Should Boomers Rent or Buy on Sanibel?

Last week, I had this conversation with a longtime snowbird of Sanibel who said she was looking to move on island full-time next year. They sold their large, 4-bedroom, 3-story house in New England, and are ready to spend the better half of the year in Florida.


“Should I continue renting the same condo we have been enjoying every winter for the past six years?” she asked. “Or, do you think it’s a better financial investment to purchase a unit of our own?”

A natural Realtor® response would be to rattle off, “You should buy, of course!” But as you know, I’m aways looking after the best interest of our clients first, and so we discussed her specific retirement situation and the benefits of both renting and buying.

Sanibel Renting vs. Buying

There are plenty of seasonal rentals available on Sanibel, however, long-term annual rentals are harder to come by if you don’t already know of one. So, I shared my concern regarding availability with her first.

The second concern was of course affordability. Mortgage payments are fixed, whereas rental rates tend to increase every year or so. Actually, the Census Bureau just released an interesting graph that shows national rental rate increases since 1988.


While not every city has seen the same increase in rental rates, I reminded our client that our vacation marketplace is seasonal. Therefore, we see seasonal rate hikes on top of annual rental rate inflation. So, unless she can lock in an annual rental rate agreement, this might drastically change what she pays in the Winter versus Summer months.

The biggest benefit of renting is that maintenance is usually taken care of by the landlord. However, most condo complexes on Sanibel already take care of building maintenance and landscaping, which is covered in your condo association dues. They will also have a recommendation for cleaning service or handy man that you can hire if that is a service you desire or require.


While that’s just a short recap of our conversation, I think my honest, unbiased opinion on renting versus buying on Sanibel helped her make the right decision. I explained that even if she only ends up staying six months and day, she has the option of renting the home while she is away to help cover the cost of homeownership.

Wondering what’s the best option for you? Shoot me a message or give me a ring! I’m always happy to share my knowledge and experience with what I’ve seen work well for other clients.

Susan McCallion About Susan McCallion

Meet "Your Favorite Redhead." Susan was exposed to real estate while young with her parent's 8 Re/MAX offices in Connecticut! In 2008, Susan and Jim became permanent Sanibel residents, starting McCallion & McCallion to bring a fresh approach to real estate.