Lifelong New Yorker Melissa Schneider made the leap to the “Sixth Borough”
Melissa Schneider and her husband were “true” New Yorkers, she explains. After growing up in Queens and Long Island, she moved to Manhattan for a decade. “Then we headed to Brooklyn with our boys,” Melissa says. “But pretty soon we were bursting out of our two-bedroom. So we continued with the natural urban-to-suburban progression—we headed to Long Island.”
Moving to Long Island, she explains, made perfect sense. Both she and her husband have family on Long Island and, quickly, they settled in Roslyn, building a house and diving into suburban living. Something, though, was missing.
“About four or five years after we moved to Roslyn, my husband had a chance to go to Palm Beach County for work,” she says. “My only Florida frame of reference at that point was Miami Beach. My grandparents were from Cuba and lived in Miami. We spent every break with them. But I knew nothing about Boca. I had to figure it all out—it was like a totally foreign land to us.”
Exploring the South Florida Suburbs…Solo
With that, Melissa started pounding the pavement. “I wish, wish, wish Suburban Jungle had been in South Florida when I was searching,” she says. “I had to do so much heavy lifting on my own—I didn’t know who to ask or who to trust, so our research became more crowd-sourcing than anything. I asked everyone for an opinion. I searched every site. I read every article. But that’s not efficient.”
Quickly, Melissa restructured her process, focusing on her priorities and where they knew they needed to be. By being in the Boca/Delray area of Palm Beach County, they could ensure her husband’s commute didn’t exceed 30 minutes—a huge improvement on his three-hour round trip commute in New York. She also knew the Boca schools had a solid reputation and the kind of culture, vibe and diversity she was looking for—and more opportunities to build, like they’d done on Long Island.
“The more we explored those areas—the communities, the schools, the culture and arts and activities—the more we loved,” Melissa says. “We wound up zeroing in on a specific school district in ‘suburban’ Delray Beach, where we rented in a short-term rental community until our house was ready last spring.”
Helping Families Make the Leap to South Florida
Now, Melissa is taking her unique insights and intel and helping families like hers make the leap: today she’s at the helm of Suburban Jungle’s South Florida office.
“Florida is the ‘sixth borough,’” she says, “so I’m working with lots of families who are just like mine—moving away from the hustle and bustle of New York City to South Florida. But that’s just a piece of it. We work with all different types of clients—families coming from Canada and Europe and from all over the U.S. This area has become a hugely popular destination for so many reasons.”
Beyond just the financial incentives of living in Florida, she says, many families recognize the weather and the lifestyle perks. Others, she says, are “Resizers”—people retiring or about to retire who are ready to settle into that next phase, often in a dream location.
“My job is to help them understand and synthesize—exactly what I wish someone would have done for me!” Melissa says. “People don’t know the real Florida—they need direction. This is one of the most diverse places in the country, and there’s something for everyone. With my local perspective, I can help give families really targeted insights and intel. I can help them find the balance they’re looking for without the overwhelm and misinformation.”
That perspective, she says, is essential to her strategy process. Some families, she explains, want walkability with a more “downtown” vibe. Others want to be near the beach or near trails and parks. For some, it’s all about proximity to Miami or West Palm Beach for work. Some want boating communities, fishing communities or country club communities—and it’s all right here, Melissa says. You just need to know where to look.
“South Florida is so alive,” she says. “I work with clients to hone in on their wants, needs and dreams so we can find a community that syncs. Because when you find that community, it’s just incredible—South Florida is a place people can truly thrive. Moving here is an amazing lifestyle choice.”
Now nearly two years into her family’s move, Melissa can’t believe she waited so long, and is eager to lend her insight and expertise to fellow families.
“I was nervous at first, but seeing my kids enjoy the lifestyle has been so great. It’s lighter so much later, so they’re outside all the time. Their schools have been so welcoming and they made friends immediately. They’re on sports teams with professional coaches and they just love it.” And while they miss friends and family in the Northeast, Melissa says thanks to technology and frequent visits from loved ones, the transition has been extremely smooth.
“And I admit, I’m surprised—in the best possible way,” Melissa says, “I will always have New York in my heart and soul, but South Florida was the best possible move for us. I’m so grateful for our new lifestyle every day.”
Find your happy place—whether it’s just outside of city limits or not. Get in touch to schedule your Suburbs Strategy session now and explore your options from coast to coast.