Archive for the ‘Cape Coral Living’ Category

Cape Coral Real Estate Investment Advice

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I had an interesting email yesterday. An Australian fellow was looking at investing in property in Cape Coral and wanted a “lay of the land”. He had somehow found my site and asked for my thoughts. I was updating the old site today, and figured it might help others, so here is what I sent him:

I moved here from SE Florida (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area)…which was a big switch. While the area is no small town (Cape Coral has a population of ~150,000 and Lee County has a population of ~600,000), it is definitely a lot more spread out than SE Florida. People here are much nicer than in SE Florida (people actually stop at 4-way stops and follow the traffic rules! People at restaurants and stores have actual personalities–they chat and will joke around with you.) You definitely notice what we call “Snow Birds”…people, often older folks, who come down during the cold winter months (Nov – Mar). The population of the city grows then, and the driving gets busier and slower (because the population is suddenly older). Snow birds tend to have more of an “attitude” (less patience, more rude).

The city is divided into 4 quadrants. You can divide the North and South sides by Pine Island Road. The south side is older, so there is less land per lot, the streets are smaller, and the houses are less uniform (which I personally like) and older. There are fewer houses on the North side, but for the most part it is newer construction (<10 years old). The North side is also kind of eerie…the city platted out most of the lots, but the real estate bust happened about half-way through development. The result is you end up with blocks looking like: empty lot, empty lot, house, empty lot, empty lot, empty lot, house, empty lot…it just looks weird. At the same time, the city instituted a mowing crew that mows all the empty lots. So unlike other rural parts of America where empty, undeveloped land usually looks like forest, woods, or at least farm land, here it’s mowed empty lots of land. It does keep pests down, though. There’s also much fewer trees than I’m used to especially in people’s yards.

The East and West sides of the city are divided by Santa Barbara Blvd. The east side is generally more ethnically diverse (more Hispanics and Blacks, specifically). NE Cape has a lot more duplexes (lower income). SE Cape is older and more “downtown” with streets like Del Prado Blvd…one of the main business locations in town. Crime is a little higher in SE Cape (though not by any means a place that makes me nervous going at night or with the family.) SW Cape Coral is the “fancier” part of town…more expensive homes, more manicured lawns, more expensive real estate. If you like living in “the scene” (the nicest, most expensive neighborhoods), then SW Cape is where you want to concentrate. There are yacht clubs on the very South of the city with dock access, and some nice homes overlooking the water.

My family and I live in NW Cape Coral. It is the newer part of town. The homes are nice, cheap, but there are those empty lots everywhere. We have a couple of big dogs, including one who is very protective, so for us, the space is great. If you love wildlife, the NW side is amazing…bald eagles, egrets, storks, coyotoes, wild pigs, armadillos, alligators, skunks, turtles, opossums, stick bugs, snakes…I’m sure you can tell from my website that I dig wildlife big time. So for us its great. If you’re more of a “city guy” (not real big into animals), then you might not like NW Cape.

The North side of town, being newer and more rural, does not have city water or sewers….we all use wells and septic tanks. Most of the wells here are known for their sulfurous water (which stinks). Most houses install aerators to remove the sulfurous smell, but they’re easy to overrun (The water has to sit in the aerator tank for an hour or so to get rid of the smell. Do too much laundry and the water doesn’t have a chance to sit so you end up with smelly water.) Because we rent, we use Chlorine tabs, but they dry out the skin. If you buy in NW cape, I would strongly urge you to invest in a “reverse osmosis” system which eliminates the sulphur / smell (we were quoted about $1800 for one). The South side has city water, so it does not have this problem.

Throughout Cape Coral, many houses are newer, nicer, and cheaper, but do beware of “Chinese Drywall”. Apparently during the housing boom…especially between 2004-2006, some building supplies, particularly drywall, became short in supply. So drywall started getting imported, including some from China. Some of the Chinese drywall was made with some industrial waste which contained sulfates. It has a strong smell of rotten eggs and mixes with water vapor to create a sulpheric acid solution that “eats” copper….especially electrical wiring, A/C units, and copper piping. Replace the drywall and the problem ends (though you will have to replace anything already damaged). You can get a really good deal on a house with Chinese Drywall, just know you may have to spend some additional money to get it up to speed. I looked at buying a house here a year ago and seriously considered fixing up a chinese drywall house (At the time it was $40k for the house plus I figured $10,000 to $15,000 to replace the drywall, A/C air handler, and electrical–but that was me doing all the work.)

