Our Jacksonville Apartment – First Look

I love driving south.

When we first left Connecticut on the (sorta) pre-pandemic day of February 15, 2020, it was a bone-shattering Zero degrees according to my home weather station. I knew that our final destination of Atlanta would be much much warmer, and I couldn’t help glancing at the outdoor temperature reading every few minutes of the ride. Somewhere in southern Pennsylvania the mercury started rising, and it was one of the greatest feelings of my life.

Growing up, I loved winter – it was tied with summer as my favorite season. As I matured in my high school and college years, I picked up the fine art of snow skiing (and later, snowboarding), and winter shot to the top of the charts. Though I haven’t skied or snowboarded in about two decades, every late summer/early fall, I still have my first dreams of swishing down frozen white slopes.

But somewhere, oh, around…homeownership in 2013, winter became so much less than it once was. Not only had I not skied or boarded in years, but what once were joyous occasions – snowstorms – became hideous vehicles of tortuous labor. The driveway needed to be cleared – no small feat considering it was a hundred feet long and steep. The walkways needed clearing – I was once subjected to the threat of legal proceedings against little old me by our cantankerous mailman after he spotted a few patches of ice on our front walkway. Of course the deck needed to be cleared – and Handan’s glorious new deck meant that task nearly equaled the driveway. And let’s not forget the fur jerks. Every time the snow piled up more than a few inches, I felt duty-bound to carve out a series of meandering and intersecting trails in the back yard with the snow blower so Penny and Pepper would have room to stretch their red-furred legs.

Winter’s stock crashed, and it crashed hard. Gone was the wonderment and joy of a snowstorm. In its place was worry, dread, and resentment.

I will never forget the year some crazy wet Nor’easter/blizzard hit and (as usual), we were on the line between snow and rain. What that meant was a foot of concrete was falling outside or house. If I waited until the end of the storm, there would be no hope of clearing the driveway. The only thing to do was head out into the heart of the beast. As luck would have it, I had the flu and a fever of 102. But this was New England, madam. Fever be damned. I was out in the flaccid and soggy blizzard, clearing not only the driveway, but also the snow blower every few minutes. I’ll never forget that night. It cemented my hatred for winter.

When the temperature started to rise on that trip to Atlanta, I knew we were done with winter for good. We’d escaped its brutal clutches. Yes, I’d be back to Connecticut many more times to pack before we fully moved, but the psychological break had happened.

When we moved to Atlanta, I shed the last vestiges of my winterized self and became a Warm Weather Man.

After a time, even Georgia didn’t seem far enough south for me. This past April, Handan, Baris and I drove to Miami to take car of some business at the Turkish consulate there. I remember driving through southern Georgia. How different it was compared to northern Georgia! There was Spanish moss! I got a feeling of longing. I wanted Spanish moss!

And then we hit Florida. Palm trees. Lizards. Heat. Ocean. Humidity. And Spanish moss.

Somewhere deep inside, I think I knew then that someday we’d end up here, if not for me, then certainly for Handan. She was built for weather like Florida’s. The heat, the humidity, the tropical feel – it’s a mirror to her native Antalya on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey, where she was born and where she spent many years. And it’s not much different than the Aegean city of Izmir, where she did most of her growing up.

And though I spent most of my life worshiping the snowflake and cursing the sunbeam, all along I guess I was destined to become Florida Man.

So here we are in Jacksonville – a city which neither Handan nor I had visited before we pulled up to our apartment complex with two cars and a U-Haul trailer last weekend. Handan had found a promising apartment online, and I did a whirlwind application and lease signing. The digital ink was barely dry before we hit the road for points south. I was counting on a smooth and problem-free ride from Georgia to Florida, because I had us arriving at the leasing office 1 hour before they closed on a Saturday. If something went wrong on the road, we’d be scouting a hotel room until Monday morning.

But the ride was smooth, and the weather was glorious.

