A sign welcoming people to Florida

The Illusion of the Sunshine State as Paradise Is Quickly Crumbling

A recent news story about people fleeing Florida has gained nationwide attention as an eye-opening account of how things are quickly deteriorating in the state with skyrocketing costs of living and a growing population of conservative extremists.

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For those unaware of or unphased by the political and environmental climate in the state, Florida sounds quite appealing on the surface. After all, it’s called the “Sunshine State,” which is probably more than enough to sell Midwesterners on it. For individuals tired of blizzards, ice storms, sub-zero temperatures, and months without the sun, Florida is often the first state they think of when questioned about their dream living location. With warmth and sunshine year-round, gorgeous beaches, and proximity to some of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States, it’s no surprise that tourists flock here and many dream of staying permanently.

However, the Florida one experiences on vacation or sees in advertisements is a far cry from what Florida is like for permanent residents.

Barb Carter captures the reality of Florida

Recently, NBC News released an article titled, “They came for Florida’s sun and sand. They got soaring costs and a culture war.” In the article, the experiences of a woman named Barb Carter and other former residents are detailed and will shock readers with how nightmarish they sound. Carter moved to Florida from Kansas to be closer to her children and grandchildren. However, she didn’t receive a very warm welcome from the Sunshine State. Instead of blue skies and beaches, Florida greeted her with an armadillo infestation, Hurricane Ian taking the roof off her home, doubled car insurance premiums, increased rent, and political strife.

Still, Carter was prepared to deal with these struggles. Her breaking point didn’t come until she was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor that urgently required surgery and not a single doctor in Florida would respond to her calls and emails. She spent months fearing for her life before eventually returning home to Kansas for surgery and remaining there. She is also far from the only new resident to Florida who fled after little more than a year.

The article detailed similar stories of newcomers shocked by doubling or even tripling insurance premiums, costly house renovations, a hostile political environment, and horrific traffic. Even long-time residents of the state are increasingly leaving, feeling unsafe due to the state’s politics.

What’s going on in Florida?

The internet frequently jokes about Florida. From the Florida Man meme to the Florida Man show, it’s common for the media to practically equate Florida to the Wild West. However, many are now realizing that these comparisons aren’t too far out there as chaos seems to reign in the state. As many former residents in the NBC News article outlined, politics greatly contribute to the chaos.

Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida has quickly become a hotbed for conservative extremists, giving birth to hate groups like Moms for Liberty. Additionally, DeSantis’ legislation is nothing short of archaic. Under him, the state has become increasingly hostile to POC and the LGBTQ+ community, especially as conservatives seek to bar the teaching of African American history or the mere mention of the LGBTQ+ community from schools.

What stood out in the NBC News article is that several former residents, including Carter, revealed they considered themselves Republican or conservative, but the extremism in the state made even them feel uncomfortable. Many less extreme conservatives and Republicans are likely interested in living in Florida, believing it’s just a place they can avoid income taxes and express their views freely, but may fail to realize that they’re actually moving to a state where hate will be publicly displayed, political discussion and demonstrations are unavoidable, and they’ll have no say in what their children learn in school or even in what books their child can have access to.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that many marginalized groups are no longer safe in Florida. The NAACP was even prompted to issue an official travel advisory for the state of Florida. Meanwhile, a real estate agent confirmed to NBC News that many of his BIPOC and LGBTQ+ clients were leaving the state or disinterested in moving there due to the hostility.

However, politics are far from the only problem impacting Florida. There’s a misconception that Florida weather is always sunny and beautiful. Not only can residents experience heat waves with temperatures over 100° F, but the state is also very susceptible to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, tropical storms, and sinkholes. The likelihood of natural disasters is part of why insurance premiums in Florida are among the highest in the country.

On top of that, overpopulation and tourism are also contributing to rising auto insurance premiums due to increased traffic and car accidents. Tourism also drives up the cost of property and living in general. It is a problem that has also plagued states like Hawaii, with over-tourism raising the cost of living so high that many locals are facing poverty and homelessness.

Articles like those published by NBC News are important in deconstructing the myths and misconceptions around Florida. Understandably, many view the state through an idealized lens since it’s a popular destination for vacationers and retirees. However, the state has undergone massive changes in recent years due to conservative extremism. One must now be aware of growing censorship, hostility, and hatred in Florida, which is also very concerningly an open carry state. Additionally, natural disasters and tourism mean the state and its cost of living are becoming increasingly unfriendly towards permanent residents. Hence, it’s important that individuals truly examine their finances, as well as their safety in the face of conservative extremism, before relocating to the state.

(featured image: Jim Steinfeldt / Getty)


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Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.