Cities in Ocala Florida

Does our headline seem a little strange to you? It’s probably because Ocala is a city in its own right rather than being a home to other cities. Still, many out of state buyers ask us about the cities in Ocala.

It’s easy to understand why it might seem like Ocala contains more than one city. After all, there are an astonishing number of things to do in one concentrated area. Moreover, Ocala is close to several other charming Florida communities, which multiply the opportunities to get out and enjoy the region.

Let’s start with providing a bit of orientation.

Where Is Ocala, Florida?

map of Ocala and surrounding cities in Marion County

Ocala is found in Florida’s northern region, and it serves as the seat for Marion County. With just under 65,000 residents, Ocala is a growing community that attracts singles, young families, retirees and everyone in between.

Officially known as the Horse Capital of the World, Ocala is the home of more than 400 thoroughbred horse farms. Accordingly, you can expect to find plenty of opportunities to purchase properties that are appropriate for agricultural livestock-raising purposes.

In addition to being county seat, Ocala is the central community included in the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The statistical area is home to more than 350,000 people living in cities like Belleview, Dunnellon, McIntosh and Reddick as well as census-designated places like Silver Springs Shores and unincorporated communities such as Marion Oaks, Summerfield and Orange Springs.

What Draws People to Ocala?

Low crime rates, great schools and affordable real estate are just a few of the reasons why people naturally gravitate toward Ocala. They also come here because this is prime horse country.

Begin your journey in Ocala’s historic downtown district and travel in the direction of your choice. In fact, the direction isn’t particularly important because regardless of the point on the compass, you are bound to encounter some gorgeous and stately horse farms. If you don’t want to raise horses yourself, then you might look for a horse farm that offers tours or guided horseback rides.

Ocala also is the home of the World Equestrian Center, a sprawling, state-of-the-art facility where an array of shows and competitions are held every year. Whether you ride or just want to attend as a spectator, Ocala is certainly the place to be.

Seasonal events and festivals also bring people to Ocala. As an example, each February a cattle drive is conducted through the center of town. This Cattle Drive & Cowboy Roundup is a tip of the hat to Ocala’s cattle ranching past. In addition to the cattle drive, you and your family can experience a petting zoo, demonstrations, pony rides, live music and all sorts of food vendors.

Each Friday from September through May, locals and visitors flock to the historic downtown neighborhood to browse through dozens of art displays. Be sure to participate in the free family art activities and set aside some time to enjoy the live entertainment as well. It’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a bite to eat at a unique Ocala restaurant.

Silver Springs State Park is one of Ocala’s chief attractions. Take a ride on a glass bottom boat to view the animal and plant life below in the stunningly clear waters. People also come to Silver Springs for the paddle boarding and the kayaking, but you can have fun on the land as well with opportunities for biking, hiking and birding.

Beyond Ocala

Ocala may have enough attractions and activities to last a family for a lifetime, but there is so much more to explore beyond its borders.

Travel to the neighboring city of Belleview to enjoy some of the best off-road cycling in the region. Known as the Santos Trails, this system provides about 20 miles of twisty, challenging track. The Vortex Trail is particularly technical, but there are other options for less experienced riders. Some trails are even paved, and pedestrians are welcome too.

Belleview also is the home of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. Recognized as the father of drag racing, Don Garlits is the perfect sponsor for a motorsport-dedicated museum. If you are a fan of high-speed sports, you won’t want to miss this museum.

If water sports are your thing, then you’ll be drawn to Dunnellon. It’s situated where two rivers meet, making it an excellent place to indulge in some paddling. If you do go to Dunnellon to enjoy the water, be sure to stop at one of the signature bars on the waterfront.

Don’t miss the opportunity each April to celebrate Dunnellon’s Boomtown Days. Back in the late 19th century, Dunnellon was a classic Boomtown thanks to the discovery of phosphate in the area. Today, the community hosts an annual celebration to commemorate the event. Encompassing several blocks of the downtown area, the festival boasts cowboy-style entertainment, a fun kids’ zone, live music, craft vendors and plenty of food.

When you’re ready to shop ’til you drop, choose the Historic Village Shops in Dunnellon’s downtown district. These locally owned stores are located in charming old houses and are the perfect places to pick up antiques, art, clothing, gifts and more.

Another lively festival takes place in McIntosh every fall. Known as the McIntosh 1890s Festival, the event includes live music covering a wide variety of genres as well as hundreds of booths with vendors offering food, crafts, antiques and much more.

In fact, if you’re in the market for antiques, McIntosh is the ideal place to browse. It boasts some of the largest and most well-stocked antique stores in the region.

What Will You Do In Ocala?

When you decide to make any of the beautiful Marion County communities your home, you’ll gain a lifetime to explore all that the area has to offer. Get to know the Ocala National Forest, The Appleton Museum of Art, the Fort King National Historic Landmark and much more.

Take the first step today by contacting Florida’s Choice Realty. Let us be your guide as you find your dream home in Ocala, Belleview, Dunnellon or any of the other beautiful cities in Marion County.

The best and most affordable areas in Florida

If you’re thinking about moving to Florida, then you’re probably envisioning sunny days, beautiful beaches, golf, tennis, horseback riding and a variety of other outdoor pursuits.

You also might be wondering whether or not living in such an idyllic place can ever be affordable especially in our current market. The reality is that Florida includes several cities that are surprisingly affordable. In addition, these cities offer strong job markets, beautiful neighborhoods, great schools and impressively high standards of living.

Let’s learn more about these beautiful communities.


jacksonville bold new city of the south

Just to the south of the state line with Georgia sits Jacksonville. If you’re measuring by land area, Jacksonville is the largest city in the contiguous United States. Thanks to the presence of a number of beaches, it’s quick and convenient to travel from the bustling downtown to the beautiful beaches.

People who choose Jacksonville get all the perks and advantages of living in a big-city atmosphere. There are tons of things to do, and the job market is booming. Of course, like all big cities, there are some neighborhoods in which crime is prevalent. Also, because of the growing population, you can expect longer commutes and more traffic.

