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Is living in Florida everything I ever hoped and dreamed of and more? No, of course not, I don't think that place exists anywhere but in my head. Just as I do, everyone has their own ideas about what living in Florida is like. I thought every day would be sunshine and beaches, relaxation and free orange juice (well, maybe not that last part) but boy, was I mistaken -- and I think a lot of other people are too when they think of Florida life. Now I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way, I love the overall lifestyle here, but I wanted to squash some misconceptions and talk about what is it actually like to live in Florida.
1. It's always sunny
Florida isn't dubbed The Sunshine State for nothing, after all, we average about 237 days of sunshine a year -- but it's certainly not always sunny. In fact, in the summer it rains almost every afternoon, which is enough to put a damper on anyone's summer vacation plans that thinks coming here will be all "sunshine and rainbows." Also, hello, hurricane season is very much so a thing!
2. Floridians are bad drivers
Since there are always accidents happening in Florida, it's no wonder how Floridian's get a bad rap for it. Truthfully, it's the out-of-staters who don't know the local traffic laws and patterns that cause a lot of the problems. That's not to say Floridians are always perfect either, however, as we all know overconfidence is another leading cause of traffic accidents. Hey, at least we don't have to worry about potholes in the middle of the road, right?
3. It never gets cold (or snows)
A lot of people, including myself, escape the northern states to live a life of near-constant heat in Florida. However, you guessed it, it's not actually always that warm. Between wind chills and lack of humidity, temperatures in Florida can get below freezing in the winter months -- usually overnight -- and some places in Northern Florida may even experience an occasional snow flurry. Being in the Tampa area, I can attest to the very common occurrence of chilly nights during winter. Have you ever seen a frozen orange tree? I have, so don't throw away all of your winter clothes just yet.
4. Florida will be underwater soon
It is no secret that we have the lowest high elevation in all of the states at just 345ft above sea level, however, even if all of the glaciers and ice sheets melted the sea level would rise only to 212ft. Well, according to this source anyways. It seems like Florida, even if it's just in part, is here to stay. I still suggest investing in a blow up kayak just in case, though!
5. You can't swim in freshwater
Don't write off a day swimming in a freshwater river just yet! Indeed, gators are very common in Florida and they do reside in most fresh water sources. That said, there are plenty of fresh water springs that are generally safe for swimming as you would probably see a gator (or they would see you) far before there could be any problems. #Sharethewater
6. Floridians are crazy
This one makes me giggle because it really does seem that way, probably thanks to all the Florida Man headlines and to be completely fair, there is a suggested correlation between heat and craziness which could be to blame for some of the odd situations that arise here. It could also be attributed to the high volume of tourists and partiers that we have passing through on a daily basis too. I assure you, most of us Floridians are relatively normal and not on bath salts.
7. Shark attacks are common
Our beautiful coasts are visited and enjoyed by not only people, but also an array of sharks, including the vicious killers, the great whites! I'm just kidding, they really aren't the vicious maneaters projected in movies -- but they, and many other species of sharks visit our coasts. There's not much need to worry though, shark attacks in Florida are exceptionally rare.
8. Nice beaches are everywhere
Sure, the entire state is lined with coastlines but public beaches aren't always easy to get to, nor are they always nice. Central west Florida is a hotspot of ugly coastline (sorry, I said it) I live there and the nice beaches don't start until Dunedin and below -- anything north up through Gainesville pales in comparison (unless you have access to a boat and can travel to a local island like this one.) If you find a nice beach on a hot day, good luck with parking and securing a spot for your towel.
9. Everything in Florida is beachy and tourist-y
As much as I wish this was true, it's not! Just like any of the other 49 states, we are a smorgasbord of rural towns, suburban neighborhoods, and city metropolises -- all complete with their own vibes and standards of living. For example, Central Florida has a lot of areas with a very small town country/farm vibe, whereas Miami is fast paced, crowded and all about that city life!
10. Old people are taking over
Snowbirds and retirees love Florida, there's no doubt about it, but for whatever reason this idea that the entire state is full of nothing but elderly folk is sort of silly. There are many universities throughout the state that attract the younger demographics, Tampa is one of them! Plus, what's wrong with old people?
What misconceptions did you have about Florida? Tell me in the comments below!