I’m at my parents’ house in Connecticut, here on business for a couple of days. I flew in over the weekend so I had time to see friends and family. It’s great to see people I don’t usually get to see now that I’m living a plane-flight away, in Florida. But when Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, he was certainly right about it. I’m feeling that way and more, now that I’ve been away from the Northeast for four years.
I hadn’t realized, when I was living here, how the general atmosphere – in the workplace, out-and-about in stores and in restaurants, etc. – was affecting me. Here are some examples of what I see now, when I come back to visit.
The weather, of course
I’m amazed at how little time it took me to adapt to the warmer weather in South Florida. I generally describe the two seasons there as hot and unbearably hot. From late October/November until March, the weather is often quite comfortable during the day – in the 70s and low 80s and sometimes much cooler at night. In February it can get even get “chilly” (down in the 40s at night).
Walking out of the airport into the windy cold weather this weekend was a quick reminder of what I’ve left behind. According to everyone living here, it isn’t even that cold (in the 30s) – but when that wind blows it does feel much colder. How quickly I forgot… but at least I had the right coat and a pair of gloves. One of my favorite quotes is, “There’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing.”
When I visited the Northeast last summer, what struck me most was the many shades of green. The image for this piece really struck me as how it looks here in the summer. The trees are tall and deeply rich. In Florida, the trees can’t grow tall because they can’t survive the hurricane force winds; the palm trees are relatively short, compared to their deciduous counterparts up north. Driving up the Merritt Parkway, the tall trees lining the roads and trailing off towards the horizon are so incredibly green, it’s like green candy for the eyes. I lived in the Northeast most of my life and never appreciated the richness and variety of that green.
Also, I’ve noticed that I barely feel the passage of time in Florida. For me, as I said, there’s the hot season and the unbearably hot season, but it’s hard to note the movement of years going from one to the other. To me, it’s either hurricane season or it’s not. I feel like Peter Pan in Neverland, where time ceases to exist.
Which brings me to my next point, which is the huge difference in the “feeling” of being out-and-about in the Northeast vs. in South Florida. When I come north, it feels as though everyone is struggling. Stores, restaurants, many businesses. I feel the sluggishness of the economy which, for me, has felt as though it was stuck in place since 2006 – two years before the “big recession.”
Here we are, 14 years later, and it still feels as though the area is at a standstill. The numbers of people leaving also reflect the sense that the economy is unfavorable. In 2018, the state of Connecticut lost approximately 30,000 residents, according to the Hartford Business Journal. Over half of them (18,291) went to Florida, which has a booming economy. The other popular places to move were New York, Massachusetts (GE moved their headquarters here), South Carolina, and California. And 2018 wasn’t an anomaly; during the previous nine years, Connecticut lost over 18,000 people per year.
Whereas in Florida, in 2018, Broward County added 17,300 non-agricultural jobs in the trade, transportation, utilities, and professional services areas, according to Florida’s Dept. of Economic Opportunity. There are almost more construction cranes than you can count, driving down Federal Highway (the main road) in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The feeling of growth and activity is almost palpable. It’s fun and exciting to be in an area where young people are coming to live, businesses are starting and thriving, and great new restaurants are popping up all over town. Yes, there’s the problem of traffic and congestion and housing – but it’s a far more uplifting place to be working than an area that feels as though it’s stagnant and permanently mired in the mud of despair.
How about you? Do you feel inspired where you live? Does the economy feel as though it impacts how you feel on a daily basis? I’d love to know how you feel your business is doing and what that means for you.