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How Relocating to Seaside in My Teens Helped Me Find Home

Maddy Bauder

Posted on Dec 16, 2021 in intern

Every teenager dreams of the opportunity to move to a beautiful beach town where there’s no lack of sunshine, flip-flops or beach frolicking.

Well, maybe this isn’t a daydream ritual for every teen, but I know it was for me! I spent the first 17 years of my life in Cincinnati, Ohio. My family learned about 30A when I was a tween, and Seaside became my personal heaven for a few fleeting weeks each year. Little did I know that my favorite vacation town would soon become my new home. As I approached my senior year of high school in Ohio, my family made the decision to relocate to sunny South Walton.

As one can imagine, it was a difficult decision for me to move states right before my senior year. Moving from a bigger city and having no true knowledge of Southern culture, I was admittedly petrified. Nevertheless, it comforted me to know I was getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a place filled with natural beauty, fresh seafood, Southern cooking, inspiring architecture and charming locals.

Although it was a hard transition at first, coming to Seaside always reminded me of my favorite memories spent with loved ones, and made me feel at home. Eventually, I found my place at South Walton High School and met people I now consider lifelong friends.

The quiet and simple way of life here offered my family a sense of peace, along with a close-knit community we hadn’t experienced before. “The Truman Show” movie may not have gotten everything right about Seaside locals, but it’s definitely true that no one is a stranger and every neighbor is a friend.

After my senior year, I chose to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee. Although it’s only a short two-and-a-half hours away, I often found myself missing the town I held so close to my heart. This longing to be back on the Gulf Coast led me home after my freshman year, in the summer of 2019, where my career in Seaside began as a hostess at Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant.

I always knew Seaside was a special place. But it wasn’t until I began working at Bud & Alley’s that I learned just how much Seaside means to those who care for and live within it.

I never expected that working at Bud & Alley’s would also give me the chance to make friends working at Amavida Coffee Roasters, The SEASIDE Associated Stores®, Modica Market and so many others. I never expected that I would want to stay in my place of work after my shifts ended to grab a late-night treat at Dawson’s Yogurt & Fudgeworks with my coworkers.

I never expected to get the chance to meet the founders of Seaside when I was an entry-level employee, or to get to know Seaside regulars by name. I never expected to be cared for on a personal level, where health and wellbeing truly came first. I think it’s safe to say that Seaside was full of so many incredible unexpected moments that I’ll always remember.

When summer rolled around the following year, I decided to return home. I was picking up various jobs around South Walton. But I always found myself wanting to be back in Seaside. Luckily, I made some amazing connections that eventually landed me a summer internship with The SEASIDE Style®. I was ecstatic about the opportunity to return to such a special place and learn about the inner workings of Seaside’s community.

How Relocating to Seaside in My Teens Helped Me Find Home

Not only did I get to return to my favorite place for a professional position, but I did it with my best friend Maddie Hiers by my side. We would always joke about how our internship with Seaside felt more like summer camp than a job. Each morning we walked the beautiful beach paths towards our office above Amavida, greeted by every passerby. We spent our lunch hour debating which food truck to indulge in, and got to enjoy our picks while people-watching in Central Square. Our days were often completed by unique musical groups or the children’s plays taking place in the amphitheater.

Several of our other friends were working in town as well, so when I say it felt like we were characters in “The Truman Show,” I truly mean it. On top of old friends, we got the chance to connect with visitors who were living and working here for the summer. In fact, these friends became the people we spent our weekends with, whether we were sunbathing at the beach or heading to Grayton Beach for a late night.

Our internship consisted of so many different projects that led us out of the office almost every day. Some of my favorites included working on the grand opening of Seaside’s newest boutique hotel, The Court, planning fun festivities for Seaside’s employees on the Fourth of July, and managing town photoshoots for Seaside’s online store. We even got to invite a few of our local friends to be a part of the shoots, which made the experience so much fun, and not to mention humorous!

Some of my best college memories were spent living and working in Seaside. Whether I was working on a fun project in the office, strolling around town admiring (and usually buying) the merchandise, or grabbing a drink at happy hour with coworkers, I always felt at home. I hope everyone, especially those in their 20s, gets the chance to experience Seaside and all the beauty it has to offer!