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Living in Tropical Florida, a piece of Paradise just waiting for you, and your Money!
What are the Tropics anyway?
Just where are the Tropics, anyway?
Well, the official definition is that "the Tropics" is the area on Earth that is between the meridians; Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. The area of the globe that is between the North and South latitudes of 23.5 is all considered to be in the Tropics.
This part of the planet is primarily characterized as having above normal temperatures and heavier levels of precipitation than other areas of the Earth.
So seeing as I actually live in Florida, why did I say that I live in the Tropics? OK, by definition I don't actually live in the Tropics.
But I do live south of Tampa Florida, and this area is so close to the official Tropics that the climate, and the resultant lifestyle here are so fantastic, that I and the many other residents call it a Tropical Area anyway.
Palm Trees, Rainbows and Tropical Storms
A little Personal History - I like warm weather!
In order to understand my choice of location, you need to first understand a little bit of my personal history.
I was born in Central Virginia, specifically the city of Lynchburg, Virginia.
Lynchburg, it turns out is considered a preferred retirement area for many people. This is according to so many of the non-locals that I have met there over the years.
Many of them tell me that one of the main things they like about Lynchburg is the fact that it is located, geographically, where you get four equal seasons and typically none of these seasons are very harsh or longer than the others.
As to the Winters and the amount of snow you will see in the Lynchburg area; it's actually a pretty tame place to live.
Looking back at my memories from my childhood, we always seemed to have two to three light snows a year. But usual, the snow was gone within 1-3 days. It was rare to get a very heavy snow during the winter in Lynchburg.
So, this was what I was used to; mild seasons and rare weather extremes. But, I do remember that even then, I never actually enjoyed being out in the cold or participating in winter activities.
I always preferred it Warm!
A look at Florida from a Hammock
A Personal WEATHER Quiz.
Are you a COLD Weather person or a WARM Weather person?
My first Harsh Winter - The shock of real Cold Weather.
Being originally from the South, when I joined the Navy and was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base, north of Chicago, in 1966-1967, I soon realized that I "wasn't in Kansas anymore".
You see this very large Naval Base is positioned directly on the shore of Lake Michigan in what was called North Chicago. I tell you this just for a physical reference.
If you dig out your old reference books or search on the web, you will find out that particular winter, when I lived there, was called the "coldest winter in the past 25-years" at that time.
Was it Cold there? Brother, it was so Cold that .........
No, I won't do that old routine on you, but it was really cold. And it was Cold for the whole darned Winter, too.
Winter Entertainment, A Car Lottery
I remember that one of the fun things the locals really enjoyed back then was holding lotteries. Not just football lotteries, you understand, but almost every bar that I went to had a "car lottery" going on.
What's a car lottery, you ask?
Well, the locals were such fun people, and there was so much going on (sic), that most bars would have someone haul a " junked car" onto one of the hundreds of frozen lakes in the area.
Then, the patrons would pick a date and time, in the Springtime, when they thought the car would finally fall through the ice.
Yep, this was a grand game for the locals.
You see, they got to drink beer and talk about that old car, just sitting on that cold and icy lake, patiently waiting for spring, so it could fall through the ice to it's watery grave.
They would all drink their beers and start arguing over why their date was better than those picked by their fellow drinkers.
They would estimate what the cars weight was, how thick the ice was, what the Spring weather was going to be like, and other such silly things.
And they continued to drink their beers and wait for the day that they would walk back into their favorite bar and see that someone had written the day of the car's sinking to the depths of the lake onto the wall.
What a fun game, Huh?
Don't get me wrong as this was just one example of the FUN and exciting things that I discovered people doing up North in the Cold of the Winter.
OK, they had Ice Skating, Ski-Doo riding, Ice Fishing, and other grand cold weather sports, but the one that stuck in my mind was the great "car lotteries"
The Harsh Reality of a REAL Winter!
I should mention that over that time, living in North Chicago, I learned a number of things about surviving a Real Winter, as I would walk half frozen, around North Chicago, that year.
I learned such things as;
1- In the Windy City, you can walk around a building and the wind will actually hit you directly in the face as you turn each corner.
2- Your Snot will freeze in your nose and it really hurts when you eventually try to blow the resultant chunk of ice out, so you can breath again.
3- There are not enough socks in the world that you can put on to keep you from losing the feeling in your feet when you are outside in sub-zero temperatures.
4- When your teardrops freeze, do not just knock them off, they will pull your eyelashes out with them.
5- When your cheeks or fingers or toes, or whatever other body part freezes, or if they have just lost all feeling from the cold, they will actually begin to feel as if they are burning when you get inside and start to warm up.
My list of Winters lessons is very long, and I won't bore you with any more of these FUN facts that I learned that Winter. But I will tell you that I learned one true and tested fact about me, above all others.
I, Don Bobbitt, am genetically designed for the warmer climes of the lands of the South. This is a fact that was etched into my soul that cold and miserable winter in North Chicago.
To me, Hell is spelled C-O-L-D !
