Personal

Tampa?!

Going out of state for college was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. To be honest, I only considered out of state schools. The only big state school I considered at all was UVA, and no school in Florida really spoke to me. (I think a lot of people who read my blog make the assumption that I would have loved being in a sorority, but truthfully, Greek life never sounded appealing to me and my personality. Not saying that it can’t be wonderful for other people– I just knew it wouldn’t be for me.)

Being away from home for the first time was a challenge. But that decision was the best thing I think I could have done for myself. It forced me to grow in ways I didn’t think was possible and forced me to find out who I was, outside of my family and way outside of my comfort zone. If anything, my move to DC for school, then NYC, and most recently Connecticut, taught me how to bloom where I’m planted. This is NOT something that I was naturally good at, but now I am pretty confident that I could live anywhere and make a great life for myself.

This August it will be nine years since I officially left Tampa.

I was just in Tampa this weekend for Mother’s Day and every time I’m down there I get an influx of questions about when I’m going to be back.

I have SO MANY thoughts about Tampa. They’re all over the board. But I thought I’d fill you in on why I would or wouldn’t want to move. It’s complicated and often what’s a pro for one reason is also a con for another. I go back and forth about it every day.

The post is going to be more of a ramble because that is kind of exactly how it is in my head. And I should also start by saying that if I could set up an ideal living situation it would be a town where my whole family and all my close friends lived, all four seasons (but a short winter and a mild summer), near a city with a good airport (practical), great schools (important), and good business opportunities. It’s a unicorn.

In no particular order of importance:

My family. Obviously living near my family is a HUGE draw to living in Tampa. I love them and do get a little jealous when I see them all together. It’s the little things that make me the most jealous, like when I see my sister just pop on down to my parent’s house for dinner or breakfast before work. Especially as I get older, I do think I want to be near my parents when I start to have children. I know my parents (specifically my dad) would never move somewhere else because why would you move away from a state where you can golf 365 days of the year?! My sister and I have talked about living together if I moved down there– not sure if her two cats would get along with my dogs but we’d figure it out, ha.

Now, while it’s a pro… it is also a little bit of a con. I just know that if I moved to Tampa, I think I would only hang out with my mom and her friends. I love them! But it’s probably not the most normal for a 27-year-old to be bosom buddies with sixty-year-old women.

Speaking of which…

My friendsMany of my sister’s friends still live in Tampa. She’s actually roommates with her best friend from kindergarten; it’s pretty cute. For whatever reason, my entire friend group left Tampa. Not one of my close friends lives there anymore– they live pretty much everywhere except Tampa: Boston, NYC, San Fransico, North Florida, Alabama, Atlanta, D.C. If I moved to Tampa, I’d be starting from scratch in the friend department, and I love my friends here in Connecticut and NYC.

Work. I’m quite fortunate to be able to work from anywhere. It’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted. I love the flexibility. And even though it may sound a little strange, just because I can work from anywhere doesn’t mean that I should work from anywhere. There’s a lot that I have to weigh when it comes to moving away because there are a lot of benefits for what I do to be close to the city. My thoughts are that I’m not a big enough blogger to be completely fine living just anywhere (where all the opportunities would come no matter what) and I’m big enough where I can still carve out space for myself to make opportunities for myself in NYC.

IT’S SO HOT. You know how some people could never live in the north because they don’t want to deal with snow? That is kind of how I feel about the heat. Unless you’ve lived in Florida for an entire year, I don’t think you can truly grasp just how hot it is. That is, it’s totally different if you visit for a week at the beach on vacation. When you have to live there, it’s an entirely different story. Just like how people in the north hibernate inside during the winter, Floridians hibernate in the air conditioning during the summer. IT. IS. HOT. My skin is also very fair, and it’s really not that enjoyable constantly worrying about sun exposure.

I do think I’ll eventually consider raising my kids in Florida (because of my family), but I swear I already dread sitting on the sidelines of soccer games every weekend just absolutely melting in the sun.

On the flip side, I would like living somewhere again where the trees are green year round. I love the changing leaves in the fall, and I like when the trees are covered in snow up here, but then around February, I’m ready for green and spring flowers again.

