Friday, August 12, 2016

Handy GPS Addresses for your Visit to Sarasota

Gone are the days when a host can suggest activity destinations to house guests by describing the routes. Now that most visitors use their GPS to discover our beaches and attractions, the easiest way to orient them is to provide local addresses that they can enter into their smart phones. And away they'll go!

Here's a selection of handy GPS locations for exploring Sarasota:

Downtown Sarasota: Mattison's City Grille, 1 Lemon Avenue, Sarasota 34236
There are lots of international restaurants on Main Street, especially between Palm Avenue and Orange Avenue. Whole Foods Market is around the corner from Mattison's.

Burns Square: 556 S Pineapple Ave, Sarasota 34236
Charming shopping and dining district, with Burns Court art cinema. Just two blocks south of downtown Sarasota

Siesta Key Village: 5124 Ocean Boulevard, Sarasota 34242  

(Sun Garden Cafe, Village Cafe, or The Broken Egg are good for breakfast; also, farmers market on Sundays 9-1, with artisans, a little food, live music)

Southside Village: 1859 Hillview Street, Sarasota 34239

Restaurants & shops, including Gateway to India, Chutney's, Fandango, Pacific Rim, MoJo's, Veronica Fish & Oyster, Libby's, Morton's Gourmet Market, The Serving Spoon, Knick's Tavern, and moreNote: Fandango sometimes has live music.

Sarasota Bayfront: Marina Jack restaurant, 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota 34236

the Blue Sunshine Patio Grille (first floor, in back of
restaurant) is a great place to relax and watch sunset over the
bayfront; live music every afternoon and evening

St Armands Circle/Lido Key: 300 Madison Drive, Sarasota FL 34236

many restaurants and shops, with easy access to the beach

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: What about the Dog(s)?

When I got my wonderful dog back recently from "doggie camp" (Just4Paws Pet Resort) after my short trip to New York, I asked "camp" co-director Marcus Nunn if business was slowing down at the boarding kennel since we're entering off-season here in Sarasota. "No, actually, we're quite full right now. We have a number of long-term guests staying with us."

I asked Marcus to clarify the circumstances that might require long-term boarding. It turns out that there are two categories of dog owners I hadn't thought about before:

Some visitors drive or fly their dogs down to Sarasota, but can't have them at the home or condo they're renting here. So they board them at Just4Paws Pet Resort, where they are given several daily walks, have their own indoor and outdoor private spaces, and can enjoy "life at the farm" around other pooches, in view of the magnificent peacocks that patrol the outer grounds. An added bonus is that the pet owners can visit their pooches or cats at "camp", so they don't have to miss them entirely while they're in boarding.
Dogs on a walk at Just4Paws Pet Resort, Sarasota FL

The other group includes Boomers renting temporary quarters while they build their new home here. If they're not allowed to have pets in the temporary rental, they can board them at Just4Paws. 

Another version of this relocation scenario is that Boomers relocating to Sarasota may need to transport their pet(s) to Sarasota before the family actually moves down here. A long-term temporary boarding situation assures them that their dog(s)--or cat(s)-- will be well cared for until they can resettle permanently.

Interestingly, there are also pet owners who choose to take their furry companions with them when they travel to Sarasota, even if they can't keep them in their rental condo, because they have more confidence in Marcus and Moya Nunn at Just4Paws than they do in the kennels up north where they have their regular home.

What to do with the pooch or the cat is a very important logistical concern for anyone visiting or relocating to Sarasota. Luckily, because this is a resort area with experience in handling such complicated moves, there are options that can reassure Boomers and their pets.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Planning Now for an Independent Tomorrow

From the time I entered college, and for the next 30 years, I periodically visited my great-aunt Caroline in her apartment in New York City. She was opinionated, active and independent, was a volunteer English teacher to foreign-born high school students, and took the subway alone until she was 90 years old, despite poor vision and hearing. 

From my visits with Caroline I learned about how to structure my living situation to keep me independent as long as I could be. 

For instance, she said, "Always make sure your house or apartment has two bedrooms and two baths, so you can get live-in help when you need it." Such a moment seemed very far in the distant future to me, then, but I filed it away and went on with my young life.

