is less than coastal areas.

    I moved from Fl to central NC and couldn't be happier. The grass is green here 8 months out of the year, winter and summer fairly mild, spring and fall wonderful, great horse communities, and most of all affordable.
    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


    • #3
      Wow, that is almost exactly what my friend did. She and her now husband moved from SWPA to the Pensacola area. She had to move down 2 horses, 2 large dogs (pit bull x and rottie), plus assorted other little creatures. They easily found a small house to rent and boarded the two horses until they found their farm.

      She did say that in the Pensacola area (10 years ago) she was able to afford so much more than they could have bought back here in Pittsburgh. Ten acres, sprawling ranch house, in-ground swimming pool, professionally built dressage ring, 4 extra large stalls.

      While I am jealous of her right now (winter), summer is just awful down there. Not to put you off, but I would think long and hard about it if you don't enjoy heat and humidity. If you do enjoy it, or at least aren't bothered by it, good luck to you in your search!


      • #4
        I think moving to Ocala is definitely worth considering.

        I would try to move somewhere just outside of Ocala- I am in Gainesville, as are several other COTHers, and it's a pretty good area. What are you looking for in a farm? I pass a beautiful one for sale every day on my way to the barn...

        Board is quite variable. Right now I pay $650 for "premium" board for my mare who gets free choice hay and is spoiled rotten. I think base board at the same farm is $575. I have seen other places for $350, and some at $700 or more.

        Summer does SUCK. I'm not a heat person so it really gets to me, but I know a lot of people who don't mind as much.

        There are a lot of realtors for horse farms in the Ocala area... just run a search on google and you should find them.


        • Original Poster

          Gainesville is of interest too. I do not have any particular area that I am looking at -- I am looking for suggestions. I do not have any children, so school districts, etc. are not important to me. I would like anywhere from 5 - 20 acres, but more or less would be okay. Something in the 5 - 10 acre range is probably perfect. I have had owned 4 horses, but right now I am down to 2. I don't need anything huge or fancy -- just 3 BR, 2 bath rancher with a small barn would suit me fine. For a rental property, I can look for a house that will allow dogs (preferably fenced-in yard) and board the horses until I can find a property to buy.

          I can sell my farm up North, but I hate to be put in a position to have to sell it before I find something suitable to move into. I have someone who can take care of the horses up here to give me some time to get settled down there before I move them.

          $350 - $700 seems reasonable enough for board. It could be a possitiility to move the horses down and board them until I can get a property ready for them. That might be a nice break actually! I have been taking care of horses on my own property for a long, long time!

          Thanks for everyone's help with this!


          • #6
            Ocala is the more "horsey" area, Gainesville is more of a college town, so it depends on what you like to do in your off time - but then again, my farm is halfway between the center of Ocala and the center of Gainesville, so I can go to either place in the same amount of time.

            I don't know much about Pascoe county, so no input there.

            You can get a feel for prices, check out www.ocala4sale.com as one source. Prices on property is way down, back to 2004 prices, median price on a 3 bedroom home in a regular neighborhood is down to 98,000 right now.

            So, come on down. What I did was spend a long weekend here first, driving around, eating at the local (non-chain) restaurants, and just getting a feel for the area, to see if I liked it. I did.
            There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


            • #7
              As to realtors, mine is retired now. These two guys are selling the most properties, but they do tend to have a more "upscale" clientele:

              There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


              • #8
                www.flahorse.com is a website about Florida horse activity and has a pretty active message board. I'll bet if you posed your questions there you would get some useful information.


                • #9
                  One of my favorites for finding farms for sale in Ocala is Foxfire Realty, their search engine brings up all listings, not just those that they have listed with them:

                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                  • #10
                    Here's a place for rent in Ocala that you could bring the horses too.


                    It's also for sale.
                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                    • #11
                      Do you need a job?

                      That might be the first thing to look into - unemployment in Marion County (Ocala) is at about 14%. That may be your first consideration of where to go.

                      I like Ocala, but it's not like it was when I moved here 12 yrs ago. It's gotten too big. Lots of farms are leaving.

                      I hate summer ANYWHERE, so that isn't a consideration. IF you get done by 11am it is usually tolerable. I thought Virginia was much more humid than Florida (lived there 15 yrs) The 7-8 months of winter you get in FLorida is worth it - NO Mud, NO ICe, NO snow to shovel, No buckets of ice to break..........etc. And perfect riding weather. So in the summer you just duck into the A/C or the pool after 11am & hibernate like you would in winter up north.

                      There seems to be a lot more tolerance for people looking to rent with dogs here, than where I've lived before. Another consideration - get an RV and stay in an RV park, if you're not bringing the horses right away. Dogs are always accepted there.

                      Board is anywhere from $150-$650/month. If you want full board, plan on at least $400/month. I have looked a couple of times, but to find a place with KNOWLEDGEABLE management and good facilities it costs more.

                      Hay - going rate is $14-$18/ for 65# bale By the ton- hard to come by for less than $300/ton. Timothy is almost impossible to find at a good price (quality timothy)
                      I feed alfalfa only b/c it is more consistent in quality and price than a grass hay here

                      grain- $10-$16/bag (sure there's cheaper than that, if you like to feed peanut hulls)

                      bedding - $5-$6.50 bag for bagged - $180 and up for bulk

                      Grass- plenty of places have grass- it'll grow so fast in summer the horses can't eat it fast enuf. But if you have poor management and too many horses on it, you'll end up with sand/dirt. Same as anywhere else. the nice thing is: if you have a grassy field you normally don't have to feed that $20/bale hay until November. Keep that in mind, if you buy a place!

                      Best part of Ocala - tack shops on every corner!


                      • #12
                        I moved down to Miami some months ago, and its really nice. I also moved interstate, and had a ton of stuff from our old house to drag along. I used this Florida moving company and they literally took the entire barn for me. It was pretty helpful actually, and i think if you guys have horses or supplies or what not you could give them a look. Hope i can help!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Rayman421 View Post
                          I like Ocala, but it's not like it was when I moved here 12 yrs ago. It's gotten too big. Lots of farms are leaving.
                          This is why we need to convince the horse owners to move here - let's keep it horsey!

                          On the outskirts (I'm in Citra - next "town" over from Rayman), it is still very rural, not much traffic, etc. There are also lots of equestrian communities, where the whole neighborhood is all 10-20 acre "gentlemen's farms", so you can be surrounded by other horse farms, and don't have to worry about non-horsey neighbors. My farm is in one of them.

                          I love having the "pick of the litter" for vets, farriers, feed stores, tack shops, equestrian venues and trailer dealers.
                          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                          • #14
                            Definitely go to Ocala. I am a bit southeast of Tampa, and there is NOTHING out here for less than a 45 minute drive. No trainers, no shows, nothing. The vets are all 30 to 45 minutes away. The only tack shop is TSC 20 minutes away. I would move further north in a heartbeat if we could sell our properties.

                            But property taxes, insurance, hay, etc is all much more expensive. My property taxes on my townhome are $3500 a year, and that's with the homesead exemption.


                            • #15
                              I'm in South Fla and would love to be further north outside Ocala - I like the Inverness, Brooksville areas - as I trail ride and camp. tons of good places to ride and camp and close to Ocala as well.

                              Lots of great info already provided and you should be able to find a house with property/barn to rent pretty easily, though now is a great time to buy.

                              Summer is brutal, but from Nov - April we have the BEST weather in the world... today it's 71 and clear skies.... tonight in the 60's... and we ride year round.