Buying vs. renting. If I move there, I want to live in South Tampa (where my parents/sister live). Unfortunately, the housing market is pretty similar to what it is here in Connecticut. Aka it’s very expensive. It’s best when you have two incomes (or willing parents) to contribute to the down payment. I also don’t want a huge house, which is surprisingly difficult to find. Most two or three bedroom houses in South Tampa are “tear downs” and being sold for the lots they sit on basically. I wouldn’t say that I’m actively looking for houses down there, but I wouldn’t say that I’m not actively looking either. I’m keeping my eye on listings. If I found a perfect house that’s in my current budget, I can see myself just going for it. I haven’t found it yet though… and I have a feeling that the next place I move, it won’t be a rental.

My Dating Life. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I couldn’t do this post without addressing it. Honestly, I’ve been pretty lucky in the dating department this year, and it’s not a boat I want to rock just yet. Mic drop.

So those are some of the really big things that I think about when considering Tampa. I do know that if I move there, that it will likely be the last move. There’s something very definitive about it, and it scares me too.

(I also just have to throw it out there that it drives me insane when people say how I look “so much happier” when I’m in Tampa. I’m always there for holidays, and it’s typically more of a vacation than not. It’s like someone saying, “You looked so happy on your holiday in Hawaii, you should move there!” Of course I’m going to look happier in Tampa than my everyday life in Connecticut because I’m not sitting at a desk all day working… but if I lived there, I’d still have the same daily life stuff to do, it wouldn’t be a permanent vacation.)

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43 Comments

Michael @ Mile in my Glasses

It’s so interesting to hear about why you left Florida! The state is so pretty but I completely agree that living in heat sounds like one of the hardest things! In England where I’m from it’s never too hot, in fact it’s barely ever hot at all! Ha! We’re lucky if the weather passes the 20-25 zone!

I hope you have a great Wednesday,
Michael
https://www.mileinmyglasses.co.uk

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Eleanor

Loved hearing how your mind works through all of these reasons! And I so feel you on the “looking happier” in Tampa. Whenever I go to visit my family it feels like I’m not really living in reality for a little bit. Would you ever move somewhere besides CT before maybe going back to Tampa? Thanks!

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carly

How could I not be happy when I sleeping in my childhood bed, having coffee brought to me every morning, and being chauffeured around town with my mom while we shop and eat at our favorite places?!?! 😂

Honestly, I love CT and where I’m living right now. I don’t have another place in mind, but I’d definitely be open to it if the right place came along.

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Kristen from Pugs & Pearls

I have a lot of these same thoughts when I think of moving back to my home town. The biggest draw is my family but all my friends have moved away. I still know people that I could be friends with, but it sounds like a lot of starting over! I think the real problem is that we could move anywhere, but it would be a lot easier if we had a clear direction-like a job offer or something like that. Basically I totally get it!

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carly

I actually really understand that. It’s weird when you *can* work everywhere it turns into a more overwhelming decision because a job isn’t making it for you!

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Emily

Carly,

As a nearly 27 year old living 300 miles from home your post rings clear all too well. My boyfriend and I currently live in Upstate NY, though I am originally from CT. Thoughts of moving closer to home are just as you stated – exciting, wonderful, and also very scary. Thank you for your honesty and for making me feel just a little less crazy knowing other women out there have similar thoughts! I’m sure the right decision will come even if it takes some time or nudging.
-Emily

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Ari

YESS to all of this!! Every line. You are amazing Carly. In many many ways. Thank you for sharing!

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Jordana @WhiteCabana

Ha ha ha. I love your last point about looking happy. Of course vacation makes people happy! But, mostly, I love that you have come to the idea that you know “how to bloom where you’re planted.” I think this is an absolutely wonderful way to look at life!

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carly

It’s probably one of the best things I’ve adapted to learn as an adult!

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Brittany

I can totally relate to this! I moved from my hometown of Cleveland to DC in 2008 and seriously thought I’d be back by now. Now my sister lives in St. Petersburg (I just wrote a post about St. Pete, in fact) and is badgering me to move there. I’ve written out a similar pros and cons list year after year, and yet I remain, almost nine years later! There are worse places to be, but being near family is becoming more and more appealing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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McKenzie

Hi Carly!
I love this post! I moved from Minnesota down to Florida for college, and I spent one summer taking classes- the heat is unbearable! You really jump from AC to AC (in order to avoid that terrible humidity!) Everyone asks as I finish up school if I am moving back home (with those Minnesota winters I’m not sure I could do those again!) However going away for school is one of the best decisions I could have ever made- it really does help you grow! I’ve been following your blog for years, and I love the balance that you have on your blog between real life and fun fashion posts. Also Teddy and Ham are the cutest!!

