Vacation Home: Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.

Beth DeCosta Davis grew up in Tampa.

When she got out of college, she bought a cottage-style condo in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., as her first home. When her job transferred her to other cities, she began renting it out. She and Mike Davis married in 2005 and soon decided to buy a second condo in the Belleair Beach community, just north of Indian Rocks Beach.

In October 2006, the couple decided it was time to make one more investment in the area. Planning to start their family -- and knowing they wanted a place they could enjoy with their two dogs, Spencer and Lancaster -- they bought their third property, a two-bedroom condo in Indian Rocks Beach that opens right onto the Gulf of Mexico.

Why would this couple who lives in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood of Atlanta want a second home in Florida? “We love being able to see that it’s going to be a rainy weekend in Atlanta but a beautiful weekend in Florida and just getting away,” Davis said.

At a glance: The Davises' two-bedroom, two-bath condo is on the ground floor of a four-condo building and on the Gulf side. The kitchen, dining room and living room all have Gulf views, and there's a covered patio off the living room perfect for parties and family gatherings. Mike Davis and Beth's father Bill DeCosta rebuilt the adjoining pergola to expand the outdoor living space.

Renting property: For a few years Davis made a full-time job of managing the family's three Florida properties. She and 3-year-old daughter Jessica would spend as much time there as in Atlanta. Now the couple has decided to move their two original properties to annual leases, and the management demands are much less.

Small town feeling: Indian Rocks Beach enforces height restrictions that keep the cottage-feel of the original community. "Jessica goes to a little preschool that reminds me of 'Little House on the Prairie,'" Davis said. "There are still homes here that were built when the town was originally developed and have been in the same families for generations."

Activities available: The family enjoys riding their bikes and playing horseshoes and volleyball on the beach. They love to barbecue and the weather is perfect year-round for sitting out on the patio. "I love going to Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa each winter, or you can just walk down the street and grab a sandwich and ice cream and listen to local musicians," Davis said.

For their sunset years: The Davises enjoy a spectacular sunset off their patio each evening. It's just one of the reasons they're happy they bought a home at Indian Rocks Beach. "As my husband and I grow older, we're sure we're going to want to spend more time in warmer areas for much of the year. We're really happy we bought this place when we were younger and when it was affordable," Davis said.

Getting there

From downtown Atlanta: Take I-75 south to I-275 toward Tampa/St. Petersburg. Take Exit 31 to SR-688. Turn right on Gulf Boulevard. The trip is about 500 miles.

Community overview

Indian Rocks Beach is one of a string of waterfront communities along the Gulf between Clearwater and St. Petersburg. The area offers real estate listings from raw land to high-rise condos, beachfront, bayfront and on the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Indian Rocks Beach community encompasses less than a square mile and has about 4,000 year-round residents. Broker-Realtor Liz Barrett of Lizard Realty specializes in both sales and rentals. She said these days the average price for a beachfront condo at Indian Rocks Beach is $385,000 or about $299 a square foot. Right now there are 34 properties for sale ranging from $329,000 to $1.2 million.

Information

www.lizardrealty.com

www.indian-rocks-beach.com

www.indianrocksbch.com

For sale

$198,000: 1 Windrush Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Three-bedroom two-bath second-floor condo with one-car carport. Balcony, water views from all rooms, clubhouse and pool on Intracoastal Waterway, walk to Gulf.

$1.35 million: 19832 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Three-bedroom, two-bath 1920s beachfront home with lot through to Intracoastal Waterway and dock. Guest cottage with additional bedroom and bath. Wood-burning fireplace, original hardwood floors, vintage tile bathrooms, beachfront porch.

Recent sale

$425,000: 2618 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Three-bedroom two-bath second story condo with direct beachfront views, one-car carport. Professionally decorated, sold furnished, wood-burning fireplace, community has heated pool, beachfront gazebo. Sold May 2010.