She Wants A Classical Home in Florida. And, Cheap too!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

It’s mid-September and you know how some people say they love this month the most?

Well, for me, it hearkens as the beginning of a six-month long depression, for winter is coming soon. The first couple of months (September, October) it’s not so bad. It’s more of the anticipatory sort of sadness. Oh, I know, I’m supposed to be “living in the moment.”

 

If you knew that you were going to be executed tomorrow, would you be living in the moment? Right.

 

So, please spare me the lame platitudes. Thank you. And, I’ll relieve you from this tiresome diatribe against the bitterness of winter.

But, here’s the really cool thing. I can live ANYWHERE. I could even live in Longyearbyen Norway except that’s not going to help as the sun doesn’t even rise for at least two months!

I could be one of those snow birds; except that the name, “snowbird” kind of turns me off. Ya know? I prefer to think of it as owning two homes. And, since I’m a hothouse flower, I need to stay warm. I ain’t no bird.

 

So, here are my requirements, Laurel. Not wish list. Must haves.

 

  • I need a classical home in Florida. No tacky architecture, please.
  • It should not be more than $300,000. I realize that’s tight, but see what you can do.
  • But, if it’s something really awesome in southern Florida, near the beach, I might be able to go up a little.
  • No condo. I want a house so that I can have some fruit trees.
  • I do not need to have a pool, but it’s fine if there is one as long as its in good working order.
  • Would prefer it not to be more than 2,500 sq feet, but minimum 800 sq feet.
  • The house does not need to be near the beach, but of course, I wouldn’t mind if it is.
  • I would like to be in an area that has a modicum of culture.
  • The home should be move-in ready. But, of course, if I need to paint, that’s okay.
  • Just, no hideous remuddling, like you showed the other day. I almost lost my dinner!
  • Did I say that I want classical architecture? Surely, there must be some old homes in Florida built in the classical style?
  • Therefore, nothing built after 1936.
  • I realize that there are new homes built in the classical style, but they are way beyond my budget.
  • Of course, there must be air-conditioning! After-all, it’s Florida.
  • I will supply the furniture.
  • The neighborhood should be attractive and relatively safe to live in.
  • And, within walking distance of cool shops and restaurants.
  • There should be not be a lot of other women living there, unless they are married, very young or very old. However, the place should be teaming with handsome eligible men between the ages of 48 and 65.

Thank you, Laurel.

Love and Kisses,
LB

***

 

Uhhh… anything else, LB?

 

No?

You’ve gone quiet. Did you fall asleep on me?

Ahhh… I just remembered why. Of course, LB is me. Well me, fantasizing, that is. And no worries. I wouldn’t say that I go into a six month long depression every year. However, I do feel slightly anxious as the sun starts setting earlier and earlier.

And, then there’s that first day where I have to at least wear a sweater when I go out. Then, bam as if a switch gets turned on, there are a million tiny needles slapping me in the face. That’s what winter feels like for you southern folks.

 

Just go stick your face in the freezer for five minutes; right after you’ve gotten out of a cold shower.

 

I’ve been wanting to focus on classical architecture in Florida, because at first, it sounds like an oxymoron. Well, to us in the north. Or, at least to me. Mostly what I see are huge places and condos on the beach.

While it’s true that the bulk of the architecture is not what I would deem as classical. Classical homes in Florida definitely do exist. And, that goes for both new and old homes.

So, lets begin with some gems I found. Of course, there are many more. But, I love the work of the architectural firm Fairfax and Sammons

They do a lot of work in Palm Beach, FL, but also have an office in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Noice! Below are some examples of their beautiful work in Florida.

Fairfax and Sammons - architects - classical architecture in Florida

Fabulous classical portico

Fairfax and Sammons Architects - classical home in Florida - Palm Beach 202 Onondaga Ave

This is from their instagram account. I just started following them.

 

Fairfax and Sammons - Beach 202 Onondaga Ave - classical home in FloridaAnother view of the house in Palm Beach by Fairfax and Sammons

And, it is actually on the market for a cool $6,000,000!

 

fairfax sammons portfolio interiors - classical home in Florida - Durstan Saylor Photography

One last classical beauty from Fairfax and Sammons – from a classical home in Florida

Durstan Saylor Photography

If you want to live in Palm Beach or West Palm Beach, you can’t get a dog house for $300,000.

Below, is about the best you can do.

 

916 Almeria Rd, West Palm Beach, FL 33405 - fixer upper classical home in Florida

916 Almeria Rd West Palm Beach, FL

This place has a ton of potential. And it’s only $360,000 but it’s going to take probably at least double that amount to bring it back to life. But, you can see that it was once a glorious beauty.

 

Therefore, it’s going to be a challenge I think to find a house in my price range of around $300,000. However, since “LB” is a masochist, is on a budget, we’ll have to make do.

And, it can’t be in a swamp, either.

 

But, as you may surmise, my $300,000 dream home in Florida is not going to be in Palm Beach or Coral Gables, South Beach (Miami Beach) or any of those cool, but very expensive areas.

In fact, I was not sure if I was going to be able to find anything anywhere in Florida that would also have some culture and walkable neighborhoods.

But, I did.

 

So, let’s jump in and look at the gems I found. The place that has a lot of inexpensive and classical old homes is Jacksonville, FL, on the northeastern coast of Florida.

 

Does anyone live there? If so, please let us know if it’s a nice place to live. Or, maybe it is a nice place to live, but you don’t want other people to know. haha.

 

Actually, one way to find old homes is to check out the oldest cities in Florida.

Old city. Old houses.

Below is classical house in Florida #one in Jackson, FL

 

335-w-6th-st - Jacksonville, FL - exterior

335 W 6th St. Jacksonville, FL

 

Isn’t the facade beautiful? I love the simplicity and the white paint color. The link above goes to the real estate listing, but no fair peaking, just yet.

Let’s check out the inside.

 

335-w-6th-st - Jacksonville, FL - entry

It’s thoroughly renovated, and while modernized, they did leave most of the original detailing.

I can see that they redid the kitchen and put in a new hardwood floor. Ideally, I would’ve maybe done either a checkerboard painted finish or else a different pattern. But, the color is a fairly decent match. It’s not easy to do.

 

Something I just learned recently from one of my kind Floridian readers (and there are a lot of you!) is that hardwood floors ARE very sought after as they are in the north.

 

Everyone has air-conditioning. (I hope) In fact, the humidity levels are far more constant in Florida than in the steamy hot – bone dry cold in the north. And, it’s not dry because the air is dry. It’s dry because of the heat we need to stay warm. Therefore, there isn’t the massive amount of shrinking in the winter and swelling in the summer that we have to deal with in the north.

In fact, my building is usually so hot in the winter, that even on the coldest days, I have to open the windows. Yes, I know. Sick. And not the good kind of sick.

 

335-w-6th-st - Jacksonville, FL - bedroom

One of the bedrooms from upstairs. There are four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms

What do you think? Any idea how much this lovely costs?

It’s listed at $403,000.

 

Alas, that’s a little over budget. So let’s see what else we can find in the way of classical houses in Florida.

