We plan to leave Florida and retire to the mountains of either north Georgia or western North Carolina. I am well aware that there is a fairly large contingent of folks native to those parts who feel a certain hostility toward Floridians who retire to their region. I’ll admit that’s a tad off-putting, but I am hoping that we can come in under the radar. From what I understand, much of the complaining is about Floridians who leave Florida cities to move to rural communities in the mountains, and then they attempt to change those communities to more closely resemble the area they just left. This will not be us. First and foremost, I don’t like the area where we currently live, so I will welcome any change there may be. I like our house and our property here, but once you leave those borders, I hate it. I would never attempt to get our new home to resemble in even the remotest way the place we live now.
In fact, I don’t anticipate interacting with locals much at all. We have a list of priorities for the next house, and that list includes having neighbors that are visible but not within hollering distance. Therefore we will likely not impact anyone in the vicinity of our new home (not that we have loud dogs, play loud music, drive loud cars, or in any other way behave in an obtrusive manner). As far as I can tell, only the realtor and the person who handles our initial banking needs will be aware of our Floridian nature, unless we choose to share it. We are conspicuously without southern accents, though (since we are Ohioans who have lived in NC, Canada, and NM before landing here).
I would opt for early retirement for my husband and go now, but I believe he will want to hold out for the 3 years until he turns 65. We are, nonetheless, already doing some minor preparations. Our bathroom was painted a bright and cheery tangerine orange, a decision I made while clearly having moments of insanity. It wasn’t that terrible but there is no way we could put this house on the market with an orange bathroom. So that is now a far more normal pastel yellow color. Today the man who installs vinyl floorcovering came out and we made arrangements to have the living room floor replaced, which is another thing that had to be done before we could put the house in the market. I have purchased some very large and sturdy trash bags, which I intend to fill with all the stuff and junk that has accumulated but which we will not be taking with us. That right there is easily a year-long endeavor (some will be donated, of course).
I’m very excited about this plan, I cannot wait to leave Florida. It’s not just the heat and humidity, which is terrible. Right now we can’t go outside without covering from head to toe to avoid being bitten by yellow flies. Yellow flies are vicious deer fly-like creatures whose bites will leave huge red, swollen welts on your skin. The heat and humidity have nothing on the flies. The other day I had to walk outside from the front door to the car to get something. It was 96 degrees and I didn’t want to put on my long cotton sweat pants and long-sleeved shirt and shoes to be outside for less than a minute. So I sprayed Deep Woods Off! on my lower legs–yellow flies generally swarm and land on the backs of your lower legs and backs of your ankles, spots that are difficult to swat. I drenched those parts in repellent, full well knowing that it was futile. On my way back from the car I swatted a yellow fly that had landed on the still-wet layer of repellent and was biting me, the swat leaving a large swath of blood. By the time I got back in the house after being out about 45 seconds, I could feel stinging bites on both legs as well as on my hands. Applying an ice cube to these bites cuts the pain considerably, so I spent the next few minutes rubbing ice over the bites (and repellent, yuck). This is a very typical result of being outside for less than a minute without dressing for a desert sandstorm. When we moved here about 30 years ago, yellow flies showed up sometime around July 4th and left sometime near the end of August. They now show up in May and leave sometime in October. I’m tired of having to stay in the house all summer to escape them. And then of course there are the fire ants. Not a good idea to stand in grass or dirt while wearing sandals. I recently went into our garden area and was checking to see if some bulbs I had planted were sprouting. Yes, I had sandals on. Mistake. I would say that one yellow fly bite is about like 3 fire ant bites, pain and swelling-wise. In rural Florida, the bugs are winning. By a very wide margin.
So really it’s the bugs I hate the most. Sure, the heat is terrible, but I think it’s a fair trade for the relatively mild, snow-free winters we have. I suspect that many of the other things I dislike about this area will not change–this is a small town and we will be going to a small town. The people will be about the same, except for the hating-Floridians factor (we don’t hate people from NC or GA).
I can’t wait to go.