Living in Florida and transforming our fixer upper home are two things that are constant. Today I’m sharing with a few friends who are also discussing why we chose our homes and a bit of history.
I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life and residing in The Sunshine State definitely seems to have a certain mystique to it. When traveling and someone asks where I’m from, the reaction to the word “Miami” generally elicits an “ooooh” or an “ahhh”! Palm trees, eternal sun and miles of beaches come to mind. People tend to want to be living in Florida for many reasons. I thought that I’d quickly outline some pros and cons, because many of you ask me anyway about living here!
Living In Florida – The Pros
- The weather is generally sunny and always warm. Living here most of my life, it’s gotten much hotter with global warming.
- The beaches are some of the best in the world. I’ve been to many worldwide and we always come back loving ours more.
- Cultural diversity. We are a melting pot, especially in Miami.
- No state income tax. Hello…that’s a big plus!
- Lots of drivable places to vacation in, including your own backyard.
& The Cons
Most of the “cons” as far as I’m concerned are weather related and things to keep in mind if you’re considering moving here.
- It’s SO hot here and what’s even worse is the HUMIDITY. You must constantly run the a/c and spending time outdoors is impossible for several months out of the year.
- Hurricanes are a threat for half the year, every year and anyone who’s lived here long enough knows that they are no joke.
- The rain here does keep Florida green, but the afternoon monsoons are so intense that it’s difficult to drive.
- Tourists, snowbirds and retirees and other poor drivers. Watch out when you drive, because we have a mix of those plus our immigrant population that may not be familiar with the rules of the road here.
- Critters that lived here long before people inhabited the earth or have been introduced into the wild. We have everything from alligators to iguanas, palmetto bugs that you can practically saddle up, to wild peacocks and more.
I digress, as today is about why I chose my home. This house was built in 1962, and was about 30 years old when we purchased it. It’s a suburban ranch style house with a pool that is typical for many parts of Miami. When my husband and I were first married, we had a home built in a new development that we loved. It was small, and once we started having babies we found that we were outgrowing that home. I discovered the area that we are in now after our oldest daughter started kindergarten close by and the hunt for a home here commenced.
The front elevation (mom van, lol!) and the palm trees that we had recently planted.
After seeing about 50 homes over the course of several months we found this one. It was a fixer upper home that no one had lived in for about six months and needed a lot of work. We loved the circular driveway, the dead end street and the property. Our lot is about 3/4 acre and sits on a canal, so it’s quiet and private and there was room to expand. I don’t really have many photos of the before, since we purchased this home 28 years ago. Going through some photo albums I found a few that were taken the morning before Hurricane Andrew hit.
The back of our home with the original old style screen enclosure surrounding the pool.
We did clean up inside and outside in the first year here…ripping up brown shag carpet and far too much thorny bougainvillea. This is the back after we had done a massive clean up to the yard. Thrifty as I needed to be back then, I purchased the kid’s swing used. We hadn’t yet done any major changes, so the living room is where the girls played inside. All of the furniture was handed down from my in-laws and a few clients. We were on a really tight budget so I recovered, repurposed and reused. I think that those of you who who have adult children can relate when I say that those were some of the best times of all!
Until Hurricane Andrew hit and I would be remiss not to mention that. Living in Florida you definitely dread hurricane season. Our lives changed in an instant, or actually overnight. Hurricane Andrew hit our neighborhood hard, as a category 5 storm spawning lots of local tornados. It was a night of terror for us and we hid in a small bathroom fearing for our lives. At daybreak we saw this below. Trees snapped like matchsticks, metal bent like straws and pieces of our neighbor’s homes and possessions in our pool and yard.
We had a lot to deal with, including broken glass everywhere, flooding, a ripped up roof, soaked possessions, damaged vehicles and no power for a month. The a/c unit got sucked into the living room once the storm broke through our roof and front door. We had flooding and everything that we owned was either damaged or ruined.
There were looters coming in from other parts of the city and the National Guard set up camp on our street.