Finally, the bugs. There are little, voracious mosquitos here called “No See Ums” (also known as biting midges, sand flies and punkies). We’ve come to call them “Ninja Nits”. They are small enough to crawl through the standard screening people put around their porches, patios, and pools; the little buggers swarm, are hard to see, and leave pretty good welts where they bite. I searched far and wide for a repellant and have been told over and over “just don’t go out at dusk and dawn.” (Sunset and sunrise is when they’re most active.) I’ve tried several repeallants. The Product “Off!” works okay, but the best advice IS to stay in at dusk and dawn. They’re only out during the warmer months of the year. They spray the city for them, and I’ve heard from friends in the South side that they don’t have the problem with them that we do. (They are, after all, part of the wildlife!) You can also purchase a finer-meshed screening for pools, decks, and patios that they cannot crawl through.

That gives you a pretty good layout of the city, and some problems to look out for. Hope that helps!

Lee County Bus Problem Solved By 4 Year Old

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Dominick, the subject of several of my blog posts, has been riding the bus nearly 2 hours each way every day to school this past year.  The local news station, Fox 4, has highlighted his story and others, discussing the poor planning, wasted money, and outrageous rides imposed on toddlers.  In an unexpected and wonderous way, his 4 year old brother, Damien, and Damien’s school hold the solution.

Damien is an ESE student (special ed, for the non-parents).  Damien has no disabilities, per se;  he’s referred to as “developmentally delayed”…he’s just taken longer to learn basic academics than other kids.  As part of the program at his school, we have meetings a couple times a year with his teacher, the ESE program director, and Damien’s specialists, to determine the game plan for his education to get back on par with other students.  We had such a meeting this past week.

The ride to Damien’s school was surreal.   The geniuses on the school board have Dominick riding from our house in the far NW corner of the city all the way across town to the far SE corner…about as far as you can go and stay in the city.  The ride when it’s not rush hour is nearly 30 minutes.  During rush hour, with buses it takes closer to 50 minutes.  Add to that the other parents dropping off their kids and the fact that the drop-off/pick-up route goes right through the visitor’s parking lot, and the ride to drop him off in the morning is about 90 minutes.  This is part of the reason we don’t pick him up / drop him off from school…it’s too little time saved on his bus ride for the expense.  In stark contrast, Damien’s school, Skyline, is on the SW side of the city.  The ride to took 10 minutes…door-to-door.  Plus the visitor’s parking lot is completely separate from the pickup/drop-off point so you can have a meeting at the school without being stuck in a bunch of daily morning traffic.  Crystal and I were shocked.

While we were waiting for his program, we began BSing with the administrators in the office.  ”Is traffic always like this in the morning?”  I asked.

“Why was it bad?  Usually it moves along pretty quick,” one of the girls behind the desk replied.

“No it was quick…10 minutes to get here.  It takes an hour and a half to go to our other son’s school.”

“Why doesn’t he come here?” she asked.

“This whole stupid school choice thing,” Crystal replied.  ”Dominick didn’t go to any of the three schools I picked, and Damien couldn’t go to his school, because they didn’t have an ESE program.”

“So why don’t you have Dominick come here?” the woman asked again.

“Do you have availability?  I’ve called around to some schools closer to us than you, but 1.) they tell me they don’t have any openings and 2.) their bus rides aren’t much shorter.” (Damien rides the bus for an hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.)

“You’d have to call school choice to verify…they’re the ones that decide if we have availabilities.  But I’d think we do.  Also let them know his brother comes here.  They give preference to siblings.”

