Thinking About Making the Move to Orlando Florida? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- What Are The Neighborhoods in Orlando?
- How Is The Job Market In Orlando?
- How Is The Orlando Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Orlando?
- Is Orlando A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like?
- What Are Popular Things To Do In Orlando?
- Pros and Cons of Living in Orlando
- Fun Facts About Orlando
Are you thinking about moving to Orlando, Florida? You might find yourself drawn to the warm weather and the fun environment.
But is it really for you?
Home to nearly 1.97 million people, Orlando hosts many attractions like Walt Disney World, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios, Florida, and more. Other tourist attractions include the Orlando Fire Museum and Madame Tussauds Orlando, to name a couple.
Because Orlando is situated on the center-east side of the northern peninsula, it’s home to average temperatures above 65 degrees all year round. Orlando is a safer place to live if you worry about hurricanes because of its inland location. The weather, the attractions, and more are large parts of why people find Orlando attractive.
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What Are the Neighborhoods in Orlando?
Like most big cities, Orlando has neighborhoods with distinct characteristics, like architectural features, size, typical lifestyle, and more.
Rose Isle: This neighborhood has an interesting big-town/small-town vibe going on. The downtown area has your typical modern, fast-life downtown feel without the oppressively tall skyscrapers of cities like New York City and Chicago.
Baldwin Park: A richer area in the greater Orlando area, Baldwin Park has beautiful townhomes, houses, and apartments that give off a slight downtown feeling.
Kissimmee: Despite being near the major theme parks, colorful Kissimmee is less expensive and quirky, with brightly painted buildings and a large Ferris wheel at its own theme park.
Altamonte Springs: If you want the best of several worlds, Altamonte Springs features historic buildings along a waterfront and boasts lower taxes than other neighborhoods. It also has high-rise apartment and condo buildings for those who want to live in such buildings without actually living downtown.
Winter Park: More of a suburb than a neighborhood, Winter Park is almost a misnomer considering it has a beach and no winter. Civic buildings, museums, galleries, and golf courses surround this neighborhood, attracting people who enjoy culture and outdoor entertainment.
Lake Eola Heights: You can live near the lake and a historic downtown area built mostly from brick, which gives the whole area a cute feel. This place is a great place to raise a family as well as experience a booming nightlife.
Metro West: This area has more rental properties than permanent homes, making it a good jumping-off point for young people to start their lives. It’s also one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Orlando, so you get a chance to see how others live in the context of their own cultures.
Vista East: One of Orlando’s top suburbs in 2017, Vista East boasts challenging hiking trails for people who enjoy the great outdoors. Even better, it’s close to downtown, shortening your commute and ensuring less time spent in typical Orlando traffic.
How Is the Job Market in Orlando?
Orlando’s job market was stronger in 2020 than many other big cities in the U.S. despite the coronavirus pandemic. The average salary is roughly $63,000, but the cost of living is about five percent higher than in the rest of the nation.
From 2016-2019, Orlando experienced considerable job growth at 11 percent, while the U.S. experienced just seven percent overall. Out of the top 15 cities in the U.S. for job growth, Orlando comes in at number 12.
The pandemic has severely affected Orlando, and, like the rest of the world, they will take a long time to recover. So if you want to move there, you might consider seeing what the job market looks like for your specific industry before you make a decision.
In 2018, Forbes awarded Orlando the top spot for STEM jobs. The city has attracted companies across many industries, from advanced manufacturing to digital media, biotech and pharmaceuticals, life sciences, healthcare, medical technology, and financial technology, among others.
You can also find jobs in several different engineering fields because of the theme parks and the city’s proximity to Kennedy Space Center. The aerospace, defense, and aviation industries all have a significant presence there.
New York and Hollywood aren’t the only major hubs of film and television production. These make up a significant portion of Orlando’s economy at roughly $585 million per year and growing. Jobs include everything from working on major motion pictures to film and television series to studio work.
Of course, Orlando has a massive tourism and hospitality industry, and that’s not going away anytime soon. However, as of 2020, healthcare was the fastest-growing field in the Orlando area.
