I moved to Jacksonville in October of 2020. It’s a city I used to travel to for work with past jobs. I knew the city somewhat well and was looking forward to a new start. That said, I was expecting to miss Orlando as I had grown up there, and came back to live as an adult, for many years.
Two years into living in Jacksonville, I can honestly say I don’t miss Orlando at all. That’s not to say Orlando isn’t a great place. I’d rather live there than many other cities. I just love what Jacksonville, and north Florida as a whole, has to offer. The convenient location, the many highways to mitigate traffic, the beaches, and the vastly underrated restaurant scene make living here a pleasure. The traffic is big for me. Growing up in Orlando, I was a first-hand witness to the growth, and as a result, increased traffic across the city. I-4 was, is, and will always be a nightmare, even with the new toll lanes. The last advantage is the climate. It’s still Florida so it gets plenty hot, but being closer to the water and 140 miles north of Orlando makes a big difference. I can walk to my local watering hole without sweating before I get there. Heck yeah!
I like to wear a Miami Hurricanes shirt or hat sometimes, especially on the weekends. In Orlando, there always seemed to be at least one, usually multiple, Seminole or Gator fans (let’s be honest, it’s mostly Gator fans) who would make a comment or just be generally annoying. This led to me being continually outnumbered at any local bar there. There was always me, and maybe one other random Canes fan I could bond with. In my new home of Jacksonville, there are no such issues. I can wear my Miami swag freely without annoyance.
Miami fans are like endangered species in Jacksonville. So when we come in contact with each other, there is an immediate bond. A strong head nod is the minimum; an in-depth conversation about the state of the team is the maximum.
The relief of not being persecuted for wearing anything Miami, combined with the earlier advantages listed, has made me a calmer viewer of Canes games themselves. I used to be a certified maniac in front of my television. Now, I am much more restrained. My next door neighbor said he only heard me scream 20 times last Saturday. Just kidding. I think.
One thing I forgot about when moving to Jacksonville, was how close it is to Georgia. A thirty-minute drive takes you into the Peach State. I bring this up because I run into more Georgia Bulldog fans here than FSU or UF fans. It is such a relief! Miami fans, myself included, don’t really have any issues with Georgia fans, and vice versa. I have a few of them as neighbors in my building and they are delightful people.
I was invited by these same neighbors to watch last year’s Miami vs Alabama and Clemson vs Georgia season kickoff doubleheader. The host was also a huge Georgia fan. There were about 10 Georgia fans there in total. They were hospitable and had great food! Best of all, they were rooting for Miami against ‘Bama and were genuinely bummed out for me after the ass-kicking was completed. Man, that game sucked. Thankfully, the friendly host had an open bar that allowed me to dull the pain.
Miami and Georgia fans have one definite thing in common: our dislike of the Florida Gators. I was lucky enough to go to the Georgia vs Florida game last year. It was my first time, and it did not disappoint. The tailgate was as advertised. I attended with one of my best friends and his wife, both UF alumni. While it would’ve been nice to sit and cheer with the Georgia fans, watching their crowd from across the stadium was plenty entertaining. Georgia’s three touchdowns in just over two minutes to close out the first half deflated the Gator side of the stadium and put a big smile on my face.
Overall, being a Miami Hurricane fan living in Jacksonville is great and a far more pleasant existence than being in Orlando, amongst other places. There are friendly Georgia fans, less stress, fewer Seminole fans, and most importantly, fewer Gator fans. It’s a paradise up here!