South Florida is a great place to live, but there are two things here that most other places don’t have that take some adjustment: an extremely long, hot summer and a wealth of wealthy people. It’s sometimes difficult to stick to a minimal lifestyle and, at the same time, be surrounded by people who don’t just keep up with the Joneses, but have blown them out of the water in every way possible.
For example, a few of the historic neighborhoods around where I live have “home tours” every year, where a handful of homeowners open their homes up and invite the rest of the neighbors to come through and see how they’ve improved their old homes and tended their (often expansive) gardens. I go to these so I can meet the neighbors, get style ideas for my own house, enjoy some frosty beverages in the block party-like atmosphere, and genenerally make myself feel completely inadequate as a homeowner.
I don’t necessarily feel like this is a bad thing, however, as long as I remind myself that most of these people are either much more well-off than I am or are swimming in debt. Since I don’t want to go into debt just to have a nice back yard, and I don’t try to spend money to keep up the appearance of a wealthy lifestyle (have you seen my car?) when I could instead use that money to retire early, the opulence rolls off of me like rain on a freshly-waxed car.
It would be nice to have a perfectly manacured back yard with palm trees providing shade everywhere, but not at the expense of everything else. After all, I can appreciate the engineering and style that’s in a $100k Mercedes while, at the same time, not have any desire to get rid of my old beater car. It suits me, but there are some times that I have to focus more on my long-term goals than short-term pleasantries.