Top Companies to Work For
Orlando’s biggest employers, both inside and outside the hospitality industry, include:
- Lockheed Martin
- Northrop Grumman
- Signature Flight Support
- Advent Health Orlando
- University of Central Florida
- Orlando Regional Medical Center
- Tupperware Brands
- Orange County Public Schools
- Bank of America
- Darden Restaurants
- Westgate Resorts
- Frontier Airlines
Of course, there are other places to work, too, even though these may be the biggest companies there. If you work in software, plenty of software companies are based or have offices in the Orlando area.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
How Is the Orlando Real Estate Market?
Have you ever heard the term “seller’s market?” It means a given real-estate market has more buyers than sellers. Orlando sits on that side of things as of late 2020. Sellers are getting several offers for their houses, meaning they can probably get their asking price and possibly more.
Sellers’ markets lead to appreciation but also indicate a tight market. Buying a home in Orlando may take awhile, and you could find yourself having to pay more than you’d like to get a home that fits you.
Orlando’s median prices for single-family homes went from $259,000 to $298,000 between Nov. 2019 and Nov. 2020, and the most recent data has it around $310,000. For all homes (single-family houses, townhouses, condos, etc.), the median price is currently $275,000.
The prices for duplexes, villas, and townhouses rose as well and are currently at $226,000. Median prices for condos rose between 2019 and 2020, too, but they’re currently at $150,000, well below what you can expect to pay for anything else.
Generally, single-family houses spent just 44 days on the market in 2020, putting the crunch on buyers and allowing sellers more leeway on pricing and things like cosmetic and other optional improvements. However, this has been the case for many months and will likely continue to be the case.
If all of that is too much for you, consider buying a condo. Not only are they the least expensive housing you can buy in Orlando, but condo sales also fell, giving buyers a better chance at getting the condo they want as opposed to other types of housing. They were the only sector of the housing market that saw any kind of a slump in movement in 2020.
Regardless, median home prices across three of the four counties that make up the greater Orlando area saw double-digit increases in prices from 2019 to 2020.
Factors Influencing Orlando’s Real Estate Market
Some unusual circumstances are influencing Orlando’s market, not the least of which is the ongoing pandemic. That’s one reason why housing inventory is so low. Homeowners are staying put due to unemployment or otherwise being stuck where they are.
At the same time, people between the ages of 26 and 35 are working on buying their first homes. Even with the economic problems the pandemic has caused, this age group makes up a glut of buyers in the market. They’re creating genuine demand instead of an artificial housing bubble, which will continue unless something catastrophic happens to Orlando’s economy.
As far as appreciation values go, Orlando ranks 36th out of the top 50 metropolitan areas, showing a 6.1 percent increase in values between 2019 and 2020 compared to 4.8 percent nationwide. Homebuyers also have better access to loans, but Orlando as a whole is at a higher risk of default.
The future of Orlando’s real estate market looks good but is uncertain because of the times in which we’re living.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Orlando?
How much is everything besides housing? Utilities, food, transportation, taxes, and more, all figure into your cost of living and whether you can afford to move to Orlando. In general, though, Orlando’s cost of living is five percent lower than the national average.
Food and Groceries
The cost of groceries in Orlando is roughly two percent higher than the national average, which isn’t bad, especially when you look at other places in Florida. For many essential foods, you’ll pay the following:
- Loaf of bread: $3.40
- Gallon of milk: $1.98
- A dozen eggs: $2.89
- One pound of cheese: $6.00
- One pound of boneless chicken breast: $5.86
- Two pounds of apples: $3.42
- Two pounds of potatoes: $1.92
There are other food costs, too, including eating out. The average cost of a fast-food combo meal is $9.00, while the cost of a business lunch is around $14.00.
This is one area that might hurt more than elsewhere in the country, as utilities are 11 percent more expensive than the average costs across the rest of the U.S.
Your total utility costs, including gas, electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, will run between $100 and $230 per month, depending on your housing. Internet and cable television will cost you between $50 and $100 per month.
