Living In Florida: Culture Shock

I grew up in a state with four distinguishable seasons, pizzerias and nail salons on every street corner with delis in between, and the best bagels the States have to offer. We’re known for the Jersey Shore (the beach and the show), fist pumping at the clubs instead of pumping our gas, and going down the shore (DTS) in the summer (or for BBQs on MDW). So, moving to Florida, which has two seasons (rainy and Snowbird), fried gator, two coasts, fake pizza, and bagels that should be used as hockey pucks gave us a rude awakening. We were surprised at the culture shock – we were in the same country, after all. Right? If you’re thinking about moving to the Sunshine State, read on to help avoid the culture shock we felt.


I hail from a small, very Italian-American town. If you’ve ever seen The Sopranos, there you go. Pizza was a staple growing up – when I say we had a pizzeria on every corner, I’m not exaggerating. My high school often smelled like an Italian restaurant. Not that the food was good, but everyone came in smelling like some variation of meatball subs, pasta, garlic bread – you get the picture. So, the shock of spending seven years to find passable pizza was just unconceivable. But it happened. And it’s a thing.

Nothing is Open on Sundays

I don’t remember many places closing completely on Sundays or closing noticeably early prior to moving. I know there are Sunday hours everywhere; however, it was surprising to learn that there are many establishments that would be expected to be open on the weekend are actually closed. So, if you’re still working, make sure you save time off to go to the dentist or get your eyes checked.

Vacation State of Mind

I’m not sure if it’s the sun, the number or retirees and snowbirds, or if it’s just that we’re so far removed from the hustle of the Big Apple, but things are significantly slower and more relaxed in Florida. That is, unless you’re driving. Lord have mercy on your soul if you dare to go the speed limit. We suggest you drive no less than 5 MPH over the limit – and that’s in the “slow lane.”

Pumping Gas

I had to learn how to pump my own gas – something I always took for granted in New Jersey. There was nothing like pulling up to the pump, rolling down your window with a crisp $20 ready, and uttering, “20 regular, cash” to the attendant while remaining safe, warm (or cool), and comfy in your seat. Now, I put the car in park, shut it off, get out, lock it, pay, fight the pump (usually) to get the gas out, then stand there, sweating from places you just shouldn’t be able to sweat, while I fill up my tank. Jersey – you’re spoiled.

The Beaches are Just Beaches

Don’t expect a boardwalk, rides, disco fries, pizza, games – or even the smell of the ocean here. On the West Coast of Sunny FL, we have the Gulf. While it’s a lot calmer than the Atlantic on the East, you just aren’t hit with that familiar sea salt, briny odor the wind usually carries. Sure, the sand at Siesta Key feels like flour and it’s one of the highest-rated beaches in the world (why, I’m not sure), but what good is that when you can’t saunter off your beach blanket, totally toasted from the sun, and grab a chili cheese dog and fries? Seagulls here don’t even try to steak your food – what fun is that?

Yeah, we had some culture shock moving down here. Do we regret the move? No. Would we change Florida at all? No – just give us some good bread, pizza, and turn down the sun a little. All jokes aside, what would be the sense in moving to another state if you didn’t want to experience something new? Each state here brings something special to the table – so when you’re in New Jersey, enjoy being spoiled by your attendant at the gas station. But when you’re down here in Florida, take a second to enjoy the open blue skies and fried gator. I promise – it’s worth it.

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