Aside from these drawbacks, Jacksonville is a fantastic place to live. It’s Florida’s financial and commercial center, and the downtown neighborhood is thriving. A wealth of quiet, well-designed suburban neighborhoods provide plenty of options that range from the ultra-affordable to multi-million dollar mansions.

Moreover, Jacksonville consistently is ranked as one of the best cities for engaging in outdoor activities. It boasts numerous parks and state forests in addition to many beaches. Some of the most popular stretches of coastline in the region include Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach.

With a cost of living that is about six-and-a-half percent more affordable than anywhere else in the U.S., it’s easy to see why so many people are considering a move to Jacksonville. It’s helpful that there are so many trendy, up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city. Some of the most popular are San Marco, Five Points, Riverside and Springfield.

We also have a great blog outlining the 6 best neighborhoods in Jacksonville.


Ocala real estate for sale

This lovely inland city, which is known as the Horse Capital of the World, is an idyllic place to call home. It also features some incredibly beautiful yet affordable properties, many of which come with extensive acreage.

Despite its burgeoning size, Ocala still manages to retain a small-town feel that is enormously attractive to residents. The neighbors are friendly, and low crime rates are the norm across the city. It doesn’t have the same type of nightlife that may be found in larger cities, but for people who are focused on nature, parks and wildlife, it’s a perfect place to call home.

Ocala has a fantastic downtown district and a lively arts and cultural scene. There’s always plenty to do, and beaches as well as bigger cities easily can be reached by car.

US News and World Report routinely names Ocala to its Best Places to Live list based on the availability of activities like golf and tennis as well as its natural attractions. The publication also notes the city’s low cost of living and affordable home prices. Ocala further is a great place to work, with companies like AutoZone, Chewy and FedEx all having opened sizable distribution centers here in recent years. Ocala even boasts outstanding public and private schools.

Neighborhoods in Ocala are quiet and tree-lined. It resembles Southern cities rather than a Florida beach town. Some of the most desirable and popular neighborhoods include Meadow Wood Farms, Maricamp, Downtown and Westbury.

Being experts in the area, we have written a blog about the best areas in Ocala.


Gainesville homes for sale

As a college town, Gainesville is a great place to live if you’re looking for plenty of youthful energy and excitement. The cost of living is attractively low, and the city’s central location is certainly a big selling point.

There is sometimes a shortage of available real estate with so much of the market being centered on student housing, and the weather can get very hot and humid. However, for the people who love all of the activity that comes with living in a college town, these drawbacks are no hindrance.

Gainesville really is ideally located in the center of the state. Reaching large cities like Orlando or Jacksonville is possible with a two-hour drive, and the beaches are just as close.

Of course, the center of activity in Gainesville is the University of Florida. The Florida Gators play a wide variety of sports throughout the year, and with museums, the arts and cultural performances, there is always something fun happening.

Downtown Gainesville is another great place to spend time. It boasts plenty of live theater venues, restaurants, bars and shops. The outdoors also has numerous attractions including forests and lakes.

The cost of living is affordable here, and the public transportation system is excellent. Duckpond is the city’s oldest and most venerated neighborhood, but you can still buy an inexpensive home here. Other attractive options include Haile Plantation, Suburban Heights, University Park and Pleasant Street Historic District.

Another great blog about the 9 best neighborhoods in Gainesville.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine real estate for sale

A center of culture and history, St. Augustine boasts one of Florida’s most charming downtown areas and fascinating museums. The beaches are fantastic, and you’ll certainly find that the cost of living is competitive when compared with other Florida cities.

You will have to contend with a lot of tourists in St. Augustine, but you can hardly blame them. This is an incredibly scenic and interesting destination. Plenty of publications have named this community as one of the best places to live in America as well as one of America’s most beautiful towns.

In the memorable and gorgeous downtown, you’ll find 144 square blocks filled with quaint coffee shops, cozy bars, delectable restaurants and unique shops. Live music spills out into the streets, and it seems like there’s a historic site on every corner. With plenty of theater and arts venues as well, there is something for everyone in St. Augustine.

The city has a booming job market with some of the largest employers including Amazon, Bank of America, Mayo Clinic and Fidelity Investments.

If you’re looking for a neighborhood in St. Augustine, consider top options such as Picolata, Mizell Road, Butler Beach, Dupont Center and Elwood Whites Ford.

The best areas to live in St. Augustine.

Learn More with Florida’s Choice Realty

Are you ready to call one of the best affordable areas in Florida your new home? Jacksonville, Ocala, Gainesville, St. Augustine and others all offer outstanding neighborhoods with homes that are incredibly affordable.

Let the experts at Florida’s Choice Realty introduce you to these and other beautiful Florida cities. Our intimate knowledge of the local real estate market makes us the obvious choice when you’re ready to buy a home.

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What you need to know about buying land in Ocala

Like many families, you may be thinking about buying land in Ocala.

It’s a popular idea thanks to Florida’s climate, beaches and many interesting landscapes. It is characteristics such as these that make Florida the perfect place to buy rural land.

It’s not always easy to find the ideal land in Ocala. That’s why it makes sense to work with the experts at Florida’s Choice Realty and to know some things about buying rural land before you start.

Financing Land in Ocala

Learning how to finance land might be the biggest question in most people’s minds. It’s important to understand that purchasing land isn’t the same as purchasing a home. Still, it’s not necessary to pay cash when buying land.

People are pleased when they learn that it’s possible to finance land. It’s also possible to combine a loan for the purchase of land and a home. Doing so may make you eligible for programs that require small down payments.

The secret to getting the best options for financing land is to work with a loan institution that specializes in these programs. Check out smaller banks or a farm credit institution that offers land loans or loans for land and construction.

Working with a specialty lenders also gives you guidance with regard to insurance, property tax discounts and the approval process.

