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Surrounded by Water and Wilderness, DeBary, Florida is Leafy and Lush with a Reasonable Cost of Living
Twenty-six miles northeast of Orlando in northeastern Florida, DeBary (population 21,000) is bordered by Lake Monroe, the St. John's River, the Seminole State Forest and the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Although the town is named after Frederick DeBary, a prosperous wine merchant who settled here in 1871, DeBary got its start as a single home in 1866.
The couple who built the home later sold 400 nearby acres to Mr. DeBary. He then constructed an elaborate 20-room hunting lodge named DeBary Hall. The lodge was famous for its swimming pool, possibly the first in Florida, and for having a fireplace in each room.
As Mr. deBary's fortunes grew, so did the little town of DeBary, although it has remained a rural place over the years. In 1993, it decided to incorporate. Today, it is a quiet, leafy place, and DeBary Hall is a museum.
The cost of living is 3% below the national average, and the median home price is $260,000. Modest neighborhoods have older, concrete block ranch ramblers while master-planned developments boast beautiful Mediterraneans and recently planted palm trees. King's Lake is a tropical, low maintenance 55+ community with homes around a lake.
DeBary has grown by 5% during the last decade, and 50% of its residents are age 45 or better. Politics are split down the middle and 27% of locals have at least a four year college degree. The crime rate is below the national average.
The town has always identified with the St. John's River, a smooth-as-glass strip of water and one of the country's few rivers to flow northward. Native Americans and early explorers followed the river and depended on it for food, water and transportation. One of Mr. DeBary's enterprises was a steamship line that ran up the river to Jacksonville. Today, the St. John's brings in tourism dollars and gives locals a place to swim and boat.
Sprinkled with thousands of live oaks, cypress trees and southern magnolias, DeBary exudes Old Florida. The pace is slow. The air is thick and still, and katydids chirp in the night.
DeBary is also an official bird sanctuary and brims with parks. The largest is the 110-acre River City Nature Park.
Lake Monroe is the best local fishing spot. Gemini Springs is a nice natural springs park outside of town and is full of clear water, turtles and a few alligators. Nearby Blue Springs State Park boasts year round water at 73 degrees and is popular with kayakers and snorkelers. Canaveral National Seashore is just 30 miles away.
Shopping is limited so locals usually travel to Sanford or Orange City for supplies.
DeBary has a good selection of eateries. The Swamp House Riverfront Grill sits next to the river and is the spot for fish tacos and broiled snapper. The Genuine Bistro and Lounge serves up American classics.
Yearly festivals include the Autumn Harvest Festival and the Father and Daughter Dance.
Locatated on the grounds of the Gateway Center for the Arts, the farmers' market is known for its variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Center sponsors dance performances, theater productions and art workshops.
Votran provides public transportation, but it is limited. SunRail, a commuter rail system, travels south into Orlando.
The DeBary public library is small but receives rave reviews. It has a book club, craft classes, a helpful staff and more.
DeBary does not have a hospital, but Florida Hospital Fish Memorial is five miles in Orange City away and is accredited by the Joint Commission.
This area has a humid subtropical climate, meaning two seasons a year. Summers and early fall are hot and humid, while late fall and winter are less humid and cooler. On average, the area receives 55 inches of rain per year. It is worth noting that parts of DeBary are prone to flooding during hurricanes and tropical storms.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Named Pascua Florida by Juan Ponce De Leon, the Sunshine State did not enter the Union until March 3, 1845. Balmy mild winters began attracting snowbirds to the state in the late 19th century. Retirees continue to flock to the state. It's not hard to see why tourism has become the leading industry.
International trade and citrus are also major contributors to the state's economy. Eighty percent of the nation's oranges and grapefruits are grown here, and 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin America flow through Florida.
Florida's landscape includes uplands and coastal plains. It contains more than 11,000 miles of waterways and about 4,500 islands spread across 10 acres.
The state has 1,250 golf courses, more than any other state in the Union. The 47 mile Pinellas Trail is the longest urban trail on the east coast. Orlando theme parks attract more visitors than any other theme parks in the U.S. The only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist is in National Everglades Park.
Population - 20,612,439
Persons 65 years old and over - 20%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 87%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 24%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $47,525
Median home value - $159,900
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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