A light bulb turned on over both Crystal and my heads.  10 minutes…and that’s normal?  Holy crap, we could totally drive him to school if it came down to it.  That would so be worth it.  Plus we generally like Damien’s school, Skyline Elementary.  Dominick goes to Cape Elementary and we find it kind of stuffy.

For example, during orientation at the beginning of the year, Dominick’s teacher informed us that the first week of school the kids would work on a mission statement.  ”Mission statement,” I asked.  ”What is a mission statement?”  I know what it is in the corporate world, but what does that have to do with Kindergarten? “Well, determine their goals for the year, as a group.”  LMFAO.  Are you kidding me?  Their 5 and 6!!  I’m his dad…how about you let me set the goals…make sure he knows his ABC’s, 123’s, he can do basic addition, some reading and writing, and if he gets that all down pat, maybe a little subtraction, and basic science and history.    Mission statement.  Please!

So after we left Damien’s ESE meeting, we went to the School Choice office.  We had to take a number and wait, though the wait was barely 5 minutes.  While waiting Crystal noticed a sign: “Due to FCAT, no in-zone transfers between February 3rd and 16th.” (Translation: due to the Florida standardized testing, you can’t change school for a couple weeks.)  ”I don’t care what they say,” Crystal growled.  ”They can at least start the paperwork.”  We spoke to a woman named Mrs. Major.  We explained the situation and that we were wondering if Skyline (Damien’s school) had any availability for Dominick.  ”You may have seen us on the news,” I threw in. “Really?” she replied, somewhat nervously.  ”Yeah, we’ve been fighting with the school board over this for a while now.”  Hurriedly, she said “Let me go speak with my boss.”  She came back 2 minutes later.  ”Sure, no problem.”  She explained the procedure…we’d have to withdraw Dominick from Cape Elementary, then enroll him at Skyline the same day.  The following week he could ride with his brother to school and he’d be all set.  We had her repeat everything three times.  Yep, that’s it.

“That was the quickest thing I think we’ve fixed since we’ve lived here,” Crystal later told me.  ”15 minutes and the problem is solved.”

“I feel somewhat guilty, that as his parents we didn’t push harder, ” I replied.  ”But the schools we called said they had no availabilities.  And we called several that were closer than Damien’s school.  Plus Fox seemed to make it sound like it was hopeless.”

“That’s another thing,” Crystal said.  ”How is it that all these schools say ‘we have no availabilities’, meanwhile Skyline says they don’t know and we have to talk to School Choice about it?  Somebody’s full of it.”

Like always, Crystal makes the most sense out of everybody.  If this was such an easy fix, why hasn’t anybody bothered mentioning it?  The superintendent of the school system.  (Would’ve made him look much less like a jack ass!)  The school board member that came to our house?  The Fox news channel that has been covering this story?  The other schools we spoke to?  No one.

We are waiting patiently for Dominick’s transfer, the week after Valentine’s Day.  But woohooo!!  Our boy’s going to finally get a reasonable bus ride!!!

For those of you who may be parents facing a similar issue with your child, here’s the unadulterated truth from School Choice in Lee County, FL:

Prioritization of Students for School Placement goes as follows:

1. Students in full-time special education classes (Only 4 of the 14 schools in our zone have a special ed program.)

2. Siblings wanting to attend the same school

3. Students living within proximity areas around each school.

4. Students whose first choice is a school within their sub-zone.

5. Random number tie breaker – If you’re not local to the school, and your kid’s going to ride the bus, you then play they lottery, which is based on availability.

Also note: School Choice themselves said that if your child has an excessively long ride, that constitutes an extenuating circumstance and they will give you priority for transferring schools.

Don’t listen to the BS.  Go to the School Choice office.  For the west zone, it is in the Cape Coral High Tech North office, just North of Hector Cafrarta Elementary in Cape Coral.  1/2 mile North of Pine Island on Santa Barbara in the High Tech building (west side of the road.)  Here’s their address: 360 Santa Barbara Boulevard North, Cape Coral, FL 33993

I’ll post an update in a couple weeks, letting you know how the transfer went.

