Posted by: Disney Diva | August 11, 2015

It’s Been A Year!

Today is the one year anniversary of making Orlando, Florida our home! The year has gone by quickly. Likely because I’m not spending the months from October to April counting down to warmer weather! There were times during the winter months where a coat was needed in the morning but the sun warms things up in a hurry. Apparently, long time Foridians can tell those of us who recently moved here because we don’t bundle up when it gets chilly like they do. But they say we will as soon as we get our Florida skin. I remember seeing a woman walking to her car in February bundled up in a winter coat with a scarf wrapped around her face. The temperature was 49 degrees. 

We’ve now pretty much survived our first summer here in the sunshine state. And although we had some days where the heat index was over 100, there were days where it was cooler here than in Pennsylvania! And as long as we have air conditioning and a pool, we have all we need to deal with the heat. 

Farmers markets in Florida take on a whole new meaning because in addition to selling fruits and vegetables (many of which are organic), they are also like a food market where you can taste amazing food concoctions! Spending most of our pre-Florida life vacationing inside the Disney bubble, we didn’t get out to see that part of Orlando. One of our favorites is the Orlando Farmer’s market at Lake Eola. The vendors are set up in an area near the lake. And the lake is filled with beautiful swans!  There’s a great walking path around the lake where you can walk off some of what you’ve eaten. Lake Eola is right in the heart of downtown Orlando and is also a great place for an evening walk surrounded by the city lights and the colorful fountain in the center of the lake. 

We’ve enjoyed seeing the manatee in Blue Springs state park, watched ships sail from Port Canaveral, and watched several rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center that we’ve watched from our back yard.

The gulf coast beaches are my favorite so far with their powdery white sand and their amazing sunsets! But I still have many beaches to see including Key West and Sanabel Island. I love all the places we can go for just a day. And so many that can be done in a weekend. 

The Florida Bucket List just keeps growing! And speaking of growing, the empty nest we’ve had for a year won’t be empty much longer as we travel up north in a few weeks to move our youngest daughter Kristen here. I’ve been told by many Floridians that ” your family will follow you here.” Well, if that’s the case, I’m going to have to buy a house!

Posted by: Disney Diva | May 9, 2015

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

I can hardly believe that 9 months ago we were packing up a U-haul and saying goodbye to family and friends ready to embark on the adventure of moving to Central Florida.
The time has gone by so fast. Most likely because we were outside doing something almost every weekend. Yeah, we spend a lot of time at Disney – got to get the most out of those Florida resident Annual passes! But we’ve discovered other things to do here too. In January we went to Blue Springs State Park and saw the manatee swimming in the springs, their refuge from the chilly waters of the St. John River. We’ve also discovered great music, restaurants and a festive atmosphere at Port Canaveral on Sunday afternoons where you can dine outside and watch the fishing boats return with their catch and watch the cruise ships sail out of port. We’ve also watched Dolphins swimming in the channel there and hungry Pelicans hanging close to the fishing boats. Cocoa Beach is a short 45 minute drive and a great way to spend a warm and sunny afternoon!
When people we talk to learn that we are “new Floridians” they always have suggestions on places to go and things to see. The Florida “to-do” list keeps growing.
We still miss our family and friends but we recently moved into a larger apartment to make room for our youngest daughter who will arrive at the end of summer, proving right those who told us, “move and your children will follow.” I don’t expect all three to take the Florida plunge but I admit I’m excited that one is willing to!
Moving from one apartment to another in the same complex was a different experience. You really don’t need to pack up all kinds of boxes…and you don’t need a moving truck! But I found that you can hire professionals by the hour to either just move the furniture or pack up your entire place! You pay in advance but the movers must get a code that is emailed to you in order to collect their pay. This was all arranged on http://www.uhaul.com. An overall great experience!
Summer weather has begun and the heat is on! It gets hot in Orlando in the summer. But I’m OK with that. I’ll be in my air-conditioned office during the week then into my air-conditioned car then apartment. And on the weekend there are lots of stay cool options including the beach, the pool and water parks. And following the simple rule of get things done in the morning or the evening!