 

418 W 7th St, Jacksonville, FL 32206 - exterior - classical homes in Florida

418 W 7th St, Jacksonville, FL

How pretty is this! My only criticism would be that given the heavy columns on the first floor, I wouldn’t have done those little Corinthian columns on the balcony. But, they look to be original in this home built in 1912, so I guess it’s just one of those charming quirks.

Love the windows!

 

418 W 7th St, Jacksonville, FL 32206 - living room

Wonderful tall ceilings

How much do you think this home is? It is listed for only $279,000!!! Hooray! I’ll take it. haha

 

2341 W Walnut St, Tampa, FL 33607 - holy ionic hot mess!

Speaking of columns. I found this home which is a bloody hot mess. Remember when we looked at the five classical orders. Apparently, whoever did this, botch job, did not look at them. The four columns should be identical. And for a plain home such as this, I would probably do a square column. However, the round columns in the center would be fine.

But, also. What is going on with that gable that’s floating above the porch roof? It just seems to me that they should connect. Something doesn’t look right. If you know, please chime in.

 

I have more classical homes, for you, in Jacksonville.

 

But, Laurel. It doesn’t look like Florida.

 

Well, yes. You are right. It is mild in the winter in Jacksonville, but it is northern Florida, so the vegetation will look more like southern Georgia.

 

1337 HUBBARD ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32206 - exterior - classical house in Florida homes

1337 Hubbard St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

Well, how about this beauty? (link above) Love the property and this one is definitely looking like Florida with that Spanish moss and palm tree in the distance.

 

1337 HUBBARD ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32206 - classical house in Florida - living roomLovely living spaces. Bright and area. And, blessedly, they haven’t massacred the place.

 

1337 HUBBARD ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32206 - classical house in Florida - sitting room

1337 HUBBARD ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32206 - classical house in Florida - kitchen
The kitchen isn’t bad. I wish the cabinets went all the way up, however. And I might’ve done the over-all design differently, but on the whole, a very nice reno.

How much is this classical house in Florida?

Listed at $415,000. It’s nearly 2,500 square feet.

 

332 E 9th St, Jacksonville, FL 32206 - exterior

332 E 9th St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

I really like this house. But, what on earth is going on with those columns? Fortunately, that can be fixed pretty easily, I think. Still, I would’ve taken care of that before the place went on the market.

 

In addition, I think a few stylish changes outside would make a big difference to potential buyers as they are walking into the house.

 

Zinc Urn Collection from Pottery Barn. Perfect compliment to a classical house in FloridaIn addition, I think it would be great to replace the stoop planters with black urns like the beauty above from Pottery Barn and currently on sale.

 

 

blue-white-ceramic-planter-extra-large - William Sonoma HomeAnd I would replace the planter by the door with a blue and white Chinoiserie planter. Maybe like one of the ones above from Williams Sonoma Home.

 

Let’s go inside and see what’s doing, as we say in New York. ;]

 

332 E 9th St Jacksonville, FL 32206 - living room classic Florida homes

This looks terrific. And, the kitchen is very nice too.

332 E 9th St Jacksonville, FL 32206 - bedroom

Love the builtin closets in this  bedroom

And, this house is only $230,000. Oh wow!

 

2869 Post St, Jacksonville, FL 32205 - exterior

2869 Post St, Jacksonville, FL 32205

And what is this charmer, here?

2869 Post St, Jacksonville, FL 32205 - classical home in Florida - living roomYes, they painted the brick!

2869 Post St, Jacksonville, FL 32205 - kitchenI think they did a very nice job with the reno.

And, it’s now listed for $270,000.

I found a listing from a year ago, before this reno. This house is a flip!

 

pretty home Jacksonville, FL - murdered inside - 1215 N Liberty St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

1215 N Liberty St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

Seeeeee? There are indeed  many classical homes in Florida. Unfortunately, for this one, the exterior is lovely, however, they murdered the interior. Don’t believe me? Click on the link. In addition, they added this hideous deck in the back. Really bad.

Which house is worse? The one above or the first cousin from this post.  Hard to say.

 

But, I found some other architectural blunders

 

 

2039 REDWING ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32206 - classical Florida homes
At first, this house looks to be quite lovely. But, the tell are the bright orange rafter tails. Like, who does that? Nobody. That’s who.

 

What the hell are rafter tails, Laurel?

Below are two beautiful examples. Sometimes they are structural and sometimes decorative.

 

 

rafter tails - intex millwork
These are decorative rafter tails by Intex Millwork. But, check out the link. Just gorgeous!

 

rafter tails colonial Farmhouse - via rka.build

And another elegant home with beautiful rafter tails by RKA Build

 

But rafter tails aside, please check out the horror-show inside.

 

I mean. It’s  Florida. Please just paint the interior white. Or, a pale, pale gray would be lovely.

However, the price is listed at only $259,900.

And, get ready. Swallow, please before scrolling down. You must.

 

oy veys iz mir!!! as my aunt Francine used to say.

I mean, the house is really cute. (bright blue accents aside) But it’s not a houseboat!

 

I have one more beautiful classical home in Jacksonville. This one is a little more money, but nothing crazy.

 

2122 POST ST, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32204 - 559k - pretty, classical home in Florida

2122 Post St, Jacksonville , FL 32204

 

 home in Florida - living roomI’d definitely paint the brick and a few other things, but all-in-all, I think that this is a very nice house.

It’s on the market for $559,000.

 

But, Laurel, isn’t there anything on or near the beach?

 

You mean southern Florida? Honestly, if you want move-in-ready in a nice neighborhood in Boca or West Palm Beach, you’re going to need at least a million.  You southern Floridians, can you please corroborate that? I really couldn’t find much. That is, in the way of a cool prewar home. I’m sure that you can find housing for less in those towns.

The best I could find in at a reasonable price in the way of classical architecture in Florida is this home in New Smyrna Beach.

 

311 Faulkner St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168 - exterior - classical homes in Florida

311 Faulkner St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168

 

New Smyrna Beach is still pretty far north, but not too far from Daytona Beach

 

11 Faulkner St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168 - living room

The interior is pretty good. Although, I do feel slightly blinded by that red sofa. And, please yank those lights out of the fan. You guys know by now that I’m not a fan of fan lights. At least, not those kinds of lights.

However, it’s only $329,000. So for a 1923 house, in good condition and close to the ocean, not bad.

 

And, closing with one last house, a craftsman beauty on 40 acres of land in Monticello, FL.

 

Monticello is about 30 minutes east of Tallahassee and very close to the Georgia border.

This is a lovely place to check out.

 

194 Murmuring Creek Rd - Monticello, FL - classical architecture in Florida

194 Murmuring Creek Rd – Monticello, FL

 

Do check out the rest of the home; it’s quite lovely and the price is only $424,900

 

Of course, one doesn’t have to buy a classical home in Florida.

 

Of course, I could also just do an Air BnB for a couple of months. And then when I come back home, I won’t have to worry about anything associated with having two homes.

Has anybody done that? Anything else we should know?

xo,

 

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated hot sales!

The Serena and Lily custom upholstery sale is ending 11.18 at 11:59PM Pacific Time.

