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Why I’ll Never Move to Florida

As a bit of a break from personal finance today, I’ll share a story from my past. All of our experiences shape the person we are today. From this experience, I certainly learned lots about myself and that I never want to move to Florida!

In the final year of optometry school, students chose internship sites throughout the country to complete their training. It’s kind of like having a job, except you have to write up all kinds of case reports and still pay tuition.

My Mom was super excited because she just knew her baby was coming home. Any true respecting Southerner would go back to their hometown, find a couple of internship sites within driving distance, and go home and eat Mom’s cooking. I really think she must have dropped me on my head when I was little, because all I wanted to do was go somewhere I’d never been. Mom took it personally, and just like with my trip to Hollywood, she just knew I was going to be maimed or killed out in the big ole’ world.

My first internship was in South Florida. It ran from November to January, and I thought it would be warmth and beaches. Finding a place to live for three months was a piece of cake. The family of a fellow student had inherited a condo from his grandmother that was close to the area where I was going. It hadn’t been used in several months and was filled with old lady stuff, but at least it had furniture. I paid for three months in advance and set off with my Jack Russell Terrier, Sadie, and my car filled with all the stuff I owned. There’s something poignant about the time in life when all of your personal belongings will fit into a car.

After a fourteen hour drive, with the last two in a down pour, I arrived at the condo. Because it was  raining buckets, I grabbed the dog and my purse, took the condo key, and ran in. I was hoping for mildly outdated, but what I found was unbelievable. There was a hole in the roof that was the size of a stop sign.

Rain was coming in as if someone was standing above, pouring it with a gallon jug. Everything in the general vicinity was completely molded. I had to get out of there, so I ran back to my car to find I had locked the keys inside. Little dog, moldy condo, locked car, what do I do? I was not about to call my Mom and hear, “I told you so.” I actually sat down in the floor and cried for about 10 minutes, then the force somehow was with me, because I sprang into action.

I called AAA and got my car unlocked. I found the landlord’s information, (they lived in Wisconsin) and gave them a call. No, they had no idea the condo had a sunroof, but would get someone out right away to fix it. There wasn’t much to do after that except move my stuff into the part of the condo without mold. Luckily, I wasn’t allergic and was too stupid to realize it might be a health risk. More realistically, I knew no one and had no money to find another place or even stay in a hotel. Exhausted, I actually slept pretty good that night, even if I was sleeping on old lady sheets.

The next day, I was determined to make a new start. The weather was beautiful, so I took Sadie and went in search of a park. We found a great one, with miles and miles of trails, but unfortunately, we got lost and couldn’t find our way out. We ran into a couple with a dog, so I asked for directions back to the parking lot.

The gentleman asked me if I was new in town, and I told him I was there for an optometry internship. He began to stare at me with a strange look and asked what my name was. OK, is this guy going to kill me, rob me?  Reluctantly, I told him my name, and he introduced himself to me as my internship preceptor. Honestly, this was the Fort Lauderdale area with over a million people. What a serendipitous meeting!  I took that as a good sign, and it was. I learned tons while I was there and tried to find as much as possible to do outside, anything to avoid the moldy condo.

Workers didn’t show up to fix the roof until about two months into my stay. I had gotten pretty used to rotating out buckets whenever it rained. The repair guy did a little work, left his plaster buckets and stilts in the living room, and said he’d be back to finish the next day. I never saw him again, but I did have fun playing with the stilts!

All of the neighbors in the complex (think Melrose Place on Geritol) were either snowbirds or permanent retired transplants. They were not very impressed with me or my dog. This one fellow took particular delight in yelling at me over parking, the laundry room, or whatever he felt like that particular day.  I always parked in the most far away spot to avoid him.

On my last day there, I parked  closer so that I could load up my car. Sure enough, after about  5 minutes, he came out to yell at me for parking in his spot. I think all the spots must have belonged to him, because he yelled about my parking anywhere that wasn’t in the very last space. I told him that if he would give me a half hour, I was leaving the state, and he would never see me again. That would have worked out great except for the careless driver who ran a stop sign and hit me, literally two blocks from the interstate. Luckily, Sadie and I were uninjured, but my car was totaled. If you think Jack Russell Terriers are neurotic, being in a car wreck doesn’t improve their personality.

After an extra night in Florida, a rental car, a dog doped up on Benadryl, and a couple of Taco Bell stops, we rolled into Kentucky. Maybe Mom was right, but I view it as a learning experience. I not only learned some top notch optometry skills, but also how to walk on stilts, how to stand quietly while an octogenarian is yelling at you, how to deal with an accident that requires a tow truck, and how much rain it takes to fill a 2.5 gallon bucket. Perhaps the best lesson was learning that I could deal with just about any challenge the Sunshine State wanted to throw at me. I’m sure there are lots of great people in Florida, like Mickey Mouse and the PoPs, but I think I’ve checked it off my most desirable locations to live!

