A Guide to “The College Life” in Florida

(Things can get weird in Florida, we’re here to make sure it’s a good kind of weird.)

University of Florida Campus Historic District: Century Tower and University Auditorium, Gainesville, Florida.

Welcome to college in Florida. No matter if you’re brand new around here or your tan lines are going strong, you’re in for a real treat.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for a life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it.

Chapter One: Floridian Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to Florida is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life Floridian, you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on populations and state birds and all. You gotta go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try out a few of these conversation starters:

  • Two-thirds of Florida’s year is blessed with sunshiny days, but the weather can take a turn in the blink of an eye. Heck, it can be raining in your front yard and sunny in the back. But before you cancel your plans, just say what the locals say, “It’ll pass.”
  • No matter even if you come from Alaska to go to school in Florida, if the temp goes below 60 around here, you say “it’s freezing” and put on your Ugg boots with your shorts.
  • Grab a “Pub Sub.” If you’re out on the town and looking for a bite to eat, around here you just can’t beat a good sandwich from Publix, the local grocery store.

Chapter Two: Where to Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

According to rentcafe.com, the home of the University of Florida, Gainesville, has one-bedroom apartments averaging around $1,297/month. And in Tallahassee, where Florida State calls home, the average is around $1,231. But remember that’s right inside the city, and you can always find lower prices out in a number of nearby suburbs for a few hundred less.

PRO TIP: If you put two to three bunk beds in every room and grab a bunch more roommates, your rent will be dirt cheap!

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among Floridians, it’s best if you understand them. And when it comes to culture, Florida has it all from the strange, to the retired, to the Cuban, and more. And of course it does, because who wouldn’t want to live where it averages 237 days of sunshine every year. Heck, even the bad days are probably pretty darn nice anyway. 

With weather like that, it’s also no wonder that there are a bunch of tourists around, especially at Disney World and Universal Studios. And that tourism plays a lot into the local culture, with an extra-diverse group of people, food, attitudes, and more to cater to people from all over the world.

As you can imagine, too, Florida is a place full of people who love the outdoors. And with two coasts to the state, an east and a west, they take full advantage of the beaches and the waters. From bumming it up on the beach to jet skis and deep sea fishing, this place has it all with the laid-back attitude to match.

Chapter Four: Where to “Study” around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into Florida life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • The beach: Grab an umbrella and get a nice glow while you study anywhere along the 8,436 miles of Florida coastline. Need a study break? Play some volleyball. Can’t go wrong with that.
  • Disney World: Sure it’s busy, but while you’re waiting in those long lines for the next ride, you could be tackling that next chapter in your Chem text book. Win-win.
  • The Keys: The Florida Keys is an archipelago off the southern point of the state that’s made up of about 1,700 different islands. Pick a quiet one and you’ll have no distractions besides the gorgeous views.
  • Venice: One of the top places to retire, most people are in bed by sunset. So pounding away on the studies should be no problem.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around Florida

Adult Alligator Sunning on a Log

One of the best things about college are the weekends. And Florida has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • A theme park road trip: Walt Disney World. Universal Studios. Sea World. Those are just the big dogs, but there are tons of incredible theme parks worth visiting around here to help make you feel like a kid all over again.
  • South Beach: This Miami hot spot is home to a number of parks and art deco architecture displays with something for everybody. It's also smothered with history and features two of the most-visited museums in the state, the World Erotic Art Museum and the Holocaust Museum.
  • Everglades National Park: Florida is also home to the third-largest national park in the country, Everglades National Park. The park is a refuge for wildlife that is endangered or threatened like the Florida panther and the American crocodile. Just remember, if a crocodile or gator comes after you, run in a zigzag pattern. It confuses them.
  • Daytona: Whether it’s to relax on the beach or get all revved up at Daytona International Speedway, there are plenty of ways to get your mind off the books around here.
  • Kennedy Space Center: Whether it’s to see a rocket actually lift off or just visit and learn some space history, while you’re a Florida resident you’ve gotta check this place out. Located on Merritt Island, this is where every US-born spacecraft has been launched from since 1968.

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local market and which careers are hot right now around town.

Florida's current minimum wage is $8.25/hour with an unemployment rate of 5% (half of what it was just five years ago). So what are the 21.3 million people currently living it up in Florida doing to earn their money?

Aside from the obviously ginormous tourism industry, some of the largest fields with available jobs are in construction, medicine, housekeeping, automotive, retail, restaurant, and spa industries. 

Bookkeepers and massage therapists are also in high demand, as are gigs where you can dress up as your favorite childhood Disney characters at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

As far as wages go, sun-sentinel.com states, "In Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties, the mean wage for highly skilled jobs is $23 an hour, according to the state. Entry-level workers in high-skilled jobs start at more than $14 an hour."

Can you work with those? If not, nothing to worry about, the opportunities around here are as plentiful as the ski slopes.

Chapter Seven: Pack Your Flip Flops, ‘Cuz Here You Come

All right folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to the Florida college life. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And remember to reapply the sunscreen every two hours or so.

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