You can drive your car, or you can take public transportation. While always fluctuating, the price of gasoline in Orlando is hovering right around $2.10 per gallon.
You have a couple of choices for public transit in Orlando. If you live or work downtown, you can take advantage of LYMMO, which is fare-free circulating buses connecting you to amenities, public buildings, sports complexes, and other transit lines, including the LYNX central station.
- Single-ride: $2.00
- Seven-day pass: $16.00
- 30-day pass: $50.00
- Neighborlink: $2.00
- All-day pass (valid from 4 am on the day issued until 3 am the next day): $4.50
If you qualify for discounts on LYNX, all fares are half off. Transfers are free, but remember to tell your operator you need one.
One of Florida’s intercity transit systems makes stops in Orlando as well. SunRail has four stations in Orlando and can take you to the Tupperware complex, Kissimmee, and even DeBary in nearby Volusia county.
Ticket prices depend on how far you plan to travel. However, you’ll pay between $2.00 and $5.00 for a one-way ticket and between $3.75 and $9.50 for a round-trip ticket. If you’re traveling across more than two zones and need to switch trains, you’ll also pay between $2.00 and $3.00 for a transfer upgrade.
Starting in 2022, Brightline, Florida’s high-speed train system currently running between Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, will have a stop in Orlando as well. Eventually, it will also stop at Walt Disney World and in Tampa.
Healthcare and Medical
Orlando has slightly fewer doctors per 100,000 people than the U.S. national average. There is also a slightly lower cost of care, making Orlando attractive for people worried about healthcare costs.
Taking a look at Healthcare.gov revealed some useful information. Monthly insurance premiums start as low as $340, with annual deductibles as high as $8,300. Copays for generic drugs average between $25 and $60, although some plans have prescription copays as low as $3.
Copays for primary care physicians run anywhere from $20 to over $150 and for specialists $50 to over $125 in some cases. Some plans require you to pay out of pocket until you meet your deductible and then charge you nothing.
Most emergency room costs are anywhere from 20 to 50 percent after you meet your deductible, while others have a flat fee ranging between $250 to $500 after you meet your deductible. Still other plans charge flat fees regardless of your deductible, ranging from $300 to $600.
The general cost of healthcare in any area is complicated to calculate because many factors go into it, including the hospitals, clinics, and offices you choose to go to. Your costs vary depending on your insurance network, too, and your insurance depends on your employer and the plans they offer.
Florida has no state income tax, which you might consider good news, especially if you’re coming from a high-tax state like California, Iowa, New Jersey, or Oregon. A major reason why Florida doesn’t need an income tax is because of the sales tax revenue coming from the booming hospitality industry.
You will pay other taxes, though, including a sales tax of 6.5 percent. The state sales tax rate is six percent, and Orange County’s sales tax is 0.5 percent. Orlando itself does not have a sales tax to layer on top of that.
If you buy property, you’ll have property taxes to pay, too, but they depend on what and where you buy. However, you can calculate your potential property tax if you already have a neighborhood in mind to which to move. While you won’t get an exact amount, you can get a general idea since that changes periodically.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
Is Orlando a Good Place to Retire?
There’s a lot to like about Orlando if you’re planning to retire there. The first part is that its over-60 population is not big, but it’s not ridiculously small either. 20 percent of Orlando’s population is over the age of 60. Because of that, you shouldn’t feel out of place, or like you’re living in one giant retirement community.
There are many different retirement communities for active adults in and around the Orlando area. Some are small, and many have thousands of homes. Some of them are:
- Del Webb Sun Bridge, with homes in the mid-$200s to mid $400s and an age restriction of 55+
- Four Seasons at Orlando, with homes ranging from the mid-$200s to the high $300s and a 55+ age restriction
- Gatherings of Lake Nona, which has only new homes ranging from the high $200s to the high $300s and a 55+ age restriction
- Solivita, which is a little cheaper starting in the mid-$100s but going all the way up to the mid-$500s, with new and resale homes and a 55+ age restriction
- Enclave at VillageWalk, for those looking for a bit more of an intimate community and some luxury. Homes go from the mid-$600s to the low $800s, and it only has 144 homes with no age restriction.