Now that I'm moving towards later phases of life, anticipating the possibility of reaching the age of my parents' generation, I think more about how to take care of my current and future needs. . 

While there are lots of well-run, socially engaging, supportive retirement home options out there, along with being extremely expensive, living in one of them would deprive me of most of the things that are important to me in my daily life. 

Here are some of the things that matter to me: 

  • the company of my dog 
  • enough space for him to play and to be walked where he can interact with friendly neighbors 
  • visual and tactile access to the earth and to plants and native critters like squirrels, geckos, birds and butterflies 
  • a yard with space for small gardens that I can tend and enjoy
  • easy access to outdoor space throughout the day and evening
  • visual access to other people's lives and dogs as they pass by my window 
  • daily chats with neighbors who enjoy seeing my dog and me walk by 
  • walking access to basic shopping and dining, including the opportunity for casual discussions with the people who work there 
  • going out for a couple of hours each night to enjoy food and live music in the midst of other people
  • a managably sized house that I can maintain myself, with occasional help from a handyman and lawn service
Recognizing that I can't find most of these things at a retirement home, and that I can't afford to be in one anyway, last year I implemented phase one of my own plan to age in place, to create my own NORC (naturally occurring retirement community): 

With the help of a versatile handyman, I created a separate guest suite in my small house. For now, it provides me with needed income to keep up with mortgage payments, as I host visitors to my city for short stays. Longer-term, though, it will allow me to have live-in aides if I reach a point where I can't do all my daily support tasks myself. 

A recent outpatient surgery provided me with the opportunity to try phase two of my NORC plan. Because I'd be returning home right after coming out of general anesthesia, I needed someone to pick me up from the surgery center and drive me the few blocks to my house. I decided to ask a neighbor I knew only from walking my dog past his house. Over the years, we'd become friendly, and it was clear that we shared similar values about everyday life. I decided that this was a good time to suggest an exchange of reliability: I'd be here for him if he ever needed help, and would be grateful if he'd help me now. He said he'd be happy to be my post-surgery ride home. 

Because I didn't have anyone at home who could ensure my safety after I returned post-anesthesia, the surgery center said that I had to hire home aides to stay with me for 24 hours. Here was phase three of my NORC plan: I called a local home aide service and arranged for 3 shifts of CNA companions to stay with me. This reminded me of Aunt Caroline who had regular aides to help her with household tasks when she was living alone in her New York apartment. Now, apparently, it was my turn to add this layer to my own support system.

Since I'd already created my guest suite, I was able to accommodate the aides who stayed with me. It never occurred to me when I finished the suite last year that I'd get a chance to use it for this purpose so soon, but it turned out to be perfect timing, and it worked smoothly.

Now, as the scent of spring flowers starts to float through my neighborhood, I'm grateful to be living in my own little house, with my dog in the garden, sand under my feet in the yard, neighbors nearby, and access to the everyday delights that are important to me. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Natural Food Restaurants in Sarasota

If you're looking for healthy natural food restaurant menus in Sarasota, with an emphasis on vegetarian choices, check out these local rating and review sites:

Keep in mind, too, that Sarasota is known for its international cuisine options. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican, and other specialty restaurants usually have many vegetarian options on the menu.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Notary Services: Processing the Documents of Life

There are times in life when we need documents witnessed or notarized in order to proceed with important events. Sometimes you can take care of this detail at your local bank or copy shop, as long as there's a notary on staff. 

But on other occasions, you'll need to find a professional document processing service to provide the witnessing and notary required.

Here are two examples: 

Recently I had to get a mortgage document notarized. Conveniently, I was able to bring it to my local bank, where my account manager notarized it for me as a customer-courtesy. Easy.

But, when I updated my will a few days later, I found out that neither the bank nor the local copy shop would notarize wills. 

Luckily, I'd saved the contact information for a notary service I'd used a few years ago when the same situation came up. For a very reasonable fee, Jennifer Moore, of, notarized my documents and served as a witness, too. 