New Year, Same Issues, and Thoughts of Moving

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Over the past several months, I have been struck by the dichotomy of Cape Coral.  Coming from SE Florida, Cape Coral is 1000% better in terms of customer service, general friendliness of neighbors and the public at large, traffic, and comfort.  Our landlord, Roland, is as cool as they come.  And we’re living on a half acre with a 1500 sq ft, 3/2/2 home for less than I paid for a 1/1/1 condo in SE Florida.  But this bus issue with Dominick is getting seriously old.  And we have a new (for us) negative wrinkle–snow birds (people that come down to Florida during the winter months).  Typically we truly enjoy the neighborly attitude of stores.  But in the past month, every body walks around with a dark cloud over their head.  They are rude, cut you off in traffic, bump into our kids without a “sorry”…it feels like SE Florida all over.  Some dusty old fart in a Cadillac cut me off driving today by a matter of 2 ft.  He was from Ohio…OHIO…my home state.  I was so ready to come unglued on him, but wasn’t about to jeopardize our kids the way he already had.

At the beginning of winter vacation for the schools, a local radio station morning show host started talking about the bus issue and got so many callers she cleared her morning guests to handle all the calls.  She posed the question “Do parents like or dislike ‘School Choice’”.  (This is the heart of the issue–parents can choose any school in the county for their child to go to, and with the exception of charter schools which fill up quickly, the county will provide transportation.  However, when you’re one of the poorest counties in the state, with unemployment over 13%, that quickly turns into the 4 hours a day Dominick is spending on the bus.)  Many, many parents called in and a terrific solution was made which would save county tax dollars, long bus rides, and still give parents the choice to choose which school their child goes to:  parents would still be able to choose any school in the county (open enrollment), but busing would only be provided for their local district.  If a parent chose another school, it would be up to them to make the arrangements to get their child there.  Of the many callers, a significant majority seemed to favor this option.  Meanwhile, not a peep heard from the school board.  I can’t understand it…these are elected officials.  It’s not like they’re appointed.  They’re voted in.  And with the exception of Chilmonic, they have got to be the laziest bunch of assholes I’ve ever seen.

I think Crystal and I have pretty well decided to leave Cape Coral at the end of our lease.  Our two primary choices are North Port (an hour up the road) and Ohio (despite the old prick from Cleveland).  We went to check out Port Charlotte (50 minutes North), which appeared online to have a relatively low crime rate, and be worth checking out.  A branch of Crystal’s college is also located up there.  And we seem to putter around Punta Gorda (just south of Port Charlotte) regularly.  Port Charlotte just looked run down, and the customer service was pretty sad.  It didn’t take long to stamp it with a big fat “No!”.  However we went up the road just a little ways to North Port.  North Port struck us very nicely.  More densely populated that NW Cape without being crazy (SE FLorida).  People seemed friendly.  Definitely a consideration.  Ohio is  a distant possibility as well, though much depends on getting Crystal up there to actually SEE it first.

More to come as the year unfolds.

More on (or “moron”, if you like) the school buses

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I really didn’t figure I’d have to write more on the school buses, but it just keeps getting weirder and worse.  If you haven’t read my previous post, the Cape Coral transportation has Crystal’s son Dominick riding for nearly 2 hours each way every day.  But it gets worse.

After doing a few interviews with the local Fox news station and speaking with a school board member, a few things have come up.  First the Superintendent of the Schools starts out by saying “Kids don’t mind the rides.  They love their schools so they don’t mind the rides.”  Really?  I’ve got news for you numnuts, I had a conversation with Dominick about his ride.  I did not do the parent thing and set him up to give the expected answer.  I asked if he liked riding his bus.  He said yes.  I asked if he liked his school. He said yes.  I asked if his ride was too long…he said yes.  I said I could make his ride shorter, but it would mean he couldn’t see his friends or teacher any more.  He’d have to make new friends and learn with a new teacher at a new school.  I told him it would be scary and hard to do, especially in the middle of the school year.  He might get teased by the kids at the new school.   The new teacher might not be as nice.  So he could ride the bus as he has been, or ride less time but have to go through all of the scariness and extra work of a new school.  I asked a few follow up questions to verify he understood the consequences.  I asked him if he’d like me to try, and without hesitating he replied “Yes.” 