What’s the worst place you’ve ever stayed? Ever been yelled at by a snowbird?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Meiklejohn

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

46 comments

  1. Oh no.. you’ve dashed my dreams of retiring in Florida to save on state taxes!

    Well, at least you know what you want and don’t want :)
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Good Advice On How To Better Manage Your Own MoneyMy Profile

  2. Oh, my gosh, what a nightmare!

    Unfortunately I am well used to mouldy houses. It’s all part of being a renter in Auckland. Can’t wait till we’re in a position to buy our own place.
    eemusings recently posted..Guest post: Bullshit free ways to save money on your weddingMy Profile

  3. I lived in FL before. It’s uh, interesting. Your story would have amazed me, except that it happened in FL. And nothing, no matter how strange, coincidental, or unpleasant, amazes me about FL anymore.

    But there is no income tax and no winter. These are reasons why I may eventually move back.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Should I buy a new car or keep the old one?My Profile

  4. Regular reader, first time commenting. I moved to Florida for four years. It is definitely interesting and strange. I couldn’t wait to get out of there personally! Anyone who is considering moving there long-term or permanently really needs to do a LOT of research!
    Laura S. recently posted..Freebie Friday-Week ending April 26My Profile

    • Thanks for commenting! I think Florida is made up of a huge, eclectic collection of people, and I would certainly research the area where I was going. I have relatives in the Tampa area, and they love it, so I think it just depends on what you’re looking for. South Florida was not my cup of tea!

  5. I stayed in Florida for a few months back in 2004. My company rented me a condo. There was a hurricane (I had skipped town before it arrived) and when I went down, the roof of my building had blown partially off. I didn’t know any better and went inside, stayed there for a bit until ceilings started falling in. The landlord had other units in the complex and I stayed in a vacant one for the remainder of my time. Fun place to visit, but hard to imagine living there.
    Money Beagle recently posted..10 Things I Wonder AboutMy Profile

    • For me it’s more of a vacation idea, although I haven’t been back since my stay. There might actually be a warrant for my arrest because of an unpaid ticket, but that’s a whole other post!

  6. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    Man, anything that could go wrong did go wrong for you! Despite it all I’d still consider snowbirding in Florida. While I could never leave home forever, but I’d happily escape winter for 6-12 weeks in the sunshine state.
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..No TimeMy Profile

    • At this point, I’m thinking Phoenix. There are snowbirds, but they aren’t from NY. I’m sure there are many nice people from New York, but the ones I ran across weren’t so friendly.

  7. Great post. It reminds me of a creepy old guy who lived across from me at an apartment I once rented. He would give me the “Hey, baby!” every time he saw me, and I was SO scared. But one day, out of the blue, he suddenly started sucking up to me like crazy, terrified of me! Come to find out, that when I’d confided in my mom about my fear of this creepy octogenarian, she’d called my dad ( 6 foot 3, and a hard and fast member, along with his 6 foot plus brothers, of what we all call The Irish Mafia) and he and an uncle went over and had a “talk” with creepy old guy. :-). It took me years to find out what had happened and why all of a sudden this guy was begging me, fearfully, to help with carrying groceries and household chores. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Nana’s Banana BreadMy Profile

  8. I couldn’t do florida just for the humidity. It was bad enough in NJ.

    Actually, my aunt moved to the sunshine state the day after she graduated high school She lived there for 20 years until she became allergic to palm trees. Now she lives in upstate Minnesota (12 miles from the Canadian border) and apparently loves all the snow. Which gets me wondering, if she enjoys snow so much, why did she move to Florida?
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..New Online Coupons Strategy: Infographic by Rather Be ShoppingMy Profile

    • I have to say, around Christmas, when it was 80 degress and everyone was in shorts, it did sort of seem odd. I certainly enjoy seasons, but am starting to like warm weather more the older I get.

  9. “(think Melrose Place on Geritol)” I think I literally spewed water because I was laughing so hard at this. :) My Mom and Stepdad live in Florida as they retired there about 15 years ago and they live in a retirement community. I just think of Seinfeld and his parents when I visit them because it’s so true. I think the worst place we ever lived was our first duplex when we first moved to Omaha. Of course we found this out AFTER we moved in, but it used to be a combo drug house/brothel. Suffice it to say we found all sorts of “interesting” things – I just may have to write a post about it. ;)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: We Just Got Blindfolded by the Government EditionMy Profile

  10. Wow. That’s my reaction to that story. I can’t believe you went through all that! I would have considered suing the landlord and demanding they pay for another place for me to stay. Then again, that scares me now that I’m a landlord myself…tho I hope I never leave a property in that kind of condition!

    I’m having a hard time thinking of the wors place I stayed…I suppose a basement in Juarez Mexico, but I didn’t mind because I knew it would be a bit dingy going into it. I probably have better memories of that trip because I met my wife while on that trip!

    • I didn’t even have a lease. It was sort of a friend of a friend deal, and it was so cheap, I was happy to get it. To the landlord’s credit, I think it was very hard to find handyman type laborers who were reliable, especially since they didn’t know the area. Today, if that happened to me, there is no way I would let it go for two months, but I’ve grown quite a voice since then.