What do you do there if you’re a retiree, though? Of course, you can golf. Warm-weather resort towns always have lots of golf courses, and golf is a great way to get exercise with less risk of aggravating back, hip, and knee problems.
You can also take walks in Lake Eola Park or hike the trails at the Tibet-Butler Preserve if you’re up to it. There are lots of museums to visit, like the Albin Polasek Sculpture Museum and Gardens. It’s an interactive museum, so you do more than just look at the pretty artwork there.
There are also two free art galleries to visit that are open to the public. If you like to look at art but don’t want to shell out the money to get in, you can go to these without paying a dime.
Kissimmee Park has a lot of outdoorsy things to do, like boating and camping. And while Orlando’s location means you don’t have many beaches readily available, the beaches on the Atlantic side of the peninsula aren’t that far away if you’re up for a drive.
But can you afford to retire here? There are certainly more expensive places to retire, like Boca Raton. In 2018, you needed about $700,000 total to retire in Orlando. At the time, a retiree’s annual cost of living was roughly $55,000, which includes:
- Home costs, like mortgage, insurance, property taxes, utilities, and upkeep, cost $22,101 in 2018
- Groceries, entertainment, travel, hobbies, cell phones, gym memberships, etc., added up to $13,450
- Transportation in 2018 was about $10,000 for those who had cars
- Healthcare likewise ran close to $10,000
So, if you’re looking at retiring, remember that Orlando’s cost of living is likely to continue rising even in the wake of the pandemic. Be sure you have a good nest egg and retirement income.
What Are The People and Culture Like?
Orlando has a lot of culture based in the arts. The city plays host to the Florida Music Festival, the Florida Film Festival, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, and the Orlando International Fringe Festival every year.
Orlando’s large Hispanic population contributes a lot to its culture as well. From restaurants and cuisine to other annual festivals, the city’s Hispanic flavor flourishes and adds a certain richness and spiciness to the city.
The music scene there is thriving and growing, and just like the city’s diversity, the music scene is likewise diverse. It has several claims to fame, including Mandy Moore and Matchbox 20. But you can experience Orlando’s rich musical culture at festivals, the Hard Rock Live at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, and even with live bands at local bars and clubs.
You might even get to witness the next big musical act before some huge record label discovers them.
Because it’s such a fluid city, and people are always coming and going, the people and culture are more open than what you find in cities like Boston, St. Louis, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and more.
The city is full of the young and the old, the trendy, the wealthy, college students, entrepreneurs, street kids, and, of course, tourists.
Despite all the transience, Orlando’s soul exists in its younger people. They’re not there to party or to play at the theme parks. They’re there to find good jobs, put down roots, and start families, and they come from all over. They don’t just love Orlando; they feel like the city loves them back.
What Are the Popular Things to Do in Orlando?
We’ve mentioned many times now that Orlando is more than the major theme parks that live there. You do get to see all the seasonal events and other happenings at Disney World and all its associated parks, along with Hollywood Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Orlando.
If you really enjoy theme parks and have lots of cash floating around, you can spend a lot of your free time there.
Most of us want more, though. When you look around, whether you know a city or not, you find all the other fun things to do that may well outshine its major attractions.
In keeping with its art-driven culture, Orlando is home to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany glass in the world. You can see gorgeous jewelry, unique Tiffany lamps, and more.
The Harry P. Leu Gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. Botanical gardens are always beautiful, and the Harry Leu Gardens are no different. You get a sprawling 50-acre space with its own citrus grove and butterfly garden plus all the flowers, unique Florida plants, rare plants, and more that you’d expect to find at a botanical garden.
Food, Drink, and Fun
If you’ve ever been interested in visiting a brewing company that wasn’t a multinational conglomerate or a craft brewer, the Orlando Brewing Company is a great place to go. It is Orlando’s original brewer and is going into its 15th year of business.
