Category Archives: Naples

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Are You Retiring? Consider Downsizing Your Home

Retirement is an exciting time, and if you’re at that point in your life, it’s time to examine your current situation, financially and in terms of real estate, to determine how you want to spend your golden years. When you’re ready to retire, downsizing from a single family home to a highrise condo can be an attractive option— after all, it’s finally time to relax! Read on to find out how downsizing may be the right move for you!

Downsizing Doesn’t Mean Downgrading!

When you’ve invested in a single family home, you’ve got a lot of things. You might have an in-home office, a garage, a yard. When you trade all of that in for a highrise condo, the tradeoff has to be worth it. Luxury highrise condos are the way to go. Maintenance free, chock full of amenities, upgrades galore, and exquisite design details; your condo could be what you’ve always dreamed of having. Add in a gorgeous view, and you’re living in paradise! Why vacation? It’s time to live the good life every day.

Two Words: Liquid Assets

If you’re nearing retirement age, you may be in a situation where you have paid for most of your current home (if not paid it off entirely). Selling your home for a condo may leave you with a decent amount of funds that can be used as you wish. Maybe you’ll invest that money, add it to your retirement income, or make your monthly payment on your condo lower. Of course, every situation is independent to the individual, but it might be something to consider if you’re in that position.

Declutter and Live Freely!

Don’t think of downsizing as a negative thing. Think of it as finding the size that fits your current needs and an opportunity to leave a cleaner, less cluttered life. Downsizing can mean getting rid of junk! You have it, I have it, we all have it. But why should you surround yourself with things that just take up space? Live with what you need and live well. Donate items to charity and feel good about the positive impact you’re making. Yes, downsizing means that you will have less space. However, you are perfectly capable of living a happy life — if not happier, more relaxed life — in a highrise condo.

Less Work, More Reward

Highrise condos provide you with easy living! No more mowing and watering the grass, taking care of landscaping gardens, or cleaning the gutters! When you downsize to a condo, you’re rewarding yourself with, to put it simply, less work! Not only will you not have to go to your job, but you won’t have to do work around the house and handle general maintenance. And that means you’ll have more time to enjoy the things you love, like golfing, hanging by the pool, shopping, and eating out. The great news about living in The Colony in Bonita Springs is that you will never run out of things to do. We offer golf, kayaking/canoeing, fitness, a butterfly garden, and more.

You’re Retired – Enjoy It!

Luxury highrise condos are typically surrounded by things to do! You’ve been working your whole life, and it’s finally time to take time out for yourself. Highrise condos offer a ton of amenities within the building, like fitness centers, pool and barbecue areas, private golf courses, and some even have spas. Picture it now: you’ll be looking forward to Monday morning because you can go golfing, hit the beach, lay out by the pool or do exactly what you want to do. These are all things that highrise condos, like The Colony, offer. That’s what retirement is supposed to be all about, right?

Freedom to Travel

When you own a single family home, the thought of leaving it can be daunting — what if something goes wrong, and no one is there to tend to it? What if someone breaks in? Who will cut the grass? The list of worries could go on. When you downsize to a highrise condo, you won’t have to worry about who will take care of your home because your association will take care of it for you. And as an added bonus, most luxury highrise condos offer excellent security as part of the amenities they offer.

Safety First!

Speaking of security, not only will you not have to worry if you want to pack your bags and travel, but when you’re at home, your mind will be at ease knowing you’re living within a safe community that has its own private security. Solicitors won’t be able to bother you, and scam artists posing as solicitors won’t make it past the front gates. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that there’s surveillance in the unlikely event something might go wrong (after all, we do not live in a perfect world — but highrise condo living might be as close as you can get!). Security can get expensive in a single family home because you have to pay for the installation as well as monthly fees to keep it running, and even if you already invest in a security system, you likely don’t have actual security guards manning the entrance. Security won’t be free in a highrise condo, but it will wrapped up in a nominal HOA/condo fee.

Community Living

If you’re like many folks who have retired, you may have children who have grown up or perhaps moved away to attend college. Even if you’re married or have a significant other, living by yourself can get lonely. Highrise condos are an ideal situation for retired individuals because there’s a lot to do, and a lot of people around you who are at similar points in their lives and who likely share common interests. You can make new friends and enjoy spending time with the friends you’ve had for years. Individuals who invest in luxury highrise condos for their retirement years are looking for the same things you are because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there.

