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lexi

Talk to me about living in Florida...

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Let's play the "What if?" game. 

 

So, what if I moved to Florida (more specifically the Lakeland area).......what do I need to know?

 

Keep in mind that the last time I was in Florida was over 20 years ago and I'm not at all familiar with the state or that particular area. 

 

Climate, schools, things to do, culture, homeschool community and support.......everything. 

 

Can anyone convince me that it's better than the place I live now with 4 distinct seasons, lots of beautiful trees, amazing parks, and a very laid back, family-friendly atmosphere? lol! I'm kind of not thrilled at the prospect. 

 

 

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I don't live in Lakeland, but do live in FL.  

 

Homeschooling isn't hard...send a notice of intent each school year to the school superintendent and then either have a portfolio review with a certified teacher or do a standardized test.  

 

We did a 3 hour kayak trip earlier this week in beautiful weather, think 80 degrees and sunny.  It can get cold maybe a dozen days where it might get below freezing.

 

We've enjoyed going to St Augustine, going fishing on a head boat out of Tampa, vacationing in the Keys, kayaking, boating, fishing, the beaches, and the great farmers markets with inexpensive in season local fruit and veggies.  

 

Crowds usually thin out for the summer when the snow birds go home.

 

Most of the people are friendly, but of course like anywhere you have to pay attention to where you go.

 

We have a pool and love it, dd has swam on both New Years and Christmas in some years.  I wouldn't want to be without a pool in the summer.  Where we are they have built or are building bike/multiuse trails.  They are trying to interconnect trails across the state.

 

We enjoy all the birds, turtles, and interesting wildlife other than the snakes (but that is just me.)  We have even seen wild boar a time or 2.

 

We have watched a couple of rocket launches from Cocoa.  We would watch more but it is a pretty good drive for us.

 

Hurricane season is probably the worst and I am not sure how hard  or how often Lakeland gets hit.  My area of FL has never taken a direct hit and this years hurricane we have minimal damage in our area.

 

There aren't enough roads or shelters when it comes to an evacuation so if you are going to go don't wait.  I-4 traffic can be pretty bad and you wouldn't want to travel all the way across during rush hour.

 

The mosquitos and fire ants are bad, but can be significantly reduced with by spraying the yard.

 

We travel with dh when he is working and have spend some time in many places across the country, there are good and bad no matter where you go.  You make the best of it and find things you enjoy and people you enjoy being around.  I hope things will work out for you.

 

 

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I don't live in Lakeland but in Clearwater.  I am in Lakeland a few times a year for baseball tournaments for DS16.  We moved here from Northern VA in 2012.

 

Yes, I miss Fall, but no winter is wonderful.   We do have about 5 days a year when it is "cold" (meaning doesn't get out of the 50s) and we wear sweaters, have a fire in the fireplace, etc.  The first Thanksgiving was hard, as it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving when you are cooking a turkey and it is 80 degrees outside. LOL.  Shopping for a Christmas tree in shorts is another one that takes a while to get used to.  Summers are hot and humid, but honestly it is not really any more hot or humid in July/August than it was in the Washington, DC area.

 

I don't know what area you are coming from and what you are used to, but the public schools here are not good.  When we moved my youngest was in 2nd grade and when I explored putting him in private school, the math curriculum was a good 1-2 years behind what we had in VA.  My oldest (who is an average at best student) went to private school in 6th grade and the teachers thought he was some sort of math and grammar genius compared to the rest of the kids (thank you FLL and R&S arithmetic).

 

We go to an amazing co-op in Tampa  - I know there are a few families that come down from Lakeland.  Feel free to PM for details but there are professional instructors using WWE, WWS, Analytical Grammar, Mr. D math, Apologia for science, etc.  I think there are close to 100 families.

 

Homeschooling is a breeze - you notify your county that you intend to homeschool, and then every year you either have your child take a standardized nationally normed test (has to be administered by a licensed FL teacher) or have a portfolio review by a licensed teacher (we took this route the first year - you basically save work from August, January, and May for each subject and the reviewer looks at it and says "yes, you made progress this year" and the whole thing is over in 10 minutes).  You send this information to the county annually.

 

A great thing about Florida is the parks.  The state doesn't have to spend money on snow removal and I think that money is put into outdoor parks.  You can buy a pass for something like $100/year and your family can get into every state park for free.  There isn't much historical stuff to see (we were spoiled in DC) but the beaches are beautiful, and if Disney/Legoland/Busch Gardens are your thing, they are all close by.

 

No state income tax - that is nice.  When we moved it cost about $500 to register each motor vehicle for the first time.  And our car insurance went up by about $1500/year - auto insurance is high because of all the old people who come down here in the winter and drive like little, well, old people.  Our homeowners insurance is also pretty high.  We had USAA for our homeowners in VA and they will not insure you here unless you were here back in the 80s/90s.  Same with Allstate, State Farm, etc.  It is pretty much one state run large company, and then a few smaller ones.  I think food is a bit more expensive here than it was in VA also.  

