/ Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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 VacationCinderella Castle at Night

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.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, feel free to post a comment below, or contact me on Facebook (facebook.com/daniel.vickers2) or Twitter (twitter.com/dvickers7982).

Finally, I would like to remind all of our readers that you are a firework, ignite the light!

-Daniel V.

9 Responses to "Never Grow Up: Thoughts on Moving to Florida"

  1. I moved here from Maryland and live 3 miles from magic kingdom. Yes the summers are hot but never go into the 100′s with 100%humidity like Maryland summers.

  2. Norman,

    Yikes…those were definitely “inside” days :)

    How long have you been in Florida? Are there any pros or cons that you would add?

    Thanks,

    Dan V.

  3. SteamboatEddie says:

    Way to lay it all out on the table for us Daniel. This is a great write up with the pros and cons. I’ve spent lots of time in the Sunshine state, but living there is a whole different experience I’d imagine. Thanks again for an awesome blog entry.

    Have a great day!

  4. Johnny Bean says:

    We moved to Florida from Mass. 3 years ago, in part for the climate and also to be closer to WDW. Unlike the blogger, we pretty much did everything on a whim and put our faith in the universe.

    We had wanted to move for a couple of years but our house wouldn’t sell. We finally just decided to make it happen. We heard good things about Sarasota and researched online and decided we would move here, even though we had never been. (#1 beach in America. What else do you need to know !)

    We found a renter for our house and my wife and I flew down for a weekend and found a rental house. Three weeks later we put all our stuff in a Pod and drove down with our 5 kids (with a 4 day stop at WDW on the way).

    Within 3 weeks my wife found a space to restart her photography studio and I got a good job at a tech company.

    We love being here and so glad we made it happen. Yeah it’s hot in the summer but it’s hot in Mass too. And here we have central air and a pool so we’re better off. From Oct – April it’s sunny and 70-85 every day. We don’t miss the cold and the snow and the slush !

    Best of all, we spend a weekend at WDW about once a month. We can do a Saturday night on our DVC and get 2 full days in.

    If you have been wanting to take the plunge, just do it !

  5. Mairlyn Lyons says:

    It depends on where you move to in Fla. We are about 30 minutes from the “arches” near Lakeland and none of the utiliies had deposits like that–then again we own this home and not renting but still….

  6. Maureen Brown says:

    Hi Lou :) great article! We have our house on the market and would like to move to Florida. This has been in our thoughts for a few years. I am in Florida once a year for WDW.. and I did live there many many moons ago for a short period of time (as a child). We have been researching Polk County.. and visited it briefly on our recent May WDW trip. still not sure. I want to live in a family friendly town that is not too congested that is not too far from WDW with a decent school..Is this the impossible? lol

  7. Steamboat Eddie – Thanks! I know that this series of posts aren’t completely keeping with the Disney theme; however, with the amount of responses that I received from my introduction, I felt it necessary to cover these topis (box people, unite!)

    Johnny Bean – I understand where you are coming from. While we had entertained the idea of moving for almost a decade, our move has also required a lot of faith as well. It can be extremely tough the first few months as we are finding out. As Lou says, “Dream, pray, hope, fight and work towards what you want… and always have faith. It makes all things possible.” Also being in the IT field, I understand that it can be tough to land yourself a job that will allow you to support your family, and still be able to properly enjoy all that Florida has to offer. I am still looking for that job…hopefully soon :)

    Mairlyn,

    Do you find the area where you live to be a more family-friendly area? We had originally looked at the Lakeland area before settling on Winter Garden.

    Maureen,

    I’m Daniel, pleasure to meet you! I am sure that Mairlyn, the poster above you could give you better insight into the Polk County area. I can really only comment on the areas that we visited when making our decision.

    Winter Park – Winter Park seemed more “college-town” to me, which didn’t necessarily work into the family-friendly atmosphere that we wanted for our kids. I am quite certain that seeing only a small part of what Winter Park has to offer leaves me unqualified to make a statement about it.

    Winter Garden – This is the city that we settled on. So far, it has worked out quite nicely. We have a quick scenic drive that avoids tolls and lands us directly at the Magic Kingdom. We also have the Farmers Market every Saturday, just like other areas such as Winter Park. There is free live music every Friday night right out on Plant street, and right around the corner from the Splashpad. It was nice to see people sitting outdoors just enjoying the atmosphere, checking out the surrounding shops, the smell from the local BBQ restaurant…it’s exactly what we had hoped for with the small-town main street feel. It does have it’s “side of town” as does most any town, but it works for us.

    My best advice is to keep looking..it’s not impossible. Also, as Johnny Beans said above, sometimes you have to take the plunge. :)

  8. Great blog – enjoyed it very much! My wife and I are hoping to be able to winter in Florida in a couple of years, when that magic number 59 and 1/2 rolls around (believe me, that’s the very definition of good news/bad news!) We are life long lovers of WDW, and are hoping to work part time at the Parks when we do move. Any suggestions as to how we get started with the Disney company when it’s time to make the move? Many thanks…

  9. Darlene Nagi says:

    Thanks for the great article. We too are planning on a snow bird relocation. All these tips really help. As for the bugs, my hubby says they are bad but after our Buffalo home had a spider birth infestation a few years ago he has stopped. Lol

Leave a Reply