Walter L. Woodrick
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The price of living in paradise

Wendy and I love living in Gulf County – the pace, the people, and the proximity to water, recreation (golf and pickleball, of course!), family, and the things that attract family to come to the area to see us (or is it just to visit the area?). 

While pace, people, and proximity are positive aspects, one negative “p” is price. There is a fairly high cost associated with living in paradise. Grocery prices are higher than in larger towns, but I honestly love The Pig, I believe George Duren is a good man, and I am enjoying getting to know Billy and Matthew in the meat department as well as the Jamaicans who drive in a van every day from Panama City to come take care of us.

Another price associated with living in paradise is the high cost of real estate. The Jamaican grocery staff are prime examples that a large portion of the local labor force drives between 45 minutes and two hours to work in our area because they can’t afford to live here. Two negative events, in hindsight, might actually prove to have been very positive for the area. Can you name them?

October 2018: Wendy and I were living in Tennessee when Hurricane Michael hit, but, as horrible as it was, some people have told me it was a blessing for a variety of reasons such as a recentering of values and relationships, remodeling of older homes, and business opportunities. I would love to hear your opinion on this.

2020: The pandemic highlighted how easy it is to work remotely, and people took advantage of that and moved to their dream locations. Gulf and Franklin counties benefited greatly. Maybe one day we can let every non-native tell us how and why they (we) got to the area. I have already encountered many interesting people from interesting places and backgrounds. Stimulus money also helped families and businesses.

Why am I discussing this in a financial column? reports that job postings in the 20% of states with the highest income taxes are now 5% below pre-pandemic levels; there are fewer jobs available in high-tax states than in 2020. But, in contrast, in the 20% of states with the lowest state income tax rates, job postings are 37% above pre-pandemic levels. This fact could impact which municipal bonds, stocks, corporate bonds, private businesses, or real estate an investor might consider to purchase or sell. When more people want things that are in limited supply, the prices generally go up – and I don’t even need my economics degree from Vanderbilt to figure that out! This is good for Gulf and Franklin counties, but, yes, it does have its drawbacks.

Let’s appreciate where we live, work, and play. Let’s treat each other with respect, love and dignity. Let’s help those less fortunate. Let’s always be financially and spiritually prepared for the unexpected. Let’s keep our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts open to opportunities to buy and situations in which to sell. Living in paradise is….. 

Gulf County resident Walter L. Woodrick is a certified financial planner practitioner, and the author of two books. His website is You can text Walter at 850.724.1369. Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 581918-1

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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