Is Florida a Good Place to Raise a Family?

Florida, also known as The Sunshine State, is often the first place Northerners in the United States think of when they think of vacation. I mean, who could resist the sunny beaches, warm weather, spicy nightlife, and plentiful golf courses? Especially when the alternative back home is shoveling snow and the freezing cold. Florida's tourism industry accounts for nearly $57 billion of it's economy. Each year, over 77 million tourists flock to Florida from all around the world. Each day, around 1,000 people move there. Sure, everybody knows Florida is a great place for snow birds to go to for vacations, but what about the people who actually live there? How are they living and what would it be like to raise a family there? As somebody who's lived in various towns all across the state, I'd like to give you a little insight into what it's like to live as a Floridian. Then you can decide whether you'd want to raise a family there.

Education
When it comes to education, Florida isn't exactly known for having the best schools in the country. According to a study involving every High School in the country, Florida didn't have any schools that made the top 10 list for America's Best High Schools. The first one that makes the list is Pine View Schools of Osprey, FL at #14. Furthermore, another study performed by Morgan Quitno Press examined the education levels of all 50 states, based on 21 factors. For smartest states statistics, Florida is ranked at #36, between Kentucky and Arkansas. I personally only went to one High School in Florida, which was South Fork High School, located in Stuart, Florida. But I rarely hear about peers of mine from school making big successes out of their lives. There seems to be a lot of inequalities in Florida's society that mix together in public schools, which probably play a role in class distractions and personal problems that can affect a student's learning and educational progress.

Crime Rates
Florida is one of the most dangerous states for violent crimes. I've personally seen the differences between the area I lived in when I was in Florida, and other areas I've lived in such as Pennsylvania and California. But this isn't just based on my personal assessment, it's based on facts. According to rankings created by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006, Florida is ranked as #4 when it comes to states with the most violent crimes (per capita). I lived in a nicer area called Hobe Sound for most of my childhood and experienced more violence then I probably would have if it were somewhere like San Jose, CA. This is probably because there isn't much for teenagers to do in areas like that, so drugs and drama seem to find their way into towns that would normally be sleepy little beach towns. Not to mention the heat probably has a lot to do with it as well. If a person is arrested, in most states, they are put in a holding cell which is extremely cold. This is because it's been proven that warm temperatures are linked to aggressive behavior, and so they do it as an effort to try to keep prisoners calmer and reduce confrontations. Florida is a very hot state, so you have lots of people who are more inclined to become aggressive if their is another trigger involved, like somebody doing something negative to another person. I moved to a small city called Fort Pierce, which has some of the highest crime rates in the country. This is most likely due to the poverty levels there. However, I experienced almost the same amount of violence in Hobe Sound that I did in Fort Pierce. There are few areas in Florida where teens are able to avoid physical confrontations with other teens.

Things to Do
When it comes to things to do in Florida, it all depends on where you live. There are busy cities like Miami and Orlando, but they are far and few between compared to the rest of the state. Places like those will usually have lots of activities and festivals and things for the family to do. But when it comes to smaller areas and towns, going to the beach is one of the few things a person would be able to do for fun. While that seems ideal to somebody who is coming from snowy areas or states where there is no beach, the novelty wears off quickly for those who live in Florida for long lengths of time. Living in places like Miami and Orlando can be very expensive, and the outskirts of these cities are usually rundown and infested with crime. There seems to be a lack of middle ground in Florida. So if you're looking for a busy place with lots to do, but want to live nearby so the rent isn't as pricey, you may want to consider moving to California or elsewhere. If quiet living is your idea of paradise, then you can easily find that in Florida, though it may not be such a fun or learning experience for kids.

Culture
Florida's culture is very similar to what you would find in other southern states. Many people think of Florida as a cultural melting pot, because of the large influx of Cubans and other nationalities into Miami. The problem is, Miami is the exception when it comes to Florida. There aren't many places like Miami across the rest of the state, and the other areas are extremely different than Miami's way of life. Racial segregation is very much alive in Florida in most smaller areas, and the disparities between rich and poor are obvious. You have areas along the beaches, where only the rich can afford property. But as you go inland, the home prices significantly drop and this creates extreme differences in the two sides. The rich kids go to school and mix with the poor kids, and this creates all types of problems for kids on both sides. As far as racial segregation, it may not be acknowledged by law anymore or signs outside of restaurants, but it's definitely still thriving in the state of Florida. This is especially true when it comes to the differences between black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods. Black families who live in the neighborhoods where white families live are rare, and vice versa. Many people openly drive around with confederate flags on their trucks, and the KKK still holds meetings and rallies in many areas of Florida. If you've ever seen the movie Rosewood, you can still feel that vibe that was in the air then, while living in Florida today. It's even more rare to find hispanics such as Cubans, Mexicans, and Guatemalans in neighborhoods that are predominantly white.

Weather
While Florida may be called The Sunshine State, it probably isn't worthy of that title. While it is sunny most of the time in Florida, you can also expect a lot of bad weather to come with it. We've all seen the Hurricanes that have ravaged Florida in the past, but they aren't an everyday occurance there. Thunderstorms, however, are extremely common and they have a reputation for turning a sunny days into a dark and cloudy days within minutes. Florida has more precipitation than any other state, and Central Florida holds the official title for "Lightning capital of the U.S.". While Snow is extremely rare, there have been many hail storms in the past. Florida's winters are usually mild, but they can also be so cold, that a person living there might forget they are in Florida. I can't count how many times I've said to myself "I can't believe it's this cold in Florida". So if you're looking for a state with warm and consistent weather, you may want to think about moving to one of the Southwestern states. I personally can't stand the snow I had to live in while I was in Pennsylvania, but I don't know if Florida's constant thunderstorms and occasional hurricanes are any better.





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