 

My husband brought me here in 2012 kicking and screaming - didn't want to leave VA.  Now it turns out we may have to move out of the area.  I'll be  kicking and screaming because I do not want to go back to the cold (and I consider Jacksonville to be "cold" now).

 

Feel free to PM me to chat.

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Can anyone convince me that it's better than the place I live now with 4 distinct seasons, lots of beautiful trees, amazing parks, and a very laid back, family-friendly atmosphere? lol! I'm kind of not thrilled at the prospect. 

 

no, sorry.

 

Although, Lakeland is near the world's best barbecue, so there is that! This place is in Plant City, which isn't too far and is amazing. Whenever we drive to Tampa from Orlando we have to stop and eat their. The RibEye special on Saturdays  is to die for. http://www.johnsonbarbeque.com

 

Lakeland is growing, but more towards the old florida/cattle ranching/bordering on redneck side. But I grew up in South Florida, in the land of rich old people from New York, so I'm probably biased, lol. Compared to that everything seems a bit redneck. 

 

You'd be midway between Tampa and Orlando, so lots to do in both cities if you are willing to drive. You'd be in reach of the west coats beaches which are way better than the east coast beaches. As for culture....Lakeland isn't known for culture, but there are wonderful shows and such in Orlando, and probably Tampa.

 

For kids there is the science museum in Orlando and I think there is a really big one in Tampa. The Tampa Aquarium is great. Legoland would be nearby, Dinosaur world or whatever it is called, and all the theme parks. 

 

Honestly, the trees are what you will miss. Central Florida doesn't have much of those...more flat grassland/scrubland. But there are some very nice state parks. And Blue Springs has manatees in the winter!  Kelly Park/Rock Springs has tubing, and if you are homeschooling you can go during the week when it isn't crowded - it'

 

s gorgeous. 

 

And beaches. 

 

Lots of interesting stuff to learn about regarding the environment, estuaries, Everglades, etc. 

 

Lots of bids!!! So many neat birds, that is a plus. So egrets and herons and cormorants and Ibis and cranes and storks. 

 

And you don't have to shovel any snow?

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Oh, homeschooling is easy and there are lots of activities for homeschoolers. Lots. No worries there. The aquarium, science museum, etc all do homeschool classes and events and such, you can go to plays at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and Reperatory Theaters, etc. Plus park days, co-ops, half a dozen hybrid school, etc etc. 

 

Homeschoolers are entitled to take part in sports, art classes, band, etc at the public schools, and we have free online school, FLVS, that you can do full time as a public school student OR do part time as a homeschool student, picking which classes you want. 

 

We have free dual enrollment for all students including homeschool students. 

 

If your child has certain special needs (autism, etc) they also qualify for a scholarship to use towards homeschooling or private schooling. 

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I've lived in Florida for 20+ years, after growing up in the Midwest. I am in a different part of the state than Lakeland, and the east and west coasts of Florida are very different from each other, as are north and south. So I won't be able to help you much on Lakeland specifically, but here are some answers for Florida in general:

 

Climate: April - October = summer, which means very hot and very humid. Think of a hot summer day in Indiana that lasts for 6 months without a break--that's the difference. I used to think I understood Florida summers because Indiana had hot humid summers, but in Indiana you'll get a hot spell and then a break, but in Florida they go on and on. I like summer so I don't mind this, but for some people it's too much.

 

November/December and March/April are great weather-wise. January/February can get cold by Florida standards, at least where I am in North Florida. Weather in the not-summer months is such that you have to check the forecast every day, because one day it may be in the mid 70s and the next day in the low 50s. It's not unsual to run your heat one day and your A/C the next. I do agree with the above poster that Christmas in Florida takes some getting used to. When you're decorating your tree or hanging lights outside in your shorts and tank top, something just doesn't seem right. But when people in the North are shoveling snow and you're still in your shorts and tank top, somehow it all comes right again!

 

Schools: I've always homeschooled, and the schools are greatly dependent on the area, but in general Florida schools are just ok. Thinking ahead to college, we do have one of the lowest in-state tuition rates in the country, and we have some decent colleges, plus a good state-sponsored scholarship program.

 

Things to do: so many. Florida resident passes to Disney and the other area attractions are generally a great bargain, and in Lakeland you are so close to all of the Orlando attractions. There's also a lot of history in Florida, in St. Augustine in particular (first successful European settlement, pre-dating Jamestown). Plus the beaches and the springs, which are fabulous.

 

Culture: it really depends on where you settle. We pretty much have everything, from redneck southerners to elite transplants from the northeast.

 

Homeschooling: easy, and a large homeschool population state-wide. The FPEA convention in Orlando is one of the largest in the country, as I understand it.

 

 

 

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My daughter goes to school in Lakeland.  I haven't spent a huge amount of time there, but from the week or two I was there, I was not too impressed.  I don't like FL in general, and Lakeland made me like it even less (no offense to all you Floridians!) It is high in crime for cities of that size across the U.S., and there's nothing that spectacular about it to balance it out. Your location you are presently at sounds lovely.

