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Why We Chose SouthWest Florida – Part 1

Lifetyle. Lifestyle. Lifestyle. For us it was all about boating. Prior to moving here, we lived in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. We loved boating on the St. Croix River (our boat was slipped at Afton Marina). But we could really only use the boat 3 to 4 months out of the year. It was an expensive hobby between the haul-outs and put-ins, shrink-wrapping in the winter, winterizing… and all those things that a cold climate requires of boaters.

Life is short. With Dave nearing his 50th birthday, we talked a lot about where we wanted to be in the future, physically and mentally. Answer: Not Minnesota. Must be entrepreneurial and in real estate.

We also looked around at family and friends who always said they’d move after they retired, but somehow never got around to it (too old, too tired, not enough money, got sick, spouse died… the stuff of life as we get older). So we decided not to wait until retirement to do what we really wanted to do. Why not now, we thought… and in no time, a plan was in motion.

With the entire United States to choose from we zeroed in on the eastern states and did tons of research: property values, economies, demographics, waterways, quality of life. Brenda was thinking Florida; Dave thought that was waaaaaaay too hot and was thinking Tennessee, along the Tom Bigby waterway. With no itinerary in mind, we flew to Memphis, rented a car, started to explore. First Tennessee and then the entire Gulf Coast of Florida, from the panhandle’s Perdido Key to Naples and Marco Island.

We found the areas of Tennessee that we explored to be too remote; it was beautiful but being very social people, we wanted to be somewhere with more of a metropolitan flavor. And it was colder than we thought it would be. (We did this driving trek in November.)

We spent a lot of time along the Panhandle. With everyone talking about Destin and Perdido Key, we had to see what it was all about. That is beautiful too, but again cold… really cold. The wind coming of the Gulf of Mexico had us bundled up with the heat on in our hotel room wishing for a warm fire. We quickly figured out the Panhandle is a more of a summer destination, not a winter one. And it was not quite the boaters’ paradise that we had in our mind’s eye… so we kept driving.

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