Moving to Florida was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, but as with all things, everything is not always roses and daffodils. There are hidden factors that nobody tells you about living at the beach, but why should they? Beach towns want to lure you in for all to be envious and think that having sand and surf is all fun and games. Having lived in the North (West Virginia) with four distinct seasons, I grew accustomed to only getting a few sunshine months. Imagine my surprise when my first Christmas holiday in Florida was spent in my swimming pool with 90-degree temps.
All of my friends would love to trade places with me, seeing as I live only two miles from the beach, but unless you have lived in a tropical climate, be careful what you wish for. There is much more than meets the eye.
Ah, it is sunny and gorgeous outside, which I can see through the dozens of windows in my house, but I just want to piddle inside and watch TV all day. If I choose that option, I am allowing the guilt to set in for not being out in the fantastic climate and taking advantage of it. Guessing that Florida has 300+ days of said fabulous weather, it sets you up for failure knowing that anything you choose to do that is not sun-worthy will invoke great guilt because you are lucky enough to be living at a beach. Some people would kill to trade places with you. You can’t cool off in your swimming pool because the water temperatures are easily pushing 100 degrees. Priscilla, our King Charles Cavalier, feels no guilt.
No Make-up and a Ponytail
When living at the beach, in a hotter than Hades climate, it becomes worthless to bother doing your hair and makeup. Okay, so I am saving a bundle on cosmetics and hair products, but let’s face it, I look average and blend in with everyone else around. This would not be a conducive option for a single person trying to market themselves for the dating world. It takes a real act of congress to make myself put forth any effort to style my hair, fix up my face, and just look decent.
Healthy Food Markets
We have so many healthy food choices in Vero Beach (where I live), and being fit is part of the beach scene. Enter me, who isn’t beach-body material, and would rather have a corndog from Sonic than a “big healthy salad” choice that all my book club friends would pick on our lunch outings. Again, guilt brought on based on geography for not choosing the healthy options we have. Perhaps Germany would be a better address for me since I would choose fattening sausages, spaetzle, and sweet red cabbage over hamster food any day.
Citrus Fruit Overkill
I live in the freaking citrus capital of the nation and have never liked citrus fruits. I can buy it dirt cheap, just like all of my neighbors, but everyone wants to sell you or offer you citrus fruit. It is not a rarity; please stop. This is not a commodity.
Maximum humidity, torrential downpours, high winds, power surges, and extreme temperatures are to be expected when you live at the beach. Our climate is terrific for tanning and enjoying outdoor life, yet “when it rains, it pours” would be an understatement. We even had to learn hurricane procedures and how to insert plywood over the windows should one be forecasted, and of course, I forgot every detail a week later. Google will not let me down though in the case of a real emergency. Fingers crossed.
Old People and Snowbirds Test Your Patience
My town is probably half full-time residents and half snowbirds, retirees who travel South for the winter months. Our season starts around late November and lasts until mid or end of April. That means that getting a seat in a restaurant on the weekend is pretty much out of the question, visits to the grocery store will take twice as long, plus parking is always full no matter where you go.
While I am sure the economy is much greater because of the snowbirds, having to fight for a spot with these honkin’ big cars is not one-bit fun. Then there are the old people. I absolutely love older adults, but being surrounded by so many of them means I am sick more often. I have to exude lots of patience because they take longer in the post office and grocery store. Their driving skills are horrid. You may be dodging red light runners one minute then behind a blue hair driving 15 in a 35-mile zone for 10 miles. It definitely exercises your patience. There is a fatality in my town daily.
Suddenly, Everyone Wants to Visit
I have friends crawling out of the woodwork that want to come visit me in Florida. Funny, when I lived in West Virginia for 44 years, nobody ever wanted to just to come visit. I have seen more West Virginia friends since I’ve lived in Florida than the last dozen years in Charleston. Suddenly living in a vacation zone means we are “got to see” friends, which is fine, I love socializing. Luckily my extra bedroom is always ready for receiving guests, so come on down!
Sun Damage and Age Spots
Growing old is not always a pleasant thing, though the better choice than the alternative for sure. Having my skin riddled with brown age spots is not exactly what I signed up for when I moved to the beach. The sun used to bring out a light dusting of freckles across my cheeks, cute, all the romance novels say so; but connect the dots kind of brown age spots is not one bit attractive and premature for my age.
I am a sunbather, and always careful to apply 30 (or higher) SPF sunscreen, yet the sun has not been kind to me, and I have only lived in Florida for a handful of years. Beware, it isn’t pretty.
A Very Limited Wardrobe
I now have a limited number of clothes, mostly because I love my new daily “uniform”, my beach attire. Going somewhere nice, which requires me to put on something of decent nature, usually gets kicked out of my mind as fast as it entered. Dress-up is something we no longer need or welcome, so it is a rarity for either my husband (Eddie) or I to participate in anything that we have to leave our daily wardrobe’s comfort.
If we do cave and decide to clean up, our fashions are sure to scream “vintage” since we spend no money at all on any current fashion trends. When I travel to cold destinations for work, the thought of wearing pants makes me want to drink myself under the table. If it does not involve t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops, I’m not interested.
Living in Florida has introduced me to all sorts of exciting wildlife. The birds NEVER shut up, so regardless of where you are, their singing (or bickering, do we know?) will trump any conversation you may be trying to have. Forget going to the ocean full of sharks and manatees (I love seeing them but not something I want to come face to face with in the sea) plus the water isn’t so clean.
My own yard is not even safe. Even though we have a fenced yard, the raccoons love burrowing under it or climbing over to leave us “presents” on our pool cover from time to time. Armadillos are no strangers either, and this infuriates my dog when she smells their traces left lingering in her yard. One day, we even had a blue soft-shell crab underneath our grill. Like how the hell did that crab get four miles away from the ocean to my yard? Beats me.
Bugs and Other Creepy Crawlies
Okay, so I did not raise sons, nor grow up with brothers around me, so it is fair for me to say that I do not like bug (and the like) and scream like a madman when they are around. Even worse than bugs are geckos. They sometimes get in the house and I have devised some very original ways of catching them and taking them outside, which only took me nearly three years to perfect.
I cannot stand to kill anything, so between the dog, cat, and I, we can usually trap them up to scoop them into a box (covered with a magazine) long enough to get them to the door where I can gently toss them outside. I feel accomplished and all grown up because I used to have to call my friend’s 12-year-old daughter or email my neighbor to send her five-year-old son over. They also fall in my pool all the time and I am having to fish them out because possibly Priscilla (my dog) scratched at them, and they are now missing their tail. The stories are hilarious of my rescuing bugs and creepy crawlies, but I won’t bore you with the details. Just know that it is non-stop, dealing with these pests.
Beach Life = A Hard Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It
I wish that someone would have told me these things or given me a heads up to make the transition a little easier. But since I am nice, I will share my secrets with you so you can be more prepared than I was for living at the beach.
Do you have any interesting stories about living at the beach? Know that as bad as I make it sound, there is nowhere I would rather be.
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