When you're used to the privacy and tranquility of living on a 300-acre piece of property, it's tough to move to a neighborhood where you can smell what your neighbor is cooking for dinner.
That is what Russ and Janice Sexton were up against when they were looking for a home in 2005 when Russ Sexton got a job teaching microbiology at the newly opened Lakewood Ranch branch of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
When the Sextons were working at the college in Erie, Pa., they lived in a farm house on 300 acres and loved it. He's originally from St. Petersburg but she's originally from rural eastern Connecticut. They met as undergraduates at University of South Florida St. Petersburg. (Janice Sexton teaches, too.)
They appreciate and like living in the quiet.
A LECOM colleague who moved down from Erie just before the Sextons did recommended they check out Foxbrook, which was just being built and was about 15 miles from the college.
"When we were looking around, Jan liked the open spaces. We had looked in Lakewood Ranch and Heritage Harbor (in Manatee County), but this was one of the few areas that had acreage," Russ Sexton said.
"It's supposed to be — and look — rural. There are no sidewalks or curbing," he said.
"Janice picked out the home style (built by Johnson Homes) and I picked out the property on this cul-de-sac," he said.
It was a great place to live when commuting to work, Russ Sexton said, and an even greater place to live now.
He retired in January after working for the college for 18 years. But they left their bloodline behind. Their daughter, a physician, lives nearby and also works for the college. The Sextons spend a lot of time with their grandchildren, including a brand new baby.
They are getting a kick out of watching the development of the community restart after the economy brought it to a standstill.
"In 2008, everything stopped. There was no movement in houses," he said. But that has changed.
"People are buying because the prices are down," he said. In fact, their house is worth significantly less today than when they bought it eight years ago, but that's okay with the couple. They aren't going anywhere — and the house is paid for.
"People like to live here because it's a country setting close to town where residents have the freedom to spread out, enjoy the wildlife and build the home of their dreams," said Nicole Hearn, a real estate agent with Keller Williams on the Water in Bradenton.
Her real estate partner and husband, Tom, said the top reasons people say they love Foxbrook — a development with 298 home sites of which only 21 remain unsold — are the lot sizes (1 to 8 acres) and low HOA fees ($205 a quarter). Home buyers can use any builder they want (so there are no cookie-cutter homes). Also attractive: They can have horses if they own 2 acres or more, and outbuildings for boat and RV parking are allowed.
Patti Ewald can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8746.