Budget Downtown Living

By Robert Plunket March 18, 2009

Budget Downtown Living


If you’re young, hip and not so rich, consider renting a place in Sarasota’s Laurel Park.


By Robert Plunket

Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discussing Laurel Park rentals on TV.


If you’re just out of college and starting out on your career, chances are you don’t want to buy a house. First of all, you can’t afford it. And you might want to move in a year or so, anyway, particularly if the right job turns up in Atlanta or New York. If you’re like I was, your main interests are hanging out with your friends, going out to bars, eating at the latest restaurant, going out to bars, being in the center of the action, and going out to bars.


The perfect neighborhood for the young and hip in Sarasota is undoubtedly Laurel Park. Right on the southern edge of downtown, it has a diverse stock of mostly older houses. There are some new million-dollar-plus town homes but most of them are decades old, with a lot of character and charm. To buy they can be quite pricey, but many have been split up into rental units and – at the moment, anyway – rents are very reasonable.




510 Columbia Court

At the corner of Laurel Street and Columbia Court is a group of cute little cottages painted in bright tropical colors. They’re very Key West in feeling, and though there are none available at the moment, one rented last week – a one bedroom – for $700. I checked out the interior of one and found it quite modern and up to date, though the rooms were rather small.




525 Columbia Court

Right across the street, at 525 Columbia Court, is a two bedroom unit in an older house, with nice wood floors. The landlord hasn’t advertised it yet, but he tells me he’ll let it go for $700 to the right tenant. That’s a real bargain for a downtown two-bedroom. Call Larry at 941-928-3941.




403 Rawls St.

And there’s another two-bedroom unit at 403 Rawls St., behind the Woman’s Exchange. I checked it out this morning and was very impressed – the interior is bright and modern, it has two private patios, a dishwasher, an updated bath, sliding glass doors and tile floors in every room. The rent is $825. And check out the blue and white exterior. It’s more Key West than Key West. Call 941-735-2324.




Spanish Oaks apartments on Laurel Street

And for the granddaddy of all Laurel Park apartments, take a look at the Spanish Oak Apartments on Oak Street, directly east of the Woman’s Exchange. This is a classic townhouse court from the 1920s (it’s on the National Register of Historic Places) and it’s been beautifully maintained. The units are each two stories and have two bedrooms, a dinning room, hardwood floors, a screen porch, and even the original bathtubs. There is currently one available at $875, including sewer and water. True, the rooms are a little small, but it’s a unique and charming part of Sarasota history. Call 941-955-1285.
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