When thinking of our time in Florida I still go back to the first place we lived. I don’t know why this apartment holds such a special place in my heart but it really was an amazing experience. I have some thoughts on why I possibly hold it in such high esteem. It was an entirely new world filled with possibility and excitement. It was literally less than 10 minutes from Walt Disney World. Lastly, it was the complete opposite of the apartment in which we had moved. Let me elaborate and share a little about our first Florida home.
Before moving to Florida, or even deciding definitively to move to Florida, we would do research during our visits to Walt Disney World. We would drive around looking at the surrounding area and even visit a few apartment complexes to see if they could be contenders. We had to be very careful as we were moving not only to a new neighborhood but a completely different state. We really needed to be somewhere that felt safe and that we would quickly become comfortable. It really wasn’t a good time to try and save some money by putting ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Money, of course, was still part of the equation but more important was stability and getting a good start and foundation for our time in Florida.
We found ourselves returning to the same location several times. We really loved the area and all of the little things that this apartment complex had to offer. It was at the top of 192, which is one of the big tourist areas adjacent to Walt Disney World. We would often visit the WalMart there during our vacations. The apartment complex seemed rather new and it had a town square that still had some storefronts that hadn’t even been filled. It was called Cagan’s Crossing and we were in love! After deciding that this was where we needed to focus our attention, we even made a visit at night to see what it was like. Sometimes places are very different between daytime and nighttime. Almost night and day! Luckily we found a very quiet and peaceful nighttime environment and we now had to see what was needed to secure the apartment.
Fast forward 8 months later to the final decision to move to Florida. Here is where things started to get a bit complicated. You see I had left my job already and Christina was self-employed with her photography studio and we had not secured employment in Florida. Getting an apartment when you have no employment proved to be more of an issue than we thought. Long story short, we had to pay 3 months rent in advance, as well as the security deposit, to secure the apartment. We did everything that we needed to do and the date to move in was set. We were going to move to Florida and into an amazing community.
I had mentioned that one reason that we may have really like this new apartment was the comparison between it and our previous apartment. Our last residence in Ohio was a third story apartment over Christina’s photography studio. This building was not in the best neighborhood and with a city that was becoming synonymous with heroin use it was in possibly one of the worst areas. To put this into perspective TrueTV and SpikeTV both ran documentaries about our hometown and our apartment was shown several times during both of them. As you can see a move to an apartment complex with a town square with farmers markets and a library and pop up carnivals was a definite step up. That’s all I will share about the old apartment, for now. I’m sure we will cover that more in depth down the road.
We were very excited that our new home was on the 3rd floor for a few reasons, possibility to see fireworks from Walt Disney World at night as well as having no one stomping on the floor above us. We really didn’t have fun moving all of our things from a 3rd-floor apartment only to walk them back up 3 floors again, but once that was completed we really like the placement of our new home. We were able to see the higher fireworks from Illuminations at Epcot each night. We had a great view of the carnival over at the library a few times a year. Our balcony also became a great place to take in some fantastic sunsets and amazing storm clouds. We even won a holiday light decorating contest on that balcony!
The apartment itself was a two bedroom, one on each side of the living room and kitchen. Each bedroom had its own attached bathroom. There was also a small dining area as you first entered. It was perfect for our family of 3 and proved to be just right for our new addition, Cameron, while he was a baby. The apartment was in a very good school district and each morning we would walk Jordan down to the rental office where the bus stopped and get him off to school. We got to know other parents and grandparents while we would wait for the bus. One couple we really enjoyed seeing each day and the funny thing is that we didn’t speak the same language. There was a couple who would walk their grandchildren to the bus stop each day who only spoke Spanish. They were so nice and they absolutely adored Cameron when he came along. We always did our best to communicate and you could tell that they were trying really hard to learn English. They did a much better job during our time there than we ever did trying to learn Spanish.
The town square was a nice place to walk around but also had some conveniences that really made life simpler and, even though it was right at the top of tourist central, made us feel like life slowed down at times. We could take a short walk to grab some frozen yogurt, a pizza, or once a week grab some fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market. The farmer’s market also had many local artisans that sold their products. There was a library right there as well that we could walk to almost daily to check out books, movies, and CDs. As if having all of this wasn’t enough the complex also had a nice pool and clubhouse area. On top of all we had in our immediate vicinity there was a WalMart, Lowes, Starbucks, Chilis, and a few fast food restaurants directly across the street. Not to mention Walt Disney World!
There were a few drawbacks to our apartment but looking back they were so small that I am having trouble thinking what that could have been. I know that we thought that we could get a bigger place for our now family of 4 for less each month. I know we did get a little tired of lugging a baby and groceries up 3 flights of stairs. I know that we felt to truly put down roots in Florida we needed to get a home. Well, I guess those are the reasons that we set out to find our house. We finally did find our new house and put down those roots. We will always remember that apartment fondly and I’m not sure that there will be a visit to Florida where we don’t head to Cagan’s Crossing to grab some frozen yogurt, dinner, or just drive through and reminisce.