Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011

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The Place You Call Home

One of the biggest questions facing us when we decided to make the move was where we wanted to live.  We had narrowed down the city, but needed to decide between renting a house and an apartment.   We selected the apartment, and this post will talk about where we are with that.

One of our readers had commented that it doesn’t matter where you live, as long as you are near Walt Disney World.  Well, not quite.    There are a lot of areas we would never move to, even if it meant being close to the Mouse.    We wanted to live in a similar community setting as we had in Wisconsin, and while Clermont doesn’t quite fit the bill with that, it is a very nice area to live in.

Overall we have been satisfied with our apartment:  the office and maintenance staff are wonderful to work with, and it is nice to live in a place where we don’t need to worry about lawn care, or pool care or pest preventative treatments.  Over the past few months, however, we have been contemplating moving into a rental home due to a few different reasons.  We are hesitant, however, because we have heard horror stories regarding a few rentals here, and we don’t want to move from a good situation into a bad one.  It would also need to make financial sense; ie, we might pay lower rent, but we may have other expenses that we don’t here that would mean an increase in monies paid out.

So right now we’re kind of on the fence about it.  We currently have bad neighbor issues, but we’ve also had that experience when living in a house in Wisconsin, so moving doesn’t necessarily erase that issue.    We also would love more living space, as we lost approximately 700 square feet when we moved here.  We would love to find a four bedroom home here to rent, with the extra bedroom being designated as a guest bedroom/den area/craft room.    We don’t believe the electricity bill would rise significantly with more living space, as we need to run the air conditioner here more often than normal, as all our windows face only one direction, and unless its a fairly cool day, it doesn’t cool off the house significantly with no cross ventilation.

We have no regrets for moving into the apartments, as it provided security for us knowing that we had a relatively nice place to live.  Once we left our house in Wisconsin, we were technically homeless until we arrived in Florida, and that is an unsettling feeling to have, even though we knew it to be temporary.    Even if we do not make the move in 2014, we both feel that it be a change that will eventually occur, as we don’t anticipate apartment living for the rest of our lives in Florida.

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New Feature Coming

We have had many requests for information that is more specific to areas that people can move to; quite a few of recent as many out there look to follow their dreams to move to FL.  Now, Jen and I have been looking to do this for a while but we had a challenge.  Do we just drive through cities and towns and report back what we see?  We felt this would leave you short on actual info as you’d ‘see’ the area but not ‘experience’ it.  So, we’ve reached out to many of our local friends and asked if they’d like to provide a short piece for us based on their personal experiences.  How is the shopping?  How are the schools?  How is the traffic?  How are the people and local conveniences?  We know this is what we’d like to have had and now we’re looking to bring it to you.  Watch for these pieces to be posted over the coming weeks and if you have a personal story you’d like to share, please let us know.

Mark and Jen

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Apartment Living

The end of October marks the end of our current lease, and the beginning of our new one.  We have always lived in a house, both in Illinois and Wisconsin.  In Wisconsin we were so fortunate to have an absolutely fantastic landlord, and the last house we vacated, well, we really had a problem leaving!  It was the best house we have ever lived in, and we were voluntarily leaving it and heading into the unknown.  There are still times now when I really miss it, but I also realize that it is way too big for us now, as we have a lot less “stuff”.

We are generally happy with the apartment complex we chose, and apartment living in general.  Maintenance is fabulous with responding to service requests, even with items such as changing the fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen, and providing air filters for the air conditioning unit! These are things that we had always taken care of ourselves.   It is also so nice not to have to put forth the time and energy into maintaining the lawn and landscaping.

Recently we have started talking about making the move into a rental home, for a few reasons.  One, we miss the ability to grill whenever we wish.  Yes, there are both charcoal and gas grills available, but it requires a walk to the pool area and the hope that no one is using the grill at the moment.   Two, we miss our outside decorations for Christmas.  We had quite the extensive display in Wisconsin, but only chose to move two to Florida:  our countdown clock and Rudolph.  And three, we really could use a larger living space.  There are purchases we’d like to make but we really have no available space to place them in.  We really have to think out what we buy.  Not to mention the seasonal dilemma of where to place the Christmas tree.   In general I think one loses some privacy living in an apartment, and we’d really like to gain that back.

