Moving to Orlando? Here's What You Need to Know Before You Go
Planning a move to the city of Orlando? Whether you are moving for a new job opportunity or to live in a state with sunshine and temperate weather, Orlando is the perfect destination to start a new life for you and your family. The city is known for its amazing attractions, breathtaking scenery, an abundance of job opportunities, and a casual and laid-back atmosphere.
Orlando Weather Patterns
Orlando will see fairly temperate and consistent temperatures throughout the year. The lowest temperatures will be seen in January with average lows hovering around 49 and highs teetering around 71 degrees. The spring months see the first major jump in temperature, with lows going down to the mid-50s and highs into the upper 80s. The month that sees the hottest temperatures is August, with lows in the lower 70s and highs reaching the mid-90s.
While Orlando is primarily known by outsiders as a tourist city, with 51 million tourists visiting each year, the city is also home to more than a quarter million residents. It ranks as the 77th most densely populated city in the United States, with 2,327 people per square mile. In the Greater Orlando metropolitan area, the population is a little over 2.3 million, making it the third-largest populated area in Florida.
The city is also widely diverse with a fairly strong representation of multiple races and ethnicities. The city is known for having one of the largest and fastest growing Puerto Rican populations in Florida, which has had a significant impact on its culture. The Hispanic population has seen an increase as well, raising from 4 percent to 25 percent since 1980.
History of the City
Once sparsely populated by a variety of Native American tribes, Europeans settled the Florida area in 1536. The city was believed to be named after Orlando Reeves, who was a soldier during the Second Seminole War, though there are no historical records to prove this. After the Second Seminole War, most of the Natives left the area, and American pioneers began the construction of what is present-day Orlando.
The lifestyle in Orlando varies widely depending on which area you choose to reside in. The downtown area is known for its active nightlife with streets lined with nightclubs, restaurants, concert halls, and post-game celebrations. There is also the residential area of Orlando, which is more suburban and features towering Oak trees and lakefront homes.
The city of Orlando was ranked one of the top 40 places to retire. The cost of living in the area is slightly lower than the national average, with major expenses such as food and health care similar to like-sized metro areas. One of the great perks of living in Florida is that there is no state income tax, which can be a benefit for those moving to the state for work.
Even though the area is known as a popular retirement area, more than two-thirds of the residents are around working age.
Orlando's Hottest Neighborhoods
Choosing the best Orlando neighborhood to move to will largely have to do with your lifestyle. For those who enjoy older neighborhoods with a rich history, they may want to put their roots down in:
Thornton Park — Want to take a step back to the 1920s? The classic architecture of the bungalows that adorn the brick-lined street takes you back to the bygone years. The neighborhood has many beautiful and historic homes and landmarks, but it is also known for its fine dining restaurant and high-end shopping. The neighborhood can be a little more expensive, but it is a popular option for professionals who wish to be within walking distance of the downtown area.
Lake Eola Heights — Another area with historic homes and picturesque lake views is Lake Eola Heights, located just a short walk from Lake Eola Park. Most of these older homes require permission for renovation, as the neighborhood wishes many of them to be restored to maintain historic landmarks.
College Park — The College Park neighborhood is one of the most popular family neighborhoods in the historic district. The neighborhood received its moniker after the streets, which are named after prestigious universities from around the U.S.
If the suburban life is more your speed, you can find neighborhoods that provide a perfect mix of country and cottage living, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.
Hunter's Creek — Hunter's Creek is one of the more quaint neighborhoods in the region with a population just shy of 20,000 people. Cost of living in this area is just slightly higher than the national average.
Oviedo — This suburb is a popular area for families looking to enjoy a community feel. The community works together to invest in improvements and expansion projects in the area.
Heathrow — Looking for a small-town suburban feel? The Heathrow area may be the best choice for you. The population of the town is less than 6,000, and it is known for its annual events and top-notch school system. Homes are above the average price in this area, but the privacy is definitely worth it.
If you are looking for big-city living, there are plenty of large downtown areas that fall within the Greater Orlando metropolitan areas.
Best Schools in Orlando
There are many highly rated schools in and around Orlando. One of the top-rated school districts is the Seminole County Public Schools, which has over 66,000 students enrolled and boasts a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1. Over 60 percent of students are both math and reading proficient, and the school district received an A+ rating when it comes to safety and diversity.
Another highly rated Orlando district school is the Orange County Public Schools, which serves almost 200,000 students and has a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. More than 50 percent of students in the district are proficient in both math and reading, and the school received an overall score of B-.
Other highly rated elementary schools in the area include:
Dr. Phillips Elementary.
Arbor Ridge Elementary.
Highly rated middle and high schools in the area include:
Orlando Science Middle School.
William R Boone High School.
