Saturday, November 18, 2017

Terra Mobile

Several weeks ago shortly after our arrival on Daytona Beach Shores we informed the estate agent handling the rental of our condominium unit that we wished to renew the lease next year for the same six-month period. The estate agent relayed our wishes to the landlord but never received a reply. Initially we had set a date of November 10th by which we appreciated receivng the landlord's response.  That date came and went.  We subsequently heard rumours that the landlord is considering retirement and we therefore assume he might want to move from West Virginia where he lives to Florida. Otherwise we are in the dark.

In the meantime we have been looking around at other properties.  Through the connections of the estate agent we were referred to another estate agent who arranged to show us a property not far from here.  We met with the estate agent at ten o'clock this morning.  What ensued was a very satisfactory viewing of the property.  Coincidentally we had seen the condominium building last year when we connected (through Vacation Rental by Owner) with the landlord who lived in nearby Ormand Beach. That experience was far from satisfactory.  We found the apartment (which was on a high floor and ocean-front) dark and forbidding; and it didn't help that the landlord suffered the customary inadequacies of an amateur attempting to be a real estate agent or property manager - characterized by uncertainty, lack of specificity, inability to commit, debate about whether he or his wife had the final say, etc.

Accordingly when we reattended the building today we were encumbered by a degree of reluctance.  That hesitation was happily quickly dispelled. The estate agent was professional to a fault; she knew her material and she was sensitive to what we wanted. The building was built around 2005 which is relatively recently in the context of other buildings on Daytona Beach Shores. We particularly appreciated the high 9' ceilings since many of the older properties have lower ceilings which impart a condensed and cavernous feel if one has been accustomed to higher ceilings (such as we enjoy in our present digs).  The building also had a solid feel as it is constructed of poured concrete which contributes significantly to its soundproofing.  It reminded us of the Waldorf-Astoria Casa Marina hotel in Key West.  That hotel was constructed years ago and has the same wide breezeways leading to the apartment entrances.  The building is obviously carefully maintained, clean, landscaped and manicured. We also liked the commodious parking spot assigned to the unit.  The parking is in the main level garage which is quite intimate (there are possibly only as many as 25 spaces in that garage).  The luggage and grocery carts are highly accessible.

St Maarten

Having said that, no property is perfect for everyone on every consideration. Unlike the building we are now in, there is no grand piano in the clubroom. Next door to the building is a resort which attracts tourists.  This isn't something about which we are disgruntled (especially considering we are in a beach resort town) but it is a reminder that unlike Hilton Head Island we are not living in a secluded, gated community. The owner of this unit just closed the deal in June.  There has only been one short-term rental in July.  Our relatively long-term commitment is naturally attractive.  Compared to other units we saw earlier this week in Jupiter Beach, this unit is larger and better outfitted.  Frankly we're at a loss to know how the Juptier Beach properties are even competitive.  It appears that for every hundred miles further south one travels, the size of the apartments diminishes as the capital cost/rental fee increases. The descent along the coast also reflects a corresponding increase in ambient temperature (though we have no complaints here where today for example it was 78℉).  What we know anecdotally is that the cost of accommodation in the southern parts of Florida become comparatively prohibitive in the winter.  For example the rental of a small one-bedroom unit in Key West might easily run $6,000 - $8,000 per month.  Compared to the cost of a hotel in Key West (easily $800 per night at a respectable hotel), the rental may be a bargain but one has to question the necessity.  For our part we're quite happy to visit Key West for three days and be done with it.  Certainly the scenery, weather and food are beyond description but it would nonetheless constitute a huge indulgence for a six-month period.  I am not convinced I wouldn't have to start drinking again and smoking cigars just to complete the absorption!

As I bicycled along the beach this afternoon following our meeting this morning I reflected gravely upon the outcome. It was a big shift for us to have removed ourselves from Hilton Head Island to Florida.  While we are pleased with our accommodation here it is clearly ephemeral on all counts. This lack of assurance about lease renewal caused us to feel very vulnerable and insecure.  Though it is easy to pooh-pooh the gravity of our particular dilemma and to advance that we'll "find something" it is not as easy as one might either expect or project.  When one is considering a six-month tenure the issue has all the hallmarks of any major residential decision particularly where one hopes to be afforded the soothing privilege of renewal.  While one can accept the changeability of the landlord's plans it is certainly less than tolerable to have one's own plans ignored.  If nothing else it imparts a bad taste and engenders an unfavourable disposition.  As a result we are gratified to have approached the conclusion of today's arrangements.  The matter is nearing resolution and the repercussion is uplifting.

Last year when we informed my physician (who has a place on the Gulf Coast) that we were moving from Hilton Head Island to Daytona Beach Shores, his first comment was, "You're inching further south" or words to that effect.  I have to say that, having seen a number of other places in Florida from Jacksonville Beach to Boca Raton, I am not displeased to stay here. Progressively as we insinuate the neighbourhood we are discovering great places to shop and dine. Our narrow exercise requirements (swimming in the Ocean or pool, bicycling or lifting weights) are perfectly satisfied here. I find there is actually less traffic on the beach here than on Hilton Head Island.  The local parks are more varied than on Hilton Head Island which by design was calculated and uniform (at times spookily so).

Though we haven't as yet finalized the rental contract it appears to be all but concluded.  It is a great relief to have this arrangement essentially behind us. Our experience has taught us that it is advisable to conclude our subsequent year's sojourn by no later than December of the previous year to avoid the disappointment of prior mid-term interruptions.  We haven't yet cancelled other viewing appointments we have scheduled in the next several weeks but we fully suspect they will become redundant.  As trifling as the matter may be it is nonetheless pleasing to have it resolved.  We can get back to focussing entirely upon what we came here to do.

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