Re: Living in Florida
The southwest coast of Florida, from Clearwater south to Englewood and particularly the Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch area is a rapidly emerging High-Tec, Medical Science and Higher Education center, not unlike the Silicon Valley was in the mid-1970's. There is good, convenient, shipping via the Port of Tampa/Port Manatee, an educated and willing labor pool, affordable housing, decent schools, reasonable regulation and low taxes that have made the area very desirable to businesses abandoning the tax and spend states such as New York, Michigan and California. (It is not a matter of "if" we can get them to move here so much as ensuring we have the facilities they need ready "when" they come.) It seems business relocations are announced daily.
The Sarasota/St. Petersburg areas also offer rich cultural opportunities with fine museums, theater, symphony and ballet and similar attractions. Recreational amenities are too numerous to described and the sailing is great, virtually year round. Moreover, the area is relatively safe from major storms due to the topography of the land and off-laying sea bed and the vagaries of the Gulf Stream which seem to direct storm tracks away to the northwest or northeast (although nothing is guaranteed). Despite Nay-Sayers, save for the east coast from about Deerfield Beach through south Miami, there are few "strip malls" although shopping malls do tend to cluster at major freeway intersections hence are visible from the highway from time to time (although one can drive for hours at a time through woodlands.) One also finds that the temperament of the people on the west coast is much more personable and amenable then is so on the east. I believe that’s because folks here-about are largely from the mid-west/west while the east coast is largely populated by ex-New Yorkers and others from the northeast that have brought their aggressive habits and dispositions with them.
While living "on the water" sounds great, we decided to live inland (15-20 minutes from the boat) because of the more rural setting, somewhat less costly land/housing, and to be more remote from areas subject to surge/flooding in the even a storm does come ashore. As mentioned previously, the terrain is “flat” such that surge can make its way inland, up bays, estuaries, creeks and rivers, quite far so one does need be aware of the flood plains, particularly now that flood insurance is being priced more according to risk (some areas along the coast have become completely unaffordable for many due to the need for flood insurance and its relative costs). While moving here from California was somewhat of a shock, simply because of the terrain, once having arrived we’d never go back. We were able to re-create our house here, all up, for only 20% of its cost in California while our land—when we bought it—was twice as large and only 10% of the cost of our land in California. (And obtaining zoning approval and a building permit took only 3 weeks verses 3-5 years!)
My two cents worth…
"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."