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Kellie

As someone who moved back to Northern VA after graduation and then 2 yrs ago a block away from her childhood home, I appreciate being able to live in another area and try new things. Mainly because none of the above was my plan but just worked out that way, especially once we had kids & had those priorities outweigh our ideal neighborhood.

You’ve got plenty of time to move back to Tampa if you want & honestly I’d love to live a quick train ride away from NYC!

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Taylor

The quote ‘bloom where you’re planted’ is one of my favorites. My mom began sharing that quote to me when my family moved to Chicago to Michigan when I was 13, and then again it rang true when I went to college in Ohio not knowing a soul. I think experiencing living away from family and close friends is something that can help us grow stronger emotionally as people, and set us up for success later in life. The quote can be true for physically where you are, but can also apply to the opportunities you’re given.

Thanks so much for sharing, Carly!
xo, Taylor

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Allison

Such a great post and so relatable Carly! After I graduated college a few years ago I moved away from the state I lived my whole life to Texas because my parents were moving there and I didn’t have a job anywhere else yet and I think about everyday if I should move back “home”, somewhere completely new, or stay here to be close to them.

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Rachel

This is a great post! It’s awesome that you’re happy in CT and I am sure you would be happy in Tampa as well. I’m happy anywhere near the water, so both would work for me! 😊

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Diana

Haha, I totally agree on the “looking happy” thing. Going home is great! But it is a vacation, and one where you get to see some of you favorite people. Of course you’re happy! I think if it’s right, the right opportunity will present itself and you’ll have that gut feeling.

(Also, just an FYI, this post didn’t pop up in my Feedly at all this morning! Just a heads up, in case it’s not something on my end. 🙂

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Briana

Great post. I’m also from Florida and always get the same questions when I go home to visit (atlhough, I went to college in Florida as well and have only lived out of state for two years now). I even have some of the same thoughts (would I want to live here again?) but ultimately, I have to remind myself that I’m on vacation and that it’s different to actually live there.

Like I said, my thoughts on the topic are just a jumble in my head so I really relate to this.

Briana | youngsophisticate.com

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Kayla

I’ve immigrated to the United States literally as far as possible from our families (from Toronto and living in eastern Washington) I definitely know how it feels to have complicated memories and feeling about home. After my husbands phd is through, my husband would die to move back to Toronto and I would definitely rather not especially for that housing market reason!! We’re about 3 years away from moving, and he has qualms about the heat just like you mentioned after living near Atlanta. It will pretty much be wherever he gets a job but boy…. I know how it feels to have those pro con thoughts!!!

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Mali

I moved to Gainesville, FL (from Wisconsin) in May of 2015 and having been here for nearly two years, I am ready to move on. The heat kills me! But my reasons for wanting to leave are similar to your reasons for wanting to return – raising my family near family is important to me.

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Krystal // The Krystal Diaries

Making a big decision like moving can be hard! Especially when it’s to another state even if that’s where you grew up. I’ve grew up in NYC and now live on Long Island but I’d love to move to Tampa. My family moved down there about five years ago and now I’m looking to move there too. I really love it down there!

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Emily

I think it really comes down to where you see yourself settling and if you’re in the place in life that you’re ready to settle.

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Devon Hembury

I totally understand your thought process! After moving home from college I definitely thought I wanted to move, but now that I’ve been back I’ve been loving being so close to my family. It’s such a hard choice! xo Devon Seventeen Dresses

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Valencia

Interesting read, Carly. How did everyone from PHS class of 2008 end up all over the US? Maybe same for other classes, but I don’t know them as well. FYI….I moved to Tampa for college and stayed 35 years. Then moved back to my hometown, Fernandina Beach (FL). Somehow most of us find our way back!! Enjoy your journey.

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Jordyn

I’m sure I always look ecstatic when I visit my family in the small town they live in in Napa Valley. Sipping wine at a spa is great but that doesn’t mean I should move to a town with a population of 5,000 at 25. It just wouldn’t make sense. I can see why you have mixed feelings about moving back to Florida. If it happens then I wish you the best but I see no reason to force something if it isn’t natural! I always love hearing about your life and thought process Carly!

