People are moving to paradise even during a pandemic. As working from home and remote learning continues, there is a rise in people moving to Southwest Florida to do those things.
For Margo Van Camp from Michigan, Southwest Florida is a fairytale come to life.
“So basically, what you have to do is read a couple books and pick your favorite one,” Van Camp said.
She thinks the weather in her home state is probably gross right now, but is happy that at least she doesn’t have to be there.
“Probably 30 degrees right now there’s snow on the ground,” Van Camp said.
Other moms, like Stephanie Slocum, are spending their school days in the sun. She’s renting a condo in Collier County.
“I have three kids,” Slocum said. “They’re all virtual until the 24th, so we wanted to take advantage of that and be in the sunshine and in the warmth.”
Amy Delp is conducting business between her beach days.
“My husband and I both work remotely,” Delp said. “We are from Northern Indiana where it’s freezing, and we are staying for three months, until March.”
These and other remote workers are saying they not only wanted to escape the cold but tighter COVID-19 restrictions in other states.
“You can’t go out to eat, really,” Van Camp said. “You can’t do the activities that you want to do… everybody is really very limited.”
“A lot of people are wearing sanitizing gloves, masks everywhere, and sometimes even masks in the car,” Slocum said. “It does kind of look like a ghost town. It’s sad. It makes me sad for economic purposes.”
But in Collier County, rentals and restaurants welcome the economic boost from the north.
The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce is starting a campaign to attract even more remote workers in March. While there is hope for this to strengthen the local economy, managing growth remains a top challenge for Collier County’s future.