Latitude Margaritaville, Daytona Beach

I have been eligible to live in a 55+ community for almost 2 years now. Still, our visit to Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach last week, was the first time that we have ever visited one.

It is quite a development. Pitched as a “55-and-better community inspired by the legendary music and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, built on food, fun, music and escapism.” it has almost 4,000 housing units in total, with 3,300 of them already built and sold. It’s gotten a lot of attention in the media.

Related: New Retirement Village Attracts Jimmy Buffett Fans

We’ve stayed at the Margaritaville Orlando Resort before, so we partly knew what to expect. Still, that’s a hotel & resort meant for vacationing, not a neighborhood development for full-time residency – with mailboxes, garages, and golf carts zipping every which way.

The marketing of the property is top notch. They have a beautiful sales office with a luxury shuttle bus that takes you to a sunny model home street with a dozen different colorful homes. Each home oozes the “carefree, casual island vibe” that so many people love. The homes are expertly & elegantly decorated by Tommy Bahama’s wife (just kidding, but they are beautiful).

We were drawn in by the “Breeze” cottage. A 3-bedroom villa with a little more than 2K square feet. The model has a big open floor plan living / dining / kitchen area with huge sliding glass walls that seamlessly open the house to the lanai & screened in Florida room / hot tub / pool. This model starts at $400K, but probably tops $700K with all the extras shown in the model.

So, are we buying a vacation home in Daytona Beach soon? No, I really don’t see that in our future. First, we wouldn’t really want to live on the Atlantic side of the state. We’re thinking either in Central FL / Orlando area or over on the Gulf Coast between Fort Myers & Clearwater. The company developing Latitude Margaritaville is also taking the concept to Hilton Head, Panama City, and somewhere in Texas.

The second issue for us comes from our experience leaving the models and going “off tour”. We went rogue – driving through a open gate into one of the finished neighborhoods in Latitude Margaritaville. There we saw the “real world” side of the development and we were a lot less impressed. Lots were small, yards were unkept, cars/golf carts were parked everywhere, and many folks looked like they had decorated their homes with the kind of plastic accessories they sell in the Walmart garden department. It just looked cheap. And quite crowded.

It could have just been that the neighborhood we randomly pulled into wasn’t their best, but it SO lacked the charm, sophistication, and understated elegance that we see at their Orlando resort. The community center – with a nice bar & grill, theater, fitness center, woodworking shop, and racquet courts all looked great, but I was a bit shaken by the actual neighborhood we drove through. I know some people hate powerful HOAs (and their big monthly fees), but I do feel they are worth it if they uphold high-standards for design/maintenance.

So, we’ll keep looking. We’re finishing year 2 of our 3-5 year “Florida Project” and still (slowly) learning our options. We’re not staying in Florida long enough to make a big investment, but getting closer. We have a few areas around Orlando that we’d like to explore this month, but we’re not generally inclined to impulse buy into anything.

Besides, Florida real estate prices continue to be scary high. Scary, scary, scary high.

What has been your experience looking at retirement neighborhoods? What do you look for / watch out for?

Image Credit: (c) MrFireStation.com

10 thoughts on “Latitude Margaritaville, Daytona Beach

  1. #1: Location (of the community/neighborhood/home). #2: People (next door neighbors; nearby neighbors). #3: Governance (who decides; how; track record). All other benefits, features, amenities, and limitations must not distract from the above. Think hard and long before investing. Florida is changing. Weather is changing. What you seek to own now may not be what you want in 5, or, 10, or 20 years. In our past, ownership was key. As we age, ownership becomes more burdensome. Flexibility key.

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    1. Yeah – we’ve been renting for 4 years now and that’s working for us. No obligations at all, but no roots either. We have friends putting down big bucks on their “dream homes”. I’m think we just start with something small – even a 1 or 2 year lease and see how things “fit”.

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  2. Their website does a good job of hiding how close together the houses are. When you check out the photos of resales on realtor websites, you can see that the houses are much closer together than is depicted on the website and that the landscaping isn’t very nice. The Atlantic Coast tends to have people from the East Coast, while the Gulf Coast tends to have people from the Midwest. For someone moving from a NYC Condo the yards would seem large and the owner would not have the yardwork experience you have.

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    1. Agree – the model street (“Summertime Place”) has much bigger lots than most of the “real” neighborhoods in development. The area we went off tour was “Good Life Way”.

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      1. That doesn’t seem right. Bait and switch. However, Sun City in AZ started out with very modest homes that were awesome during the 70s Jimmy Carter times. They later went more upscale. But there are still Jimmy Carter 70s homes up for resale. Ironically, the much larger new homes are more efficient.

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      2. We moved from a 3200 sqf home in 2009 to a 5000 sqf home. The appliances / HVAC use far less energy than our old home.

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  3. Not for us. Our 1400SF condo with all we need in walking distance with light rail is perfect for two. Having said that, I just completed monitoring a five day civil trial in Santa Barbara. 99 miles each way! Leave at 0630 back at 1930. Long day but it is interesting and keeps my mind sharp and the money funds business class international airfare! I never had more than two consecutive days, otherwise I would’ve spent the night. It was on the cusp of commuting…. I like being home

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    1. “Monitoring a civil trial”? Is that for a law firm or business that needs to keep track of a case? I didn’t know that was a thing, but it makes sense. Does it leverage your vocational expertise? Sounds interesting!

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      1. I was a risk manager (property & casualty risks) for most of my career dealing with construction, police, fire, electric and water utilities and convention/entertainment risks. I’ve managed a lot of litigation since 1988.

        In retirement I “work” about three months of the year, at least that is what my billing comes out to. I do some accreditation work for risk sharing pools, monitor litigation for insurers, advise on insurance coverage ad risk finance, and some expert witness work.

        The trial monitoring is for insurance companies that want eyes on a trial and reporting daily in the event a case takes a surprising turn. Like many things in life, the insurance claims industry does not send adjusters to watch trials anymore.

        The “work” that I do is very interesting and keeps my brain engaged as I don’t do well sitting around! I do zero marketing besides speaking at conferences which actually I do for fun and sharing knowledge rather than to drum up business. I don’t need the money, but it causes me to not have guilt when booking international business airfare as I have earned bonus money!

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      2. That sounds like an interesting specialty that you are uniquely suited for. Hopefully, the trials are interesting cases to follow and assess.

        I would think that “convention/entertainment” risk trials would be especially interesting and different. I imagine that industry is always trying new things that might sometimes lead to some trouble!

        I have a friend who is an expert in emergency medical response services and also just works part, part-time. He is a car guy and has a “car habit” to support with his extra $$$.

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