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We just returned to New York after spending part of the winter as snowbirds in Sarasota, Florida. With both kids off to college, this was the first year we were able to spend more than 5 or 6 days in a row at our condo near Siesta Key!
After our lake house remodel was finished in January, we moved into the house and then headed south! We spent most of Feb, March, and the first week in April enjoying the Sunshine State. We did fly home a few times so that I could work with student teachers; a job that is helping me accrue more credit in the retirement system.
I explained a little bit more about my $14K/year retirement system issue in my last post, I Just Took a Teaching Job – No Fooling. And I started the maternity leave teaching job today. It was the first time I’ve been in a high school classroom teaching in 17 years! But it’s not a tenure-track position and I’ll be done June 22nd. There are no more full year jobs in my plans at this point!
But today I’ll focus on the time we spent in Florida and explain some of the positives and negatives of feeling like residents not vacationers!
What was great?
The weather. No surprise on this one! We endured below zero, nasty winter conditions in New York in December and January (while living in a not very insulated cottage!) So sunshine and warm temperatures felt better than we could have imagined. We saw a light rain twice and the temperatures ranged from the mid-60’s to the upper 80’s! But most days were 75-80 and sunny. EXACTLY what we like.
The pace. After being stuck inside and working in New York most of the winter in past years, vacations meant getting outside! We always felt like we needed to be out enjoying every minute our of our vacation. If it was sunny, we felt pressured to be at the beach or pool, out on a bike ride or taking in some local attraction.
This year, we did a lot of the same things but without the stress of maximizing every minute of the day. We walked for miles (in our quest to be Younger Next Year) and came home enjoyed coffee and breakfast (oatmeal for you YNY friends!) We’d do some work and then ride bikes. And then we’d just do whatever we felt like doing. The stress of getting in every last minute of “vacation” was gone.
More visitors. We always felt like visitors, so having people come and visit us only happened a few times over the 5+ years we’ve owned the condo. This year, we had company every couple of weeks! It was SO much fun to show people the area where we live. These weren’t long visits, but it still allowed us to connect and see family and friends, including those we met last fall in Longmont at the PopUp Business School!
Meeting people. In Disconnecting to Make Connections, I shared that I was really trying to meet more people in our condo association. My goal was to be able to say hello to people by name, rather than becoming good friends at this point. We also had a wonderful Easter dinner with 50 people from the association in the club room of the condo property. And I did get to meet one of our Younger Next Year group members for a great hike too!
What were the problems?
The mail. We ran into a few issues with the getting our mail forwarded to the condo, but we kind of expected that. It took almost two weeks for the mail to get to us and now that we’re home, it’s still going to take that long to get it re-routed. It wouldn’t be a problem, but a few of our small local municipalities still do everything by snail mail. And they don’t have long periods between sending the bill and the due date. We also have some rents being paid and a few side gig checks that come in the mail. The waiting game is on. I have notes all through my calendar to make sure the bills and checks actually show up.
We may look into an alternative like the Traveling Mailbox this fall. That way, no matter where we are – we can get our mail (as long as we have data or an internet connection.) If you have other ideas, let me know!
Healthcare worries. We are working very hard at staying healthy, but things happen. There is an option through our health care called the “Home Away” program, but we weren’t gone long enough to use it. It would assign us a primary care doctor in Sarasota and we would have coverage. But we still wouldn’t have coverage (other than ER care) if we were traveling anywhere else. We’ll probably try that next year, but we still have worries about traveling and health coverage. Again, any ideas? It’s on the summer list of things to look into!
Homeowner issues. We used to own 16 toilets, but after selling our house – we only own 14! And even though none of those leaked, one of our showers in the condo started leaking on our neighbor downstairs. We caught it early, but we had to quit using it and rip it out. We knew we’d have to do it eventually, but when you own property – there’s always something to fix!
Lack of time. Even though we were there for a couple of months this year, there were still SO many things we didn’t get to see or do. So even though I was happy with our pace, I still had hoped to do a few more things in Sarasota. We never went to the Farmer’s Market or the beautiful library a few miles away. And we’d like to get more involved and volunteer in the community. We’re looking forward to seeing and doing a lot more next year!
And we even have one “neutral” point to share! TRAFFIC!
The only reason we are neutral on this is that we chose a condo within walking or biking distance to anything we needed and most of the things we’d ever want to do during peak season. Siesta Key Beach has been named the #1 beach in the country on and off for the last decade. And people have found it!
If you want to get to the turquoise waters and white sugar sand from mid-February through mid-April, you have to go first thing in the morning or you won’t find a parking spot. We walk or ride our bikes, so it doesn’t bother us at all. It’s all about location, location, location!
We hope that spring will come to the northeast soon! We hit snow starting in Virginia on our way back from Florida on April 7th! And it was 22 degrees when I went to school today. Trying to be patient but we’re ready for nicer weather here too!
Thanks for reading about our first-year snowbird adventures! If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments. I think it was a lot like “slow travel” and I’m going to read more from people who post about that to see if our experiences were at all similar.