Top 10 Places To Retire Near Disney World

Top 10 Places To Retire Near Disney World

Recently I saw an article posted with the same name and it was obvious to me that it was posted without the knowledge of any local real estate agent. The following are communities I feel better meet the needs of people looking to retire on typical retiree funds and at the same time downsize. 

While it is nice to daydream that we all could live in a million-dollar plus estate home in Disney’s Golden Oak (the community designed by Disney and located between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT) it’s probably not practical for many people.

Most people at retirement age are looking for a single-story home with two or three bedrooms so they have room for guests or an office, but not one that includes an elevator.

Four Seasons by K. Hovnanian

One of my favorite attributes of this builder is great energy-saving home designs. This builder uses every inch and puts character in every square foot. Combined with that, the beautiful lush landscape of being in a brand-new golf course community.

My buyers appreciate that these homes are located about five minutes to Disney and when the fireworks begin again, they will see the glow as they did before.

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Del Webb Orlando

This gated community with a golf course is sold out, but resales are available. The key feature of this community is an extensive Community center with an indoor pool. That is something very much needed that I haven’t seen in a community of this size.

This attendant monitored gated community has lush landscaping and some spectacular views.   Approximately 25 to 30 minutes to Disney World. Shopping is right at your fingertips. 

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Del Webb Sunbridge

This community is a new, all natural gas community.  There are 13 different models, some with beautiful pond views. Many people would consider this an opportunity to get into the ground floor of the new Sunbridge area. 

Located about 45 minutes to Disney World, and 45 minutes from Melbourne you have the best of both worlds.  An onsite tavern, Single Family and Villa homes, a full-time lifestyle director, plus an exclusive partnership; with Advent Health to help keep you healthy and active. 

Check Out Some Of The Del Webb Sunbridge Homes

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Providence is not an exclusive over 55 community. But it does have some of the features of over 55 communities without high HOA fees.  The community is gated with a 24 hour attendant and is located on the very well-known Providence golf course. Included in the community is a restaurant which is open most days, Community pools and Gym all for a more reasonable HOA fee.

While this family-oriented community is not an over 55 community they do have activities for seniors. A key concept for the builders are freedom homes which have an extra efficiency unit usually attributed to the senior in the family. 

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Heritage Hills

Heritage Hills is located on land you didn’t think you would find near Disney World, Rolling Hills. And they make the most of it with a spectacular community layout and a community run winery which grows grapes and olives.

Heritage Hills does have resale homes often available. It Is about 35 minutes from Disney World and just a few minutes from great shopping in Clermont and Winter Garden.

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The Gatherings

Located just minutes from Orlando International Airport, Lake Nona and Medical City. this over 55 condo community is unique to our area. Being a condominium complex there’s very low maintenance.

Internet and cable television are included in the monthly fees and each unit has a balcony. You can choose between four models ranging between 2 to 3 bedrooms. Just about 30 minutes to Disney World with the activities of Lake Nona also nearby.

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Winding Bay

Winding Bay, while also not an over 55 community, is just a few minutes from Disney World and in the glow of Disney World fireworks! But they have a unique home available called the Tobago. This home includes an option of an Extra suite plus, which includes a sink and refrigerator. 

The home has a side entry to the suite, separate from the main front door, private bath, living room, bedroom, and step in closet. The independence of a condo within the same home as family.

Mobile home parks/RV parks in Davenport and Clermont

These are established communities of both mobile homes and single-family homes and RV homes located in communities which mix affordability and proximity to Disney World. 

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Probably the most recognized name in over 55 communities near Disney world is Solivita which boasts over 150,000 ft.² of community centers, two golf courses and three eateries (from fine dining to Pizza).

There is even a pharmacy and a bank.  Solivita has both Indoor and Outdoor heated pools, court games, an indoor track, classes and a full-time fitness staff.  All behind the exclusive gates of Solivita and just a 45 minute drive to Disney World.

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Palms at Serenoa

One of my most popular communities is the Palms of Serenoa. I sold one of the first homes in this community and it was a villa. A villa shares a connecting wall with the unit on the other side. It is two bedrooms and an office space plus a covered lanai. 

There are several single-family model homes available in 2 to 3 bedrooms and a helpful feature of this community is that they’ve simplified the buying process. You can select upgrade features at a package price rather than negotiating over every item. 

The community center includes a zero entry lap pool, exercise area and facilities, dog park and court games. And is located just about 5 miles, as the crow flies, to Disney World. Future planning holds a direct connection to drive to Disney World. Look forward to updates on this page. 