Santiago’s Bodega is a dining experience you’ll probably never forget. Aside from the food, visitors to the restaurant, especially those from out of town, get to share stories and learn about each other. It’s a warm and welcoming environment with great food.
Comedy clubs are often amazing experiences. The SAK Comedy Lab is a full-on improv experience, but you don’t necessarily just attend the shows as a guest. They also offer classes on comedy improv and are responsible for launching the careers of comedians like Wayne Brady. This is a place you can go to repeatedly and never get bored.
Kennedy Space Center
While Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center aren’t technically part of Orlando, they’re so close that you can regularly visit there. Kennedy often has interesting themes going on with its exhibits, such as its 2011 Summer of Star Trek. That explored the links between our current space program and the science fiction of the entire Star Trek universe. It was amazing, and other things are, too.
You can drive over to Canaveral to watch a rocket launch or three if you live in Orlando. You also get the advantage of dozens of interactive experiences and the ability to explore some of our spacecraft on your own time, including the retired Shuttle Atlantis.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
Pros and Cons of Living in Orlando
There are pros and cons to living in Orlando that everyone considering a move there should understand. It’s not all fun in the sun, but it’s not all expensive parks, either.
- Widespread sunshine all year round
- Pretty houses, neighborhoods, shopping areas, and business areas
- Because you’re a local, you get to be a “pro” in an area that’s full of tourists
- Local residents are welcoming to new arrivals
- Florida is ridiculously flat, so you get a big sky and the ability to see the horizon from pretty much anywhere
- Proximity to Disney World and other theme parks means you get to experience all their seasonal and special events
- There’s virtually no winter
- You can almost always find something to do besides visiting the theme parks or golf
- Jobs are plentiful depending on what you’re looking for
- Excellent city in which to start a family
- The summers are very hot and humid
- You have to deal with lots of bugs, critters, and creepy-crawlies
- You’ll spend more time driving despite Orlando’s public transit system
- Driving around Orlando can be really irritating
- Because you’re a local, the tourists will get on your nerves
- Even with Orlando’s job market and companies, higher-income jobs are harder to find
All in all, the pros of living in Orlando make a decent trade-off with the cons. There is no perfect place to live. But you probably won’t live in an area with a ton more cons than pros if you do move there.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
Fun Facts About Orlando Florida
Want to know more? We have some fun and interesting facts about Orlando that you might not know even if you already live there.
- Four different stories discuss where the name “Orlando” came from, but no conclusions exist
- Orlando’s old City Hall was demolished in the opening scenes of Lethal Weapon 3
- There are over 100 parks and 21 community centers that offer camps, athletics, and social programs
- The City of Orlando has its own public skate park
- Orlando was originally named Jernigan after its first permanent settler
- The city has had three city hall buildings
- Lake Baldwin and Baldwin Park were both named after the same person: Former Secretary of the Navy Robert H.B. Baldwin
- The Church Street Station, which is also known as the Old Orlando Railroad Depot, is over 120 years old and is on the National Register of Historic Places
- Lake Eola has more than 50 swans living in and around it
- The oldest tree in Orlando is between 300 and 400 years old
- The Orlando Public Library is the largest public library in the state of Florida
- The Citrus Bowl hosted five World Cup soccer events in 1994 as well as the first and second rounds for the 1996 Olympic soccer matches
- The first person to cross the Atlantic in a balloon was from Orlando
- Orlando’s tallest building is just 441 feet tall
Of course, Orlando has its pros and cons, but if you’re looking to move to Florida it may just be the right place for you.
Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Florida Resources? Check These Articles Out!
- Our Moving To Florida Guide
- Our Moving To Naples Florida Guide
- Our Moving To Tampa Florida Guide
- Our Moving To Daytona Beach Florida Guide
- Our Moving To West Palm Beach Florida Guide
- Read This Before Selling a House in Florida (FSBO or with a Realtor)
- How To Sell A House In Florida Without A Realtor
- What Are Florida Flat Fee MLS Listings?
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.