BY JACK SHORT – Susan Schultz has settled nicely into the Florida lifestyle. An entertaining aficionada, sultan of shopping, regent of rentals, and barrister of backyard barbecues, she knows how to enjoy her work and hobbies, but also knows that the most important thing in life is the time a person spends with friends and family.
Susan is a leasing agent at Michael Saunders and Company and even though she has a “whirlwind day” from time to time, she’s happy to sit down afterwards and speak to the Beacon about what makes Florida and Boca Grande so special to her.
Susan was born and raised in New York. Her family moved from the Bronx when she was very young, to Long Island, where she went to primary and secondary school. At her father’s request, she enrolled at Suffolk Community College and got an associate’s degree in business administration.
Susan worked in retail during school and after graduating and worked at the Post Office after graduating.
When she had two children 17 months apart, Susan became a stay-at-home mom.
When her boys, Joseph and Jonathan, now 15 and 14, began elementary school, Susan and her family decided it was time for a change of lifestyle. Though Susan is a city girl at heart, the sheen of New York’s restaurants, stores and scenes had dulled a little. The hustle and stress had taken over.
“We had vacationed in Orlando,” she said. “We were looking for a place to retire to.”
In all seriousness, a day trip from Orlando to the Boca Grande and Englewood area proved to be just the inspiration they needed. Within nine months of the idea’s conception, Susan and her family had sold their house and moved to Florida. That was 2006.
She agreed there was some culture shock. It’s not uncommon for people who find themselves recently transplanted from someplace like New York or Chicago to nervously await the next stressful event, only to find that the days in Florida blend easily together and that the only punctuation or preoccupation comes in the form of an occasional traffic jam or summer squall.
Appropriately, Susan and her family learned to “relax, and enjoy the days, the lovely weather, and going to the beach.” They took to the Florida lifestyle quickly, she added.
She and her family have become something like connoisseurs of barbecue and entertaining. She said her favorite way to celebrate is the cookout, and her favorite occasion is Labor Day, because of the transition it signifies up north into fall from summer.
In fact, Susan admitted it took her a little time to realize she wasn’t on vacation when she arrived, and that it was time to go back to the workforce.
That’s when she first entered the field of real estate rentals, working for Boca Grande Real Estate, and realized she’d found what she wanted to do.
“That’s when I knew rentals was something I enjoyed,” she said. “I enjoyed the contact I made with people.”
Susan said that part of the thrill of her new career was the variety of people she encountered.
“You never know when you answer the phone,” she said. “It could be someone looking for a weekend getaway or a couple who wants to get married.”
Of course, finding the employer who is just the right fit doesn’t always come right away. Susan also worked for the Boca Grande Club as a rental agent before accepting an offer with Michael Saunders & Co.
With her most recent position came a new challenge. Though Susan was busy training at the Sarasota Michael Saunders office and running a household as a full-time mom, she enrolled in an online course to prepare her to take her real estate exam. After rigorous study and a successful practice exam, she passed her state realtor’s exam on the first attempt, no small feat because, as she pointed out, most adults have to go to great lengths just to get into a frame of mind conducive to test taking.
“I studied until I couldn’t retain another ounce of information,” she said.
As a leasing agent for the Englewood area, she said, she hopes the rental division will grow and develop.
“We have such great programs to offer homeowners who want to maximize their rental potential,” she said.
Susan seems to be easing into the island lifestyle as well. She is quickly becoming part of the Boca Grande community; her boys have fished from the pier and attended The Island School, and she and her family have spent a great deal of time recreating on the island, too.
She said Joseph and Jonathan also get her to do things that she, an admitted “girly girl,” would not normally think to do. She has already attended a monster truck rally and a football game.
Susan knows her boys will be forging their own paths soon, though, so she enjoys every moment with them.
On her own, however, she said she loves shopping for clothes, home decor and, of course, shoes. Though she wouldn’t say how many she has, Susan has what she hinted is a substantial collection.
She and her family also have a pit bull rescue, Patrick, whom they adopted from Suncoast Humane Society, so named because they adopted him five years ago on St. Patrick’s Day. Though the breed can be misunderstood, Patrick is, as Susan put it, “a big old mush.”
Looking ahead, she hopes she can continue to excel at her leasing agency, as well as to continue spending time with her family and friends.
As she put it, she loves “good friends, good times, and good food.”