“Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me. Most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true. The familiar." -- Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Why Didn't We Retire to Florida?

     I woke up this morning and it was raining. The temperature was in the high 30s. But by 9:30 a.m. the temperature had dropped into the 20s and the rain had turned to snow. 

     Three days ago it was 70 degrees in Pennsylvania! What's going on?

Pennsylvania today
     What's going on is the change of seasons. As my wife says: Think of March as winter, not spring. Then you'll be pleasantly surprised when it's nice out, and not disappointed when it snows.

     Then she reminded me, "Your friend Bill is on Sanibel Island this week."

     "Bully for him," I grumbled.

     "And don't forget to call your sister," she said.

     My sister lives in Jacksonville, FL. She's planning a trip to New York City later in April. We're trying to make arrangements to get together.

     Meanwhile, The Players golf tournament is going on in Jacksonville this weekend. I'll catch some of it on TV, and bask vicariously in the green grass, gentle breezes and friendly palm trees of Ponte Vedra. And I'll wonder: why again didn't we retire in Florida?

     Let me count the ways.

     It's too hot. It's hard to believe right now, but most of the time it's just too hot. I remember one time I was in Sarasota on business right after Labor Day. 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. At that time of year the average daily high temperature is 90 degrees -- and that's in the shade, if there ever was any shade -- and the worst part is that it doesn't cool off at night.

     It's too muggy. I was in Arizona last May. The temperatures were over 100 degrees. It was hot, but bearable. But 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 Sarasota, Naples 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. Florida is just butt ugly.

     
The real Florida
There's too much traffic.
 Those six-lane thoroughfares are choked with traffic, even out of season. And then, of course, winter 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 children play in their yards. I like going to a restaurant where young couples and groups of middle-age women liven up the place. I like walking around town and seeing teenagers bouncing into the ice-cream shoppe and young singles lining up at Starbucks.

     The algae blooms. You can't go in the water in Florida 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. My sister told me when she comes to New York she's staying on the Upper East Side, where she'll feel safe. What I didn't tell her, but I know it's true, the crime rate in Jacksonville is higher than it is in New York City. And Jacksonville's not the worst. Miami, Daytona Beach,  Fort Myers all have more crime than Jacksonville.

     Lightning. Florida has been dubbed the lightning capital of the world, with 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! Florida experiences twice as many hurricanes as Texas, Louisiana or North Carolina. Hurricanes have caused billions of dollars of damage in Florida, and have killed dozens of people.

     No seasons. Florida has a semi-tropical climate. There are no bright colors of autumn, no pretty snowfalls of winter, no expectation of spring when the daffodils poke up and the forsythia start to bud . . . and most of all, there's no end of summer like there is up north when the heat and humidity break and the nights turn cool and you can finally breathe again.

     Is this beginning to sound like sour grapes? I'm not saying Florida is the worst place on earth. Think of the bright side. Florida has no volcanoes! (But there have been earthquakes.)  Besides, I have to admit, I like visiting Florida in the winter . . . and right now I'm jealous of my friend Bill. 
   

24 comments:

Celia said...

Click your heels together and repeat "No place like home, no place like home." We've had a couole of what we call fake springs, we usually get two in the winter. We all run out in the sun like crazy and then put our long undies back on the next week.

Rian said...

Tom, DH and I lived on Satellite Beach in Florida for the first 2 years we were married. Did I like it? No... too much mold from the humidity, too much rust, and too much sun for our first child who was fair with red hair. But do I like to visit Florida? Yes... love to feel the sand between my toes and have soft shelled crabs in a restaurant along the beach (Fort Walden or Destin usually). But definitely don't want to live there!

Miss Merry said...

Our daughter moved to Florida when she was first married. I visited in February, June and September. The summer visits were so freaking hot we could barely leave the house. It was a run from the air conditioned house to the air conditioned car on auto start. It was miserable to cross a parking lot to a restaurant. We went to Daytona Beach and I almost passed out walking from a parking garage across the street to 10 feet from the water. It might not be bad for a few weeks in the winter, but I would not want to live there.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom. Back in the early 90s Thom and I considered moving to Florida so we did a road trip of about a month. That was all it took. And while some people apparently love it, it didn't fit us (or we didn't fit AT ALL!) We are definitely west-coast people with not only our form of politics but so much more of that mindset. That is the biggest reason we would never consider living there. As far as the heat goes, I would rather be hot than cold and I guess that's why they make different flavors of ice cream. Isn't it nice we have different choices? ~Kathy

Arkansas Patti said...

Lived there for over 40 years and much of what you say is true. We did have seasons though. Tourist, rainy, and hurricane. Moved to Arkansas for relief and found the summers here actually hotter than Fl. Never saw so many 100 plus days. Still, you can't beat Florida winters. Best to be a snow bird and just be a part time Floridian.

