Buying A Horse Farm In Florida
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
I am now a certified snowbird. I find temperatures below 60 degrees to be entirely unacceptable. Even my horse gave me dirty looks when we got back to Maryland this spring (it was very chilly). If you and your horses are dreaming of warmer weather, but you have some concerns about purchasing horse properties in Florida, I am here to tell you that you have options. Buying property in Florida does not have to be out of the question.
Price. While there are plenty of seven and eight figure listings in Wellington, you will find (as many others have) that Loxahatchee and Loxahatchee Groves are less expensive. As the area becomes more developed, the property values are increasing making the areas surrounding Wellington a good investment. If you are willing to be more than 15 minutes away from the show grounds, you will find that it is possible to purchase five or more acres for low to mid six figures, sometimes even less.
Location. If you are considering a horse property in Florida, odds are you are looking at Palm Beach County, more specifically Wellington and Loxahatchee, but there are plenty of other places you might consider. Ocala, about an hour north of Orlando, is another wonderful town for equestrians and perhaps a bit quieter. Either way, choose your property carefully. “High and dry” is a favorite descriptor amongst Florida Realtors selling land. You may not be right on the oceanfront and at risk of floating away, but you still need to make sure your property has proper drainage. That being said, most of the farm owners I have spoken to had this to say about hurricane season: flooding isn’t the issue. The real concern is the wind and the tornados that occur during hurricanes. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to prepare.
Building. You will notice that single story houses abound in Florida and for good reason. Ok, yeah…Florida is teeming with senior citizens, but more importantly, single story homes cope better with high winds. A second story is also very difficult and expensive to keep climate controlled. Florida is both hot and humid so A/C is a must to keep mold at bay. Oh, and don’t expect a basement. It will flood.
Now for the important part: barns! Concrete barns are generally considered to be superior, both in how they fare during hurricane season and how cool they are during the Florida summer. That being said, you will find plenty of pole barns in Florida that are rated for hurricane force winds and have fared just fine during hurricane season. It is worth noting that though pole barns are cheaper to build, they do tend to cost more in maintenance long term. Which brings me to my final topic for today…
Maintenance. Some of you may be considering permanently relocating to Florida, while others would simply like to have a second property in the Sunshine State to retreat to during the winter months. While you shouldn’t expect to be trudging through snow or breaking up ice in the troughs, a farm is a farm and that means maintenance. The grass will still need to be mowed and the barns will require the same maintenance that you would anticipate anywhere else.
Routine maintenance is likely a primary concern for those of you who are not planning on staying in Florida year round. There are a number of options when it comes to keeping your property in top condition. The first is to hire a landscaper and perhaps a friend or neighbor to check on the property regularly and install security cameras. The second is to rent it out. There are plenty of trainers looking for a place to set up shop and this will help you cover some costs during the off-season. A word of caution: boarders can be emotionally draining. They will also put wear and tear on the property, which will likely increase your expenses long term. Choose your tenants carefully.
Be sure to have a hurricane preparedness plan so the property can be easily readied in advance of a hurricane. Hidden costs are often where farm owners run into trouble. A shattered mirror means glass in your footing—and a potentially costly situation. Make sure your barn can be shuttered up easily, either by a service, a kind neighbor, or by your tenants. You may be bracing for your property being completely destroyed by a storm, but more often it is the minor damage not covered by insurance that property owners struggle with the most. Do your research and choose a good insurance company. Historically, policies would only cover damage over a certain monetary amount, but that is changing and since small claims of are generally the most prevalent during hurricane season, it is prudent to know what your policy covers.
Remember: traveling to Florida isn’t difficult. Flights are abundant and often inexpensive and, by all accounts, the Auto Train is a lovely experience.