Then the aforementioned numnuts says at a school board meeting “Some parents like the longer rides because they function as a free alternative to daycare.”  Daycare.  Daycare?  When you think “daycare”, you’re really thinking “road trip”?  When I think of “daycare” I think of a place where my son can safely play, under supervision, have fun and make friends.  Yet, I’m always riding him to behave and not screw around on the bus.  Hm.  I think you’re a bit off there Mr. Superintendent. 

But it gets worse…

We got wind before the Thanksgiving weekend that Dominick’s bus driver was switched, not only to a different route, but to an entirely different compound.  So now 1 of the 4 people he sees most every weekday (he sees his teacher 6 hours a day, his bus driver 4 hours, and us 3.5 hours every week day) is now taken away.  He doesn’t want her to go…he loves her.  She watches out for him, says hi, even came to his birthday party.  We don’t want her to go.  She watches out for him, and lets us know if he gives her any problems, doesn’t behave, or isn’t feeling well.  Officially, the transportation department says they moved her “for her own safety”.  Everyone involved gets the impression that the transportation has mud on its face and suspects she might have had something to do with it (which she didn’t) so this is a reprimand.  Crystal said on the news she was awesome.  The news said they were going after the routes, not the drivers.  But as of Monday, Dominick has a new driver.

It gets worse….

The Monday after thanksgiving, Crystal stood with Dominick as his bus pulled up with a new driver.  The doors opened and a big, surly guy was driving.  “That’s not my bus, Mama” Dominick said, panick streaking through his eyes.  “Yes it is,” Crystal replied.  “Remember, Karen isn’t your driver any more.”  Dominick looked back in terror as he climbed the steps onto the bus.  He glanced at the driver, as the driver glared back.  Dominick huriedly ran past and took a seat.  A tear streamed down his face as the bus pulled off.  “I thought about taking him to school,” Crystal said,” but he also needs to learn that not everybody is as warm as Karen.  I’m pissed at the new guy though.  He could’ve at least said ‘Hi, I’m going to be your new driver.  My name is [whatever], what’s yours.’  That would’ve gone a long way to making Dominick feel better.”

It gets worse….

Monday afternoon, the school bus pulls up, and Dominick is in the aisle beside the driver as soon as the bus doors open. As they walk up to the house, Crystal looks at Dominick.  “Did you buckle up?”  “No,” replies Dominick, matter-of-factly.  “You should always wear your seat belt.  It doesn’t matter who the driver is, Karen or not.”  “Ok”.

Today, the school bus pulls up in the afternoon.  Dominick is falling forward, apparently standing in the aisle as the bus is slowing down.  “Was he wearing his seat belt?” she asks the driver.  “He was supposed to be.”  When Dominick got inside she and I both chastised him for not wearing his seat belt.  It went in one ear and out the other.  So Crystal goes online and finds some accident pictures and animations to show him.  He gets scared and cries, but the point drives home.  Later in the evening, on the porch, Crystal tearily explains to Dominick she doesn’t want to get the call that he’s been hurt or killed because he didn’t buckle up.  I explain that he’s 6 years old.  As he gets older, he’s allowed to do more fun things, but he also has more things he has to do.  “Look at the Christmas lights we hung up this weekend.”  Dominick stares out over the yard.  “Remember how I was on the computer after that?” I ask.  He nods.  “I was adding up the numbers to make sure that we didn’t catch the house on fire, and that we can pay for the power to make the house pretty.  Understand?”  He nods. “You are 6.  You get to do some fun things, but not lots of them yet.  But you have two main jobs.  Listen to the adult in charge and buckle your seat belt are your two main jobs.  Understand?”  He nods.  “What do you do when you get on the bus?” “Buckle up.”  “And what happens if you don’t?”  “If you get into an accident, you could get hurt and bleed, or die.”  He’s got it.

