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Old 11-28-2019, 09:55 PM   #1
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Okeechobee Area Home with Dock

We're exploring the idea of selling the house up North for the obscene prices they're getting around here now, and buying something smaller and cheaper, with a dock, "Down South."

We already own a slip up here for summer, so the idea is to find a place we could winter at, which would also become a home base for our "stuff" and maybe a place to go when we finally have to swallow the anchor.

One area we're starting to look at is the Okeechobee area; The Caloosahatchee, Okeechobee itself, and the St. Lucie.

I'm looking for suggestions/ideas/input/warnings. Is this a good idea? Where should we focus on? Where should we avoid?

This would be either a very modest home, or even a piece of land where we could build a modest home, but it needs to have water, power and a dock for our 36'er with 3.5' draft. I'm ruling out anything with a HOA, but beyond that I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 11-28-2019, 11:01 PM   #2
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I would suggest from Moore Haven south to Fort Myers. The waterway levels are controlled with Locks and spillways, so very protected from flooding. Above the Franklin lock it's fresh water. By the time you reach Fort Myers it's brackish depending on how much water is released from the lake. Most of the area is poor to middle income, so depending on services you want, you may need to drive for an hour or more. Nicer areas just below the Franklin lock. Still freshwater, but with tidal change. 20 minutes to an hour for most parts of Fort Myers.

East side of lake Okeechobee has good areas also, but generally significantly more expensive. For both sides, the closer you get to the Ocean or Gulf, the more expensive land and homes get.

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Old 11-29-2019, 06:12 AM   #3
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This is a very special neighborhood with like-minded people in Ortona Fl.

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1...44773395_zpid/
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Old 11-29-2019, 06:18 AM   #4
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Greetings,
If I'm not mistaken, the area mentioned in post #3 is where our Mr. FF lives.
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Old 11-29-2019, 07:33 AM   #5
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I have a friend who bought a house in the town of Okeechobee. He is on Taylor Creek, and has 8 feet of water at his dock. Its a very protected area,
but about 15 minute ride to get to the lake.
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:45 AM   #6
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Greetings,
If I'm not mistaken, the area mentioned in post #3 is where our Mr. FF lives.
Yes, just above the Ortona lock.

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Old 11-29-2019, 10:05 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone!

Ted, I'm also looking in the area from Moore Haven south to Fort Myers you suggested. I know that area a little better (been there a couple of times) but I've never done more than crossed Okeechobee, and never been to the North side. So I figured I'd start by asking about that.

So far I'm not hearing any negatives. "Poor to middle class" is OK by me. I live in a fairly upscale area now, but I still have enough of a red-neck streak that a blue-collar area is OK too, as long as it's not crime-infested.
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Old 11-29-2019, 10:51 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone!

Ted, I'm also looking in the area from Moore Haven south to Fort Myers you suggested. I know that area a little better (been there a couple of times) but I've never done more than crossed Okeechobee, and never been to the North side. So I figured I'd start by asking about that.

So far I'm not hearing any negatives. "Poor to middle class" is OK by me. I live in a fairly upscale area now, but I still have enough of a red-neck streak that a blue-collar area is OK too, as long as it's not crime-infested.
How far are you willing to drive for a real grocery store, Walmart, Home Depot, etc? Being on the wrong side of the canal can add significantly depending on location.

For me it's less of an issue; the wife considers 20 minutes too far.

You might want to take a look at this marina before paying for canal front property. At $6 per foot, versus maintaining home dockage, it makes you weigh the pluses and minuses.

https://portlabellemarina.com/

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Old 11-29-2019, 12:24 PM   #9
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How far are you willing to drive for a real grocery store, Walmart, Home Depot, etc? Being on the wrong side of the canal can add significantly depending on location.

You might want to take a look at this marina before paying for canal front property. At $6 per foot, versus maintaining home dockage, it makes you weigh the pluses and minuses.
Good points Ted, thanks. We're about 20 minutes from everything now, so I suppose that's not bad. I always go to Google Maps to find the closest Walmart, Hospital, etc. when I'm looking on line at property. A place that's a bit more rural is actually a plus for us.

The original plan was to rent or buy winter dock space. And we really want a home base - for us and our "stuff." Because it's hard to leave a house unattended here for the winter, the idea now is the sell here and buy some place with its own dock, in a warm climate, and do the snowbird thing between our slip in Maine and the new place.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:30 PM   #10
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I don’t believe Port Labelle Marina has water and electricity.
Belle Hatchee Marina in Labelle recently reopened 863-674-1722 is very rustic offers electricity I don’t know about Portible water. I can pick up water, I can’t carry air-conditioning....
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:45 PM   #11
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I don’t believe Port Labelle Marina has water and electricity.
Belle Hatchee Marina in Labelle recently reopened 863-674-1722 is very rustic offers electricity I don’t know about Portible water. I can pick up water, I can’t carry air-conditioning....
A call to the marina confirmed no water or electric at most slips, only the main dock.

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Old 11-29-2019, 03:17 PM   #12
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An old friend used to have his winter home right on the canal about a mile and half west of the Port LaBelle Marina. Whenever I was crossing I'd lay over at his protected slip, and really liked the peaceful small town atmosphere. OTOH, every time you need a part, it's a half hour-plus drive into Ft. Myers. The nearest good supermarket is the Publix, almost all the way in on State Road 80 to Tice, although I understand there's now a new Wal-Mart further out toward LaBelle. As for local culture, there appear to be any number of lively cantinas!