Freedom High School.
Timber Creek High School.
Orlando Job Forecast
The job market in the Orlando area is as vast and diverse as its population, and most residents, no matter their field, do not last long without a job. With major attractions and resorts such as Disney World Resort and facilities such as the Kennedy Center, there are always job openings available.
While there are some lower-paying jobs, at least 88 percent of the population makes higher than the national average. With the cost of living right around the national average, many residents are able to make ends meet with their job choice.
Orlando is home to a number of popular industries such as farming, which means plenty of openings in the citrus and beef markets. The town is also home to multiple Fortune 500 companies, including Darden Restaurant and Tupperware, which employ large portions of the city's inhabitants. Other nonservice industries, such as the Orange County Public Schools, Siemens, and Duke Energy, also provide opportunities for those seeking employment.
The even better news is that Orlando has posted record hiring numbers over the past few years, showing that many businesses are attempting to recruit high-talent workers from a very small pool. This creates opportunities for those available to relocate to find a good job in Orlando.
In fact, Central Florida has been rated seventh in the United States in terms of job growth, primarily due to the record-breaking number it puts out in the hospitality industry. A recent job outlook survey showed that:
52 percent of companies said they will hire more than the previous year.
88 percent of companies have current job openings.
35 percent of the companies will hire 50 or more employees during the year.
The top industries in Central Florida are health care, hospitality, technology, education, and construction.
While most people that live in Orlando have at least one vehicle per family, there is a very robust network of public transportation that can help you get around high-traffic areas such as downtown.
LYNX Bus Service
LYNX Bus Service provides city dwellers with transportation throughout Orlando, Orange, Osceola, Lake County, and Seminole. The system accommodates up to 90,000 trips each day and covers over 2,500 square miles. The system has multiple options to fit your transportation needs, including:
ACCESS LYNX — This is a shared ride door-to-door transportation for individuals who cannot use regular routes.
FastLink — This is a weekday morning and afternoon commuter service that allows for quicker connections and fewer stops.
NeighborLink — This is a flexible service to allow residents to get to more sparsely populated areas.
Road Rangers — This fleet travels the roads to provide roadside repair for broken-down commuters.
Vanpool — This is a carpool service for workers going the same way to share a ride to their destination.
The LYMMO operates as a fare-free mover that helps downtown Orlando residents and visitors get quick access to the area's local entertainment, shopping, offices, and restaurants. The service utilizes three primary lines:
Orange Line — This line runs every 5-7 minutes and runs North/South through the downtown area.
Grapefruit Line — Departing every 10-15 minutes, this line provides stops between the neighborhoods of Thornton Park and Parramore.
Lime Line — This line runs every 10 minutes and provides transport between the Parramore and Callahan neighborhoods.
The SunRail is a commuter rail service that runs from DeBary to Sand Lake Road, with stops at the Florida Hospital Health Village Station, LYNX Central Station, Church Street, and Orlando Health/Amtrak.
Festivals and Fun
Orlando is home to numerous events and festivals the whole year-round, making sure you always have something to do. Some of the most popular events that both residents and visitors enjoy include:
Orlando Heritage Festival
WorldStrides has paired up with Universal Orlando Resort to create the Orlando Heritage Festival, which provides guests with a combination of magical music and theme park experience. The festival includes on-site hotel accommodations, festival music performances, award ceremonies, and two-day Park-to-Park tickets. Participants in the festival will also enjoy professional performance recording, academic credit for students, and even a commemorative.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
Running from the end of August through November, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is one of Epcot's most popular events. During the event, you will enjoy food and drinks that are inspired from all over the world, including cuisine and drinks from Australia, Belgium, Africa, India, Ireland, Spain, and many more countries. Enjoy music while watching culinary masters at work. However, keep in mind that you will need to purchase park admission to experience the festival.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Running from the end of August through Halloween at Disney's Magic Kingdom, the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is packed full of kid-friendly Halloween celebrations featuring some of Disney's most famous villains. Be sure to dress for the occasion, and don't miss the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade featuring some of your favorite Disney villains, and the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show on the castle stage, featuring the Sanderson Sisters from "Hocus Pocus." This event is a separate ticket from park admission.
Orlando Film Festival
The Orlando Film Festival runs during the end of October and takes place at the Cobb Plaza Cinema. The event that has continued for more than a decade allows you to see many unique and experimental film offerings. You also can watch the competition, as many of the most famed actors compete for Best Picture, Best Directors, Best Screenplay, and many more. Who knows, you may even see a film that competes for the Oscars.
Orlando Wine Festival
Taste some wines from all over the world while enjoying some of your favorite area food trucks at the Orlando Wine Festival. The event also features a VIP lounge Immersive Photo Experience and a local vendor market. You will be able to choose from over 50 wine options, a build-your-own sangria bar, and music by a live DJ.