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Christine Morris - September 29, 2019 - 12:22 PM

    Laurel,
    I have moved 23 times! I am currently living in a golf community near Phoenix and hope this is it for some time!
    I was born in Yonkers, “the city of gracious living” and my brother was born in Bronxville, so l love your comments about your apartment and neighborhood! .
    My parents moved to S Florida in 1988 to the tiny hamlet of Tequesta, between Jupiter and Hobe Sound on the intracoastal waterway, only 30 minutes from West Palm Beach airport. They bought the furnished model of a large waterfront condo (1700 sq ft) and were there for 25 years. Dad called it paradise. No bugs because it’s close to ocean with breezes. They had a 4th floor condo with views of the intracoastal waterway, Jupiter Island and the Atlantic. Mom enjoyed bumping into Perry Como and Joe Namath at the grocery store! Check out Tequesta FL.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2019 - 4:11 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Oh, I was reading comments about fireplaces, so had to reprogram my brain for a sec. I can’t believe you’ve moved
      23 times. That’s wild!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - September 25, 2019 - 5:37 PM

    We live in Boca Raton, about 2 blocks from the beach. The homes in our neighborhood are $800K and up. But, they aren’t traditional. Still … if you want to be close to the beach, it’s as good as you can get!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 25, 2019 - 6:40 PM

      Hi Robin,

      Well, close to the beach means it has to be as hurricane-proof as possible, of course. Still, hurricane-proof doesn’t mean it has to be a strange design. Not saying the homes in your neighborhood are, but too much newer construction I see, is out of whack, design-wise. That’s because they were most likely designed by builders, not architects.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Weber - September 21, 2019 - 12:33 AM

    Laurel if you move to Los Angelos California you could take ballet from our friend Keenan Kampa!
    Keenan was the first female American to attend Vaganova, then she danced principal parts for the Mariinsky for a few years. She now is married, living in LA and teaching ballet master classes. She travels to teach too!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2019 - 12:42 AM

      Hi Kathryn,

      Yes, I know of Keenan Kampa. I’m glad to hear that she has a successful career as a ballet teacher.ReplyCancel

  • Elisabeth Silvestri - September 20, 2019 - 7:40 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    You were so close to perfection when you chose Jacksonville! The place you were looking for is Amelia Island. There are some beautiful homes in the historic district and you are never more than a couple miles of the beach. It’s a little pricier, but oh so worth it!! I’ll be watching for you 😀ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2019 - 12:37 AM

      That sounds wonderful Elisabeth. Thanks for sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - September 20, 2019 - 11:46 AM

    I am sure you are aware of forsalebyowner.com, but zillow also has FSBO listings, might be worth a shot and a better price.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Donald - September 20, 2019 - 7:10 AM

    Laurel,

    If you are moving south–you are going to learn our dirty secret, spiders. And with spiders and their webs, cleaning them becomes a full time job. And if you already have a full time job, keeping spider webs off your house becomes very expensive and time consuming. With white window seals and trim you see the spider webs every day. You can pay someone to clean them off–and they are back by nightfall. You can clean the windows on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day it looks like you haven’t done it in a year.

    Is there another color, other than white to paint trim? My house is gray. It’s been a year since I painted. I just haven’t pulled the trigger on painting the trim. White trim will mean work and money to pay someone to clean second story. As much as I want my house to look pretty, within a week it will put a spot light on dirt in the form of spider webs.

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Masha - September 19, 2019 - 6:10 PM

    Oh Laurel, please come to Russia! You will have great restaurants with amazing food and service working for you almost 24/7…Hm, that’s all though and the weather is cold, I’m sorry. And bad architecture. But you will laugh so hard, I promise and people are so nice here. And ballet dancers. I know you will like them, they’re awesome!!! Btw, I don’t get if something is wrong with my computer as I’m the worst with them but I can’t open your blog or even subscribe really. My son told me that I should use VVN thing and actually it works! Maybe that’s just me, or…any thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2019 - 8:17 PM

      Hi Masha,

      I’m so sorry, but the entire country of Russia is blocked by my server because unfortunately, Russia is rife with hackers who are constantly trying to hack into my website. I shouldn’t worry, but why even have them crawling my site? Unfortunately, it keeps the good guys out too. But, yes, there is the work around, you mentioned which I’m sure the hackers use anyway. So, I’m glad that you could get in.

      I am sure that I would love Russia. Particularly St. Petersburg. Love the Mariinsky. Love the Bolshoi too, but it depends who’s dancing. I did get to see Vladimir Shklyarov dance here in 2015. INCREDIBLE!!! And, I got to see the three young ballerinas last fall who had just graduated from Vaganova. Love Maria Koreva and Maria Bulanova!

      Oh, and I got to see Evgenia Obraztsova a few years ago – who blew me out of the water with her Juliet. Absolutely beyond great!!! OH! I see that there have been some recent promotions at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky. No surprise about Eleonora Sevenard. Her star has been rising since she was about 15!ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - September 19, 2019 - 1:56 PM

    Regarding wood floors in Florida, yes you can have them depending on how the house is constructed. My grandparents built a house in Miami in 1950 and wood floors were standard at that time.

    Later, Floridians were told they could not have wood floors if their houses were built on a concrete slab, which had became the dominant foundation there.

    So if you find a house with a crawl space like my grandparent’s had, you can have wood floors. If you have a concrete slab foundation, wood floors are risky.

    I’m sure all the old houses you found have a crawl space. If there are steps going up to the front door, there’s a clue.

    I have no idea why Florida builders switched to concrete slab foundations. Newer upscale developments like Seaside, Watercolor and others on 30-A in the Panhandle all have wood floors and traditional architecture.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2019 - 2:21 PM

      Thanks so much for clarifying that Lorri. The reason most likely has to do with money. If it’s cheaper, it’s “better.” But, of course, usually not.ReplyCancel

  • Patti Rucker - September 19, 2019 - 10:31 AM

    Good morning Laurel! We are on the same page regarding the weather. While I sometimes enjoy the cooler temperatures of Fall, I usually feel a mild sense of dread as the days shorten. I’m just not a fan of these extremely cold winters we have here in Northern VA.

    Your headline was extremely intriguing to me as I have a dear friend who recently moved to Key West and I always enjoy seeing the “original” island homes when I visit her. This past summer I toured Hemingway’s home. Wow! Such a beauty! I recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet. The docents tell great stories about the history of the house too. And of course the 6 toed cats are legendary, and adorable!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2019 - 12:25 PM

      Thanks so much Patti. There are so many places I’d love to see. I just don’t want to see them alone.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - September 18, 2019 - 11:27 PM

    Laurel, last year my daughter and son-in-law bought a small house (1920s) that was painted just like the multi-color disaster. Each small room was a different strong color, with no relationship to each other. BRIGHT blue, green, teal, orangish, and an awful orange-red kitchen. Yikes. They immediately painted it all a nice Benjamin Moore white except the bedroom, which is now Stonington Gray. So much better!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - September 18, 2019 - 10:26 PM

    Hi The house you showed in your blog post are not classic Florida architecture. They look like they could easily be in the mid west. Please come to Naples, Florida where there are some really nice houses for $300.00. They are ranch style with barrel style the roofs constructed out of hurricane- proof cement. They have 10 foot ceilings with fans in every room to keep the house cool. Of course, indoor 3 1/2 inch white shutters on every window. This is not the Midwest – it’s true Florida style. Come visit us soon before all the snowbirds arrive!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:58 PM

      Hi Cindy,

      Okay, just a little misunderstanding of semantics which is perfectly understandable as I needed to look it up when I came up with the headline. And, I should’ve clarified it better.