Fast forward to several months later when power was back on and we cleaned up. We were able to start an addition to make our home better and larger than before. A lemony situation was made into lemonade with lots of hard work and help from friends.
And today, where we simply look back and look forward and love the home where we raised our family Lots of memories here and we are still living in Florida and not sure where our lives will take us next. I’m posting some images below of how our home looks today!
Our street is lined with palm trees and I don’t think that it could be any prettier or more tropical looking!
The pool and garden area as it is now.
And inside…our beloved family home.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and head over to visit my friends who are sharing more stories today.
Worthing Court† /† The Happy Housie Cabin† /† Duke Manor Farm†
Town and Country Living / Designthusiasm / StoneGable
The Happy Housie / The Wicker House / Sincerely Marie Designs
I really enjoyed reading this and seeing all the pictures Janet! Brings back so many memories of our fist home and all the work we put in it (And still are!) Time seems to just fly by!
Thanks Tracey…this was a fun post to put together and the time sure does fly by FAR too quickly! xo
Where did you find your two crystal sconces? I’ve admured them for a long time. You have a lovely home.
They are antiques Frances, and I haven’t seen any similar around recently.
Lorrie S says
Thank you for your post today. I have always wanted to live in Florida. My grandparents moved here in the early 70’s and we came to visit many times. My husband and I have finally made it. I lived through earthquakes but not hurricanes and I’m not looking forward to that part of it but we excited to be here. Your home is lovely and I appreciated hearing of the work to make it that way.
One question: your pool area is very nice but don’t you have problems with mosquitoes with no cage?
Congrats Lorrie! We don’t have an issue with mosquitoes around the pool because we have a barrier around it with no landscaping. Only time they seem to be out much is dawn and dusk.
What amazes me is the resilience that can be found when faced with disaster. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your home for a long time. Thank you for sharing it with us.
This is so true Margo, but I’m not sure I would have it in me to do a rebuild again. Hoping that the storms stay away for the foreseeable future! Have a wonderful day
Absulutey beautiful story. It’s so nice to know more about you. I’ve been through some of those same 40+ years situations and still have much gratitude, even with every mosquito bite. Great job! SK
I’m so happy that you stopped by for the post and it’s just one foot in front of the other with grace around here!
Leslie Preston says
Thank you for your honest comments. You are very brave! Having lived in FL most of your life, I’m sure you’re acclimated. However, anyone with “humidity” issues should avoid Florida! We fled Southern CA six years ago and are now in nice, DRY, Utah, about 15 minutes east of Park City.! We do have our own “ice” issues, but we can deal with it. I really enjoy your blog! Thank you!
Thank you Leslie! We did what we had to back then, but now years later I’d love to have a more temperate climate. Utah is a beautiful state!
Hi Janet, I love this post! So fun to learn about the history of your gorgeous home! The pros and cons of living in Florida are so true. ?Thank you for sharing
Like any place I think there are the pros and cons. Hurricanes being the absolute worst here and we pray that there are none each year!
Thanks for sharing the history of your home with us Janet, I probably couldn’t deal with the humidity… I’d love it if we had a little less rain and a little more sunshine here in Europe though!
Love all of your old photos, so great that you have those, you can admire the “after” even more. Love reading your posts.
It’s dreadfully humid here Catherine and we are in the thick of it right now. Appreciate you visiting this post!
Wow, Janet, you sure did make the most delightful lemonade from that frightening storm! Gorgeous home and so fun seeing the pre-storm photos too!!
It was a rough few years, but now long in the past. Thanks Lory!
Vanessa S. Smith says
I love this story and the pictures. It is a testimony to your creativity and commitment to hard work. It is an inspiring story of love of home and rebuilding that which is lost. I am proud to have a cousin who is Martha Stewart and Mayor Bloomberg rolled into one person! Vanessa
Awww, so kind of you Vanessa!
