I've been living in Florida for a little over two years now and have recently been reflecting on the pros and cons of living in the Sunshine State. Here’s my list, so far:
I knew the first few days we were in Florida that we were most definitely going to be staying for awhile, just off the strength of the weather. We came to Florida right after Easter and the sunny skies were a warm welcome (pun intended) to the dreary, grey days back in New York. With an average day being 80 degrees or more, it's hard to have too many bad days when the weather is so gorgeous.
The Slower Pace of Life
Everything in Florida is much slower compared to New York. Actually, everything everywhere is much slower compared to “up north.” Florida, literally, is as southern as you can get and southerners are known for being extremely laid-back. This was also a pleasant contrast to the “hustle and bustle” that I became tired of as a New Yorker. I felt like I was always “on” and rushing everywhere. Florida certainly has a slower lifestyle that has been nice to transition into, especially as a family.
As soon as we crossed the state line into Georgia and Florida I felt a huge difference in people's mannerisms. “Please”’s, and “thank you”'s and “yes ma'am”'s all around- and I love it. Men actually hold the door open for women, say good morning and are always willing to give up their seats- and no, this isn't flirting- it's good ol' southern hospitality and respect! I remember the first time we went to a Chick-Fil-A; I was about 8 months pregnant and the manager came over to me and asked me to sit while they went and got my order. It’s been a similar experience there and in other restaurants ever since- the staff is usually polite and very accommodating.
Family-Friendly Everything I feel like I can bring the kids just about everywhere, and I do. There are so many parks, museums, pools and kid-friendly attractions that I could easily fill up our days exploring each one. Sometimes I felt like an outcast with the kids in New York- or maybe the space was too crammed. I love feeling like I’m not a freak or don’t belong because the rest of the community is full of kids as well.
The Slower Pace of Life
That's not a typo. Yes, this is also a con on this list. Being in the south, things are much slower. It's made a lot of things challenging for me because a) I'm a New Yorker and I'm used to everything having a sense of urgency and b) I have NO patience. Also, you can bet that a lot of places of business will be closed on Sundays because this is the South and Sundays are for Jesus, family and football. It’s been very humbling for someone who is used to the notion that they can get whatever they want, right away. What can I say? I’ve been told that I also suffer from Only Child Syndrome…
The Job Market (or lack thereof) T
This is a big one, THE big one in my opinion. When I was ready to jump back into the job market after having Lucia, I soon realized that my expectations would have to change. While I preferred the opportunity to work in media, in Southwest Florida I had to accept that I would more likely land a job in healthcare or hospitality. My salary was cut in HALF. The position and career in human resources that I had worked steadily and carefully to create now had me feeling like I was starting at the bottom and it was a very tough pill to swallow.
When I told one of my friends that I was moving to Florida she warned me about the bugs. I assumed she was concerned about me and the kids getting a few mosquito bites. Now, every time I see a little creature, I'm reminded of her words. Mosquitoes are maybe 1/16th of the problem. Florida has an entirely different eco-system and there are creepy crawlers everywhere; things I've never seen before and they get in the house and I hate it.
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