During my travels around the U.S. and in conversations with people from various European nations, I’ve come to realize that COVID-19 could be considered primarily a mental condition in that the same virus has radically different effects depending on an individual’s or society’s psychology. People in Sweden, Florida, South Dakota, for example, have the same information regarding COVID-19 that everyone else has, but they process this information differently than folks in Germany, California, or Massachusetts. Given the information that life has become slightly riskier, it isn’t inevitable that a human or group of humans would choose a particular course of action.
One thing that is unusual about the U.S. is that we have the power to move among radically different social, economic, and legal environments simply by moving from state to state. Think that having sex with a high-income person such as Hunter Biden should result in higher spending power than going to college and working? Move to Massachusetts (the sex act yielded $2.5 million tax-free in the Arkansas courts). Think that college+medical school+working as a physician should pay more than having sex with a dermatologist? Move to Texas, where child support profits are capped. Agree with Bernie Sanders that Black Lives Matter, but don’t want to live with any Black people? Move to Vermont. Want to live among Latinx and pay a total tax rate of 4 percent? Move to Puerto Rico. Love guns? Arizona.
The same situation applies with reactions to Covid-19. If you want the governor to tell you when it is legal to leave your house, California and Massachusetts are great choices (ranking). If you don’t think shutdowns and school closures are effective ways to deal with Covid-19 and/or you simply think that continuity of education, social life, and fitness are more important than avoiding Covid-19, you could move to any of the states ranked 70+ on that list: Iowa, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Utah, Florida, Tennessee, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin.
Can it make sense to move permanently in response to a temporary situation? COVID-19 will be gone soon, thanks to the vaccines, and we’ll be “back to normal”, right? My personal theory is that there is enough potential for the virus to evolve that people who want to be restricted will continue to seek restrictions going forward. I personally know quite a few people who, despite being vaccinated and/or having had actual Covid-19 (mild symptoms, but positive PCR tests) continue to be afraid to go out, wear masks even outdoors, etc.
(See also Tyler Cowen’s “Covid Has Made Where You Live Matter Even More,” Bloomberg, April 5: “Overall the Southeast would seem to be a big winner, as the psychological effects of low rates of unemployment may prove more durable than the effects of high rates of casualties.”)
It doesn’t make sense to move to a state with a state income or estate tax, however. Let’s intersect with income-tax-free states. Now we’re down to South Dakota, Alaska, Florida, and Tennessee. South Dakota is an awesome state for domestic asset protection trusts (along with Nevada, this is where America’s billionaires keep their trusts, but the ultimate protection may not work unless you live in SD or NV) and thus is a good place to preserve wealth from potential plaintiffs. It is a lovely place to spend the summer, but if you have school-age children you don’t want to be stuck there December through February. With apologies to friends in Anchorage, that goes double for Alaska! Now we’re down to Florida and Tennessee. Nashville, for example, is reasonably nice in January, with average highs of 48 degrees, but Tennessee is more of a working state than a fun/retirement state. If you’re going to move, why not move to a playground? And Miami, oddly enough, despite being much warmer in winter is actually slightly cooler in the summer than Nashville. Finally, I am not sure that the WalletHub ranking of Coronafreedom makes sense. The Tennessee governor declined the Central Tyrant job and did not order everyone to wear masks. However, unlike in Florida, where the governor forbade local tyrants from imposing mask laws with fines, the Tennessee governor simply delegated tyranny to counties: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has not been a statewide mask mandate in place in the state of Tennessee, however, local authorities were given the authority to issue mask mandates within their own jurisdictions.” A state with empowered local tyrants is not exactly free! Thus, as so many fleeing Wall Streeters have discovered, it all comes down to Florida.
This is a report on my own January/February exploration trip to Florida in the Cirrus SR20...