We got our keys and started unloading…up two flights of outdoor stairs to our 3rd floor apartment. Let’s a have a look at how things stand right about now. I’ve had time to go to IKEA (it’s only 4 miles away!), and I even snuck in another trip back to Georgia to load up a slightly smaller trailer with more stuff.

For the next 11 months, this is our new Florida home! (There’s a video walkthrough at the end of the post).

Let’s step past Penny and make our way into the living room.

There’s more than enough space in here for my babes and me. Just to the left in the picture below is our screened-in balcony.

The girls love the carpet, and in the past week, we’ve come to love it to. We’re now starting to understand why every house in the South has carpeting – it’s damn comfortable! You can see 3 IKEA boxes in the picture below. They are Halvsta cabinets – the same we used in our Georgia craft room. I had already built two of them when I took these pics, and I’ve just learned from Handan we’ll be buying two more! Hey, IKEA is only 4 miles away…why not?

Here are the two that I built already with Baris’s old plasma TV on top. We bought that TV in Vietnam, and it has traveled with us from Vietnam to Connecticut to Georgia to Florida. It must be one of the most well-traveled televisions on earth!

Did I mention the girls love the carpet?

I think they like Florida, too!

Our IKEA sofa from the Georgia home – now with a fresh cover! I didn’t bother cleaning anything or putting things in order for these pics. We’re still moving in and settling, and I wanted the pictures to show that.

This is the dining room that will never see a meal eaten in it. Instead, it is our new craft room! A much better use of the space, wouldn’t you agree?

Still a lot of stuff to unpack and put away.

Entering the kitchen now through the craft room. Yes, two bottles of Advil there on the counter. We’re living on caffeine and Advil these days. At our age, moving two U-Hauls full of stuff up a two-story walkup is no joke! On the plus side, we’re going to get back in shape!

The kitchen has everything we need. Sure it’s not the gleaming beauty Handan designed for me in our old house, but it suits me just fine.

The most important corner with the most important appliance.

Yes I am.

The fur jerks are living like queens. By the way, that dog-feeding station is holding up like a champ!

The second bedroom – also my office.

My mascot.

The second bedroom walk-in closet – now craft storage!

Guest bathroom. It’s big! Florida bathrooms are much bigger than those in Georgia.

The master bedroom – for now just a bed and two nightstands. I need to get a chest of drawers from IKEA so I can pick my clothes up from the floor! By the way, that bed frame is Baris’s old one. We bought it back in 2013, and it has survived 3 moves now. Not bad!

Half of the master bathroom. It has everything you’d expect from a modern bathroom – toilet, shower, cabinets, mirrors and lights. What more could you want?

We brought a lot of crafting supplies, but I made sure to pack a few little things to make it feel more like home. This little guys is Handan’s favorite scented broom gnome.

And finally, the view from our balcony.

So far, we absolutely love it here. Our apartment is close to everything. Restaurants 0.2 – 0.5 miles away, Hobby Lobby half a mile away, IKEA 4 miles – just anything we could ever need is at our fingertips. I know when we buy a house next year, it won’t be this convenient, so we’re going to enjoy this place to the fullest!

Okay, that’s it for now. I need to wrap this up and get back to work helping Handan unpack. I’ll have more updates soon! I’ll leave you with a video walkthrough!

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  1. Wow, that is a very spacious apartment. Even a laundry area. You will definitely enjoy having that. I moved from Texas to Central Florida for about 5 years. I was so excited with the warmer winter weather. When it was cold back home I would say I’m sunbathing, ha ha. Yeah got over that in about a year. I really missed the seasons. I know your going to enjoy y’alls new adventure. Cant’ wait to see you transform another house.

    1. I will always have nostalgia for seasons – especially fall. But I just have to call any of a thousand bad memories of Connecticut winters, and I’ll get over it real quick! 😀

  2. I love the new place Florida Man!! It’s the universe conspiring to shower you both with blessings!!😉😉 Two things: it’s only temporary because next year when you do buy a house, IT WILL BE THIS CONVENIENT!! And please make sure you put your Money Tree near the front door (good Feng Shui) to continue ushering in the many wonderful universal synchronicitys that you all are experiencing!! Congratulations!!