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My daughter goes to school in Lakeland.  I haven't spent a huge amount of time there, but from the week or two I was there, I was not too impressed.  I don't like FL in general, and Lakeland made me like it even less (no offense to all you Floridians!) It is high in crime for cities of that size across the U.S., and there's nothing that spectacular about it to balance it out. Your location you are presently at sounds lovely.

 

Does she go to the new Polytechnic University? Was wondering how that school was doing, it sounded pretty interesting. 

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I grew up in St Petersburg and live in VA right now. The heat is probably what would keep me from ever going back - the summers here can get humid but it's shorter and there are many days in between that you get a relief - some summers were 70's in early June and in late August when the pool was about to close for the season - I remember because the kids kept wanting to swim but it was too cold! In Florida, summer starts early (my sister said it was going to be 90 today in Orlando). The high temps with humidity are unbearable imo. So the beautiful parks are great when you are acclimated - but visiting family with my kids in the summer surrounded by beautiful parks and the few times we went they were red faced and soaked with sweat within 15 minutes of getting there. The heat is no joke. My kids never went outside except to swim.

 

Schools as mentioned above are not good.

 

Lakeland is just kind of in the middle, so it is more rural/redneck than surrounding Tampa bay and Orlando. Not as much to do and not as close to the beaches. It's kind of just the stretch between Tampa and Orlando- used to be all orange groves a long time ago:-)

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We live in the panhandle of Florida. Overall, I really love it here. Homeschooling is very easy. We used to send in our notice of intent, but currently we homeschool under an umbrella school. This is our first year going this route so I don’t have an opinion yet. The homeschooling laws here are really wonderful though! We have access to many options through the school and DE.

 

As for weather, even in north FL we definitely do not experience the four seasons here. For us, it’s really either hot or cold, rainy or dry. We also have lovebugs here, which was a whole other culture shock in and of itself. Lovebug season is twice a year & I dread it.

 

I can’t speak specifically to the community in Lakeland or things to do there, but I imagine all of FL has its own beautiful parks and rivers and fun places to visit.

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Just to add - I'm not knocking long stretches of interstate between major cities as I live in one right now, lol. But I also have lots of trees, a stream nearby and rocks for kids to climb, nature that I can enjoy since we have beautifully long springs and falls, higher performing schools if we need them... and not nearly as many mosquitos! They tormented me growing up. (Though my mom's neighborhood sprays so it can be controlled), and here we have ticks. I hate ticks.

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I live in Florida, but not in Lakeland. I would have to be there, however, 3 or 4 times a year when DD17 danced competitively. There is a rather large, relatively inexpensive convention center so many kid competitions are held there. It is a very ugly and hot town, if you ask me. Everything to do is an hour away. Perhaps I missed the good parts.

 

Coastal south Florida is the place to be, never too hot and never too cold.

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I live in Tampa, grew up in Orlando, and have a sister who lives in Lakeland.

 

Lakeland has a more small-town feel than Orlando or Tampa, but you are within 30-60 minutes of both big cities.   There are plenty of conveniences that you can find in most medium size cities, and any upscale shopping, international airports, and other atractions are no more than an hour away.  Beaches are about an hour and a half away.   Between Orlando and Tampa, there is professional football, basketball, hockey, and baseball, many major venues for shows and concerts, and more outdoor activities than you can count.   Lakeland has a really quaint downtown area with an outdoor farmer's market on the weekends, nice local restaurants, and its own arts scene separate from the big cities.

 

The cost of auto insurance and homeowner's insurance is high here, and there are hurricane deductibles for homeowner's insurance (so hurricane damage is NOT covered by your regular homeowner's insurance), and depending on the area you choose, you may have to be concerned about sinkholes (and there is sinkhole insurance for that too).   But you would not be in an evacuation zone for hurricanes in Lakeland.   Last year the middle of the state took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, but prior to that, the last direct hit in that area was in 2004.   Florida as a whole has NO public transportation, so you will need a car to get everywhere, and traffic can be horrible at times.

 

My DD says that Florida has 3 seasons:  Summer (April-November, where temps are generally in the 90s and humid), Non-Summer (December-January, although this was the first year in 6 or 7 years that we've actually had a freeze), and Pollen (February-March, but sometimes starts in January).   Florida is not very friendly to those who suffer from allergies.   But you will never have to shovel snow, and except for about 10 days per year, you and your kids *could* wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops.   Except for church or events where he has to dress for the occasion, I think my DS voluntarily wore long pants and a jacket about 6 or 7 days this winter.   Most homes have pools, and my kids swim from February to November.   (My grandparents had a heated pool and growing up, we often could swim on Christmas day.)   Because of the warm weather, we do tend to have mosquitoes and other bugs, and every retention pond, lake, or other body of water will have an alligator within a short radius - but they are generally scared of people as long as they are left alone and not fed.   If you stay inside at dusk, you can avoid the worst of the mosquitoes.

