In early 1994, Gina Razete and her partner Cathy Groene traveled to an all women RV park in Apache Junction, AZ. They loved being with all the women, but were not fond of the desert. Following their two-month stay, they started talking about creating something similar in Fort Myers, Florida.
With Gina’s background in real estate and their experience with new home construction, the two decided to look for land to develop a community that would accommodate both RV’s and homes.
“Gina’s parents, two brothers, and their children all live here. When looking for land to develop in Florida, it was only natural that we come here and use this as our home base,” says Cathy. “After exploring many ares of Florida, we were lucky enough to find the perfect fifty acres right here in Ft Myers. Also, the sub-tropical weather is outstanding.
The couple spared no expense or attention to detail when they designed the 50-acre resort, featuring 278 homes and RV lots. With the help from a team of attorneys, they incorporated a strong organization that continues to serve them well to this day. The community was named The Resort on Carefree Boulevard.
“We have talked to our friends forever about that when we are ‘old’ we would move close together. The dream became a reality for us and 500+ women,” said Cathy. Over the years, the Fort Myers resort has become a sanctuary of sorts to women, primarily lesbians, from around the country and from all walks of life: teachers, veterans, bankers, artists, and so on.
There are no shortage of things to do at Carefree either.
Women from the community also gather together for several activities and events throughout the month. “There are talent shows and The Lily (our version of the Oscars where videos are submitted for judging and then we have the gala awards night),” says Cathy. “Kayaking and biking trips are scheduled every week. Every other year, we have the Rainbow Olympics where people compete in numerous sports for two weeks. There are potluck dinners, dances, and art shows. There are classes on just about anything you can think of: stained glass, basket weaving, yoga, computer, iPhone, and the list goes on and on. There is also bingo, concerts with well known comedians and singers, and we have a band and a chorus.”
For those looking to venture outside of the resort, nearby activities include golf, biking trails, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, shell collecting on gorgeous beaches, and dining at delicious nearby restuarants.
Although Florida’s gulf coast has become more LGBT-inclusive, there is something special and unique about living in a community like Carefree. “Being ‘welcomed’ in a straight community and being surrounded, in a community, by people just like you are two entirely different things,” says Cathy. “Knowing that your neighbor has experienced the same challenges as you, growing up in a ‘straight world’, gives us comfort and we don’t have to worry about what our neighbor thinks of us living there.”
Resident Mary Gay Hutcherson agrees, “I have never felt so free in any place I have lived, in my 75 years.”
“There are so many nice people and so much to do,” says Jane A.
“I love the togetherness and love having friends to do things with,” says Bobbi L.
Gina and Cathy also live in Carefree and can’t see themselves living anywhere else. “I grew up on a street in Cincinnati where there were about 25 kids around the same age,” says Cathy. “We played together from sun up till after sun down. Carefree is an extension of my childhood and I love it here. I can walk outside my door just about any time of the day and find someone to play with!”
“I agree,” says Gina. “And also, I love going to the dances here. It has become my ‘bar’ scene of my earlier days.”
Currently, there are five homes and two RV lots available at Carefree. Manufactured homes can also be built on RV lots. When the community opened, the configuration of the 278 lots was 149 RV lots and 129 manufactured homes. This has changed over the years, as most have put a home on them.
If the owner wishes to put a house on the RV lot, then it can be a 1 bed/1 bath single wide of 500 sq ft or greater, or a 2 bed/2 bath doublewide manufactured home up to 1320 sq ft. RVs can have a 40′ drivable or towable unit (with kind, size, and age restrictions). When the owner of an MH lot desires to put a home on it (no RVs allowed), then the homes can go up to 1950 sq ft.
The homes are affordable, too. Homes, placed on a lot, range from $80,000 – $200,000. Through special arrangement with award-winning manufacturer, Palm Harbor Homes, the exclusive Resort on Carefree Boulevard agent, residents can select the home that satisfies their budget. To make choices easier, the manufacturer’s factory location features a furnished model center. Custom designs allow for Florida rooms, patios, screened porches, carports, and professional landscaping.
To learn more about The Resort on Carefree Boulevard or to view homes and lots available, click here.