The Soon to be OASIS!  Just 2 minutes to WDW!   Literally 2 turns from Disney World with Disney designed shopping of Flamingo Crossing within walking distance and with over a dozen models will be opening in the fall of 2021.  The community center will have an on-site tavern overlooking the (soon to be returning) fireworks of Disney World. 

There are 13 different models available ranging from 2 to 5 bedrooms from villas to Single family homes. You truly cannot be closer to Disney World.  But you also can’t be more away from it all in this exclusive community.

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Top 10 Overlooked Items When Owning A Vacation Rental

Top 10 Overlooked Items When Owning A Vacation Rental

When you choose to own a vacation home there may be some things that you may overlook when getting the property ready to welcome guests. Here we will talk about the top 10 things that can be easily overlooked.

1. Taking professional photos

I see many owners who spend a great deal of money setting up the property with love and care only to shortchange it by putting up photos that don’t properly represent the home. Hire a professional real estate photographer. Having great photos will make your rental stand out in the crowd. It’s important to put your best foot forward, You’ve only got one shot to make a good impression.

2. No AC shut off when the patio door is open

It’s a good idea to install a switch to turn off the AC when the patio door is open. It’s very important that renters understand that in the climate of Orlando when the door is open the AC will not operate. An air conditioner that is forced to overwork can freeze. It’s also important to limit the temperature that the air conditioner can be set to. In Florida setting the air conditioner to 75 degrees and locking the controls will prevent the AC from freezing up and save money in repairs.


3. No emergency key at the front door

Most rentals operate with a keypad on the door and a code unique to that door for each customer. However, mistakes can be made or the battery may need replacing. It is good for the owner to keep one extra key in a mounted lockbox to be used in case the electronic keypad is not working that day.

4. No candles

I can’t say this enough, you don’t want to encourage people to light fires in your home. Leaving a candle can suggest that it is appropriate for them to light. If you’ve purchased this Home from another owner, remove all candles even decorative ones.

5. Locks on the pool access doors

Make sure the locks on your pool doors are 54 inches off the ground, so the kids cannot reach them. Since sliding glass door locks can be difficult for the novice to operate, I suggest using a cal-bolt. It’s easy to install and difficult for a child to operate while being easy for an adult and prevents break-ins.


6. Keep your front door clean!

First impressions mean everything in this business. Make them feel welcome with a nice clean, yearly painted, front door. When guests see fingerprints, scratches, dents and dirt it suggests that the home is not well cared for. Don’t invite a poor impression of your home before the guest has even entered.

7. Using mixed colored linens

Though you may want nice decorative linens, I strongly suggest that you don’t. When the cleaners come, they have 4 to 5 hours to clean all linens in the house which means they have to be washed together. Even pool towels should be white. A uniform color is easier also because it would be challenging for them to remember what color sheets went with what room. Some rental agencies bring clean linens and remove the dirty ones for washing. In that case, the management company will tell you if you need to purchase linens. But they will once again be white.

8. Ceiling fans operated by chain cords

Don’t do this. You don’t want a guest, child or adult standing on the bed pulling on the chain cord. The ceiling fans should be operated strictly by a labeled light switch. Don’t invite a liability you can avoid.

9. Do not rent the grill as an additional payment to the renters

It’s either got to be included in the rental fee at no charge or an outside service (recommended) will deliver a fully gassed, fully cleaned grilled upon request. If you decide to provide a grill for free most cleaners will not clean them. If you want to charge an additional fee for use or cleaning then please check with your insurance company first, because you may not be covered if there is an issue.


10. No glass by the pool

PERIOD! Very often I will sell homes that have been rented through another owner and I will see several glasses in the cabinet. Remove them. Do not buy glassware and here’s why: broken glass in a house or the pool that isn’t picked up could cause severe injury especially to people walking barefoot. If broken glass gets into the pool, the pool needs to be drained and cleaned at a cost of several hundred dollars. If there is broken glass most renters are not going to tell you. Personally, I removed all glassware from the rental and request guests to not purchase any glass during their stay.

While these items individually are not major, they are meant to prepare you to prevent any issues and allow you to give that all-important good first impression.

Top 10 Features Short Term Renters Look For Near Disney

Top 10 Features Short Term Renters Look For Near Disney

After five years of running three short term rentals in the Disney World area I created a list of what renters are looking for.

Within my first year of owning property near Disney world, I was featured on the front page of the New York Times travel section.

I quickly realized when running the property that the more times you can say “yes we have that” the more bookings you will receive.  Certainly, sometimes Renters will overlook certain criteria because they love your house. But why should you struggle!? Make it an easy choice for them by planning wisely!

