Don’t let John Travolta’s 10 million dollar mansion fool you. Ocala, Florida isn’t a glamorous retreat for the rich and famous.
Ocala is one of the most affordable places to live in central Florida. If you’re considering a move to this growing city, take a look at this overview of the Ocala real estate market.
The Ocala Real Estate Market
Ocala, Florida is about 45 minutes south of Gainesville on the I-75 corridor. Most residents of nearby cities wouldn’t think twice about the small city when passing through on the way to Disney World or Palm Beach County.
But once you get to know the charming city, you’ll find a great investment opportunity. Think beyond horse farms.
In Ocala, you can buy single-family homes in top school districts for almost $100,000 less than the national average.
Where to Buy in Ocala
Ocala is filled with great submarkets that include live, work, play communities. While most communities aren’t walkable, there are many neighborhood options near I-75 where you can shop and live within a few minutes’ drive.
If you want the best school options, consider homes near Madison Street, a top-rated elementary school in the heart of Ocala. The feeder schools aren’t top rated but it’s a great magnet program for advanced students.
Belleview and Dunnellon are neighborhoods just outside the Ocala city limits that provide solid schooling options for elementary, middle and high school students. Retirees should opt for smaller, close-knit communities like Marion Oaks where you’ll find affordable housing, a community center, and grocery stores.
Other retirement communities in the area include On Top of the World and Trilogy at Ocala Preserve. Both options are moderately affordable but Trilogy offers luxury housing options if you’re looking to splurge on living accommodations.
One downside to moving to Ocala is the condo inventory. Most available homes are single-family residences with very few condominium buildings.
If you’re looking for tall high rise condominiums, there aren’t any in the Ocala area. Most homes in the affordable price range are single story.
Job growth in Ocala is steady. With retail and hospitality construction constantly going, there are opportunities to find part-time employment everywhere.
This is a great opportunity for retirees who want to supplement their income. Ocala’s Economic Development office includes funding opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs as of 2018.
These funds are expected to keep the job market expanding year after year.
Choosing Your Next Home
So now that you’ve decided Ocala is the right market for you, how do you decide on a price point for your next home? The first step is to decide what you want to accomplish as a homebuyer.
Perhaps you want to downsize your current home or move into the retirement property of your dreams. The pace of your lifestyle is important when choosing a community in Ocala.
Neighborhoods like Belleview and Dunnellon are perfect for families while young professionals will enjoy the bars and walkability of downtown. If you’re downsizing but still want access to events and activities, choose a subdivision with a lively community center to keep you busy.
Ask your realtor for a list of amenities for each subdivision so you can compare lifestyle activities. Not every subdivision requires HOA fees to get access to its amenities.
For example, Marion Oaks has a community center, playground and basketball courts that are available to all residents without a monthly or annual HOA fee. If you’re trying to save money, ask your realtor to help you find out more about communities that don’t charge you a fee to use neighborhood facilities.
Should You Buy in Ocala?
The Ocala real estate market has a lot to offer buyers looking for a quiet city with access to everything. Ocala is about an hour from Daytona Beach and 45 minutes from Crystal River Beach.
If you want a Disney World excursion, the trek to Orlando is just over an hour. Ocala gives you access that few other cities in the state offer.
You won’t get the cheapest prices in the state in Ocala, but the market is competitive for the amenities and location of the city. It’s a great time to buy since the economy is steady and home values continue to increase every year.
For investors, Ocala is a prime place to buy a rental property. Florida is a hot spot for people looking to escape the cold Northern weather for a warm climate.
Ocala attracts renters from across the Northeast looking to start over and find work in the growing job market. You’ll find the best deals on the outskirts of town near good school districts.
The further you head out of the city, the cheaper the real estate prices get. Aim for housing that’s within 20 minutes of downtown if you’re an investor.
Being near major highways like 200 or 44 also increases your chances of attracting renters who need easy access into town. Aim for properties that don’t come with a pool as the humidity makes upkeep much more tedious when the property is vacant.
Preparing Yourself for Homeownership
The Ocala real estate market offers everything you need to make your housing goals a reality including access to top beaches and attractions.
When it’s time to take a road trip, I-75 will take you from the tip of Florida up through Ohio. Ask your realtor for referrals to mortgage brokers to help you get preapproved before you begin your house hunt.
This will help you narrow down the communities where you want to invest and take immediate advantage of any good deals you find. For more information and real estate tips, check our blog for updates.