Crystal, still friends with Karen, asks if they’re required to buckle up the kids.  She says “we’re supposed to ask them to buckle, but it’s not required.  I require it on my routes.”  I, being the intrepid little research hound look it up in the florida statutes.  FS316.6145 “Each passenger on a school bus that is equipped with safety belts or restraint system shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt at all times while the bus is in operation.”  It goes on to say that the school, driver, etc. are not liable if the bus gets into an accident and the only reason a passenger was hurt was because they weren’t wearing a seat belt.  Fair enough, I understand how politics goes.  But FS 1012.45 states “Each school bus driver has the authority and responsibility to control students during the time students are on the school bus”.  Crystal, as the parent, has done her part to make sure Dominick understands the consequences.  But he’s still a 6 year old riding a bus for 2 hours at a time.  And the bus driver is his guardian during that time.  Karen wouldn’t let him get away without a seat belt or standing in the aisles.  But this new guy doesn’t seem to care. 

It does, however, get a little better.

At my suggestion, Crystal didn’t go off the handle with the bus driver.   She did however, follow another of my suggestions and emailed the one school board member who was nice enough to speak with us in person, the local fox news station, the school board, the state department of education, the governor’s office, and Obama’s office.  And she CC’d everybody on the message so everybody knows everybody who got the message.  GodI love that woman! :)

In related news, the bus driver’s union is going ballistic over Karen’s “transfer” and doing what they can to help her out.

In other news…the school buses!

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Just finished an interview with the local news station Fox 4 News.  They have been raising hell with the school board over long bus rides.  Initially, Crystal and I figured we were maybe being unreasonable about the fact that Dominick has to get on the bus at 5:45am to get to the school at 7:30 and leave school at 2:00pm to arrive home at 3:45pm.  (3.5 hours total per day.)  But apparently not.

Amongst the other issues we’ve had with Cape Coral, the school bus rides seemed excessive.  However, property values have dropped by an average 37%, so the county, school, etc. have less money.  But it turns out a lot of parents are upset.  I wasn’t as upset with just that.  Fox starting pushing school board members and three of them said the equivalent of “What problem?  We didn’t know there was a problem!”  Upon pushing further, Fox came up with the idea that maybe the school board members should take a ride on the buses to see what it’s like.  School board members responded with everything from “that’s not allowed / illegal” to “I’m too busy.”  Are you kidding me?  Really?  Tell me you hired back 20 of the 120 drivers you laid off over the summer.  Tell me you postponed some elective construction projects to come up with the money.  Heck, tell me “hey, drop your kid off here and their ride will be cut in half”.  Tell me something…not “duhhhh, huh?” or “I’m too busy.”  The superintendent was quoted by Fox as saying last week “Well, if you live further than 2 miles, than the bus ride may be long.”  Kids aren’t eligible for school buses when they live within 2 miles of the school.   So really what he’s saying is “If your kid rides the bus, it could be a long ride.”  That’s deep, dude.

To be fair there are alternatives:

1.) We could drop off / pick up Dominick.  But….with the total number of parents who live within 2 miles or who choose to drop off/pickup their kids, it takes about 90 minutes.  We’re not wasting $150 a month and 3.5 hours (takes another 15 minutes to get home) just to save 15 minutes off his ride.

2.) We could enroll him in another school.  I checked every bus schedule that comes by here.  Every ride is between 1hr 15 min and 1hr 30 min.  I’m not changing Dominick’s school to save him 15 minutes.  There are charter schools that have shorter rides, but….their full.  There’s a waiting list.

3.) We could home school him.  Uhhh, no.  Neither Crystal nor I is qualified to give him a good education.

4.) We could move.  We have a lease through the end of the school year, but this is a very real possibility.  If we exercise this option, then our kids, our consumer spending, and our taxes go with us.  The school board might want to consider that!

The trouble with Cape Coral

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

My girlfriend Crystal and I moved to Cape Coral, FL in July of this year.  Overall the city is a nice cross between country living and the conveniences of a city.  Practically every restaurant or chain store we could want is with 10-15 miles of our house.  Yet our house itself has only 3 neighbors either touching our yard or across the street.  There are none of the neighborhood association nightmares of city living (at least in the North…I hear South Cape Coral is downright uptight).  In spite of the majority of the city being underdeveloped, the streets are mostly 4 lane, intelligently laid out, and for the most part in good repair.

