We Bought A Florida Condo

Florida Vacation Pictures

We bought a Florida condo! Here’s the story of how that came about…

My husband retired a few years ago. I was thrilled to have him home with me; he worked 70-80 hours a week, and traveled a great deal. I truly missed him when he was away from home. I thought it would be wonderful for us to spend more time together.

I also got old. And tired of dealing with the wind and cold. I actually like snow, and if it fell at 50º instead of 30º, my area in the winter would be wonderful! Alas, I live in one of the windiest areas in the country (all those MAs are Boston area, then there are a lot in OK, then the NY areas around Buffalo). The wind is fabulous in the summer months! Since it seldom gets above 85º here in the summer and that nice lake breeze comes through air conditioning the 80º summer days, the summer in western New York is about the best to be had in the US.

But, those same wonderful summer breezes suck in January and February. Big time! There is little worse than a 20 – 30 mile an hour wind coming straight at you when it is 25º out and snowing. Blech.

So, a few years ago after Hubby retired, I talked him into going to Florida for a month in February. In 2012 we were down in the north Miami Beach area on Sunny Isles. It was nice, but a little too congested for my taste. In 2013 we ended up in the St Augustine area which we like tremendously!

We discussed buying a house on the beach, using it for ourselves in January, February and possibly March, and then renting out the house the rest of the year to Florida inlanders that travel to the ocean in the summer months to escape the heat. Our beach house stay convinced us that the constant upkeep required to stay ahead of salt corrosion would be difficult for us to deal with. While we could hire a competent property management company, it is the little details that make a house feel homey. Not only that, but only with constant attention could the owners of the vacation property see the constant corrosion caused by the salt air and immediately fix the problems before they escalated out of control. Owning a beach house for rental is, in our opinion, better suited to those that live close-by who can constantly monitor the property for nature’s damage and make immediate repairs.

Then too the people owning the houses along the ocean in that area are smoking something when it comes to what they think their property values are! There is a reason nearly every other house is for sale with nary a sold sign in sight: they are all priced way too high! These people apparently think the crash of 2008 (and counting in Florida) never happened.

When we factored in the ludicrous pricing of a beach house along with the constant updates, we decided a condo would be a better way to go.

We ended up buying across the street from the beach. There are no buildings in front of us however, and we have an unobstructed ocean view and beach access is through a direct overpass. Other condos have direct beach access through tunnels.

We Bought A Florida Condo

This is the patio view. Why the patio isn’t four times as large I do not know! Possibly something to do with structural issues or hurricane threats? In any event, it is a shame it is not longer because…

We Bought A Florida Condo

This is the view from the master bedroom! (The window actually extends the length of the wall.) If that balcony was extended, it would have been in front of this room.

The balcony, living-room, master bedroom and kitchen all have ocean views. The other bedrooms do not. We ended up with a three bedroom condo figuring we could use one of the spare bedrooms as a guest suite, and one as an office. This also came with garage parking (important to us), two bathrooms, and a host of HOA amenities.

The unit needs some work including new windows (factored into our price), the usual painting and updating, and we will need to furnish it. I look forward to exploring the shopping in the St Augustine, Jacksonville and Orlando areas. I have some ideas in mind, so it should be interesting to see what we end up with!

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How To Save Money On Wine, Beer and Liquor Purchases

How To Save Money On Wine, Beer and Liquor Purchases

How to save money on wine, beer and liquor purchases? Some people would say that the obvious is answer is “don’t buy it! there, you just saved money”. Ummmm yeah.

Hubby and I have a very extensive liquor cabinet. This means one of three things:

• We like to buy liquor
• We like to try new liquor
• We do not drink enough

Well, actually there is a fourth option which is of course, all of the above!

The truth is we do like to try new liquors, buy a lot of new liquors on sale (and usually with a rebate), and we don’t consume enough liquor to use all that we purchase. Maybe we should throw more parties?

In any event, here are a few things I have learned to save money while buying wine, liquor and beer over the years:

How To Save Money On Wine, Beer and Liquor Purchases

Know your regional prices. If something goes on sale, you will know if it is a good deal or not, and if it is truly a sale price.