Covid Olympics. If you assume that masks are effective, from a practical disease transmission point of view, Florida should have roughly the same coronaplague rate as Maskachusetts. Just as in MA, people generally wear masks when inside retail stores. Just as in MA, restaurants are open and servers wear masks, but people don’t wear masks at the tables. Florida has a higher percentage of schools that are open (100% since October), but MA has enough schools open that Covid-19 can certainly spread. It is uncommon to see someone outdoors in Florida with a mask on, but #science hasn’t established that coronaplague is among outdoors. Death rate chart from the CDC, with MA in green:
The chart shows that the denial of education to urban children, wearing masks in the forest, sitting at home next to the fridge for 12 months, etc. here un Massachusetts have not resulted in a lower death rate statistic. But if you were to point this out to someone in Florida, most likely he/she/ze/they would respond with “So what? We didn’t send a team to the COVID Olympics.” The post-Covid priorities of the typical Floridian seem to be the same as the pre-Covid priorities. If he/she/ze/they has children, the priorities are ensuring that those children get a good education and a variety of mask-free fun after-school sports. If he/she/ze/they does not have children, the priorities are gathering with friends, working, staying fit, etc. (I was there in late January and few people had been vaccinated, so those over 70 would avoid crowded indoor spaces and seek to dine at outdoor tables whenever going to a restaurant.) Where someone in Massachusetts might talk about whether he or she felt “safe” [from Covid] doing something, the Floridian will simply talk about the activity itself.
Yard Signage and Bumper Stickers. Although Florida is a swing state and it is possible that a yard sign advocating for a political candidate might change the outcome of an election, yard signs occur at only 1/100th the rate of what we have in the Boston suburbs. The same goes for bumper stickers. Would you like to know whether Black Lives Matter to your neighbor? You’ll have to ask him/her/zir/them. Driving around and wondering “In this house, what do they believe?” You’ll have to knock on the door to find out unless….
Gainesville. Beautiful campus for University of Florida, but not a beautiful or vibrant town. Apparently when the smart young people graduate they go somewhere else. Particularly unsuitable for aviation enthusiasts as the (great) airport is on the opposite side of town from the nicer real estate (tucked away in suburban developments that have a minimal relationship to Gainesville). At least with respect to Covid-19, the students seem smarter than the (cowering out of personal fear) Ivy League to whom I’ve talked recently. “We’d behave differently,” one sophomore said, “if we lived with our grandparents, but we don’t. There is no reason for us to be afraid of getting the virus and we live more than 100 miles away from our older relatives. Classes are mostly remote, so the only people that we interact with are other young people who aren’t at risk.”
Guess which department has the ugliest building? Note the students hunting for shark’s teeth in a nearby park and the selfie park at the FBO.
Sarasota. Folks with kids will want to live on the mainland rather than one of the islands (great for beach access, but the traffic can be slow getting on/off for the various services and activities that kids need). The neighborhood around the Southside Elementary School is probably the most desirable, with Camino Real being the best street and anything east of the Tamiami Trail being cheaper. Overall, however, Sarasota is more geared around the retired than those of school age. Great airport shared by air carriers and general aviation, about 13 minutes from the Southside school.
The Ringling (world’s only fine art and circus museum!) and the latest condo development for oligarchs (from my friend’s boat).
View from my friend’s apartment and his neighborhood from the air on departure…
Naples. A nice walkable downtown area. Attractive architecture. World-class restaurants at Manhattan prices (if restaurants in Manhattan were open!). There are some young people in town, but they’re apparently mostly tourists. As with Sarasota, this is a place where people go to retire. Great airport, 10 minutes from downtown, that is used only for general aviation. It was so busy in late January that jets parked on the ramp were interlaced like jets in a hangar (i.e., it wouldn’t have been possible to get one out of the middle without an hour or two of tugging).
Miami. The ultimate party town now that Los Angeles and New York have locked themselves out of the running and probably even before. “I can never get any work done here,” said one of the private equity guys I was with. KTMB is the preferred airport and it is along haul from Miami Beach (nearly 40 minutes without traffic). KOPF is a little closer, but nobody seems to like it. If you aren’t going to hit the clubs and don’t have to be in the city for work, why put up with the congestion, traffic, and high real estate prices?
The Wynwood Walls (decluttered now that they’re charging $10 to get in), breakfast cereals for the Age of Coronapanic (Franken Fat, Cap’n Corn Starch, Obesie Os from Killkidds), transportation on which it would be good to get Dr. Fauci’s opinion regarding safety, and a group of #ScienceDeniers gathering at a rooftop club.
On the way out of town, the illegal-to-operate cruise ship pier:
Key West. We went there in a Cirrus Vision Jet to visit a friend who is a passionate Massachusetts Democrat and just happens to live here for 183 days per year (that way he skips on state income tax and folks other than him can pay for the bigger government that he advocates…). In such a small place I think it would be tough to find specialized teachers, coaches, doctors, etc. for the modern-day helicopter parented child. The airport has a short-ish runway (5,000′) and is monopolized, with associated monopoly rates, by Bill Gates’s Signature Flight Support (jet fuel for those as concerned as Bill G about climate change). Fun to say that you’ve been here.