We don’t, however, foresee this happening prior to 2014:  our lease is up shortly before Thanksgiving 2013, and we have no desire to move over the holidays.  We have so been there, done that, and no desire to do it again!  There is also the question of the extra expenses required to maintain a rental home, including lawn care, pest control (we currently pay $1 a month for pest control, and I KNOW that would significantly increase), possibility of purchasing a washer & dryer (included in our apartment), and pool maintenance.  I think we would need to find a rental home that offers a significant savings over the amount of rent we pay, and of course it would need to be in the same school district for our children, as we refuse to have our daughter switch schools half way through.   Yes, there is school choice, but there is always the possibility it could be rejected, and we’re not willing to take the risk.  She needs the stability of staying at the same school with her friends.

We have no regrets about the decision to move into an apartment, and we really feel fortunate as the office staff really does cater to its residents, but we also recognize that this is probably not a long term situation for our family.   We will stay in the area as we love Clermont and what it has to offer.


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Arrival Day!

Facebook status one year ago :  “Today we get to Florida. I got to remember I’m not dreaming.”. –Ben just said this morning.  What a perfect way to start our post for our final day of travelling!

9:57 A.M.    Woo hop! @ Georgia/Florida State Line I-75

10:17 A.M.   I’m at Florida Welcome Center in Jennings, FL

12:34 P.M.  I’m at I75 & Turnpike Interchange in Oxford, FL

12:44 P.M.   Driving down the Florida Turnpike singing songs from The Princess & The Frog soundtrack-life doesn’t get any better than this!

12:47 PM     pure joy!

(This was in response from an earlier tweet we received:

9:59 A.M.     so, did it feel amazing driving across that state line!!??)

12:49 P.M.    I’m at Okahumpka Service Plaza in FL

12:51 P.M.    Ben: palm trees make me happy

12:53 P.M.   Just entered Lake County! Woo hoo!

1:03 P.M.     13 min !

1:06 P.M.     The excitement level in this car is AWESOME!!!!!!!

1:11 P.M.      We see Citrus Tower!

Waiting in the lobby as we take care of the paperwork for our apartment:

3:57 P.M.      I’m at Golden Corral in Clermont, FL

4:01 P.M.      Our apartment is absolutely amazing. Will put a blog up tonight with pictures. Eating a late lunch/early dinner and then off to shop.

4:38 P.M.      I’m at Target Supercenter in Clermont, FL

It was absolutely amazing to have gone through this journey from Wisconsin to Florida!  If you were to ask us:  was it worth it?  We would unequivocally answer YES!, if only for the experience.  We’ll elaborate further in a separate post, but we will say that if you have a dream, don’t be afraid to pursue it.   It is better to have attempted and succeeded/failed, then to be filled with a life of regrets and “what ifs”.

Happy Dreaming!

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Happy Nine!

Today we are celebrating our ninth month anniversary of arriving in Florida as residents!  The interesting thing about a moving blog is that it gives you an opportunity to look back at your thoughts prior to the move.  On April 13, 2011 we wrote this blog: 100 days and we thought it would be fun one year later to take a look at a few of the items on our “Top 100” List to see how we feel about them now.

10.  Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World

This is an awesome tradition that we have started and will continue.  In February we purchased the Tables in Wonderland card and we anticipate that we will not only receive back the membership fee, but also extra savings above and beyond the initial cost.  We purchased our card from Guest Services at the Magic Kingdom, and received our card immediately.

14.  Have lunch at Le Cellier

Reservations are set for August 8!

18.  Explore the beaches of Florida–kids have never been to the ocean before.  We plan to go to both sides of Florida:  The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Done and done!  We have been to Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island on the Gulf side and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side.  We definitely intend to schedule in more beach days this summer.