Get a Survey of the Land

Unless a current survey is available, it’s sensible to hire a registered land surveyor to perform a boundary survey. This confirms how much acreage you are buying as well as verifying the boundaries. Moreover, the survey tells you if there are any encroachments on the property.

A survey tells you about anything on the acreage that you may not be aware of. Some buyers have been surprised by a public trail that cuts across a corner of their land or a neighboring house that sits partially on their parcel. With a land survey, you’ll know all about easements, boundaries, flood zones and other concerns before you buy.

How to Get Utilities and Water

Getting hooked up to the local electrical utility is critical, so the first step is to find the provider in the area. Your Realtor will definitely know whom to contact.

Call the electrical company and ask for an estimate. Usually, the utility will charge a rate by the foot for bringing electricity to your home. It’s a possibility that you’ll require an easement to obtain access to a neighbor’s electrical pole.

Try to investigate the costs for bringing utilities to the parcel in advance so that they don’t come as a shock after you sign on the dotted line.

Many rural properties in Florida obtain their drinking water from a well. If you’re buying raw land, you’ll have to dig a well. Many companies perform this service, and depending upon the county you’re in, you may be required to have the water tested for nitrates, coliform bacteria and other potential contaminants.

Land Use

People have many reasons for buying rural land in Ocala. Some of them want to farm while others are interested in owning timberland. Still others are excited about the opportunity to own beautiful wetlands. What do you need to know about buying these special types of land?


Do you dream of raising orange trees? Maybe you want to have a few chickens in your backyard. Whether you’re going all in for farming or just want to keep a horse on your land, it’s critical that you consider the topography and soil conditions. Does the land that you’re looking at lend itself well to the kind of agriculture that interests you? Is the elevation appropriate for your purposes, and do you have access to adequate water?

You can rely on your Realtor to help you answer many of these questions, but you also might want to ask an agricultural expert about the conditions that are necessary for the kind of farming that you envision.


Purchasing land that includes wetlands involves working with a professional land expert and consulting the local government to learn more about permitting requirements. The expert can highlight the various implications that come with owning wetlands and help you to determine if this is the right choice for you.

While it’s not possible for you to build on wetlands even if you own them, the good news is that no one else can build on them either. This gives you access to unspoiled wilderness for as long as you like.


Florida boasts millions of acres of forest, and buying timberland can be an excellent investment. For most people, it is a safe investment that brings long-term returns. Of course, others just want the opportunity to live among the peace and serenity of a forest.

Before you buy land that includes a forest, consider having a timber inventory performed to tell you exactly how many trees are on the property and to provide an estimation of their value.

Property Tax Exemptions

People frequently consider buying rural property in Florida because it promises property tax discounts. Available exemptions may include wildlife, timber, homestead or agricultural discounts. Some land owners are able to reduce their annual property tax burden by thousands of dollars using these exemptions.

If agriculture is in your future, then you’ll want to take part in Florida’s Agriculture Classification. Basically, if any of your property is set aside for agricultural use, then the taxable value on the property may be substantially lower.

If you want to take advantage of this program, it’s essential that you contact the Property Appraiser’s Office after the purchase so that you can apply for the classification.

Insurance Requirements

If your land has no structures, then no insurance is required, though it makes sense to have at least liability insurance in case of trespassers. People who own timberland may want to purchase insurance against fires or natural disasters, and if you plan to put buildings like a home on your property, you’ll want to get insurance to cover these.

New Construction Home Loan

If you are buying rural land with a plan for building a new home, then you’ll definitely want to explore options for a new construction home loan. This type of financing is for people who have land, a plan for the house and are working with a builder.

New construction home loans are designed to provide money for building a custom home from the ground up. As such, they are not the same as a typical home loan, and you’ll have to complete different paperwork. Generally, these are short-term loans that are funded through periodic draws or advances. This means that they are not fully funded all at once like regular home loans.

These loans can be more difficult to obtain and may not have the most favorable terms. However, newer loan products of this type are streamlined. They may be called a Construction-to-Permanent Loan, and they make it possible for the borrower to have a construction loan that converts to a permanent, long-term mortgage upon completion of construction.

Guidance from Florida’s Choice Realty

Are you ready to make your dreams of land ownership a reality? Contact Florida’s Choice Realty today to work with an experienced Realtor.

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Best areas to live in Ocala

Are you thinking about buying real estate in Ocala? Lots of families are choosing to make this highly livable city their home, and all of them want to know which areas in Ocala are the best ones.

It turns out that when it comes to neighborhoods that offer outstanding quality of life, Ocala is spoiled for choices.

Let’s take a closer look at seven of the best areas to live in Ocala.

Historic District

Ocala’s Historic District is aptly named. First developed in 1880 as a residential neighborhood, the district expanded eastward from the center of town. The earliest homes in the area are clustered along Fort King Street. This is where you’ll find numerous Queen Anne Revival and Victorian-style houses. As you progress eastward, you’ll notice that the homes become more modern, featuring bungalows and other architectural styles. One of the most attractive enticements to living in the Historic District is the many old oak trees, all of which drip with Spanish moss.

The most desirable portion of the Historic District is found southeast of Highway 40. It is a small area, encompassing only a few city blocks, but it is a remarkable neighborhood. Prices can vary widely here, ranging from approximately $350,000 up to well over one million dollars.

Fort King District

The Fort King National Historic Landmark is the main attraction in this neighborhood. In addition to the reconstructed fort, there is a Visitor Center, a library, an interpretive trail and the Heritage Teaching Garden.

This is a neighborhood that boasts an abundance of beautiful houses, many of which were built in the mid 1970s as well as some newer construction. It’s close to the Historic District without being in it, which means that you can move in for a great deal less money. In recent data, $235,000 was the median home price for single-family dwellings in the Fort King District. That means that you can find home prices starting at about $200,000 and going up to $575,000.


