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Melbourne is located in Brevard County, along the Space Coast, sonamed for the proximity to NASA launching station, Cape Canaveral. The Space Shuttle program came to an end in 2011, but look in the sky for SpaceX Dragon and Cygnus programs with astronauts aboard.
So, though the area no longer sends men to the moon (or so they tell you), it does have, duh, amazing beaches. Though the city of Melbourne is located inland on the Indian River Lagoon, you are within a quick drive or bus trip to some of the best beaches in central Florida, including Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island.
If for some reason you’re moving to Melbourne and you are horribly terrified of beautiful beaches, sunsets, dolphins and/or seashells, that’s okay too! The city proper has a historic downtown area and arts district, featuring the Foosaner Art Museum. Additionally, the city has numerous restaurants (including some highly sought after local places serving otherworldly Cuban food – El Ambia and the unoriginally named The Cuban Sandwich – sorry locals for pulling back those curtains), bars and shopping centers that are easily accessible from all parts of the city.
Because of its diverse population, Melbourne neighborhoods are kind of a mixed bag. Additionally, neighboring Brevard County cities—like Indialantic, Palm Bay and Viera—are all nestled in close to each other, so border neighborhoods tend to take on the character of the closest cities.
Seaside living is far and away the most expensive real estate in town. Yes, there are a lot of condos and apartments in newer construction complexes along the waterfront, but many of these places make their big bucks in vacation rentals, and have above market rent for long term. Again, Melbourne proper is located on the Indian River Lagoon, but connected to beachside towns and communities by the Melbourne Causeway—including the towns of Indialantic and Melbourne Beach. Two bedroom apartments on the on the ocean-side of the causeway generally go for $1150-1300.
Inland Melbourne apartments are much cheaper and also have the added benefit of being located in a less transient community—here you’ll be close to schools, community facilities and shopping centers. Most inland Melbourne neighborhoods are mixed in terms of safety, so thoroughly check out your block and talk to other residents before settling on a neighborhood.
Northern inland communities, towards the neighboring town of Viera, tend to have a better safety reputation and higher desirability. Because Viera is a newly built and incorporated town, you’ll find a lot of opportunities in condos and apartment buildings. This is great news if you like a suburban neighborhood feel, but if you find this type of construction too cookie cutter, set your sights to the south.
Most southern inland communities also have a fairly decent safety reputation, though less in the way of new and well-maintained apartments with complex-style amenities. If you’re looking for a house, southern inland neighborhoods will be your best bet, as there are a number of single-family homes for rent in this area. Avoid the area directly adjacent to the Florida Institute of Technology, particularly on the east side of campus. Lots of student housing in this area means higher crime rates and noise disturbances. Two bedrooms in inland Melbourne generally range from $550-800, depending on amenities and rental type.
Fear not intrepid Space Coast astronaut-pioneer! Melbourne has an extremely rental-friendly housing market, with a diverse body of rentals—everything from studio apartments to condos to single-family homes.
But, Melbourne is a vacation city that is also popular with the retirement crowd. If possible, start your apartment search during the summer off-season, when there will be less competition and lower rates for rentals. If this isn’t possible, start your apartment search at least two months before your winter move-in date to guarantee enough time to find an ideal rental. Also, if you’re not a card carrying AARP member, be sure to fully investigate the age demographics of larger rental complexes, as many of them have become unofficial retirement homes. Unless lunch at 10:00 and dinner at 3:30 is your cup of tea with a few drops of lowfat milk and ½ a Sweet & Low.
In general, you can find great rentals without the aid of real estate agents through online apartment searches (heyooo!) or in the classifieds. Background and credit check fees range from $30-50.
Commuting in and around Brevard County is fairly painless, particularly if you already live in Melbourne. Many area residents commute to the downtown business center from nearby cities, so living in town will save you some highway hassle. However, if you find yourself needing to get to Palm Bay or Viera for work, I-95 rush hour is brief (generally from 8-9:30 in the morning, and 5-6:30 in the evening), and will only cause minor delays.
The Space Coast Area Transit system (ha-ha, SCAT) provides Brevard County residents with fixed route bus services throughout Melbourne and into neighboring Palm Bay, Rockledge, Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach.
There you have it, fair Melbourne apartment hunter! We have lift off. Up, up, and away. It's launch time. You get it.
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