Kay said...

I have never been to Florida, but perhaps someday...
Hawaii is great now that the Navy will take out those leaking fuel tanks that was contaminating our water. However, we are having a drought. We do have hurricanes and the housing prices are insane. Still... it is warm in winter. :-)

Tom said...

Kathy, I never realized there was a such a thing as a "west coast person" but it shouldn't surprise me. I guess I'm kind of an "east coast" person. Well, Kay, if you live in Hawaii, why would you go to Florida?

Red said...

I get it that you don't like Florida. I'm with you and I've never been there.

jono said...

My parents retired to Florida, in Titusville, where they eventually died. Like you said, it's a nice place to visit, but for all the reasons you list and then some I would never want to live there.

Sandy said...

Thx for your detailed article because I have never been to FLA, and have been wanting to go, and now, no thanks! I have 0 desire. I needed this reality check. :) Sandy

Meryl Baer said...

Our kids keep urging us to Come on down! - permanently. We never liked Florida for a lot of the reasons you mention. We visit often enough, and we try to avoid the worst of the summer heat.

Barbara said...

Having lived in Brandon, which is just outside of Tampa, for a while, I totally agree with you.

Unknown said...

I have been to Florida numerous times usually for the beaches. I loved Naples, it was so neat and clean everywhere I went. Expensive to live there though. Being from Texas I am used to the heat and humidity. Yes it gets very hot and humid here in Houston. I have walked many miles in the heat of the day with my friend as she wants to go to bed early. It can be brutal, but I don't pass out. Trying to convince my friend to go later in the day this year.

Olga said...

Well, it rains in Florida and the sun doesn't shine at night -- this from one of our fine elected officials in declining to support solar energy here in the Sunshine State. I quite like my Florida lifestyle, but the political scene is, in my opinion, far worse than alligators and snakes.

Jack said...

Traffic is bad every where. I lived in the north long enough to know I don't like shoveling snow or walking on ice covered sidewalks. Sitting in a freezing cold car while I wait for my engine to warm up so I can drive. I never liked scrapping ice off my windows every time I stop some where in a day or air so cold my breath freezes on my mustache. There's a reason snow birds fly south every winter because the north is too damn cold.

Linda Myers said...

I don't do well with heat and humidity, though hot and dry is bearable. I'm a west coast person even though I spent a lot of my childhood in the east. So it's Seattle for me in the summer and Tucson in the winter. The best of both worlds.

Jean said...

I don’t know why, but this post really bothered me with its negativity about a place where you haven’t actually filed an IRS form. I’ve lived in all of the time zones in the continental United States. I feel that people should have a sense of pride in their location of residence; that’s a good thing. I’ve also experienced a sense of arrogance in some people who think that their location is the only desirable place on earth; people who don’t want others to move in; and people who get insulted when you want to leave “their” paradise. Life is what you make it. No state is perfect but that’s no reason for such a critical review. If you don’t want to live somewhere - fine, but please limit your criticisms to your own place of residence.

Tom said...

Jean -- Fair point. So I hope you take this post in the spirit with which it was intended ... a little bit tongue-in-cheek.

Anonymous said...

I have found that the people who complain the most about Florida are really secretly disappointed that they don't live there. It's a form of jealousy. They try to find excuses and negative reasons on why they don't live there in order to justify why they don't live there. When people do finally settle down in Florida, most newcomers do NOT reside in tourist traps. They relocate oftentimes to some very quaint neighborhoods. They enjoy their new lives there, bugs, alligators and all. Tom's just guilty of sour grapes. There really is no reason why he should bash Florida at all. Thousands upon thousands of people move to Florida each and every day. They love it!!! And so do I.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I guess I'll stay in LA, traffic and all. But visiting Florida every once in a while is fun. Maybe not in Hurricane season, though.

Bethany @ Happily Loco said...

We like to make fun of Florida, here in Texas! And they do get way, WAY more hurricanes than we do! However, I have been jealous of their warm weather lately...It's been a long winter here. :-(

Anonymous said...

One or two more things about Florida traffic.

- When you are at a stop light, and look at the car in front of you, you can't see the driver because the driver is so short and the driver's head barely comes up to the dashboard. (Hey that's ajoke, people.)

- Everyone is always making U-turns! And to make a U-turn, you need to drive three miles to the next intersection. Ha ha ha.

Mary Bolton said...

Just read another reason for your list. Alligators in the road. The poor fellow who ran into the 11 footer was
killed, as well as the gator. My hubby and I will be retiring in Massachusetts for all the reasons you listed.

Ed said...

I have made many trips through Florida over the years and agree with your assessment verbatim. However, I encourage everyone to move and retire to Florida... in the hopes it leaves the Midwest vacant with more room for me.