This is a thoughtfully designed, extremely attractive community that is quite large. It feels incredibly secluded in its perch off of Highway 200. You turn at an understated sign at the main entrance, then are pleasantly surprised by the many upscale houses and apartments in the area. If you buy a home in Heathbrook, then you will truly have it all. The community boasts an excellent gym that’s well equipped, multiple swimming pools and plentiful green spaces. Expect to spend about $275,000 for a good house. In Heathbrook, lawns and streets well kept, all is peaceful and quiet and you’ll find that you’re surrounded by lots of trees. You can buy a piece of paradise at an affordable price in this neighborhood.

Fore Ranch

Are you excited at the prospect of becoming a homeowner but don’t have a ton of money to spend? Fore Ranch may be the perfect location for you. Plentiful homes priced at between $180,000 and $250,000 are available here. In addition to a multitude of single-family homes, you’ll also find a broad selection of townhouses. Lots in this community tend to be a bit smaller, which may be perfect for your family if you don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining a yard. Residential lots are kept smaller to provide larger areas for community amenities, of which there are many. A gym, swimming pools, splash pads, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, walking trails and man-made ponds are just the beginning. If you have a growing family, Fore Ranch is the ideal place to settle.

Equestrian Homes

Ocala is the “Horse Capital of the World,” and it has worked hard to earn that title. If you want to become a part of the city’s equestrian society, opt for one of the many farms. All you really have to decide is how many acres you want. Some farms have as few as two or three acres, but other properties may have 2,000 or more acres. Accordingly, you will find a wide range of prices, with smaller farms sometimes going for as little as $150,000. On the high side, you could easily pay $17,000,000. This means that whether you want to raise a few chickens or breed million dollar horses, you can easily make your dream a reality in Ocala.

Silver Springs Shores

It’s time to learn about this developing and hugely popular neighborhood in Ocala. Located to the south of the city, Silver Springs Shores is the place to find affordable homes and an overall attractive cost of living.

Officially, Silver Springs Shores is outside of Ocala’s city limits. This means that first-time home buyers can easily qualify for USDA no down payment home loans on properties in this area. For $200,000, you could get a spectacular first home that is the perfect starter property.

Making Silver Springs Shores even more attractive is how quickly it is developing to provide shopping and services to residents. With a Publix, a Walmart, gas stations, multiple shopping centers and all sorts of service providers, you don’t have to go far to get everything you need when you live in this neighborhood.

Marian Oaks

Like Silver Springs Shores, Marion Oaks is a residential area that is just outside of the city limits. This makes it the ideal place to buy a home with USDA loans for first-time home buyers. Marion Oaks is becoming extremely well developed. In fact, it’s like a city all its own. This is not a small, contained housing development, but a true community that encompasses just over 14 square miles. You’ll find a shopping center, gas stations, churches, schools and grocery stores right where you need them. With low-cost houses that provide an interesting mixture of old and new construction, you’ll have plenty of reasons to love the lifestyle at Marion Oaks.

Call Florida’s Choice Realty First

Do you want to learn more about these and other outstanding neighborhoods in Ocala? If so, call Florida’s Choice Realty today. Our knowledgeable Realtors can help you find your new home.

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Flood Zone Information Ocala

When the weather forecast hints that there is a chance of flooding in the Ocala area, most homeowners take note.

That’s because many residential and commercial properties in the region are located in so-called flood zones. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, produced revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps in 2017 that placed many of the properties in Ocala within Special Flood Hazard Areas, or SFHA.

This doesn’t mean that buying property in Ocala is a bad idea. However, it does mean that it’s sensible for buyers to be aware of whether or not the property they are interested in is in a flood zone. If that property is in a flood zone, then they will want to know more about the property’s flood zone classification and the requirement to carry flood insurance.

What Is a Flood Zone?

FEMA is responsible for identifying geographic areas that are at some risk for flooding. Some properties are in high-risk flood zones that have a one-percent or greater chance of flooding each year. Other properties may be in low to moderate risk level areas that have an approximately 0.2 percent or less chance of flooding on an annual basis.

Is the Property You’re Looking at on a Flood Plain?

It’s definitely wise to know whether or not a home that you’re thinking about buying is on a flood plain. In Ocala, your Realtor will let you know if this is a consideration for the property you have in mind. You also have the option of visiting the FEMA website, which has a Flood Map Service Center. All you have to do is enter the address or coordinates in the search bar to determine whether or not that particular home is on a flood plain.

Ocala & Marion County Flood Zone Map Links

  • City of Ocala FEMA Flood Maps- Click Here
  • FEMA Informational Handout- Click Here
  • About the Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance- Click Here
  • The National Flood Insurance Program Website: Click Here
  • Marion County Sheriff’s Office – (Division of Emergency Management): Click Here
  • Florida Division of Emergency Management- (Financial Assistance and other related programs): Click Here
  • View/Print: Home Protection Tips

Tips for Buying Property in a Flood Zone

Every year, many people in Ocala buy homes and commercial properties that are located in flood zones. They do so only after preparing themselves for the considerations that go along with owning property on a flood plain.

High-Risk Flood Zones

If you look at the FEMA maps, you’ll see that some properties are labeled with the letter “A” or “V.” Considered the highest-risk areas for flooding, you’ll usually find these designations along coastlines and rivers. Frequently, these regions are referred to as Special Flood Hazard Areas, and Ocala does have some of these designations.

If you buy a home in a Special Flood Hazard Area, then you are required to carry flood insurance. This is because there is an approximately 25 percent chance that you will experience a flood within the next three decades.

In addition to having flood insurance, you can install a backup battery for your home’s sump pump to ensure that you’re prepared if that big flood ever arrives.

Low- to Moderate-Risk Zones

Properties in these lower-risk zones are marked with “B,” “C” and “X” on FEMA maps. B is used for properties in a moderate-risk area. Although flood insurance is not required for properties in these areas, it’s still wise to protect yourself with a policy. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, as many as 25 percent of the claims they review come from “B” zones.