 

Homeschooling is very easy and there are co-ops, support groups, and activities for homeschoolers all over.   Orlando hosts one of the largest homeschool conventions in the country every year over Memorial Day weekend.  Homeschoolers have access to extracurricular activities, sports, and part-time enrollment in public schools, online Florida Virtual School, Bright Futures college scholarship, and free dual enrollment at state colleges (we only pay for books).  

 

I would recommend looking in the 33813 zip code.   I'm not extremely familiar with the entire area, but what I've seen is nice, suburban neighborhoods, with well-kept or newer homes.

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Thanks so much for all those thoughts! You all mentioned so many things that I would not have known - especially about the insurance stuff. Really helpful!

 

This is a very hypothetical thing and we’ve only just started talking about it. But I was feeling overwhelmed since I really don’t know much about Florida and I needed some thoughts and opinions as I start researching about it.

 

As far as the homeschool laws go, they sound utterly awful since I’m coming from a state with zero regulations. So I know everyone says it’s easy but it sounds terrible compared to what I do now.

 

I’m thinking the cost of living will be quite a bit higher than what we’re used to.

 

I loathe summer and the beach. The climate sounds like what I thought it would be. Yuck.

 

I’m a mountains and snow person.

 

Oh well, we have lots of time to decide and it’s not a for-sure thing.

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Hot, humid, lots of bugs, expensive insurance,man of war on some beaches, a lot of older drivers, That about sums up my living in Florida experience

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Realizing my dd is young there is a lady at our church who homeschools and keeps up her teacher certification.  We did our first portfolio review this past year.  She met with us for about 1/2 hour, asked a few questions to my dd.  Looked at her book list and curriculum list and flipped through the portfolio.  Then asked if we had any questions or wanted any advice.  It really wasn't hard to just collect some samples of school work and to keep a list of books.  Maybe not everyone is like that but it was pretty easy.

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Thanks so much for all those thoughts! You all mentioned so many things that I would not have known - especially about the insurance stuff. Really helpful!

 

This is a very hypothetical thing and we’ve only just started talking about it. But I was feeling overwhelmed since I really don’t know much about Florida and I needed some thoughts and opinions as I start researching about it.

 

As far as the homeschool laws go, they sound utterly awful since I’m coming from a state with zero regulations. So I know everyone says it’s easy but it sounds terrible compared to what I do now.

 

I’m thinking the cost of living will be quite a bit higher than what we’re used to.

 

I loathe summer and the beach. The climate sounds like what I thought it would be. Yuck.

 

I’m a mountains and snow person.

 

Oh well, we have lots of time to decide and it’s not a for-sure thing.

 

Seriously, the homeschool stuff will take maybe 1-2 hours a year out of your life, and that includes driving somewhere to meet with an evaluator. Remember you choose your evaluator, most are homeschool moms who used to be teachers and do this on the side. Costs about $35 on average. You bring a few samples of work from the year. That's it. They sign a letter saying your student is "making progress commensurate with ability". That's it. Once a year. There is no set curriculum or set hours or days or anything. 

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Hot, humid, lots of bugs, expensive insurance,man of war on some beaches, a lot of older drivers, That about sums up my living in Florida experience

 

You forgot sea lice :)

 

Those are only south florida though. 

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Hot, humid, alligators.... :leaving:

 

Come to CA....no alligators. :) or humidity to speak of.

Edited by Liz CA
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The only people I know who moved to Lakeland did so for some big mega church more than ten years ago.  I think the pastor was caught up in a scandal and I haven't heard anything about it since.

 

ETA:  It was this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeland_Revival

Edited by Katy

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Hot, humid, alligators.... :leaving:

 

Come to CA....no alligators. :) or humidity to speak of.

Omg. The gators. How could I forget the alligators? Oh and the daily 3p thunderstorms.

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Well, Lakeland wouldn't be my favorite place to live (we have family there) but Florida in general is. I seem to be the only one who likes living here so I'll just say please don't move here if you don't want to. There are few things that get a Floridian's back up like people who willingly move here and then do nothing but complain about how much better it was where they came from. (I understand not everyone has a choice but those who do and complain are the most annoying). 

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Well, Lakeland wouldn't be my favorite place to live (we have family there) but Florida in general is. I seem to be the only one who likes living here so I'll just say please don't move here if you don't want to. There are few things that get a Floridian's back up like people who willingly move here and then do nothing but complain about how much better it was where they came from. (I understand not everyone has a choice but those who do and complain are the most annoying). 

 

My dad and his girlfriend (both in their late 70s) live in Florida for the winter. 

 

Every single year, their big complaint is that the Florida golf courses are too crowded because there are way too many old people down there. :laugh:

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My dad and his girlfriend (both in their late 70s) live in Florida for the winter. 

 

Every single year, their big complaint is that the Florida golf courses are too crowded because there are way too many old people down there. :laugh:

 

Late 70s?  That is whippersnapper territory around here.

 

Does wonders when one is in their late 40s and is still caused "miss" instead of "ma'am" because the person speaking is really old and/or can't see very well  :lol:

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I lived in South Florida (Ft. L and NMiami Bch) for parts of high school and then for 5 years after marriage. 