While there, I learned that Jennifer's original business was--and still includes--officiating at weddings (and renewal ceremonies) in the Sarasota area. She has created happy marriage ceremonies for hundreds of couples over the last 20 years: "My specialty is working with couples to start a 'ceremony dialogue', listening to what is questioned or desired, and then, delivering those sentiments in a heartfelt and professional manner on their wedding day!"

Interestingly, her notary services have become useful again and again over the years for some of the same couples as they move through life's important events. "It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to realize that I can bring calm direction to times of loss as well as to occasions of joy," Jennifer reflects.

While law firms also provide document processing services, using a notary service is much less expensive, if you have a legal document that's already been written by professionals.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Organic Produce in Sarasota

Two great resources for fresh local organic produce in Sarasota are:
  • Worden Farm - huge booth on State Street at the Sarasota Farmers Market, every Saturday from 7AM - 1PM
  • Jessica's Farmstand4180 47th St, Sarasota, FL 34235, (941) 358-3895; hours: Fridays: 12PM-7:30PM, Saturdays: 8AM - 5PM, Sundays: 11AM-5PM. Sarasota's original organic farm.

Fish & Seafood Restaurants in Sarasota

Recently a few visitors to Sarasota have asked me where they can enjoy a good meal of seafood. 

Here's a selection of fish and seafood restaurants in Sarasota. If you try each one of them, it's a good way to experience various parts of town!

  • Downtown: Barnacle Bill's
  • Bayfront: Marina Jack's
  • Burns Square: Owen's Fish Camp
  • Siesta Key Village: S.K.O.B., Hub Baja Grill, Aaron's Fish Camp, The Lobster Pot
  • Tamiami Trail: Walt's Fish Market
  • St Armand's Circle: Crab & Fin
  • Casey Key: Casey Key Fish House

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Neighborhoods Close to Downtown

Sarasota is not a "walk everywhere" town--it's too spread out--but there are neighborhoods you can live in that give you easy access to shopping and close enough proximity to downtown and the beaches. 

I think of Sarasota as a city of "pods": Each pod, or district, is walkable, but you need a car, or bus, to get from pod to pod.

While houses and condos in downtown, Burns Square, Gulfstream Drive and Laurel Park can be prohibitively expensive, the following "east of the Trail" neighborhoods offer affordability and access to local shopping:
  • Arlington Park
  • Alta Vista  
  • Paver Park
  • Gardens of Ringling Park
  • Tamaron
  • Riverwood Park
  • Phillippi Gardens
Consider adding them to your drive-around list when shopping for property to buy in Sarasota.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Natural Foods in Sarasota

  • 1451 1st St at Central Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236
Super Value Nutrition

  • 4892 S.Tamiami Trail, The Landings, Sarasota FL 34231
  • 5842 Bee Ridge Rd near Cattlemen Rd, Sarasota FL 34233
Trader Joe's (technically, a "specialty retail grocery store", rather than a health food store, Trader Joe's offers many healthful shopping options and the best prices in town to judge by its instant popularity)
  • 4101 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL 34231

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Home Health Services

You may be thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, I'm not ready for home health aides yet. I'm a healthy Boomer." Well, you may need "a little help from your friends" sooner than you think. As the saying goes, "Stuff happens."

For instance, if you live alone in Sarasota and need to get outpatient surgery, who's going to pick you up from the surgery center? Who's going to be at home to check on your post-anesthesia-wooziness or temporary physical weakness? 

Maybe you have friends or neighbors who can be there for you, but if you're new to town, maybe you don't.

Here's a handy list of local service providers, should you need a little bit of temporary assistance:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

New Otters Exhibit at Mote Marine Aquarium

I remember laughing and marveling at the smart and funny otters showing off to visitors at the Staten Island Museum when I was a child. 

Now those clever, water-loving mammals are back, in a new, expansive and naturalistic exhibit at Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota FL. These otters are rescues, all raised and trained by humans. 