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Buying a property that is labeled with an “A” or a “V” is going to cost more in flood insurance premiums than a property in a “B” zone.

The good news is that most flood insurance policies are actually quite inexpensive. Because Ocala is classified as a Class 3 Community with properties in Special Flood Hazard Areas, homeowners in these regions are eligible for a 35 percent discount on flood insurance. Even if your home is not located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, you still qualify for a 10 percent discount.

Keep in mind that ordinary home insurance policies do not protect you in the event of a flood. Instead, it is necessary to carry an additional flood insurance policy to ensure that your property is truly protected.

Ask the Experts at Florida’s Choice Realty

If you are thinking about buying a home in Ocala, then you need to know if the home you’re considering is in a flood zone. Moreover, it’s imperative that you know if that home is in a high-risk or low- to moderate-risk zone. This will help you to determine how much flood insurance you may need and how much of a discount you are entitled to.

Contact the knowledgeable Realtors at Florida’s Choice Realty about Ocala’s flood zones.

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9 Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

Is it harder to sell a home in the winter? Not necessarily, especially if you follow these nine trusted tips from expert Realtors.

1. Upgrade Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Winter may not represent the height of the growing season, but the state of your yard remains important to buyers. Make certain that flower beds look neat and tidy even if they’re not in bloom. Consider placing a few planters with seasonal blooms on the porch or along a pathway.

Rake away leaves and other yard debris, and also put away any out-of-season décor. Keep in mind that potential buyers may drive by at night to see what your home looks like. Install lighting along paths and flowerbeds and ensure that the porch lights are working.

2. Use Only Minimal and Tasteful Seasonal Décor

‘Tis the season for spreading holiday cheer, but not every buyer shares your celebratory mood. This means that it’s sensible to have a pared-down holiday display. Opt to only display the outdoor and indoor decorations that your family loves best, especially if these are tasteful and understated.

While you may love all of the lights, colors and motion-activated Santas, browsers may agree. They may be distracted or turned off by the display. Bearing this in mind, choose white lights and natural greenery to give your home a festive atmosphere that doesn’t overwhelm. Consider decorating one room instead of the whole house to give buyers a chance to see what your home looks like without holiday items.

Make certain that holiday décor is removed by the first days of January, when most house hunters won’t expect to see festive garlands and lights any longer.

3. Give Your Home a Good Cleaning

It’s important to not relax your cleaning standards when selling your home in the winter. Thanks to the harsher winter light and more time spent inside, your home can look dirtier than it might in other seasons.

Make certain that area rugs are clean by shaking them, vacuuming or running them through the washer if they are small enough. Clean the floor vents and baseboard heaters as well as the furnace room. Dust off the ceiling fans and light fixtures, and spend some time wiping down light switches and cabinet doors. Try to keep your floors as clean as possible by vacuuming or mopping between showings.

4. Don’t Overlook Seasonal Maintenance

Most homes need extra TLC in the winter, and when you’re trying to sell your home, it’s critical that you keep up with seasonal maintenance.

Schedule a cleaning and inspection of your HVAC or furnace system as early as possible. You want your heating and cooling equipment operating efficiently as it’s a huge selling point. Make certain that your home’s gutters and downspouts are clear, and trim any tree branches so that they don’t overhang or contact the house. Have your roof and chimney inspected for damage, scheduling any necessary repairs for the earliest possible date. Take a look at weather stripping and caulk to ensure that your home isn’t drafty.

5. Adjust the Temperature

Florida isn’t known for its freezing winter temperatures, but it still can get quite cool for many days. Ensure that your house is a cozy, warm temperature without being too hot. If you have a fireplace, consider lighting a small blaze to enhance the atmosphere and add some warmth.

Even if you prefer to have your thermostat set to 62 degrees in the winter, it’s wise to dial things up a few degrees so that house hunters get a warm and cozy vibe from your property.

6. Make the Lighting Just Right

Daylight hours are at a premium in the winter, even in Florida. This makes it more likely that your home may be shown in dusky light that could make certain aspects of the interior or exterior of your home difficult to see.

To take advantage of as much natural light as possible, make certain that your windows are clean both inside and out. Open the curtains and blinds to let in even more light. If you have dim bulbs in some fixtures, swap them out for brighter ones.

If your home will be shown on a gray, overcast day, then make certain that you take advantage of lamps, light fixtures and track lighting to give your home a rosy glow. A few well-placed flameless candles brighten up dark corners without giving off too much glare.

7. Make Your Home Winter Cozy

Add a few seasonal touches to your home’s décor to give it a cozier feel. Some blankets on the sofas and beds and additional throw rugs can make a huge difference. If you opt to use a scent diffuser of some kind, choose aromas like clove and cinnamon that are associated with the colder months. Place a coat rack in the entryway so that potential buyers have a convenient spot for their jackets too.

8. Have Seasonal Pictures on Hand

Does your home look quite different in the spring, summer and fall? Maybe you want to show off the fantastic blooms that appear in the summer but can’t be seen right now. Make certain that you make photographs of your home in various seasons available, perhaps in a small picture album, so that buyers can get a better idea of what your home looks like in other seasons.

9. Maintain Flexibility with Scheduling Showings

Winter can be a busy season with so many holiday obligations and events going on. This may mean that home buyers might request a showing earlier or later in the day than they might in other seasons. If you are serious about selling, then it’s wise to be flexible with your schedule so that as many house hunters as possible may visit your home.

Contact Florida’s Choice Realty

If the time has come to sell your home, call Florida’s Choice Realty first. Our expert Realtors are ready to help you sell your home fast and even find a new property no matter the season.

Best Neighborhoods in Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a favorite vacation destination for families across the country, so it’s no surprise that so many people would like to call it home. One of the chain of barrier islands known as the Sea Islands, Amelia Island is only 13 miles long, but it is loaded with golf courses, gorgeous beaches and luxurious resorts.

If you are considering a move to Amelia Island, then you’ll definitely want to learn more about the neighborhoods there. Here is an overview of some of the most desirable communities on the island.

