We Moved to the Beach...During a Worldwide Pandemic
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Three years ago, while on one of our nightly post-dinner walks, I expressed to my husband, Champagne, my desire to move to the beach for about the 100th time. We had always loved going to the beach and dreamed of spending our downtime doing the same things that we love doing on vacation: snorkeling, fishing, boating, walking on the beach, living a more active lifestyle, eating fresh seafood, etc. It was always just a dream until that particular day when he responded, “Pick the beach.”
"Change really is the most vivid filter of life."
We actually didn’t know which beach we wanted to move to so we started off by making a list of places that we could spend some time checking out. We thought very broadly and first considered Puerto Rico and St. Croix, because they're both part of the U.S.
This was around the same time that Hurricane Irma, and then Hurricane Maria, devastated much of these areas. We know that hurricanes are a part of Caribbean living so this didn’t actually deter us. In fact, we visited the area less than two months after the hurricanes came through to see first-hand what happens when this level of devastation occurs and, more importantly, how quickly things recover. While both of those areas have shown resilience and fortitude in droves, that visit opened our eyes to some things we needed to see and changed our focus.
Next, we focused on something a bit closer to home, Florida. We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Florida but none of the towns we knew were quite the right fit. About a year into our search, an unexpected invitation hit our Inbox for a destination retirement party, (hi Jan!), in St. Petersburg, Florida, just outside of Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico.
We immediately fell in love with the town and had an instant and strong connection to their art scene, dog-friendly restaurants, diverse population, and welcoming people. Six weeks later we came back to meet with a realtor and check out the city further.
Around that time, we started working with our realtor in Atlanta to get our house ready to list, eventually listed our house in the Fall of 2018 and then waited, and waited, and waited. In early 2020, three years after making the decision to chase our beachy dream, we started the negotiations of what would turn out to be the sale of our house in Atlanta. We took time to connect with people and said "yes" to everything we were invited to while quietly and excitedly closing in on announcing that our dream was coming true.
As the closing date approached, something unprecedented happened when the entire world came to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything except for the close of our house. The train had left the station and with just three weeks to relocate, we set our sights on finding a rental house, coordinating a socially distanced move, and then we packed.
We weren't sure if the buyers would stay on board, if the moving company would cancel our move leaving us homeless, or even if the border of Florida would remain open to non-residents. And then there was the question of how to keep everyone safe during a move. It was beyond stressful but we proceeded in a drive-by, zero contact closing, ordered masks and gloves for the movers (thanks to our sister-in-law/dentist Ashley!) and self-isolated for two weeks leading up to the move date.
Change really is the most vivid filter of life. During that time period, I saw every detail, I heard everything that was said and felt as though I was taking snapshots with my eyes. Ok, fine, I actually took snapshots of so many random things. Isn’t my old walkway beautiful? I planted every single piece of that mondo grass!
Our preparation to leave a city where we both have lived for over 15 years didn’t include celebratory lunches, cocktails to cheers our new adventure, or even goodbye hugs. It did include virtual happy hours, lots of phone calls, the cutest little goodbye “parade” I ever could’ve imagined, and a champagne toast with just the two of us, surrounded by boxes and filled with excitement.
And so, when the entire world stood still, with tears streaming down my face and a significant amount of anxiety and stress, we moved.
We’re on a quaint barrier island that is flanked by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Boca Ciega Bay on the other. When we open our windows we hear the rustle of the palm trees blowing in the warm, salty breeze and, on windy days, we can hear the crashing waves a block away.
We eat dinner on our patio each night and wave hello to neighbors walking their dogs.
And our dogs think that Florida is a fantastic playground with lizards and pelicans and lots of other things I wasn't prepared for (snakes!!). It is absolutely heavenly and we can’t wait to socialize with the new friends that we hope to make or the old ones that come for visits. (hurry up!!).
Until then, we'll be hanging out in this sweet two-person hammock in our yard.
Ok new life, we're ready for you!