      1. What’s the money tree??
        Very nice apt! The girls probably like the softness of the carpet, it makes anywhere and everywhere a cozy spot to nap! As if dogs need an excuse to lie anywhere and everywhere!
        Enjoy this new chapter Greg and Handan!

        1. Thanks, Susan! The girls do love the carpet – the whole house is their bed now! We got that money tree at a Kroger in one of the Carolinas after dropping Baris off at college. It is supposed to bring good fortune!

  3. Greg – YES! You captured my feelings of cold and warm weather perfectly! Not all Florida dwellings have carpet, a lot will be totally tiled. That apartment looks big which is good with those fur babies. I guess Barish is away at school?

    Looking forward to more Florida posts.

    1. Hi Carla, yes I’ve seen some tiled houses when we were checking things out on Zillow. Baris is away at Virginia Tech. He’s going to love coming here for holidays – we’re only a couple hours from Disney and Universal!

    1. Good lord, that’s an apartment?! My whole place could fit into that lounge room! I wish I had a real dining room I could change into a craft room. Technically my craft stuff is in the area technically meant to dine in? But it’s more just…one big open space with a bedroom and bathroom attached 🤣 I’m looking forward to seeing Florida adventures! What a beautiful place.

      1. Hey Jay! I think dining rooms are overrated these days. There are so many more useful ways to use that space – crafting being one of them. Florida is fantastic so far, and we can’t wait to share more adventures here!

  4. I don’t usually reply to anything, I just read it and enjoy, but you literally live 5 minutes from me now. Welcome to Jacksonville.

  5. Wow! Super-spacious Apartment Batman!!!

    I love the screened-in porch, that is so cool! I would have a table out there in a heartbeat and have my coffee there every morning.

    Thank you for sharing your new home with all of us! Enjoy your new digs!! Cheers! 🍻

    Ps – thanks for getting back to me on the haps with Baris on the previous post! You two must be very proud!!

    1. We are so proud of him, Mo! So far we haven’t spent much time on the balcony – I need to get a little table out there so we can have coffee in the morning and dinks in the evening while watching our fountain water view, lol!

  6. Nice apartment! Congrats. Can wait to see what you do with it. I don’t mind the winter myself, but all my ancestors came from cold climates and humidity and me do not get along. I would love to live on the coast though (grew up five miles from the beach in RI and then lived in Boston when I was still single. Miss that ocean breeze. I think the furtherest south I could move because of the heat would be TN, KY, NC, or SC.

    1. I’m like you, Laurie – I’ve never been able to tolerate humidity. But it’s so humid here that I’ve just decided to embrace it. Even the slightest effort turns me into a total sweatball, but I’ve come to terms with it and accepted it. There really is no getting acclimated to humidity. The best we can do is accept it, lol!

  7. Welcome to Jacksonville, FL.!! Looks like you are down by the St. John’s Town Center. Awesome place! And it’s booming. Ikea is awesome to wander around, and so is Hobby Lobby. Hang out at both places when looking for that something special for the house. Which is an old ranch style. Built in 1962. Good luck house hunting……And welcome to the neighborhood!

    1. Who? Baris? Oh, crap! We forgot him! Nah, just kidding – he’s off at college in Virginia. Lucky duck didn’t have to help us move! He’s going to love holidays though – so close to the beach and only a couple of hours to the theme parks!

  8. I just read about Milo and the following 9 gerbils. Do you still have them? I had one when I was young, such a friendly animal. I also love mice! We are down in Orlando area, moved from MA & CT. I miss NE, pretty much hate the 9+ months heat & humidity. I loved your tale of Milo.

