Lifestyle Interests

Ever since the explosion of interest in Sunbelt living Florida has stood as a shining star.

As one of the leading tourism hubs in the United States the Sunshine State plays host to nearly 90 million annual visitors.  This ongoing exposure to visitors has been the seed to legendary population growth over the last few decades that has Florida moving toward the status of the 3rd largest state in the nation.
 
At the core of this incredible popularity are the many natural and manmade attractions that come together to make theFlorida lifestyle experience among the most sought after in the world. 
 
Whether your personal interests lean toward the great outdoors or enjoying the performing arts you’ll find the state is filled with opportunities to meet your lifestyle interests.      
 


City, Suburb or Country Living

Central to fulfilling the Florida lifestyle you want to enjoy is the decision regarding the type of environment you’ll want to call home.  If you want to truly have access to a steady stream of theatre productions you’ll need to be in close proximity of a major metro market.  On the other hand, if your lifestyle focuses on outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and kayaking a location that places you in the midst of unspoiled surroundings may be a better fit.   Then there can be employment and business travel considerations that may need to be taken into account.  The bottom line is… different strokes for different folks!
 
As a result, considering the basic type of area that best accommodates your overall lifestyle interests becomes the first order of business.  In broad stroke terms this means deciding whether you wish to live in a city, suburban setting or in a place that is more rural in nature.   
 
If a larger urban setting is your cup of tea, you will find yourself gravitating to the Florida coastal stretch from West Palm Beach to Miami, the Tampa-Clearwater-St Petersburg area, Orlando or Jacksonville.  These are Florida’s true major metro markets. A number of smaller metro markets like Fort Myers, Gainesville, Tallahassee and Pensacola can be found scattered throughout the state.
 
If you are the type of person who enjoys a symphony performance followed by a day of deer hunting you’ll need to find a place where you can move from urban to rural quickly.  Each of the major markets referenced above allow you to transition from urban to suburban to rural in 45 minutes or less, as a rule.
 
If the country spirit runs through your veins, then areas like the South Central and North Central Regions offer locales dominated by rural and small town settings where access to a significant metro market requires a 1 to 2 hour drive.
 
The bottom-line is Florida offers an abundance of all three type of locales with the ability to shift from one to the other at different paces. 
 
Take the time to actually compile a list of what community services, recreation interests and area amenities best fit you needs and wants.  Then use this as a benchmark when comparing different areas to consider living.  Making an impulsive decision with a limited frame of reference can be hazardous to the lifestyle you get to enjoy.  All too often future Floridians make a decision about where to live based on their vacation time experiences.  Judging a location to live through the rose colored glasses of a tourist can lead to a “real life” disappointment. 
 
Taking the time to personally experience different areas is an investment that will pay off by your making the best decision possible about your long-term Florida future.  Don’t forget…Florida is a big state with many options. 
 


Education

As you would expect in a state the size of Florida you will find a well developed educational system from the K-12 levels to advanced university studies.
 
Primary and Secondary schools in the state are administered by the Florida Department of Education.  School districts are headed by a Superintendent of Schools within the boundaries of each of county resulting in a total of 67 school districts. Accountability Reports reflecting the ranking or grade of individual school as well as overall school districts can be found on the Florida Department of Education website (under Useful Links). 
 
One of the state’s unique features is its Bright Futures Program which allows high school seniors an opportunity to attain credit hour scholar awards at Florida public universities and colleges. These scholarships are awarded based on the combination of minimum cumulative Grade Point Average and SAT/ACT test scores.  Currently, the state budgets over $400 million dollars annually for the program predominantly funded by the Florida Lottery.
 
To accommodate the needs of higher education Florida offers an extensive choice of universities and colleges. The state’s public  system is comprised of 12 universities and 28 colleges at over 80 campuses. In addition, there are 28 private educational institutions that are associated with Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida and an additional 20 fully accredited universities and colleges that are not affiliated with the ICUF.   Additionally, a growing number of internet-based curriculums by accredited universities offer Bachelor and Master Degrees.
 
Also found in the state are numerous Trade/Technical and Religiously Affiliated Institutions.  
 
A 2013 report by the Wall Street Journal touts tuition at major Florida universities for permanent residents to be among the most affordable in the nation.
 
Taking college level courses is clearly a popular trend that has emerged among many retiring Baby Boomers. Affordability and its many college choices makes the Sunshine State a desirable place for fulfilling this lifestyle interest.
 
 

Outdoor Recreation

When it comes to the great outdoors Florida is a veritable paradise. The state’s attractive climate, large size and numerous waterways combine to make enjoying an abundance of outdoor activities one of the great benefits of Sunshine State living.

For water enthusiasts there are both fresh and saltwater opportunities that provide an ideal world for fishing and boating options that span from yachting to canoeing.

Acknowledged as the “Fishing Capital of the World“ Florida’s 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, 10,550 miles of rivers and 7,700 named lakes means a lifetime of fun and challenge for anglers of all ages.  Identified by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission are 42 specie of popular freshwater fish and 83 saltwater fishes.

Collectively the many “fishing holes” available cater to everything from offshore game fishing to snagging dinner at a local fishing pier or lake.

