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13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida

13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida
Illustration by Serena Dominguez

Moving to South Florida is no easy task. It takes gumption and balls, and you probably have to be a little nuts as well. Why? Because South Florida is insane. It's also beautiful, sexy, sweltering, and sultry. But, mostly, insane.

Now that you're here, it's important to understand that we're not just about beaches and nightclubs. You have to dig deeper to learn the true characteristics of what makes South Florida tick. And there's so much to take in.

But no worries. We've done the hard part for you, sifting through all the facts and nuggets to give you a heads-up on what you learn when you first move here.

And by "we've done the hard part for you," we mean, we've lived here for some time. And what we've learned, we pass on to you:

13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida
Illustration by Serena Dominguez

13. Nobody Knows Who Broward Was or What Broward Is Did you know that Broward County was named after a dude named Napoleon? Well, no one does. Napoleon Broward was a mustachioed fellow who was a riverboat captain who became Florida's 18th governor back in the early 1900s. He has more than 30 roads named after him. Oh, and he basically drained the Everglades because he thought it was just a big stupid swamp. Manatees probably confused him too. In other words, he wasn't the most charming fellow. Pretty much like the name "Broward County." Which is why no one in the history of humans has ever said, "I'M GONNA GO TO SPRING BREAK IN BROWARD! WOO HOO!"

12. Bicyclists Literally Face Death Every Time They Get on the Road Riding a bike in South Florida is like one of those postapocalyptic manhunt movies where machines run down humans for points. Except it's real life. South Florida is incredibly awful for anyone who wants to go for a bike ride. Even if you just look at a bike, someone will throw a rock at your temple. There are basically no bike paths in any meaningful places. And the bike paths that do exist are completely ignored. It's gotten so bad, the Florida Legislature has been trying to push laws to make it illegal for a person to flee the scene after hitting a cyclist. That's right. People in South Florida need a law to tell them that they can't just up and go after crushing another person's body with their car and leaving them to die.

11. Dania Beach Is for Old People; Fort Lauderdale Is to Get Laid If you want to get some action, hit up Fort Lauderdale. If you want to hear where all the best early-bird dinner specials are, Dania Beach is the place for you. A Dania Beach party consists of three copies of Time magazine from 2009 and warm oatmeal.

 

13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida
Illustration by Serena Dominguez

10. The Cockroaches Down Here Actually Fly Oh look, a roach is on the wall. Gross. Wow, it's big. Oh stop being such a sissy. It's gross, but it's harmless. Just hand me that magazine and I'll squash this little guy before you can O MY GAAAAWWWWD IT'S FLYING RIGHT AT ME!! IT'S ON MY HEAD! GET IT OFF!! GET IT OFF!!! KILL IT WITH FIRE!! Cockroaches fall right above avocados on the list of things that should not have wings. Cockroaches need wings like North Korea needs nukes.

9. Cops Break the Law More Than Anybody Else Whether it's excessive force or hiring themselves out as bodyguards to crooks, South Florida cops are way better criminals than actual criminals are. While there are many decent, honest coppers down here, we have a long list of John Laws who were all about getting mixed up in the rackets. Corruption among cops is a long-standing tradition around these parts, be it fraud, grand theft, tax evasion, or using their positions of power to aid a Ponzi schemer like Scott Rothstein, our officers put any common criminal to shame.

8. You Can Spend a Year in Sawgrass Mills and Not See All of It This mall is HUGE. You name it, they got it. Need shoes? A leather jacket? A wig? A hose? A dog collar? A T-shirt with the Joker on it? A suitcase? Candy? One of those abs-building belts? Caramel apples? Jeans? Life-sized Duck Dynasty cutouts? A soccer jersey? Yup. They got those. You can also ride a carousel in between shopping at stores and sign up your kid to be a model. Sawgrass is a giant city within a city. Like the Vatican but with an Auntie Anne's. Rumor has is that there are a couple of forgotten kiosks in the far east corner of the mall that are still selling World War II propaganda.

 

13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida
Illustration by Serena Dominguez

7. We Lead the World in Invasive Species, and They're All Gonna Kill Us Lionfish. Burmese pythons. Giant African snails. Rats the size of dogs. These are just some of the plethora of species from other parts of the world that were introduced into the wild around here and are completely screwing up the entire ecosystem. By "screwing up," we mean they're rapidly multiplying and eating every single thing they see like an unstoppable rebel force. And why not? When you're the apex species and have no known predators, what else is there to do but eat and fuck until there's nothing left? This is how Richie Incognito was created.

6. Las Olas Will Never Be South Beach, and We're Totally Fine With That Las Olas is South Beach before South Beach was South Beach. It's also void of the vapid look-at-me crowds, Botoxed women with fake boobs, dudes in shiny cars compensating for things, and 'roided up bros in wife-beaters. It's cool in the real sense of the word. Restaurants, bars, and people by the beach. It's alive, and it's fun. It'll never be South Beach, and we're just fine with that.

5. Davie Does Bronc-Riding Better Than Texas Ain't no better place to catch a glimpse of cowboy hats, rodeo boots, and gun racks on the backs of pickups than Davie. It's the place where the urban cowboy meets the remnants of Florida. Line dancing, honky-tonkin', and bronc-ridin'. YEE-HAWW.

 

13 Things You Learn When You First Move to South Florida
Illustration by Serena Dominguez

4. Nobody Goes to the Beach in the Summer Because the Sand Is Basically the Surface of the Sun Ah, you're a South Florida resident now. The beach is just down the street. You pack your beach towel, suntan lotion, and snorkel. You drive on down and, oh look, the beach is empty. You have it all to yourself! Cool. You walk onto the sand and OH MY GAWWWDDD YOUR FLESH IS MELTING RIGHT OFF OF YOUR BONES OOHH THE HUMANATEEEEE!!! Here's why the locals stay away from the beach in the summer: Because slowly broiling to death isn't all that swell of a time. If you want to feel like a hot dog, just roll around in mustard and go sell yourself at a Marlins game.

3. Wait for the Snowbirds to Leave Before You Make Reservations at Your Favorite Restaurant Oh how they love to come down here and tell you how much better the New York delis and restaurants are. Yet when they're here, they horde every good restaurant in town like a herd of thundering buffalo -- except with thicker accents and a much more insufferable disposition. So, until they go back to their cold-ass city for the summer, you're going to have to just stick to eating your dinner at a Denny's.

2. FAU Has the Worst News of Any University in the Country While all the other universities around town are famous for their football teams and alumni, FAU is famous for slightly different reasons. That's because Florida Atlantic University leads the country in weird professors, creepy dudes, and terrible stadium controversies. James Tracy, a professor at the school, made waves after the Sandy Hook tragedy when he suggested that the murder of innocent kindergartners by a madman with a gun was actually the work of the government. Another professor once got in trouble for having a class exercise whereby students stomped onto a picture of Jesus. And the school's new football stadium was once named after a prison. Oh, and the former school president once hit a student with her car.

1. The City You Live in Is Shorthand for Who You Are One thing South Floridians are pretty serious about is their image. So it's important to tell people where exactly in this vast swamp land of sun and sand you hail from, so that everyone knows what you're about. And by that we mean, pretty much everyone in Broward County tells people they're from Fort Lauderdale -- even if they're not. Who, after all, wants to be known as the guy from Delray? Or Plantation. What the hell is Plantation? No, if you live above the Miami-Dade border, you're from Fort Lauderdale. Unless you're from Palm Beach, in which case you just rattle the keys to your gold-plated yacht and everyone automatically knows where you hail from.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.

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