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Tuesday, June 25, 2024


On the day Santa Fe College art student Sarah Ludwig moved from the house she had rented for the past year, she wondered which she liked more, the stuffed swordfish or the electric organ.

In the end, the swordfish won.

This past weekend, Ludwig wedged, pummeled and crammed 20 years worth of stuff into boxes and bags ready to be moved when her lease ended. At the end of the day, she had piled her life into a mountain of brown boxes the size of two refrigerators side by side.

"I generally like to make sure that I can handle all of my stuff by myself." Ludwig said. "But it was still so much stuff. I couldn't understand it."

Ludwig is not the only person to be sweating and scrambling to move out. From late July through the month of August, the pressure of moving can be felt all over Gainesville, as many renters find themselves with expiring leases.

"I hate moving." said Phil Dalton, 21, whose father had to drive to the city of Archer to rent a U-Haul truck. "It's annoying. I had to bring boxes from work for about a week just so I could have enough time to pack everything."

This past weekend, the rumble of moving trucks, the smell of overflowing dumpsters and the peeling of duct tape overtook a city in the midst of a transition. Armed with mops and brooms and backed by friends and family from out of town, students and non-students alike felt the throttle of moving their stuff, discarding what was no longer valuable and acclimating themselves to their new neighborhood.

Some, like Santa Fe student Jordan Streetzel, 20, signed a lease for the first time.

"I've been spending a year and a half collecting cute stuff or anything that could go on a wall and plotting what I was going to do with all my space," Streetzel said.

Streetzel, who has been living in Gainesville since last October by paying rent under the table and occasionally crashing on a friends' couch, said moving gives her hope for a new start.

Others - like UF students Lisa Ferrera, 22, who moved all her stuff in the rain, or Brian Greenfield, 22, who bemoaned losing valuable study time to clean out his refrigerator - don't have such a positive outlook.

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Realtor Bob Mitchell, whose has managed properties around Gainesville for 21 years, said this weekend is always his most miserable.

Landlords, rental companies and property owners find this time of year to be one of the most exhausting, he said.

"We work long hours into the night cleaning up houses, painting walls, hauling garbage, whatever it takes," Mitchell said. "It's miserable, but that is the nature of the beast."

For Ludwig, the only beast she knows is stuffed and hanging on the wall of her new home.

"The stuffed swordfish was a good idea," Ludwig said. "I got it out of the trash and I'm so happy. Moving day is awesome."

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