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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.
As one of Florida's premiere coastal cities, Melbourne is known for its wealthy neighborhoods, excellent outdoor recreation, relaxing community atmosphere, and high standard of living. Melbourne also boasts some of the Space Coast's best seafood restaurants, some with great ocean views and some of the freshest food on the coast. There is also a great quality of life when you consider the area's great job market, high median salaries, and excellent value of real estate and rental properties. Combine all of this with great weather (minus the occasional hurricane) and easy-going lifestyle, and you've got a top destination to live in Florida.
The People - Who Lives Here?
With a population of nearly 80,000, Melbourne is a relatively small coastal community whose demographics are spread rather evenly across the board as far as age is concerned. Although there is a lot of wealth in the community and many retirees who enjoy living here, there is also a large middle-class from a the ages of 18-49. There are a good number of families here to occupy the enclaves of housing divisions.
Social Scene - Bars, clubs, restaurants
The social scene in Melbourne varies depending on what type of lifestyle you're into. The bars and clubs cater more to the middle-aged crowd, whereas the younger partygoers will want to seek out the nightlife in nearby Daytona Beach or Orlando. Popular hangouts include the Mainstreet Pub, Lou's Blues Upstairs, and Ichabod's Dockside. The seaside bar & grill atmosphere embodies the community, and hosts great tasting seafood and drink specials. Couples will enjoy the oceanfront views that can make for a romantic evening, and singles will enjoy the laid-back atmosphere for meeting new and interesting people. For a great dining experience, check out the Chart House which specializes in exquisite seafood dishes. For a more traditional setting, try Meg O'Malley's Irish pub and restaurant. In addition to some of the local joints, you will find some of the larger chains like Chili's, and the usual fast-food fare.
The Value - Rental prices vs. quality of living
Even though Melbourne real estate can run a bit high, rental properties are surprisingly affordable for most. 1-bedrooms can run anywhere from $685-900/month, and 2- and 3-bedrooms can run anywhere from $800-1,500/month depending on the neighborhood/complex. The quality of most of the apartment complexes ranges from poor to excellent; as always, you get what you pay for. Some of the nicer complexes are gated, and offer such amenities as pools, 24-hour workout facilities, and high-speed Internet. Families relocating to Melbourne will want to consider some of the pricier places, as they will get more bang for their buck, and ultimately should be able to afford something nicer, with many in-demand jobs paying well here.
Transportation & Traffic
Road transportation in the Melbourne area varies from people who own their own vehicles and the SCAT (Space Coast Area Transit) bus lines, to the Vanpool commuter vans which helps to free up some of the congestion on the highways. As a coastal community, Melbourne residents also make use of the many waterways available. A plethora of boat enthusiasts and wealthy yacht owners can be seen traversing the Space Coast waters. The Melbourne International Airport, which serves the Space and Treasure Coasts of Florida, is located in close proximity to both the coastal Atlantic waters and beaches as well as I-95. This provides easy access for tourists and travelers to Melbourne and its surrounding areas.
Rental Advice & Tips
The same cost-of-living rule applies here; some of the complexes will be cheap, but there are higher crime rates and poor maintenance for most of these. Just remember to do your homework before you decide!
Entertainment & Recreation - Things to do
Melbourne is part the beautiful coastal region of Brevard County, which yields great outdoor areas for activities such as beach sports, fishing, walking, swimming, hiking, equestrian riding, and cycling. There are a variety of parks and recreational areas throughout the Melbourne area including the famous Wickham Park, which features the annual Brevard County Fair. Just north of the city near I-95 is the fantastic Brevard Zoo on Wickham Road. It is a great place to spend the day with the family, and children love the unique and exotic animals that the world-class zoo has acquired since its inception in 1984.
Recommended Neighborhoods & Areas
I would recommend the Wickham Road area, as it is lined with nice neighborhoods, plenty of shopping and convenient for commuters accessing I-95. This area is adjacent to the coast and is centralized to all of Melbourne and its surrounding areas (Merritt Island, Satellite Beach).
The Essentials - Groceries, gyms, banks
There is no shortage of shopping in Melbourne. From the Melbourne Square Mall to Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, and Beall's Department Store, to the legions of shoe stores, clothing shops, and miscellaneous boutiques that stretch across the area. When it's time to fill up the refrigerator, major grocers Albertsons and Publix, as well as some ethnic grocers such as the Best India South Asian grocery and Middle Eastern Aromas grocery are available. When it comes to banking and wealth management in Melbourne, many of the major nationals (Bank of America, Regions, Suntrust, Wachovia, and Chase) and even a few local banks (Riverside bank, Florida Business Bank) are here to assist residents with all of their banking needs.
With baby boomers growing older in the Melbourne area, and the elderly needing care, healthcare and hospice workers are in high demand. Many work for smaller, independent firms or on a freelance basis, however there are also a multitude of hospitals and healthcare facilities available here. Technology jobs are also a part of the quickly growing tech sector in Melbourne and surrounding areas, with many prospects for those who possess the right education and experience. There are also the usual job markets in Melbourne such as retail, service, and hospitality.
One of the most important aspects for families to consider when moving is the public school system. Melbourne residents who have children attending public school will be attending Brevard County's Christa McAuliffe Elementary, Lockmar Elementary, Harbor City Elementary, Creel Elementary, Roy Allen Elementary, Stone Middle School, Westshore Junior/Senior High School, Eau Gallie High School, Melbourne High School, and Palm Bay High School. Many of these schools are 'A' rated, and considered highly desirable by students' parents. Aspiring college students have the choice of Brevard Community College, Warner University, and the Florida Institute of Technology, amongst a plethora of smaller institution that offer a variety of curriculums for students.
Melbourne boasts some impressive real estate, particularly the oceanfront properties. Some of the larger homes here are north of $500K, but you will be paying for some luxurious living space. Many of the homes in the area are modestly priced single-family homes ranging from the low $200's to the high $300's. 3- and 4-bedroom ranch style homes are popular, and there are many condos and townhomes available. The median price for a 3-bedroom house in Melbourne is around $170K, making this area affordable for many families.
With a modestly growing population, Melbourne is proud to have quite low crime rates. Violent crime is extremely low, and property crime is surprisingly low in an area with so much [wealthy] property; but as with any place, you must stay keenly aware of your surroundings to avoid any trouble. As I said previously, hurricanes do affect this area, and coastal waters can rise and cause flooding during hurricane season. Stock up on supplies during the preceeding months and pay close attention to evacuation routes.