Ocean Village

Families who are looking to escape the rat race are encouraged to consider Ocean Village. Found on Amelia Island’s South End, Ocean Village promises stunning ocean views along with quiet streets. Golf courses and tennis courts abound in this neighborhood, and there are two private pools here. With so much to do, you might think that this would be a bustling community. However, it is quiet and secluded, allowing residents a sense of calm.

Homeowners living in Ocean Village pay a low monthly fee that gives them extensive lawn service. The neighborhood consists of 111 single-family dwellings, most of which are spacious and expansive. Expect multiple bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate the whole family.

Amelia Park

Located in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Park encompasses more than 300 single-family dwellings plus condos and townhouses. This neighborhood is widely considered to be one of the best on the island, and it is constantly growing. As you stroll through the streets, you’ll see homes with welcoming front porches, picturesque picket fences, mature landscaping and numerous walking paths. Informal and friendly, this is a wonderful place for families who want to get to know their neighbors.

The Town Square provides the ideal setting for holiday festivals, concerts and the Final Friday potluck dinners. With the beach an easy walking distance away, families have the option of splashing in the waves or playing on the shore whenever they wish. Most of the homes here are quite affordable, making this a good choice for those on a tight budget.

Azalea Pointe

This small, upscale development is on Amelia Island’s South End. Boasting just 30 unique homes, the entrance to this neighborhood is lined with ancient oaks. An azalea nursery once occupied this land, but now it holds a community without through streets so that there is never any unwanted traffic.

The developers of Azalea Pointe strived to keep the land’s natural beauty intact when designing this community. They excelled in their efforts, which means that this is a gorgeous, carefully developed area that you will be proud to call home.

Azalea Pointe may feel like it is worlds away from everything, but the historic downtown district in Fernandina is only a short drive away as are the beach and opportunities for hiking, dining and bicycling.

Old Town Fernandina

The city of Fernandina Beach sits on the north end of Amelia Island and boasts many charming neighborhoods. Perhaps the most desirable of these is Old Town Fernandina. It is located adjacent to the historic downtown area, and Old Town is recognized as being the final Spanish city ever to be platted in the Western hemisphere.

Old Town is the perfect place to buy a home if you are hoping to live on a river or have a love of historic homes. Perhaps the most famous house in the neighborhood is the Captain’s House, also known as the Pippi Longstocking house, but many homes here date back to the middle of the 19th century. These homes also share excellent proximity to the water, with many residents noting that they can go from bed to the water in just a few steps. Two marinas are located here too for people who want to get out on the water.


Also located in Fernandina Beach is Seaside, a lovely, family-friendly community that was established in 1999. Most of the homes here were completed by 2003 and have four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Kids living in this neighborhood attend excellent schools and live in homes along tree-lined streets. Noted for its unusually spacious lots, Seaside is a great place to settle if you want a bit of space between your home and your neighbors’. The Atlantic Ocean is an easy stroll away as are the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center and Fort Clinch State Park.

Amelia Island Plantation

On the South End of the island is the Amelia Island Plantation neighborhood, a master-planned community and resort. It includes nearly 1,400 acres of marshes and maritime forests as well as miles of unspoiled beaches. In this secluded paradise are more than 900 single-family dwellings and 1,200 condominiums. In addition, the neighborhood is the home of the Omni Amelia Island Plantation & Resorts.

Residents in this community have unparalleled opportunities to view wildlife in its native habitat. At the same time, there is ready access to a fitness center, private club, tennis courts and three golf courses. The private club, known as The Amelia Island Club, also includes The Ocean Club located right on the beach and the private golf course at Long Point.

A gated entrance controls access to the neighborhood on a 24/7 basis. Grand, stately homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms await families who want to live in an exclusive, upscale community.

Contact Florida’s Choice Realty

If you would like to learn more about these and other desirable communities on Amelia Island, contact Florida’s Choice Realty today. Our expert local Realtors will help you immediately feel at home.

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7 Reasons People are Moving to Gainesville, FL

If you are considering a move to Gainesville, Florida, then you have a lot to look forward to. For instance, did you know that Gainesville is consistently named one of the best places to live in Florida?

What makes Gainesville such a special city? It turns out that it’s a combination of many things. Some new residents are drawn by the University of Florida while others love all the parks and hiking trails. While some people come for the sunny weather, others arrive because they are seeking better economic opportunities. Still others are looking for a city that successfully combines affordability, great real estate and safe streets.

What are your reasons for moving to Gainesville? Perhaps you’ll find them in the list below along with a few new reasons why Gainesville is such an exceptional place to live.

The University of Florida

No doubt about it, Gainesville is a college town. Founded in 1853 and operating on its current site since 1906, the University of Florida is Gainesville’s biggest employer as well as being a social and cultural center. With 16 academic colleges in addition to 150 research institutes, something innovative and interesting is always happening on the UF campus.

Plus, UF athletics are a huge part of the fabric of life in Gainesville. The most popular sports are football and basketball, and many people move here so they can cheer on the Gators from the home stadium.

The campus also is recognized for its museums, including the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Several performing arts venues are located on campus as well, making UF a great place to treat yourself to a music, dance or theatrical performance.

Whether you are employed by UF, enroll as a student, attend sporting events or are a patron of the arts, the college can be a huge part of your life in Gainesville.

The Cost of Living Is Affordable

This active and bustling college town has a great deal going for it, but that doesn’t mean that it costs a fortune to live here. In fact, the cost of living in Gainesville is impressively affordable, with experts determining that it is approximately 8.7 percent cheaper to live in Gainesville than it is to live elsewhere in America. People earning an average income of $58,000 per year may expect to live quite comfortably, and the absence of state income tax is a huge bonus.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that Gainesville does have a sales tax rate of seven percent, and your homeowner’s insurance may be slightly higher here than it is in your current location.