Pippi, the otter, at Mote Marine Aquarium, Sarasota FL
“Otters & Their Waters” is open during normal hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week, at Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, Fla. The exhibit will be located at Mote’s Ann and Alfred Goldstein Marine Mammal Research and Rehabilitation Center. Purchase tickets to visit Huck, Jane and Pippi here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Recommended Local Service Providers

A friend from out-of-state recently bought her first house in Sarasota. As she finishes up business in her current location and gets ready to move across the country, I've been recalling my own learning curve about how to manage my daily life and property when I bought my house here years ago.

I didn't realize at the time how many local service providers make up the "village" that helps us keep everything going. 

To give my friend a head start, I put together this list of professionals that I can recommend from my own experience. Maybe you'll find it helpful, too. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Families Moving to Sarasota: Professional Networking

There are numerous networking groups in Sarasota FL that can ease the relocation process for young professionals moving to Sarasota. It's a good way to find out who's doing what in town., to share stories, goals and leads, and to find people to share activities with. 

Here's a sampling to check out: 

Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG) - sponsored by the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

Meetup Groups:

Families Moving to Sarasota: Neighborhoods with Top Rated Schools

Contrary to popular impression, Sarasota is home to many families with school-age children, as well as to well-heeled snowbirds and Boomer retirees. This small-town Gulf city combines great outdoor weather that allows kids to play outside most days and neighborhoods full of families, along with many public and private school options.

A handy Web site for evaluating local schools by rating is Next to each school listing and rating is a link for searching for homes for sale in that neighborhood, as well as a link to compare up to four different schools.

When I moved into my neighborhood more than a decade ago, most of the existing older houses were occupied by seniors, and I rarely saw children. Now, many of those same homes are occupied by parents with children, and even some of the new, upscale homes being built here are purchased by young families.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: How to be a Defensive Home Buyer

You may be sure of what your intention is for your move to Sarasota. And now you're ready for the fun part: looking for a house or condo. Before you make any commitments, I'd like to offer my opinion about market conditions here and how to be perhaps more defensive in your approach.

Here in Sarasota, it's becoming (already is?) a seller's market. Houses in my neighborhood, whether at the $169K or +$400K range, are selling quickly . . . as, in a week. We're on the ascendant side of a boom, with lots of new large condos, hotels, going up downtown, as well as many tear-downs-with-new-houses and remodels in the neighborhoods. 

So, hopefully, prices will continue to rise. However, one never knows when ascent will shift to descent. So many variables can conspire--local, national, international--as we saw in the boom-bust of 2000-2012.

Unless you're in the 1%, or you're a cash buyer, if you pay top-dollar now for a house, and you decide for whatever reason(s) that you don't want to be here long-term, and if market conditions shift, you risk being stuck with property that you can't afford to sell, thus limiting your options for moving elsewhere, and threatening your credit rating if you short-sell.

I noticed last night on Zillow that there are still quite a lot of properties listed as foreclosures or preforeclosures. You might consider looking at foreclosures in the various neighborhoods you're targeting. At least then you may find a below-market property, so you have profit potential if/when you decide to sell it.

However high this market rises--and with Boomer demand, it looks like no end in sight for awhile--some houses will never resell for what the current owner paid now. An extreme example is a house in an east-of-the-Trail neighborhood that sold in August for $620K, while Zillow values it at $384K. (I know Zillow isn't perfect, but I use it for illustration purposes.)

If I'm wrong, and the high prices endure, that will be great for me, you, and everyone else. But there's no downside to keeping more of your money liquid and only spending what you absolutely need on the cute little cottage or airy condo you dream of. Much easier to upsize later than to be unable to downsize.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Meeting People when You're New in Town

Sarasota folks tend to be down-to-earth and genuine. Not everyone, but in general that's the laid-back, easy-going vibe in this small town city on the Gulf Coast of Florida. And they smile and say "hello" when you pass them walking down the street. Who wouldn't smile when surrounded by all this daily beauty?

Remember, too, that you're not alone. Most people who live here now came from some place else. So they tend to be friendly to other recent newcomers.

Still, when you're new in town, it can feel isolating and lonely. Here are some suggestions for connecting with other humans in Sarasota:

Sarasota Newcomers Club

Women With Moxie

Meetup groups

Senior Friendship Center - lots of activities, including lunchtime dancing to a live band, yoga and tai chi classes, inexpensive lunch, low-cost medical and dental services, etc. Ages range from Boomer to older.

