July 4th, 2014 was the first week I spent in Dunedin, Florida with Greg and his family- it was my first time ever visiting the west coast of Florida but Greg had been here before to visit his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. I LOVED the area from the beginning, if you have never been here I recommend you book a trip now. I told Greg I wanted us to live there one day… even though he and I didn’t even live together at the time and wouldn’t for another year and a half in New Jersey. We would continue to visit every July to celebrate the 4th of July and January to go to Gasparilla- a pirate festival held in Tampa that attracts over 300,000 people every year.
As we were planning our trip for January 2017, Greg told me he was not going to be able to get off work to go this time; working in the medical field, my schedule is very flexible as I can swap a day and work on the weekend. I remember telling Greg I still wanted to go and he was surprisingly okay with the idea. My parents ended up coming along because they knew we loved the area so much and had talked about moving one day. The trip was great, like always, filled with beach days, shopping, and hanging out, but I did something I had never done before on this tip- I contacted a realtor to “see houses”, my excuse was that houses in Florida are VERY different from houses up North so I wanted to see what they were like. My parents, the realtor, Greg’s Aunt, and I headed out to look at houses the day before we were scheduled to leave, I fell in love with the first house but continued to look at 6 others; at the end of the day I requested to go back to the first house and was still in love- it was in a great neighborhood, a reasonable price for the area, 2 miles from the Gulf of Mexico which meant THE BEACH, 2 miles from downtown Dunedin which meant we could ride our bikes, 4 bedrooms so family could visit, a huge backyard for the area, and was just completely redone from top to bottom. I called Greg and said “Hi, I love you, and I love this house I went to look at”, his response “You’re crazy”. Houses in this area tend to sell within 1-2 weeks (this one was on the market for 3 days) so I explained to him that if we put in an offer, the house would be “ours” for 2 weeks so I could come home, we could talk and decide what to do. Greg is the most easy-going, go with the flow go guy (I’m so lucky to have that trait in a husband) and agreed. I called and did it… I placed an offer on a house while I was on vacation, a house Greg hadn’t even seen (to be fair before he said yes, I sent pictures and a video walk through). The next morning, as I was boarding the plane to go back to New Jersey, I got a counter offer, literally walking on the plane I called Greg who said to go for it, called them back, and accepted the offer! Sitting on the plane I was thinking “Is this the right thing to do? Are we really going to move 1,200+ miles from 99% of our friends and family?” We are both so close to our entire families and will be starting over if we move- new jobs, new friends, new state, new temperatures, new everything!
I get back to our 750 sq ft apartment in Jersey, in the cold, with a view of a parking lot- wanting to be back in Florida already. We talked it over and the decision was a little scary but we knew if we didn’t make a move now, we would get married, have kids, and then possibly never move- there is always an excuse for why you shouldn’t make a huge life change, right? I felt that the spontaneous decision was exactly what we needed! We agreed that if we ended up not liking Florida we would move back; if 1 of us was unhappy we could not stay as it would probably cause fights and make things worse.
Buying a house in a different state is difficult and I’ll be honest, causes a lot more stress- everything is done through e mail/the phone so I recommend if you are thinking of doing this get a folder and keep everything together- we were unable to fly down from when we bought the house to when we moved in, looking back I would have made that possible. We were not able to be there during the inspection which also caused some issues, the day we moved into our house we had no electric in 1 room, our problem now as it “passed during inspection”.
As for moving our belongings, we used the company PODS which was the most convenient option and I would 100% recommend. Basically, they drop off a storage container at your house (you can pick from 3 sizes), you load it up, call them, they pick it up and deliver it to your destination of choice, and then you unload it. I believe it took about 3 days for it to go from New Jersey to Florida – we were on a vacation in Europe so luckily Greg’s family unloaded it for us, still thankful for them! We got the largest POD although were told the smallest could fit a small apartment and is the size of an elevator. We filled the largest POD… other than bathroom/kitchen/personal items we had: 2.5 bed room sets, a couch with 2 chairs, and a dining room table with 8 chairs- not all of this was in our apartment as we were moving to a bigger house. PODS has insurance on their containers which we also liked but some rules which caused Greg to have to drive down with a U-haul. You are unable to put anything with gas in them even if it is empty- no grills, no motorcycles, no lawn equipment, etc. Something else to make note of is rules of the town/neighborhood. Our neighborhood has an HOA and only allowed the POD to be in our driveway for 4 days which is why we had people empty it while we were on vacation.
I shipped my car so I could fly and probably used the worst company out there- I don’t remember the name but they were based out of New York, I erased it from my memory. I based my choice off website reviews and the price, don’t do that, do more research than I did because looking back every review on the website was the name of someone I talked to. If I talked with John S. on the phone then John S. had a 5/5 review on the website, if I talked to Barbara M. then she had nothing but great things to say on the website reviews and would “book them again in a heartbeat”. Doing more research, I found the terrible reviews. My car wasn’t damaged or anything but the experience was horrible- communication sucked, they tried to change the price, they were late picking up my car (again we were on vacation so a friend sat all day waiting for them to pick it up), and they were 2 days late dropping it off so I had limited ways to get around once in Florida.
Jobs. While on the vacation back in January 2017… you know, the one responsible for this move, I also reached out to a few rehabilitation centers. I basically sent e mails explaining that I was thinking of moving to Florida and if they believed they would have a job opening within the next 6 months, I would like to come take a tour/meet the staff- 1 place got back to me, how disappointing. Anyway, I set up a time to meet and fell in love with the facility; I knew I would learn so much as an Occupational Therapist working there. It was only 18 minutes from Dunedin which was also a plus. Unfortunately, the Director of Rehab said she did not foresee any job openings but if I wanted to fill out an application for PRN (as needed work) I could for when I moved, so I did. March 2017, I get an e mail that stated a full time OT job was opening up and asked if I was interested, heck yes! but we were not moving for another 4 months. I explained my situation and she said “Lets go through the interview process and if you are the right fit for the job then we will hold it for you”, is this real? This is perfect! I go on 2 phone interviews and end up getting the job which was a huge relief, I was to start July 2017. Greg worked with a recruiter and landed an Accounting job before we moved as well- all of his interviews were through Skype. We are both still at the same companies and have grown from our jobs.
It has been a year and 10 months since moving to Florida and we love it- we aren’t sure if this is our “forever” place in the states but as for now this is home. We have had visitors or either been back up North almost every month of living here which might sound like a lot but it helps with being homesick- we also have each other and so many great friends that fill our weekends with adventure.