The ditch east of Lake O. is pricier, as Ted said. Also more exposed to passing boat wakes. West of Moore Haven it's easier to find the occasional oxbow or similar place to tie up or anchor. As a place to buy your toehold on the navigable waterfront, a guy could do a lot worse.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:37 PM   #13
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Have you looked at waterfront prices here with enough water to "float your boat?" "They aren't making anymore of it," is a common refrain when talking about wf real estate hereabouts, and anything as rare as a deep-enough water lot gets pricey. My wife tells people I bought a pier with a house attached which we then spent a year rehabilitating before moving us and trawler in.
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Old 11-29-2019, 06:37 PM   #14
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Have you looked at waterfront prices here with enough water to "float your boat?" "They aren't making anymore of it," is a common refrain when talking about wf real estate hereabouts, and anything as rare as a deep-enough water lot gets pricey. My wife tells people I bought a pier with a house attached which we then spent a year rehabilitating before moving us and trawler in.
Good point. I tend to look at the satellite view, first. Sometimes you can tell just by looking that the "dock" would only be useful for a kayak!

As for price, I'm hoping that they've gone up here even more than there, and I can "upgrade" to waterfront for about what I get for this dump. Next step is to talk to a local realtor (I know several) about what I might get if I sell.

Keep those suggestions and ideas coming, this has already been a huge help!!
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Old 11-30-2019, 01:28 PM   #15
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The usual lot here in Ortona is 65ft wide on the water, although there are some double lots.

From fairly new fancy construction to rehabbed house trailers the community is mostly boaters .

Docks are easy to construct , the pioneers used water hoses and a home well pump, I have a 2 inch gas Honda folks borrow. There is also a community spud barge anyone can borrow.

Only one canal is shallow 4 ft the rest were dug to 16-18 ft to build up the lots. Usually 6ft +in Turkey Creek.

Live aboard is OK , but a small building for toilet , washing etc with a septic system is required .

By far a splendid hurricane hole , as the built up land protects the boats in the canals.

La Belle is 15 miles of open road, hardware store , Wallmart all the usual, with one great (for us) Mexican carry out.

Ft Myers is an hour away .

Places on the river are considered more scenic as boats go buy , but keeping a boat happy & safe with 4-5 ft wakes is difficult.

The prices are reasonable and best suited to cruisers as its 2 locks and a couple of bridges to get into the Gulf.

Anyone passing by is welcome to come visit and see the area. Do call first!!!

I have a shop for woodwork, so bring a project that needs a table saw , drill press or my favorite ,a 6x48 table sander.
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:03 PM   #16
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Anyone passing by is welcome to come visit and see the area. Do call first!!!

I have a shop for woodwork, so bring a project that needs a table saw , drill press or my favorite ,a 6x48 table sander.
Be careful what you ask for FF! I might just take you up on that.

Actually, I was hoping you'd chime in. Years ago I think it was you who posted something about a plot for sale in your area. I wish now I'd grabbed it! That's been on my mind ever since.

I have a couple of other things to settle first, among them getting an honest estimate as to what I could get for my current house, and how quick it would sell. After that, I'm thinking of taking a trip down that way. I'd love to sit and pick your brain over a Mexican dinner and some cold ones, my treat.
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Old 11-30-2019, 04:21 PM   #17
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FF is a generous host and a very knowledgable boater. My boat survived one hurricane at his dock before. Should have gone back this year!

Hey you could be FF’s neighbor!

https://www.trulia.com/p/fl/moore-ha...71--2035380949
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Old 11-30-2019, 04:27 PM   #18
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Given that the entire state of Florida is in the hurricane belt, Ortona may be the best and most reliable hurricane hole a cruising yachtsman could ask for. If you can reach either Ft. Myers or Stuart at least a day before the storm (and assuming the locks stay open), you're golden.
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:24 PM   #19
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FF is a generous host and a very knowledgable boater. My boat survived one hurricane at his dock before. Should have gone back this year!

Hey you could be FF’s neighbor!

https://www.trulia.com/p/fl/moore-ha...71--2035380949
Already looked at that one!

But thanks, keep 'em coming!
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:28 AM   #20
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You might want to take a look at this marina before paying for canal front property. At $6 per foot, versus maintaining home dockage, it makes you weigh the pluses and minuses.
FWIW...

We've studied the idea of waterfront property in several areas -- Chesapeake, NC, FL -- but the numbers never work for us. Given purchase costs, house and dock upkeep costs, permitting costs if necessary, etc... it's always been MUCH less expensive to have an "inland" house with a short drive to a decent marina where we'd keep the boat. YMMV, of course.

In some of the newer "55 plus" communities, an HOA can maybe be a good thing... if fees include exterior landscaping (and mowing, etc,) chores... since that'd mean I could jettison our tractor and be done with all that kind of work.

We've more recently been thinking of single-story homes, high rise condos... or elevator townhouses, but the latter don't grow on trees, and I'm not yet well informed on elevator maintenance costs, anyway.

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