Posted by: Disney Diva | February 13, 2015

Our First Six Months In The Sunshine State

As I write this, its a chilly 49 degrees in Central Florida, and a bitter 5 degrees in Pennsylvania. Yes, 6 months in our new home state and I’m happy we made the move. I don’t mind chilly but I do mind the bitter cold.
It’s been a busy 6 months and not everything is blue skies, sunshine and palm trees, but overall it’s been good!
We’ve learned some things along the way, like fleas in Florida are much more resilient and resistant to Frontline and Advantage, which worked fine in PA. Luckily we caught it early and hauled the pets to a local vet and got them all on the industrial strength products of Revolution and Trifexis.
While neither of us mind the heat and humidity, we are finding the winter months here to be the best weather we’ve ever experienced. Sunshine and temps in the 60s and 70s make you just want to be outside every weekend!
While we do spend a lot of time in Disney, we have been out and about exploring what else Florida has to offer. A few weeks ago we drove to Blue Springs State Park, home to the largest spring on the St. John River. And the winter home to many manatee in search of warmer water. I was amazed at how close we could get to these beautiful creatures.
We’ve made a couple trips over to Port Canaveral to watch the ships leave port and enjoy some waterside restaurants. And speaking of restaurants, nothing beats being able to sit outside at a restaurant….especially in February!
This really feels like the perfect place to live.
The state of Florida now exceeds the population of New York, and I can see why.
We’ve learned there really is no longer a “slow season” in Disney. The parks are pretty full every weekend. But not unmanageable. I still love leaving the parks at the end of the day and going home to my own bed!
Every weekend there are events going on locally so there is always something to do outside theme parks.
A great perk to living in a resort area are the ‘resident’ perks you can get. Annual passes to most theme parks and even the Kennedy Space Center.
While we haven’t made it to the Space Center yet, we have watched several launches from our apartment complex.
We’ve also noticed this area is exploding in growth and development. Mike was delighted when he recently found out that the “construction” at the vacant lot in front of our apartment complex, is a Wawa. And just up the road about 5 minutes is the beginning construction of a large shopping complex complete with a movie theatre.
Traffic is a bear, but they do a good job of keeping the roads maintained and always constructing new ones.
So now that we are here and all settled in, we are getting ready to move once again. No, we are not moving back to PA. We are moving to a larger apartment in our building. Because 5 days after our youngest daughter visited us over Christmas, she called us and told us she’s moving here.

Posted by: Disney Diva | September 7, 2014

First Month In Florida

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It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Florida for almost a month already! And in that month, today is the first day I didn’t wake up to see the sun!
In addition to the plethora of sunshine, we’ve enjoyed going to Walt Disney World on a pretty regular basis. And we’ve really enjoyed that.
We’ve also clocked in a lot of pool time!
We are getting better at navigating the Orlando area and even I, (the geographically challenged), have found several different routes to travel to and from my job in Winter Park. Although I must admit that early in the week on my way home from work, if I was unsure if I was headed in the right direction, I would just look to the sky and see the direction the airplanes were landing! I knew living 7 miles from Orlando International Airport had its advantages!
The biggest challenge has been traffic. Since I’m on the road during the peak of rush hour, it’s necessary to have several options to get to work because there’s almost always some sort of traffic incident during the morning or evening commute.
And in addition to a milder winter than we’ve ever experienced, we look forward to exploring so much that’s here in Florida!
And by the way, the sun has now made an appearance so we’ve had zero days without sunshine. 😉

Posted by: Disney Diva | August 7, 2014

Making Sure The Princess Has A Comfy Ride

Our yellow Labrador Tinkerbell will be riding in the car with me on the drive to Florida. She’s always been a good traveler but her longest car ride was an hour.

