If warm, sunny Florida is calling your name, you’re not alone. Nearly a million people flock to Florida each winter and temporarily raise the state’s population by more than five percent. The state’s popularity comes as no surprise to those who have experienced Florida’s beautiful weather, friendly people, and abundant outdoor attractions. With winter lows averaging 53 degrees in the northern part of the state and 68.5 degrees in the south, Florida is the perfect place to escape the chill of the north.

Research has found that more than 63 percent of snowbirds rated their health as “very good” or “excellent. Winter homes in Florida are in such demand that Florida ranks as the most popular state for second homes. When it comes to planning your retirement you may wonder which is better — buying a winter home in Florida or renting a home during the winter months? Let’s take a look at the advantages of buying vs. renting, and examine the most cost-effective option for your snowbird lifestyle.

Buying a Winter Home in Florida

There are more than 1.1 million second homes in Florida. When you purchase a second home in Florida, you give yourself the freedom to visit whenever you want. When you’re not in Florida, you may decide to allow friends and family to rent or borrow your winter home for their vacations. Owning a home in Florida allows you to come and go as you see fit. Down the road, you may even decide to make Florida your primary residence.

Buying a house in Florida means you get to control the comfort of your stay. You decide the details of your home from paint colors to mattress firmness. Whether you bring your pets or invite guests to join you is completely in your own hands. Buying means that your lifestyle won’t be dependent on a landlord’s approval. Buying also means you’ll visit the same neighborhood and town each year, getting to know your neighbors and local businesses. A real sense of community can be formed even if you reside in Florida for just a few months each winter.

Let’s take a moment to discuss the disadvantages of buying a second home, so you can decide whether buying or renting is best for your family. Some disadvantages of buying a second home include:

Second homes require year-round upkeep, even though you aren’t living in them full time.

The mortgage and utility payments don’t stop just because you’re back at your primary residence.

If you decide you want to travel to different states or countries in the future, you may regret being tied down to a second home.

Renting a Home in Florida

There are many reasons that Florida visitors choose to rent a home for the winter months rather than buy a second home. Simply put, when you rent a home you only incur costs for the time you spend visiting Florida. Instead of year-round mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes, you pay only for the use of the house during your stay. The landlord is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the house, so you can focus on relaxing in the sunshine.

Leaving the maintenance of the home in another person’s hands may be easier, but you can’t always count on having your problems solved in a timely manner. When renting, you are at the mercy of your landlord’s schedule. A broken icemaker may not be as big a priority to your landlord as it is to you. When renting, you’ll also have to forgo control over the decor, furnishings, and layout of your home away from home.

Renting a home allows you to try out different cities, neighborhoods, and types of homes. This can be great for those that like variety. The downside is that each year you will have to spend time hunting for rentals and attempting to secure dates for your visit. Renting each year will require flexibility in regards to your planning and expectations.

Is it Better to Buy or Rent in Florida?

For many people, a second home is more about community and comfort than yearly cost. While home prices vary greatly depending on size and location, the average mortgage payment in Florida is $1,466 a month. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in utility costs, home and yard maintenance, and property taxes in order to calculate the financial impact of buying a second home. Taxes are relatively low in Florida, and Showcase agents can help explain how to save big on local property taxes. Buying a home in Florida is an investment in your future and a great way to build equity. To get an idea of homes currently available in Central Florida, take a look at these recent home listings. Building a home is also an option, in which case you’ll want to explore Land for sale in Florida.

If you’re interested in renting a second home, you can choose from nightly, weekly, or monthly rentals in Florida. The cost and availability of rental properties change soften. A three-bedroom and two-bathroom house in The Villages has a starting rental rate of $3,800 a month. There are other rentals across Florida for less than $2,000 a month. Even when renting, there are extra costs to consider. Security deposits, booking fees, cleaning fees, and pet fees can add big amounts to your stay. While you won’t have to pay for home maintenance, if something breaks during your stay there is the risk you’ll be found liable and end up forfeiting your security deposit. Renting can often seem less expensive, but there are many factors to take into account when deciding whether to rent or buy.

Making the Decision to Buy

Renting a winter home may cost you less money during the year, but that doesn’t mean buying a second home is a bad idea. In fact, buying a second home in Florida is a good investment. Buying a home means you are building equity with your payments rather than giving that money away to a landlord. By building equity in a winter home, you are investing in property for your future financial needs or to pass it along to your family. Browse our latest listing of houses for sale in Ocala or explore the 55+ communities in our area. Our extensive portfolio also includes equestrian properties, farms, waterfront homes, houses with pools, and homes with a guest house. 

Friendly and knowledgeable Showcase agents can answer all your questions about winter homes in Florida. Talk to a real estate agent today and start planning for your future.