Retire in Style! Consider The Colony in Bonita Springs Today

If you’re in the beginning stages of planning your move to a highrise condo, I strongly urge you to consider The Colony in Bonita Springs, Florida.

We’re located in the quiet heart of Southwest Florida, with close proximity to beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, amazing dining, and more. Additionally, The Colony offers highrise condos with an abundance of amenities: kayaking, canoeing, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a butterfly garden, and more.

To learn more about luxury, highrise condos in The Colony, contact Jill Kushner, a real estate specialist and resident of The Colony. Simply call (239) 691-5505 or click here.


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Get Involved: Top Nonprofits in Bonita Springs & Naples

One of the best parts about living in Bonita Springs and Naples is that there are a number

of things to do — whether you want to relax by the beach, play a round of golf, go shopping or eat out at any of the excellent restaurants in the area,

the list is endless. However, when you live a vacation lifestyle, you may develop a desire to do more than just relax. Finding activities in which you can help others can be gratifying and rewarding. This idea is supported by Stephanie Watson, who writes for Harvard Health Publications. She explains that volunteering your time can reward you with both physical and mental health benefits — meaning that individuals who volunteer can experience lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan while thwarting loneliness and depression. It also just feels good to give back!

Here are some options to get involved — the names of each nonprofit link to their volunteer page:

Help People

Literacy Council Gulf Coast

Bonita Springs, FL

If you’d rather not work with animals, the Literacy Council Gulf Coast

is a great option to help adults and children improve their literacy. This nonprofit focuses on helping individuals in the immediate area, and you can volunteer your time by sharing stories, tutoring, or helping out with various other activities for the Council.

Cafe of Life

Bonita Springs, FL

Help out the less fortunate with the Cafe of Life, a nonprofit that focuses on assisting and meeting the needs of people in the community with nutritional and supplemental support. You can volunteer to be a cook or server or you can help deliver/pick up groceries. There are also options to help with administrative support. “Care, Share, and Serve” your fellow man!

Bonita Community Health Center

Bonita Springs, FL

The Bonita Springs Community Health Center is a nonprofit that offers a variety of healthcare services to people in the community. They rely on the help from volunteers to keep day to day operations running and to provide health care services. They try to match volunteers with their greatest interest. Contact them directly for more information on how you can help.

Centers for the Arts

Bonita Springs

The Centers for the Arts in Bonita Springs is an excellent nonprofit organization for you to volunteer your time — no special skills needed! Get immersed in the performing and visual arts environment by helping The Centers for the Arts, a nonprofit that seeks to enrich the lives of people in the community through art education, expression and appreciation. You can participate in special events, greet visitors, serve on committees, answer phones and assist with community outreach programs. Additionally, Centers for the Arts also has opportunities to volunteer that don’t require you to be gregarious and outspoken. You can help out the Centers by making copies, filing and entering data, or completing research.

Join a Cause

Habitat for Humanity – ReStore

Ft. Myers, FL

If you have time to volunteer, Habitat for Humanity ReStore offers a multitude of opportunities for people with a variety of skills. From their website, volunteer opportunities include: Driver Helper, Donation Processing, Handyman, Facilities Maintenance, Dispatcher, Social Media, and Volunteer Coordinator. Contact Habitat for Humanity to learn more and to find out how you can contribute.

SUSAN G. KOMEN SWFL

Bonita Springs, FL

Become an advocate for breast cancer awareness and volunteer with the Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida organization. You can volunteer to help out in the office, health care fairs, and help with marketing or as an organizer. You can also participate in or help out the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Make-a-Wish Foundation Southern Florida

Bonita Springs, FL

The Make-a-Wish Foundation is responsible for orchestrating and making the dreams of children with life-threatening medical conditions come true. Be a part of something special and participate as an airport greeter, office volunteer, speaker, special events volunteer, or wish granter!

Help Animals

Humane Society – Naples

Naples, FL

If you love dogs and/or cats, you can make a difference in their lives by volunteering at the Humane Society in Naples. You can donate your time and help care for the animals who are being housed and cared for at the shelter by helping with daily operations, education and outreach (shelter tours and social enrichment opportunities), or acting as a canine coach or female ambassador (handling animals in the kennels, at events, and at the mall location).  You can also foster dogs or work special events and assist with the mobile adoption bus. There’s plenty of things to do within the shelter and outside that can benefit the animals in its care.