Live Music in Sarasota - Every night of the week--and, thankfully, that means from 7-10PM for many venues--you can enjoy live music by incredibly talented local and nationally touring musicians at informal small restaurants, bars, and clubs. For daily calendar of venues and performers, go to For suggestions about musicians you may enjoy, go to Don't be intimidated about showing up on your own. You'll find that most places here include a friendly mix of all ages. Mattison's City Grille, the Blue Rooster, J.R.'s Old Packinghouse Cafe, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Marina Jack's Bayside Bar and Restaurant are some of the best places to be impressed, eat well, and have fun.

Neighborhood Associations - They typically meet once a month. There's also a Coaltion of City Neighborhood Associations

Animal Shelters & Rescues

Monday, January 18, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: House Selection & Maintenance Tips

Whenever you're buying a home, you need to do your own due diligence, but you may not know about these quirky features of Sarasota, especially if you're moving from a different eco-system:

1) For any house you're interested in, make sure to check its position on the Sarasota Flood Map. There are inland waterways that wind through neighborhoods in Sarasota, sometimes diagonally. One part of the street has houses that are required to carry flood insurance, and on the other part of the street they don't have to get flood insurance. All homeowners are required to carry 2 policies: Wind and Property. Flood insurance is only required if you're in a flood zone.

2) Anywhere there's fresh water--inland waterways, ponds, and lakes--there can be alligators. Especially if you have pets, you won't want them running off-leash near fresh water, and you'll need high fencing around your property to protect them. Buying a house in an upscale, gated community doesn't protect you from wildlife such as alligators, so do your homework on this one.

3) If you want to check the crime statistics for a particular neighborhood, you can search for incidents at this CrimeMapping site.

4) Drive by properties you're interested in right after a rain storm, to see if and where water collects in the yard and driveway. You won't want to wear waders to get into or out of your car every time we get a summer storm.

5) Some residential streets have a sidewalk on one side of the street only. If you want more privacy, choose a house on the side without a sidewalk, so you don't have to deal with pedestrians--and pets--walking in front of your house.

6) Drive-by in the evening and on weekends, so you can get a sense of the neighbors and neighborhood. 

7) This handy Sarasota Neighborhood Map shows you the names and locations of designated neighborhoods and parks in the City of Sarasota. It's a good way to narrow down the neighborhoods that are close to the shopping and daily activities you plan to do.

8) Make sure to require a home inspection before you buy a house. Make sure to check for termites, along with typical structural and mechanical issues.

9) If you're planning to make Sarasota your "primary residence", you're eligible for a Homestead Exemption, which can greatly reduce the taxable value of your house and limits how much your taxes can increase per year. More info at the Property Appraiser Web site.

10) Start looking for reliable local service providers that you will need for maintaining your Sarasota home.

For example: One year shortly after I bought my house here, I was away for the summer, and a surprise storm blew over a tall palm tree that took down part of my fence, pulled out an electric line, and yanked off the fascia on my roof. My house-checker had to scramble to find a tree trimmer to cut and haul away the felled tree, the power company to restore electricity so my house wouldn't get mold from lack of A/C, a handyman to fix the roof fascia so bugs, critters and water wouldn't get in, and to fix the fence. That taught me to have a list in place, so I can administrate repairs whether I'm here or out of town.

For your convenience, I've included photo-links on the right side of this blog to local Sarasota service businesses that I've found reasonable and professional to work with. (I list them as a courtesy. Not paid ads.)

Minimally, you'll need a lawn service, a house-checker, and a pest control company if you plan to be away for extended periods of time, especially during storm season (May 31 - Nov 30).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: How to Choose a Neighborhood

If you're a Boomer looking to relocate to Sarasota, you may have spent time here on vacation or visiting relatives. And you've likely looked longingly at the listing photos in the windows of local real estate offices, dreaming of retiring to "Paradise", as we like to think of this town. 