22.  Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city.

We haven’t done this as much as we expected to.  We even missed the annual festival Pig on the Pond due to inclement weather, something that we had been looking forward to ever since we made the decision to move to Clermont.

26.  Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible.

We never tire of this.

27.  Enjoy making new friendships with all our Facebook friends who live in Florida.

We really have enjoyed meeting y’all and we feel blessed that we are able to spend time with two different couples who we consider good friends of ours.   Facebook is a really great way to connect with people to begin that friendship.

33.  Chuckling to ourselves in February when the temperature is 80 and sunny, knowing that back in Wisconsin it is probably blowing and snowing and bitterly cold.  Will we miss snow?  No we will not!

Yea, we’ve done that 🙂  Although we feel it is ironic that Wisconsin had a mild winter this year.

34.  Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort!

35.  Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake!

We have not done either one of these yet, but it is definitely in the works.   We’d like to stay in one of the new Princess rooms.

37.  Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa)

See above!

40.  Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland.

We were not there for the soft opening of Storybook Circus.  The crowds were absolutely packed in, and we’ve discovered as residents, it’s simply not worth it.  We went a couple of days later when it was not as busy.

50.  DisneyQuest

Yes, we’ve done this a few times, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves every time we go.  It’s a great alternative to a rainy day.  Our philosophy is that we do not go to the parks when it rains- it’s simply not worth the hassle of dealing with the ponchos.  We have been a couple of times, and it does detract from the magic of the parks.

54.  Flower and Garden Festival

We are not garden people by any means, but walking around Epcot looking at the various topiaries and displays was enjoyable.

66.  Take a family Christmas picture at WDW

Hmmm.  We did not do this at Christmas; may be a new tradition we need to start.

69.  Move in to our new apartment in Clermont

It was quite exciting to have that newness of being able to discover everything and experience many “firsts” but it was also overwhelming  to not have the basic necessities with us those first weeks.  While it is fun to buy all new items, it can be scary to walk into Target knowing that you need to buy “everything”.   Nine months later there are still a couple of pieces of furniture that we need to purchase, and a few assorted kitchen items, but we want to let our readers know that everything does not need to be purchased right away.  To do so requires gobs of money or extending yourself on credit, the latter being something we would never advise.

70.  Find the best pizza places in the area.

We have found two good pizzerias, and this is a goal we are still working on!

71.  Our first Saturday library visit to our new “home” library.

We still regularly visit the library every Saturday.  The kids are currently into the ‘Harry Potter’ series, and we pick up other books as well.   It is not as nice, nor as big, as our library back in Wisconsin.  There are no tables and chairs to sit at, and the kids used to enjoy doing that.  So consequently, our visits are shorter.

88.  Swim with the manatees.

We have not swum with the manatees, but Ben has become a huge lover of manatees, loves to visit them at Epcot, and we all are looking forward to visiting Sea World for the first time.

89.  Explore Florida’s state parks.

Between the poisonous snakes, alligators, bears and black panthers, this is not something we are so eager to do anymore.  🙂

96.  Enjoying the scenery of Florida, knowing that it will stay green year round, and not become brown and dead for six months out of the year.

This is still huge for us.  Love, love, love seeing all the palm trees, and it is so nice to see flowers in bloom in January!   Yesterday and today it was cool enough to open our lanai doors and let the fresh breezes blow in.

99.  Take a yearly family picture in front of Cinderella Castle.

We have not done this yet, but will need to do soon!  Another new family tradition!

We had heard prior to our move that it may take as long as one or two years after relocation to adjust fully to our new environment.  We still feel that we are in the adjustment process, but that it gets better every month.  We couldn’t have picked a better apartment complex to move into, for which we are very grateful. The cost of living is higher here than in Wisconsin; but we knew it coming in.   The only negative thing to report is the school situation for Ben, but we know God is in control with it and he will lead to us to the right school or option for Ben.