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Stuart, Florida

Stuart is a sleepy town on southeastern Florida's Treasure Coast and was once a popular pirate hangout. Today it bills itself as the "Sailfish Capital of the World" and has been called "America's Happiest Seaside Town." Vacationers come to dive, boat and fish.

The charming downtown has art galleries, awning-draped shops, sidewalk cafes and a farmers' market. The Barn Theatre, the Elliott Museum and the Lyric Theatre add a bit of culture. The fun annual Stuart Boat Show showcases hundreds of boats, everything from pontoons to cruisers. Dancin' in the Street is a beloved street festival.

Stuart Beach is long, broad and white, snuggled against bright blue waters, and is one of the country's best. Locals also enjoy a nice riverfront boardwalk.

Housing includes everything from waterfront custom homes to concrete block ranch ramblers. The Monterey Yacht and Country Club is a 55+ community with a yacht club.

Cost of Living

Stuart has an overall cost of living 17% below the national average.

The median household income is $47,310.

Real Estate

The median home price is $290,800. This is a 15% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $375,000 (Realtor.com).

Estimates are that Stuart real estate prices will increase by 5% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,550 per month.


Stuart has 17,000 residents. The population has grown by 4% within the last decade.

The median age is 48. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital is the local medical facility.

The crime rate is below the national average.

Both Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019 came close to Stuart. Homeowners' insurance is expensive.


The combined sales tax rate is 6.5%.

Florida does not tax Social Security or any other retirememt income.

Florida's property tax homestead exemption reduces the assessed value of a home by $50,000, so a residence that is actually worth $100,000 is only taxed on $50,000. Residents age 65 and older who meet certain income limits may receive an extra homestead exemption of up to $50,000.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Stuart is .94%. The annual taxes on a $290,800 home are approximately $2,734, without a homestead exemption.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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