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.
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.