If you've actually looked at available houses or condos with a realtor, you probably didn't know anything about the lifestyle consequences of living in any of the neighborhoods they took you to. They sell houses, and you dutifully checked out the rooms, features, yard and street of each one. 

But that's not a smart way to choose a neighborhood in Sarasota. You're not only choosing a house when you move here, you're choosing a lifestyle.

Sarasota is a city of designated neighborhoods. There's even a "Neighborhood Plan" that sets out Sarasota's goals for quality of life and neighborhood associations. (For instance, "Where urban amenities meet small-town living.") 

Each neighborhood has a name, with a welcome sign greeting you when you enter it. This is true of "developments" as well as old neighborhoods. And each one has its particular character and adjacency to shopping, nightlife (or not), dining, and access to other activity areas you need.

So it's a good idea to think about what your Sarasota lifestyle will entail. Are you a golfer? Will you be socializing at a country club? Are you a beach person? Do you mind waiting for the bridges to go up and down during Season when boats need to pass through? Will you be dining out several times a week? Is nightlife--live music, social settings--important to you? Are you a car-person or a walking-person? Would you like to be able to walk to nearby shopping and entertainment? Do you want acreage, with room for pets or livestock?

I'll give you a personal example: When I realized I should buy a house in Sarasota instead of renting seasonally, I thought I'd only consider living on Siesta Key. It's beautiful, laid-back, an easy walk to everything in the village, with plenty of live music and casual dining. 

But, putting aside the fact that I couldn't afford to buy a house on Siesta at that point, I realized, after renting on the Key for several seasons, that living here full-time, with business and personal activities located on the mainland, I didn't really want to have to drive on and off the Key all the time. And I didn't want to worry about summer storms on a barrier island. 

So I widened my search, and I looked at various neighborhoods, both with a realtor, and by driving around myself. As I did that, I discovered areas I never knew existed when I was so focused on living on Siesta Key. I also took note of the routes I'd be driving to get to and from the activities that make up my lifestyle. 

For instance, the neighborhood called Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores, which has interesting and eclectic house styles and runs alongside the Bay, just south of the Ringling Museum area, is charming and private in a way I found appealing. But the only way to drive downtown from Indian Beach is via Tamiami Trail (US-41), and I just didn't want that to be my daily, or multi-daily, commute. I prefer quieter back roads. And everything I want access to is located south of Indian Beach: downtown Sarasota, St Armands Circle, Siesta Key, Gulf Gate, and points east. It's a beautiful neighborhood, but it wouldn't work for me.

However, if New College of Florida, the Ringling Museum, Asolo Theater, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, or access to Bradenton are relevant to your lifestyle, Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores might be a perfect fit.

As it turned out, there are neighborhoods "East of the Trail"--i.e., east of Tamiami Trail--that were more affordable than "West of the Trail" and offer easy access to a wide swath of Sarasota, from the Bay all the way east to I-75. For me, being East of the Trail was a good fit. And I wouldn't have discovered it if I hadn't learned to search for a house based on the neighborhood character and location that suits my lifestyle.

TIP: It's also helpful to find out if the neighborhood you're considering is "deed restricted" or not. That will affect your options when it comes to how you present your property or make changes to its appearance.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Traffic in Sarasota: How to Get There with Less Stress

The main north-south arterial road in Sarasota is Tamiami Trail (US-41). It's convenient, because it offers easy access to many shops and service businesses. It's tiresome, because it can be busy, especially during season, and not very scenic, even though it's been designated a "Scenic Highway". Well, that's certainly true where it becomes Mound Street as it winds along the Sarasota Bayfront. It's breathtaking there. 

But from its intersection at Hwy 301, to Central Sarasota Parkway and further south, it's mostly commercial.

I like to avoid driving on 41, other than crossing it to get to the other side. And, fortunately, there are lots of parallel roads that will get you there more pleasantly. 

For instance, if you're heading from downtown Sarasota to Siesta Key, you can take Orange Avenue or Osprey Avenue south from Mound Street. (Orange Avenue actually merges with Osprey Avenue at Cunliff Lane/Boyce Street). Turn right from Osprey onto Siesta Drive for a beautiful drive over the Siesta Bridge to Bay Island and Siesta Key.

