My husband and I are both native Vermonters and live within close driving distance of our family. There is no question that our parents are a huge help to us and I love that my children have all four of their grandparents so close. The problem here is that my husband and I are NOT winter folk and are constantly talking about moving. Seriously, one minute we want to buy a bigger house in VT and the next we’re moving to Boca Raton.
I am so very tired about talking about moving.
I happen to know that you have lived in both Vermont and Florida. Do you have any additional insight into our decision? I should also mention that I absolutely love my job but my husband’s career would be better suited in a more populated place. There is no way to know if I will find another job that I love or whether or not we’ll be able to handle the three kids without sneaking to the grandparents house so we can have a night off.
I was just in Florida. It was awesome, because it was warm and we have wonderful friends there, and I got to go to the Sail Inn, which is the most disgusting bar on the face of the earth, and I love it. And now I’m back in Vermont, and it’s also awesome, but there’s less sand, no sunshine, and I think my house just blew up into the air and a wicked witch went by my window on a bicycle.
You shouldn’t even be thinking about this when there’s snow flying and slush everywhere and you’ve spent the better part of the last four months looking for mittens and wiping wet paw prints off your floor and going to look for your car in a parking lot and not being able to find it because it just looks like a giant pile of dirt and you stand next to it for twenty minutes thinking, who would put a big dirt pile in the middle of a parking lot…and then you figure out that it’s your minivan. You should think about this in June, when everything is pretty.
Family adventures are important, and I don’t think taking the easy route, like not moving somewhere because your parents are free babysitters and you’re scared to be away from them, is a good reason to stick around. There are plenty of babysitters in Florida. I don’t know what your priorities are for your family, but when we made the decision to stay in Vermont instead of going back to the Sunshine State and By Sunshine We Mean Burning Hot Relentless Humidity That Makes Your Hair Look Like You Combed It With a Vitamix, we discussed, at great length, what we wanted out of our family life, and what we wanted for our children.
I’m now going to say some things that are gross generalizations and that will annoy both Floridians and Vermonters, but they’re important points to consider:
- Florida is kind of a shit hole. Parts of it are nice, like the beach, and some parts aren’t so great, like any place that isn’t the beach.
- The public education system there mostly sucks. And it’s not like most of Vermont, where mere geography gets you into a good school and you can just buy a house in a good school district. So you have to either suffer with sub-par schools, get lucky and get into a good public school, or pay 20 billion dollars a year for private school.
- There is no Target in Vermont. There are 7,000,000 Targets in Florida.
- In Florida, I locked the house when I was in it during the middle of the day and slept with mace in my bedside drawer. In my town in Vermont, a couple houses got broken into and the citizens called a special meeting to discuss the horrific crime wave sweeping over us, because if one TV gets stolen, the next thing you know, we’re Chicago and getting murdered is just another thing on your to-do list for the day.
- People in Vermont often think that getting dressed up, like, say, for a wedding or a cocktail party, involves putting on your cleanest pair of jeans and maybe Bogs instead of shitkickers. People in Florida will get their hair blown out, a spray tan, and a boob job before they go to the 7-11.
- We do not have 7-11 in Vermont.
- If you fall in a lake in Florida, you will get eaten by an alligator or flesh-eating bacteria. If you fall in a lake in Vermont, you will immediately freeze to death even if it’s August and you’re wearing a wetsuit.
- Vermont is not racially diverse. This is the understatement of the century.
- For me, Vermont winters and Florida summers are comparable. You’re stuck inside for a good portion of both of them; and at least in Vermont, your kids are in school for the bad part of the year.
- Everything is close in Florida. My friends there were like completely uncomprehending of the fact that I have to drive fifteen minutes to get to a grocery store. In Florida, if you drive for fifteen minutes, you’ve gone by 27 grocery stores and at least twelve Targets. I miss Target so much.
I could go on. But we really did talk about all these things a lot, and my husband wasn’t super psyched about staying here. The reason we moved back in the first place is because my dad was dying, and we wanted to be with my parents. One of the reasons we stayed is because I couldn’t bear to leave my mom. I don’t regret many things in my life, but part of me sometimes wishes we had come back before my dad was sick; one of the joys of my life now is that our mothers have rich, fun, meaningful relationships with our kids, in part because we all live so close. It’s not something to be discounted.