 

One thing no one has mentioned that we noticed--and it's kinda hard to explain, but I'll try--

 

We missed the rituals of the seasons. Because there is very little seasonal variation, you have to mark time yourself. Of course you still have holidays and such to help with that, but there is something about waiting for spring, or being quiet in the heart in the winter. 

 

And, activity-wise, nearly everything can be done "now." It is the Land of Now. 

 

Maybe a metaphor would be eating foods in season versus being able to eat anything, any time. 

 

There's something to be said for savoring the first strawberries, knowing they won't last, versus getting them year-round. It develops in you both an appreciation  for Strawberry-time and a patience while you wait. 

 

We noticed ourselves becoming more impatient, and feeling more entitled, even, because our plans were never interrupted by the weather and we could do almost anything, year-round. 

 

That probably sounds kinda dumb--but it is just something we noticed. 

 

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Re: lack of seasons

 

I wrote this many, many years ago to the yahoogroup our homeschool group used to have. Some people were complaining that they couldn't get close to nature in Florida like they could where they came from (different people who came from different places). It was my response hoping I'd get them to see a different Florida than the one they were comparing to their previous home. I polished it a bit a few years later and posted it to facebook. The Real Florida is the Florida I know. It's the Florida most tourists choose not to get to know.

 

 

The Real Florida

 

I think  those who can't connect to the earth in Florida just have not been properly introduced. If you're looking for the kind of connections you find up  north, you'll always be looking. But if you look for the uniqueness  of Florida, you will be amazed.

  • Lie on the beach and close your eyes. Listen to the awesome power of the ocean. Feel the salt air on your skin Breathe it in.
  • Go to the mangroves. Feel the web of life running  through its veins. Touch the gnarly bark of the trees. Take a good look at  an old cypress tree and know that it was there when ancient peoples roamed  the area.
  • Mountains are beautiful, but on the plains in Florida you can see forever.

There are places in Florida where trees are scarce. Some  places it's because humans took them away, but many places it's because it  was just scrub land to begin with. These wide open areas are just as beautiful as any mid-western prairie. Florida does in fact, have a few geographical prairies.

 

As for seasons, we have them - and you'll notice them, as long as you're willing to change your idea of what a season, and seasonal change, looks like.

  • Smell the citrus blossoms and know that it's spring. The heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers is a treat for the senses.
  • Enjoy the pink, red and yellow flowers of Golden Rain Trees in fall. Notice the beautiful deep red leaves of the Florida Red Maple.
  • Go out and pick fresh oranges on a winter morning.
  • Watch and feel the awesome power of an approaching thunderstorm on a summer afternoon.

 

The Real  Florida, the Natural Florida, can get under your skin and make you never want to leave.

But it will only do so if you let it.

 

Okay, I don't love  this state or anything, do I? ;-)

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Re: lack of seasons

 

I wrote this many, many years ago to the yahoogroup our homeschool group used to have. Some people were complaining that they couldn't get close to nature in Florida like they could where they came from (different people who came from different places). It was my response hoping I'd get them to see a different Florida than the one they were comparing to their previous home. I polished it a bit a few years later and posted it to facebook. The Real Florida is the Florida I know. It's the Florida most tourists choose not to get to know.

 

 

The Real Florida

 

I think  those who can't connect to the earth in Florida just have not been properly introduced. If you're looking for the kind of connections you find up  north, you'll always be looking. But if you look for the uniqueness  of Florida, you will be amazed.

  • Lie on the beach and close your eyes. Listen to the awesome power of the ocean. Feel the salt air on your skin Breathe it in.
  • Go to the mangroves. Feel the web of life running  through its veins. Touch the gnarly bark of the trees. Take a good look at  an old cypress tree and know that it was there when ancient peoples roamed  the area.
  • Mountains are beautiful, but on the plains in Florida you can see forever.

There are places in Florida where trees are scarce. Some  places it's because humans took them away, but many places it's because it  was just scrub land to begin with. These wide open areas are just as beautiful as any mid-western prairie. Florida does in fact, have a few geographical prairies.

 

As for seasons, we have them - and you'll notice them, as long as you're willing to change your idea of what a season, and seasonal change, looks like.

  • Smell the citrus blossoms and know that it's spring. The heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers is a treat for the senses.
  • Enjoy the pink, red and yellow flowers of Golden Rain Trees in fall. Notice the beautiful deep red leaves of the Florida Red Maple.
  • Go out and pick fresh oranges on a winter morning.
  • Watch and feel the awesome power of an approaching thunderstorm on a summer afternoon.

 

The Real  Florida, the Natural Florida, can get under your skin and make you never want to leave.

But it will only do so if you let it.

 

Okay, I don't love  this state or anything, do I? ;-)

 Boy, do I miss the orange blossoms.   Growing up, my grandparents lived about 30 minutes west of Orlando and we would drive down Highway 50 through miles of citrus groves and in April we'd roll the windows down so we could smell the orange blossoms.   Now all of the orange groves are neighborhoods.