Fun fact: Pan American World Airways began here. Cuba was 90 miles away, but it is getting a little closer with every $1.9 trillion government spending bill… Found the Icon A5 on the ramp at KTMB (my flight in the A5 at Oshkosh).
Wellington Aero Club. West of Palm Beach, right up against the $25 million horse barns of America’s billionaires, you can open your garage door and taxi your twin-engine turbojet out to the 4,000′ private runway (FD38). Good public schools. Great country club for golf and tennis next door. I had a nice time here visiting a friend whose wife is a serious horse rider, but I wouldn’t want to be this far from the beach (30-40 minutes, depending on the specific beach). (See “How a Sleepy Florida Town Became the Horse Riding Capital of the World” and the 30-horse single-family stable below) My friend in Wellington (also a passionate advocate of bigger government who is careful to spend 183 days in the tax-free Land of the Deplorables!) suggested Abacoa, within Jupiter, Florida, as the best family location.
Jupiter: Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale-Miami can be thought of as a single city, completely jammed, and with the automobile as the primary means of transportation. Juno Beach and Jupiter are the first communities on the north side of this megacity (though the Census Bureau considers them still part of the Miami metro area). The smartest folks in Germany, i.e., those who run the Max Planck Institute, picked Jupiter as the location for their one and only U.S. research lab (in neuroscience). If you’re in Jupiter you’re within a 1.5-hour drive of almost anything that you might need, e.g., the Miami International Airport and a nonstop flight to Europe, but 99 percent of needs can be handled locally. (Disney World is 2:20 away by car.) A tennis coach at the Jupiter Ocean & Racquet Club, a world class facility for (unmasked!) young learners and also great for adults, echoed my friend in Wellington regarding Abacoa. “The schools for Abacoa are better than for the wealthier/closer-to-the-beach areas of Jupiter,” he said. He pointed out that many of the nation’s most successful people, who could live anywhere they chose, had chosen to live in and around Jupiter. In a state that is blessed with magnificent airports, Abacoa/Jupiter got the short end of the stick. Palm Beach International is about 20 minutes away and the prices are almost reasonable due to the fact that there are three FBOs on the field. On the other hand, nobody is ever going to build T-hangars at KPBI. The North Palm Beach airport, F45, is roughly the same driving distance and it does have T-hangars, but the runway is a little short (4,300′), there is no control tower, and it is a monopoly Signature location (Jet A at $7.21/gallon; compare to $3.70 at Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE))
If you didn’t think inequality was as bad as the media tells you… (on the ramp at KPBI; 1960 Debonair and a newly certified Gulfstream G600):
Just south of the airport…
Abacoa. This is a planned “new urbanism” community, a bit like what you might have seen in the Truman Show movie (Seaside, Florida). It is an artificial town in that it is possible to walk/bike to a “town center”, which does have some good restaurants and a coffee shop, but you need to get into a car and drive a mile or two to get to critical services such as a supermarket or a hardware store. Without traffic, it is an 11-minute drive to a beautiful dog-friendly beach.
That’s what I was able to learn in a two-week trip (including flying the Cirrus up and down the East Coast, which takes about 13 days, depending on the weather…). Measured by whether it is legal to walk out your door without a mask on, go to work, open the doors of your business to customers, send your children to school, let you children enjoy an unmasked after-school activity, etc., every part of Florida offers more freedom than New York, Massachusetts, or California. For someone accustomed to the suburban Northeast, the small yards and tightly packed houses seem like the biggest negative. In the parts of Florida that are reasonably near both big city services and the beach, land is extremely expensive by Yankee standards. The good news is that you’re not confined to the backyard by a governor’s order. The bad news is that you don’t have a backyard.
Readers who know more about Florida: What are your favorite places for places to live with kids down there?
From the Massachusetts COVID-19 State of Emergency page:
Governor’s COVID-19 Order #55 (issued November 2, 2020) Revised order requiring all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
I.e., it is illegal to step out of your front yard and onto the sidewalk at midnight unless you are wearing a mask.
[May 2021 update: During the third week of April we visited Abacoa as a family. There is a Marriott right in the center of Abacoa. Our 7-year-old who suffers from allergies, colds, and flus in Massachusetts was immediately breathing better. Being walking distance from a miniature golf course, 10 restaurants, an off-the-charts playground, etc. put everyone in a good mood. We sold our suburban house in Massachusetts and will be moving to Abacoa (the Allure apartment complex, smack in the center) in August.]
- Are Florida and Texas good natural experiments in the effectiveness of masks? (July 14, 2020)
- Plague-proof Florida and Texas with shaded outdoor classrooms? (May 21, 2020)… maybe Florida never did it because they just don’t care?
- Florida: the data-smart state when it comes to reporting hospital bed availability
- Florida alimony profits and child custody litigation preserved by governor’s veto (April 2016): “permanent alimony” and unlimited child support make Florida a reasonably good jurisdiction for a plaintiff; see also “It can’t happen to me” and “This time it will be different,” Florida version
- Traveling to scold the COVID sinners (March 2021): I think [he] is working in an established literary tradition. Devout Christians, for example, used to go to whorehouses, strip clubs, and gay bars so that they could then write about the awful sins that were taking place.
- Wealth migration from New York measured by K-1s
- Tax Foundation: Florida (8.9 percent total burden of state and local taxes); Massachusetts (10.3%); California (11%); New York (11.7%); free state of South Dakota (7.9%)
39 thoughts on “Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children”
Greenspun will be the last one still in MA, long ever everyone else moves to Gainesville. MA or bust.
lion2: I hope that I don’t die in Maskachusetts. Remember that MA imposes a substantial estate tax on anyone whose assets exceed $1 million at death (i.e., on anyone who owns a house!). http://www.margolis.com/our-blog/explaining-the-inexplicable-the-massachusetts-estate-tax-and-gifting
The rates aren’t indexed to inflation. Soon enough a person of modest wealth could have an estate worth more than $10 million and be subject to a marginal estate tax rate of 16 percent.
shows that MA is one of only a handful of states with an estate tax and therefore a poor choice for old age (unless you’re on welfare, in which case it is a great place!).
I love Big Government and doing my share to support it, but I love my kids just a little more and would rather they get the money that I worked for (and already paid income tax on).
Why not Texas, Phil?
Texas has not been especially free. Unlike in South Dakota, for example, the Texas governor does think it is his job to lock people down, order them to wear masks, etc. In my opinion, he is better at interpreting numbers and applying rational thought to his orders, which is why Texas is open while California is closed, but he is operating under the philosophy regarding the proper role of government.
(Note that Texas is not on WalletHub’s list of free states.)
For someone who constantly complains about all aspects of the place he lives in you sure do make it seem as if you’re tied to it and not following your own advice.
J: If you want to come and pack up our cluttered house, pull the kids out of school mid-year, reposition the aircraft, secure hangar space at the new airport, re-register the cars, etc., we would be grateful indeed! (Remember that the disparity in freedom between Maskachusetts and Florida became apparent only in the summer of 2020, e.g., when schools reopened in FL and did not in MA (not for the city kids, anyway).)
Separately, my hope is that the post will be useful to those who have a lot of flexibility in their lives. A friend here who runs a dental practice, for example, might love to move to the Florida Free State, but if she doesn’t do it I can’t call her a hypocrite or question . Re-establishing her practice in Florida would be a huge undertaking. Another friend here in New England wants to move, but has elderly parents nearby, so it will take him a few years to get there.
Don’t blame it on covid. You’ve been going on about this forever. I would have thought you’d want to move just based on what you wrote in RWD book alone. And there’s a whole bunch of other potential excuses you raised over the years (house, weather etc.)
J: First, I never said that I personally wanted to move (though I can see how that is implied in the original post). Second, everything in life is a trade-off. There is no perfect job, for example, so every day the worker must decide whether the latest conditions make it sensible to stay or quit. Similarly with MA v. FL. Covid has tipped the scales by stripping MA of some of its advantages. Harvard and MIT are shut down. Many of the most interesting people (to me) have moved away (to Maine and Florida, mostly). New England winters are a lot more claustrophobic when one can’t gather indoors, travel easily to warm countries, etc. Covid has put a premium on states where it is pleasant to be outdoors for at least some portion of every typical day. You can’t say that about MA from November through March.
I know we’re not just supposed to say “I Like It!” as a comment or a criticism, but I have to say that this piece is one of your best. You’re on something of a hitting streak in the past few days.
