I'm a Democrat who moved to Florida to be closer to my boyfriend. I was nervous about the politic... - 7 minutes read

David Maughan, 32, moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Oakland Park, Florida, last year.As a progressive, Maughan said he was nervous about Florida's culture war politics.But he's found Floridians to be accepting and welcoming, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.

Thanks for signing up!

Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you're on the go.

download the app

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with David Maughan, a 32-year-old human resource analyst who moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Oakland Park, Florida, in August 2023 to be closer to his boyfriend. He shared his thoughts about living in the Sunshine State with Business Insider.

David: My Florida story started in 2020 when I met a guy named Brandon. We met online, like a lot of relationships nowadays, especially during early COVID. He lived in South Florida.

I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania but had been living in Richmond, Virginia, since I was about 25.

Brandon and I dated casually for a couple of months and then became official. We were long-distance, going back and forth between Virginia and Florida for about three years. We knew we wanted to be together in the same place, so it became a question of which one of us would move. I work remotely, so it was easier for me to make the move.

I had a lot of concerns about moving to Florida

First of all, it was a big move away from my entire support system. I'm part of the LGBTQ+ community and that was something I felt was really strong in Richmond.

Thinking about starting over and making new friends in your 30s is daunting. I knew I would be with my boyfriend, and I had met a lot of his friends, so there would be a built-in friendship circle to some extent, but I still wanted to make my own friends.

But my top two concerns were the state politics and the weather. Many of my Richmond friends understood the first but didn't get my concerns about the weather. Everyone says the weather in Florida is great, but they don't realize that Florida is hot hot. In the summer, it's 90 to 95 degrees every day. It's exhausting. You don't want to go outside. Some people love that. But for me, it was a huge concern.

David Maughan and his boyfriend Brandon were long-distance for three years before David moved to Florida in August 2023.

Courtesy of David Maughan

The other primary concern I had was politics. I consider myself a progressive and a Democrat. I call myself a pragmatic progressive. In Richmond, I had been very involved in volunteering for local Democratic campaigns. It's more than just a hobby for me; it's something I'm really passionate about.

Everyone in progressive circles looks at Florida in horror because of what the governor, state legislature, and state Supreme Court do. They've pushed really far-right policies, from gerrymandering congressional districts to passing a six-week abortion ban. These are not acceptable policies to me.

My boyfriend and I had a lot of conversations about those concerns before the move. He has a little saying: Florida is trash, but it's my trash. And I understand, he's lived here a long time.

I made the move in August 2023.

I moved to Oakland Park, which is a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. Oakland Park is small population-wise, but the surrounding Broward County has almost 2 million people. So, it's a much bigger metro area than I was used to.

Overall, it's a comfortable place to live. But it's been a bit of a mixed bag for me so far. I love the community I've been able to find here. I found an LGBTQ+ adult sports league to participate in, and the nightlife nearby is good.

I think part of why it's been so easy to make friends is that a lot of people are also transplants. I haven't gotten any criticism from native Floridians about moving here. They've been welcoming.

David Maughan said he's been able to make friends in the Florida LGBTQ community by joining an adult sports league.

Courtesy of David Maughan

But in terms of the downsides, Florida has a really car-centric design, which makes it uncomfortable to get around any other way. There are six-lane roads with traffic flying down them. There are signs that say bikes can share the road, but you'd have to be insane to do that. Even biking to the beach is difficult. I think I've only been to the beach three times in eight months.

I'm still getting used to Florida's topography. Richmond is a place with hills and rivers. But here, it's obviously flat as can be. There are a lot of single-family homes, low-rise apartments, and strip malls. A lot of the neighborhoods don't have good sidewalks, which was surprising to me.

I can't complain too much about the weather because I moved here in August when it started to cool off. The fall and winter have been nice. But we'll see how my first full summer goes.

Florida has dug into waging culture wars

Florida's elected leaders are pretty far-right. But I don't think the people of Florida are as far-right. That's an important difference. A lot of the races here are really close. And when you look at some of the ballot referendums that get put on the ballot in Florida, they are often for very progressive issues like reforming felon disenfranchisement.

I've tried to get involved with politics at the local level, where I feel I can make an impact. I got plugged into a group called Broward Young Democrats.

David Maughan got involved with progressive politics in Florida after moving to the Sunshine State.

Courtesy of David Maughan

The area where I live is pretty accepting of the LGBTQ+ community for the most part. Wilton Manors, the town right next to Oakland Park is known as a "gay mecca." At the local level, there's a strong, supportive community.

But while I haven't experienced any direct harassment, and I don't fear for my safety, it is certainly concerning to think about what Florida might try to do down the road. If they're trying to ban transgender medical care today, what's to stop them from trying to pass discriminatory laws against all gay people tomorrow?

The cost of living is way higher in Florida

The biggest example is my rent. I had a one-bedroom apartment in Richmond that was 700 square feet, and I paid $1,400 a month, which at the time felt kind of expensive.

But here, I have a one-bedroom apartment that's about 800 square feet and it runs me $2,400 a month. It's a full thousand dollars more for an almost identical apartment.

Car insurance is also more expensive here. I pay double what I paid in Richmond. I had to reorient a lot of things in my budget when I moved here. I had to cancel some services, and I adjusted my retirement savings.

My apartment here is really nice, though. I decided I wanted to make sure I was happy with my living space, knowing the concerns I had about the state. Because if I was unhappy with the state politics and I had an apartment I hated, I would have been really miserable.

David Maughan said he hasn't visited the beach much since moving to Florida because the car-centric design of the state makes it difficult to get around.

Courtesy of David Maughan

Florida is the right choice for me right now

Living here has obviously been great for my relationship with Brandon. We've been able to deepen our relationship and build a life together. That's the number one benefit, and it's been amazing.

But when I think longer-term, I don't see myself living here for the rest of my life. It's been a topic of conversation between us because I don't see myself buying property here, mainly because of the climate risk with hurricanes and flooding.

I'd like to buy property somewhere else, maybe in DC or Philly, somewhere more North. Then we could maybe rent an apartment or a condo down here and become snowbirds because I don't know if I'll able to be able to pull Brandon away from Florida entirely. He's got roots here.

And I always tell people: Love will make you do crazy things.

Source: Business Insider

Powered by NewsAPI.org