In time for Labor Day weekend, we asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: Is South Florida too much work or too much play? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
As a teacher, I’d initially say that there’s a nice balance. I mean, between summer vacation, Christmas and spring break, plus all the holidays and planning days, we have it pretty good.
But many times, the process to play is too much work. Start with the oppressive heat and humidity that starts to grind on your body as the aging process continues. Then there is the insane traffic trying to go “play,” and once you arrive at most all destinations, there is usually a worse problem with parking.
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We can’t wait to retire (both teachers) and move out of this state, even though we’re both Miami natives and my father was a graduate of Miami Senior in 1924! That’s a long connection, time-wise.
Jim Kononoff, Miami
I’ve always tried to hit a happy medium. When I was working I still tried to play. I would stop by Tamiami Park on the way home to run with friends. When out of town on business I would bring along my tennis racquet to play where we stayed and at home on weekends I would work on an activity with my family.
Larry Whipple, Miami
The problem with South Florida is that it is neither. The issue is that you have companies that pay below market prices for wages and the justification being that the sun is part of the benefits (yes, I actually got that in an interview with a company that no longer exists.)
Given the above attitude it is all work and when we get to play we play hard.
Mike Vidal, Miami
I believe that those who truly work for a living are forced to be in the “too much work” category. They don’t have enough disposable income to ever “play too much.” As a single parent, I worked way too much to insure the roof over our heads, the food on our table and the health insurance necessary to take care of the childhood injuries. In today’s work world, I don’t believe that the working poor even have the opportunities to do what I did. Wages have stagnated, while costs have risen. Those who must work, work too much. Those who play, do so not even recognizing those who cannot.
Patti Lynn, Tamarac
We have become a community of haves and have nots. If you have, you can play. If you have not, you work more than one job in order to maintain and there is precious little time and/or money to play.
Good visual example: On weekends there is a “community” of people with folding chairs and umbrellas who sit on the shore line at Government Cut with their coolers and sandwiches. In the distance are upscale condos and hotels. In front of them cruise ships carrying well-heeled guests to the Caribbean. Behind them are the diners enjoying prime beef and premium cocktails at Smith and Wolenski.
Ned Skiff, Fort Lauderdale
I work in media and sometimes find it difficult to find freelance talent who display the work ethic of freelancers in New York or Los Angeles. Many freelancers show up late and are not prepared to work at the call time. In big cities, due to greater talent pools, they would be fired immediately. I don’t think that people come to Miami to “make it.” They come here to party. So people who do have training and solid work ethics can rise quickly.
Aaron Glickman, Sunny Isles Beach
The majority of people fall into the too much work category. They need to work to make ends meet. South Florida, unlike the northern and central part of the state, has a higher cost of living.
The people who do not have to worry about money may tend to play more than the average person.
Kathleen Jarvis, Margate
Neither. As an artist I’ve found myself working seven days a week. Being out and about allows me to meet people from all over the world. Having that luxury allows me to work hard and play hard at the same time. I’m very approachable, and I’m always going to different events in South Florida and having a good time. Eleven years ago I was a tourist and now I’ve been a resident for 10.
Gregory Pitts, Weston
Whether it is you or a tourist, when you are out having fun think about the wait staff, busboys, cooks, janitors, doormen, valet guys, etc., who are all working second jobs to make an existence. Obviously South Florida is too much work for the locals.
Paul Kavanaugh, Weston
I think South Florida has a fair balance of work and play. I am a bit biased, as my work is play — being in the event business. But hard work deserves good play and South Florida has a scene that is great if you like clubs, dancing and professional sports. Where we really lack is in affordable entertainment that all can enjoy. Go to Chicago, Boston, New York, L.A., Cleveland, Seattle, Nashville, Indianapolis and many other city centers during the summer and you will find lots of activities that everyone can enjoy for free or little cost. These events are usually near their waterfronts or near the city centers and they involve food, live music, culture and retail — all in one area. Regretfully, we have given up too many of our cherished waterfront views to developers to build cement jungles and we’ve almost killed off the best we could have to show. We also lack a good live music scene. In almost any major city in the U.S., you can ask a stranger where to go to listen to live music and you’ll get several suggestions. In Miami, there is really only a DJ scene, not a live music scene.
Jeffrey Greene, Davie
We are way too much talk about too much work. Too many conversations consist of little else but one-upmanship tales of exhausting work schedules.
Seth Gordon, Miami
I think you work hard in South Florida, but I think this is more a U.S. issue than just South Florida. South Florida offers better weather than most other areas and allows us to play harder. Having just returned from northern Spain one realizes that in Spain one works to live as opposed to us here in the U.S. who live to work.
Manny Gomez, Miami
It really depends on the profession you work in. If you are in social services, there’s just so much to do, so many people in need, that the work far outweighs the play.
Sandra Bernard-Bastien, Fort Lauderdale
Floridians have a well balanced work/family life. When we need to work, we work hard. When we need to rest and play, we do it all the way. We are lucky to have many amenities, beaches, restaurants, cruises, bowling alleys, parks, clubs, Everglades, museums, stadiums, concerts and libraries. We only lack snow, but hey, nobody is perfect. Upper states with lots of snow wish they had the sun, water and sand we enjoy here. The job market is not as vibrant as it used to be, but that is everywhere. We still survive and live. And yes, we enjoy our sunny Florida.
Danilo Lopez, Miami
It really depends on what you do. I am a meteorologist, and I have a regular 40-hour work week, but my sons work part time, but almost every day and night as well. For them, it seems like all work and no play, but for me it’s just like it would be anywhere else.
Robert Black, South Miami
I am blessed to work and live in such a peaceful setting as I do. South Florida’s farm life suits me well, and I enjoy all the events I plan and people I get to meet. I’ve been fortunate enough to send 30 couples happily down the aisle, have cooked for and fed hundreds of people, baked over 2,000 cookies and have worked with three major television networks.
Despite my rural work and home setting, Miami’s rat race is still very near to me. At 32, I met and married my soulmate. He was the one who pushed me to pursue my dreams by allowing me to quit my job at the time and supporting us while my business came together. He works a minimum of 60 hours a week and works every weekend with me. Together, we pull 17 hour days on Saturdays during season. My husband’s typical day begins at 5 a.m. with a two-hour commute into downtown Miami. At around 7 p.m., it’s another two hours heading home. It’s the equivalent of driving to Orlando daily.
We both are strong believers in hard work and are not afraid of it. South Florida is an amazing place to work and play. Being the oldest of four children, I live vicariously through my younger siblings and love seeing them enjoy all this peninsula has to offer.
In the mid 90s, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau had a magazine ad that stuck out to me one day. I tore it out and hung it on my wall for many years. It read “Miami, a city with a rhythm all its own. Experience the rhythm.” For some reason, I always think back on that ad. While the music may have changed and the beat may be different, I like to think I’m still dancing to Miami’s rhythm, and as we all know, Miami is a great city for dancers.
Santi Gabino, Homestead