It has been almost two months since I packed all my belongings in 2 cars and moved to Tampa, FL. I was extremely blessed to receive a job offer straight out of college and even more excited to be moving to FLORIDA, where the sun is always shining and the old retiree’s are always smiling…or so I thought. I knew that although Florida is technically in the South, it’s not really a Southern state per se. I can’t say I was too sad to leave North Carolina (given the rising amount of L’s the state is currently taking) but I was a little apprehensive to leave a culture I was all too familiar with. Since I have been here, there are definitely some major things I have learned about living in Central Florida. If you are young, Black, and thinking of moving here too, here are 8 things I’ve learned as a new resident of Florida:
1. The sun aint always shining
They call it the sunny state but you only see the sun about 50% of the day. Especially during hurricane season, it rains everyday at about the same time, depending on what part of town you are in. Yea, I said town…as in you can be driving downtown and it looks like Hurricane Charley is about to make a surprise guest appearance for old times sake but 15 minutes away at home the sun and its puffy white cloud companions are giving you a welcome home party. It makes no sense. Here in Riverview, FL where I technically live (It’s like a territory right outside Tampa) it rains in the wee hours of the morning and every evening from about 6pm-8pm. At least it’s a change from the freezing rain I’m used to in NC. Which brings me to my next point-
2. It’s hot…and humid
Yea this is obvious, but I had to state it. I’m very cold-natured (Is that a thing?) so I always welcome the heat. However, it can get slightly unbearable and it becomes pretty important to stay hydrated during the summer. It is also humid so beware with those twist-outs and fresh presses ladies!
3. You need a car
Everything here is far. I remember growing up my mama was usually reluctant to take me anywhere that was more than 15 minutes away- often implementing the infamous ‘I can take you there but you need to find a way back home’ mantra. Here, you are lucky if your destination is 15-20 minutes away. It takes me 45 minutes to get to and from work. Public transportation here is not very good either. There are no light rails, the downtown trolleys costs a rather expensive $2.50 one way, and I hardly ever see any busses. The tolls here suck too. I spend almost $4 in toll fees getting to and from work downtown. Speaking of driving-
4. People are aggressive drivers
It’s a little overwhelming. I am pretty sure I can attribute it to everyone being from up North. No matter what lane you are in, people will ride your bumper if you are not going fast enough. THEY ALSO DON’T LET YOU GET OVER WHEN YOU PUT YOUR TURN SIGNAL ON. It’s so annoying! You have to become a more alert and assertive driver when you move here.
5. Everyone here is either from up north or grew up here
It makes things interesting. I generally reserve the right to talk smack about Northerners but down here they seem so…confused. Like the Southern hospitality is re-wiring their mannerisms and they’re not quite acclimated yet.
6. The Black network here is POPPIN’
Seriously, if you can introduce yourself to a few black professionals it should not take long to really get immersed in the black network here. Maybe this is just a side effect of becoming an adult, but I have a feeling Tampa really does have a unique culture of successful black people who will definitely look out for you.There are also cool resources like the Tampa Black MBA Association that constantly holds networking events for us.
7. No Cookouts, Bojangles, or Harris Teeters
Say goodbye to Cookout and hello to Checkers. Goodbye to Bojangles and hello to Popeyes. People here have never even heard of Harris Teeter. You’ll be doing all your grocery shopping at Publix. I am sure there are plenty of other things Florida is devoid of, but I miss my $5 burger tray with hushpuppies, fries, and a sweet tea to drink. I crave my Cajun fillet biscuit combo with seasoned fries. I cried when I had to toss my Harris Teeter VIC card ensuring my 10% student discount (which I didn’t qualify for anymore anyway) and daydream about those extra savings that are now a thing of the past. Heavy sigh. At least there’s still Krispy Kreme.
8. You are no longer in the Bible Belt
Florida likes to call things like they see it. Liquor stores are called just that- LIQUOR STORE. You might hear a few curse words slip on the radio. The biggest churches are nondenominational. THEY PUT SUGAR IN THEIR GRITS. It’s a different, secular world down here yall. Pray for me.
~peace, love, and Krispy Kreme donuts~
P.S. Thinking about moving to NY? Check out my girl Kamaara’s post !