    1. Hi Jaime, of those 9 gerbils, Miley (the elder) died peacefully in her sleep. When we moved to Georgia last year, we have the rest of them back to the pet store from which we bought them, as trying to coordinate such a big move with them would have been difficult. And thank god, otherwise, we’d be in the same boat again! 🙂

  9. Hi Greg and Handan
    The new apartment is very nice and spacious too! The dogs seem right at home already. My husband & I have assembled many different kinds of furniture; though for some reason, it doesn’t always go smoothly. After you get unpacked and settled in, I’m sure you’ll be very happy there in sunny Florida! Best wishes!

    1. Hi Michele, assembling furniture is never a fun task, and things often go wrong…well, at least for me! So far we’re loving Florida – we can’t wait to see what the future brings! 🙂

  10. Welcome to Jacksonville! Go see my husband – he’s Ryan, the store manager at the Hobby Lobby at St John’s Town Center.
    If you have any Jacksonville questions he’d be glad to help!

  11. Great location! Between beach and city. Try the restaurants over in St. Johns Town Center called True Food Kitchen or Zoes Kitchen. Also try Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe on Beach Blvd. It is very sweet of Joy to offer her husbands assistance. Pick his brain for crafting opportunities and general “where..?” questions!

  12. Welcome to Jacksonville! You have followers/fans here!
    We’ve been in the area for over 30 years. I love everything about it except the humidity!! Lol!
    Maybe I’ll see you at your he Town Center!
    Good luck getting settled!

  13. Welcome to Jacksonville! You are very close to me! I’m just a few miles from the Town Center. I was ecstatic when the IKEA opened 4 years ago. I used to have to drive 2 hours to Orlando if I wanted to visit IKEA. I’ve been here 13 years but grew up in Maryland. I am so ready to move north somewhere between here and there. I miss four seasons. Summers here seem to go on forever and are so hot and humid! I also miss hills and winding roads. Sounds like you won’t miss those things though! Can’t wait to see where you buy (St Johns county is popular) and what you do with the future house!

    1. There may come a day when I start to miss the seasons, but if that day exists, it does so in a future too far off for me to see! Oh, wow, yeah I’m glad there’s an IKEA here. I’d hate to have to go to Orlando every time…and lately we’re getting more and more into IKEA, so this is just prefect!

  14. Oh forgot to mention – carpet seems the main flooring in apartments but I think you’ll find in single family homes tile, hardwood, laminate or LVP are more popular, at least in the main living areas. I did LVP everywhere but the bedroom where I did carpet and bathrooms where I did tile. Even though I’m not by the beach, when I pulled up the very old carpet there was so much sand underneath! The soil is very sandy, at least where I am – a few miles east of the town center.

    1. We’re a big fan of carpeted bedrooms now, so we’ll at least have that. Not sure yet about the other areas of the house. I’m not opposed to tile if it looks nice!

  15. Your apartment is wonderful and you’ve already set things up! I’d still be sitting in the middle of the living room with boxes around me and trying to catch my breath from the walk up. Ha, ha! It sounds like the apartment is in an ideal location; it’s not far from your needs for materials, restaurants, or relaxation. You’ll be more than ‘fine’ there! Thanks for the tour.

  16. Glad y’all made it! IGreat area that you have chosen, it is the epicenter of Jacksonville (which is the largest city in the US, land wise). Hopefully, you all will love it as much as the rest of us…

    Happy unpacking!

  17. Welcome to Florida!! You should plan a trip to the Gulf side as well. There is so much to see and do in St Petersburg besides the awesome beaches. You’ll love it once you get acclimated. I moved from Texas 21 years ago and will never leave! Love your apartment but would have hated moving up two floors. Our corporate apartment was also on the third floor and about killed us moving in with two dogs and three kids! Enjoy and can’t wait to share your adventures!

  18. I would love to know which community this is! I’m in Jacksonville and I just love the layout! I’ve been here 4 years and have not found anything so beautiful and spacious!

  19. Hello from Mandarin!! This just popped up in my news feed. Guess I will have to check out my new “neighbors!” Welcome to Duuuuval!