I am a man who must have the Sun and Breezes of more Tropical lands to be truly comfortable.
Lovely Birds everywhere in Florida
Movin' South one state at a time.
Well, I served my stint in the Navy and eventually returned to my hometown of Lynchburg to start a family and a career.
I put up with the Winters there, enjoyed the summers and then, one day, when I was in my fifties, I accepted a job offer to relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina.
It was a great move for me. I loved the challenges of my new job, but I found that I was now also enjoying the warmer weather in Raleigh.
It was a little funny that the very thought of snow would shut Raleigh down and on the rare occasions that it did snow, people would just stay home. Everyone knew that it was going to get better in no more than a day or two. So, why worry.
I really enjoyed that difference in cold weather attitude as well as the fact that Raleigh had an average year round temperature which was around three degrees warmer than in my old hometown of Lynchburg.
This move confirmed my suspicions, I really did feel better and I was happier in this warmer climate of Raleigh North Carolina.
Spanish Moss and Palm Trees
If North Carolina is Good, then South Carolina must be Better
That was my theory as I put in the last nine years of my career in Raleigh. While living there we began visiting the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina.
It was only a 2-1/2 hour drive away, so we began to visit this large tourist area regularly.So, it was almost a natural thing for us to retire there.
And we did! We bought a nice house just outside of Myrtle Beach, and when we retired, we settled into a great lifestyle.
And, yes, Myrtle Beach was even warmer, year-round than Raleigh. We were turning into a pair of those people you see walking around in the South that have dark tans, wear shorts most of the time and seem to be smiling all of the time.
We lived there for over six years until we began spending more and more time in Florida in our motorhome. We eventually realized that, mostly due to our love of warm weather, we were living our Summers in South Carolina and our Winters in Florida.
Then it hit us! We were hiding from the Winters of South Carolina. As slight as they were, we were getting away from these cold temperatures and enjoying the Tropical temperatures of Florida.
It was soon obvious, even to us that we loved the heat and hated the cold.
Finally, We found our ideal climate. We moved to Florida.
What a move!
We had finally found that mythical place. We had discovered our Bali Hai!
We were living in our own personal Paradise!
You see, after spending the majority of our lives accepting what we considered second best, we finally ended up, by a very circuitous route I grant you, living in the perfect climate for us.
We lived where it was HOT!
What's so great about living in the Tropics?
Yeah, that's the first thing we get asked by others when they learn that we decided to live in Florida.
But, as I explain my reasoning to others, I can see in their eyes that they still have serious doubts about our decision.
So, Let me list my TOP reasons for living in the Tropics for you:
Seagulls, Beaches, and Sunshine
Reason #1 to live in the TROPICS
OK, Here goes! The number one reason that I live in the Tropics?
The Temperatures are Warm
The average temperature is ALWAYS (or mostly) WARM. And I mean in the Summer as well as the Winter, the temperature is always Hot or at least Warm.
In the Summer, the temperature is in the 60's and 70's at night and it is in the upper 90's or often in the lower 100's during the day.
To me this kind of Heat is not intimidating. It's a good thing, because, again, I love it Hot. Secondly, even at these temperatures, if you live near the coast (as I do) you invariably have a wonderful breeze off of the Ocean or Gulf, to help cool you down.
In the Winter, you will typically still have very nice weather almost every day.
You may not agree with me, but I call average daytime temperatures of 70's and 80's, and an average temperature at night in the 50's and 60's a pretty nice state of affairs, for the winter months.
OK, at times one of those weird Jet-Stream anomolies occurs and we get a few days of near freezing temperatures to suffer through.
You notice I said near freezing, and when this happens, it is a barely freezing situation, not something like you get in Michigan, or Minnesota, or up-state New York, or, God forbid, Canada.
You always know when Florida gets hit with below freezing temperatures.
When this happens, it's going to be on the national news as everyone in the all of the other states watch while the whole darn state of Florida mobilizes to save the orange or strawberry crops, etc.
Everyone loves their fresh orange juice and other fruits that Florida provides!
And jut as a reminder to the rest of you people living north of Florida.
Invariably, if we have a cold snap with tempertures in the low-40's down here, for instance, you people up north are really getting some horrible weather, relatively speaking.
I prefer our Tropical temperatures!
Sunsets on a Grand scale, everywhere
Reason #2, Why I live in the TROPICS
The number two reason I live in the Trpoics is the accepted wardrobe for residents.
A Tropical Wardrobe is necessary
Because of the very warm and comfortable temperatures, I and pretty much everyone I know, wears Shorts and T-Shirts as their daily wardrobe. And, we wear these clothes becaue they are cool and comfortable.
I recently drove to Virginia to visit my family for a couple of weeks. And, as it turned out, this was the first time I had worn long pants or a jacket in over eight months.
It was an odd feeling having to take these clothes that I used to wear every day; heavy pants, and shirts and thick socks, and wrap them around my body in order to offset the cold Virginia weather. The strange thing to me was that I used to wear these same uncomfortable clothing items every day, but now they were so constraining!
