These days Orlando is growing with leaps and bounds. Every day more and more families are moving here from all around the world.
Moving to Florida is a welcome change, especially for many people coming from the super snowy winter regions. Moving to Florida is also sort of like moving to a new country.
If you’re a new Orlando mom, here’s a quick guide to becoming a true “Floridian.”
(1) Flip Flops.
Throw away your snow boots, Uggs and other winter shoes. Replace them with a new wardrobe of flip flops. The only shoes you need in Florida are flip flops. You can wear them to the beach, to school, to work, to church and even to dinners out. You’ll know you’re a Floridian once you sigh grumpily at the idea of having to put on “real shoes” to take a flight somewhere that’s not Florida. You’ll also know you’re a Floridian when you see you’re first flip-flop tan lines. While you’re at it, you might as well throw away your socks too. You’ll only need them for bowling now that you live in Florida.
(2) Publix & the BOGO.
Yes, you will shop at Publix. All the time. And you’ll quickly learn to scour the bins and aisles for the quintessential Publix “BOGO” sales. That’s “Buy One, Get One” free, for those of you not in the know. Your pantry will quickly be filled with 2 of everything, from fruit snacks to cooking spray. Don’t forget to pickup a Publix sub while you’re there too. You can’t call yourself a Floridian until you’ve eaten at least one Publix sub sandwich.
(3) Turtle Crossing.
At least once a week you’ll probably see a turtle crossing the road. Usually they choose to cross the busiest, most dangerous road in your neighborhood and typically right in the middle of your local rush hour. It won’t take long before you’ll stop, pull along the side of the road and help one of these daredevils make it across safely. Start your tally now. How many turtles will you save this year?
(4) College Sports Rivalries.
Depending on where you come from, college rivalries may be something you’re used to – or not. If you’re from Texas or Ohio any other U.S. city near a major university, you’re probably already a tried and true fan of some college or university team. If you’re from outside the U.S. or just didn’t grow up in a town with a college sports obsession, get ready to pick a side. Here in Florida you’ll quickly learn the two big teams are Florida State University (Garnet and Gold/Seminoles) and University of Florida (Blue and Orange/Gators). There’s also contingents for UCF (Black and Gold/Knights) and (Green and Orange/Hurricanes) among others. Public schools hold “college day” almost weekly and your kids will want a shirt to wear – from your own home team or from their adopted Florida favorite. Be ready!
(5) Alligators. Everywhere.
In Florida, any freshwater pond or lake has a resident alligator. They’re everywhere. It’s cool to visit Gatorland once but you’ll soon learn to save the admission fee and just take a stroll around your neighborhood to check out the local wildlife. You’ll quickly learn not to swim or play near the water. You’ll also quickly learn that if you leave the alligators alone, they’ll leave you alone too. Of course, it’ll take years before you DON’T stop to look at them. It’s part of Florida to see alligators everywhere, but it takes a long time before the sight of them just chilling pond-side isn’t awe-inspiring.
(6) Bugs, Bugs & More Bugs.
You’ll know you’re a Floridian when you see the bugs before they see you. Mosquitoes are everywhere, especially at dusk and after dark, and especially anywhere near water. Those little sand hills on the ground are dangerous too – full of red ants. Step in one of those piles one time and you’ll learn never to do that again! It won’t take long before you and your kids have been bitten by something. You’ll know you’re a Floridian when you can easily tell the difference between a mosquito, red ant and spider bite. You’ll also know you’re a Floridian when you can recognize love bugs and you (and your car) start to dread “love bug season.” And, yes, you’ll know you’re an official Floridian when you stop freaking out at the cockroach you just saw inside the house. As long as he’s alone, you’re not too worried.
(7) Annual Passes.
You live in Orlando now, so it’s only a matter of time before you have an annual pass to at least one theme park. Most of us with young children get the Disney Florida Resident Annual Pass, with or without blackout dates. As the kids get older you’ll change allegiances and get the Universal Annual Pass. Then there’s SeaWorld and LegoLand annual passes too. Your hometown friends will think you’re crazy for going to the theme parks so often, but once you buy in, and once you live so close, it’s only natural to pop into a park at least once a month.
(8) Parking Spot Scouting.
There’s two kids of parking spots in Florida. Those in the sun and those in the shade. You’ll know you’re a true Floridian when you abandon parking closer in order to park in the shade.
(9) Weather Watcher Wardrobe.
It won’t take long for you to add sunscreen and chapstick to your purse. Living in Florida means lots of sunshine which also means lots of occasions that require sunscreen. Not all of them are preplanned so you’ll quickly stock up on travel size sunscreen and an extra supply of chapstick for those unexpected sunny spots in your day. Likewise you’ll quickly find two or three umbrellas in your car and probably a small travel-size umbrella in your handbag too. The rain comes and goes quickly here and you’ll know you’re a Floridian when you learn to stand under the store awning for 5 minutes to wait for it to stop. Because it will. It’s Florida. One minute it’s sunny and then next it’s a thunderstorm.
(10) Staying in Florida.
Finally, you’ll know you’ve become a true Floridian when you no longer leave the state for vacation. With a huge variety of semi-big cities and loads of beaches, theme parks, attractions, history, east coast spots and west coast spots, you’ll quickly start planning vacations in Florida. You’ll know you’ve become a true Floridian when your spring break destination is only 2-3 hours away, by car. Who needs the airport?
Are you a “true Floridian?” What did we miss on our list? Any other essentials that a new Florida mom should know about? Share them in the comments below!