I lived in South Florida for about 12 years, after two decades of living in Central Florida. The differences between the two areas are about as great as New York City and upstate New York. Not to say one is better than the other; it’s just that they’re different, despite their close proximity to each other.
So I thought I’d do a side-by-side comparison of the two regions would help settle the argument. Maybe one area has more things you like or hate? Maybe both areas make you want to move to Denver? Either way, this is my take on comparing Central Florida against South Florida.
I consider everything south of Gainesville and north of West Palm Beach as Central Florida. If you are in Palm Beach County and you drive north – you are in effect traveling into the south.
And let’s face it, North Florida is just South Alabama and Georgia. Anyone that has gone to a gas station off of I-10 or north I-75 can attest to the distant sounds of banjos. (Then again, I might have to move to North Florida after this blog.)
Comparing Central Florida Against South Florida
Here are a few major differences I’ve noticed.
Central Florida: Conservative Republicans
South Florida: Liberal Democrats
Try to find a diner, bar or doctor’s office in Polk County that doesn’t have FOX News on. How are they going to know the wrong news if they don’t have it on? … The wild card here is Orlando, which employs a large contingent of entertainers, many of which are gay and liberal-minded. I’ve often wondered if homosexuals sit around and say stuff like, “Being heterosexual is soooo gay.” Probably not. But the problems liberals have in Central Florida with hardcore conservatives (especially the ones that can’t spell ‘conservative’) are much worse than the problems that South Florida conservatives get from hardcore liberals. EDGE: SOUTH FLORIDA
Pro Sports Fans
Central Florida: Bucs, Lightning, Magic, Rays
South Florida: Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers
Both regions are maligned by the sports community for not supporting their teams at the box office. What people don’t realize is that since most of the people in Florida are transplants, they keep their old allegiances and brainwash their dumb kids into rooting for cities they aren’t even from. Also, other areas have had generations to build up a fanbase, some dating back into the 1800s! But since most of the franchises in Florida are just about 20 years old, that deep sports heritage just isn’t there yet. Florida pro sports fans DO suck – but only because most of them live here and root for non-Florida teams. EDGE: CENTRAL FLORIDA – because at least they support spring training.
Central Florida: Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman
South Florida: Miami Hurricanes
OK, so the Gators have had way more criminals in recent years than the ‘Canes. But recent admissions by Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro and the impermissible benefits he provided 72 Miami athletes puts the Canes back on top. “We’re (inmate) No. 1-0892942!!!” EDGE: TIED (Anthony and Zimmmerman were declared not guilty despite their obvious guilt!)
Horrible International Drivers
Central Florida: Canadians
South Florida: Haitians
A car insurance agent once explained to me why car insurance is so expensive in Broward County. He said it was because there are so many uninsured drivers down here that the ones with insurance have to pay the difference. That sucks. Canadians might be slow, but they aren’t driving most of the cabs in Central Florida either. EDGE: CENTRAL FLORIDA
Insane Interstate Traffic
Central Florida: I-4
South Florida: I-95 and 595
Strangely, I-95 handles twice the traffic of I-4, but it’s MUCH easier to navigate. And 595 connects the middle class to Fort Lauderdale. It’s weird – if you live east of 95, you are either rich or poor. The problem with I-4 (and 595) is that it is never NOT under construction. Planners can’t figure out that it’s growing much faster than they anticipated, so by the time a project is done – it already needs to be bigger. They both suck. EDGE: TIED
Central Florida: Breasts
strong>South Florida: Breasts, faces, butts
Something weird happened in the early 2000s in Central Florida. The housing boom made those in the construction industry relatively wealthy, which meant blue-collar wives could suddenly afford boob jobs. Then the housing boom went bust, and those formerly wealthy guys are no longer wealthy. What that means is – it’s not uncommon to see plenty of fake boobs at the local Wal-Mart. If we were talking about natural beauties, South Florida would win. But … EDGE: CENTRAL FLORIDA
Central Florida: Puerto Ricans
South Florida: Cubans
When I went to high school in Kissimmee in the late ‘80s, the smallest Puerto Ricans always had the biggest mouths. They’d start fights, and when you reacted, their hombres would step in as a group and pummel you into a poquito cube. They’re a close-knit community that swears Puerto Rico is great. Cubans, on the other hand, love living in the States, and their food is 10 times better. If Tony Montana was Puerto Rican, and said, “Say hello to my little friend,” he would have been referring to some big-mouthed little guy that started all of the trouble in the first place. EDGE: SOUTH FLORIDA
Central Florida: Pig hunting, mudslinging, fresh-water fishing, shooting foreigners, thinking up Obama jokes then spelling them wrong
South Florida: Jimmy Buffett concerts, the beach, salt-water fishing, talking about the superiority of New York City
EDGE: SOUTH FLORIDA
College Football Fans
Central Florida: UCF, USF, Florida, FSU
South Florida: Miami
Gators fans have been painfully obnoxious dating back to the early ‘80s. USF became the fourth major football school just a few years in, after UCF had been trying for three decades, but USF’s fans have been mostly obnoxious/uninformed. FSU fans from the Bobby Bowden era were at least tolerable. Most Miami fans have never stepped one foot on the Miami campus. EDGE: TIED
Central Florida: Love bugs
South Florida: Green parrots and iguanas
Did you know that in May and September of every year, little black bugs with red heads overtake the roadways in Central Florida, covering your grill and windshield? They are love bugs, and were supposedly engineered to fight citrus canker – but never went away. Did you know that South Florida has a large population of green parrots that fly around free? And the area also has a ton of iguanas. Legend has it that Hurricane Andrew is partially responsible for the growth of both of these in this area, after large populations of them escaped pet stores, etc., after the storm. EDGE: SOUTH FLORIDA
Central Florida: Walt Disney World
South Florida: South Beach
While Disney is the place where an adult can go to be a kid, SoBe is the place where an adult can go and feel poor, inadequate and socially awkward. I’d much rather spot celebrities walking around Disney than Collins Ave. I’d much rather spend $10 on a beer in any country in EPCOT as I drink my way around the world, than spend $20 on a mojito in a club that doesn’t get going until 2am. I’d rather sit and people watch near the Dumbo ride in FantasyLand, than deal with the pompous, self-entitled morons in South Beach. EDGE: CENTRAL FLORIDA
FINAL ANALYSIS: TIED
So when it’s all said and done in comparing Central Florida against South Florida, I’ve determined that both places have great attributes AND horrible traits. My final analysis is – Central Florida is probably better to raise a family and live in a caring community, whereas South Florida is a better place for the single, rich or retired.
And as much as I complain about the bad things, I know I’ll always miss the place I’m not living in, and the people I’m not living near.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.