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Rochelle Cotten

These are the same things I struggle with when I think about moving back to Tampa. I grew up in Framingham, Ma and moved to the Tampa area when I was 12 (Brandon/Valrico) and now I’ve lived in Denver for 10 years. I always want to move back to be closer to my family. Why don’t you consider a halfway move? You could move to Charlotte or Charleston? That’s what I’m considering in fact and the home prices are way way cheaper than denver and the weather is more mild than Florida or Connecticut. Just thoughts to let you know you’re not alone on the Tampa situation… it’s been something I’ve been contemplating for like the last 5 years …

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Katie McC | Katie's Kronicles

Love love Tampa and St. Pete area! Being so close to the water is beautiful!!!!! That’s actually super funny people comment on that. I look like I’m happy when I’m on vacay to!!!!! I used to drive home frequently from Tallahassee to Melbourne and I was always so excited to go home and visit. I sometimes miss those visits even though I live at home again because it was always such a joyous and special time. Glad you got to come home for Mothers Day weekend!!!

Katie | http://www.katieskronicles.org

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Lindsey

it seems like most of your comments come from people trying to plug their own blogs….does that bother you?

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Katie

I LOVE this post and it is sooo timely for me!

I recently got the go ahead to begin a teleworking arrangement with my job and now have the chance to move anywhere I want. Currently weighing the pros and cons of living in Orlando vs. Dallas and a lot of the things you mentioned are exactly what I’m struggling with – except I’m moving from a place near my parents (DC) to one obviously further away!

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Rachel

Tampa is where my husband wants to move. We got married near there too. It seems like a fun city but my hesitation would definitely be the summer weather!

-Rachel @ Backcountry Petite

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Ashley

I’ll be praying for you, Carly! I know everything will work out for the good.

Much love,
Ashley | dearash.com

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Kristen

Deciding to basically “move home” is a big decision. My hubby and I moved back to the Midwest last year after living away for ten years and it’s been a bumpy adjustment. However, I will say that I know if we’d never done it…we’d ALWAYS wonder and talk about “what if we move back someday”. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith. Good luck!

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A Girl, A Style

I nodded along to this entire post, because I feel the same way about Australia. On one hand I miss people and the weather and the lifestyle from home, but on the other hand, everyone ambitious leaves, it’s *too* hot in the summer (I’m also super-pale naturally), and it’s SO far away from everything (it takes 30 hours to get home from Cambridge), so I honestly can’t imagine going back there anytime soon.

In a way, although it’s so nice to go back home, there’s something so nice about starting a new life in a place you’ve deliberately chosen, rather than just staying put where you grew up just ‘because you should’.

Briony xx

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Rachel

I left Orlando for a school in TN, and am so glad I did. I feel the same way as you, in that I needed to be away from my family and friends to force myself into making new relationships. I can’t ever imagine going back though (of course Tampa is so much nicer than Orlando). The heat there is unreal, and I always avoid visiting in the summer, if I can help it.

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B

I think it is completely understandable not to want to be back in Tampa yet. Heck, after 7 years in school it was almost a culture shock to come back home. Seeing people from High School and always hearing the comments “OMGosh you are SO DIFFERENT NOW!” was honestly the worst. Yes, I grew up, thank you?
It’s easy to be happy where you were raised, but it is harder to come back to it and truly feel like you aren’t still a child. While I adore living pretty much 2 blocks from my parents (in a house that was SO hard to find, basically praying to the market Gods something would come up. It is so sad to see all of south Tampa’s charming little houses torn down), it also constantly makes me feel like I am still a kid…
Take this time for you. Live where you want or where is best for you. Be happy where you are, because you are definitely owning it! If you end up back down South, I’m sure that will be amazing for your friends and family, but for now just enjoy that you get to vacation where you were raised (because let’s be honest, Florida is a vacation destination!).

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Anna

Thanks for sharing! I’m in the same boat. I go to college in Lakeland (so, not far from Tampa) and often wonder about moving back to my home state after graduation. Being close to family, friends, and a familiar environment is both a pro and a con. The good thing about moving out-of-state is that you really establish your life as your own.

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Rachel

I know the struggle of trying to figure out where to live and more so put roots down. Ultimately I ended up coming back to Tampa (ugh the heat… which is why I always vacation to cooler temp places) and am glad I did. And if you do decide to come back, I’ll hang with you! So don’t worry about getting stuck only hanging with your mom + her friends 🙂

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Rachel

I have to know – where is that striped tie-front dress from?? SO adorable!

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Alyssa

I agree! Going to college a plane ride from home (from NJ to GA) was the best thing I did! It worked out so well I’m living in GA post grad – ever thought about Atlanta? It’s driving distance to Tampa 😁

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