I enjoyed reading this and especially am touched by the “after” hurricane photos. I live in Panama City & we are still cleaning up & repairing from Hurricane Michael. It’s devastating to loose all of your things, even though that’s not what’s important in life. If you have never experienced that & you have, you can’t express it to someone else. Nevertheless, things are slowly improving & will come back better than before! Your home is lovely & I enjoy following your stories. I get tickled hearing people on here who live up north talk about their “heat”, they would just melt here, lol!!
I was in Panama City for work a couple of years ago and I remember the Uber driver mentioned how you never get hurricanes there. Was so sorry to see what played out, but it will come back better than before.
I really enjoyed this Janet. So fun to see how your home has evolved!
Thanks Cindy….my husband still has dreams of moving out your way though and my daughter was just at “that house” in Carmel this week!
VALERIE Arnett says
What an experience! You and your family did turn lemons into lemonade…but fingers crossed that once is enough.
Your home is lovely. I enjoy Shabbyfufu, reading about your shopping and redoing adventures and seeing the finished product.
Life in Santa Fe is quite different from your environment, but having lived in Galveston for a few years I understand the challenges of humidity, bugs and hurricanes.
Thanks for sharing your early years with us. Reminded me of raising our three girls…the best times!
Oh Valerie…I sure hope and pray that we don’t get any more storms this year!! So happy that you read the blog, means a lot to me and makes it all worthwhile when there are comments such as yours. xo
Lois Christensen says
What a great post! So nice to see the before and after. Horrible you had to go through that Hurricane but you did create something even prettier!
THank you Lois…it was a very trying few years for sure.
Loved this post! We moved to an old house on an island in Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, in 1987. We ‘escaped’ to a friends house in Coral Gables during the early Andrew warnings. There was much more damage there than on the beach. We lost a couple of massive Bunyan’s trees and had property mess, but no house damage. You did phenomenal job rebuilding and designing your home. Now we live in a condo in. SoBe and are snowbirds with a lake home in Mn., our birth state. We love Florida and will never leave our winter home!
Banyan trees, auto correct, bah….
Our area had massive damage unfortunately and we are south of Coral Gables. Lucky you having your home up north to escape this horrific heat! xo
You were brave and courageous to stay put and rebuild there. I know every place has it’s own beauty and down falls but most important is the fact that you had each other and friends to help you through the disaster. My husband and I faced many difficult times with our ups and downs and adopting special needs children but together, and with much faith we accomplished much. It became more difficult when I lost him at a ‘too early” age so I have had to struggle and give up many dreams. It is Faith that gets me through.
Thank you Marie and definitely life has it’s struggles. Wishing you the best my friend.
Cathy Hundley says
Janet, I was born and reared in Miami and there are times when I so miss the palms and all the tropical plantings. Royal Poinciana trees are unmatched in their beauty and a mango off the tree is so good.
Your home and yard is just gorgeous and complies with the CBS structure to stay safe. The worst hurricane I remember was Camille and there were no boys in your childhood. Thanks for the memories.❤️
The beauty of the tropics is unmatched here in Miami I feel Cathy, even still. Glad that you enjoyed this post!
Thank you for sharing your journey. Love all of the pictures showing the wonderful changes. I was in Southern Miss during Katrina, the destruction of hurricanes amaze me. Prayers for good weather.??
Thank you so much Debbie and you are so right about the destruction of these massive storms. Yes…let’s pray for NONE this year! xo
Sheila Irwin says
Wow Janet!!! You’ve done SO very much – I had no idea! I love seeing the befores, it is such fun! And you’ve done an amazing job of turning this home into your special style. Love your kitchen, your new laundry room (gorgeous!) and I even love the charming pergola you added by the pool! I also had no idea you had so much property – THAT is a reason to buy this for sure!!
Glad that you all were okay in that awful storm. What a scary experience!!
