In the years that I have been in Florida, not only the roads, hospitals and doctor's offices have been full to capacity during the winter, but the beaches, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, garage sales, mini-golf, Dollar Stores, parks, rental properties and amusement parks are always crowded during tourist season. Florida's tourist season is usually from right around the holiday weeks and lasts until Easter. It can include everyone from the well heeled yuppies, to couples and families, some foreigners but for the most part, well off seniors that can afford to maintain a home up north and a smaller home down here.
This year there have been some major differences. Houses are for sale, lots of them! Two years ago, a decent rental home was hard to find. Most entrepreneurs that were "flipping" houses were able to sell them quickly and definitely did not want to rent them to anyone. It was a buyer's market and a renter found himself with few choices for places to live.
Now there are many rental properties. The owners that cannot sell their homes cannot afford to let their investments sit empty and be able to pay the mortgage at the same time. The apartment complexes, of which most had "gone condo" a few years back, are now offering move in specials with little or no security deposits or no credit checks. It is great being a renter these days, when one does not own property, one cannot lose their money or the equity on their investment. Definitely a safer place to be! Tampa Bay is number two in the country for foreclosed homes!
Right now, the stores and restaurants are all but empty with sales and special prices galore! Easy to get a table at a popular night spot! Medical personnel are reporting that the census is down in their workplaces. Parks are busy, especially RV campgrounds, but anything that costs a lot of money cannot seem to accumulate a crowd...
There might be a few exceptions! Superbowl and the Gasparilla festivities are coming up...but not too sure how many of our "laid off or in danger of being laid off" locals will be able to afford tickets to either event in addition to paying more than $12 for a beer and a hot dog.