      The post is about finding classical architecture in Florida. Yes, architecture that might be found in other places. But, it is built in the classical style. Although, that’s a little loose, as well since Victorian architecture isn’t strictly classical.

      It is not about classic Floridian architecture which is a different animal. Classical = in the classic style as set forth originally by the Greeks and Romans. Classic = well-known and/or desirable for what it is.

      So, if I say a classic hotdog, it’s not the same thing as saying the column is constructed in the classical style.

      Classic Floridian architecture is a different post. But, I’d have to study that one quite carefully first!ReplyCancel

  • Ellen Shook - September 18, 2019 - 9:30 PM

    For several years we seriously investigated such a move. However, the ever stronger hurricanes and obvious climate change has totally put us off living near a coast – any coast. Your previous commenters are spot on about transitional neighborhoods. The only problem with trying to find space in Florida for a couple of the worst months in Winter is that everyone else trying to escape a cold Winter is way ahead of you. There is nothing, unless you want to live in an RV (=sardine can) within spitting distance of your neighbor. Perhaps you could look somewhere a few hundred miles inland where the winters are mild and the summers not quite so terrible. I can guarantee that there are still areas where the living is pleasant and old homes can still be had for a reasonable amount.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - September 18, 2019 - 8:28 PM

    Oh how exciting! West coast winters are mild by Canadian standards but I still hate them! Rain, rain, rain…I know many snowbirds that used to own and have sold and are now renting. That way, they can explore different towns and not have the headache of upkeep. It feels more like a vacation when you don’t have to paint, repair, look after the yard…Mind you I do sometimes dream of having a little shack on the beach on the Yucatán peninsula.
    I’m so sad for some of those poor houses that had their souls ripped out. Sniff…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:50 PM

      Yes, it’s very sad. And, I find it especially odd that the outside looks fine, but then you walk in and it’s a different house!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - September 18, 2019 - 8:09 PM

    When I read NOICE! I snorkeled coffee out my nose! And kept laughing all day. I hope your winter is better this year.
    We retired! I escaped from Seattle last winter to the Gulf coast of Florida. Just thinking about 9 months of Seattle grey zaps my energy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:49 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      It sounds like you need to swap with Sheree in Phoenix for a month or so. Although, that won’t work. You like Seattle in the summer and she likes Phoenix in the Winter. hmmm…ReplyCancel

  • Gayle - September 18, 2019 - 8:03 PM

    Laurel,
    I live in Jacksonville, Fl in one of the many beautiful historic neighborhoods. I fell in love with the 1920s through 1930s Riverside/Avondale neighborhood, which is now under historic designation which, as you know, assures and protects the beautiful, original architecture from destruction. The neighborhoods have many enjoyable restaurants and boutique shops within walking distance. These neighbors are bordered by the St John’s River, so we do have waterfront properties. San Marco is another historic neighborhood on the other side of the river. The beach is only about 40 minutes away from the historic neighborhoods. I lived in the RAP neighborhood from 1978-2008 in a 2-story Colonial. Now I live in an adjacent neighborhood in a brick, Tudor bungalow. I’m confident you can hear my passion for this area.
    I hope you get an opportunity to visit us soon.
    GayleReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:44 PM

      I hear the love for this place from everyone who lives there. So interesting!ReplyCancel

  • Desiré Foard - September 18, 2019 - 7:10 PM

    LB, check out Lakeland, FL. Specifically Florida Southern College and surrounding area. Charm.ing. Lakes, birds, small and quaint-ish downtown. Lots of seasonal residents and college students. Nice mix. I can’t speak to the male population specifically but…ya never know.
    PS. Love your blog and wacky humor. 💕ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - September 18, 2019 - 5:57 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I love your blog!….Jacksonville is really making a name for itself as a cool arts/cultural center. Also, I have a friend who rents the same place in Florida for 3 months every winter and LOVES it. She highly recommends doing this.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:11 PM

      Hi Lauren,

      Yes, I agree. Renting is most likely the way to go. Just pack your bags and then leave it all behind.ReplyCancel

  • Heidi - September 18, 2019 - 5:04 PM

    I long for a friend who wears jeans and cute jackets! I am 56, recently retired, live in St. John’s County, am mad about design, art and decorating and looking to make a new friend with similar interests.
    To Laurel, I sent you a Zillow listing via email this morning after reading your post about possibly moving here. It occurred to me later that this could have caused you to become bombarded with a ton of real estate ads. If that happened, I am SO sorry!
    I love your wonderful blog and your taste!
    I can’t wait until the end of October, when I can finally go outside! And wear jeans and cute jackets!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:10 PM

      Hi Heidi,

      I’m totally behind on everything today. I had my hair done and I even took my laptop, but I did quickly look at the house earlier and it is fabulous. If I get real estate ads, it’s my own fault. But, so far, I’m not having an issue that I’m aware of.ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - September 18, 2019 - 4:58 PM

    Key West is fantastic. You might be surprised to find out that there are not expansive beaches there because of rockiness, but still a great place.

    You can hire a rental management company and not deal with the headaches. There are tons of these management companies in Florida.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:07 PM

      Hi Lorri,

      I did look at Key West. Most of the houses have exposed and stained wooden walls. That is when I learned about “Conch” Architecture. But, I’d white-wash those babies. I don’t care if it’s “not done.” haha I think they look better painted.ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - September 18, 2019 - 4:55 PM

    I grew up in Florida. It used to be a very reasonable state for housing, but so many places have skyrocketed.

    It’s now variable, depending on where you look.

    If you want the best beaches in Florida, look to the Panhandle, specifically Destin. The white sand is super fine 99% pure quartz washed down from the Appalachians and the water is super clear emerald. Highway 30-A has some expensive developments that are classical – Seaside, Watercolor, etc … Only downside is the area is especially hurricane prone. The houses there are expensive, but you can rent them.

