Kelly B. Community Relations Coordinator, Nonprofit Industry
Before relocating, my family lived in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After another harsh winter we decided that we were ready to move to a warmer climate. We knew we wanted to live on a coast and in a fairly large city but had not a clue as to where.
Vacation Turned Staycation
While vacationing in Cocoa Beach, my family decided on a whim to take a day trip to Jacksonville. From our drive through the city and subsequent research, Jacksonville felt like a place with so much possibility. We were so ready to start our new adventure that the very next day we decided this was the place for us! Yes, it was probably the least-thought-out decision we've ever made, but so far I'd say it's worked out quite well.
It's really hard to beat living so close to the ocean. We used to have to take a 3-hour plane ride to play on the beach; now we can bike there! I also really appreciate how the vast majority of people living here are transplants from elsewhere. This is a place people choose to live.
Whether it's on the beach, on the trails, or in my backyard, the sunshine is year-round and it's fantastic!
Fun for the Whole Family
I think the move has been positive for the whole family. We really looked at this move as a family adventure, and I think that helped with the transition. When we arrived I was completely flabbergasted that the Florida VPK program provides preschool free of charge. We were able to send our son to an excellent private preschool - something we never would have been able to afford in Minnesota. In the summer we’ve sent our 6 year old to the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden’s Zoo Camp and he has really enjoyed that.
My husband has gotten quite involved with the theater and writers' scene here, which has been great for him. Being theater folks and coming from a major theater community, we were a little nervous about what the scene would be like here, but it's thriving and there's so much potential!
Since my son is pretty young, on weekends we mostly do family-friendly things like the Riverside Arts Market or the plethora of festivals in JAX Beach. There’s so many great restaurants to grab lunch. A couple of my favorites are V Pizza, Two Dudes Seafood and Poe’s Tavern. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of art and farmers markets going on all the time - you could practically go to one every day! We've also enjoyed exploring nature reserves and trails and taking the ferry up to Fernandina Beach for the day. There are plenty of options for the entire family.
On the Sunny Side of Life
After the move, the promise of not having to shovel snow and of being able to be outdoors year-round had a way of quickly converting us to the Florida lifestyle.
I'm an avid vegetable gardener, so being able to garden through every season is blowing my mind right now. I'm also a runner, so I love spending an afternoon jogging on the beach or participating in one of the many 5K races going on any given weekend.
It sounds cheesy, but Jacksonville really does have something for everyone. No matter what kind of community feel you're hoping to find, it's here. And if you're from the hinterlands like me I have two words for you: no snow.