By M.J. Shetron, Licensed Real Estate Agent, Suncoasteam Realty
After five and a half years of sailing from San Diego to Thailand, we decided to become landlubbers once again in the United States. The dilemma was where to live. We (M.J. and John) had previously lived in Kansas, Colorado, South Carolina, Idaho, Michigan and New Mexico. We had sold our home in New Mexico prior to moving aboard our 38 foot catamaran in 2002 and living on the sea. Most of our relatives reside in Kansas and the Carolinas. Our grandkids are in the Carolinas, therefore, we chose to look for a home in the eastern U.S. After living in the tropics for more than five years, we needed a place that would be warm year round. We found that place in Southwest Florida. Here is a sampling of our journey to find a home.
In April of 2008, we sold our sailboat and immediately flew back to the United States. After wonderful visits with relatives and purchasing a vehicle, we began our search for a home in a warm climate. First, we decided to check out the east coast between South Carolina and Florida and our first stop was the Jacksonville area. This is a wonderful area, however, my husband and I both remembered a few years back almost freezing to death when we took a trip to Amelia Island for a week in January, so moving farther south became our new plan. We decided to stick to the coast so we might find a seaside home or an intracoastal waterway home.
We decided to check out the west coast of Florida but our journey actually began in the Panhandle. We knew it was far too cold in this area in the winter for our tastes, so we traveled from Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach driving as close to the coast as you can get, all the way to Suwanee. We found this was a very nice place to visit, however, there were two concerns with living here; #1 It is difficult to get to a main city with an airport for family visits AND #2 It isn’t warm enough year-round for us. We decided to continue driving the coast southward toward Clearwater.
We drove through New Port Richey to Clearwater and although you can find some very nice homes here, the prices are not as affordable as farther south. We did not look in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area because we had decided early on not to live in a large city. We traveled south from Bradenton to Fort Myers Beach.
We began looking at homes in the Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Cape Coral areas. We even decided to base ourselves out of a hotel in Fort Myers during our search for a home. It seems as though we had now found our area. Believe us, this REALLY is the SUN COAST!
Since the search was now down to a manageable area, we decided it would be best to contact a real estate broker for help. We found a knowledgeable, friendly, real estate broker, primarily due to his excellent website. He allowed us to Search the Southwest, Florida MLS on the Suncoasteam Realty website, as well as giving us important information on the local area. Jim Mulligan and the Suncoasteam Realty family was selected. After meeting with Jim and discussing the local market, we began to choose properties to view, from a selection we and Jim had chosen.
In Cape Coral, we really liked the original layout with many canals and gulf access through the Caloosahatchie River. The population is not too large, but there is a good age and salary mix. Most enticing for us, there seemed to be a large population of sailboaters. Jim even took us to meet one of his friends who lives in Cape Coral and keeps his sailboat right on his own dock behind his house.
In Punta Gorda, we really enjoyed the downtown area, and the fact that Punta Gorda is right on Charlotte Harbor. It seems like a really nice city with all the conveniences. Even though Punta Gorda isn’t a large city, they have many cultural events there. Punta Gorda also has one of the most active sailboat clubs in the area. This was VERY exciting to us!
We thought we were ruined on fireworks shows for life, after attending the New Year’s Eve fireworks show aboard our sailboat in Sydney Harbour, Australia but we decided to attend the July 4 fireworks show in Punta Gorda. Okay, so it’s not Sydney, but we couldn’t believe how FANTASTIC and professional it was. People were discussing it for days afterward.
In Port Charlotte, we found many waterfront homes with sailboat access that would be perfect for us AND perfect for our family when they visited. We also enjoyed the benefits of a smaller population, but close enough to Tampa (60 miles) to attend the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. In Port Charlotte, we found a real small town attitude, but with many places to shop and dine.
In mid-July, Jim assisted us in making an offer (way below boom prices in 2004 and 2005) on a home in Port Charlotte. The home had sailboat access, three bedrooms, two baths, in an extremely nice neighborhood. The offer on the home in Port Charlotte was accepted and we were thrilled to be living in Florida!
On July 16, 2008, we closed on our sailboat access home located on a canal that is only five minutes out to the harbor. We have front row seats for the boat parade headed out to the harbor from our lanai, beautiful backyard with palm trees, and our own dock! Within weeks we were enjoying our pool with our eight-year old grandson who came to visit AND have fun at Disney World (two hours from our home).
We are enjoying paddling our kayak to the hidden lake located in the middle of the mangroves behind our home where there is a wealth of wildlife to view. We have also explored the canals AND paddled out to the harbor.
We can just sit on our lanai and look out at the mangroves to see the most interesting birds and dolphins swimming in the canal or we can fish for snook right off our dock. Finding Port Charlotte and our lovely home was a wonderful end to our journey halfway around the world. We LOVE our Florida home in Port Charlotte! Now we are searching for that perfect sailboat!
M. J. Shetron, Licensed Real Estate Agent
PO Box 380503
Murdock, FL 33938
For more information on M.J. and Suncoasteam Realty, please visit suncoasteam.com
or call 941-268-1938 to speak with MJ directly and begin your Search for Your Florida Home!
Punta Gorda Isles: