3 Myths About a Florida Lifestyle

There are at least 3 myths about the Florida lifestyle, and I’m here to bust up a few of them.

First, we’re not always at the beach; we work just like you. While you’re saving all of your money to come to Florida, we’re saving all of our money to get out of Florida. Seriously, there’s only so much sun, fun, and sand you can take before you start to hate the sight of palm trees and the smell of coconut oil.

But that isn’t really a myth so much as a belief. Have you seen our pale legs sticking out of our shorts? We don’t have time to lounge about the pool or the beach. At least not in the daylight.

Myths about Florida Lifestyle: It’s Always Sunny

Okay, I fell for this one when I moved here in the mid-1980s. I didn’t even pack a coat when I left Illinois in June for my new life in the tropics – see topic #3 for more on that. I had the impression – wrong, I might add – that Florida had no winter. That it was some perpetual sunshine party.

Let’s step back and look at the whole state of Florida.

The panhandle has an average temperature of 68º and around 52.4 inches of rain annually. I landed in Fort Walton Beach and camped along the Gulf. The wind was blowing, and I was sure it was a hurricane and I was gonna die.

It can, does, and will snow in the panhandle of Florida. Coats are recommended.

The northern part of Florida gets cold. Winter temperatures around Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Gainesville can get in the 30s. Sometimes – but rarely – that’s a high. Freeze, both hard and frost advisories, can reach as far south as the Vero Beach and Okeechobee areas. Lake Okeechobee is considered South Florida, and every so often, there are freeze warnings for the area that last around 7 hours.

It’s not unusual to see smudge pots in the orange groves to keep the trees from freezing in Central Interior Florida.

The sun doesn’t always shine; some days are as gray as the Midwestern winter skies, and some days, it rains for days on end. It snowed in West Palm Beach one day in 1977, and there were flurries in Miami and Homestead. Our ground doesn’t freeze like it does up north, so our snow doesn’t stick. Nonetheless, it’s a myth that it’s always warm and sunny in Florida.

Check out this book on traveling to Orlando, Florida for tips, tricks, and hidden places to visit.

Drink your coffee from one of my flamingo coffee mugs.

Myths about Florida Lifestyle: Alligators in Every Back Yard

Okay, this one is borderline true, depending upon where you live. Have I had one in my backyard along the East Coast of Florida? No. But I have seen them in the same area in canals, retention ponds, riverside, lakeside, and lounging on golf courses around where I live.

Most people with gators in their backyards live along man-made canals and golf courses with lakes. Gators will eat people and pets, so it goes without saying, don’t take a selfie with one (see idiots with cameras in Yellowstone standing by bison), and they are fast, so give them a lot of room. They can hit 35 MPH on land and 20 MPH in the water. Can you? Oh, and they can climb, too. Ladders, trees, fences, etc.

They are fascinating creatures but best left to admire from a distance – like from another state.

My tropical pillow looks great in your beach house. Take it with you when you go back north.

Another Myth: It’s Tropical

Another awesome and disappointing myth is that we all live a tropical lifestyle with rum runners in each hand, flowered shirts, flip flops, and hibiscus flowers stuck behind one ear. Okay, that might be the parking lot of a Jimmy Buffett concert, but not really how we live here if we live here year-round. Now, I am not talking about those retirees who are baking themselves around a poolside trying to get the color of a kidney bean, but those people who keep the retirees living their lives of comfort and sometimes excess.

Money people also spend a lot of time wandering around in floral skirts tut-tutting the sorry state of affairs should they accidentally cast their eyes upon a lowly servant-type person. They might be carrying a martini or a fruit drink, but they are usually in their backyard broiling in coconut oil around their pool, so they aren’t noticeable. If you see one, they’ve gotten out and will go back home soon.

The rest of us are happy to be able to wear casual clothes like jeans to work and comfortable shirts like a polo shirt rather than suits and ties or dresses and heels. There is a more casual lifestyle in Florida that does seem to permeate more traditional businesses like banks and doctor’s office.

Where are the tropics?

Only the bottom half of the state is considered tropical I think Vero Beach has said it’s the top of the tropics, but anything south of midway is more tropical. Driving in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami is a lot different than driving where I live around Vero Beach. You have to watch where you drive down there because their roads are filled with homeless iguanas, large lizards, crabs with sharp pinchers, and even boa constrictors and pythons. It’s an unwanted pet dumping ground where even the cutest little lizard can grow up and take your face off. I only have to contend with raccoons, opossums, armadillos, egrets and Sandhill cranes.

Those of us still working all look foreign because we’re not dressed in flowered shirts, flip flops, board shorts, and carrying a cocktail. If you see us, be nice; we’re tired and just want to go home and lay on a pool float face first.

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Here are some of my fav getaways in Florida when I’m not working.
Looking for something to do in Florida? Try your hand at treasure hunting.

4 Florida Places to Visit

I’ve had a chance to wander all over the State of Florida, but there are a few places that I haven’t spent as much time as I want, so here is my “to explore further” list:

Everglades National Park – Florida Place to Visit

Lake Okeechobee – Florida Place to Visit

The Battle of Okeechobee Reenactment from Into Nature Films on Vimeo.

Tallahassee – Florida Place to Visit

Fort Walton Beach – Florida Place to Visit

There is so much to see in Florida that doesn’t include the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, I included Fort Walton Beach, but only because that was where I landed when I first got to Florida and camped. I’ve never been back, and that’s been 36 years ago. I think it’s time to see if the little fish camp that fed me catfish long after dining hours were over is still there. I think the sand is still white and the waves still crash.

Grab a map and make your own list of Florida places to visit.

If like this post and want to read more about my life in Florida, then check out the following posts.

Where the Florida Locals Go

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Five of the Top Historical Places in Florida

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Best Festivals in Florida: A Celebration for Every Season

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Florida’s Unique Wildlife

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Surviving Summer: How to Beat the Heat

Summer is long days, and sunlight brings on extreme heat, so knowing how to beat the heat and enjoy summer ...

5 Things We Love About Florida

There are a lot of things to love about Florida, but here are five favorites of most all of the ...

10 Tips on Dealing with the Humidity in Florida

You know the saying, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity”, well the humidity in Florida takes that saying to ...

3 Myths About a Florida Lifestyle

There are at least 3 myths about the Florida lifestyle, and I’m here to bust up a few of them ...

Exploring Hidden Gems: Treasure Hunting in Florida

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Florida Gardening Tips

Who wouldn't want a bountiful harvest from their garden like this. Ripe cherry tomatoes, green beans, peppers, onions, and she ...

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Back in the woods after a mile or so hike, if you don’t count the extra couple miles getting lost, you will find this Tri-State marker that lets you set foot in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island all by dancing around this pole. It was one of the last few states that I had not set foot in. Now, to complete my lower 48 journey, I must touch Texas and New Mexico. 

Photo of the Month of October 2022

A view from the cliffs surrounding the Atlantic Ocean at Acadia Park in Maine. This rugged coastline is so much different than the usual sandy beaches that I see here at home in Florida. Same ocean, same rocks, just a lot smaller. It was the first few days after Hurricane Ian had gone through the area, so everyone was enjoying the sun for a change. 

Photo of the Month of September 2022

In St. Francisville, IL, you will find the other end of this one lane wooden bridge. You’ll also find a toll keeper who wants a dollar or so to let you off the bridge.

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Photo of the Month of November 2021

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Photo of the Month of October 2021

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Photo of the Month of May 2021

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This colorful landscape is the wildly popular and overly photographed Linville Viaduct. 

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Photo of the Month of June 2020

Okay, it was taken in 2019, but I have not been anywhere since we all have been in lock down, so I pulled one from this time last year. This is a fascinating rock formation from The Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois.

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