Every 100 days that tick by we have a small celebration; a special meal, a movie, or we watch our Disney vacation home movies with our favorite desert. So here we are at 799 days. This time we have decided to share a little of our celebration with everyone here. It has been 255 days since we started our countdown on August 13, 2009. That was the day that we decided to stop talking about our dream, and actually start to pursue it. We were at 1054 days at the start, a number that seemed at times gigantic.
We had tossed the idea around like so many others have. “Hey, what if…” Then, on that one August day, we both started to ask ‘Why Not…!’ We decided on July 1, 2012 for a few reasons. Our oldest daughter is in high school, and will graduate that year. My youngest daughter will finish grade school and move on to middle school. It just seemed like a perfect year to answer the perfect question.
We decided to take some time during this post to give you an update on where we are on our relocation efforts and some of the research we have already done.
This is clearly the most important factor in any decision that is made in just about any aspect of life. How will I earn my income? Right now, Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation-this is due mostly to the high amount of tourism and construction related jobs that were lost. I work in the Information Technology industry, which has been effected along with everything else in our current economy, just not as hard. Florida, and more specifically, the Orlando area, has a high concentration of technology related jobs, so I have found numerous opportunities even today. It is our plan for me to really start looking for employment sometime during fall of 2011. If I were to find fulltime employment before July 2012, we have discussed a few options, including me moving early.
Where will we live? This is probably going to be just as difficult, if not more, than finding that job. Where you live is so very important-it is where to find your rest and relaxation from the outside world. While I wish we could just live at Caribbean Beach Resort, we will have to settle for something off Disney Property. Since we have always focused on Walt Disney World during our trips to Florida, it has been very interesting researching the area outside the gates. I have found that there is a tremendous amount of very nice apartments that are on just about every corner. We have decided to focus on the Kissimmee and Windermere areas. They both have extremely nice apartments that have 3 bedroom 2 baths, and are not outrageously priced. During our next vacation to Florida in November, I have decided to take a full day and drive around some of the areas that I have researched online. This will give me a great feel for the area that I could never get from a photo. I plan to check out apartments, and the general area around a few of them. How far is it to the closest grocery store? Is it an area that is crowded with tourists? We will try to find that delicate balance of being close to Disney World, but not too close that we are crowded every day. There are apartments that are so close you could throw a stone and hit something on Disney property. I have also learned in my research that there are a tremendous amount of rental homes in the area. These are wonderful homes in beautiful neighborhoods that are also reasonably priced. The current economy has also provided a very large amount of low priced homes to purchase. While we are not looking to buy right away when we move, we may look into it more after we have been there for a little while, and are more comfortable with knowing exactly where we want to live.
Since we have children that are school age, researching the school system in the Orlando area has also become very important. My oldest daughter will be entering college when we are ready to move, so it will be a little easier for her. Right now she is looking to study Computer Animation. She is currently enrolled in a charter school in our hometown that focuses on art, so she is very committed to her choice. We toured one university in Orlando during our last trip, and on our next one, we plan to visit the college that she would really like to attend – Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota. It has been rated many times as the number one college in North America for Computer Animation. While the choice seems set, it is a little more complicated for my younger daughter. She will be entering 7th grade in 2012. I have done a fair amount of research on the school system in the Orlando area and in Florida in general. It seems like there is a high commitment to excellence in education in the state, which is reassuring. The neighborhoods that I have looked at have some very nice, highly rated middle schools. Another option that we are beginning to research is eSchool. eSchool allows the student to take classes from home over the internet. It is a fast growing way to get a very good education. There is still a lot more that we need to look at regarding that, but it is nice to know that there is an option in the event that she struggles with a new school – something that is always at the back of our minds.
Another big item to consider is how are we physically going to move our family across the country? We have looked at every option from hiring a moving company to come in and pack it all up, to renting a moving van ourselves. We have so far decided to sell a great deal of our stuff, including most of the furniture, and move only those possessions that cannot be replaced; clothes, toys, major electronics and memories. We currently have mostly a jumble of mismatched end tables, night stands, dressers and so on, along with living room furniture that is at the replacement stage, so we will have one gloriously large moving sale, and plan to purchase new items when we arrive at our new place. That is an expense that we will research as well so we can be prepared. The goal is to have everything fit into one of those do-it-yourself moving vans, such as uHaul, and recruit my parents to drive it down for us (something they have already expressed a high interest in. Who wouldn’t look for any excuse to travel to Florida anyway?) We have found the prospect of getting rid of a lot of the things we have accumulated over the years both refreshing and overwhelming. We currently have a full size basement that we make well use of, and have come to realize that those are very rare in Florida. We are already going through just about everything we have to see if it passes that ‘do I need it now’ test. Something I am sure we will do often over the next year and a half.
There are also a large number of things that I have researched that do not fit directly in to those categories. I have looked into the DMV, and what we need to do in order to change our license, and get those beautiful Florida license plates for our vehicle. (I think I will cry a little the first time I put that plate on my van!) Hurricanes are something that we really don’t have to worry about too much in Wisconsin. We have spent some time looking at what are some recommended preparedness kits, and what to do in the event that a hurricane approaches the Orlando area. We are blessed to live in a very low crime rate community, and while the Orlando area has a higher crime rate in general, many of the communities that we have researched are very safe areas to raise a family. And, maybe one of the most important items, that Florida Resident WDW Annual Pass. We will most likely have annual passes before we move down, but it is nice to know that Disney recently changed their policy to allow the renewal of Annual Passes for Florida Residents to be paid in monthly installments. That will be helpful to do instead of paying a large amount at one time for 3 or 4 passes.
While there is going to be a lot more research to come, it is my hope that we could give you a glimpse of where we have gone so far. There have been a number of you who have mentioned you would like to make the same move at various times in the future, so I hope we can make that relocation a few steps easier. It is my plan to do this again every 100 days or so.
We also want to take a quick minute here to thank everyone for following us on our journey, and for the tremendous support. The community of Disney fans is like no other, and it is so exciting to be able to talk about this with people who really share the passion that we do.