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Lakeland is my hometown, but I moved away when I was 17. Dh recently retired, and we just did a MAJOR downsize and (hopefully) permanently moved to our condo south of Clearwater. I can't stand to be cold, and we wanted to live in a state that had no state income tax.

 

I have fond memories of growing up in Lakeland and still have friends there. Many have migrated over here to Pinellas County to be near the beach, also downsizing as their children have moved out.

 

My father was a physician, and there is a large medical community in Lakeland. It's funny, as I never thought of it as a redneck sort of place at all. I did have a realization later on that I might have been in a social circle bubble. Before attending my 10-year high school reunion, we visited a high school friend of dh's who had relocated to the Tampa Bay Area. He made fun of Lakeland and said it was full of a bunch of rednecks. I kinda got my nose out of joint at that comment, but at the reunion, I realized that, outside of two large tables filled with the people I had been closest to, just about everyone else was, indeed, a redneck! 😂

 

There are some lovely areas there. It's called "Lakeland" for a reason with many lakes within the city limits. It's about a three-mile stroll around Lake Hollingworth (Florida Southern's campus sits on this lake). Sadly, the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club which sat on it was razed. Lakes Morton and Mirror are lovely as well, though smaller.

 

It will be hotter inland than it is on the coasts.

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Although I left Tampa, Florida before my kids got to school age, I can give you pros and cons about living there but not about homeschooling:

 

Pros: no snow to shovel, orange blossoms, citrus fruit and strawberries, Florida Gator games, manatees, beaches, Disney Florida resident discounts, no state income tax, Publix grocery stores, no food tax on groceries, everyone will come visit you because they can go to Disney (which can also be a con), canoeing down rivers with alligators in it (just don't bother them or get too close), natural springs swimming holes (lots all around central Florida - the coldest and clearest water you will ever swim in.)

 

Cons: giant flying palmetto bug roaches the size of small birds that will get in your house no matter how often the exterminator comes, mosquitos, the 4 seasons (hot, hotter, hottest, and h*//, hurricanes, 3 pm thunderstorms every day during summer and Tampa area is lightening capital of the world, driving in blinding rain, increased homeowners insurance, everyone you know will come visit you for free hotel near Disney, I-4 traffic, increased risk of skin cancer, so many sink holes

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Lovely!!

 

I actually love Florida. Love it. I just don't like Central Florida :(

 

But the coasts are divine and so is Tallahassee. 

 

Central Florida though, meh. Although I LOVE the open prairies and marshes, where you see SO much sky!!!!

 

And just yesterday I smelled citrus blossoms!!!! My FAVORITE smell in the whole world. It's the smell of spring break to me, as a kid. Best ever. 

Re: lack of seasons

 

I wrote this many, many years ago to the yahoogroup our homeschool group used to have. Some people were complaining that they couldn't get close to nature in Florida like they could where they came from (different people who came from different places). It was my response hoping I'd get them to see a different Florida than the one they were comparing to their previous home. I polished it a bit a few years later and posted it to facebook. The Real Florida is the Florida I know. It's the Florida most tourists choose not to get to know.

 

 

The Real Florida

 

I think  those who can't connect to the earth in Florida just have not been properly introduced. If you're looking for the kind of connections you find up  north, you'll always be looking. But if you look for the uniqueness  of Florida, you will be amazed.

  • Lie on the beach and close your eyes. Listen to the awesome power of the ocean. Feel the salt air on your skin Breathe it in.
  • Go to the mangroves. Feel the web of life running  through its veins. Touch the gnarly bark of the trees. Take a good look at  an old cypress tree and know that it was there when ancient peoples roamed  the area.
  • Mountains are beautiful, but on the plains in Florida you can see forever.

There are places in Florida where trees are scarce. Some  places it's because humans took them away, but many places it's because it  was just scrub land to begin with. These wide open areas are just as beautiful as any mid-western prairie. Florida does in fact, have a few geographical prairies.

 

As for seasons, we have them - and you'll notice them, as long as you're willing to change your idea of what a season, and seasonal change, looks like.

  • Smell the citrus blossoms and know that it's spring. The heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers is a treat for the senses.
  • Enjoy the pink, red and yellow flowers of Golden Rain Trees in fall. Notice the beautiful deep red leaves of the Florida Red Maple.
  • Go out and pick fresh oranges on a winter morning.
  • Watch and feel the awesome power of an approaching thunderstorm on a summer afternoon.

 

The Real  Florida, the Natural Florida, can get under your skin and make you never want to leave.

But it will only do so if you let it.

 

Okay, I don't love  this state or anything, do I? ;-)

 

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Oh yes, Publix!!!!

 

Florida is worth moving to for Publix! Their motto is "where shopping is a pleasure" and it REALLy is. 

 

Google for their commercials, but get some tissues ready 

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The latest Publix commercial: 

 

:001_wub:

 

I can spot a Publix commercial a mile away. Often when dh and I are watching tv if one of their ads I haven't seen before starts, within a few seconds I'm telling dh. "That's a Publix ad, you;ll see".

