How much does it cost to winter in Florida in 1924?

(From an arti­cle writ­ten in 1924 by Karl H. Grismer)

Percy Gotrocks, who graces Palm Beach with his pres­ence dur­ing the win­ter months, con­sid­ers him­self for­tu­nate if he can get through a sea­son with­out part­ing from about sixty thou­sand dol­lars. His “shack” on Ocean Boule­vard has a ret­inue of ser­vants that could man a hotel, and their wages are only a small part of Percy’s expenses. The way his par­ties waste away his bankroll is almost a crime.??

Of course, Percy could econ­o­mize if he cared to, but what would his friends think! He has to put on the dog or peo­ple will get the idea that the Gilt­edge Invest­ment Com­pany, of which he is pres­i­dent, is going to the bow-wows. As for Mrs. Percy, she wouldn’t think of com­ing to Florida with­out buy­ing at least a dozen new gowns, fif­teen or twenty pairs of shoes, and a cou­ple of thou­sand dol­lars worth of other stuff. Why, she wouldn’t feel half dressed! So she splurges hand­somely, and Mr. Percy pays the bills.??

Not every­one who win­ters in Florida can afford to dis­re­gard expenses like Mr. and Mrs. Percy. Most peo­ple have to watch closely every item of expense, and if the total threat­ens to mount too high, they stay up North, regard­less of the dis­com­forts of north­ern bliz­zards. The sun­shine and the flow­ers of Florida call them, but they turn a deaf ear.??

There is no mys­tery regard­ing the cost of win­ter­ing in Florida. Despite all ideas to the con­trary, a per­son can esti­mate before leav­ing home how much his expenses will be. And he can come within a few dol­lars of being right. There need be no guess­work about it.

?The first item to con­sider is the cost of trans­porta­tion. That is the sim­plest of all. By inquir­ing at the rail­road ticket office the prospec­tive tourist can learn exactly how much the fare will be. For per­sons liv­ing north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mis­sis­sippi the fare would prob­a­bly aver­age $60 each way, includ­ing Pull­man, or $120 for the round trip.??

Fol­low­ing trans­porta­tion, the next major item of expense is that of rent. Although many tourists live in hotels, the major­ity leases houses or apart­ments for the sea­son. And the prices, of course, vary greatly. They range from a medium of about $250 for the sea­son to $3,000 or even more.??

Small houses, in the sub­urbs, can some­times be obtained for the same price as the cheaper apart­ments. As a gen­eral thing, how­ever, the min­i­mum sea­sonal rent for a place with mod­ern con­ve­niences and ade­quate fur­nish­ings is about $400. A five-room house, close in, can be obtained for from $700 to $1,000.??

Many per­sons may think the above rents are exces­sive. It must be remem­bered that the houses and apart­ments in the resort city remain empty dur­ing the sum­mer months or else are rented for very small amounts. In order to break even the resort city land­lord must charge as much for the win­ter sea­son as the north­ern land­lord does for the whole year.??

The wide range of exist­ing rents makes it dif­fi­cult to esti­mate exactly just what the tourist will have to spend for liv­ing quar­ters. But for the pur­pose of esti­mat­ing the aver­age cost of win­ter­ing in Florida, let’s use the $400 figure.??

The next major item of expense, fol­low­ing trans­porta­tion and rent, is that for food. To give exact fig­ures for this expense, of course, is impos­si­ble. One tourist cook­ing his own meals, may live well on $5 a week or less. Another, eat­ing the most expen­sive foods at an expen­sive restau­rant, may pay $5 or more each day. The tourist may spend as much as or just as lit­tle as he chooses. It all depends upon his appetite and his purse.??

The tourist who eats reg­u­larly in cafe­te­rias and restau­rants can fig­ure that he can get by eas­ily for $2 a day, and have every­thing he wants to eat. The chances are he will have enough left over from the weekly food allowance of $14 to send a box of cit­rus fruit to his north­ern friends occasionally.??

To get back again to the prob­lem of esti­mat­ing the aver­age cost of win­ter­ing in Florida, for a 6-month sea­son the total cost for food and house­hold expenses would be about $300.??

Trans­porta­tion, rent and food are the major items of expense. Aside from those there is noth­ing that will mount into money. The mat­ter of clothes can be dis­missed almost entirely. The tourist need only bring his sum­mer clothes and a few win­ter gar­ments along with him and he will be all set.??

Amuse­ments will not cost the tourist half as much as it does up North. In the pub­lic parks he can play all man­ner of games; he can go fish­ing; he can attend the pub­lic band con­certs and lis­ten to the music of the best bands in the coun­try; he can attend the enter­tain­ments of the tourist soci­eties. All this costs him next to nothing.??

In sum­ma­riz­ing, let us fig­ure how much it costs a man and wife to enjoy a Florida win­ter. The trans­porta­tion cost for the cou­ple would be about $240. The rent total would be about $400. The cost of meals and house­hold expenses, for a six-month sea­son, would be about $300, con­sid­er­ing that the cou­ple ate at home. Allow $100 for inci­den­tals. That brings the com­plete total up to $1,040 for the six month sea­son, cer­tainly not a pro­hib­i­tive amount for per­sons in even very mod­er­ate circumstances.??

Is a win­ter in Florida worth that amount? Is it worth it to leave the snow, and rains, and gloom, and sick­ness of a north­ern win­ter, to go to the land where all the time is sum­mer; where the mocking-birds sing their songs of glad­ness; where the palm trees are gen­tly waved by warm breezes from gulf and ocean? We’ll say it is!??

And when you come to Florida and try one of the sum­mer­win­ters for your­self, you’ll say so, too.

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