John Farmer & Garner Chandler

On June 1, 2004, John Farmer and Garner Chandler moved their family from Midtown Memphis to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. John had been a commercial banker and Garner the owner of Chandler Reports. Farmer is now the proprietor of Yellowfin Ocean Sports and Chandler sells real estate. These Memphis ex-pats talked with us about the changes in their lives, careers — and lifestyle — the move has wrought. 

What's the biggest adjustment you had to make?

John: You have to figure out how to make a living. And eventually you learn that you're not going to make as much as you did in the big city. I started working at a local surf shop, Yellowfin Ocean Sports, then, in 2006, I bought the place. We just expanded, so things are going pretty well. And I don't wear ties anymore.

Garner: We sold my company in Memphis and moved the same day, so it was a really big change, initially, leaving my hometown and lifelong friends, and moving into a new house. But it's been a great move. I wouldn't change anything.

What's the best part about living in Florida?

John: The beach, the natural environment, and the laid-back lifestyle. I can catch crabs out of a lake in my back yard.

Garner: It's easy to live here, because everyone you meet is here by choice. You don't get transferred here; you come here because you want to. It's been delightfully easy to meet and make new friends. No one cares where you went to high school or college. It's very relaxed.

How have your children adjusted?

John: They love it here. They're both in local public schools. Jack's about to go off to college and Will's a sophomore. They've made good friends here.

Is there anything you miss about Memphis?

John: I miss our old friends, and large shade trees. And I guess I'd have to say I miss the cultural history of the city. Everything here is new.

Garner: But our Memphis friends have stayed in touch. Most of them come see us, and in fact, we see some of our friends more than we did when we lived in Memphis. They come here for vacation and we can relax with them more than we could in Memphis, when daily life got in the way.

What kinds of things do you sell at Yellowfin Ocean Sports?

John: We rent and sell kayaks, fishing gear, bicycles. We sell bait, lures, clothing, anything you need while you're vacationing at the beach. We also can set you up with a fishing charter. We're expanding the main shop into another room right now, so we'll have more retail space this season. It's a lot different than being a commercial banker, that's for sure, but I love it. It's great when someone comes back and puts a picture on our wall of a fish they caught using our gear.

How's the real estate business?

Garner: I've been selling real estate from the first month after we moved here. I work for Beach Properties of Florida. The market crashed a couple years ago and the bottom fell out for a lot of properties, but we got through it okay. Now, of course, it's a really good time to buy a place here.

Any advice for Memphians?

John: This is picky, but I'd say, don't assume just because we say we live in the Florida panhandle that we "live in Destin." Lots of Memphians see Florida and Destin as one and the same. [Each of Florida's cities is] a different world.

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