Monday, January 18, 2016

Sometimes Plans Change - Unexpected Move to Florida!

Workampers are typically very flexible people. We like change, new adventures, and learning new things. But I still like to have a plan for my adventures and stick to that plan!

We had a Plan for this winter - go to Mission, Texas and work at a great RV resort in the Activities Department! Sounds simple enough! It is a job we have always wanted to try because you get to schedule fun activities for the guests, decorate, meet new people, and go to the activities for free!  So we agreed to this position knowing we would be working 25 hours per week for both of us just for our site. Since we are not officially "retired," our plan was to get jobs outside the park as we would have plenty of free time. We are always willing to do just about any job that pays decent as long as we can live in an area that we would like to explore. We discussed this with the manager when we interviewed for the job and he agreed that we should have plenty of time available to work outside the park as long as we were at all the required park activities. This was a job that we shared with two other couples. We did look online at a few jobs in Mission prior to our arrival, but still thought we wouldn't  have any trouble finding jobs once we got there.  

Sunset, Christmas lights and Palm Trees - doesn't get any better!

In early November we arrived at the Bentsen Palm RV Village Resort and it was very nice just as we expected. The layout of the campground is very unique and our site was large with lots of bushes and flowers. The managers and other workampers were so fun to get to know especially at the weekly Margarita Night! The area was beautiful and had everything we needed along with a World Birding Center, State Park just a couple blocks away, and a Butterfly Sanctuary within a couple miles. It was also on a bike trail which is something we always look for. 

We started looking for jobs right away and applied at Walmart, Target, HEB grocery stores, etc. and also a few restaurants.   We waited and applied some more and didn't even get an interview, even at the larger stores at Christmas time. As we were applying we realized a lot of the jobs requested employees that were bilingual. We did avoid applying at these places but I believe even those that didn't advertise it did expect staff to be bilingual. Doug was interested in working at a restaurant that was right on the Rio Grande River. We went in and applied in person and then followed up with a phone call a couple weeks later. With some persistence Doug did finally get a job there working 2 days a week.  While that was great to land that job, a couple days a week was not going to keep us afloat for the next 3-4 months.

Toward the end of December we recalculated the budget - again - and realized we probably needed to do something different. We could survive here if we absolutely had to by dipping into savings, but that is usually a last resort. It was a very difficult decision because we never want to leave jobs early as employers count on us workampers to fulfill our commitment. We like to keep our word and be trustworthy. Also it would cost us to relocate so we had to take that into consideration. We finally made the hard decision to see if there was a paying job available either in Texas or Florida. The day after we made that decision, Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, a place we had worked at previously in Sarasota, Florida, had an ad in the Workamper Hotline looking for workers in their restaurant. This seemed like a good solution to our problem as we were familiar with the area and the resort, and it would be a little easier to adjust coming in the middle of the season. We figured out the cost of moving to Florida versus staying in Texas and decided it would be well worth the effort to make the change. After several texts and phone calls the resort approved our application and we were on schedule to be there by January 1.

Then came the hard part of telling our managers and coworkers we were leaving. The managers were great and very understanding of our situation. They had been workampers themselves for many years and understood the money issues.  We told our coworkers and agreed we would stay through Christmas to help with the Christmas dinners as we had previously planned. We had met so many awesome people there - the other workampers and guests too! It was a smaller park and all seemed very friendly and welcoming to anyone new that ventured into their resort. The best we could hope for was to come back here someday when money was not a factor.

The reason I am telling you about our change in our plans is to let you know sometimes you have to make hard decisions to do whatever is necessary to keep you on the road. Even though you research and try to plan ahead, sometimes things just don't work out.  Of course we wish this wouldn't have happened but it was a very valuable lesson for us and we wanted to try something different. We probably should have done more research into the possibility of finding jobs in the Mission area before we committed to our workamper job. We probably should have made some phone calls to employers instead of just looking online prior to arriving. We probably should also learn Spanish!

So now we are all settled in to our cozy little spot of living on the Suncoast and are glad we made the move. We like the new adventures workamping brings, but it is also very comforting to come back to a familiar area, job, and friends that you have worked with before!

I still think it is possible to work a few hours for your site and then get jobs outside the RV park but it greatly depends on the location and the time of year. Some places that are busy on a seasonal basis may not be a good choice during off season. Research, Plan and Be Flexible!

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  1. Great to hear your at Fun & Sun, I stayed there in August, love that place. My daughters live in Sarasota, so maybe I will get to meet you on my next trip. Btw, how is your "planner" going? I haven't seen it advertised yet. Carol

    1. If you are ever in Sarasota I would love to meet with you Carol! Planner is going good! There are several links to it here on my blog and have posted links in several Facebook groups. Please let me know if you can't find the info or have suggestions of where else to advertise! Great to hear from you!

  2. So glad this change worked for you Sue - flexibiity is an important life skill! Enjoy the coast.

    1. Thanks Lori! Flexibility runs in the Nelson Family! Its kind of our family joke so we don't take ourselves too seriously! Take Care!


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