We moved from Chicago to Destin Florida a year and a half ago. How’s that for a big change?

By now we’ve had plenty of time to settle in and get adjusted. So the big question is, do we like it? Are we happy we made the move?

In this post and video I’ll share 9 things I like about living in Florida, plus 2 things that I don’t.

Video: What I like and don’t like about living in Florida

We share lots of great video from our area here in the panhandle of florida, so be sure to give it a view if you’re interested.

Or… Skim the subheads below to get the jist of how I like it here. ?

The number one reason why we left Chicago and moved to Florida was the weather, so let’s start with that.

1. Weather

Back in Chicago, our daughter was born during one of the coldest winters on record. She hardly left the house during the first four months of her life. And I’m sure that every parent out there knows how hard it is to be cooped up with stir crazy kids.

After that winter, my husband and I were like, we gotta get out of here.

And let me just say that Florida has delivered.

We live up in the panhandle where it’s a bit cooler, but still… 60 degrees and sunny in January is a revelation.

And it’s little things too, like being able to sit outside in the morning with your tea. Or stepping outside to walk around the block and take a phone call. Pretty amazing.

But more than the warm temps is the SUNSHINE.

Psychologically, this makes such a difference. You could say that I’m solar energized… HAHA! Cheerful, hopeful, feeling like you’ve actually woken up in the morning. Even when I’m just driving around to the kids gymnastics or the grocery store, I look up at the big bright blue sky and I’m just like “Thank you God!”

2. Beauty

Going hand in hand with the weather is the state’s beauty. Where we live is covered in pine forests and palmetto palms. Wild fowers. Deer moss. Coastal dune lakes. Wild blackberries and rosemary. Magnolia trees. It really is a diverse and breathtaking state.

3. Taxes

Okay, this is a grownup concern, but it’s a big one. There is no state tax in Florida. In Illinois it is 3.75%. In California it can go up to 13%! You save ALL of that by living in the sunshine state.

Might not sound like a big deal, but that is your grocery bill right there. Or college savings.

The sales tax is also lower here, and property tax is about HALF of what it is in Chicago.

It just costs less to do things from getting your license plate to registering a business. So that’s been a nice perk.

4. The beach

I’m putting this in its own category because woah. We live up at the top of the Gulf of Mexico, and I gotta say these are the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life.

White sands. Clear, emerald and aqua green waters. Not much seaweed or rocks or shells to dodge as you wade through water.

Speaking of which, the gulf is so nice and warm. The coldest the water gets is about 70 degrees which is about as warm as some water gets up in the Midwest. In the summer, the temp can get up to 88 degrees! Pretty freaking amazing, I gotta say.

Just walking along the beach barefoot does amazing things to your psyche.

5. The food

Okay, the food scene where we live doesn’t hold a candle to what’s going on in Chicago or any other major city.

But the one thing this area does have is fresh seafood. Snapper, flounder, grouper, oysters, and the best shrimp in the world.

Seriously special stuff!

6. Easy to meet people

I think it’s easier to make new friends in this area of Florida because just about everyone’s from somewhere else. It’s a newer community and most people are looking to make new connections.

A common first question here is, “Where are you from?” It’s a given that you’re not from here.

Compare this to moving to, say, Boston or Chicago, where many people have known each other since grade school. And people have lived in the same town for generations and generations.

It’s way, way easier to make friends here.

7. Southern culture

Where we live is more Southern in culture than south Florida. Which makes for some culture shock, I’ll be honest. But there are some things I really like about it.

I love little kids saying “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.”

I love that faith here is the rule rather than the exception.

And I love the slightly slower pace in general.

8. Wildlife!

The Florida state mammal is the manatee, one of the gentlest and friendliest creatures on earth. How cool is that?

Since we’ve been here we’ve seen deer, a bear, bald eagles, hawks, egrets, herons, snakes, turtles, manatees, dolphins, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and all kinds of fish. And there are little lizards darting out EVERYWHERE!

9. Sunsets

Okay, this is about as cliche as liking long walks on the beach, but the sunsets are pretty out of sight here in the sunshine state. Between the humidity, the fast moving storms, and the abundance of sun, we get some spectacular displays.

So those are the things that I LOVE about Florida. I’m so glad we made the move and I feel blessed to be here.

But there are a couple things I don’t like, as you can imagine.

1. Tourist crowds

We live in an community of 20,000 full time residents, yet 3.6 million people visit every year. That’s pretty crazy, and it can get crowded here during spring break and the summer.

But that’s just a fact of life. I actually LIKE living in a place where others want to visit. It’s the same thing with Chicago – it’s crowded because there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.

And as I mentioned before, we try to skeedaddle every July to avoid some of the craziness here.

And it’s only 4 months where things are a little bonkers here. The other 8 months out of the year, the full time residents inherit all the infrastructure of a bigger city and get to enjoy the natural beauty.


2. Chemicals

The last thing that bums me out about living here is the heavy use of chemicals… from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, you name it. The place we are renting gets lawn service and you won’t believe the amount of nasty stuff they dump on the grass… I think there’s a lesson here. Florida is not a great place for grass and you aren’t going to be able to have a soft Midwestern type yard. Luckily, the place we will eventually live doesn’t have lawns and instead supports letting the natural flora for doing its thing.

The county also sprays for mosquitoes a few times a week. The good news is they don’t do it by planes, which can be more intense and the county uses a slightly less class of insecticide than other areas. Instead, it’s these little trucks that have a sprayer. But it’s still very toxic. I’m working with some local folks to see if we can do some experiments using less toxic and even natural agents. Wish me luck!

So there you have it, how we like living in Florida.

Now I’d love to hear from YOU!

Would you like to move from where you currently live?

Where would you most like to move to?

Share with me in the comments below!