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In a few days she will take a 2-day car ride to our new home which is about 17 driving hours.
Since she likes to lay in the back seat but with her front paws resting (laying) on my console, I was concerned she would ride all day in that position and become uncomfortable. So I took old pillows and stacked them on the floor behind the console so if she does want to stay in that position, she will be comfy. In our house we live for the comfort of the pets!
Then there’s the sheet on the back seat to help catch all that yellow hair that will be flying around in my car.
When it’s all done, it looks more like I’ve built her a royal bed to lay on!
I’m sure she’ll have dog toys and bones scattered about also. Whether she will bother to chew them is anyone’s guess. But she will have all the comforts of home, and then some!

Posted by: Disney Diva | July 27, 2014

The House Begins To Echo

With the moving sale now behind us and an ever-growing population of packing boxes sealed, labeled and ready to go, the house has started to echo. It also looks strange being so empty!
Over the last several days during our moving sale we met neighbors we never knew and had so many conversations with people who knew other people moving to Florida that I was beginning to think we should expect to see a parade of moving trucks driving down I-95.
I’ve realized during this clean out and pack up process that no matter how many times you clean your basement, you’re really just re-arranging until you clean it up to move. We’ve stumbled upon books the girls wrote in elementary school, old report cards, photos we never knew we had, and some treasures that we had to add to the “keep” list.
Fortunately, we are no longer limited to a re- location cube and it’s confining dimensions. We changed to a U-Haul truck after we found out last week I will have a job interview and we moved the moving date up 2 weeks.
The re-location cube wasn’t available for our new move date so we decide to go with a truck. On the bright side, we are now not as limited with what we can take.
So now we begin all the little details that really never dawn on you till the last minute. Signing authorizations to transfer medical and dental records, getting copies of the dog’s immunization records, starting and stopping utilities, and many other things that will come to mind as we begin these tasks. It’s like peeling an onion.

Posted by: Disney Diva | July 15, 2014

Packing, purging and Moving, Oh My!

Now that we’ve found where we will live in Florida, it’s time to go home and get ready for this move.
One of the biggest challenges has been deciding what is going and how we are getting it there! We’ve gone back and forth a lot on this.
Moving trucks that you drive yourself or transportation “cubes” or “pods” have been the two options we are considering. Keep in mind that pretty much any mode of transportation for your furniture that you don’t drive yourself, is likely going to cost more. Which is why we are leaning toward driving a truck ourselves.
We also have both our cars and our dog to take. So we will definitely need another driver to help us!
Because of size and condition of some furniture we had decided right away that those items won’t be going. And while we were in Florida, we went and picked out replacements for those items and they will be delivered after we arrive.
So it all comes down to moving our bedroom set, a couple TV’s, a glass TV stand and all the boxes of “stuff.”
We did consider a towing trailer but quickly dismissed that idea because we don’t want to have to get a hitch installed on the car. Plus, since neither of us have ever driven a vehicle towing anything, we didn’t want that trial run to be Interstate 95!
We did rent additional storage at our apartment complex so we have a place for things like Christmas decorations and golf clubs, things we wouldn’t be using every day.
But there’s still a lot of stuff that has to be donated, discarded or sold!
How to get items sold has been another challenge. Our home is not a good location to hold a yard sale. So that’s not an option.
Craigslist, Facebook yard sale groups and good old fashioned “word of mouth” is going to have to be the way to go. Donating will be easy as there are plenty of organizations that need donated items and some will even pick them up!
Well, I better get moving, there’s lots of work to be done!