    Another neat area is Fernandina Beach on the upper east coast of Florida. Lots of genuinely old houses, though probably also expensive.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:05 PM

      Hi Lorri,

      It’s so interesting that so many of you Floridians have the same advice and favorite spots.ReplyCancel

  • Siobhan - September 18, 2019 - 3:58 PM

    Come to the west coast, where they mid-westerners are! Venice,Fort Meyers, Cape Coral. Things are not only more reasonable, but you can find a lot of inventory at different price points.
    That being said, I’m not a FL fan, but do Airbnb in the San Diego area in the winter. It’s a great way to try out different neighborhoods and owners are very happy to have long(ish) term renters.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Dunn - September 18, 2019 - 3:24 PM

    That was such a fun post! For the past few years hubby and I have considered buying in the South, but have decided instead to take some trips in the winter to nice warm places. Let’s see if that warms me up enough.
    We were discouraged from buying in Florida by 3 friends. One( on the west coast) said she has to vacuum up the bugs (ICK!). The second left Florida because of hurricane fears, and the third said the traffic in the winter is so bad you can’t even get to a restaurant!
    Good Luck! Thank you, once again for the great post.
    Best, PamReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 10:03 PM

      Thanks Pam. Ick, is right to vacuuming up bugs. BTW, I got one of those sonic things you plug into the wall. We can’t hear it, but apparently it makes bugs run for the hills! I’ve had two of them for about 11 months and so far, knock on wood, not one of those hideous waterbugs. (I live by the Bronx river) They are HUUUUUUUUUUGE and their antennae, oh never mind. Every time I see one, I am sure I’m going to die.ReplyCancel

  • Candace - September 18, 2019 - 3:11 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    All of those things on your wish list pretty much match my retirement bucket list, however, I’m looking for cooler weather, as I’ve been a Southern California resident my entire life, and I am SO over the heat, traffic, and high cost of living. Is a cozy little cottage, in a walkable town, with not-too-hot and not-too-cold weather, a bit of culture, and low cost of living (so I can spend my $$ on travel) really too much to ask?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:59 PM

      Hi Candace,

      This is reminding me of “I can get if for you cheap and quick or slow and good, but I can’t do cheap, quick and good. Well, actually, I can. The one tripping me up here is low cost of living. But, one area I’m thinking of that is perhaps relatively less expensive is around Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Smithfield area. They definitely have winter, but spring does arrive by the end of March. And, winter doesn’t begin until December 21.

      But, what about northern Cali? Or, Seattle? Ugh. If it’s a nice place to live with culture, and relatively mild temps, it’s often also expensive.

      In the 70s, when I lived in Palo Alto, it was incredibly cheap. Really, it was the closest to utopia one could find. Alas… my 185/month apartment is now $5,000!ReplyCancel

  • Chris - September 18, 2019 - 3:05 PM

    Jacksonville may not be the place if you want consistent warm weather in winter. A few years ago, I had to go to Jacksonville for work for a couple of weeks with a weekend back home in between. I left my winter coat behind in DC and took my raincoat with me.
    My first morning there I had to scrape ice off my rental car’s windshield and I froze the most of the time there. It was cloudy and cool nearly every day –not the place where I would want to enjoy a warm winter.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:51 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Crazy, isn’t it? When I was in Vegas last Feb. I also froze. However, I did bring a winter coat. Well, mostly because I needed it at home. But, I needed it there too. It snowed twice! First time in ten years!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - September 18, 2019 - 3:05 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    We have been living in the lovely and quaint town of Mount Dora, Fl in Central Florida for 23 years. We love it and it was a great place to raise our children. I would highly recommend looking into it. My husband will be retiring in about a year and we have been looking for someplace to retire. I know it sounds odd because lots of people move to Mount Dora to retire. We were ready for a change and kept looking all over the country. My husband has always wanted to live on the Intercostal Waterway but we could never find the right property. We went to Amelia Island in March to check out a new “neighborhood” in Fernandina Beach. We discovered Crane Island and fell in love with it. We bought a lot that day and are getting ready to start building our dream retirement home.The town of Fernandina Beach is a lovely little town with lots of restaurants, bike paths, beaches, and old homes. It reminds me of what one would think of as Old Florida but with perks.I would say the drive to JAX is 30-60 minutes depending on where you want to go in JAX. It’s very spread out.
    If you are serious about becoming a “snowbird” then I would suggest you take some time (in the winter, of course) to visit
    some of the towns that have been suggested. There are many wonderful little towns that are Florida “secrets”. Remember…No state income taxes if you are a resident for at least 6 months of the year. We have a friend from Chicago who owns a house in Destin and rents it out during the summer. The house basically pays for itself and they don’t have to pay Illinois state income tax because they reside in Florida for at least 6 months of the year. Good luck with your house hunting!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:48 PM

      Hi Peggy,

      Thanks so much. I’m not seriously house hunting. It really is all fantasy and a ruse to discuss classical architecture in Florida. But, look at all the great info you guys are giving out! It’s better than the post!ReplyCancel

  • Louise Richardson - September 18, 2019 - 2:59 PM

    Did you know that Florida is home to some of the oldest cities in the USA? Did you happen to see St. Augustine when you were searching? St Augustine was founded in 1565. I’m sure they have a few classical homes there. 🙂 Fernandia Beach is another old Florida town. Founded in 1562. I’m not saying you should live in either place, but people don’t usually think of old colonial cities like these when they think of Florida, as you mentioned.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:46 PM

      Hi Louise,

      I wonder if there are any structures remaining from the 16th century. How cool would that be. Or even the 17th century!ReplyCancel

  • Sheree L - September 18, 2019 - 2:58 PM

    I love looking at homes for sale! Thank you for all these links 🙂 Hubby and I have been living in a suburb about 20 miles east of Phoenix, AZ for 23 years. I have that same feeling of dread in May as I anticipate the heat! July – September are especially tough for me. By September, we are so sick of it (still hovering around 100 degrees today). But the rest of the year makes up for it 🙂 We have a few more years before hubby retires, so we’re stuck for now, but I would definitely consider another house for the summer. Actually for a few years, I’d like to find an Airbnb in the French or Swiss Alps for the summer!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:44 PM

      Now, you’re talking! I lived in Cairo, Egypt for six months when I was 24. We left at the end of June. But, that month, I had never experienced temps like that. It got up to 105 during the day. It just hit you like an oven when you walked outside.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - September 18, 2019 - 2:50 PM

    Wow. You’re certainly right about the architectural work on that house by Fairfax and Sammons. It’s truly gorgeous. I clicked on their instagram, and everything they did was just beyond beautiful. Some of the work done on the houses up for sale are really strange. I can’t imagine what they were thinking,Laurel. Do you think the owners took it upon themselves to do the job without consulting a realtor or stager, or do you think it was the realtor or stager?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:42 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      With the gray, on top of gray on top of gray renos, I believe that’s a builder with a stager. They’ve drunk the HGTV kool aid and taken gray too literally. I’ve written a number of times about how to do gray the right way. Gray needs a LOT of white and it needs some black. But, unless one is doing a Gustavian Swedish or French Louis the XVI style home, it comes off looking all wrong in an early 20th century home with high ceilings and big windows.

      The house with the gray and then bright yellow, orange and teal has to have been done by someone who’s color-blind. There can be no other explanation for their selections. Well, unless they just did a kind of pin the tail on the donkey,(paint chips) blind-folded in the paint store. hahahaha – Oh, I made a graphic once of paint chips in the shape of a donkey. Oh, sorry. Can’t find it just now.ReplyCancel

  • Louise Richardson - September 18, 2019 - 2:35 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Beautiful post, as usual!
    ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - September 18, 2019 - 1:17 PM

    Dear Laurel,

    I love the Post St. house and just the right price. The front door color is perfect! I am looking for something just like this in Northern California. My budget is slightly higher, but not enough for my adopted home state which I never should have left. I obsessively troll Zillow, et. al.

    I am stuck here in Michigan!!! Recruited for a job I never should have accepted. Now retired.

    This is a beautiful post. You have increased my already high level of taste.

    Winter is Coming. grrrrrrrrrr.

    Just one more here in Michigan for me.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - September 18, 2019 - 1:06 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I don’t think I could live in the south or southeast. Even though the original homes are gorgeous, the fear of hurricanes will prevent me from relocating there. And it gets so dang hot!
    I’d rather stay in the mid-west & just take my chances with our tornadoes. And I love a good snowstorm.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 5:26 PM

      Hi Mary,

      I don’t mind a bit of winter. And yes, it can be fun to get snowed in, especially if there’s a fireplace, AND the power hasn’t gone out! But, then, by February, I’m bloody sick of it already, some years.ReplyCancel

  • Pat Blair - September 18, 2019 - 12:33 PM

    Dear Patti, your comments on Jacksonville have really hit me. I live in central Florida near the Gulf. I want to move from this area and your description of your area make me want to investigate Jacksonville in a big way. I am not fond of where I am living for many reasons and do not love the house I inherited. I want something with charm in a great area. I think the weather would be a lot better (it is oppressive here) and the real estate seems much more affordable. Another important thing to me is that where I live now it takes 4-5 hours to just drive out of the state to go anywhere else. I feel landlocked. Anyway, thank you for your insight. I have written down the particular areas you mentioned and will be investigating. Thank you. I’m excited!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Beth Strauss - September 18, 2019 - 12:26 PM

    Totally agree with the post about Jacksonville but also want to add that a number of the homes that you featured are in an area of Jacksonville that is experiencing a rebirth and so is still much in transition. Kind of a frontier for those who are are willing to give it some time.
    We live in the south bank of the St Johns river in a high rise condo at the edge of San Marco. So many wonderful cultural amenities and great foodie scene. Not previously mentioned is Amelia Island, about an hour from Jacksonville and filled with great Victorian homes, some still ready for a renovation.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 5:20 PM

      Thanks so much Susan. Seems all of those in the know are in agreement.ReplyCancel

  • Pat Blair - September 18, 2019 - 12:13 PM

    What a great post. I had no idea Jacksonville had this kind of appeal. What lovely properties (mostly) and so reasonably priced! I definitely would keep away from southern Florida because it is near the top of the list of hurricane-prone areas. I live in central Florida near the Gulf. We also are prone to problems. You do not want to live in a flood zone anywhere in Florida (inland or near the coast). I inherited my mother’s home one year ago. It is an early 60’s block ranch. It has zero architectural interest inside or out. I simply do not like it at all. I want something small with character. It is practical, well maintained, and hurricane proofed except it is not in a non-flood zone. It isn’t sea level but not far from it and I’m three houses from the intracoastal. I have been thinking long and hard about moving from here. I am on my own, retired, and would like to live somewhere I would truly love. I have never been fond of this area and the real estate pricing for what you get is nothing like the listings in this post. My house is in similar price range and cannot touch these homes. I think you’ve led me to a possible new destination. Realtor.com here I come! Patricia Atchison’s post hit all the criteria I’m looking for in a new destination.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 5:19 PM

      Love your comment Pat. And, all the best in your search for a new home that you adore.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen Byrne - September 18, 2019 - 12:08 PM

    Hi Laurel IMHO the house on W 7th St, Jacksonville—those bottom columns look like they are standard grey masonry blocks painted. I think they were added to shore up the porch structure. Pull them away and you might find the rotted remnants of the same original columns as the upper floor. The second house, 2341, with the floating whatever above the porch is most likely the remnant of whatever type of overhang was there originally. That porch, (it looks like poured cement) is an afterthought, hence the columns and roof. Reminds me of the old Sesame St song, one of these things is not like the other, one of these things doesn’t belong LOLReplyCancel

  • Marilynn - September 18, 2019 - 11:50 AM

    Florida, uuggh too many bugs and creatures that can kill you. LOLReplyCancel

  • Rhonda - September 18, 2019 - 11:26 AM

    Life in Florida… Yes, it is expensive, especially on the east coast and especially on any body of water. If you can afford to buy it, the taxes will kill you. The architecture is iffy, especially the further south you go, although you can certainly find gorgeous places, but then there is the price. There are some adorable Spanish Colonial homes though!! And there are lizards and sand and humidity and tropical plants (no hydrangeas! Sob!) And snowbirds!! But the winters are to die for!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 5:24 PM

      Hi Rhonda,

      I’ve been lucky to get to Orlando a couple of times in January for business and it was a most welcome respite. One time we went for fun about 18 years ago, in February and it was surprisingly cool and damp,(not unbearably so) but gorgeous the day we came home. bummer.ReplyCancel

  • Katy Harbin - September 18, 2019 - 11:01 AM

    Totally agree with Patricia! JAX has wonderful restaurants, a fun art scene, and two Mrs. Howard locations 😉 It’s a big town but with the smaller villages of San Marco, Riverside, etc, it feels quaint. You’re also a super short drive to Savannah, Charleston, and Amelia Island. Check out Pensacola too!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara O’Leary - September 18, 2019 - 10:47 AM

    Hi Laurel, I love your website and have utilized so manY of your great ideas in my home on the south shore of Long Island. We just bought a very basic 2 bed, 2 bath condo in the great town of Del Ray Beach Florida. Have you done any blogs on decorating a Florida condo? Any suggestions on where to go? I’m afraid I will drink the Floridian kool aid and go crazy and have everything turquoise and “beachy”! Please help us someday! Thanks. 👍ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:07 PM

      Hi Barbara,

      Actually, Serena and Lily that I’m always going on and on about does a wonderful job, IMO of decorating for coastal areas in a manner that is elegant, but still as that casual vibe appropriate for such locations. The beauty is that their furnishings can go anywhere, actually. There is so much variety.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy Kowolik - September 18, 2019 - 10:13 AM

    Hi Laurel, I enjoyed your tour of homes in Florida, but I hope you will consider coming to check out the lovely historic homes just up the coast in Savannah, GA! As a transplanted Canadian, I can sympathize with your need for warmth. Our winters are very mild and many of us enjoy being able to walk on the beach in December. Savannah has all the charm you could ever want – after all, it was gifted to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas gift by General Sherman because it was too pretty to burn down! Hope you come for a visit sometime so we can show you some warm Southern hospitality!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny Golay - September 18, 2019 - 10:13 AM

    We like the West Coast. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has a lot to offer – the arts, nature, interesting history, new riverwalk in Tampa, sun, good food, water, good weather. The little town of Dunedin is quite pleasant and not far from the Sponge Docks. Fun!ReplyCancel

  • Pam - September 18, 2019 - 9:29 AM

    If you don’t have to be near the beach, there are hundreds of medium-sized towns/small cities in central Florida with lovely old homes. Try looking in Polk County. You should definitely find something lovely in your price range.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 6:42 PM

      Hi Pam,

      I don’t need to be near the beach, but I do need to be within a 40 minute drive to a professional level adult ballet class, given at least twice a week.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - September 18, 2019 - 9:13 AM

    Laurel – Go ahead and purchase. You can then rent out some rooms to your fans (me, being one) and make some $$$. Shut, we would even stay there in the summer. I see a nice retirement account building up for you.
    Also, find a nice handsome man with an immaculate reputation to maintain the home in the summer for free room and board.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:36 PM

