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There is a common misconception that if you live in Orlando, you live near a theme park. Not true. You live near 10. Get used to it. But also revel in it. Tourist dollars make your dollar go further (plus locals discounts). Additionally, if there is a restaurant or shop you liked in some other city, chances are it, or a reasonable facsimile, is somewhere nearby - you see, it makes a great deal of sense to ply one's wares in the most popular tourist destination in the Milky Way. So, now that you're over it, let's choose the best theme park, I mean neighborhood, for you.
Orlando proper: If you don’t work in the theme park industry (or simply don’t like being in its literal shadow), the city of Orlando itself can still be for you. It has become downright enchanting all on its own (or maybe with a little help from the vendors of magic and dreams a few miles away) & if it's breezy, old-school, orange grove mellow Florida you seek, it's here. If it's Manhattan-posh high rise living, lakes, farmer's markets, pro sports, performing arts, and dozens of hip, non-themed restaurants and bars that bring out the over-21 year old kid in you, get to Orlando. Thornton Park, Lake Eola, and the Central Business District make up the chicest core of Orlando's downtown area and the prices reflect this. $925 for a 1BR. $1,200 for a 2BR. $1,350 for a loft worthy of Michael Eisner.
Lake Buena Vista: Quite possibly the city with the most mysteriously intriguing pedigree of any in the country. LBV is the home of The Walt Disney World Resort (Walt bought up thousands of acres using phony names and shell companies so as not to attract attention and drive up prices for this once desolate Florida swampland). Lake Buena Vista is an exceptional rarity because, although an incorporated state municipality, it is privately controlled... by guess who. Also, LBV has a total population of 40. Lake Buena Vista is simply the de facto moniker for the general Disney area. LBV is the mostly heavily touristed region in the world, and has every imaginable store, souvenir, chain restaurant, theme restaurant, high-end restaurant, and lodging that exists or soon will. The apartments here are mainly big complexes with island motif names - resplendent with pools, fountains, artificial lakes, landscaped grounds, and they are all about the same. Seek opinions about management and maintenance in gleaning your best choice. $800 for a nice 1 BR. $950 for a 2 BR.
Kissimmee: Not dissimilar to Lake Buena Vista - a few miles South, less frenetic, and marginally less expensive.
Celebration: An entirely Disney designed (but no longer company owned) master community, Celebration is, literally, as though it is from a Disney movie. Directly connected to the Magic Kingdom (but not as close as LBV), the architecture, piers, post-office, movie theater, restaurants, and shops have a Twilight Zone eerie perfection. If you drop a gum wrapper on the ground in Celebration, you immediately become the town's public enemy #1 - it's that clean. There is a dearth of 1 BR accommodations here, so Celebration is best suited for families or roommates with a desire for an easy commute to Disney. Around $675 per month for a 1 BR (outskirts), $1,200 for 2 BR (central), $1,500 for a 3BR (central).
Winter Garden: Winter Garden is a pleasant small city with a country feel, right on Lake Apopka - Florida's third largest. Just west of Orlando, Winter Garden has a little bit of everything and lots of fishing. $600 for a 1 BR, $800 for 2.
Dr. Phillips/Bay Hill: All this talk about Disney, what about Universal? Okay... the communities of Dr. Phillips (Ever wanted a town named after you? Apparently, Phillip Phillips, MDdid and got his wish) and Bay Hill are the closest to Universal (and Seaworld), and this is some of the priciest real estate in the metro region (Tiger Woods lives one town over). Very few apartments, several house rentals though - mostly 3 BR, some 2BR from $1,300 - $2,500.
Orlando isn't the most pet friendly rental scene in the country. While it's all-systems-go for pets in some developments, you'll find many highrises have a no-pet policy or strict weight restrictions and/or fees. "Conditional" or "Considered" are terms you will come across when searching for pet-friendly apartments in Orlando.
As Walt Disney himself once said, "If you can dream it you can do it, but in Orlando you will need a car for all that." Well, he said the first part anyway.
Comfortable shoes, a hat, sun screen, bottled water... check. Oh wait, that's for a day at Blizzard Beach, what do I need for my apartment hunt?
Due to the abundance of transient job seekers (the theme parks alone employ almost 100,000 and many such workers treat these gigs as a crossroad) and Florida is just that way, expect to be asked to prove job security, savings, or positive multi-year rental history. Upscale Orlando rentals can be priced slightly high for overall market conditions - that's due to a lot of economic factors way too boring to discuss here - so there's often incentives to be seized. If you're willing to sign a lease of at least 12 months, and you don't see an incentive advertised, ask or negotiate for it - reread the previous sentence.
The truth is that living in Orlando and its surrounding neighborhoods, you will feel no more imposed upon by the plethora of parks than the people of Las Vegas do by the Strip: it's there, everyone's aware it’s there, and it’s generally avoided whenever possible. The theme parks can't be seen from the apartment enclaves, wherever they may be, but they are nice to have. They're fun to visit (locals discounts and specials are generous) and, when your relatives are coming down with the kiddies and insist on staying with you, at least they'll be out of your place for 14 hours a day - waiting in lines.
Orlando, Florida is a place where fun is always on the agenda. Known to be the principal city of the state of Florida, it is made up of gorgeous landscapes, theme park attractions and beautiful weather all year round. People from all over the world, travel to Orlando every year. It is one of the top 10 vacation destinations in the world. It’s also the third-largest metropolitan area in Florida, behind Miami and Tampa.
Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Seaworld. Families with kids love this city. It is also home to the University of Central Florida, which is the second largest university in the state. It has the 6th largest student enrollment in the nation, which is definitely something to brag about. The Orange County Convention Center is smack in the middle of Orlando as well. This well-known center makes Orlando one of America’s busiest cities for conventions and conferences.
Always undergoing renovations and new developments, Downtown Orlando is an area of clubs, bars, businesses, new condos, and yummy restaurants. The musical concert hall known as Amway Arena is part of this location as is the historic Church Street Station.
Pros •Gorgeous Area. •Great Real Estate. •Home Of Many Theme Parks. •Fun, Happy Atmosphere. •Clean. •Great Entertainment And Nightlife.
Cons •Traffic and Driving.
The People - Who Lives Here?
Orlando is as diverse as New York City. Anyone who loves sunshine, hot weather, and fun is found in Orlando. Ethnic groups of all kinds reside here. Motivated college goers, elders settling to retire, families of all ages and sizes are spread out through this area. This is a location anyone can call home if they choose to. With so many different opportunities to take advantage of, many find Orlando attractive.
Social Scene - Bars, clubs, restaurants
Orlando is entertainment central. From Disney to Universal attractions, To Downtown Orlando and its numerous clubs, bars, and restaurants, the social scene is always red hot. Concerts at the the infamous Hard Rock Live, House of Blues, and Amway Arena keeps residents ears tingling. Basketball and football games keeps the sports fans happy. The many parks and fun activities spread throughout the location, keeps kids as well as adults occupied everyday. Its an active city that holds loads of fun to indulge in.
The Value - Rental prices vs. quality of living
By far the quality over living ratio is high. Orlando is always developing and reconstructing its neighborhoods. Price values on a majority of the properties in Orlando are extremely reasonable. The location is very desirable and residents of Orlando are positive. Its a great location to reside in. Everything one may need is in close proximity of the many Orlando neighborhoods. Some communities are exceptions that require a little more traveling time, but compared to other areas in Florida, Orlando is unquestionably one of the top sought after cities in Florida.
Transportation & Traffic
Traffic in Orlando, especially on roads such as I-4, 192, 535, and John Young Parkway, can be a bit of hassle during certain hours of the day. This is like any busy and populated city in America. By far not as bad as New York of course, but perhaps a little like Boston, Mass. It has its five o'clock traffic times and its morning rush hours, but the city of Orlando is working on making traveling easier for residents. They have been consistently constructing new pathways on major roads such as the 408 and I-4 for the past few years now. In time, light traffic may not even be a problem in Orlando.
Taxis are just a phone call away and when in Downtown Orlando, A flag away. Buses run frequently throughout Orlando as well. Schedules vary in different locations.
Rental Advice & Tips
Orlando's real estate fluctuates periodically throughout the year. Patience is truly a virtue when buying in this area. Never accept a first offer unless it is truly a steal. Research locations and consider importances such as; travel times from home to employment, traffic, entertainment, crime rates, and so forth. Also, inspect every possible interest in and out. Ask questions, think thoroughly, and keep your options open. Don't rush, there is no need to!
Entertainment & Recreation - Things to do
Orlando is known for its active lifestyle. Many people bike ride, jog, or walk around the many lakes in Orlando. A huge sport is golf. Orlando has some of the best golf courses in Florida and it takes much pride in them. Beaches are about a 45 minute ride away where many surf, jet ski, parasail, boat ride or just swim and relax. There are horseback riding venues in short distances where trail rides are offered. Again, the Theme parks are always a fun activity. Communities also always have their own baseball, basketball, hockey and even football teams to join. One does not need to look far in order to get into something in Orlando. Its a very productive and motivated city.
Recommended Neighborhoods & Areas
Excellent neighborhoods in Orlando would be; Metrowest, Dr. Phillips, Baldwin Park, Millenia and Windermere.
Employment is huge in Orlando. The theme parks are always hiring. Schools are usually in desperate need of teachers. Construction is another opportunity because the city is continuously being renovated. Entrepreneurs are always welcome in Orlando. Hospitality is huge in this city. Servers, bartenders, customer service reps, and many other hospitable employment jobs await you here in Orlando. Nursing and other medical related jobs are common opportunities in Orlando. Anyone interested in the entertainment industry may find many options out here as well.
Orlando has a widespread of Elementary, Junior High, High School and Universities throughout its area. Home of the Great University Of Central Florida and The musically artistic Full Sail, Orlando has much to offer in education. A great website to checkout for lists of these schools would be OrlandoFloridaGuide.com.
Orlando’s weather is best described as HOT! For a majority of the year, it’s sunny and warm. Many believe that Orlando doesn’t go through season changes. These people are not locals. Orlando is just as seasonal as any other state in America. The summer months in Orlando, when it’s most hot and humid, starts about late May and last till about September. Hurricane season takes place in mid June and lasts till the end of August. During the summer months, Orlando is known for its frequent but quick afternoon showers. Fall starts in October when the weather starts hitting to the low 80’s high 70’s during the day and the mid 60’s at night. This turns into winter for the weather continues to drop till March when spring arrives. The temperature rarely gets any lower than high 50’s at night during the winter though. Orlando may not get snow during its winter, but true locals feel the wrath of the cold. Northern tourists may be walking around in shorts and a tank in mid Dec in Orlando, but a local is wearing a sweatshirt and jeans complaining of chap lips. Hot and sunny is city's common weather.