Posted by: Disney Diva | July 8, 2014

A Week In Florida To Find Our Next Home

Most of my views of the Orlando area over the years have been from the Magical Express bus to my Walt Disney World Resort. That meant lots of research had to be done to find a place to live.
There was no shortage of websites you could use to search for rentals. There was also no shortage of ratings from existing or former tenants who were more than happy to express their opinions! This made for a slow process in finding and setting up showings for the days we would be in Florida to find our home.
I did get some good advice from a Realtor in Winter Park. “Stay away from Craigslist for rentals,” he said. “Too many scammers hide there and take money for properties that they don’t represent, leaving the renter out of money and a place to live.”
So I stuck with reputable websites like Realtor.com and I also went directly to the apartment community’s website.
There were several “must haves” for anywhere we live.
An apartment that was not very old was a high priority. Because everyone knows an old air conditioner won’t be an efficient air conditioner. And that’s important in Florida!
Also, after Hurricane Charley hit central Florida in 2004, it prompted building code changes forcing builders to construct properties improving exterior walls and roof construction to better withstand hurricane force winds.
An open floor plan was also on my list since we are moving into an apartment. I also required a patio or balcony so I’d have a place to sit and enjoy my coffee in the morning.
Though not a deal-breaker, we were hoping for a first floor apartment since we have an 8-year-old yellow Labrador.
Another necessity was finding something centrally located so we have easy access to major roads, and although I love Disney, I didn’t want to encounter all that traffic right around the parks on a daily basis.
Sheesh, the list was getting long! And I didn’t expect to find everything I wanted.
But I’m happy to say that we did find a place the first day here in Florida.
And it had everything we wanted! How often does that happen?
Some may say we should have looked around more to see what else is available, but I believe when you find what you want, grab it! Or it will be gone.
Here are the top 10 things I learned in this apartment search process:

1. Don’t bother looking for an apartment months in advance. They come and go too fast. Looking about a month to 6 weeks from your move date will work best.
2. Price on apartments can change daily! This was baffling to me at first, but price depends on length of lease which can vary greatly! But the longer the lease, the better the price!
3. If a property is managed by the company that owns it, you will be better off. Many companies own but don’t manage the property which can result in multiple management companies running the property during your lease term.
4. Find out what the policies are on getting repairs done with the maintenance staff. We found out our new place has a policy that if your repair isn’t done within 48 hours, you don’t pay rent till it’s done!
5. If you have a pet, you may be required to pay an upfront pet fee that can range from $150-$500. And though many places allow pets, almost all have breed restrictions.
6. Read reviews online about the community at http://www.apartmentratings.com.
7. Drive around the complex before you go into the leasing office and see if they have the amenities you are looking for. Talk to people who live there and ask how they like it.
8. Ask about parking for tenants and visitors. Some complexes will tow cars without parking stickers or permits!
9. Once you sign a lease, make sure you have accurate room dimensions so you can plan where your furniture will go before move in day.
10. Take time to drive the roads around your new apartment and get familiar with the local businesses.

Posted by: Disney Diva | July 1, 2014

When The 5-Year Plan Becomes The 3-Month Plan


When we drove to Walt Disney World in May to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we really had no idea we’d be heading back to central Florida later this summer to make it our home.
It was in our 5-year plan to move there. We wanted to move well before retirement while we still have the energy and good health to run around the parks and enjoy them.
But plans rarely work out exactly the way you expect them to. So then you have to change plans. And that’s what we did.
I never realized the amount of decisions that have to be made when making a move like this.
How will we move all of our ‘stuff’ from here to there? Who knew there were so many ways to move! Trucks, vans, cubes, pods! So many options!
And what should we take? Obviously, not everything. There’s just not room. And it’s a good time to clean out and get rid of the things we’ve been moving around from place to place in the basement for years because we didn’t know what to do with it.
Looking online at apartments or condos reminds me of looking at travel brochures. So many places and choices!
We narrowed down some neighborhoods thanks to recommendations from friends. But now we have to narrow down the places in those neighborhoods. We need a place with 2 bedrooms so we have room for friends and family who are already planning their visits!
Our house is now rented and after one more trip to Florida to decide exactly where to live, we’ll return home to complete packing up the house, before making that final trek down I-95 with our cars, our “stuff” and the dog, in the peak of hurricane season.

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