I don’t know whether to attribute that to the effects of Passover or the effects of Freedom during your Florida trip, or maybe it’s just that this entire situation with COVID has finally begun to really “gel” your mind (I know my mind has certainly “gelled”.) Regardless: this is awesome. Your analysis of different people’s COVID response from an information processing and cognitive/behavioral point of view, with the legal and economic ramifications factored in, is superb.
The only thing it neglects are the poor saps who live in places where they process information differently than most of their fellow (prisoners) inhabitants but have absolutely zero chance of moving someplace else. Thus we live vicariously, in a kind of virtual world, a “Florida in my Mind” if you will. I have a FB friend who lives in a beautiful spot by the sea, and every time she posts a new set of paradise pictures, I write back: “It’s beautiful. I’m just going to come down there and camp out by the palm tree [or whatever], I’ll clean the pool [or sweep the patio, or mop the deck] if you’ll let me stay.”
One day, it may be possible for life to be completely cloud-based, with a direct mind-to-Internet connection and a fully virtualized existence. When that day comes, legal scholars will have to ponder the hyperjurisdictional effects of virtually living someplace other than one’s current physical location.
In the meantime, we can look at your pictures and dream. Bravo!
Maybe James Taylor will still cover his own song: “In my mind, I’m going to live in ‘Flord-a”
Which has always sounded incredible on my Human Speaker Model 88-41s.
The Jupiter/Abacoa area that I am familiar with is not a bad place. If I had school age children, it’s probably the place I’d chosen to move to from MA.
Perhaps, it would be a good idea to rent something there for a couple of summer months to see if you and your family can tolerate summer heat there.
Keep in mind, though, that the place as the entire PBC is already thoroughly infected with/by NY/MA transplants. Locals call the PBC the “yankee county” not for nothing.
Ivan: Thanks for your perspective. Regarding the summer heat, I was thinking that the people who could most easily move are the work-from-home remote heroes. Therefore, with the savings from not paying state income tax perhaps they could rent a summer house in the North or Northwest for when the kids are out of school. (It is not that pleasant to be in the Boston suburbs in July and August, but when you pay $20,000/year in property tax on a modest house and 5 percent state income tax you perhaps cannot afford the mountain, lake, or beach house. The tax savings should also pay for at least a one-month vacation trip, e.g., to Northern Europe or Canada (if they ever reopen the border!).)
Yes, summer birding makes sense.
I know a Jupiter realtor who appears to be quite honest. Let me know if you need help in this respect.
Please do email to firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re actually going to be down there in about 1.5 weeks.
Every obnoxious virtue signalling working from home hero from metropolitan areas in North East that I know either rented out house in the country or in Florida when policy that they supported were applied privately to them and not to the deplorables. It did not diminish their Facebook illiberal “liberal” rage and virtue signalling but somewhat calmed them down in private.
Is that a plan to swing Florida to the left? And remove it from free state list? If you liked how MA was run prior coronavirus and are not stuck there because of the job then moving there may be detrimental to Florida freedoms on medium term. If this is continues the only choice for many will be to move out of the country, as it has started happening in the past decade with some quite productive people that I knew and know.
LSI: As humans evolve to be more cowardly and viruses evolve to be more contagious, I think that you’re right regarding the likelihood of Florida eventually becoming un-free. But part of the magic of Florida is that people are able to live in the moment. If the sea washes in 20 years from now or the state becomes un-free 10 years from now, that’s not a reason to fret right now. There will still be South Dakota and Sweden!
We love the Naples area. Pre-Covid, we used to stay 4-6 weeks in Bonita Springs (a bit north of Naples) almost every year. The beaches are fantastic and we love the Naples Zoo, the Children’s Museum, the Collier Country parks, Sun-n-Fun lagoon, all Parks&Rec events.. Naples is a small town, but there’s always something to do because there are so many museums, parks, malls in Naples and nearby Fort Myers. Miami is two hours away, but we never felt bored enough to drive there. We haven’t been in Miami since 2012.
I don’t know about schools though. There are some private schools that look wonderful (like the Naples Community School), but we’re German, so never really considered moving to the US or cared much about the schools. We’re still hoping to be able to visit Naples this fall…
I lived in Florida (Clearwater / St. Pete) starting when I was 12 and left when I was 22 to go to grad school up north. I miss a lot of aspects of Florida but I find the lack of seasons (unless of course one has another house) so boring. Climate stays relatively stable compared to Mask Laws, Lockdowns, etc that will all vanish soon.
