We find that the senior citizen mobile home communities or condos are very safe places. There are a lot of group activities which you would have to search the community for if you rented an apartment.
When we rented, we had to find a new place to live every year because we either did not like the beds or other accommodations, the owner sold the place, or was moving into it for the winter themselves. Therefore, before we left Florida every year we had to visit the mobile home communities, ask around, answer posts on the bulletin boards or post our own ads to find a place. You could get lucky and the owner will rent to you every year.
When we found a place, I took pictures of it. That way I can review the pictures and see what is included in the cupboards and drawers and rooms, so that we don't take too much stuff from up north. I can usually purchase kitchen things and summer clothing at a thrift store. Just make sure you bring coats, sweaters and long pants. They do have cold spells during the winter, but it is rarely under 50 degrees and it gets cold in the evening.
If you buy a mobile home in Florida, your packing for winter will be minimal because most things like summer clothing, shoes, hats, toiletries, paper products, and other personal items would stay in the mobile home year round. You know ahead of time, for example, that you have a Dvd player for a Redbox, a working peeler, measuring cups and spoons, etc.
However the cost of owning a mobile home is not just paying for the lot and trailer. You have several options.
The mobile home parks have a $30,000-55,000 or more share fee for the lot and a monthly maintenance fee of $200 or more which usually includes water, sewer, garbage, and basic lawn care. In some communities, you can buy your mobile home, but rent the lot for $500-800/month.
Property insurance including hurricane insurance, sinkhole damage, fire and theft might be $1000 a year, so some people get a cheap mobile home without a share included, and just walk away from any hurricane damage including the rent. The park will eventually take ownership. reclaim the land, and rehab the property. In Florida, Citizens, a state run insurance company, covers mobile homes, but they must pass an inspection and be in good condition.
There is year round expenses for a mobile home sticker, just like a yearly car registration sticker. There is also plumbing, heating, electrical and air conditioning repairs, appliances break down and there is pest management costs of $120 a year or more for simple lawn spraying. Palmetto bugs are a fact of life, but spraying does help. If you get termites though, you have to tent the entire mobile home with a cost of $250-500 or more. The bugs, mold and sandy soil means that you need to power wash the siding for $70-80 twice a year.
If you rent the property out during the months you are not in residence, especially, you should have liability insurance. However, I have found that most lawyers won't bother with a claim unless there is liability insurance. All they have to do is negotiate with the insurance company.
I find that the day to day expenses as a snowbird in Pinellas County are cheaper than to live up North, minus the extra housing costs, of course, if you are maintaining two homes, and we spend a lot before we leave. Think doing all of the repairs that you have been putting off, medical, dental and vision visits, and stocking up on your favorite regional wine, condiments, and compounding pharmacy items to last you 4 months in our case.
How could all this happen in month before you leave the North: the microwave starts popping, the fuel system of the snowblower leaks, the 3 year old rocker recliner's arm breaks, past warranty of course, the dentist says you need over 1K of dental work, your eyeglasses break, your car needs not only new plugs and wires, and a tire blows explosively to shreds, but the engine has leaky seals, $$$, etc. etc.?
Don't take your husband shopping with you right before you leave either, or you might be stocking up on comfort foods that will be left at home to perish, instead of eating the leftovers that you have planned to use up.
We eat out twice a week and my husband golfs which is more expensive than up north, but then we also walk and bicycle a lot. Spending time in the Pinellas County parks, we do a lot more walking. I learn about nature, take pictures and work on my website instead of reading and watching TV all winter.
We get more fresh fruits and vegetables. Ruskin tomatoes come out in November. The flea markets have Mexican and Asian vendors who sell mangoes, napol cactus, star fruit, papaya, guava, huge carrots, garlic, etc.Winter Park near Tampa has blueberries in the spring and Plant City grows strawberries..We eat out with friends a lot and there are breakfasts, dinners, and other activities in the park that requires snacks.
If we are going to spend all that rent money to live in the South to escape the snow and cold temperatures (which forces us to hibernate inside and eat comfort foods), at least we can justify it by living healthier.