You see, I have three basic wardrobes, now that I live in the Tropics, each of which include Shorts and T-Shirts, and they are;
1- I have what I call my Casual or Work clothes that include; old faded cut-off jeans and worn shorts along with stained and faded T-shirts. I also have a couple of pair of worn out flip-flops to finish out this daily wardrobe of mine.
2- I have Going Out in Public clothes which include upgraded items such as; nice, functional shorts, often cargo shorts, and my favorite Logo T-Shirts. These are good for visits to Tiki Bars, Beaches and casual restaurants
I also have a couple of pait of nice flip-flops that look good on my feet, along with a casual pair of canvas shoes.
3- For those very nice occasions, I have my Upscale clothes which consists of; nice dressy designer shorts, polo shirts, tropical shirts (often embroidered), and a couple of pair of light-weight dress slacks made of some type of blended material that is light and breathes well.
To complement these clothes, I have a nice pair of leather lfip-flops as well as a nice pair of light-weight leather loafers.
Oh,and a couple of lightweight Sport Coats and even a rain jacket for those rainy days on the golf course.
I really like it in the Tropics!
Tiki Bars often contain their own humor.
Reason #3 to live in the Tropics
The number three reason to live in the Tropics is the abundant existence of my favorite form of relaxation which is simply a combination of several things which together are near and dear to my heart.
Those things are;
1-a nice Tiki Bar sitting on the water with a view,
2-a nice imminent Sunset visible from the choice seats at the Tiki Bar,
3- a Guy with a Guitar sitting in a corner singing Jimmy Buffett songs, and
4- a Bartender who knows how to serve a cold glass of your favorite wine to sip on as you stare at these great Sunsets in the Tropics.
This my favorite evening occupation at least once every week or so.
My wife and I, and often several of our friends will get together at one of our favorite Tiki Bars and spend the afternoon or evening there, listening to the music, feeling the cool evening breeze blowing through our hair, and watching as yet another great Tropical day winds down and the Sun sinks below the horizon.
Man, I love the Tropics!
Magnolia Buds, waiting to bloom
Reason #4, why I live in the Tropics
The fourth reason I live here, in the Tropics,is the people.
The friendly natives as well as the other Retirees that I have met and their adjusted attitude makes the Tropics a great place to live.
First off, I really can't think of a true Floridian that I know, who isn't friendly and courteous. They might be well off, or they may be hard core working class, but regardless, they will always turn to you with a smile and a handshake, if you do the same for them.
I have traveled extensively around the world and over a lot of the US in my life, and I can honestly say that the retirees I have met, are typically friendly and more relaxed than many younger people I have met from the North, and they tend to evolve quickly after they retire.
By evolve, I mean that as they acclimate themselves to the tropical weather and lifestyle, they invariably tend to lose the hard edge in their voices that is so prevalent when they first arrive, as a retiree.
What is noticeable to me, as well as to others, is the way so many of those same people who lived and competed in their northern climates will, after a while, start to slow down and enjoy their new life style and environment.
They will react to others more courteously. They will smile quicker, and, they will eventually become just another retiree; sipping on a cold drink at your favorite Tiki Bar, or playing a round of Golf, or just sitting under an umbrella in a Beach chair.
Yeah! i like the people in the Tropics.
The Native Wildlife can be dangerous
Reason #5, why I live in the Tropics
The fifth reason I live in the Tropics is the natural beauty that you see everywhere.
Tropical Landscapes and Wildlife
Tropical landscapes are so different from those up North, and so beautiful, that you are actually distracted by it when you first arrive here.
The lazy Palm trees, the ponderous Live Oaks,covered with Spanish Moss, the uncountable Ponds, Swamps, Bayous and Waterways all tend to draw your eye to them. and when you slow down and stare, you can feel your heartbeat slowing down also as you feel the ocean and Gulf breezes blow through your hair.
In case you didn't know it, many of the brightly blooming plants down here in the tropics, were originally from the more harsh climates of the North. Because of this and the longer warm season, we get to enjoy so many of them as they blossom in their colored glory often twice in the same year.
Going outside and taking a walk is often an exercise for your eyes, just to take in the natural beauty at every turn.
And the wildlife?
You just have to love it when you can play Golf almost everywhere in the Florida and find an Alligator lying in the Sun along the course, somewhere.
Then there are the Birds. Watching the wide variety and number of birds that are literally everywhere in the Tropics is a form of entertainment in itself.
Eagles, Cranes, Egrets, Hawks, Herons, Seagulls, and Pelicans, to name a few, are everywhere and eventually become an accepted part of your daily life.
I love the natural beauty of the Tropics!
Is the Tropics the right place for you to Retire?
Five Reasons is enough for me to be living in the Tropics
As I read back over this article of mine, I think I have given you five great reasons for my new retiree lifestyle, that will stand up under even the most harsh scrutiny.
And, enough is enough!
So, come on down! The Tropics are waiting for you!
Jimmy Bufett -Volcano
© 2012 Don Bobbitt