The Destin/Pensacola/Ft. Walton Beach area is not as crowded as most of the East Coast, and has (or at least had!) some of the best sand beaches I have ever been on.
Paul: You say that mask laws and lockdowns “will all vanish soon”… When? More concretely, by what date do you expect that California, Massachusetts, and New York will have been mask-free for one continuous year? (where “mask-free” means no orders from state or local governments that the residents must be masked) It doesn’t count if they go in and out of lockdown/masks.
(This just in: “California plans to lift most Covid restrictions June 15, keep mask mandate” https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/06/california-plans-to-lift-most-covid-restrictions-june-15-keep-mask-mandate.html “Newsom said on Tuesday that the state will reopen its economy by June 15 provided that coronavirus vaccine and hospitalization cases remain stable.” So the masks stay indefinitely even if the state might or might not open (depending on statistics gathered))
It’s a good question, Phil. I’m not a #scientist, so it’s just a guess, but given those states and your conditions on ‘mask free’, I’d guess by the end of 2023. I can sense a summer move of you and family soon :-).
I left the Route 128 area of MA for FL in 1990, and have lived in five of the eight cities listed in this blog entry.
DP: Give us some details, please! Which of these places were your favorite and why? Which one do you recommend for a refugee with kids?
My favorite was Miami Beach but I was in my mid-20s and single, and that was over 30 years ago. For a family, I’d pick Naples, and Sarasota second; neither are exclusively retirement communities. For the pilot, Wellington would be great, though it is a painful 30+ minute drive to the beach. I loved my time in Gainesville, and at one time thought of moving back, but not a lot of good jobs outside of working for UF or health care.
I’m still trying to decide on my final retirement destination in a few short years. I’m thinking an oceanfront or Intracoastal condo but haven’t decided on a spot. Nonetheless, there is a wide variety of excellent locations, lifestyles, and housing options.
Destin/Ft. Walton Beach has been discovered and new “cottages” in Walton County are $millions. Seaside (“The Truman Show”) is a high-end beach house rental place, not residential. The panhandle has seasons (two or three frosts/freezes per winter). We live in a planned community in Panama City, well off the prices to the west, but quite battered from the 2018 hurricane (the town, not our community). We have virtually no lawn or parking but it is a low-maintenance relief from our traditional home that was destroyed. To the east, Tyndall AFB was literally destroyed by the hurricane but is being rebuilt for three F-35 squadrons in 2023, and there is a Navy mine/torpedo/underwater vehicle research/test facility. Cultural opportunities are quite limited, the public schools are adequate, and the politics are extreme red/Trumpublican. (We visit our children in Atlanta and London for culture.) There is a new airport with monopoly FBO and T-hangars, located to the west serving primarily the rich-bastards-on-the-beach and the beach tourist trade. I think your family would enjoy the gorgeous beaches for a few days but be appalled when they get two blocks inland.
Florida is going to get the Texas treatment. Everyone’s moving there because it doesn’t have the crazy laws of Mass and NY, and then they’re going to vote in the same kind of politicians as in Mass & NY. California used to be a libertarian wild-west kind of state. (Win one for the Gipper) Now look at it 1.5 generations later.
Sounds like all your liberal friends basically agree with Rush Limbaugh about the tax advantages of moving from the Northeast to sunny Florida.
One of the hazards of the geographical cure is that one doesn’t always focus enough on the things one _does_ like about the place one is leaving. In your case, you would be trading one of the world’s top research university towns, full of academics working on interesting things, for basically a retirement town full of bored retired geezers. I’d think that one through carefully. No doubt Jupiter would be a huge improvement in terms of lifestyle, but I’m guessing your intellectual life would suffer massively. If you want Florida, I think I’d look harder at places like Tampa (USF) or Boca (FAU) as possible compromises.
I can certainly appreciate the motivations to escape the craziness — judging by your always entertaining descriptions, Massachusetts sounds dreadful — but I think you would find that the online world, great as it is, isn’t a substitute for frequent personal contact with other people who are engaged in intellectually stimulating work.
Well said, and the children will face entirely different schools. Oh, and in the panhandle it is very hard to find a practicing Jewish family. The 183-day option may be worth considering. You can have the worst of both worlds!
