Not too long ago, I packed up my things and left NYC to go to a state with a lot less mandates (and a better cost of living). After deciding between Tennessee, Texas, and Florida, I ultimately went with Florida. Not only did the lack of state income tax win me over, I was also a fan of DeSantis and the good things he is doing. Florida also has a lot of fun cities like Miami and Tampa where the social mood is more laid back as opposed to being more of the “get married with kids by 30” type of vibe you’d get from Texas and Tennessee. After being here for a few months, I decided to share my experiences.
Note the “(so far)” in my title, this could all very well change or just end up being perceptions that get altered over time. For everyone moving to Florida, here you go.
Driving here is insane, be weary of what lane you pick on the highway, it could get you fined!
Driving in Florida is crazy and it is not just because of Florida drivers. If you are ever on the highways here and use your GPS, be careful of what lane you are going on. Your GPS will constantly tell you to keep left or keep right which makes it easy to shoot past an Exit you were supposed to take. I have seen more than a handful of cases of cars who are about to take an Exit and all of a sudden swerve back on to the freeway at the last second because it was the wrong Exit.
Meanwhile, there are not really that many Toll Booths across the state. What you get instead are Fast Lanes where you need your “Sunshine Pass” and are all “Photo Enforced”. I took one of these lanes by accident and next thing I know, I am having to pay a fine a couple days later. Be weary of which lane you are on in the highway, it can save you a good chunk of cash.
The crazy wildlife is overhyped, especially if you live in an apartment.
Every other video you watch of snakes coming out of people’s bathrooms, Burmese Pythons, gators walking across the sidewalk, or Giant Iguanas falling on peoples’ cars are overhyped. Maybe it is because I live in a major city as opposed to having a house by the lake but you don’t have to worry about any of this stuff. I do notice tiny lizards when I walk outside but so far, I have seen an Iguana only once and that is when I was in an Uber. You are not going to walk outside and run into a gator in most cases unless you live in the Everglades (and why would you do that anyways?).
Rents have skyrocketed in almost all of the major cities.
If you want to get a studio in let’s say Brickell, Miami? Expect to pay over 2k for it. People are flooding into Florida given the beaches and the rise of remote work. The lack of a state income tax has people from all over the country coming to Florida and the fact that this place is a popular destination for New Yorkers is not helping the case any. Rents keep going up every year because there is so much to love about the state itself. I got lucky in the sense that I moved in at the right time and was able to find a good deal by working with a broker.
While it is a red state, be careful being an outspoken Republican here, play it by city.
Apparently, for the first time in state history, Republican voters outnumber Democrat voters. For those of you who know American politics, this is generally not as common in swing states as there are generally more registered Democrats than Republicans overall. Now if you are like me and dealt with wack job progressives when you were in NYC or California, I am sure you are ready to let loose and announce your love for Trump at your nearest beach. My suggestion is to take a deep breath and curb your enthusiasm, this is a state that was only a decade ago going for Obama.
Florida is a swing state which means that it has its fair share of liberals and anti-Trumpers. I would highly recommend avoiding Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County for any of you moving to the state because of your love for Republican politics. You can also consult this amazing map by NYTimes here if you like. All I can say is thank God for the Cubans!
COVID definitely happened here, but restrictions are relaxed.
People often say “it is as if COVID never happened”, that is wrong. People do mask up a lot at stores in the cities and Florida also has a vaccination rate not that far off from New York. COVID definitely happened here and the locals are taking precautions. While Florida does not have mandates (knock on wood), people are getting vaccinated and getting on top of stuff. You are also not likely to get yelled at by Karens for not wearing a mask to a store either. Florida has done it right so far which is why it also has amongst the lowest COVID rates in the country.
If you went up to an average Floridian, they would tell you that COVID is a problem that needs to be solved. However, it is still different from an average New Yorker who is cheering on forced vaccinations, mandates, and forced booster shots.