Just a Small Town Girl, Livin’ in a Sunny World…

Have Steph Will Travel

I’ve been drawn to palm trees, the ocean, and tropical weather for as long as I can remember.

When I was 20 years old, I packed all of my belongings into a Ryder truck and moved to Florida by myself because I couldn’t bear another cold, dreary, miserable, soul-sucking winter in the tiny Illinois town where I was born and raised.

I’d never been to Florida before, didn’t have any friends or family there or even a job or a car.  What I did have, however, was a burning desire to escape the brutally cold winters in the Midwest and trade them in for palm trees, sunshine, and balmy ocean breezes.

So off to Florida I went…

Upon arriving in the Sunshine State, I rented a tiny studio apartment in Lutz, FLorida (just north of Tampa), got a job as a waitress at an Italian restaurant called Garafalo’s, and rode my $50 Target bicycle to work for an entire year until I was able to save up enough money to buy a used Honda CRX.  Man, I loved that little car.

It wasn’t long after I moved to Florida that I decided I had no interest whatsoever in working a 9-5 job in corporate America, and so I dropped out of college at USF (where my degree would almost certainly lead to a corporate America type of job), and spent the next several years working as a bartender in various clubs throughout Tampa. It was fun at first, but after several years behind the bar, the late night hours and nonstop partying started to wear on me, and I eventually came to the realization that I needed to get my shit together, so to speak, or I was gonna end up slinging drinks for the rest of my life.

Around that same time, I realized that I would never be happy working for someone else (in corporate America or otherwise), and so I started searching for ways to make money by going into business for myself…specifically those that did not require any upfront cash, because I was dead broke at the time.

After purchasing a “No Money Down” real estate investing course from a late night infomercial and tearing through the course from cover to cover in one sitting…I knew that real estate was going to be my ticket out of the rat race.

I spent the next two years educating myself on creative real estate investing techniques (and by that I mean techniques that did not require cash or good credit- because I had neither), and after two long years of eating, breathing, and sleeping real estate…I finally ended up purchasing my first investment property in September of 2003 without putting a single penny down or borrowing a single cent.

On January 1st of 2007, I ended my illustrious bartending career for good and went into the house flipping business full time. I have been my own boss ever since, and despite the many struggles, uncertainties, and the humongous learning curve that I had to navigate through on my own…I have never once looked back.

In addition to my house flipping activities, I also started a real estate blog back in 2006 to document my journey from bartender to full time house flipper.  By 2009, it had become one of the most popular real estate blogs on the net, and by the end of 2011, as a result of ad and product sales on the site…it was generating a full time passive income stream thus allowing me the freedom to pursue my passions of travel and photography.

Fast forward to 2016…

Today I am living in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, Florida and when I’m not flipping houses or creating content for my online marketing business, you’ll either find me out on a road trip adventure with my boyfriend and partner in crime, Rudy, or on a beach somewhere in Florida with a camera in one hand and a tropical drink in another.

I created this blog to not only share the photos and stories from my adventures throughout Florida and beyond, but to also hopefully inspire others to never ever stop chasing their dreams.  I firmly believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, not simply endured, and that if you’re willing to work hard for it…you can accomplish anything your heart desires.

Thanks for stopping by…I hope you enjoy your stay while you’re here. 🙂


You can also follow my adventures on Instagram by clicking here.