Cost of living comparison - Ocala and/or West Palm, FL vs. Lexington, KY

I’m not sure if this the best place to post this, but I recently found out there may be an internal opening at my employer in either the Ocala/Gainesville/Leesburg area or the West Palm/Welly/Lake Worth areas in FL. I currently live in Lexington, KY and am very happy here, but I’m not a fan of cold weather, and recently my family all moved to FL (St. Augustine area…I know this is still a several hour drive from either of the above locations).

I work in the equine industry in sales so would be a similar job in an expansion territory (Scary!), just a different location, and another huge factor in contemplating applying.

Anyways, just curious for those those have lived any of the places what the typical cost of living for horse owners is in comparison? I’m assuming based on my time in the Welly/Lake Worth area for work that, that area is a LOT more expensive than Ocala, but I am just guessing.
Ex. Cost of board at a nice/safe but not fancy facility with access to grass pasture, stall, riding arena, close to trails, etc. Full Care or partial care

  • Average cost of a 10 acre farm with small house (nothing super fancy) barn and fencing…I know this can vary a lot…big thing would be fairly close to town for significant other’s happiness and job (not a horse person).

I am just toying with the idea of possibly applying, as there are a lot of unknowns both with the potential opportunity in this location vs what I have now. TIA

Marion county resident here, in between Gainesville and Ocala.

Board can vary: anything from $200 pasture board to $1400+ training board, and I’m sure some places get close to $2000 (full-care, covered arena, full-training, fancy-schmancy). I pay $350 pasture board for one, $550 stall board at a safe/not-fancy facility. Horses get fed 3x daily, stalled horse has her stall cleaned daily, gets turnout and supervision. I would say that it is on the low-end of the price scale. There is an arena on the premises, it is not covered. Anything near Ocala will be close enough to trailer into the horse park or the national forest for trails.

As far as property… it’s gotten spendy. The new Ocala Horse Properties catalog just arrived, and there were many $1million+ properties. There were some 10-acre properties in the $500-$700k range. I was recently house hunting and I found 5-acre cross-fenced properties with mobiles/older homes and day-stalls/shelters for $250-$300k, rather far from town. A 3-bed house will be somewhere between $130k-$250k, depending on lot size, age, condition, and if it has the frills.

I do not make six figures, but I can live very comfortably with my horses in this area.

No figures, but can tell you that West Palm will definitely be much higher priced, and you won’t find the same type of space… Pasture space is generally limited, board is often “dry stall”, targeted to seasonal people who want to do their own thing, and its steep. Trails? Not that easy to find. I live in a small town midway between Orlando and Ocala, and I can tell you that the real estate market has been pretty darn strong - prices in our town are up significantly, there is little supply and things sell very quickly. Also have heard this about the whole Palm Beach area, in part because NY based companies are beginning to talk about moving south.
Mersidoats is seeing the same thing up that way. I’ve heard some PB pros have relocated up towards Ocala - more land, less cost; also the new WEG facility is going to help draw more business away from South Florida for sure.
Lastly - you may find better horse options north of Palm Beach - like Jupiter area, or similar that are further away from the Wellington chaos. But it seems no one publishes their rates, so you’ d have to do a lot of legwork to get a reasonable idea.

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I lived in the Gainesville area for 20+ years before moving away 2.5 years ago.

When I left, I sold my 2 br 1 ba newly partially remodeled home on 5 acres, perimeter fenced and cross-fenced, small fenced arena, tack & feed shed, big storage shed, and 4 run-in sheds for under $150K. I was west of Gainesville, but had a pretty straight shot to 39th Ave/I-75 and a quick & easy commute to the northwest side.

I was about 30 minutes to Canterbury (show grounds) and about the same to two different trail systems.

If you want good trainers to work with, the Gainesville area is vastly inferior to the Ocala area, but if you’re mostly independent, it’s fine. There was a good equine vet hospital 15 minutes from my house and of course, you’ve got the vet school for big stuff. Good farriers are very difficult to find - they’re almost all in Ocala.

There are places to board, but I kept mine at home so I can’t speak to costs or quality.

As far as quality of life, Gainesville offers more culture, commerce, and medical service than Ocala due to the presence of the university.

If I were to go back to that area, I would probably choose the Ocala area over Gainesville, but I’m old and will soon be retired, so my criteria are likely different than yours. :slight_smile:

I used to live in Lexington. I loved it and still have family there, but, like you, am not a big fan of cold weather. If I had to chose between KY and FL, I’d take FL. If I had to chose between Ocala/Gainesville/Leesburg and West Palm/Welly/Lake Worth, I’d take Ocala/Gainesville/Leesburg.

I’ve been in NE Ocala for a little over four years now, moved from Ohio. I’m about 15-20 minutes to downtown Ocala and 45 minutes to Gainesville.
Ocala is definitely superior for horse services, but Gainesville has much better non-horse stuff. Reddick, Citra, and Micanopy are nice towns somewhat equidistant between the two with lots of barns and land.

