Brian, Mango and I are getting more and more settled into our new home in Orlando. We're in a 2/2 apartment, in a complex that's part of a planned community — there's a community association and even a monthly magazine for the area.
Over the next year, while our Alabama house is on the market, we plan to explore many areas to live around Orlando and its surrounding suburbs so as to not limit ourselves to where we are now. But so far, we really do like where we are, especially the convenience of lots of shopping and restaurants nearby — some even within walking distance. But things like property tax, HOA fees, and higher housing costs are a factor.
It's funny, though, the things I haven't done yet since moving here almost a month ago because I'm not sure where to go — like, "Where should I go to get my hair cut and colored that's not a rip-off?" Or, "Where is a good, reputable nail salon?" And sushi, for instance — we love sushi, but there are literally 4 or 5 places within a couple miles of us — which to choose? I even get paralyzed when looking at my daily Groupon and LivingSocial e-mails — where are these places? Are they any good? Because we all know these group coupon places can be hit-or-miss.
And then there are the important services we need: family doctor, eye doctor, dentist, veterinarian, car shop, etc. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by choice these days.
But, for the most part, I've found that the United States, especially the Southeast, is becoming homogenized. I have my neighborhood Publix, plus Walmart, Aldi and Winn-Dixie for groceries — the exact same four places I shopped for groceries in Alabama. Down the road is Kohl's, SuperTarget, T.J. Maxx, Ross, Old Navy, Petco — the same stores I frequented in Alabama. With the exception of a few Florida-based chains, like Sedano's Supermarkets, or Beall's department store — there's not much that's all that different. And that is both comforting and disconcerting all at once.