Shop seasonally. Some items are less expensive in the summer, some the winter. If you enjoy cordials such as Baileys, this time of the year can yield sales!

Take advantage of coupons and rebate offers, as your state laws allow. Pair the coupon and/or rebate with sale prices.

Know the contents of your liquor cabinet. This can cut down on redundant purchases.

Shop duty free stores if they are available in your area.

When cruising out of the country, take advantage of low liquor prices in the Caribbean. We have picked up some truly marvelous deals in Jamaica and the US Virgin Islands. (Do check US laws before purchasing.)

Take advantage of local bargains when traveling. We always try something new when visiting out of state, and bring home a bottle or two when it is a great deal!

Buy Wine, Beer and Liquor on sale. This may seem obvious to some, not as obvious to others. A better tenant would be to Stock-up on sale. That way you will not run out of a party staple.

As always, drink responsibly and please don’t drink and drive.

What are your tips, tricks and hints for stockpile a liquor cabinet on the cheap (if you choose not to abstain)?

• For more liquor and wine reviews, as well as cocktail recipes on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

Note: these tips first appeared on my old blog, Coupons, Deals and More.

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Sign Up For A CSA

Sign Up For a CSA

Now is the time to sign up for a CSA if you haven’t already done so! For the past few years hubby and I have belonged to a produce CSA (community supported agriculture). We have belonged to Porter Farms CSA. For a cost of $300 we received 22-24 weeks of organic produce that was worth every penny, and (a lot) more!

We picked up from Porter Farms at a satellite location fairly close to us. There were approximately 25 families picking up at our location, so each week one family would make the drive 30 miles away to pick-up the bags for the entire pick-up satellite, and place them out on a table for each family to take.

Each week our CSA bag contained whatever was ready for harvest from Porter Farms. In June we looked like rabbits because lettuce was plentiful. By October we looked like squash since that was what was plentiful! I will say that Hubby and I gave away the last of the squash at the end of January (right before we left for Florida) and it held up very, very well! A CSA is weather dependent, so you get what they harvest, and what the bugs and deer have not eaten first (who said man is the top of the food chain!?).

This year, we decided to go a different route. We joined Root Down Farms a non-organic CSA (tough to get), although it is a non pesticide farm. The cost is substantially more, $545 for 22 weeks, but we moved because it is closer to us (5 minutes away), and, even more importantly, we can pick up on Thursday. We could have purchased a two person share for $300, but decided to get the larger share, and make sure we froze more this year!

Hubby cooks on the weekend, and our old CSA pick-up was Saturday morning. While they did post on Thursday or Friday what would be in the bag, we never knew exactly how much of each vegetable we were getting. Combine that with once we picked up at noon and did other errands, Hubby didn’t really have time to use those vegetables. That left Sunday for his masterpieces! Since I was always shopping Sunday Morning Shopping, he couldn’t get into the kitchen until after noon. Again, time would be short (you gotta see it to believe what he does to our poor kitchen – I may take a video some day), and we’d end up saving the vegetables for eating later in the week, or freezing.

We ended up giving away a lot of vegetables last year – which is fine. Someone was able to use all those fresh fruits and vegetable. And that is what is important. But, we really wanted to be able to use more for ourselves. The Root Down Farm CSA pick-up dates are Monday or Thursday, so Thursday it is for us! The bonus is there is a U-pick section that offers cut flowers, herbs (sweet, thai and lemon basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano to name a few), snap peas, beans, cherry and plum tomatoes, pumpkins, ground cherries and tomatillos. I am hoping to make use of the flowers, Hubby the herbs.

I do plan on chronicling our CSA again this year. I felt Porter Farms was an excellent value, and cannot recommend them enough. It really helped me in 2012 realize just how worthwhile our local CSA is, and how much money I saved by joining a CSA.

Do you belong to a CSA? If so, what type? How much? Do you find it as worthwhile as I do?

Find a CSA
Porter Farms CSA (we belonged for years)
Rootdown Farm CSA (our 2013 CSA)
NYS Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar
US Agricultural Data

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