… continued from part 1:

Applied Business Analysis Technique – Prioritizing Your Requirements

Shopping an AdventureThe only unanswered question was to where. The methodology we were following indicated that we should first define our requirements for where we wanted to live, so we documented a list of about 20 criteria that any new domicile should meet. One of our secret hopes was that we might actually discover someplace where we could stay long enough to get to know which shelves in the local grocery store stocked our favorite items so that shopping would not be an adventure every time we ran out of milk (or was it beer?)

We used a “current needed, future wanted” business analysis technique to prioritize our list of requirements which included low altitude and good airport connections. Turns out that close to the top of the list was “warm climate conducive to year-round golf when we were off the road“. I have no idea how that got on the list, but it ranked as priority number 3 right behind those flight connections I mentioned. That requirement alone pretty much eliminated the northern tier of states, leaving only the southwest and states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico (or is it the Golf of Mexico?)

We immediately eliminated California because my wife was allergic to earthquakes. We were both familiar with the desert Southwest, having married in Las Vegas and visited both Arizona and New Mexico, but neither of us had any exposure to the Southeastern US (including Florida). Actually, my wife is from Germany and to any native German, Florida is halfway to paradise. I was born and raised in Montana and who would want to live in Florida with the bugs and swamps and God only knows what else. Since we agreed that we had too little data to make a decision, we decided that a site visit was in order. In early January, fleeing a rapidly approaching blizzard, we rented a 29-foot Class C RV and hit the road. We reached southern Oklahoma on the evening of the first day and pulled into a campground for the night.

The next morning, we awoke to the remnants of that blizzard that had made it that far south and produced enough snow to be beautiful but not an impediment to our journey – or so we thought. Actually, we hit the OK-Texas border on black ice, about 8 inches thick by the time all was said and done. We covered 80 miles in 17 hours and passed 23 wrecks that day and mutually crossed Texas off the list of potential future homes.

Heaven a Requirement?Next morning, we snuck past Dallas, over to Shreveport and headed south toward New Orleans. For reasons I no longer recall, Louisiana did not impress either of us beyond stopping for another night somewhere along the way. If you take I10 across Mississippi and Alabama, you hardly have time to notice that these states are there, and we wasted no time considering them. When we hit Florida, our first side trip was to the white sands of Fort Walton Beach or somewhere in that vicinity. Weather-wise, we were in heaven – 80+ degrees and sunshine beat side-ways falling snow and black ice any day in our book. Unfortunately, airport connections (our number 2 priority, remember) were non-existent there, so we had to keep searching.

For the sake of brevity, I will not go into detail on our next few stops. Suffice it to say that we crossed Florida to the Atlantic coast well North of Miami, drove all the way to the Keys (gorgeous, but lousy air connections), across Alligator Alley, and up the Gulf coast. Our trusty requirements list eliminated every potential we evaluated until we hit the Tampa Bay area. Actually, when we crossed over the Sunshine Skyway (the bridge over the opening to Tampa Bay), we both felt like we were coming home. We set up camp in Largo and investigated the area more thoroughly. The Tampa airport was newly remodeled (voted best in the nation that year by the International Foundation of Airline Passengers) and had great connections to everywhere on the planet. Altitude was non-existent (the house we eventually built was at 60 feet above sea level) and the golf was not only great, but very affordable. Our site visits were complete, we had found our personal Nirvana.

In spite of our enthusiasm for our future home, we still had 4 months of lease back in snow-bound Colorado Springs, so we returned the rented RV and settled in for a long, cold winter. After about 10 days of lovely weather in the Springs, the weather forecast warned of the next incoming blizzard. With memories of fairways and greens still fresh in our minds, my wife and I decided on the spot that we were not going to wait. We paid the lease in full, traded our Buick in on a GMC Van, packed our meager belongings (the furniture was all rented, so we simply called the rental company to pick it up), and left town the same day. We were on our way to meet our requirements.

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