America’s Original Homestead Discovered Anew – St. Augustine, Florida

Historic St. Augustine

Photo: Historic St. Augustine

Large numbers of baby boomers continue to retire to Florida, seeking mild year-round weather and affordable living – but for many years, few were looking at St. Augustine. And it may be Florida’s hidden gem when it comes to great communities to call home. Why is the oldest city in America gaining attention? Before we talk housing trends, let’s take a quick history lesson.

Historic St. Augustine

Photo: Historic St. Augustine

• St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed on the shore of what is now called Matanzas Bay and began the founding of the Presidio of San Agustin. Later the settlement would be called St. Augustine, in honor of Augustine, a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on whose feast day (August 28), was the date the land was first sighted.

Historic St. Augustine

Photo: Historic St. Augustine

• For over 200 years, the city served as the capital of Spanish Florida and later became the capital of British East Florida. When Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, St. Augustine was designated the capital of the Florida Territory until 1924, when Tallahassee became the capital.

• St. Augustine was established 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, 43 years before the Spanish settlement at Santa Fe, New Mexico and 42 years before the English established their colony at Jamestown, Virginia. Amazing right!

Historic St. Augustine

Photo: Historic St. Augustine

St. Augustine Housing

I recently visited with Robin Hoffman, a leading real estate agent in St. Johns County and she shared the following insights and trends, and reasons why the area is growing:

• Hottest price range in St Johns County/St Augustine: $300,000.00

• Median list price: $369,000.00

• Largest buying group: Millennials. Yep, they’ve passed retirees.

• Second largest group of buyers: Baby Boomers. No surprise there. Many are downsizing and relocating to St. Augustine from cold northern climates or overtaxed areas of the country. Buyers are seeking attractive qualities in the area including beaches, rivers, historic sites, quaint shops, golf courses, waterfront dining and leading healthcare/medical facilities.

• St. Johns County has high-ranking schools (attracting families), affordable living, recreation and higher education. Travel is convenient via Jacksonville. Orlando fun is less than a 2-hour drive.

• Conservation areas and waterways: This area of northeast Florida is not over-developed like much of south Florida. There are huge conservation areas, state parks and protected shoreline.

Flagler College in St. Augustine

Photo: Flagler College in St. Augustine

• Historic St. Augustine. There are many wonderful places to visit including: Castillo de San Marcos (the Fort), Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, the Colonial Quarter, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Schooner Freedom and El Galeón, Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and Flagler College.

• New Communities: For Boomers, there are various 55+ communities across multiple price points including: Coquina Crossing, San Solito by DR Horton.

Beachwalk in St. Augustine

Photo: Beachwalk in St. Augustine

• For families and 2nd home shoppers, there’s a new master-planned community called Beachwalk. The Beachwalk community centers around a 14.5 Crystal Lagoon, white-sand beaches, clubhouse, water recreation, walkable community, restaurant and retail shops. This community may be ideal for year-round family residence, vacation or 2nd homes, or investment/rental buyers.

For information on all housing options in St. Augustine, contact Robin Hoffman at 904-501-0302