"I think people should have more photos of themselves as children around. There's no way you can hate that version of yourself." -- Warsan Shire

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Why I'll Never Move to Florida

     B and I occasionally go ballroom dancing, and sometimes we take lessons too. This past spring we took a series of lessons through our town's community center. We were thinking about signing up again for the fall. But then we learned that our dance instructors, a couple in their early 60s, are moving to The Villages in Florida.

     They've bought a house, and their Pennsylvania home is now on the market. They say they'll move as soon as their current home sells.

     What I wanted to tell them (but didn't) was:  Well, I hope your house doesn't sell too soon, because you don't want to move to Florida anytime in the next two or three months.

     So this got me thinking why, while I do like to vacation in Florida for a couple of weeks in winter, I would never move to Florida on a fulltime basis. Why not?

     It's too hot. I remember one time I was in Sarasota in September. I had to walk across a parking lot to an office building. The heat from the pavement burned through my shoes so badly that I broke into a run just to get into the shade of the building, and then inside to the air conditioning. Of course, I was sweating like a pig when I arrived at my appointment. So . . . I looked it up. The average daily high August temperature for Florida is 92 degrees -- and that's in the shade, if there ever was any shade. And it doesn't cool off at night. The average nightly low is 76.

     It's too muggy. It feels hotter in Florida when it's 90 degrees than it does in Arizona when it's 100 degrees. Because of the 80% humidity. And then . . . it rains!

     It's too trashy. Except for a very few nice downtown areas in Naples, Miami and a scattering of other places, the typical landscape in Florida involves a six-lane thoroughfare lined with gas stations, fast-food restaurants, strip malls and motels. It's just ugly.

     There's too much traffic. Those six-lane thoroughfares are choked with traffic, even out of season. And then, of course, Christmas arrives with its four-month infestation of SUVs from New York and New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana, Michigan and Massachusetts.

     It's too crowded. All those cars bring hordes of tourists and retirees who stand in line at restaurants, mob the amusement parks, overrun the beaches. Then out of season . . . the place is deserted. The condos are dark, the malls are empty, the beaches are a wasteland . . . yet, somehow, the roads are still choked with cars.

     Too many old people. I realize this is the pot calling the kettle black. Nevertheless, I don't think I'd like living in a place where everyone is as old as I am. I like living on our street where there are families and children. (A kid down the block has a lemonade stand out this weekend!) I like going to a restaurant where there are young couples and groups of middle-age women. I like walking around town and seeing teenagers bouncing into the ice-cream shoppe and young singles lining up at Starbucks.

It's not all bad ... January sunset over Gulf of Mexico
     The algae blooms. You can't go in the water because of the red tide and other algae blooms. And now they've discovered something new: Sargassum seaweed on Florida beaches contains arsenic and other health hazards.

     Bugs, alligators, sharks and snakes. 'Nuff said.

     Too much crime. Florida boasts seven spots on the top one hundred U. S. cities with the highest crime rates. That's more than any other state except California and Texas. Just by way of comparison, the following Florida cities have higher crime rates than Philadelphia (and Philadelphia certainly has its share of crime): Riviera Beach, Lake Worth, Daytona Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Myers. By some measures other Florida cities like Orlando, Miami, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville.are even worse.

     Lightning. Florida has been dubbed the lightning capital of the world. It has an average of 1.45 million lightning strikes every year, more than any other state. It also has more deaths by lightning -- over 60 in the last ten years.

     Hurricanes! We're just starting the hurricane season, and Florida experiences more than twice as many hurricanes as Louisiana or North Carolina, and almost twice as many as Texas. Hurricanes have caused an estimated $225 billion in damage since 1980, and have killed literally dozens of people.

     Okay, okay . . . I'm not trying to say that Florida is the worst place on earth. Besides, I like visiting in the winter, so I don't want to get banned from the state by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. There are certainly places that are hotter and more uncomfortable, that have higher crime rates and more dangerous animals. And think of this: there are no volcanoes in Florida! (But believe it or not, there have been earthquakes.)

     I'm just saying, it's not to my taste as a place to live. But I wonder . . . do you think our dance instructors might have a guest room in their new house where we could stay for a week or two in January?


Anonymous said...

Not to mention the receding Atlantic coastline!


Wisewebwoman said...

I worked in Florida for a while and agree - I couldn't wait to get out of there. I found it extraordinarily depressing, I was in my early forties then and found the roads clogged and a general miasma of unhappiness with all the old people, looking tired and leathered and kind of beaten. Hard to describe.

