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Clewiston, Florida

Clewiston (population 7,500) is a rural town on the southwest bank of vast Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida, and is equidistant from the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast. It started out as a fishing camp in the 1920s and later became home to sugar manufacturers as sugar plantations sprouted up around the lake.

Today, Clewiston is known as "America's Sweetest Town," and its annual Sugar Festival draws attendees from across Florida. The nearby Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum, which is in the Everglades, and the 100-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail around the lake also draw tourists. Anglers launch their fishing expeditions for some of the state's largest bass from local boat ramps. The town hosts more than 20 fishing tournaments each year.

Most commercial and government buildings, including the historic Clewiston Inn and the Clewiston Museum, sit along Route 27, the main road through town. The road also provides easy access to Fort Myers' beaches to the west and West Palm Beach's beaches to the east, each about 60 miles away.

Cost of Living

Clewiston is an affordable small town with an overall cost of living 20% less than the national average.

The town is 32% less expensive than Bar Harbor, Maine, 16% less expensive than Fort Collins, Colorado and 18% less than Tampa, Florida.

The median household income is $53,408.

Real Estate

The median home price in Clewistone is $120,445. This is a 4% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $259,245.

Estimates are that Clewiston real estate values will decline by 2.1% over the next year.

The median rental price is $720 per month.

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Growth and Drawbacks

Clewiston has grown by 4% in the last decade. The crime rate is slightly above the national average.

Taxes

The combined sales tax rate for Clewiston is 7%. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates.

Florida has a 6% state sales tax on vehicle purchases.

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

Florida's property tax homestead exemption reduces the assessed value of a home by $50,000, so a residence that is really 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 property tax rate is approximately $1,040 per $100,000 in assessed value. The annual taxes on a $120,445 home are approximately $1,248 without a homestead exemption.

Desire a Nicer Home Without a Mortgage Payment?

If so, consider a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for Purchase. This is a reverse mortgage that lets people age 62+ purchase a new home by using a reverse mortgage.

How does it work? Buyers must put down approximately 45% to 62% of the new home's purchase price, depending on the buyer's age and other factors. This money usually comes from the buyer selling his current home. The rest of the purchase funds come from the HECM loan.

For example, a person sells his home and nets $250,000 from the sale. With a HECM for Purchase Loan he can then buy a new $450,000 home by putting down $225,000 (50%), keeping $25,000 cash in his pocket and financing the remaining $225,000 home price with the reverse mortgage loan. Best yet, the buyer will have no monthly mortgage payments.

Talk to a reputable reverse mortgage lender for more information.

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