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Differences with homes in Florida

When you’re considering moving to the Orlando area, it’s important to understand that homes in Florida may be a little different than what you’re used to. Here are a few of the differences you may find.

Great room design

In an effort to keep houses cooler during the summer months, many homes in Florida built after 1980 incorporated the ‘great room’ design. This method of construction normally features vaulted or high ceilings where most of the common rooms are under one roof, not separated by floor to ceiling walls. While this provides for better air circulation and saves on air conditioning it also can convey the idea of living inside a canyon. However, depending on how well it’s implemented, it can be very elegant as well.

Tile floors throughout

As with the great room design, the idea with tile floors is that they don’t trap heat (or dirt, for that matter) in the carpet. This makes it easier to cool down your home during the warm summer months. Tile is also easier to keep clean than carpet. The downside is that tile is considerably more expensive to install than carpet, but it’s an expense that’s more than worth it. When I first moved to Florida I purchased my first floor steamer. I’ve never been without one since.

No basements

Florida’s water table is about 6 feet below the surface, making it virtually impossible for homes in Florida to have a proper basement. So, where do you hide all the stuff you can’t fit in your house? That’s easy. Your garage. The exception of course is when you do what I did and converted my garage into my office (I also converted two bedrooms into a broadcast studio to do podcasts, so I’m not exactly normal). By doing that, I limited the amount of storage space I have. The problem is that on a good day I’m a candidate for “Hoarders”. So, just a suggestion – if you ever visit my house, don’t open the closets.

Screened in pools

Everyone wonders why Florida has so many screened-in pools. There are several reasons. First, it’s great at keeping out bugs. Second, it’s a safety issue – there’s an expression in Florida that goes “if there’s water, there are gators”. Screens make it far more difficult for gators to make a home in your pool. They also help diffuse direct sunlight, which will help your pool stay a little cooler in the summer. A pool in Florida that’s in direct sunlight all day is like swimming in a bathtub.

Fences are (very) optional

One thing that many new Floridians notice is that there is an abundance of homes in Florida that don’t have fences around their yard. There are a few reasons for this. First, as mentioned above, many homes have pools, and many of those homes have screens around their lanai. That basically acts as a fence. Also, part of the reason may be the Homeowners Associations (HoA) in a particular neighborhood. Depending on the HoA, the requirement for construction, material and appearance of fences may be cost-prohibitive. Of course, it could just be that people in Florida have no real boundaries (this is, after all, the state that brought you “Florida Man”).

While the homes in Florida may be different than what you’re used to, for many people that’s part of the appeal. If you’ve made the move to Florida, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Pete Werner

I'm an Orlando local and owner of The DIS (wdwinfo.com), DVCfan.com, DCLfan.com, and host of the DIS Unplugged podcast.

15 thoughts on “Differences with homes in Florida

  • June 18, 2020 at 11:16 am
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    Pete,
    I’m enjoying the articles.
    As a recent transplant I’d say there are couple of other differences you might mention such as bugs (along with tips/efforts to control them) and property management.
    Nick

    Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 10:50 pm
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    Pete, Its seems like in the video that stucco is more common in Florida than in Texas. Is that the case?

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    • June 19, 2020 at 10:05 am
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      We do like our stucco here apparently! I’m not familiar with homes in Texas, but seeing stucco here is definately not unusual.

      Reply
  • June 19, 2020 at 9:10 am
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    First, the “Moving To Orlando” resource is awesome. We do a little cruising around outside of Disney, but are not familiar with the various neighborhoods and municipalities. So this is very illuminating. The one thing that I personally feel I need is help finding a job, prior to coming down. Do you have or know of resources that can help in this realm?

    Reply
    • June 19, 2020 at 10:04 am
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      I have an article going up next week on that 🙂

      Reply
  • June 19, 2020 at 10:35 am
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    Thanks for the great info! Coming from Ohio I typically don’t like two story ceilings because of heating the space, but it makes more sense in Florida. What type of steam cleaner do you have? Thanks .

    Reply
  • June 19, 2020 at 10:40 am
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    Thanks, I’m looking forward to it!

    Reply
  • June 19, 2020 at 11:04 am
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    So as a northerner…no basement = no protection from tornados. How does that make people feel? Do people install a tornado shelter (steel box in the garage)? Is that common?

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    • June 19, 2020 at 10:12 pm
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      New houses have strict hurricane codes. the first floors are all cinder block and the windows are wind rated and some are impact rated. Roof rafters are tied down and the garage doors are hurricane rates too.

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    • July 1, 2020 at 10:45 pm
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      As a midwesterner, I have to wonder. During hurricanes, do y’all stand outside watching the hurricanes roll in, or is that a no no?

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      • July 1, 2020 at 10:49 pm
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        Sadly, some people do this. As I’m fond of saying – there’s a fine line between an accident and natural selection.

  • June 20, 2020 at 4:04 pm
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    Nice article. I like your conversational style and humor. Makes it much easier to read and learn. Is that your pool area? very nice. I read a post where someone indicated you need a pool cover because of the screening. Nice to hear your perspective that it actually would be too hot. Wondered about that. Thanks for the articles, like everything you to, they are positive and helpful.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2020 at 2:54 pm
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    We have a backyard fence so our dogs can go outside without supervision. Don’t fences keep gators out?

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    • June 26, 2020 at 10:24 am
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      Gators can climb if they want of dig under a fence. It’s a deterrent but not a sure thing.

      Reply

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