Did you see this doc by any chance Tom?
https://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/events/fl-et-last-resort-movie-20190220-story.html I caught it on Netflix and found it so interesting, Florida has morphed into something unrecognizable.

I need to be around the young and vital too, it feeds my spirit.


Debby said...

I've never been to Florida. By the description, it doesn't sound like a place I would enjoy very much.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I wonder how the lightening affects rids and business of Disney?
Too hot and maybe hotter in future?

Savoring Sixty said...

What you stated is so true! We enjoy visiting the panhandle region of Florida, but I would never consider living there full time. I also agree 100% with your comments under the subheading "Too Many Old People" we feel the exact same way. As far as The Villages ~ I think I would get depressed living among more than 80,000 seniors.

priscilla said...

We lived in Miami for 13 yrs....would never go back. Tough place to live

Pat S. said...

Tom --

You hit a home run on this column. There are only a few times during the year that Florida is really a desirable destination. I'll add one more thing to your list: Florida has lousy topography. Sure the beaches with their palm trees can be pretty but the rest of the State is flat & dull. I wish your dancing friends good luck in The Villages.

Julie said...

Well at least Florida doesn't have wildfires. Hmm, better check google......never mind! Not only does Florida get wildfires, they can occur at any time of the year.

DJan said...

My sister lives in 55+ retirement village near Tampa. I visit her once a year and love the mild temperatures in January and February, but lately it has been almost too hot for me during those months! I wouldn't ever live there year round either. Good post! :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

Almost Native Floridian here--entire family born there but me and I have lived there most of my life. You are right on about the coastal areas but middle Florida where I mostly lived is a lot like any mid-west area with lots of agriculture and cattle. Our blood does thin and we don't feel the heat so much. We always looked forward to the end of tourist season as that is when we got our towns back.
It was 4 back to back hurricanes that drove me to Arkansas.
Wish your friends luck.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! My husband and I went to Florida about 20 years ago on a long vacay to see if it was somewhere we could live. We LIKE warm weather most of the time . (after all I live in the desert southwest) but we decided against it. It does have some nicer weather in the winter like we do, but all the other things you mention didn't appeal to us at all. We are also very much west coast people and fit in a lot better out here than we ever could in Florida. Of course, that's why there are different flavors of ice cream. If all of us wanted vanilla all the time the world would be a very boring place. ~Kathy

Janis said...

I’ve enjoyed visiting Florida a few times but have never wanted to live there. Although it’s gotten more and more crowded, I think I’ll stay in San Diego. No bugs, no hurricanes, no alligators, very little humidity.

Mary said...

Hey hey...I’m a Native Floridian and while I lived in NC for a while, I returned to Fla. after my husband passed away because of friends here and familiarity. So I’ll address each point you made.

 It's too hot.
It was way hotter up North the past month than it was here and
no breezes and I always have one here. Much of Europe was
much hotter. A pool helps.

It’s too muggy.
Yes that’s true, but it keeps your skin moist and the outdoor
plants love it and grow luxuriously.

It’s too trashy.
I agree, it is not really a pretty state although many find the
wetlands, lakes and rolling horse country around Ocala quite
pretty. The Panhandle has gorgeous white sand beaches.

Too much traffic.
And tell me where there is not a lot of traffic except in some
tiny rural town.

Too crowded
Yes, especially in the winter and anywhere near Disneyland
and Orlando. I avoid that area like the plague.

Too many old people.
Oh dear, I’m one of those, but don’t feel it. Not everyone here
likes bingo, shuffleboard, blue grey frizzy hair, weird tropical
clothes, golf or even the beaches. Plenty of younger people
where I live.

Algae blooms etc.
Can’t speak to that, as I don’t go in lakes or the Gulf or the

Bugs, alligators, sharks and snakes.
I believe there are mosquitoes, roaches, snakes everywhere,
but maybe not alligators...yet. I happen to think they are
very cool.

High crime
Yes, in the bigger cities and touristy areas, but no different
than a lot of big cities.

Yes true

Definitely the biggest drawback to me, but then Calif.
and the West have terrible wildfires. The Midwest has
flooding and terrible tornadoes, which can be much worse
than hurricanes and the winters up North would do me in.

