Advice and info sought on Pensacola, Florida

Hello all,

Today I applied for a job I desperately want to get, and I think I have a decent chance of at least getting an interview for it. The job is in Pensacola, Florida, in the western portion of the Panhandle, practically in Alabama. I live in Miami now, and I actually hate it here. I’ll be happy to relocate if I get the job (10 hours away!), but I don’t know much about the area. I’ve only been there once, spent a day there in college on the way back from a New Orleans road trip. The beaches were really pretty, but that’s where my Pensacola knowledge begins and ends.

So what should I expect? I’m used to small-town life, as I lived in Gainesville for almost seven years. I know that’s a college town, and I’m expecting Pensacola to be more rural, more “country”-like, probably without a lot of Gainesville’s youth culture and entertainment. I’m 26, I love good food and live music, and it would be nice to have stuff like used book and CD stores and a comic book shop. But I’m good at adapting, no matter what. If anyone has any advice, recommendations, or general information, please share!

I should also mention that I’ll need an apartment, and I’m curious how much they usually go for, and if there are any particularly good or bad areas to live in.

I lived there for a couple of years when I went to school at UWF, although that was back in the early 90s so my info isn’t exactly up-to-date.

My overall assessment of Pensacola: it’s not too bad. It is very close to the beach, as you remember, and there are some pretty areas around town–especially some parts of downtown and along Scenic Highway, which overlooks Pensacola Bay.

P’cola has some pockets of college culture, centered around the University of West Florida (to the north side of town) and Pensacola Junior College (right in the middle). But Pensacola is more of a military base kind of town, home to a huge navy base. The Blue Angels are considered royalty here.

Evangelical churches also have a strong, strong presence in P’cola. They, along with the military atmosphere, make Pensacola a very conservative place, politically speaking. Personally, I found that aspect of the city a bit stifling.

The city is basically divided along two major North/South corridors: 9th Avenue and Davis Highway, which are connected by a number of East/West roads (the most important including Cervantes towards the south, Brent Lane–which changes names every few blocks–and Airport Blvd in the middle, and Creighton Road to the north). Roughly speaking, the areas to the east of 9th avenue range from generally pretty nice to ritzy; the area west of 9th and east of Davis (i.e., most of the area that is spanned by the I-110 spur), not so nice.

The areas outside of the city center are generally OK, although a bit rural. The area that seems to be growing the most (since I lived there) is along Nine Mile Road. It seems to be a decent and very affordable area to live in, though a bit removed from the city center.

Most of the action seems to take place downtown and out on the beach. I’m not sure if any of the places I used to hang out are still there–I remember I used to go to a downtown bar called Sluggo’s that usually featured live bands (usually of the alt/college rock genre–not sure if it’s still alive or not!). I know that McGuire’s is still there–one of the most touristy bars in town, a pseudo-Irish pub, most remarkable for the dollar bills that customers sign and staple to the ceiling, and which completely cover most interior surfaces.

Pensacola and the beach feature many decent seafood restaurants, ranging from the expensive (Skopelos) to the rustic (Oyster Barn on Bayou Texar) to the pseudo-rustic (Flounders).

Pensacola’s not terribly exciting, but as a place to live, it could be a lot worse. So make of that what you will.

I grew up there until I was 9, and then I moved to Tallahassee. I still have a little family that lives there, but I rarely visit. I’ve only been back a handful of times since I was a kid. It’s a big milatary town, a big beach place. Gulf Breeze (on the other side of the Bay) is a quiet little beach community. Pensacola was pretty low in cost of living…at least when we lived there, you could get a nice 2 BR for $400 or so a month. I don’tknow how that’s changed in the last 10-15 years though. Lots of good seafood. Lots of rural areas…most of my family lives out in the woods, for the most part.

Yeah, I’m really not much of a help, am I?

You’ve both been helpful, thank you.

I just found out I made the cut to go up for an interview, so now I have to pack and get ready for an 11-hour drive! At least I have a friend with a house to stay with up there, and he said I could stay as long as I need to if I get hired and need time to find an apartment of my own. Oh, this is scary, but also very exciting.