Caribbean Food and Music Festival
If you want to enjoy some fantastic Caribbean tunes courtesy of Fun Spot America Theme Parks, be entertained by a celebrity headliner, dance to live bands, and taste some amazing Caribbean-inspired fare from more than 15 food trucks, then the Caribbean Food and Music Festival is an annual event you won't want to miss.
Winter Park Autumn Art Festival
The Winter Park Autumn Art Festival takes place during the second week in October and includes over 18 talented artists. It is one of the most popular art festivals in Central Florida and includes not only fine art displays but also live music and dancing.
Listed by Wine Enthusiast as one of the Top Ten Wine Travel Destinations, the dynamic food scene is something the Orlando area is becoming increasingly known for. The culinary community in Orlando features many respected, qualified, and creative chefs that are making their mark in the food industry.
The food scene is ethnically diverse and features many ma and pa diners, fine dining establishments, and even James Beard-winning restaurants. Whether you are looking for sushi, Indian or Thai food, Nile Ethiopian cuisine, Polish-inspired dishes, or Spanish tapas, you can find what you are looking for in and around the city of Orlando.
If you are looking for more traditional Southern cuisine, restaurants such as Soco in the downtown Thornton Park neighborhood will definitely satisfy your taste buds. The restaurant is owned by chef Greg Richie, who studied under industry greats, including Roy Yamaguchi and Emeril Lagasse. Some of their most popular plates include lobster-stuffed ravioli with carved chicken breast and a hot-smoked Florida cobia with buttermilk potato cake.
Another restaurant that features Southern favorites, such a ham sampler and Low Country boil, is Cask & Larder, located in Winter Park. It was named the "Best New Restaurant in America" by Esquire. They also add their own unique twist to classic Southern dishes, such as their boar and dumplings. Another must-try item on the menu is the Nashville Hot Chicken, which is created with a range of spices on the skin, pickles, and Alabama white barbecue sauce, coming together to bring some heat as well as some sweet and tangy tones.
With Florida located on the Gulf of Mexico, you will find many Orlando restaurants that take advantage of the local fresh catches, including tuna, swordfish, scallops, and shrimps. A great seafood restaurant to try is Luma on Park. The restaurant is run by a James Beard-nominated chef, Brandon McGlamery, who put the restaurant on the map with dishes such as Egg Casarecce Bolognese and Snake River Farms flank steak.
When finding that perfect spot to dine, don't forget to check out the many hotels and resorts that service the Disney area. Locals enjoy dining at places such as Morimoto Asia located in Disney Springs. The menu is chock full of crowd-pleasers such as pork ribs, slowly braised for hours and then lightly dusted with cornstarch before being fried and glazed in hoisin and sweet chili sauce.
Fun Facts You Might Not Know About Orlando
While you may think you know everything there is to know about the city of Orlando, below are some fun facts that just might surprise you.
Orlando has been ranked No. 4 in most popular places in the U.S. where people want to live.
The first water park ever was Wet 'n Wild, located in Orlando.
The Walt Disney Resort area is so large that it could fit the entire city of San Francisco.
If you were to try to eat at every restaurant in the Orlando area, it would take five years.
Orlando is the city with the second highest number of hotel rooms, coming in just behind Las Vegas.
There are more than 100 lakes in the Orlando area.
The city used to be the primary hub for citrus until it was moved farther south for optimal weather.
Where Orlando received its namesake is widely disputed. Some believe it received its name after a fallen soldier; others believe it came from the Shakespeare play, "As You Like It."
Orlando has been given the official nickname "The City Beautiful."
The oldest remaining structures in the downtown area are The Rogers Building and the 1890 Railroad Depot.
The number of people that visit the city of Orlando in one day is equal to the population of the city of Atlanta.
The first theme park to open in Orlando was Gatorland in 1948, with a 15-foot gator as the main attraction.
Universal Studios opened in 1990 with the first exhibits being "Back to the Future," "E.T.," and "Ghostbusters."
The opening scene of "Lethal Weapon 3" is the actual demolition of the old city hall building by Hollywood producer Joel Silver.
Things to See and Do in the City of Orlando
One of the best things about living in Orlando is that there is no shortage of things to see and do in the city. In fact, the city is known throughout the world for having some of the most popular attractions to visit.
Walt Disney World
One of the most popular attractions in Orlando and around the world is Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction sees more than 52 million visitors per year and is 66 square miles that include four theme parks, more than 20 themed resort hotels, four golf courses, and two water parks. The resort is also home to many events and festivals throughout the year and attracts visitors of all ages from all across the globe.
