The best aspect of settling in the idyllically named St. Cloud is its ridiculously generous cost of living, roughly 5 percent below the nations average, and with a housing market obliterated by the crash (gotta find those silver linings), locating affordable accommodations, whether youre looking for condos, apartment rentals or property rentals, is easy pickings, and that’s just the crash pad, man. Entertainment, from bass fishing in East Lake Tohopekaliga to IMAX movie watching at St. Cloud Twin Theatre is pocket change too, comparatively. Of course, folks living here make less too, as is to be expected, so the low cost of living may not necessarily seem like the impressive deal it would to born and bred New Yorkers, for instance. If youre making the standard salary of almost 50 grand, you’ll be pleasantly pleased with these sticker prices.
Another heart warming high is the vacancy rate. That recession has done wonders to the availability of property in cloudland. At 11 percent, you could fly in on a whim and find an amazing two bedroom apartment with all the home fixins within a week, or less.
Which brings us to the lows. Let's hope you already have a job, as you likely won’t find one here starting from a cold search. With unemployment hovering around 11 percent, there are a lot of desperate types hungry for pay and finding no relief.
Florida also enjoys a fragile truce with the wildlife and weather, the peace of which Mother Nature routinely breaks. If youre not familiar with the day-to-day weather variability, you’re in for a treat. A bad treat. Whatever the opposite of a treat is. Humidity levels often bypass 100 percent, thundershowers happen around 3 p.m. every day in the summer, and even more in the winter. And there’s no beach around to soothe those burns in between a torrential rainfall. Most dwellers started their house hunt by nixing any place that didn’t have a screened porch, because that’s a wasted area youll never use. And if you do, enjoy the free Dengue Fever that comes with it. Did we mention the alligators? Theyre pretty tasty eating, actually, but they also roam freely around, and St. Cloud has its fair share. You may find them in your garage, pool, lawn, side street, or oversized purse in all likelihood.
Of course, one of the best parts of living in St. Cloud is its proximity to Lake Youll-Never-Be-Able-To-Pronounce-It-Correctly, otherwise known as Lake Tohopekaliga. Bass fishing, boating and water sports are common on this gorgeous, crystal clear body of water, with visibility as deep as nine feet. It’s no ocean, but it’s pretty fantastic, year round. And people are fairly serious about fitness, sports and outdoor recreation. Golf clubs, pilates studios and parks are found in great number.
Ideally, you’ll want to live close to the water’s edge, but maybe skip Alligator Lake in favor of East Lake Toho-blah blah. There are lots of rentals here, from studios to vacation homes, though settling further south offers its own rewards. Keep in mind there are approximately a dozen or more neighborhoods within St. Cloud, but there isn’t much price difference between them; its mostly about the neighborhoods proximity to more tourist friendly areas. So, here are the areas broken down by cost.
Directly South: Just under the lake, and perhaps a wee bit to each side, is a lovely area filled with lake front single family homes, endless entertainment options and a number of lovely mansions. There are also plenty of apartment rentals and condos too.
South St. Cloud: Continuing south opens up an even less expensive area, but there are fewer direct amenities. Apartment homes are still available, though houses are more common, and renters generally are in charge of the cost of maintenance for pools, a common item.
East or West of the Lake: If you choose a spot pressed up on the lake shore or on either side, the rent definitely increases, but its all relative and may mean only 50 bucks more a month than somewhere else, or a similar price with fewer amenities. But, it does usually mean easier access to freeways and a shorter commute.
St. Cloud offers a lot to its residents, from inexpensive housing to inexpensive diversions to inexpensive healthcare. Potatoes, on the other hand, are oddly spendy. And while it certainly has its share of drawbacks, not the least of which is a serious commute to a big city, it more than makes up for it with a bright personality and a welcoming, if somewhat boring community.