I truly believe each area has its pros and cons and luckily, we don’t all want to live in the same state....talk about overcrowded!
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the winters with snow and ice and grey skies, I’d live up north. I love the western part of Michigan...Charlevoix and Traverse City area. That was where my husband was from.

David @iretiredyoung said...

A brave post, I thought you might be for it in the comments, but you seem to have got away with it!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Wow! I guess I'll have to take Florida off my list of possible places to live, although I really enjoyed a trip I took to Pass-a-Grille near St.Pete's Beach. It's close to Tampa. It had a wonderful vibe and I loved the food, cute cottages, and the variety of crazy looking birds.

Meryl Baer said...

Our kids live in Florida, so we are frequent visitors. Absolutely no desire to move there, either as a snowbird or full time. But our kids like it - all except our oldest grandchild. He hates the heat and is looking at colleges up north - he can't wait!

Laura Benjamin said...

I agree with all your points and have two to add: sinkholes and depleting sources of fresh water. I am so done with that place.

Tom said...

I crossed my fingers before posting this because, like Dave said, I thought I'd get some strong and perhaps even angry push back. I'm surprised . . . and wonder why, according to the U. S. Census, Florida still ranks number one as the state where most retirees move (followed by Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon).

Jennifer said...

As a recent transplant to this beautiful state, I do take exception to a lot of your comments. Yes, there are hurricanes here, but after living through the Halloween Nor'easter of 2011, then Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the Pre-Valentine Blizzard in 2013, I decided to take my chances with warmer storms.

It's hot here, it's what I wanted (although I still can't figure out why offices and stores keep their air conditioning so low that they're freezing you out of buildings.) I have yet to see an alligator, although we're situated in the middle of two lakes...and I keep looking for them. And I work in the beautiful downtown area of Orlando. I was actually surprised by it.

Yes, traffic stinks. Especially in Orlando which keeps growing. The infrastructure was not prepared for the explosive growth and highways are currently undergoing massive construction. But I've driven up and down the east coast for years, and there are a few states that have worse traffic problems.

Tom said...

Well, thank you Jennifer, for coming to Florida's defense ... and I agree with you at least about the air conditioning, a problem not limited to the Sunshine State. Have these people never heard of global warming? Could they not dial back on their use of electricity (and the petrochemicals used to produce it)? And that's one thing we love about PA ... except for a few days, we just keep our windows open from May thru Oct. Anyway, as some have said, to each his or her own.

Carol Cassara said...

I lived in Fla. for a couple decades and everything you say is true. Plus it is a vast, cultural wasteland. My husband and I are just not fans although we spent much of our lives there.

Barbara Torris said...

I was told the other day that our winter home, Tucson AZ, is rated at the very bottom of the list of places to live by millennials. I like the small town feel and the lack of all that stuff you talk about in Florida. But, in the end going to Florida is driven by the desire to be will other old people...of which there are many as you pointed out.

Oh, and Tom, never say never. I'm just saying.


DavidH said...

When I read your article all I can say is “LUCKY YOU LIVE HAWAII”. We basically have none of the problems you suggest except for an active volcano on the big island where I do not live. I have lived here for 63 years and am awaiting my first hurricane. We have amazing people and an amazing culture. We do not have gators nor snakes. But we do have the lowest property taxes in the country!

RI1 said...

Tom, everything you say is true. I bought a condo in Sarasota and within 1.5 years I sold it as quick as possible. Horrible neighbors! Thank goodness I didn't sell my NY home because we're back in NY and this is where we will stay. The Real Estate broker who sold my condo gave me the greatest advice ever about Florida which I will share with you and your readers. He said: you only come to Florida to get warm. Get warm, he said, and then get out. He went on to say you do not buy in Florida, as there is no such thing as investment or making a 'killing'. Now, here was a top real estate broker advising me NOT to ever buy anything in Florida.
Go figure.
Best advice ever!
I keep his picture above my desk and thank him every day.
You go to Florida to get warm in the winter and then you get out and go home!

Anne Fraser said...

I visited Florida a few years ago and although I loved the National Parks I had no desire to move there. Too humid, too hot and just too big.

Video Teraveloka said...

Tatkala juga Bonus Deposit hanya sekedar penghibur lara, karena rata rata yang dibagikan adalah 5% s/d 10% dari jumlah deposit yang kamu kirimkan. Sekedar info, kalau bonus deposit ternyata bisa memberi dampak positif terhadap (Baca Selengkapnya Disini...)

Bored with everything said...

The state is also flat with no elevation to speak of. Monotonous.