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Moving to the “Sunshine State” is a dream for many retirees, families and singles. With tropical weather in most parts of this giant peninsula, and miles of beaches, it’s easy to daydream about a home with orange and palm trees, Spanish moss, and friendly neighbors. As the fourth most populous state, the dream is a reality for more than 16 million residents. If you’re wondering how to pick out your dream property in Florida, then keep some of these tips in mind.

Florida is eclectic. It’s true that some Floridians are living the lifestyle stereotype, but most residents will tell you that every community is completely different. Be sure to research the different areas of Florida to make sure you are selecting a development or town that has the atmosphere you are looking for. Life in Miami is completely different than life in Pensacola, which is more like a southern town. Gulf Coast towns and cities are known for being more relaxed, while the East Coast of Florida is a little more fast-paced. Central Florida will vary greatly on whether one chooses South-Central or smack-dab Central, and of course, inland properties are going to be more affordable than their coastline cousins.

Choose river and lake properties over pure beach ones. To keep from spending phenomenal amounts on insurance and property, try to live a little further inland. It’s always easier to rent a beach house for a week or two, than to pour money into a beach property year-round. Buying Florida properties five miles or more inland will save you thousands.

Basements and extra space are rare. Wet weather and sandy soil make it almost impossible to build homes with below-ground footage. Many Florida real estate agents will suggest that their clients, who are relocating from out-of-state, trim down their belongings before arriving. Winter necessities are unnecessary for most of Florida. This is usually the first kind of belonging an agent will tell you to scale down.

Homeowner associations. The stereotype of the hyperactive condo board or homeowner association is a reality for many planned and gated communities, and condo complexes in Florida. If it is possible to talk to a few of the residents before purchasing a property in one of these structured developments, then do so. Try to get a feel for how the governing board conducts itself. Always read all the fine print on the homeowner association agreement, so you know what your responsibilities might be. Remember, homeowner associations are your friends not your enemies. They exist to protect your property value by enforcing the rules. Should you find the rules to be too strict for your comfort, there are always non-deed-restricted communities in which to live in Florida.

Get familiar with some common terminology. Most properties in Florida are built out of CBS, or concrete block and stucco that protect homes from humidity, wind and pests. Also, be sure to ask your real estate agent about Florida’s Homestead Property Tax Exemptions. Many residents qualify for serious deductions on their property tax, but they have to make sure they are proactive to get them. Look for properties with school districts that have the grade rating of ‘A’ or ‘B’. Schools in Florida are graded just like the students.

Check the air conditioning system. In order to counteract mold and humidity, Floridians have to make sure that their A/C system is powerful and durable. Many residents purchase service contracts with A/C specialists. Also, make sure you understand the system’s warranties, and consider getting additional environmental inspections for air quality in your potential new property.