Or if you need to do some shopping at Gulf Gate or Sarasota Pavilion (intersection of Stickney Rd/Clark Rd and 41), you can head south on Shade Avenue. After the intersection at Bee Ridge Road, continue south until you have to make a right turn, go one block, then turn left onto Riverwood, through a pretty neighborhood, which takes you to Proctor Avenue. Right on Proctor takes you across 41 to the Landings Shopping Center or left on 41 to continue south on 41 to Gulf Gate & Sarasota Pavilion.

Tuttle Avenue, which becomes Swift Rd south of Bee Ridge Rd, is another handy way to parallel and avoid 41, although Tuttle can be busy in one or the other direction during rush hours.

Bahia Vista Street is a nice way to go west towards downtown. After you cross 41, on your way towards Osprey Avenue, it takes you through a beautiful old neighborhood called Avondale.

For another example, if you're heading to Walmart and Home Depot on Cattlemen, the busy-road route is Bee Ridge Road, which I also like to avoid. Instead, you can take Webber Road or Bahia Vista east to Cattlemen Road, then turn right on Cattlemen to get to those stores.

Taking the alternate roads gets you there in the same amount of time. It's just that you'll be more relaxed when you get there, and hopefully nourished by the leafy scenery on the way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: A Complicated Real Estate Dance

Many Boomers dream of relocating to the Sarasota area when they retire.
Sometimes they're ready now to leave their "up-north" lives behind and reside here full-time. Others look to buy a Sarasota home they can rent out for part of the year and occupy for a few weeks or months, until they're fully retired or done with caring for elderly parents. 

What's true for all of them is that each situation is different and will require a customized plan for making their dream come true. And it really helps to have knowledgeable professionals at hand to help them execute what can be a complicated dance of selling and buying in different states.

For instance, Jane and Jack (names changed) raised their children during many happy years living in a spacious suburban New Jersey house. Now that the kids are grown and living independently, and Jack is nearing retirement in a few years, the couple visualize splitting their year between the two states where they can enjoy the outdoor lifestyle they prefer: Florida and Colorado.

However, during the past two years, they've had to prioritize helping both of their elderly mothers transition from independent living to assisted care. During this time, they found a condo nearby that they can move into, so they can realize a profit now from selling their existing large home, and simplify their maintenance costs and chores. 

But while they were waiting for their new condo to be ready, they had to temporarily move into Jack's late parents' house. This also gave them the opportunity to prepare that house for sale.

Jack will be retiring in about a year, so he and Jane will soon begin looking for a golf community home in Sarasota County. 

In order to actually move here, though, they'll need to carefully time the sale of their New Jersey condo with the closing on their new Sarasota house. While they can choose a New Jersey broker for the sale and a Florida broker for the purchase, their relocation will be smoother if they use a real estate broker here in Sarasota who already has a referring relationship in place with a coordinating New Jersey broker. 

According to Mooshi Chapel, licensed Broker Associate with Keller-Williams Real Estate in Sarasota, "I pre-qualify the brokers I use for out-of-state transactions, so I can be sure they'll provide my clients with the same level of attention and follow-up they are accustomed to in working with my team." Chapel confirms, too, that every buyer has a different set of logistical challenges to tackle in making their new Sarasota life a reality.

While there seem to be many houses and condos for sale here right now, Chapel says inventory is very tight, since so many variables have to coalesce to fit a home to a buyer, and so many Boomers are converging on this area, ready to purchase and move in.

Jane's and Jack's objective of a Florida/Colorado next chapter is taking a circuitous route -- including several moves within New Jersey before finally reaching Sarasota. Yet it's just a matter of keeping their eyes on the goal and finding expert help along the way to smooth the bumps. Within the next year, they're hoping the only "bumps" they encounter are the fluffy snowy kind they love on the ski slopes of the Rockies.

Libraries in Sarasota

One of the most beautiful and unusual buildings in downtown Sarasota is Selby Library, one of 4 libraries located in Sarasota.
Selby Library, downtown Sarasota FL

Selby Library interior, downtown Sarasota FL

The other Sarasota branch libraries are Fruitville, Gulf Gate, and North Sarasota (Newtown). 

