I don’t know where we heard it first. Maybe Tim Ferris of “The Four Hour Work Week.” Maybe it was one of the many blogs we read or YouTube channels we like. It doesn’t really matter. Just like Leo DiCaprio in Inception, the idea took root and wouldn’t let go.
It was on the way back from the Bahamas. We talked and talked and talked about the trip and what we wanted to do with Underwater.world. We had already been diving at most of the spots within driving distance of our old Indiana homes. We even made time for the longer trips.
So there on the plane, we decided we’d move to Florida. Someplace far enough south we could take advantage of excellent weather year round. Someplace within a five hour drive of all the best diving the state has to offer. Someplace on or near the beach. Someplace with lots of palm trees.
When we got home, we made a list of must haves for the house. We did the usual stuff. Three bed, two bath. Open layout. Walking distance to grocery. Close to entertainment. Then the more detailed: Near or on water. Decent schools for the kids. Close to the job market. On the gulf side. Minimal maintenance. I’ve been accused of laziness for this one. You see, I grew up working on farms. One was cattle, chickens, goats, llamas, and a horse. The other was all llamas and Alpacas. I also lived on 3/4 of an acre. I spent the greater part of a decade going from property to property cutting grass and pulling weeds and trimming whatever bristly, prickly devil bush grew out of the earth. Checking oil, gassing up, yanking the starter cord, cussing, and sweating in the August sun. Minimal maintenance was high on the list. Good on you if you’re into that kind of thing. A lot of folks take pride in it and I respect that. I will admire your handiwork from my side of the fence!
Then we sat on the idea for awhile. We hunted online for homes in the Tampa Bay area. I hadn’t been to the area since I was a teenager and frankly didn’t remember much. Ben had never been to the area. Geographically though, it met all our requirements. So here’s point number one: We didn’t have all the information necessary to be “absolutely certain” this was the right place.
As you already know, we had media passes to cover DEMA 2017 in November. It was held in Orlando. As the day grew closer, it hit us: why come back? The thought of shivering our way through another Indiana winter was the last thing we wanted to do. Indiana is gray and painful January through March. Every year, I would absolutely slog through those three months wondering why in the world I was putting up with it. ¡No mas, señor!
I called up an old friend who had some beachfront rentals and negotiated a three week rental agreement. The plan was simple: one week hunting houses with a realtor and job hunting, one week at DEMA, one week of scouting a short term rental while the house buying and selling process went down. Ben and I put in our two weeks notice at our jobs. He was involved in an interview process. I wasn’t having any luck as an out of state applicant and I’d been at it since late August. This is point number two: We just had to make a decision and do it. We would be in the tail end of an Indiana winter if we waited for things to be perfect. Actually, we’d probably find ourselves still there ten years from now.
We packed up half our lives and made the 18 hour trip. We arrived, very tired of course, to our rental on the beach. A cute little duplex we would call home for the next three weeks. My friend asked if we’d like to buy it as she was considering selling it. Each side has about 950 square feet and as much as we liked the looks of the place, it was just too small. So there we were, standing on Madeira Beach with no jobs, no long term arrangements, no idea where we would end up, and a plan we banged together in about two days.
Funny thing is, we didn’t care. Not in the slightest. We didn’t have anything except the unshakeable belief that we had all the tools necessary to make it a reality.