In the Ocala area there’s tons of barns and boarding options, ranging from dry stalls to full training. Prices kind of run all over the place, too, unfortunately :woman_shrugging:t2:. I saw a new barn pop up recently charging $750/month for dry stalls, no arenas, a grass jump field, eight stall barn, and some pastures. Then I see dry stalls for $300-500/month at super plush facilities with tons of amenities, including a covered arena.
But, on average, full board at a no-frills facility will probably be in the $500-700 range, with or without a sand arena. It’s very doable to ride on grass year round here. Partial care tends to be in the $250-350 range.
I’ve heard of barns in Loxahatchee whose dry stall price is $2000/month. Dry stall = you provide every single thing down to the buckets (usually), and all your own care/labor. Egads.

Real estate prices have skyrocketed here (I’m thrilled of course, yay equity!). I was just perusing Zillow the other day, and there’s not a lot available. What is available looks to be ~$400k+ for ~10 acres with home and barn. Morriston, Williston, Archer areas are a bit cheaper, but are much further from Ocala and Gainesville city centers.

Hay costs a million dollars in Florida, if you didn’t already find that tidbit of information :rofl:

In a nutshell, of the two general areas in Florida you have the options to look at, the Ocala/Gainesville area is probably your best bet. It will be the most affordable, still with a ton of horse amenities, and much closer to St Augustine.

prices in West Palm are probably twice what they are here in Ocala, to start. Afrer all, that is where Wellington and Loxahatchee are… The new World Equestrian Center here has everyone cranking their prices up , especially if you are in “Horse Country”. ie, the NW side of the county. I live south of Ocala near the Florida Horse Park, and i have 5 ac. Prices are more affordable this side of the county. Be careful about the soil - some areas are mostly sand and you have to be very careful IRT pasture management. We really have the best of everything here horse-wise in the OCala area - from Vets to Farriers to tack shops…

I live in Lake Worth (well, half the year). If you want just a house, Westlake (up by Lox), Lake Worth, and Boynton Beach tend to be less expensive. There’s very little available for farms in those towns, though, you’d really be looking at Lox or Wellington for something with property.

10ac here (or environs) starts at $1m with a house. The standard farm parcel size is 5ac, so you’re asking for a double lot. I am just working through a deal on a 5ac farm in Lox with 5 stalls for around $800k.

My full board in season is $1200/mo. No training included. That is very affordable for the area.

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A few things to add regarding commutes: from where I live (Citra), it’s 35 min to Gainesville (UF campus/midtown area) and 15 min to downtown Ocala (the square). It’s an hour-thirty to St. Augustine, on country roads through speed-trap towns. Gas is around $2.15 currently. I-75 between Gainesville and Ocala is generally pain-free, but occasionally it can turn into a cluster, and the traffic spills over onto the local highway, 441. The university is waking up now that the vaccine is available, and seeing that UF is a main cultural driver in the area, soon there will be more to see and do. Lately it’s been a little quiet.

The horse-friendly housing market: hot. Source: I just bought a home and experienced the roller-coaster first-hand. Things move, and generally at or above the asking price. I’ve seen properties listed and gone in 48 hours. Properties that have been sitting for years (too expensive for the area or too far from whatever) are now sold - people are moving into town now that WEC up and running. Land is getting expensive, even raw swampy lots.

Other horsey costs: hay does cost a million dollars, especially now. You can save a bit if you go in on a semi with some people, but if you board, expect the cost to be passed to you through your board bill. There are some locals that have good-quality coastal, and my BO buys half-ton squares of orchard/timothy mix and apparently that’s cheaper than buying 50lb bales. I’ve found that vet costs are reasonable here, compared to where I came from.

Yeah, the cheapest way to get Orchard and/or Alfalfa are the compressed blocks at Larsen’s = $0.21/lb ($424/ton). Available in 500-lb or 1000-lb blocks.
Occassionally I’ll see Facebook listings for large squares (9000-1100 lbs, not compressed) of Orchard or Timothy for $200 or so.
Standard 50-lb squares, aka 2-string, or 3-string bales (100-lb) of Orchard, Alfalfa, Timothy, and mixes of these average $0.30-0.35/lb ($600-675/ton). Straight Alfalfa often runs a smidge cheaper than the grasses or grass mixes.

Coastal Bermuda or Tifton are the cheapest, because they can be grown here. $8/small square, 40-50 lbs, or $75/roll, 600-700 pounds. Tifton is a Bermuda hybrid with an African grass. I’ve not had a problem feeding either of them.

Perennial peanut is usually around the same price as Alfalfa, but is hard to find and is meesssssyyyy.

I use Peterson & Smith, and have been told that people here think they’re a bit too expensive?? They’re cheaper than my vet in Ohio was, so, shrug. I love that they have like 20-some vets on staff, which means there’s always a couple emergency vets on call. My regular vet usually tries to come out for emergencies when she can, even if others are on call, she’s the best.

Congratulations! I’m close by in Anthony.