Naples Equestrian Challenge

Naples, FL

Naples Equestrian Challenge is a nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic horseback riding to adults and children with disabilities of Collier County. You don’t have to be a seasoned equestrian to volunteer your time, but if you have a love of horses, this is the place to be! If you don’t, all you need is a desire to be compassionate and give reliable support. The volunteer opportunities include side walking, leading, grooming, tacking, participation in fundraising activities, serving on the board or committee, and more. Volunteers do go through a training session prior to helping out.

Bird Gardens of Naples

Naples, FL

If large animals aren’t your thing, you can always work with the stunningly beautiful tropical parrots who live at

the Bird Gardens sanctuary. This nonprofit focuses on caring for parrots

in captivity, which come to the sanctuary from occasions of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. The Bird Gardens provides a beautiful home for the intelligent parrots and further gives back to the community by giving educational tours to the community. There are a multitude of volunteer options — when you visit the web page, scroll all the way to the bottom to reach out and express your desire to help.

Volunteer Today!

Volunteering at a local nonprofit is a fantastic way to help out the community and feel good about yourself. The

above is a list of some of the nearby nonprofit organizations. If you have a desire to help, there’s someone out there who needs you. So, get out there and do some good!


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Lee County Property Tax Guide for Luxury Living

If you’ve bought or are thinking about buying a luxury home at The Colony or within Lee County, it’s important to stay up to speed with the current property taxes in the county because once you close on a property, you’re responsible for the taxes. Although there are no income, inheritance or luxury taxes in Florida, you are required to pay your property tax. Whether you decide to pay your taxes independently or have them escrowed in with your mortgage, the following information can help you stay informed and ensure you’re taking advantage of tax breaks and not overpaying your taxes.

To understand how and what you will pay for taxes, we’ve amassed information from several sources, including the Lee County Tax Collector and Property Appraiser’s offices, to give you a one-stop tax guide for luxury living in Lee County.

Dealing with Taxes: Distinguishing Between the Offices

Property Tax Collector’s Office

Essentially, this office is in charge of mailing, receiving, and processing all of the paperwork and tax bills within Lee County. The Tax Collector’s

office can also handle questions regarding payments. If you’ve just purchased a home in Lee County, you may want to check out their new property owner’s guide, which is available online.

Property Appraiser’s Office

This office sets the property values based on current market value. They deal with exemptions, as well as any contentions regarding property value. This office is also responsible for mailing out notices of TRIM (proposed property taxes).

Important Terms to Know

When navigating the sea of legal-ese with regard to tax talk, there are several terms of which you must be familiar in order to understand what you need to take care of when it comes to your property tax. Some of the common, important terms you need to know include:

Ad valorem

This is a Latin term that means “according to worth,” and it is the way in which Lee County (and the rest of Florida) determines property taxes. You are able to calculate your property tax amount by taking the non-exempt value of your home (excluding exemptions such as the Save Our Homes exemption) and multiplying it by the rate of taxation (millage rate).

Millage Rate

The millage rate is essentially the rate of taxation broken down into dollars of tax per thousand dollars of taxable equity.

You’ll see this term used when calculating and estimating your taxes.

TRIM

This is a shortened term to refer to Truth in Millage, which equates to the proposed taxes for the upcoming year. It is merely an estimate and is meant to help homeowners navigate the complex world of taxing authorities and what

the expectations are for the upcoming year. The 2015 TRIM Guide is available online, which may help you understand what goes into calculating your taxes for the future. It considers the taxes needed by various taxing authorities based upon their budgets, and it explains how you might be affected.

Estimate Your Taxes

The Lee County Property Appraiser’s office allows you to estimate your taxes using an easy online calculator. You’ll need to know the sale price (or estimated sale price), Save Our Homes benefit information (if you’re transferring a benefit – you’ll need the old assessed value and the old market value from the previous home). The calculator will provide you with the millage rate, estimated assessed value, estimated taxes and estimated taxes with the homestead exemption.

