No More Winters; I Found Palm Coast, Florida
By Conrad Allen
Those that know me think I'm a pretty happy fellow-and I am. I love a good joke, I'm quick with a smile, and I like meeting new people-that's why I chose sales as a career. But during fall and winter it was a real struggle to smile. Something about winter always sucked the wind from my sails. It was 3 to 4 months of torture. But I never let on how much I hated winter. HATED IT!
I had Winter Blues Depression Syndrome. (I made that term up) It wasn't depression in the clinical sense, it was more like "When will Spring get here? I can't take many more dark, cold days". I also felt cheated out of days of life when it was too cold to venture outdoors and I stayed cooped up in the house. There had to be a cure.
There's a scientific term called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depression that occurs during the fall and winter months due to a drop in brain serotonin levels. Results indicated that the activity of serotonin-containing neurons was lowest during the fall and winter and highest in spring and summer, when sunlight is most plentiful. Serotonin was obviously in very short supply in my brain. I had to find a supply and a cure for SAD.
During a visit to Florida I noticed how great I felt in the middle of winter. Eureka! The Florida sun with all its magical, serotonin-inducing powers had cured me! I was on to something. Even after returning home, the effect seemed to linger and stay with me.
We began to vacation in Florida, once or twice a year when time and money permitted. Planning the trips was almost as therapeutic as taking them. We started out in the Florida Panhandle, but quickly chose Central Florida as our favorite destination. We became friends with Mickey Mouse and our vacations there helped make Disney the empire it is today. Florida sun was good to me.
Every year we talked about moving there and even made symbolic plans to relocate. We researched the cost of living, housing costs, even the school districts. Then finally, soon after a painful year in which we lost some close family members and friends, we decided- Life is Indeed Too Short! We quit our jobs, sold the house, loaded the rental truck and headed for Central Florida; Palm Coast to be specific.
I had spent countless hours on http://www.Realtor.com checking house prices, and found that homes in Palm Coast were almost half of those in the Orlando area. Palm Coast still has many lots available to build on, and there are so many home builders you can surely find a design you want. One company is even building houses with solid concrete walls, a feature I'd like if a hurricane ever passes this way.
Speaking of hurricanes, I was looking at a map from http://www.NOAA.gov the other day, and found that at least since 1950, no hurricane has made landfall near Palm Coast. I don't know if it's Divine Intervention or just plain good luck. A few old sages mentioned upper Jet Streams, ocean currents and similar possible reasons, but I don't care. I just like the odds.
The Flagler County School District is one of the finest in Florida, and unemployment is quite low. It's only a few minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and just 20 or so minutes to Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. (The oldest city in the nation for those keeping score.)
Best of all, it's a tad over an hour to get to Disney World. We bought Florida Resident Passes and use them almost monthly. We already had quasi time-shares in the Disney Vacation Club, and wondered if we would sell them. We found that we visit so often, we plan to buy more points in the DVC. Even though it's a short drive from Palm Coast, it's so enjoyable to stay at the resorts and use the pools.
Palm Coast is unique in that the entire city had a master plan before a shovel of dirt was turned. ITT made a major investment in land, and spent untold hours planning every street, sewer, and park. Palm Coast is fanatical about walking and biking trails. Almost every major road has a paved path to ride. They even placed benches every so often for the less-aerobic types like me. Golf courses in Palm Coast are like airplanes at O'Hare airport. Every where you look there's a new course to play.
Did I mention the ocean? Besides the sunlight, I found that just gazing at the Atlantic is relaxing and good for the brain. I guess that's why so many folks like to frolic in the sun at the beach-to get a double dose of feel good. Flagler Beach is one of the rare beaches that hasn't been consumed by condos. There are long stretches of A1A you can drive along (and park), all the while taking in the view. As much as I enjoy the sunlight, there is nothing as awe inspiring as being at the beach when a storm passes through. To see the waves crashing to the shores is both riveting and scary. You want to run, but you can't look away from that powerful exhibition of nature.
Has the move worked for me? I can tell you that as I pen this letter, it's 19 degrees in my old town and snow is expected. Here it's 71 and sunny. Christmas Day I made it a point to call our friends and family back home, for both Christmas wishes and to tell them that I cut my grass on Christmas Eve. I'm not a NASCAR fan, but this weekend we're heading to Daytona for one of the minor races. We visited Disney last week and spent the night at the Caribbean Beach Resort after a delicious African dinner at Boma. Yes! I can say the move worked for me. Life is good in sunny Palm Coast, Florida.
Copyright © 2005, Conrad Allen
About The Author
Conrad Allen is a Palm Coast, Florida article writer and new home consultant.