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Retirement In South Florida

Image copyright Tony Payne

This is a story about retirement in South Florida. I don’t know who wrote the original version of this and suspect it’s been embellished over the years. I have done my own editing as well to try and give a feel of the experience of being retired and living in South Florida.

Having lived in South Florida, albeit not retired myself, but living in a residential community that was built around a golf course in Deerfield Beach, with many retired people, it’s very true how they describe retirement in South Florida, which has a high proportion of retirees.

Of course the level of retirees in South Florida rises dramatically in the Winter, with the influx of the “snowbirds”. These are retired people who head south to spend the Winter in the sun, hence the term “snowbird”. They mostly come from New York, New Jersey and Canada, a lot of the Canadians coming from French speaking Canada. They often stay for three months, many have their own condos and you can tell when the snowbirds are in town because half of the cars in the parking lots have New York, New Jersey or Quebec licence plates.

Anyhow, a few years ago, my wife and I moved into a retirement development on Florida’s southeast coast. We are living in the “Delray/Boca/Boynton Golf, Spa, Bath and Tennis Club on Lake Fake-a-Hachee”. There are 3,000 lakes in Florida, only three of those are real.

Our biggest retirement concern was time management. What were we going to do all day?

Well let me assure you, passing the time is not a problem. Our days are eaten up by simple, daily activities. Just getting out of our car takes 15 minutes. Trying to find where we parked takes 20 minutes. It takes a half-hour in the check-out line in Wal-Mart and an hour to return the item the next day.

How about I take you through a typical day in the life of a retiree in South Florida to give you a better idea of what it’s likeā€¦

We get up at 5am, have a quick breakfast and join the early morning Walk and Fart Club. There are about 30 of us and rain or shine, we walk around the streets, all talking at once. Every development has some late risers who stay in bed until 6am. After a nimble walk, avoiding irate drivers out to make us road kill, we go back home, shower and change for the next activity.

My wife goes directly to the pool for her underwater Pilates class, followed by gasping for breath and CPR, while I put on my “Ask me about my Grandchildren” t-shirt, my plaid mid-calf shorts, my black socks and sandals and go to the clubhouse lobby for a nice nap.

Before we know it, it’s time for lunch. So off we go to Costco to partake of the many tasty samples dispensed by ladies in white hair nets. All free!

After a filling lunch, if we don’t have any doctors appointments, we might go to the flea market to see if any new white belts have come in or to buy a Rolex watch for $2.

We are usually back home by 2pm to get ready for dinner. People start lining up for the early bird dinner about 3pm, but we get there by 3:45 because we are late eaters. The dinners are very popular because of the large portions they serve. We can take home enough food for the next day’s lunch and dinner, including extra bread, crackers, packets of mustard, relish, ketchup and Splenda, along with mints.

At 5:30pm we are home, ready to watch the 6 o’clock news on television. By 6:30pm we are fast asleep.

Then we get up and make five or six trips to the bathroom during the night and it’s time to get up and start a new day all over again.

Doctor related activities eat up most of our retirement time.

I enjoy reading old magazines in sub-zero temperatures in the waiting room, so I don’t mind.

Calling to get test results also helps the days fly by. It takes at least a half-hour just getting through the doctor’s phone menu. Then there’s the hold time until we’re connected to the right party. Sometimes they forget we are holding and the whole office goes off to lunch.

Should we find we still have time on our hands, volunteering provides a rewarding opportunity to help the less fortunate. Florida has the largest concentration of seniors under five feet and they need our help.

I myself am a volunteer for “The Vertically Challenged Over 80’s”. I coach their basketball team, The Arthritic Avengers. The hoop is only 4-1/2 feet from the floor. You should see the look of confidence on their faces when they make a slam dunk.

Food shopping is a problem for short seniors, or “bottom feeders” as we call them, because they can’t reach the items on the upper shelves. There are many foods they’ve never tasted.

After shopping, most seniors can’t remember where they parked their cars and wander the parking lot for hours while their food defrosts. It’s a bit like watching an episode of The Walking Dead.

Lastly, it’s important to choose a development with an impressive name. Italian names are very popular in Florida. They convey the idea that they are inhabited by world travelers, with uppity sophistication and wealth. Where would you rather live: Murray’s Condos or the Lakes of Venice? There’s no difference — they’re both owned by Murray, who happens to be a cheap bastard.

I hope this material has been of help to you future retirees. If I can be of any further assistance, please look me up when you are in South Florida. I live in the Leaning Condos of Pisa in Boynton Beach.

Image copyright Tony Payne

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