Donald: 183 days/year is what my righteous big government-supporting friends who’ve relocated to FL from MA are doing. But they don’t have children. Folks with children are stuck in one house, wherever it happens to be, September through May at least.
Jack: Maskachusetts, even before COVID, wasn’t really a Paris Salon-type environment for intellectual gatherings. People get older, move to the suburbs, have kids, etc. So the in-person meetings were getting rarer and then, with COVID, became extinct. A resident of Timbuktu who signs up to Elon Musks’s Starlink is as connected to the intellectual life of Harvard as someone who lives in Harvard Square.
I am not sure if you are married, but if you intend to cohabitate unmarried in FL:
“According to Florida law, defined in section 798.02, “It is invalid for a man and a woman who are not married to live together in a lewd or lascivious way.” In other words, it is illegal for a couple to live together if they are not married to each other. This is not heavily prosecuted in Florida; however, you may face fines, prison time, and lots of paperwork if charges are pressed and if you are convicted.” https://jeannecolemanlaw.com/is-cohabitation-illegal-in-the-state-of-florida/
This law is still on the FL books
I had to bring my children up in Florida! I had a start-up offer thee back in mid -1990th. I was hesitating to move. If I knew of the law I would surely move there.
Timely discussion. My fiancée works for a government agency (and her job requires occasional physical presence around expensive, hard-to-move physical assets) and has two high-school-age kids; I work remotely. You visited a few places we didn’t. So far our search has focused on the Tampa/St Pete metroplex. Good airport options, easy access to beaches, good environment for endurance sports (she’s a marathoner, I’m a triathlete). I liked Tarpon Springs (easy access to the Pinellas Trail, reasonable housing costs, lots of breweries) but also thought Cape Coral was worth a second look.
The area from Siesta Key down towards Manasota Key is beautiful and might make a decent spot, but it’s a long drive to anywhere you might actually want to go.
I live in north Alabama and frequently visit the panhandle. Nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there: deep red, overdeveloped, and crowded.
As her kids’ dad is here, moving them to another state is not an option for right now so our plan is to buy a home in FL, commute there via my PA32 during times when we don’t have kids (and sometimes when we do), then, once the kids are gone, decide whether to shift our flag permanently to FL or to split our time between warm-in-winter and cool-in-summer (e.g. someplace in the Sapphire-Sylva-Asheville triangle).
Bunch of half-karens running away from the full-karens that won’t end well. Karens are weak, you can defeat them with a smile, no one smiles anymore. That said half-karens are weaker than full-karens at least full-karens have the courage to try and enforce their crazy. Anyway this won’t end well for the natives or the people running away. Thriving under fake oppression is better than obeying fake oppression and constantly running to slightly less oppression. Where are you going to go after Florida?
It’s not all wonderful (mask related) in the new Land of Milk and Honey – Florida.
Paul: That the Disney Karens can build a masked mini-California within Florida is an example of freedom, I think. The governor didn’t prevent private enterprises from establishing rules for their own plantations. People can choose whether or not to check into CA/MA/NY for a day or not.
From another Maskachusetts resident, Jacksonville is not a bad option. It feels more Old South than Florida, though I am no expert in either. I don’t think it has as nice of a beach access as other towns you mentioned, but I am not a beach person, so I don’t value that highly. Some neighborhoods near downtown are quite vibrant and hip.
Martin: We enjoyed the Jacksonville Beach area for a Christmas-time vacation a couple of years ago. It was considered frigid by everyone else, but the 60-degree daily highs were great for us. As you said, though, the city is separate from the beach. It isn’t really warm enough to qualify as a winter playground. https://www.airnav.com/airport/KCRG has great services (two FBOs; we like Sky Harbor better) albeit shortish runways. There is a Mayo Clinic in town for the future Medicare beneficiaries.
Jacksonville sort of fails the market test. If everyone with money is moving to Naples, Sarasota, Miami-Palm Beach-Jupiter, or Key West, doesn’t that tell us that there is something good about these places? For Miami maybe it is the jobs, but the other places are just for lifestyle.
I find that wherever you go, photos of the local motorcycles and the people who ride them are fascinating. Those two choppers with the Kawasaki air-cooled engines are mammoth. Dr. Fauci would have to say: “You won’t die of COVID, but you might die of Hoosier.”
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