Bushnell, FL - Events of Tuesday, February 19 to Wednesday, February 20, 2013
We had several errands to run in the vicinity of The Villages, so we headed there on Tuesday. One of the stops we wanted to make was at a mobile home community called Water Oak, which is located on the same side of The Villages as Home Depot, Kohl's, Sam's Club, PetSmart and OakWood Grill. We have driven past Water Oak dozens and dozens of times because we go to that part of The Villages frequently.
Since Water Oak is owned by the same parent company that now owns Blueberry Hill (Sun Communities), and since we're very pleased by the way Blueberry Hill is being run and by all the improvements, we decided it would be a good time to check out Water Oak after we finished our other errands for future reference.
As we said in our last post, we sometimes have a desire to put down roots when we stop in one of our favorite locations for an extended period of time. However, we have several other favorite places that we're not willing to give up yet, and we still enjoy seeing new places as well. Even though we have no plans to give up full-timing in the near future, we were always curious about Water Oak, and we thought it would be a good idea to get some information so we would know if Water Oak or something like it could be a possibility when we decide to slow down our travels someday.
We met with the sales manager who told us all about the history of Water Oak and about their facilities and activities. We are pleased to report there was absolutely no high-pressure sales pitch.
Water Oak was started in the 1980s, so some of the mobile homes there are older. Pre-owned homes are available; but Water Oak still has vacant lots, and they are still installing new units.
After chatting with the sales manager, we walked over to view several models of new mobile homes on display. Mobile homes have come a long, long way in the past 10 years or so. In fact, they don't even like to call them mobile homes anymore - they are manufactured homes. Manufactured homes have begun to come very close in appearance to site-built homes. Outside, they have vinyl siding and asphalt shingle roofs. They have good insulation, and most of the newer ones have dual-pane windows even in Florida. Inside, newer mobile homes have drywall throughout, and many have 9-foot ceilings and features like tray ceilings in the living area.
The models on display were attractively staged and very comfortable looking. They ranged in size from a little less than 1000 sq ft to over 1500 sq ft. The models featured open floor plans, which helps optimize the usage of living space.
Even the smaller units with smaller kitchens usually have lots of cabinets for storage and ample counter space thanks to an island or peninsula. The kitchen in the next photo was in one of the larger models and was huge.
We learned that manufactured homes have advantages and disadvantages. The primary advantage is you can get a very nice home at a very reasonable price. The disadvantage is manufactured housing depreciates over time. A site-built home, if properly maintained, will normally go up in value over time (except for the recent bursting of the housing bubble).
We also learned that even though Water Oak was nice, we didn't feel it would suit us. It is very large (1100 to 1200 homes), and there is much shade in the older areas (we like sun, especially in winter). The lots in the older sections are fairly large, but the mobile homes in those areas, although well maintained, look very dated. The lots in the areas where the new manufactured homes are being placed are small. It's not that we want a huge lot that we would have to mow and care for, but we don't want our neighbors house right outside our windows. Paul would also like to do a little gardening.
The other downside to Water Oak is, even though you own your home, you rent the lot. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the rent at Water Oak seemed high to us. That's probably because part of the rent helps pay for all the amenities like two swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course, shuffleboard courts, pickle ball courts, tennis courts, two clubhouses, a softball field, bocce ball courts, etc. There are also lots of activities like card clubs, craft classes, exercise classes, dance lessons, pot luck dinners and pancake breakfasts. Amenities and activities are nice to have, but they're not really that important to us.
As we said, we aren't planning to quit full-timing any time soon, but we are happy we were able to gather some information. We will tuck it away in the backs of our minds for sometime in the future.
It was mid afternoon when we finished up at Water Oak, and we were starved. Since we Water Oak is close to OakWood Grill, we stopped at OakWood for lupper on the way back to the motor home.
OakWood has delicious smoked meats and barbecued ribs. Since they have a special price on a full rack of baby backs all day Sundays through Wednesdays ($12.99 vs. the regular price of $15.99), and since it was Tuesday, we both had the baby back ribs.
We love the ribs at OakWood. They are fall-off-the-bone tender. The barbecue sauce is thick and sweet with a hint of tartness.
Wednesday was Freeway's last intermediate training class. He has come a long way in 6 weeks. We had slacked off on much of his training from puppy class last year, so our first couple of classes this year were a little frustrating. However, perseverance has paid off, and things began falling back into place by the third class, especially after we found a secret weapon to assist with training - Cheetos. After 6 weeks, Freeway is a star pupil.
We started the class off with a few minutes of play time for the dogs.
Then Melanie, the instructor, started a review of what we learned. The one thing we and all the other dog owners in the class were having the most difficulty with was getting the dogs to come when called. We practiced a bit in class out in one of the aisles of the PetSmart Store. We all still have work to do with the "come" command.
We also worked on sit-stay in class. Freeway is pretty good with that command, but adding distractions like other dogs, people, a favorite dog toy or an unfamiliar environment can derail everything, so we need to continue working on that, too. Getting Freeway to obey basic commands like come and sit-stay no matter what else is going on around him is our goal.
After class, we made a few other quick stops in The Villages. The sun in Florida can be very hot, even in winter, so one of us stayed in the car with Freeway with the windows open. After our errands, we made our way back to the motor home.
Now that Freeway's training classes are over, we were hoping to be able to plan more sightseeing. However, Paul unexpectedly got a new project on Wednesday evening. We'll tell you all about it in our next post.