State-of-the-Art Healthcare

Partially thanks to the presence of the UF Health Shands Hospital, you can rest assured that your health and wellness are in good hands when you choose real estate in Gainesville. UF Health Shands Hospital is placed among the country’s 50 best hospitals and is considered the state’s top hospital. In areas such as colon cancer surgery, hip replacement, heart failure and lung cancer surgery, this healthcare center outperforms most others.

The other major hospital in the city is North Florida Regional Medical Center. Specializing in cardiovascular care, orthopedics, women’s health, neuroscience, senior care and more, this hospital is a top-rated facility.

Parks and Recreation

Gainesville real estate is an excellent choice for people who want to get outside and be active. The city is bursting with gorgeous parks like the Kanapaha Botanical Garden, which features 68 acres of gorgeous plants, trees and herbs. Head to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park to explore eight diverse trails and take advantage of opportunities to view bison and wild horses. You can even see the largest live oak tree in Florida with a visit to Cellon Oak Park.

Whether you want to hike, bike, play games with your family or view wildlife, Gainesville definitely has a park for you.

The Real Estate

Are you looking for an impressive property to call home? Chances are good that you’ll find it in Gainesville. The market here is absolutely booming with most properties only staying on the market for about two weeks. Prices are rising, and properties are moving fast.

Single-family homes, condos and townhouses all are widely available in Gainesville. To make certain that you have the best opportunity to find the home of your dreams at the right price point, work with an experienced Realtor who truly understands the local market.

An Expanding Job Market

Are you looking for a place to live that also provides you with opportunities for economic growth? Look no further than Gainesville.

Growing at an average rate of three percent per year, the job market in Gainesville is increasing all the time. Most people look for work in the booming education and healthcare industries. A wide selection of service-sector jobs regularly is available as well.

With its growing population and economy, Gainesville also is a spectacular place to consider starting a business. Your dreams can come true when you choose real estate in Gainesville.

The Sun

Have we mentioned that Gainesville’s weather is amazing? Situated in northern Florida, Gainesville’s climate is described as humid subtropical. This means that summers are long, humid and warm while the winters are dry and short. On average, July is the hottest month with average high temperatures of 90 degrees. By contrast, January normally is the coldest month with average high temperatures a relatively balmy 64 degrees.

It doesn’t snow in Gainesville, and temperatures lower than 44 degrees are rare even in January. It may rain approximately 50 inches a year, but most residents don’t let that get them down. Gainesville is in a low-risk zone for hurricanes, so there’s little reason to worry about major storms.

Ready to Make a Move to Gainesville?

This list of seven reasons people are moving to Gainesville is just the beginning. From a bustling nightlife and sensational restaurants to quaint shops and water sports, Gainesville has something for everyone.

If you are considering a move to Gainesville, make a call to Florida’s Choice Realty your first step. Our local real estate experts will guide your home search so that you find the property of your dreams.

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6 Things to Know Before Buying a Rural Property

Have you ever thought about buying a rural property?

Country living isn’t for everyone, but if you think it might be perfect for your family, then there are definitely some things that you should know.

If you’re ready to get serious about your search for a home in Florida’s countryside, contact Florida’s Choice Realty today.

In the meantime, take a look at the following tips to make finding a rural home much easier and more rewarding.

1. Work with a Realtor Who’s Knowledgeable About Rural Property

Most Realtors excel at helping their clients buy and sell property. However, only a smaller number of them understand the heightened complexities that may come with buying a rural property. This is why it’s sensible for people who want to buy a country house to work with a Realtor who has experience with these transactions.

Buying a rural property can come with extra rules, regulations and paperwork that just don’t apply to homes that are purchased in a suburban or urban setting. Moreover, it can be really helpful to have a professional at your side who has already participated in dozens of similar transactions. They will be able to answer your questions and help you to avoid many of the most common pitfalls that are associated with buying a rural property.

2. Get Guidance from a Local Mortgage Lender

Did you know that when you buy a property in the country, you may have additional financing options that are not available to urban and suburban properties?

For example, the United States Department of Agriculture, or the USDA, actually provides financing for families who want to live in the country. USDA home loans do have some eligibility guidelines of which it’s helpful to be aware, but an experienced lender who frequently deals with this type of loan will be able to provide the guidance you need.

As a matter of fact, USDA home loans are incredibly popular for people who want to buy rural property. However, there are other options available to you. If you want to ensure that you get the mortgage that is best for you, then it’s wise to consult with a local mortgage lender who can lay out all of your choices for you.

3. How Much Property Is Enough?

Before they begin taking a closer look at the marketplace, many people who are interested in rural properties think that all parcels in the country must come with acres upon acres of land. This might even deter some people who think that country living is right for them because they just don’t want a parcel with 15 acres of land.

The reality is that there is a great deal more choices than you might realize. Some country properties have quite small parcels of land, just enough to give you a large yard compared to what you’d have in a suburban setting. On the other hand, you could opt for a property that has two or three acres or one that has 20 or more acres. The choice is really up to you.

How much land is enough for you? It really just depends on what you want to do with that land. If you’re looking to keep your neighbors at a good distance from you, even a small parcel could be perfect. Those of you who are considering options for development or other land use will want to do some additional research. How much “usable land” comes with the acreage that you’ve got your eye on? Land that is completely undeveloped takes a great deal of time and money to turn into something, so it’s wise to know what you’re getting into before making the leap.

4. Consider the Utilities

When you purchase a home in the city, you don’t have to think too much about utilities. Most of the time, everything is hooked up and more or less ready to go. You’ve got city or county water and sewer connections as well as electricity.

The country can be different. Many of these homes have a septic system rather than being connected to a commercial sewer. Having a septic system can save you money on property taxes, but it could potentially cost you more if it needs to be maintained or replaced. Before buying a property with a septic system, have it inspected by a professional to determine its age and condition.

It’s also possible that a rural home will have a well water system instead of being connected to public water. The water in the well is free, but the well does need to be maintained. Once again, it’s smart to have a well system inspected before you buy the property.

