I’m a technically-minded person and I’m naturally attracted to areas with a lot of innovation, so it seemed like a promising idea after college to move to New York’s Silicon Alley and work in the startup culture there. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but as I started a family the things I found important were shifting.

What from the outset had been exciting had begun to seem like a trap- was it my destiny to live in a cramped shoebox of an apartment forever?

An Engineer's Journey to Florida

Was that the best thing for my wife and kids? It became harder and harder to keep the same priorities as my peers. I needed a yard or at the very least a second bedroom, not another “tastefully understated” black coat. As I considered the ability to get out I began to worry whether my experience in that specialized environment meant that I had lost the ability to find work elsewhere. I put my resume on the market in the hopes that I had a future outside of New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, but every headhunter and placement agent said their polite goodbyes when I explicitly ruled those areas out. It seemed like the only way I would get out would be to take an IT role in some unrelated industry like healthcare.

That’s why it came as a total godsend when Paige, Highwinds’ head of recruiting, contacted me about the open sales engineer position in Winter Park, Florida. Not only was it a chance to escape to a nicer life, but an opportunity to work for a technology company with first rate credentials. Looking into the Winter Park area made it seem more and more like a dream come true.

Let me tell you something about Winter Park and the Greater Orlando area as a whole: if you haven’t been here you probably have the wrong impression of it. The Disney World part, while nice for a young family, is actually in the suburbs to the south of Orlando. Everything to the north of it is far more sophisticated and worldly. We have high density living, luxury apartments, and walkability here. It’s full of cool restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods, and as many of the cosmopolitan trappings as any city dweller could want.

Winter ParkWinter Park

That is, except for the burnt out and abandoned industrial core. Central Florida was explicitly developed from the start to be a pleasant place. It’s not a coincidence that Orlando’s nickname is “The City Beautiful.” And as beautiful as the Orlando area is, Winter Park is the best of the best. Originally designed as a resort community for the wealthy elite it has the kind of classic town center you’d expect from a 19th century city with a passenger train station at its core. Park Avenue is lined with mossy live oaks, unique shops, and trendy bars. The lakes that ring the town are home to some of the most amazing luxury mansions in the country (if you have the opportunity I urge you to take the official boat tour of the waterways!). This place is simply stunning.

So you get that I love Winter Park, right? Coming from the bleak winters and stifling summers of New York this is Eden. It’s not just the town, though. Consider that Florida has no state income tax. None. It’s against the state constitution. Compare that to the state and municipal taxes of NY/SF/LA and you start to wonder why anyone lives in those places. Well now is a great time to correct that! Look at our real estate prices. When you see how cheap homes and land are you know that it won’t be that way for long. I mean sure you could put your life savings into a tiny 6th floor walkup and show it off to the 3 friends who can visit before you hit capacity, but if you were here you could buy a place with trees and property and a pool and, like, rooms that you don’t even use until company comes to visit!

I used to believe that there were tradeoffs for everything. You move to a nice place, you have to work at Jim’s Discount Techno-logy or something like that. But, as it turns out, Highwinds is an amazing company. We have the drive and agility of a startup with the resources of a proven industry veteran. Everyone throughout the organization is brilliant and motivated, and truly believes in what we’re doing here. We have bleeding edge facilities, custom software stacks, exacting hardware requirements, and a first rate set of engineers designing every aspect of what we do. To top all of that off, our intense focus on the gaming vertical and Game Delivery Network means that I spend every day supporting something that I love. That I get paid to do this makes me feel like br’er rabbit thrown in the briar patch.

So I’d like to sum up the moral of this story to all of my former compatriots still suffering in the tech trenches of the urban triumvirate: there is a world outside of NY/SF/LA where you can work with clever and talented people. Some parts of that world are way, way nicer. And if you’ve got what it takes, and want to be part of an amazing team that basically lives in paradise, you should check Highwinds careers page.

Bradley Andrews

By Bradley Andrews, Product Director