 

And then there are the holiday ads. Always tissue worthy.

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:001_wub:

 

I can spot a Publix commercial a mile away. Often when dh and I are watching tv if one of their ads I haven't seen before starts, within a few seconds I'm telling dh. "That's a Publix ad, you;ll see".

 

And then there are the holiday ads. Always tissue worthy.

 

I do the same thing! And I said that whoever runs for president should hire the Publix commercial team - they'd win in a landslide. 

 

this thanksgiving one makes me cry every time-

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Thanks so much for all those thoughts! You all mentioned so many things that I would not have known - especially about the insurance stuff. Really helpful!

 

This is a very hypothetical thing and we’ve only just started talking about it. But I was feeling overwhelmed since I really don’t know much about Florida and I needed some thoughts and opinions as I start researching about it.

 

As far as the homeschool laws go, they sound utterly awful since I’m coming from a state with zero regulations. So I know everyone says it’s easy but it sounds terrible compared to what I do now.

 

I’m thinking the cost of living will be quite a bit higher than what we’re used to.

 

I loathe summer and the beach. The climate sounds like what I thought it would be. Yuck.

 

I’m a mountains and snow person.

 

Oh well, we have lots of time to decide and it’s not a for-sure thing.

 

 

If you are a mountains and snow person, I really doubt that you will ever love Florida.

 

I moved to Florida (Tampa) when I was 11.  I lived there for 13 years.  I never came to really like it at all. When my DH asked me to marry him, I told him that I would as long as we moved out of Florida (fortunately he is from New Jersey and he wasn't in love with Florida either).

 

I was SO depressed every winter.  I really, really need the change of seasons. Fall and winter were so depressing for me in Florida.  The holidays never felt right, and I know that I had reverse-SAD all winter long.  I feel so much better since we moved away. I would never consider moving back.  DH has had a couple of job opportunities there, but he has immediately said he is not interested once he hears that they are in FL.  He knows it is grounds for divorce as far as I'm concerned.  LOL!

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Thanks so much for all those thoughts! You all mentioned so many things that I would not have known - especially about the insurance stuff. Really helpful!

 

This is a very hypothetical thing and we’ve only just started talking about it. But I was feeling overwhelmed since I really don’t know much about Florida and I needed some thoughts and opinions as I start researching about it.

 

As far as the homeschool laws go, they sound utterly awful since I’m coming from a state with zero regulations. So I know everyone says it’s easy but it sounds terrible compared to what I do now.

 

I’m thinking the cost of living will be quite a bit higher than what we’re used to.

 

I loathe summer and the beach. The climate sounds like what I thought it would be. Yuck.

 

I’m a mountains and snow person.

 

Oh well, we have lots of time to decide and it’s not a for-sure thing.

 

If this is you, then don't move to Florida.  Just don't even consider it.  I hate to be that black and white.  I love Florida but summer and beaches don't bother me.  I don't live there but have lived there temporarily in the past.  It was great.  But I have not met one person that prefers mountains and cold and snow that EVER adapted really well to living in Florida long term (South Texas either for that matter).  There are probably some out there.  I've never met them.  I have met, however, several people who loved cold and snow and mountains that hated living in Florida.  HATED.IT.WITH.A.PASSION.  Or at least never truly adapted and wished they could move away or very happily did move away as soon as possible.

 

Seriously, unless you have no choice, I don't see how the other concerns will hold a candle to this.  The homeschooling expectations are not bad and can be worked with.  Cost of living is obviously something to be concerned about but there are affordable places to live.  Climate?  That you will have to deal with every single day.  Every day.  If you hate heat, you hate beaches, you loathe summer, you need snow, you need mountains, then every single day you will not have what you need and will instead be dealing with the things that you hate.  That sounds like a really poor choice to me.

 

Sorry if this seems too strong.  I just know a move can be a really big deal and moving to some place that makes you miserable can be...well...truly miserable.

 

Hugs and best wishes.

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I was SO depressed every winter.  I really, really need the change of seasons. Fall and winter were so depressing for me in Florida.  The holidays never felt right, and I know that I had reverse-SAD all winter long.  I feel so much better since we moved away. I would never consider moving back.  

I think it's awesome that we are all different, because I would crawl into a hole and die if I didn't have sunshine.   Lots and lots of sunshine.   If we have a week of cloudy, gray days (which happens occasionally) I can actually feel myself becoming depressed.   I would have terrible SAD if I lived up north.

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I wouldn't like it.

 

I'm very much a four season and hills-and-mountains person, which Florida is not.

 

The ocean is the attraction in many areas (I realize Lakeland is inland), and I'm not really an ocean person either.

 

And hurricanes. I guess you get used to it, but I don't like knowing that something that powerful might shatter my surroundings. 

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Polk County, which Lakeland is in, has been on the rise for drug issues. Just a consideration on what area of town to live in.

