As a passionate Disney fan my dream for many years has been to move close to Walt Disney World.
About five years ago the dream almost came true. There was a strong possibility that my daughter, then a high school senior, would choose to go to college in Florida. For her, it was the lure of the beaches and for me and my wife Michele, it was the lure of the Magic! In the end, my daughter chose to get her education closer to our home over the Florida sun. So, the dream was temporarily put on hold.
With my son having already graduated college and with my daughter graduating this coming May, the pause button on our dream will soon be lifted. Actually, there has never really been a pause on our dream. It can best be described as patiently waiting for the right time to take the Florida plunge. Once our daughter graduates and both our kids are settled with their own lives, the time will be right.
So, where do we begin? This coming fall, we are traveling to Florida with our best friends, Darlene and Keith, whose dream is also to live close to Walt Disney World. Our plans are not to just spend time in the parks but, to spend time visiting the surrounding area for potential places to someday call home.
To prepare for our eventual move, the four of us have spent countless hours researching towns in and around Walt Disney World and Orlando. We have also heavily researched homes on Zillow, Trulia, and new construction home sites. The prices of homes in the Orlando area have dramatically increased since we initially looked five years ago. Our preference is new home construction in a neighborhood close to Walt Disney World but away from the tourist areas.
Although we are just in the beginning phase of living the dream, we have already taken a number of steps to finding our Walt Disney World “dream” home.
Below are beginning steps that we have taken:
- We started with a map of the area.
- Identified towns that are within 45 minutes or less from Walt Disney World property.
- Researched town history, crime rates, school systems, medical facilities, and shopping.
After taking the above steps we were able to narrow down our home search to certain areas.
Then, we began to research new home developments to see what was available in our price range and the amenities offered. So as not to limit our options, we also looked at prices of resales. Our research also included looking at the home property taxes, cost of homeowners insurance, and homeowner association fees (HOA). The HOA fees are an expense paid by homeowners to an association to assist, maintain, and improve the property of the development.
In addition, we contacted the sales offices of a few of the new developments that are being built and the builders to learn more about their homes and the construction cost and process. We learned a lot by asking a few simple and general questions.
The costs for new homes that you see advertised online is probably not the price you will pay for the house. The home may not offer the kitchen cabinets, counter tops, or flooring you desire. However, each builder offers upgrades, at an additional cost. Also, some builders do not include the cost of the lot in the advertised home price. That’s an additional cost you may need to add into your home purchase.
Something else that can factor into your home purchase are CDD fees. The term CDD is short for Community Development District. Under the Florida Statutes, the Uniform Community Development Act of 1980 established a way to finance and maintain a community’s infrastructure. The CDD is a legal entity that builders use to issue tax exempt bonds to build out the infrastructure of a new development. The terms of the CDD can range from 15 to 30 years. The CDD is a fee that is passed on to the homeowner and included in their property taxes. The CDD fees can add an additional $120 to $2,000 per year to a homeowner’s property taxes. After the term of the CDD is completed those fees should go away.
The knowledge we have gained so far is invaluable. I am sure we have much more to learn and seeing the towns and homes in person will give us a better sense of where we ultimately wind up living.
For now Walt Disney World is our home away from home. Someday, it will just be home!