However, if you are considering moving to The Cape, and are scouring, as we were a few months ago, for info about life in Cape Coral,  you might want to take some notes. 

Some of the nature here is very cool.  In our area there is a pack of coyotes that live in the 120 acres of woods across the street.  They come out every garbage day looking for leftovers.  As is fairly evident by my website, I worked with exotics, including big cats, bears, wolves, and crocs.  Consequently, the prospect of coyotes wandering the neighborhood might disturb some people, but I find it refreshing.

We also have…well had…a neighborhood skunk in the area.  Last week he was hit by a car.  He freaked out Crystal who dreaded the thought of the skunk spraying the dogs.  But still, he didn’t hurt anything, and seemed to just survey the area.  As long as they are not stirring up the dogs just to spray, I don’t mind skunks.

But…. (big “but” here)

No See-Um’s (Biting Midges, Sand Flies)

In internet slang WTF!?!?!?  These little bastards are outrageous.  Mosquitoes with a voracious apetite for blood and small enough to crawl through the screen of a pool enclosure.  Nothing kills them.  We tried marigolds, catnip, Terminix, Bug Free Back Yard, those little personal powered bug repellants…nothing works.  Asking our neighbor, Dan, he replied “Stay inside at dusk and dawn.”  Are you kidding me?  If you are outdoorsy, like Crystal and I are…seriously reconsider SW Florida.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are all over the South.  I came across them from time to time in Davie, FL (Western Ft. Lauderdale area…just north of Miami).  But they are EVERYWHERE here.  After we moved in I found 6 piles.  This problem is at least fixable.  We tried Terminix, and a couple sprays, but what kicks their little fire-breathing buts is “Spectracide Fire Ant Once and Done”.  24-hours and the little buggers were nowhere to be found.

Beyond the bugs, the tax rates and the politics here, as in much of Florida are a little nuts.  There was a big todo here not too long ago because the city wanted to tax the heck out of the residents to pay for water improvements based on possible future growth.  I wouldn’t mind having city water here, but “future growth”?  Out of all the areas I looked at before we moved, this are had the lowest expected future growth!

Water is another disconcerting issue.  While South Cape is on city water, much of North and West Cape is on wells.  The wells are deep, but get this…the water contains sulfurous compounds.  That’s right, your water will smell like rotten eggs!  Mmmm.  Every house around has a water softener that pretty much does the trick.  However, many houses here have sprinklers which bypass the water softeners.  If you like to jog or walk in the early morning, you probably don’t want to live in NW Cape.  Every house who has a sprinkler system will smell…bad!

Finally, Chinese Drywall.  Yes, that’s right…drywall from China.  Certain areas of the United States were growing by leaps and bounds between 2004 and 2007 (including SW Florida).  Demand for drywall was through the roof.  So some contractors started ordering drywall from China.  One particular province used power plant waste or something to create its drywall.  It (like the water here) smells of rotten eggs.  Not only that but the sulfurous compounds mix with water to make a weak sulfuric acid which apparently has done a lot of damage to wiring and AC systems around the area.  Thankfully, we don’t appear to be living in a house plagued by this. 

Overall, we could have done much worse than Cape Coral.  But I have to admit it’s pretty bad when you move to a new area and within 30 days start weighing whether you want to move again or not.  When Crystal asked Dominick “Do you like it here” after a month of living in the new house, Dominick replied casually “No.”  “Why?” asked Crystal.  “I’m tired of getting bit by bugs,” Dominick responded.  “I want to live back at the old place.”  [An 800 sqft 2 bed 1 bath condo].  “But here you have a yard, your own pool, a sandbox, a swingset, and lots of room to play and have fun.  You wouldn’t have that at the old place.”  Dominick watched the oncoming, morning school bus pulling up to our driveway.  “I don’t care, I’m just tired of getting bit.”  I’m on it, buddy.  I’m on it.