- Tony Stanol moved to Sarasota, Florida from California and prefers the East Coast oasis.
- He now pays $2,400 in rent compared to sky-high property taxes on his $1 million Calabasas home.
- He said some complaints about Florida’s popularity, from traffic to crowds, haven’t bothered him.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Tony Stanol, 66, about his life after moving to Sarasota, Florida from Calabasas, California.
Stanol runs a advertising recruiting firm that operates in both California and Florida.
After moving his family from Connecticut to California in 2005, Stanol and his wife became empty nesters and decided to move across the country. They sold their 3,500-square-foot home in Calabasas for $1.2 million, according to Stanol, and have been renting a 2,400-square-foot home in Sarasota, Florida for nine years.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m from New Jersey, worked in New York for most of my career, and raised a family in Connecticut. In 2005, we moved across the country. We sold our house in Connecticut and bought one in Calabasas, California.
Once my two daughters had graduated and were out of the house, my wife and I were empty nesters in Calabasas.
I went to the office every day and my wife was rattling around in this big five-bedroom house. We thought, ‘What are we paying for?’ We could live much more cheaply in Florida.
Stanol, his wife, and two daughters at an art museum in Sarasota.
We decided that we did like the warm weather in contrast to living in the Northeast, so we weren’t heading back to Connecticut anytime soon.
Why I chose Sarasota over other spots
I had targeted Florida because I came to a business meeting there a few years earlier in Clearwater and I thought, ‘Wow, this is way different than the East Coast of Florida.’
We did a scouting mission when we thought we might like the Gulf Coast. We took a week and a half one summer and drove from Sanibel up to Tampa and St. Pete and scoped out all the places along the way.
Sanibel has a really nice vacation community, but not much else going on — not much culture on that island. Port Charlotte didn’t do it for us. Cape Coral was meh.
As we headed up the coast, we were getting more and more depressed thinking, ‘Well, maybe this isn’t going to work after all.’
But when we arrived in Sarasota, it was like the angels started singing. It was beautiful. We caught it at the right time, as it was sunset over the Gulf. We fell in love with Sarasota in that moment.
I’ve been renting in Florida for nine years
We sold our house in Calabasas for $1.2 million. The taxes were over $12,000 annually plus earthquake and fire insurance.
The other tax that really got us was the income tax. There’s no state income tax in Florida, so upon moving I gave myself an immediate 12.5% raise.
We ended up not buying here. We’ve been renting for nine years and it’s kind of refreshing because if anything breaks down — and every appliance has in the past nine years — it’s just a quick phone call to the landlady and she replaces everything.
Our rent is about $2,400 a month.
We settled in this house thinking we’d be in here for a year and then maybe move closer to downtown Sarasota, but we’ve stayed put. Maybe we’ll make a move one of these days, but not with the housing prices being what they are now.
There’s less congestion on Florida’s West Coast
I’m not seeing a huge influx of people. I know there were 1,000 coming a day, but they’re not all coming to Sarasota. It’s a big state.
The West Coast of Florida is less congested.
My view on the East Coast is that it’s full of old cranky former New Yorkers. Whereas the West Coast has attracted a lot of Midwesterners.
Sarasota has a much older demographic than Calabasas. However, for the better, we’ve seen the place get younger. Certainly our community and downtown are thriving with a lot of younger people out and about.
Stanol hosting a show at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota.
I like the influx of younger energy here. It’s much nicer and I think it’s more compatible with my wife and I and our lifestyles.
My wife is an artist and she wants to show her art at galleries and take lessons and be around other artists.
I got into improv comedy first in Hollywood and thought I’d have to give it up here. I literally thought I’d be giving up improv and have to take up some other hobby like golf or pickleball — but the improv community here is thriving.