Moving to The Villages, or anywhere for that matter, can be both a very exciting and very stressful time.
You put in a lot of work choosing the right place to retire, finding the perfect home for you, packing, unpacking, and more. By the time you’re through your brain is probably fried and all you want to do is relax.
But once you’ve made it here, there are still a few things you should take care of as soon as possible to make sure you get the full amount of enjoyment out of The Villages and take full advantage of all the fine benefits you are entitled to.
File for Homestead Exemptions
Do you like saving money? I know I do. Luckily Florida gives us a couple ways to save on our property taxes in the form of homestead exemptions, provided you meet certain residency requirements. But believe it or not, people forget to apply for these exemptions and end up paying more. You will not be one of these people right?
Every person who has “legal or equitable title (you own it) to real property (your home) in the State of Florida and who resides on the property on January 1, and in good faith makes it his or her permanent home is eligible for a homestead exemption.”
You have to make application for the exemption between January 1 of the previous year and March 1 of the year you want the exemption. For example, for the 2012 tax year, you would have been able to apply for homestead exemption from January 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012.
When filing your homestead exemption for the first time, you will be asked to provide evidence that you are a legal resident, such as a voter registration card or a Florida driverʼs license.
There is no need to reapply each year as long as you are in the same home. If you move, however, you will need to reapply.
If you are a part-time resident using your home in The Villages as a vacation home or second home, you will not be eligible for this exemption.
There are a few other exemptions that might apply to Villagers as well, such as the additional homestead exemption for persons 65 and older (though income restrictions apply and may disqualify you from this), a $500 Widowʼs and Widowerʼs Exemption, a $500 Disability Exemption, a $5,000 Disability Exemption for Ex -Service Members, and a $500 Exemption for Blind Persons.
You can read more about whether you may qualify at the Lake, Sumter, and Marion County Property Appraisers Office websites:
Bottom line: Don’t forget to file for Homestead Exemption
Join BOTH the POA and VHA
The Villages Property Owner’s Association and The Villages Homeowner’s Association are two organizations that will help you get the most out of life in The Villages.
While many people choose to affiliate with one over the other, I always tell people to join both. Why?
To begin with, both organizations are good advocates for residents. Though they focus on different issues (the VHA is closely aligned with the developer, while the POA is more independent), it doesn’t hurt to support both organizations. If nothing else than to stay in the loop and keep your finger on the pulse of your new hometown.
The VHA tends to play up “what’s right” with The Villages, and the POA focuses on “what’s wrong” or “what could be improved”.
Another benefit besides staying informed, is that both the POA and VHA have partner programs which offer residents some good discounts from many of the local restaurants and businesses serving The Villages. Use just one or two of these discounts per month and you’re easily paying for the cost of your membership.
The Villages Homeowner’s Association mentioned above offers a newcomer orientation on the 2nd Tuesday of each month (outside of holidays that happen to fall on this day) at 7 pm at Colony Cottage Recreation Center.
The VHA’s Newcomer Orientation is a great intro to The Villages and covers a lot of information about The Villages itself, as well as the VHA.
Good Golf School
For a place well known for its abundance of golf courses, its interesting to note that not everyone who moves to The Villages plays golf. For some, their move to The Villages will mark the beginning of a long obsession with the game.
The good golf school is not where you go to learn how to grip and swing a club. It’s where you go to learn the ins and outs of The Villages tee time system, with some basic golf course etiquette thrown in for good measure.
Whether you’ve been playing golf your whole life or if this is your first time, good golf school should be on your list of things to take in right after moving to The Villages.
To find out more and register, call the Tee Times Office at 352-750-4558
Each week The District hosts an information session titled “Introduction to your Special Purpose Local Government”. Here you will learn how the various services that support The Villages are run and learn what you need to know about each of them.
No need to sign up, just show up to one of the sessions which take place every Thursday at 10 A.M in the conference room of the District Office.
If you are still awake at the end and craving even more information, you could take the next step and attend the Resident Academy.
The Villages Resident Academy is a 6-week course for people who want to learn more about the local government. The course is broken down into six different modules that last about 2 hours each week.
In week 1 you get an introduction to the District operations and structure, and an overview and history of the CDD Government.
Week 2 continues with coverage of topics like Finance, Budget, HR, and Purchasing & Contracts.
Week 3 you will learn about the how the utilities, water, and wastewater departments work.
The “fun” stuff is covered in Week 4 when you’ll learn about how the Recreation and Golf departments are run.
In week 5 you’ll learn about the departments charged with keeping The Villages safe, Public Safety and Community Watch.
Week 6 you learn about property management, landscaping, community standards, and customer service.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in just contact the Customer Service Center at 352-753-4508
Meet the neighbors
Last but certainly not least, don’t be shy.
If you attend some of the events I talk about above, you’re bound to meet some other people who, just like you, are new to The Villages and are looking to meet other newcomers.
But some of the first people you’re going to want to meet after you move to The Villages are your immediate neighbors. Everyone is friendly in The Villages, so just walk up to the door of the neighbors on either side and across from you, extend your hand and introduce yourself. Who knows, you may have just met your next set of great friends.
And there you have it, 6 things you should do right away after moving to The Villages.
Over to you. I’m sure there’s plenty I missed. What else would you tell new residents they should do right after moving to The Villages? Let us know in the comments below.