Thanks Sheila…we have really rebuilt this place and although there are other things I would have liked to do, we enjoy it! xoxo
Jennifer @ Town and Country Living says
Janet, what can I say? You certainly have a lot of resilience after dealing with the hurricane. How frightening that must’ve been, and then so devastating when walking outside to see the damage. And no AC in Florida for a month? I don’t know you how you coped. Looking at your home today you’d never know it had been in such disrepair. It’s so pretty and it was fun to read about your journey that had a happy ending!
It was the worst of times for sure Jennifer and I hope that I showed how with determination, anyone can make their home a better place. Thank you for inviting me and it’s obvious by the amount of comments here that my readers loved this post!
Thank you for taking us down memory’s lane with you in such a private way. The pictures told quite an amazing story! Living in Arizona, we’ve never had hurricanes or many tornadoes – but we do have the monsoon during the summer months that can cause some devastation. Thankfully we’ve never had anything major happen. Knock on wood. What you have done to your home over the years is positively inspiring! I love your french style!! It’s a beautiful home!
Thank YOU for reading Kathy! You definitely have the heat, but it’s so much drier and more pleasant than ours here. Much appreciate your kindness.
Janet, Bravo!! You and your family have endured so much with determination and reliance,
like trees that bend but don’t break. You and your family now have a gorgeous home.
Wishing you many, many happy years in the future to enjoy all that you have dreamed and built.
I really appreciate your kind words! Not sure if this will truly be our forever home at this point, just living life day to day before we decide. Have a wonderful upcoming weekend!
Feminine Belle says
It would seem mostly lemonade and love built this home.
Interesting walk from the past!
Thank you for stopping by!!
Wow Janet!! How awful! I can’t imagine actually physically being in the middle of a hurricane. I know all the emotions y’all went through, but Praise the Lord y’all were safe. It really puts things in perspective doesn’t it. You did a wonderful rebuild. Everything is beautiful!
Oh Penny…we honestly didn’t know if we would make it through that night and then on the flip side you really learn what’s important in life. Thanks for coming by and your beach condo looks amazing!
You have gone through so much over the years, Janet. It’s just amazing how you handled it all and re-created such a beautiful home and property. I adore your determination, your vision, and your constant creativity. YOU are amazing, my friend!!
You’re so kind and supportive Laurie and it truly was a time I hope to never experience again. Now that I’m quite a few years older I’m not sure that I would stay and rebuild again. xoxo
Barbara at Mantel and Table says
What a great story Janet! The storms must be awful – you have such fortitude! I really love those old pictures too! I bet it’s so fun to remember what it was like now that your home is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us in this post and every day! !?
It was a most difficult time and we powered through with a little help from our friends! Hope you enjoy your day and the table competition!
Florida living is beautiful but certainly not for the faint of heart. We have had many hurricanes up here in NY but it does not compare to what you must go through. I am happy to see that you got lemonade from your disaster and now have a showcase home to enjoy! Janet wishing you no more high impact hurricanes!! As for the palmetto bugs we have them up north too! Haha!
It’s the times that I’m in my garden or out on the beach that I’m so glad I live here. You are right though..it’s not for the faint of heart and I am shocked that you have palmetto bugs!!
laura janning says
Janet, i am so glad that you decided to rebuild after the hurricane. Although I grew up in S.Florida and love that my family is still there, I don’t miss that brutal heat!
With my husband being a GC, the work was too good at the time to leave. Now that he’s really well established and at the top of his game it’s even harder to leave! Someday though…because I too don’t care for the brutal heat.
Wow – what an amazing transformation! And, you have such a positive outlook on the challenges you’ve had. So inspiring.
Linda @It All Started With Paint says
Your home is just stunning! And I can’t believe all the damage you had to endure during the hurricane! Really scary! But I adore everything in the after and your palm tree lined street is something straight out of a movie set! Gorgeous!
What fantastic before pictures and seeing how you used and lived in your home and how it transitioned over time. That hurricane damage is shocking! We have bad wind storms at the lake and have had trees down and docks tear away etc, but it is nothing like that kind of damage and no power for a month! It’s hard to imagine – definitely a price to pay for living in such a beautiful tropical location. I loved reading your home story, Janet!