The same is true if you are contemplating buying a home with an oil or propane heating system. Weigh the cost of fuel and maintenance, and be certain to have a thorough inspection performed before you close the deal.

5. Location, Location, Location

Not all rural properties are surrounded by farmland. Some are located in wooded areas. Some don’t have a farm for miles around. You might find a piece of land with a lake or a pond.

Additionally, you don’t always have to go that far outside of the city to find a beautiful piece of property that feels like it’s way out in the sticks. Staying close into town means more convenient access to stores, gas stations and other services. On the other hand, maybe you want to be far removed from larger communities. That is certainly an option as well.

Before buying a parcel of land, thoroughly explore the surrounding countryside and determine how long it will take to reach ordinary destinations like grocery stores and your doctor’s office. How far are you willing to drive? Everyone’s answer will be different, but this is critical to helping you find a home that you’ll love.

6. Zoning

  • What are you wanting to do with the property?
  • Does the current zoning allow for those activities?
  • Can you get a variance to conduct those activities on the property?

These are all very important questions to understand because even as something a simple as building a home on a piece of land could be against current zoning for many different reasons.

Calling the local zoning office can start the process of getting the answers you need to make sure the property you want is the property where your vision can come to reality.

Ask Florida’s Choice Realty First

Are you considering buying a rural home in Florida? If so, then speak with the real estate experts at Florida’s Choice Realty. With our experience dealing directly with rural properties, we’ll be able to answer your questions and help you find the new home of your dreams.

Need help with Rural Property?

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Best Areas to Live in St Augustine

On Florida’s northeast coast, you’ll find the ancient and fascinating city of St. Augustine. With plenty of Spanish colonial architecture along with beaches on the Atlantic and the freshening breezes to go with them, St. Augustine is a wonderful place to live.

As in any other city, St. Augustine boasts numerous neighborhoods. Which one offers the best location and amenities for your family? The answer certainly will vary depending upon your individual needs.

However, the following are some of the most coveted neighborhoods in St. Augustine.

Old Town

This may be the city’s most famous neighborhood. Of course, most people know this district because of its many tourist attractions like the Fountain of Youth, Castillo de San Marco and St. George Street. However, Old Town is a whole lot more than just a tourist trap.

This also is the neighborhood to be in if you want to have excellent food practically on your doorstep. The sheer density of restaurants and bars is stunning, and you can find something to satisfy every palate. You’ll also find numerous art galleries and shops. This is even a great place to raise a family since young kids will be attending the respected Ketterlinus Elementary School. Additionally, it’s worth keeping in mind that the beach is only a brief 10-minutes away.

Most properties in Old Town are single-family dwellings, though you will find a condominium here and there. Prices tend to be higher in this district, but with cobbled streets and tons of charm, most people don’t mind paying a little extra.

Anastasia Island

Just on the other side of the Matanzas River lies Anastasia Island. You can reach it by crossing the Bridge of Lions. Lined with gorgeous beaches as well as sand dunes and marshes, this is a remarkably beautiful place to live. Anastasia State Park is on the island as is the famed St. Augustine Lighthouse. There’s even an alligator farm thrown in for good measure.

Much of the acreage on the island is set aside as nature preserve, making this a quiet and idyllic place to call home. Nonetheless, several residential communities can be found here. Some of the most popular include Davis Shores, Sea Colony, St. Augustine Beach and Sunset Point. Many of the homes found in these developments boast spectacular views and immediate access to beaches, trails and marshes. If you love the outdoors, this may be the perfect place for you.

A wide range of price points may be encountered on Anastasia Island. With some houses going at surprisingly affordable prices and other selling in the millions. Clearly, this is one of St. Augustine’s most desirable areas.

Atlantic Beach

This area seems tailor-made for people who want to live close to the ocean. You’ll find Atlantic Beach immediately off of Highway A1A. From many of the homes, you can hear the sound of the waves and smell the sea salt in the air. People choose to live here when they place a high value on being able to escape to the beach immediately from their front door.

It’s helpful to know that Beach Boulevard features some of the city’s best shopping and dining opportunities and that Anastasia State Park is within easy reach. Other nearby attractions include the Farmers Market, fishing pier and St. Augustine Beach. The well-regarded schools in the neighborhood include R.B. Hunt Elementary School, Sebastian Middle School and Pedro Menendez High, so this is a good choice for growing families.

Like Anastasia Island, you may find a surprising variety of price points in Atlantic Beach. Whether the sky is your limit or you’re on a budget, you may find your new home in this neighborhood.

World Golf Village

Some people move to Florida just for the weather. Often, they are drawn by their favorite sport, too. Maybe that’s why World Golf Village is such a popular place for families and retirees. This sprawling complex encompasses 6,300 acres on which are situated two golf courses with clubhouses, dining rooms, bars, outdoor patios, locker rooms and pro shops.

Nearly 3,000 acres of the property is set aside as preservation lands, and residents may enjoy viewing the wildlife and ancient oaks. Also in the neighborhood are an IMAX Theater, the World Golf Hall of Fame, a swim and tennis center and a spa.

Residential neighborhoods within the World Golf Village are vast. The choices include upscale condominiums as well as estate-level homes. Accordingly, you could find prices as low as $100,000 and upwards of several million.

Vilano Beach

Immediately to the north of Anastasia Island you’ll find Vilano Beach. This coastal community is quiet and secluded, yet you’ll still find a good variety of restaurants and shops along with a marina. The Vilano Beach Nature Boardwalk is a particularly popular place to enjoy a stroll or a jog.

This casual but close-knit community is perfect for laid-back folks. You have your choice of single-family dwellings and condos, but Vilano Beach also features many lots of land for sale on which you could build your dream home.

Talk to a Realtor Today

If you are interested in learning more about St. Augustine and its many charming neighborhoods, then call a Realtor today. With expert guidance, you can find the perfect property at the right price for your family to call home.