      Now, you’re talking, Diana. There are a lot of properties particularly in places like Key West that people buy as time-shares. I don’t know if it’s lucrative or not, but it’s probably also fraught with headaches.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - September 18, 2019 - 9:09 AM

    As a dual Florida/Georgia resident, I so enjoyed looking at all of the examples of the classical architecture you found in a state not typically known for such. While I convalesce here on my sofa from recent surgery, I would like to add that while I’m about to marry a Floridian, we have a condo in new Smyrna Beach (because for a Floridian, even Georgia is too cold in the winter. ) (oy vey)Thanks for the Shout out of NSB! Also take a look at St. Augustine and Del Ray. But, before packing your bags, consider that Fla has NO State income tax so that’s a plus, BUT hurricanes have caused insurance rates to explode as well as property taxes and do not get me started on registration of vehicles costs (geezy louiszee) so beware. Another possible concern is many Fla. towns’ zoning classifications have changed over the years and now, many wonderful old classical homes are now next door to daycare centers, pawn shops, or other non-typical neighbors. Fla. Is great (in the winter) but outside the panhandle, which Floridians don’t even consider it Florida, but L.A. (Lower Alabama) the summers are not for the faint-hearted. We love our snow birds and enjoy their company during the winter; otherwise, the place would be a ghost town. So there’s my take on the ups and downs of enjoying a classical existence in Fla.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:34 PM

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks so much. You know, in Coral Gables is the Florida chapter of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. And, feel better soon!ReplyCancel

  • kirsten - September 18, 2019 - 8:56 AM

    Try Fort Myers Beach, out on the island…but don’t tell anyone 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:30 PM

      Thank you Kirsten. As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.This comment will self-destruct in five seconds.

      hahaReplyCancel

  • DeeMiko - September 18, 2019 - 8:44 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    A month ago Honey & I moved from Naples, FL to Fernandina Beach, FL (30 mins north of Jacksonville). The area is beautiful with both lives oaks & their Spanish moss + palm trees. I will say living is northern FL is more affordable…our house & flood insurance went down 80%!!! Taxes are slightly higher, however, we’ll be paying the same amount this year for a home that is 400sf smaller. We’re already used to paying that amount so it’s a wash to us. Landscaping, new AC units, etc. all less expensive than in Naples where residents are gouged for comparable work. I gutted both houses & in both did ceramic plank floors that look like wood. When you live near the beach sand gets in your house and I worry about it scratching the wood, not to mention Labrador Retriever claws.
    You showed us some gorgeous homes today, but when we did own 2 homes we felt like we were throwing $ down the drain. So I say rent for the winter, but know that traffic will be a b*tch so rent in a walkable area close to the action. I hope you try the SnowFlower thing for at least 1 winter – I highly recommend the sunshine!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - September 18, 2019 - 8:32 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    Some beautiful homes
    And some
    HGTV’d to death…Can someone put them out of their misery?
    We’re looking for homes in the south but not as far as Florida
    the state bird is a mosquitoReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:26 PM

      Hi Susan,

      That is a very big consideration. Mosquitoes LOVE me. I mean, they LOVE ME! And, they also love to come for a second helping. I guess my blood is particularly tasty to them. :/ And, they itch so badly, the bites have been known to scab over.ReplyCancel

  • Lori Garrison - September 18, 2019 - 8:28 AM

    I live in St. Augustine (20 minutes south of Jacksonville) and have been designing here for 15 years. It is a great place to raise a family. The area you are looking in borders on questionable neighborhoods on the north and west sides of Jacksonville. The homes on the river are beautiful but as you get farther north, the prices drop due to crime. St. Johns county is full of planned communities like Nocatee, World Golf Village, and Palencia. Everything is developed by large companies doing “theme” neighborhoods. We live in Palencia and our neighborhood is beautiful. We have an interesting mix of houses that range from $250k-$2million. It allows for retirees and young families to mix. It is a challenge to find older homes because if they weren’t built well, they have been destroyed by weather! Our summer is like your winter! We dread the insane heat and humidity that lasts from June through November, but welcome the six months of winter. Love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:23 PM

      Hi Lori,

      We have the heat too, but it’s really only July and August. But, this year, it was really only about 3 weeks in July and the rest was tolerable. I think it’s always the duration of either the intense heat or cold that gets to us. It’s funny. The traffic on my blog is always the best from Jan-March when us northerners tend to hibernate. And, as soon as the weather gets nice, boom, it drops at least 20% unless some break out post does super-well. But then, once June is over, it picks back up in July and August when it’s super-hot out.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - September 18, 2019 - 8:14 AM

    Hi Laurel, I’m not a FLA fan, as I hate the heat (bad here in Atlanta, too) but I LOVE Fernandina Beach. It’s next to Amelia Island. Fab old homes, and lots of artist. It feels very “old Florida” I have a client at Amelia, so I go several times a year. Check it out 🙂 Good luck!! LizReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:18 PM

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks so much. I think there was a house on Fernandina Beach because I recall looking it up to see where it was. Posts like this are fun, because in so doing, I learn a lot about other places I’m not familiar with.ReplyCancel

  • Alex - September 18, 2019 - 8:14 AM

    You may want to check out the Tampa area- there are some gorgeous old homes there, pretty reasonably priced. The city has a nice arts scene and it’s close to the water… And several areas are very walkable!ReplyCancel

  • Rissi Cherie - September 18, 2019 - 8:04 AM

    Check out Palatka, Florida. Low taxes, old homes for less, close to St Augustine and Gainesville.ReplyCancel

  • Bobbie Battista - September 18, 2019 - 8:02 AM

    Hi Laurel! Your list of must-haves is basically ours, minus the availability of single men! We live in Savannah and I know everyone will think we’re nuts, but we’re looking to move north after 40 years in the ATL and SAV. Believe it or not the heat and humidity can be terribly oppressive down here, not to mention the BUGS – gnats, roaches the size of dinosaurs, and mosquitos galore! Plus, be prepared to evacuate every year from monster hurricanes! Having said that, and not to discourage you because Savannah may be worse than JAX, I think the idea of living in both places if you can swing it, is ideal. So many people flee back up north from down here in the summer. Or just have a list of BFFs up north who will let you come crash during the hot months! I actually long for a change in seasons and even snow! The grass is always greener, as they say! But then ask me again after I’ve spent one winter in Chicago!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:15 PM

      Hi Bobbie,

      I’m usually okay through Dec. And, actually love the cool temps in Dec. Last year T’giving was FREEZING with heavy snow cover and Xmas, relatively mild. They reversed each other. The worst month is sometimes March. One thinks it should be getting warmer, but it often isn’t, AND it’s windier and more humid. But, then one blessed day, it’ll shoot up to 70 and everyone goes nuts!!! The air is dense with endorphins! But, I guess you know all about that, too.ReplyCancel

  • Rose - September 18, 2019 - 8:02 AM

    All I know about Jacksonville is that Phoebe Howard has one of their stores there… Mrs. Howard’s (and I think Max & Company). These two stores are here in Atlanta and are fabulous! So, I’m thinking Jacksonville must be a nice place to have such nice home stores 😂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:11 PM

      Indeed! You can’t get more upscale than Pheeb’s. Been a huge fan of her and her equally talented hubs for as long as I can remember.ReplyCancel

