There's a big difference between Rapid City, Mich., and Land O'Lakes. Like 1,400 miles and 50 degrees.
Jim and Dale Luttman love their Rapid City home on Torch River but its average January high of 24 degrees sent these snowbirds looking for a Southern winter nest.
The retired couple found that home in Lakeshore Ranch, a development off U.S. 41 about 20 miles north of Tampa.
And the temperature is particularly important to the Luttmans; they spend a lot of time at the nearby clothing-optional Caliente Resort & Spa.
"We wanted something within a 3-mile radius of Caliente," Dale Luttman said. "We looked for 3 1/2 years before we found this house."
It wasn't their first Florida home but it's definitely their last. And their winter stays keep getting longer and longer.
They spend about eight months a year in Florida, going north for only the hottest months.
"I love the grounds here. When I drive in, I feel like I'm in an exclusive place," Dale Luttman said.
Lakeshore Ranch is surrounded by horse farms and its developers kept the theme. There are a lot of open common areas and the clubhouse brims with horse decor and memorabilia.
Marie Shaw, a new-home consultant for Home Dynamics, one of two builders in Lakeshore Ranch (the other is K. Hovnanian Homes), said those large open conservation areas are a big draw.
There are also many amenities in place in the community, which now has about 120 homes but will have about 700 when built out.
There's a clubhouse with a 24-hour fitness center and three pools, two of which are heated throughout the winter. There is an outdoor amphitheater, a shaded dog park, and tennis and basketball courts.
"We cater to families," Shaw said.
For these amenities, the Luttmans pay yearly Community Development District fees of $2,100. Monthly HOA fees are $78, which covers Internet, basic cable and trash pickup.
The demographics in the community are wide-ranging, from couples with small children to retired snowbirds like the Luttmans.
"The homes are affordable," Shaw said. They start at $169,900 and go up to $314,000.
And the proximity to Interstate 75, Dale Mabry Highway and the Suncoast Parkway make an easy commute to a lot of different areas, she said.
"We don't like big communities; we like smaller. This is ideal for us," Dale Luttman said.
She said her husband picked the lot, a premium one on a cul-de-sac.
"We looked at foreclosures and short sales for several years," Jim Luttman said. "Finally I said, 'Let's go look at new houses.' "
"A lot of the home sites overlook water and trees," Shaw said. "The developer kept a lot of the larger oak trees."
It makes the development, which still has a working horse ranch, a mixture of country living with the luxuries of a planned suburban community.
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at email@example.com