Universal Orlando Resort
The largest resort in Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort includes two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. The resort continues to grow as it add new rides, tours, shows, and character encounters to its theme parks. Whether you are going to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, or the Transformers, you can see your favorite characters from some of the most popular movies.
One of the newest icons in the heart of the city of Orlando is the Orlando Eye. The structure, which opened in 2015, is known as the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast. It stands 400 feet high and features 30 air-conditioned capsules that provide you with breathtaking views of not only Orlando but a large portion of Central Florida as well. You can enjoy the best views when you plan your ride before sunset. Once you have completed your ride, you can have some fun at the entertainment complex at the base where you can hear live music and enjoy a relaxing drink.
Kennedy Space Center
Want to know what it feels like to live the life of a NASA astronaut? You can get a feel of being a real-life space hero on your trip to the Kennedy Space Center. At the Kennedy Space Center, you will be able to get a realistic sense of what life in space is like. You can enjoy a variety of interactive, augmented reality holograms. Some of the highlights of the center include the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit and the Shuttle Launch Experience.
At the northern part of the city is Winter Park, which once was a popular destination for wealthy travelers to enjoy a holiday or vacation. The town is now known for its many high-end and independent boutiques and retailers, as well as its world-class dining experiences. Two of the most popular restaurants in the area are The Ravenous Pig and Prato.
Those looking for a more unique and heart-pounding adventure may find Gatorland right up their alley. Gatorland is a theme park and wildlife preserve where you can watch alligator wrestling or enjoy a thrilling run on the Screamin' Gator Zip Line, which races over 30 miles per hour high above the park's Nile crocodiles. Want to interact with baby alligators where you can spend the day feeding them? Then sign up for the Trainer-for-a-Day program.
Orlando Museum of Art
If you enjoy taking in the beauty of an art exhibit or learning more about the culture of the area, then the Orlando Museum of Art is a great place to spend your weekend. The museum houses many unique permanent collections, including African Art, contemporary collections, and the "Art of the Ancient Americas" exhibit.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
The Orlando area is known to have a bustling art scene. While the Orlando Museum of Art provides you with many collections of ancient and contemporary selections, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art has more quirky collections and is known to have the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany glass, ceramics, and jewelry.
The Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation Area is a nature preserve that spans more than 4,700 acres. It is perfect for thrill-seekers and those who like to explore the wild in as natural surroundings as possible. The conservation area is home to nine distinct eco-systems. Not only can you witness the amazing wildlife firsthand, but you can enjoy some adrenaline-filled adventures such as horseback riding.
Experience zip-lining at the "Peregrine Plunge," where you can take on 1,300 feet of zip-line to see come of the most amazing views of the park. Another adventure to enjoy is "Panther Pounce," which is a 7-foot high, controlled free fall drop.
Some of the wildlife you can expect to encounter during your visit include big cats, alligators, black bears, and even whitetail deer. Want to see the animals close up? You can take one of the trail buggies deeper into the preserve to find more.
Moving to Orlando
Moving to Orlando can be a thrilling experience. The area is known for its amazing opportunities, unique and beautiful neighborhoods, abundant sunshine, and cultural diversity. When preparing for your move to the city, there are a few things you need to know and certain things to expect when your move is complete.
Going Green Is Important in Orlando
Orlando has aggressively begun pursuing green projects. It was the first city in the country to build a LEED-certified NBA arena, is home to hundreds of green-retrofitted houses, focuses on programs to replant trees and create green areas, and even has hybrid garbage trucks. When moving to the area, make sure to do your part to keep Orlando moving in the green direction.
You Can Expect a Friendly Greeting Everywhere You Go
Orlando is ultra-friendly, especially when you consider that many of the Disney cast members are local residents. In general, you will find that most people in Central Florida are agreeable, friendly, and tolerant. Don't be surprised if drivers pull over to help each other or greet strangers with a wave and a hello. Always flash a smile to let them know you are a new addition to their community. You'll be surprised how quickly you can make a new friend.
East Likely Means North and West is Probably South
As confusing as this sounds, it is important to keep this in mind when traveling on the most prominent highways in the area. One of the most central interstates, I-4 runs, north and south through the main metropolitan area, though it is labeled as traveling east and west. This is primarily due to the fact that the highway stretches all the way from Tampa to Daytona Beach, which ends up being a horizontal trip.
The City Is Actually Quite Quaint
With all the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas, it is hard to see Orlando as anything but a busy city. In fact, once you get away from the resort areas, it is extremely quaint and down-to-earth. Don't let the bright lights and busy theme parks throw you. The city is actually a friendly and quiet little area that is a great place to call home.
With the city of Orlando being so diverse, from its neighborhoods to its entertainment to its cuisine offerings, it is the perfect place to call home.