1. Close to Disney World

Close means under 20 minutes but 10 minutes and under is best. The number one question I received in every single email request was “how far are you away from Disney?”  You can’t fudge this number– the closer the better. Have a map available so that you can show guests that you are just a few minutes to Disney World. 

They also ask for outlet shopping and, of course, Universal Studios, but being close to Disney World is the number one feature. Don’t let anybody tell you that you could rent a property that is 45 minutes from Disney World. 

2. Gated

Renters don’t know the area.  Being able to say, “you will be greeted at the gate when you arrive,” makes renters feel secure.  This is probably one of the best features that you can have but don’t make it seem like they are in danger.  Possibly saying this is a great community and we keep a watchful eye on our residents will work. However, a gated community with 24 hour attendant is best.

3. First-floor Bedroom and Full Bath (not necessarily the master)

If you have a one-story home this is not an issue of course. But when you have a two-story home it is vitally important (to secure that booking) that you have a first-floor bedroom.  You will frequently get renters with the need of having something for a person with limited mobility.  Having a downstairs bedroom with attached full bath really answers that need.

4. Close To a Grocery Store

Both overseas travelers and US travelers are going to have grocery needs. Being near a grocery store is a great thing to point out in your listing but the most requested shopping destination that I have been asked for is Walmart! I think that is because no matter wherever you are traveling from, you know and reconize Walmart.

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5. Ample Parking

You would think that a normal home has ample parking but with short-term rentals, that’s not necessarily true. I like to look for rentals with my customers that have additional parking either on the street if there aren’t two spaces in the driveway. 

Older, pre- 2005 homes weren’t built this way and often have limited parking.  You may think the family would only need one car however very often renters come in several cars with members of their family and friends.

6. Basketball court/Tennis

Court games: volleyball, tennis, basketball. Anything that your community has that’s a little bit different from other communities.  One of the great things about having a short-term rental is that your guests can take a few days to themselves to unwind. It’s helpful if while they’re unwinding there are a lot of things for the kids to do.

7. South Facing Pool

A south-facing pool is a very significant feature when it is obtainable.  The south-facing pool allows the sun to be over the pool to get the sun in daylight hours all day.  Use your listing as an educational tool for your renters to make you stand out. “Our south facing pool gets the sun all day”

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8. Arcade Space In House or Community Center

Frankly, I never understood this one. When I first bought my home I was shocked that the game rooms were in the garage. Unless garages are insulated, even when it is they are not air-conditioned and in central Florida, they can get quite hot so I like when you have enough space to bring the gaming room into the house either in a loft or in an extra living room. 

This way you can position yourself by saying “we have an actual game room, not a converted garage”. Educate your renters that you are better.

9. Space By The Pool To Stretch Out

Nothing in your photos should ever look cramped, an example of this furniture that is just too big for the room. It makes the room looks small. Beds that block a window is another no-no because the room looks too cramped to sleep in. You can always set up the furniture for photography then change it back. 

Then finally when you have an area by the pool which does not allow room to stretch out well what’s the use of having a pool?  You need space to stretch out. Don’t over crowd that space with furniture in photos.

10. Strong Word of Mouth Advertising For The Community!

By far this is a top feature. You want renters who are already familiar with your community. Generally, it’s by other people they know who have rented in there.  They seem to recommend the home that they stayed in, but you often get the call that says, “the house my friend stayed in is booked but yours looks so much better” and you’ve booked it!

Bonus – Themed Rooms

Short term rentals near Disney with Disney themed rooms. I had Dalmatian, Western, and Mary Poppins. Each room was equally differentiated with the different paint colors.  In short term rentals, the owners often lose enthusiasm when halfway through the decorating.  I can’t say this clearly enough: make the rooms stand out! 

Frequently I would have guests tell me that they chose their rooms. ”Mom is taking the green room, we are in the Blue (Mary Poppins), the girls are in the Dalmatian, and our son wants the Western room.” This type of planning means they are excited to stay in your home.


Finally, most importantly, the home must be photographed beautifully by a professional real estate photographer. When I was a short-term rental owner I was quite astounded by the poor photography which owners would post. You will stand out with the simple $125 purchase. 

First impressions mean everything! That’s why you have the best of photos possible upfront and not just a photo of the front of the house but what makes your home stand out!  I’ll cover more of this in my next article, “The Top 10 No-No’s of short-term rentals”

Single Family Short Term Rental Properties

Best Townhome Short Term Rental Properties

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What Is Next-Gen or Multi-Generational Living?