  11. Haha great story. My wife and I have always kind of wanted to live in Florida, but have never got up the courage to actually do it (we live in MN currently). I really haven’t lived anywhere besides MN and Ocean City, NJ for a summer and I really like both areas.
    Jake Erickson recently posted..How to Get a PromotionMy Profile

  12. I have learned the hard way never to pay rent more than a month in advance! In the UK my worst place was a house with 4 official roommates, in real life all were having their partners staying with them so 9 people sharing a shower and no one cleaning it, a drunk roommate passed out in front of my door one fine Sunday morning, had to run buy a lock to sleep without fearing someone would come into my room at 2am.
    Florida I have never been, sounds like mosquitoes and old people, a little fun in Miami but overall pretty superficial, not my kind of place either, although I’d like to visit Miami for a few days.
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, a booked flight and header iconsMy Profile

    • I think there are tons of nice places to visit in Florida, they just weren’t where I was for those few months! Going to the beach in January is pretty sweet, but I bet you can already do that.

  13. If I didn’t move somewhere because of a hole in a roof and an old person yelling at me, I wouldn’t be able to move anywhere. Neither of those things are specifically found only in Florida. ;)

    Florida has lots of weird stuff and crazy people and big bugs, but the fact that I live right on the water for cheap, my car insurance and registration is nearly nothing, there are no state taxes, the weather is gorgeous, and I never sit in traffic makes it completely livable. And I’ve lived in 11 states so far!
    David recently posted..Green News For The Weekend Volume 309My Profile

    • The older I get, the more warm weather year round appeals to me. No place is perfect, but I certainly understand why you like it there.

  14. Hahaha. What city were you in?
    I wouldn’t hold the hole in the roof or the general annoyances of condo life against Fl – those things can happen anywhere and sound more like they were the result of not having enough money to find a better place to live.
    If you ever want to give it another shot, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to provide a list of good places or a personalized tour. =).
    Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Complimentary or Complementary – How to make a good couple?My Profile

  15. When I first came to California, I was transferred. They picked up hotel costs for a few days. I was staying near a friend and he suggested a closer motel. It was a disaster, but we did not know until that night. Next morning, we were out of there. One bad night is nothing I know, but that’s my story.
    krantcents recently posted..Extreme Retirement Is Fool’s Gold!My Profile

  16. I have only had bad luck when in Florida and for that, I won’t be living there. I am also very hot blooded, so it being warm for most of the year is unappealing for me.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Feeling Good Friday: Reaching Out to HelpMy Profile

  17. Oh my! It sounds like you had quite the adventure. I also think when we’re young and don’t know better (or have bigger bank accounts) we tolerate a lot, then we grow older and tolerate little – like your octogenarian friend. :) By the way your Melrose Place on Geritol line was a hoot! LOL!! I’ve been to Florida but as tourist, so you sometimes see the very best of a state when they are trying to convince you that you’re at the happiest place on earth!
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Blog Round-Up: Supersized EditionMy Profile

    • I was actually a model tenant, but I can certainly see now how having a young person move into your senior abode might tend to upset the apple cart. Too bad Aaron Spelling isn’t still around, maybe he could make a series about it. Heck, some of the original Melrose cast must be getting close to Geritol age now anyway.

  18. I lived in an apartment complex in the middle of no-where Ohio for an internship. There was also a serial killer who lived in my apartment complex who was arrested while I was there overnight. I remember the entire arrest, but didn’t really know what happened and assumed it was a domestic abuse arrest (which happened alot in that complex). Since none of my co-workers lived in that tiny town and I didn’t read the paper I didn’t learn the guy that was arrest was a serial killer until a couple years later when I was watching the discovery channel and they were doing a 48 hours kind of show and I recognized the cop cars, the apartment complex and finally MY CAR in the background from the news footage… It was a little creepy and when I look back I don’t know how I could not have known what really happened!

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed that story, even though the whole things sounds like it was such a big headache at the time! The only think I like about Florida is the fact that they have balmy evenings, whereas California gets pretty chilly. But I hate mosquitoes, and the would be out during the day in Fla. No thanks!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Link Love/Week in Review 4/26/13My Profile

    • The water is warmer there too. It was actually a very good growing up experience. I met some great people and did have a good time, it just seemed like there was always someone conspiring against me. I thing my mom put a spell on the whole thing so I’d come home.

  20. Oh wow! Florida does not sound like it was very fun for you, but I think it’s great you had such a positive attitude about it!
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted..Fun Friday 5 – #10My Profile

  21. Sounds awful–sorry to hear! No one has been that abrasive toward me in my travels, but I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later.

  22. I agree Kim I defiantly wouldn’t want to live in Florida either, the summers can be blistering hot and humid down there. I would have to say the worst place I’ve ever stayed was downtown LA. Everything was over priced and you did not want to venture out at night by yourself.
    Chris @ Stumble Forward recently posted..6 Warning Signs To Avoid Fitness, Diet, and Weight Loss ScamsMy Profile

    • That does sound a bit scary. Hot and humid would be OK if you could be at the beach. Going to work and driving in traffic, not as nice.

  23. My children (12 and15) do not want to vacation in FL because of this show called I Almost Got Away With It which they say is ALWAYS set in Florida! I’d like to rent a house on the beach for a week, but they say no with the confidence only people that age have.

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