by Daniel Vickers
In my introductory column, I mentioned briefly that I intended to discuss in more detail what I believe it takes to make the move to Florida. The comments and questions that I received made it obvious that many of you have at least entertained the idea at one point or another.
While moving to Florida may not be the main focus of my discussions, I feel it necessary to answer some of your questions, cover the obvious pros and cons, and bring up a few of our experiences with this move.
Why don’t we get started with the most obvious pros and cons.
1) Inclement Weather
Our family has become quite adept at transitioning between weather systems. Growing up in Mississippi, we didn’t deal with blizzards or hurricanes; however, tornado season always carried with it an added amount of stress. I can recall as a child a very powerful tornado moving overhead as we ran to our storm shelter. This tornado went on to ravage a nearby town named Vaiden (http://www.vaiden.net/tornado5_1990.jpg).
Once we made the move to Kentucky, we dealt with very active tornado seasons. A tornado went through our town just two weeks into 2006, and an EF-2 tornado hit in early 2012 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUzarHAvWHU). In 2009, there was an incredible ice storm which in turn caused the largest power outage in Kentucky history, with some 600,000+ homes and business reporting power outages.
This brings us to the present and the 2013 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1st, and runs through November 30th. I have personally never experienced a hurricane; however, from talking with people who have, they aren’t anything to be taken lightly. The 2013 hurricane season is predicted to bring with it 13-20 named storms, all of which could potentially impact Florida. We have learned that it is always smart to have an emergency plan in place no matter where you live. In our case, an evacuation plan and some extra funds set aside to put this plan into action are mandatory.
So you can deal with hurricanes and the threat that they bring? Here are a couple of facts for you
– Florida summers are normally 5 months long, but can last up to 9 months. Anyone who has spent even a day in Disney during the summer months can attest to the misery of a Florida summer day, where the temperature and humidity are both up into the 90’s.
– Florida has the highest rate of tornadoes per square mile in the United States; however, these twisters aren’t “normally” as strong as they are in the Midwest states, such as Oklahoma and Kansas. The reason for this is that the stronger tornadoes originate from super-cell thunderstorms which rely on large fluctuations in temperature. Florida has a subtropical climate and with this come smaller temperature fluctuations.
2) Insects & Reptiles
If you have a severe problem with insects and/or reptiles, Florida might possibly be the wrong place for you. In our rural Mississippi town, brown recluse spiders were very prominent in and around our home. Poisonous snakes frequented all of our creeks and fishing holes. In Kentucky, we dealt with multiple black widow spider infestations. I had read of the insects in Florida, but nothing could have prepared me for actually living among them. My second night in our home, the largest spider that I have ever seen decided that introductions were necessary and so he made his presence known. Mosquitoes here are also an insect to avoid. On the reptile topic, I have never seen so many frogs and lizards – they seem to be everywhere I step. While frogs and lizards aren’t necessarily a bad thing, I do hate the fact that I seem to add a new flattened frog to our carpet every other day. We hear a good bit about alligators; but, we have yet to see one.
Now that I have covered a couple of the major cons to living in Florida, I will touch on a couple of the pros:
1) Always on Vacation
While some may disagree, I would have to say that one of the positives is having Disney nearby, and having places like Cocoa Beach within an hour. There are also dinner shows in and around the parks, as well as live music everywhere. You are also within driving distance of the Space Coast if you can catch a launch, or the Keys if you really want to get away.
2) Great Weather
While on most days it rains in Florida, it usually doesn’t last very long, and it tends to bring down the temperature to reasonable levels. While you don’t get the seasonal changes that you would further north, the temperature is fairly normalized with the exception of summer. Low 70’s in December are a great thing if you can get past the fact that it isn’t snowing around that time.
This brings me to a few of our personal experiences during our move, and a few pointers if you are considering doing the same.
1) Pack Lightly
We went back and forth about the cost of renting a truck as well as the cost of fuel to drive it 900 miles. In the end, it was much cheaper for us to liquidate our assets. We sold everything but our clothes and some essential items with the intention of just re-buying when we actually moved. What we were unprepared for were the initial move-in costs. In the past when we had moved, the cost to turn on utilities was very little. This wasn’t the case, as each utility had with it a $200 deposit.
2) Don’t Move Without Solid Employment
This one should be a given, but it isn’t always as clear as it should be. I work in the Information Technology field and perform a decent amount of sub-contracted work from home. While I have this work “on the side,” I have found it necessary to seek full-time employment for a more stable income as well as benefits for my family.
One thing that I also noticed is that no companies would even speak with me before I moved to Florida. The majority of the jobs that fit my skill set also mentioned “local applicants only.”
3) Healthcare & Schools
If you have children, you know that healthcare and schools are extremely important. Research everything before you commit to a move. If you frequently come down to Disney, take a day or two and visit the places that you would like to live. Look up the doctors and dentists and stop in their offices. Set up a tour of potential schools and take your children with you – they always have questions that you won’t think to ask.
I hope that this article was helpful in some way to anyone who is deciding on a move to Florida. So far we are extremely pleased with our decision and I hope that this information may assist you in your decision.
Finally, I would like to remind all of our readers that you are a firework, ignite the light!