There are additional libraries in Venice, Englewood, and Northport, which are part of Sarasota County. See Sarasota County Libraries for location details.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dining Districts in Sarasota

In addition to restaurants sprinkled all over Sarasota in various shopping strips and busy intersections, Sarasota has appealing, walkable dining districts in key scenic locations.

  • Downtown Sarasota: Restaurants with many kinds of international and American cuisine. On Main Street, Palm Avenue, 1st Street, Lemon Avenue, Pineapple Avenue
Mattison's City Grille, corner of Main Street
 and Lemon Avenue, downtown Sarasota
  • Sarasota Bayfront Park: O'Learry's Tiki Bar & Restaurant, Marina Jack's
    • Burns Square: Pineapple Avenue and Burns Court
    • Rosemary District: 4th Street, just east of Lemon Avenue
    • St Armands Circle, on Lido Key: Restaurants on every street that comprises the Circle
    • Southside Village: Hillview Street and Osprey Avenue
    • Gulf Gate Village: international and local cuisine on Gulf Gate Drive, Gateway Avenue, and Superior Avenue
    • Siesta Key Village: Ocean Blvd and Avenida Madera
    • Siesta Key Midnight Pass & Stickney Rd: several restaurants on Midnight Pass just past Stickney Rd, and more in the shopping center further down that's anchored by City Pizza
    Javier's Peruvian restaurant, Midnight Pass Rd, Siesta Key

    Monday, January 11, 2016

    10 Reasons Living in Sarasota is Easier

    Every time I return to Sarasota, FL, from a trip "up north", I appreciate how much easier it is to be living in Sarasota:
    1. For basic shopping needs, it's only a 10 minute walk from my house. By car, I can find every kind of daily or special shopping I need within a 5-15 minute drive from my neighborhood. For example, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Earth Origins, Richard's Natural Foods, Joann Fabrics, Michael's Crafts, Walmart, Target, Ross Stores, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshall's, T.J. Maxx, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Macy's, Petco, Petsmart, Office Max, Pier 1 Imports, and numerous Publix supermarkets, CVS and Walgreen stores. . . all within 10-15 minutes. That's it. Up north, it seems any shopping expedition takes 20 - 45 minutes in the car . . . to each store. For fresh produce, prepared foods, plants, and artisan wares, Sarasota boasts 4 weekly farmers markets. For more elaborate shopping goals, the University Town Center is a huge new upscale shopping mall 20 minutes away, in Lakewood Ranch.
    2. For live music, there are more musicians and venues here than one can count. To see the extent of this, check out, which lists most of them.
    3. If Sarasota is your primary residence, you can request a Homestead Exemption, which deducts $50,000 from the taxable value of your house, as well as limiting by 3%/year the amount your property taxes can increase. There's also a further exemption for seniors 65 and older with limited income, as well as exemptions for widowed, disabled, blind, and veterans. For more info: Sarasota County Property Appraiser
    4. This is obvious but bears repeating: NO SNOW!
    5. Small but efficient Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) is 20 minutes away, an easy, no-highway drive. 
    6. It's only 15 minutes to 2 different world-class beaches, and another 15 minutes to beautiful and tranquil Anna Maria Island, with several more gorgeous beaches.
    7. For culture -- theater, outdoor arts and craft festivals, special events and celebrations -- it's hard to beat Sarasota's ongoing roster of fun, people-filled activities. Herald Tribune Ticket
    8. For a wide choice of various types of neighborhoods and lifestyle options, Sarasota is truly a community of neighborhoods. What I really like is that I can "hide out" in the peaceful quiet of my neighborhood, yet have easy access to busier districts with restaurants, nightlife, parks and events.
    9. Sarasota creates--and maintains--beautiful parks, from extensive multi-acre environments, to dog parks, to vest-pocket parks carved into unexpected spots. 
    10. All of the above is available within Sarasota. No need to ever get on a highway if you don't want to drive fast or far.
    I'm sure there are more examples . . . and I'll add them as I think of them!