 

That said, there are a lot of hs groups close, and plenty for kids to do within an hours drive. I lived really close and did a lot of my shopping/hs/doctor stuff there. If you don’t like city living, there are plenty of smaller farm towns within half hour to forty five minutes of it. 4H is huge there, and you wouldn’t lack choices for outdoor activities.

 

If I had a choice, I would be back in a second. Growing up in the Midwest, then moving to where there wasn’t winter was good for my fibromyalgia. One drawback was having to deal with elderly drivers part of the year who did NOT know what a speed limit meant.

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Let's play the "What if?" game.

 

So, what if I moved to Florida (more specifically the Lakeland area).......what do I need to know?

 

Keep in mind that the last time I was in Florida was over 20 years ago and I'm not at all familiar with the state or that particular area.

 

Climate, schools, things to do, culture, homeschool community and support.......everything.

 

Can anyone convince me that it's better than the place I live now with 4 distinct seasons, lots of beautiful trees, amazing parks, and a very laid back, family-friendly atmosphere? lol! I'm kind of not thrilled at the prospect.

I don't know anything about Florida Lexi but I kind of want to move where you are. What state are you in? I have been in Washington for almost all of my life and with Amazon moving in and crowding up my area as well as skyrocketing cost of living, I desperately want to jump ship. ;)

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If this is you, then don't move to Florida.  Just don't even consider it.  I hate to be that black and white.  I love Florida but summer and beaches don't bother me.  I don't live there but have lived there temporarily in the past.  It was great.  But I have not met one person that prefers mountains and cold and snow that EVER adapted really well to living in Florida long term (South Texas either for that matter).  There are probably some out there.  I've never met them.  I have met, however, several people who loved cold and snow and mountains that hated living in Florida.  HATED.IT.WITH.A.PASSION.  Or at least never truly adapted and wished they could move away or very happily did move away as soon as possible.

 

Seriously, unless you have no choice, I don't see how the other concerns will hold a candle to this.  The homeschooling expectations are not bad and can be worked with.  Cost of living is obviously something to be concerned about but there are affordable places to live.  Climate?  That you will have to deal with every single day.  Every day.  If you hate heat, you hate beaches, you loathe summer, you need snow, you need mountains, then every single day you will not have what you need and will instead be dealing with the things that you hate.  That sounds like a really poor choice to me.

 

Sorry if this seems too strong.  I just know a move can be a really big deal and moving to some place that makes you miserable can be...well...truly miserable.

 

Hugs and best wishes.

 

I am glad I am not the only person who thought this.  AFter your wrote it I thought you are really not going to like it there. 

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Lexi, you are in Oklahoma, right?

 

I grew up in OK and now live in the Kansas City area. If you are looking for a change, I want to suggest it. Great place to live.

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I am not from Florida. I have never lived in Florida. The closest I came was when DH's employer was looking to move his job there. I visit Florida fairly often, more so than any other place. I have learned a few things, most important, there is no relief for those who suffer from enviromental allergies. I sneezed my way to a pharamcy on our trip in January when Florida was in the midst of a cold spell.

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Lexi, you are in Oklahoma, right?

 

I grew up in OK and now live in the Kansas City area. If you are looking for a change, I want to suggest it. Great place to live.

 

I used to live in Oklahoma more than 8 years ago. I live farther north now where we get actual snow and not ice :) And we don't really have tornadoes. I like it here...

 

But I have looked at that area and do think I would like it. If a job opened up there I would definitely consider it. I think I'm a fan of the quiet midwest. 

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Lexi, you are in Oklahoma, right?

 

I grew up in OK and now live in the Kansas City area. If you are looking for a change, I want to suggest it. Great place to live.

Great BBQ!! I need to get to Joe's again. Last year we discovered Burnt End Reuben's.

 

I love Des Moines, it stole my heart years ago and is a great place and it is just a day trip to get Joe's.

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Can anyone convince me that it's better than the place I live now with 4 distinct seasons, lots of beautiful trees, amazing parks, and a very laid back, family-friendly atmosphere? lol! I'm kind of not thrilled at the prospect. 

 

Yeah, don't look at me. I've lived here (Orlando) for about 20 years, and I still don't like it.

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Everyone keeps writing about how Lakeland is only an hour away from activities for the kids. Yeah... I used to live 15 minutes from Baltimore city. I moved an hour away to mostly rural PA. I figured that the hour long drive wasn’t a biggie.

 

Well, right now I’m used to driving 25 minutes to the nearest Walmart (nearest anything). I’m used to driving the 35 minutes to my son’s Spanish class. I’m used to all our friends being 20-40 minutes from the house.

 

But that hour. That hour to get to Baltimore is just too much. There are so many restaurants and there is shopping and there are activities for the kids and classes...but I’m not going to drive a two hour round trip to them except for on special occassions.

 

You’ll need to figure out what is available for the kids in Lakeland and decide if you want to move there. Don’t figure out what’s an hour away. You’ll go to the cities, of course, but you are not driving a two-hour round trip every week to take a kid to a class or to join a club or whatever. You’ll go on a day trip every now and then. You’ll need classes and clubs within a half hour or less.

Edited by Garga

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