My area of Florida is definitely not the Florida most people know, Jim. In many ways, the northern half of the state is more like Georgia or Alabama. Much less commercial than everything from Orlando south. We have thick forests, a multitude of farms and dairies, fresh water springs, rivers, and lakes. Our tourist towns have no rides or “experiences” — they are antiquated, overflowing with history, and often havens for artists and other creatives.

There are still places around Orlando, believe it or not, that are rustic and untouched by the Disney machine. The town we visit often, Mount Dora, is one of those. South of Orlando is a large swath of cattle country and Florida is one of the top timber-producing states in the country.

Our area also has a more defined change of seasons, too. Sure, our winter is usually only about three or four weeks scattered through December, January, February, and March but each of the seasons has its place on the calendar, even though summer lasts the longest.

Retirement here does not have to be an expensive condo on the beach! We have many other less-expensive options.

My husband, who is from Argentina and spent most of his years in the U.S., says our city is one of the few, if not the only place, in Florida he can stand to live. With the University here, we have plenty of cultural events, plays, concerts, etc. The city isn’t too big but big enough, and we have many trees and beautiful old neighborhoods. We also have lakes and rivers within our city and all around it.

When you are ready to retire, come visit us — maybe we can convince you to join our community!

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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