Exemptions

Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a tax exemption?! The following list of exemptions are options that you can take to reduce the amount of taxes you pay. Below are two of the most common exemptions that occur for people living in luxury homes. There are also exemptions for veterans and those with disabilities, so be sure to check out the full list on the Property Appraiser’s website.

Homestead Exemption

Within the state of Florida and within Lee County, residents are able to file for a homestead exemption. This is a tax exemption gives you a deduction of up to $50,000 from the assessed value of your property. You’ll need proof of ownership (the deed to the home) in addition to other identification documents, which are listed on the County Website. You can file online, by mail, or in person.

Thinking of renting your luxury home? Keep in mind that you must reside in your home for at least two years, and you cannot rent it out (it constitutes abandonment and you may lose the designation of a homestead). You’ll need to contact the Lee County Appraiser’s office to determine whether or not you’ll be excluded from this exemption if you will be renting out your

home.

Senior Exemptions

Since many seniors opt to retire and live in a luxury home like The Colony in Bonita Springs, it’s important to know that seniors also qualify for an additional exemption. The Senior Exemption is available to senior citizens aged 65 and older and whose income does not exceed the set limitation. More information is available on the County Appraiser’s website.

The benefits do vary depending on where your home is located. For those who reside in Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and Bonita Springs, the exemption benefit is $25,000. Cape Coral is $50,000 and in all Lee County Millages, $50,000 and up to $250,000.

Tax Limitations in Florida

Save Our Homes

The Save Our Homes tax benefit limits the annual assessment increases on homestead-exempt property by 3%. This benefit can never be greater than market value, and you can transfer it should you move within the state of Florida.

Florida is a Great State!

Overall, Florida is attractive to people looking for luxury homes because of its excellent tax benefits, warm weather, and beautiful views. If you’re thinking about moving to The Colony and taking advantage of all Lee County has to offer, contact me today!


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4 Helpful Tips for New Kayakers & Canoers

Are you new to kayaking or canoeing? Participating in these water activities can be a great way to stay active while also enjoying the beautiful Florida scenery. If you live in The Colony, you do not have to go very far to enjoy these fun Florida activities. Along with 34 acres of white sand beaches, The Colony Bay Beach Park also offers a Back Water Bay Canoe Park. If you have been wanting to try canoeing or kayaking, but haven’t gotten the chance to get out on the water yet, have no fear!

If you’re a new kayaker or canoer, you may not know where to start. Use these tips to help you get started and enjoy some fun in the sun:

Go Canoeing and Kayaking With Friends

The best way to learn how to kayak or canoe is to practice, and practice is much more fun when you can enjoy the activity in the company of others. Bring your spouse or find a friend who is also interested in learning how to kayak or canoe. If you have friends who are experienced, ask them to show you the ropes. If not, learn together!

Join (or Create) a Community Canoe or Kayak Group

One of the best ways to stay motivated and continue to spend time on the water is to find a local kayak or canoe group. Here, you can meet others who enjoy these activities, including experienced paddlers who can give you some pointers. At The Colony in Pelican Landing, we have a number of residents that enjoy the occasional kayak/canoe season. Find others in the community who enjoy these activities and make kayaking or canoeing a weekly or monthly event.

Take a Canoe or Kayak Paddling Lesson

If you’re new to canoeing or kayaking, your first paddle might be a little daunting. The Colony Kayak & Canoe Park offers a first time paddle training session for those who have not yet been out on the water. During this training session, you can learn the basics of paddling and build your confidence so that you’re ready to get paddling.

Enjoy a Guided Canoe or Kayak Session

Southwest Florida offers many opportunities for guided canoe or kayak tours. These tours are led by seasoned paddlers who can teach you the basics while showing you the natural beauty of Florida. If you live at The Colony, you don’t have to go far for a guided paddle experience. These sunset/moonrise paddles are regularly scheduled throughout the season, but as the season comes to a close, the last paddle will take place on May 4, with a long paddle at 6:45 p.m. and a short paddle at 7:30 p.m.

Are You Ready to Enjoy the Best Kayaking in The Colony?

Imagine having these activities right in your own backyard. The Colony Bay & Golf Club offers this and more as part of its offering of luxury amenities. To find out more about how you can enjoy the best that Bonita Springs has to offer, contact Jill Kushner today!