Several times a week I get questions about finding rentals in Florida retirement communities, so by creating this short guide I’m hoping I can a) help some of you out and b) save myself from having to answer the same question over and over again every couple of days.
I’ve covered how to find a winter rental here before, but finding a long-term rental in Florida has some slight differences that I think are worth exploring, so here we go.
First Off, Why Rent?
The first question some of you might be asking, is why would somebody want to rent?
Isn’t that just pouring money down the drain to help pay off someone else’s mortgage?
A while back Trulia.com did a study and determined that yes, it is in fact cheaper to buy than it is to rent for retirement, at least in Florida.
On the other hand others will argue, you have to live somewhere, and whether you buy or rent, it’s going to cost money.
Financial aspects aside, there are other reasons why some people will decide to opt for a Florida retirement community rental.
Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve heard over the years.
Not Sure Where You Want to Settle Down
This is probably the most common reason I hear for retirees wanting to rent, and I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to rent for a little while if you don’t have a solid grasp on where you want to settle down.
Renting for a while will give you a chance to get to know an area before you make a firm commitment.
Somewhat related to the first reason someone might want to rent is flexibility. A lot of people like more than one area, and they want to be able to easily move to a new location every few years.
Only Want to Live in Florida Part-Time
And of course you have those who will only call Florida home part of the year, and don’t want to pay for a home here year-round so they find a part-time rental, whether that is a 3 month winter rental or perhaps they do a 6 months here, 6 months there type of thing.
Location, Location, Location
A lot of people approach this process focused on the actual houses for rent first, and to me that’s backwards.
Just like the methodology I describe in my book Pick the Right Place, you should think of going about finding a rental in terms of location, then community, then home.
Once you have one or a tiny handful of locations picked out, you can start to look around online and see what kinds of rentals might be available.
Where to Look
Of course there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of websites advertising rentals, but you can save yourself some time at this point in your search by focusing on some of the bigger websites.
For long-term rentals, your best bets will be sites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com.
Make sure you’ve selected “For Rent”, enter the area you are interested in, selected any other criteria you want, and see what you can find.
For short-term rentals, websites like VRBO.com and HomeAway.com will be your best bet.
If you exhaust each of those sites, you can throw a “Hail Mary” and do a Google search like “Location” + “Rentals” or “Location” + “Property Management” (note that the “+” is not required), but these days most management companies syndicate their listings to the bigger sites I mentioned.
Community: For Rentals, Size Matters
Once you’ve selected a location and explored what might be available, you should next zero in on a few communities that might fit your needs.
For people looking to buy in a Florida retirement community, I suggest they focus on all communities big, small, and in-between that suit their needs.
But for those looking for Florida retirement community rentals, I often suggest they focus on the larger communities for a couple reasons.
The first should be obvious; the more homes a community has, generally the more rentals there will be available for you to choose from.
Along with that, it can also sometimes be nice to not be the only, or one of a few, renters in a community.
Some homeowners can be weird, and they might not include you as quickly or build a relationship with you as fast knowing that you are a renter that could up and leave at the end of your lease.
That’s not always the case of course, but I’ve seen it happen and its something to think about.
Before we leave the topic of communities, a lot of people reach out asking me if any of the new communities that I mention on my site offer rentals.
While there may be rentals in newer communities, understand that most developers are in the business of building and selling homes, not renting them.
In fact, most make no mention of rentals anywhere on their websites and do not engage in the practice, so unfortunately with rentals, you’re going to have to do a lot of the leg-work on your own.
Could you strike up a conversation with a new home salesperson who just happens to know of a homeowner looking for a renter? It’s possible, but again, their focus is going to be more on selling homes, not on helping you find a rental.
Home Sweet Home
I can’t really guide you too much as far as the home you choose is concerned.
You’ve hopefully already got a list of criteria you’re after in a home.
But one thing I want to cover is that as you progress in your search, you’ll see some homes that are managed by the homeowner, and others that are managed by real estate companies.
My suggestion is to focus as much as possible on the homes that are managed by real estate companies. That way you’ve got a licensed 3rd party involved, striving to keep you and the owner of the property happy.
Could you luck out with an owner-managed rental? Of course, it happens all the time, but I’ve been at this a long time and if you were related to me I would try to advise you against going the managed by-owner route.
Most rental management companies have policies and procedures in place to handle any number of issues that can arise, but with an individual owner, you just never know.
This is just one example, but what if your A/C goes out in the middle of July, but the owner is on vacation out of the country and you can’t reach them?
Now, hopefully your rental agreement speaks to what happens in cases like this but I’d just sleep better at night knowing there’s an actual company I can get ahold of when I need.
I think you get the idea, but of course you are the best judge of what’s best for you.
I hope this brief guide has given you some things to think about, and if you do decide to rent here in Florida I hope it helps you find a great rental.