Boaters of all types will revel in the vast waterways that characterize the Florida peninsula as a Mecca among sailors. Within its many freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and surrounding its over 1,100 miles of coastline you’ll find scores of opportunities for large-scale yachting and compact pleasure craft.

Akin to boating is the Kayaking and Canoeing you’ll find enjoyed at the state’s many saltwater and freshwater havens. Whether maneuvering among mangroves or following the twists and turns of one of many spring-fed rivers, the availability of options throughout the state is plentiful.  From touring the luxurious waterfront homes along Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway to paddling among the giant, gentle manatees in Crystal River.

Of course, for those who prefer to keep grounded there’s sun worshipping at famed beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico including such notables as Miami Beach, Panama City, Fort Myers and Tampa Bay’s Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island.  In total 663 miles of the state’s 1197 coastline is designed at beach.

Should the wet and wild of Florida’s beaches and waterways not be tempting at the moment, perhaps riding, hiking or camping at one of the many state parks and forests, wildlife management areas or national forests sound more appealing.  The Florida Park Service, which is honored among the best and largest in the country, operates 160 parks containing some 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach.  This combined with the state’s 3 National Forests, 23 National Wildlife Refuges and 1 National Seashore create an exceptional environment for bicycling, horse riding and camping.

Off road and paved trail Bicycling is plentiful at park locations as well as on 24 Rail-to-Trail projects with their 524 miles of paths.  Paved trail choices span from 3.5 to 46 miles in length, while off road trails span upwards to 183 miles long.

For the equestrian minded there are both public trails and private ranch opportunities.  The Florida Equestrian Trails publication by Visit Florida highlights 30 scenic trails in state parks, forest and wildlife management areas with the majority of these notable trails measuring from 20 to 138 miles.  Other state, county and national parks offer numerous additional trails, while many locales offer further horse riding at private ranch / stable facilities.

Finally, no review of outdoor recreation is complete without mention of Florida golf. With approximately 1,200 courses on hand, more than any other state, you’ll find plenty selections for both beginners and pros throughout the state.

Anyway you slice it, Florida is a tropical land with outdoor recreation for enthusiasts of every activity imaginable.

 

Cultural Activities

Florida is home to a myriad of cultural and performing arts centers where patrons throughout the year will find a schedule of events that include all facets of popular and classic performances.

More traditional cultural centers offer the standard fare of a never ending parade of Broadway theatre, symphonies, ballet and classical music performers.

As is typical in most states,the most notable of performing arts centers are located in major metro markets.  Among this extensive collection of first-class facilities is the following:

  • Adrienne Arsht Center - Miami
  • David A. Straz Jr. Center - Tampa
  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Sarasota
  • Kravis Center - West Palm Beach
  • Ruth Eckerd Hall - Baumgardner Center – Clearwater
  • Time-Union Center - Jacksonville

 

A detailed list of Florida Performing Arts Centers and Theatres can be found under Useful Links.

You’ll also find sprinkled throughout the state a number of sizable concert venues catering to big name entertainer events including rock groups and country stars. The most popular of these entertainment hubs include:

  • American Airlines Arena - Miami
  • Tampa Bay Times Forum - Tampa
  • Amway Center - Orlando
  • Ford Amphitheatre - Tampa

In addition to the standard fare of professional entertainment ensembles, you’ll also find in local venues throughout the state community theatre together with the many performances featured at universities and colleges.

If you are more inclined to enjoy browsing museum exhibits there are many options both big and small to take-in.  Everything from the artifacts of the Museum of Natural History in Gainesville to crowning achievements in art at the renowned Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and Ringling Museum in Sarasota.  For a more in-depth overview of the many major and specialty museums found throughout Florida check-out the Useful Links section.

In summary, the cultural activities available to the residents of Florida are extensive in scope and of a caliber to meet the demands of music, art and entertainment aficionados from all walks of life.


Spectator Sports

When it comes to the wide world of sports the Sunshine State offers a full field of happenings for raving fans of all types.  Whether your interests lean to professional, college or minor league play you’ll find an incredible offering complemented by the Florida’s exceptional year-round weather.

Professional sports cover a gamut of choices starting with clashes on the grid-iron with NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, plus Arena Football with the Jacksonville Sharks, Orlando Predators and Tampa Bay Storm.

Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy some of the nation’s most robust schedules including regular season play headlined by MLB’s Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as, Florida hosting 16 Spring Training camps. There’s also the opportunity of tracking tomorrows hopefuls in the famed Grapefruit League and minor league play of the Florida State and Southern League teams.

Spectators can also enjoy the action of two National Hockey League teams and high profile basketball with NBA’s Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic.

For those graving a faster paced scene there’s the roar of NASCARhorse facing and Jai-Alai.

College sport fans have an equally outstanding choice of spectator events thanks to some of the NCAA’s most celebrated programs. Among the school teams showcasing a full-featured schedule of competitive play are the University of Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles and University of South Florida Bulls.

The fact is Florida abounds with opportunities to enjoy the thrills and spills of spectator sports at a level that rivals any state in the Sunbelt.