I am starting to feel the need for a little more elbow room. It is getting a wee bit crowded around here. I took the above photo last month while looking across the channel from Venice to Nokomis (the next town north of us). And I remember thinking when I took the shot, "Yup that pretty much sums it all up".
Initially I thought it was just my own post pandemic adjustment. You know what I mean? During lock down and the subsequent however many months (years!) there were no crowds anywhere. If, for some reason, there were more than 3 or 4 people in any one spot, they all stood the mandated six feet apart which means, no crowds. In fact, the businesses that remained open set things up in such a way that there were limited numbers of people allowed in and never a hint of congestion in the aisles of the shops. Any gatherings were frowned upon so it was just the occasional glimpse of a one person walking their dog through a park all alone. I suppose I just got used to it. Which means that now that the restrictions have been lifted, we are , once again, seeing sights like this on a beach, and quite honestly, it is taking some getting used to.
I kept telling myself that I had just forgotten what it's like here, especially during season, which is effectively the winter months. And then of course I assumed that I was just going through the growing pains of re-adapting to being around larger groups of people again. Perhaps it was always like this and I had just forgotten.
However, it seems that my first instincts were correct. The numbers are in. There actually are more people here. A lot more. To be fair, yes, during the winter season, of course, there will always be a lot more people here. This is a seaside town and a damned adorable one too. Of course people want to vacation here, or even buy a second home and winter here. So the extra population during the cooler months, sure, I get that. But this is extra extra. According to an article I recently read, the seasonal population alone for Florida is up 20%.
And there then there is the upswing in year 'round people. Not just tourists and seasonals, but full timers like us. Apparently Florida is still attracting more new residents than any other state. Wow! These numbers are from the 2021 census figures. Records show that 220,890 new families moved to Florida from other states in the year ending July 1, 2021 which is an average of 605 people a day. Holy Cats! Everybody, shove over and make room!
I get it. I completely understand why so many people are moving to Florida. I mean, after all, six years ago (well one month shy of 6 years) we did the same thing. No state income taxes is kind of a big draw as is the weather. We only shovel sunshine here. Living near the ocean calls to a lot of people too. And Florida is a good sized state, it seems that there ought to be enough room for everybody, right? And it's a well known fact that the cost of living is cheaper here. Or at least it used to be.
Things change. Probably because so many people are moving to Florida housing costs are soaring and while we don't have heating bills to contend with as other parts of the country do, you better have a good hard working air condtioner because you are absolutely going to use the heck out of it. Supply Chain issues affected us just like every other state along with the rising cost of fuel and everything other dang thing that is raising the price of pretty much everything. What I'm saying is that that low cost of living that Floridians used to brag about, isn't so low anymore.
And you know how there is a need for employees in just about every business where ever you live? Yeah, we have that down here too. Not enough office staff, not enough clerical staff, not enough retail staff and absolutely not anywhere near enough restaurant staff. So let's combine that with way way way more people here. And what you now have is a serious need for more patience and understanding.
I heard somebody grumbling about how "You'd think that they would accomodate us better. Do they not want our business?" Geez folks. Of course they want your business. Everybody is just doing the best that they can. The roads are more crowded, the parking lots are more full, the shops are bursting at the seams and the wait lines at restaurants are longer than they are ever been.
It's the price of living in, or at least visiting Paradise. It seems that the word is out. Everybody wants their own piece of this Utopia and I certainly do not begrudge anyone their dream. Just try to remember that it's not just Your dream. That fantasy is shared by a LOT of other folks, I mean a LOT! No one person is any more important than another. Be patient, calm down, wait your turn. There is enough Florida to go around if you just take a breath and wait a beat.
As for me and the rest of the locals, we are waiting to see how small our small town gets once summer rolls around. Traditionally, we were always patient and willing to share our beautiful Venice with all of the visitors and winter dwellers and equally willing to wave goodbye in the spring when they went back home. Then we would be so happy to have our peaceful, quiet, charming little town back with no crowds on the beaches and no lines at the restaurants. '
Perhaps those days are gone forever. I guess we will find out soon enough.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.