A Two-Time Suburban Jungle Family Heads from New Jersey to South Florida

Nov 9, 2020

Jessica Geller and her family made a COVID-19 move to Parkland—and did everything from their Essex Fells home…

Jessica Geller and her family had slowly been inching out of the NYC suburbs for years—but their most recent move was a major change that, until recently, even they didn’t see coming. Their first move was a common one: they headed from Manhattan to Hoboken, where they welcomed twins and settled into life in New Jersey.

“For us, it was testing the water a bit,” she explains. “I knew Hoboken was a stopover—leave the city, go to Hoboken!” After the twins arrived, though, she and her husband immediately started thinking about what next. “The twins were two and I was pregnant with our third, and we needed more space and wanted a more suburban life. We wanted what we had growing up—getting in the car and going places, neighborhood schools, things like that.”

After connecting with Suburban Jungle and Strategist Patti Natiss, Jessica and her family fell in love with Essex Fells, New Jersey. “It is truly the most special community,” Jessica says. “I loved everything about it—except the weather.”

Despite the cooler climate, the family never thought much beyond Essex Fells—until this past April.

“I was sitting there, freezing and I just thought, ‘is this what we want?’ COVID-19 was happening and it was an opportunity to really check ourselves—it felt like a chance to make a change and do something else,” Jessica explains. “I’d always had this fantasy of moving to Florida—my parents are in Boca—but I never thought I’d have the guts to do it. And besides, my husband works in New York, so I thought it was a non-starter.”

Craving warmer weather—and considering a lifestyle move

Even so, Jessica began to lay some initial groundwork and see if a move to Florida could be in the cards. As an interior designer and owner of Toledo Geller, Jessica knew she could grow her business in South Florida while maintaining a presence in the greater New York City area. Her husband didn’t come around as quickly. While his financial firm has an office in Miami, it was always more administrative, she explains. But, in June, he requested a transfer and by July his request was approved.

“It was very fast,” Jessica says. “And I was so glad to see that Suburban Jungle was also in South Florida. I reached out and got in touch with our Florida Strategist, Melissa.”

Like Jessica, Strategist Melissa Schneider also made the move from New York City to the New York suburbs and then to South Florida.

“I know this move!” Melissa says. “I know what it’s like to search remotely and to really try to get a taste for towns in the limited time you have. I was so excited to work with Jessica and her family and to help them explore the South Florida suburbs from a distance—I really wanted to make sure they zeroed in on spots that were right for them. There’s so much in the South Florida suburbs, and each community is so, so different.”

Exploring South Florida…virtually

Jessica’s move had an added layer: COVID-19. With travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines in both New York and Florida, the family couldn’t fly down for town tours.

“I was completely overwhelmed,” Jessica says. “Melissa got back to me same-day and we dug in—she explained the differences between the different towns. We looked around Boca, we even looked closer to Miami in case my husband had to go to the office every day. Melissa was amazing—she really gave me the lay of the land and really, really understood me. She was to-the-point and, given the circumstances we were in, helped us cut through the clutter and get things done. I am so thankful we found her.”

“I knew they didn’t have the luxury of time or even visiting,” Melissa says. “So my job was to listen to everything Jessica said and hone in on those just-right towns for the family. I didn’t want them to waste their time or energy virtually exploring communities that didn’t meet their criteria.”

After identifying a few of those must-see communities, Jessica’s parents met up with her Suburban Jungle agent to look at specific towns and homes—Jessica followed along via Facetime.

“As an interior designer, I’m able to look at things very clearly and say, ‘this is going to work for me’—or not—based on pictures and floor plans,” she says. “Melissa and our agent were able to get all of that, and then my parents would look at houses I liked—ultimately, they went to three houses. One was the house we wound up moving into.”

Making the decision, then making the move

At the same time, Jessica says, demand in the New Jersey market was spiking, and they knew they could sell quickly.

“It was a perfect storm,” she says. “I couldn’t just sit around or wait and see. There were bidding wars in Essex Fells which was great for us. Besides that, I wanted to get to Florida before the masses—the exodus from the city was already happening, and I knew people were going to start heading to South Florida in droves.”

On September 1, with their New Jersey house sold and the keys to their new Parkland, Florida home in hand, the family of five drove to Florida, along with their “pandemic puppy.” They stopped in Virginia and Savannah along the way, making a mini-vacation out of the 18-hour drive. Since then, they’ve been settling into their new home and their new life in South Florida—and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Jessica’s three kids are all thriving, enrolled in local schools and enjoying life in Parkland.

“It’s been amazing,” Jessica says. “It’s 90 degrees. I’m in a tank top and shorts right now, going to sit by the pool. And our kids love it—we love the neighborhood, our neighbors, everything.” Their home, she explains, is in Parkland Golf & Country Club. While they don’t golf they do play tennis and can take advantage of the other club amenities including a pool, two restaurants and kids activities, right onsite.

“I told Melissa that, if I was going to make this move, it needed to be about the lifestyle,” she says. “She delivered. Living here is like living in a resort every day. And besides that, people are so friendly and the weather is perfect. What’s not to love?”

Considering a lifestyle move—or ANY move? Contact Suburban Jungle now to schedule your Suburbs Strategy session.

Images: Jessica Geller

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