What Is Next-Gen or Multi-Generational Living?

Next-generation homes, also known as multi-generation housing, is growing in need as more and more families are combining with older members of the family or younger members who need their individual living spaces while still sharing living expenses.

Three builders in the Disney World area are now featuring a connected suite in a single-family home. The suites can feature a living room, bedroom, and kitchenette type area. One of the builders includes the full kitchen with a bedroom, living room, and full bath. All of these are separated with their own door to the suite, (some builders feature models with an extra one-car garage) and they have an entry door on the outside of the property, for that extra level of privacy.

This provides the resident whether it be a senior or a younger person, their only individual living space. In-law suites are nothing new but the way next-generation housing is designed — being on the first floor of the unit —makes it substantially better than what was used in the past which was a unit over the garage. Since in many cases an in-laws suite is not really a great idea to be on the second floor when the resident may be challenged in climbing stairs.

This truly is the next generation in housing by allowing older family members Whether it be a grandmother, grandfather, or a set of grandparents to have their own distinct living situation with the new home. Togetherness and individuality under one roof. These homes make it simpler for families to combine living expenses while still allowing each other the freedom to live virtually independently.

The Mark Shopping Plaza Coming To Winter Garden

The Mark Shopping Plaza Coming To Winter Garden

The Mark in Winter Garden will soon be a brand new centrally located shopping plaza in the Sidel section of Horizon West nestled within the community of Watermark. This area will feature shopping and dining options for everyone to enjoy.

Who Are The Tenants?

Some of the proposed tenants are a gas station, pizza place, coffee shop, chicken restaurant, Italian Ice shop, pharmacy, and brewery. Along with a learning center and health center. We have heard that Huey Magoos is a popular chicken restaurant that is expanding its presence. Starbucks will feature a drive-thru and is already a popular addition in the area. Walgreens and 7 Eleven are also said to be joining the mix.

We all should start to see tenants around the later part of 2021.

Convenient Shopping Area

This shopping area will be very convenient from some local areas being that it’s less than one mile east of the new Horizon West high school and the homes of lakeshore preserve and to the west is the communities of Latham Park, Ravenna, and Summer lake.

Homes Near Disney World That Have A View Of The Fireworks

Homes Near Disney World That Have A View Of The Fireworks

One of the key features that I consistently get asked for as a relator is “Can I find a home where I can see fireworks from my backyard?” The answer is absolutely yes!

Last year I was looking for just the same thing. I wanted to have a backyard with one of the best features of living so close to Disney.

It just requires a little bit of knowledge of the area and logistics but seeing is believing. Unfortunately for me I moved in about 2 weeks before Covid hit and the Disney parks closed.

Hopes of Fireworks

Now that the parks have re opened and the hopes of fireworks are returning it can be difficult to prove that you can see the fireworks so you really have to go by your own knowledge of the area.

In the past with customers, I would go out to the individual community and set up a camera to show them the fireworks at night. This was helpful when they’re not in town as otherwise we would do it together.

Best Communities To See Disney Fireworks

There are some really wonderful communities where you can see fireworks from your backyard! These would be located in Winter Garden, Windermere, and Orlando. However, some of my buyers in places like Clermont can also see fireworks from if not their home, in their community .

Some of these communities are:

The community of Watermark includes an observation deck in their community center, from which residents can go to the second floor and look out to the fireworks each night. So if you can’t see Fireworks from your individual house In many cases you can see it from observation areas in the community

Recently I had the joy of a customer posting a video of the fireworks that they saw from the very own home that was in Winter Garden. Winter Garden is located immediately west of Disney World. You can access Winter Garden by Western Way located near Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Watching Fireworks From Horizon West

Another section of Clermont is called Horizon West. From certain vantage points you could see directly into the Magic Kingdom. For example, from one builder I can see Spaceship Earth and from another community I can see the Grand Floridian Resort and The Contemporary Resort. There’s even one community where you can see the very tip of Cinderella’s castle!

My View Of The Fireworks

I love telling people about my experience living near Disney World. When I go out on my lanai which overlooks a pond in the mornings, I listen to the ferry boat whistles as they cross the seven seas lagoon. At night I hear the music of the Electrical Water Pageant as it traverses the seven seas lagoon.

Once the construction of Tron is finished, I am told I will be able to hear the Walt Disney World Railroad as it in circles the Magic Kingdom. Finding a home near Disney where you can experience Disney from your backyard has always been a dream of mine which I am thrilled I was able to make happen.


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