  • Shelly - September 18, 2019 - 7:53 AM

    This blog touched me in so many ways – probably because I lived in Ft. Lauderdale for years and plan on returning at some point.The rafter tail house has so much potential and fresh paint on everything would solve most of the problems! I currently live in Milwaukee and thought the houseboat entrance might be perfect for this umm, house in my area! 🙂
    https://onmilwaukee.com/buzz/articles/boathouse.htmlReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - September 18, 2019 - 7:50 AM

    I’m from Jacksonville! Have lived there for 29 of my 35 years 🙂 For more classic/historic homes, I would target the following areas: Avondale and Riverside (both on the west side of the river) and, San Marco. Avondale is probably the priciest per square foot, but is a beautiful area. All are set along the river and feature big live oaks, walkability to shopping/restaurants/entertainment, and a great sense of community. Several of the homes you posted seem to be in Springfield. This is definitely a ‘transitioning’ area very close to the downtown…was once a bustling community but went downhill in the latter half of the 20th century. There has been lots of regentrifying in the last decade or so, and I believe there were/are economic incentives in place to encourage development and growth, but there are still some rough parts, so prices are pretty affordable compared to the other areas I listed. As a native, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable living in that area yet *personally*, but plenty of others do it and love it.

    Jacksonville, IMO, is one of the formerly best-kept secrets in FL. I say formerly best-kept, b/c the area has been seeing explosive growth. Moderate cost of living, climate, location in FL means no state income tax. We are far enough north to have 3 seasons (I say 3 b/c our winter is basically everyone else’s fall 🙂 Great arts/culture scene, very good shopping and dining, world-class sporting events, beautiful beaches, tons of golf, kayaking and other outdoor activities, nice airport. I also think Jacksonville is a very easy place to meet people and get involved; we are used to newcomers and by and large we’re pretty friendly. There are other southern cities that I think are a bit tougher to break into socially, but I don’t find that to be the case in Jax.

    I could go on, but this is already approaching novella status! Please feel free to email me or ask if you have more questions!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 1:05 PM

      Thank you so much Elizabeth! Everybody is friendly compared to New Yorkers. Honestly.;] If you smile and say “hi” to somebody as you’re passing them on the street, they cross over to the other side. lolReplyCancel

  • Ani Yessaillian - September 18, 2019 - 7:31 AM

    I’ll go in with you 50/50 on the house in West Palm 🙂

    Love that house!ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - September 18, 2019 - 7:31 AM

    A bit of advice from a former NJ native now happily living in Florida. Do rent for a season in the city where you intend to buy to familiarize yourself with the area. Do check out FL homeowners insurance as most policies mandate high deductibles ($20K or more) especially for hurricane related damage. Do not overlook 55 and older communities (no eye rolling here, Laurel!), many offer great amenities and social activities. No, they won’t be pre 1937 but maybe you can work around that. Know that many of the cottages in West Palm Beach have stand alone rental units in the rear- great to rent for a season or great to buy such a property and have the rental income to help with expenses. Know that Real Estate closings in FL are generally done by the title company and not an attorney’s office and that all FL realtors use pre-approved (by the state and FL Board of Realtors) purchase contracts so while you can certainly have an attorney review, the review is unlikely to turn up any concerns. Know that you can qualify for FL residency by spending 6 months and 1 day in Florida, registering to vote there, getting a FL drivers license AND FL has no state income tax! Many northerners who buy in FL with the intent of using the home for the winter months usually start expanding the amount of time they spend there until they morph into spending 9 months in FL each year just escaping somewhere cooler for the July-September summers.ReplyCancel

  • 3yearsold - September 18, 2019 - 6:53 AM

    I have a very dumb question and it’s completely out of topic. In my imagination interior designers and architects create a house from scratch and mix different periods and styles according to their imagination. I mean in a tasteful way. But in reality I see that architects/ designers take an existing houses and make them historically correct and that’s all? Designers work with vendors and just buying furniture from them? In my imagination… I thought that interior designer make drawings of desired furniture and then make it a reality. Does anyone you know or ever heard of maybe…work like that?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:54 AM

      That’s not a dumb question at all, but also not an easy one to answer and I actually have to run out now. But, I’ll be back. There are a lot of wonderful comments today. I’ll try to circle back to this later.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Atchison - September 18, 2019 - 6:44 AM

    Laurel to answer your question, the Jacksonville area is a fabulous place to live. It is a working town with ports,industry and many military bases (think jobs) and 42 miles of beach. Yep, a lot of beach that people actually live on, and I mean right on the beach. Plus an added bonus is the miles of Jacksonville river front property and intercoastal which offers kayaking, birding, fishing and just a lot of porch living with gorgeous views.
    Jax is old and historic and has fantastic architecture and garbage new build all in a big giant sprawling city. The sun shines every day and hurricanes tend to bypass us as we are a good 50 miles inland compared to North Carolina. The oldest city in the USA, St Augustine, is here on the first coast, a quick half hour drive for amazing sight seeing and a fun day trip of great food and shopping. We have seasons (okay a REALLY short winter) but enough so we all wear jeans with cute jackets and decorate for the holidays. But overall the sea breezes keep the nasty weather at bay and it is hot but not as brutal as south or central FL and the city feels like a gentle, sweet southern city combined with a beach port. It is a great place to be. There are stunning homes in Ponte Vedra and the old charm in the Avalon, Riverside, San Marco area can’t be beat. You can find an old gem of a house here if you look and I promise you, a few days in this beautiful town with our amazing sea birds and active lifestyle, and you will pack your bags and never go back to the cold (except to vacation). Come visit JAX. It is worth the trip. PattiReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:50 AM

      Hi Patti,

      Do you work for the Jacksonville department of tourism? lol – What a glowing review of your beloved town!ReplyCancel

  • L - September 18, 2019 - 6:42 AM

    Please come to LA, Laurel! There’s no cold winter here. Could you make the same post about LA? That would be so much fun;]ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:48 AM

      Hi L,

      You mean Louisiana, not Los Angeles, right? I would love to go to Nola. I’m sure I would love it!ReplyCancel

  • marion jordan - September 18, 2019 - 6:22 AM

    Hi Laurel, I’m from Australia. I do enjoy your site. Your homes are so different to what we have here down under. Having said that you do know what you’re talking about. I do enjoy how you look at decorating. Your take on it, so to speak. Keep up the good work. Well don e you. Marion.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Fowler - September 18, 2019 - 5:45 AM

    What sweet looking homes! And I really love the commentary on the beauties left intact, as well as the horrible re-dos. What a shame when people completely disregard original, charming interiors. I understand the depression over winter coming, especially after what we all went through last year. Here in Illinois we had four inches of ice everywhere for months. We went to Charleston for four nights in February, and it was heaven. I didn’t want to come home. I think the Airbnb is a great idea for you if you aren’t really going to move. Or just to give you a taste–it might help you decide what to do. Take care!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2019 - 9:40 AM

      Hi Connie,

      You know, some people actually LIKE the snow, ice and snot freezing (I call it for obvious reasons), frigid weather. I wish I was one of them. But, but by January 1, I’ve had quite enough already and yet, there’s still at three more months of it to get through.ReplyCancel