Make no mistake, your dream Florida home or apartment will come at a price. And we're not just talking about the standard of living. Winter Springs may seem like a strange name for a town that experiences very little of what the northern states know as winter, but that happens to be just how the locals like it. The prospect of living in a sub-tropical climate has its appeal in the winter months, as you call your family up north and brag about your day trip to the beach. But remember that the temperatures and humidity are ramped up tenfold once summer rolls along. If you’re like many potential residents, that’s likely just what you are looking for. But many locals will advise you to give your desired city of residence a test drive before you make the final decision to pack up and move. Pick a vacation home for rent for a week or so in July. Not only will you be able to experience what a Florida summer is really like, you’re also coming in at the tourist low season, so you’ll find less competition for living space and you'll get to see what Florida is like for the year-round residents.
Should you be looking to rent a home, your best bet would be a townhome, which tend to be more affordable than a single-family residence. Townhomes here tend to be moderately priced. Renting first before committing to a long-term mortgage is always a good idea, and luckily finding a townhome, condo or apartment for rent isn't impossible. Give yourself at least a few weeks to hunt for a rental property, however, since a whopping 77 percent of properties in the area are owner-occupied, and vacant properties make up only 5 percent of the town.
Winter Springs is comprised of many neighborhoods, with some more conducive to rental living than others. Here are the best bets for scoring an apartment or rental property.
Tuscawilla: In the geographic center of town, this is one of the largest and most established communities. Outdoor living is prized here, since most of the cities parks and trails are located in the stretch of land. Look for owners renting out their larger homes and even townhomes. The nearby 417 will make commuting a breeze.
Jones Landing: Bordering Lake Jessup on the northeast side of town, residents enjoy waterfront views without having to sign over their entire life savings. Apartments -- including some high-rise to afford even more views -- and single-family homes are common here, but unfortunately vacancies aren't, so be prepared to hit the pavement hard during your search.
Wagner: Suburban living comes at a steep price here, but you'll have a large yard (no apartments here) to call your own. The few townhomes are quickly snatched up, but larger single-family homes can be found. 434/419 gets you in and out of town easily, but the community's still not the most centrally-located. People choose to live here for the tons of space and privacy, not the convenience.
Downtown: The far west of Winter Springs is the most urban area. A great mix of renters and owners, the area has plenty of apartments for rent. You're relatively close to I-4 (closer than any other part of the city), so getting to Orlando or another nearby large city shouldn't take too long.
If you’ve got plenty of time to kill, talk a walk along the Cross Seminole Trail that runs through the county. It’s been considered a Showcase Trail for Seminole County because of its beauty and sheer length, and the trail serves as part of the even greater Florida National Scenic Trail. You don’t have to walk the entire 1,300 mile trail that runs from the Florida panhandle to the Everglades, though. Trailheads for the Cross Seminole portion are found in downtown Oviedo to the south and off of State Road 434 to the north.
Living in Winter Park, residents are a stone’s throw away from Orlando and all of its outrageous amusement parks. And if you’re willing to spring for passes for a day or an entire year, living in Florida will give you sizeable discounts on admission. This includes Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and more. You probably still won’t want to go every weekend, but it will give your children (or yourself!) something to look forward to.
So many places to go, but how are you going to get there? If you’re going to live in a small town like Winter Springs, you'll need a car. Sure, there's a public transportation service, LYNX, that services Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties, but the routes that take you in and out of Winter Springs are few and far between. Not really something you can count on for daily, dependable service. I-4 is a major interstate that handles the bulk of traffic going to and leaving the parks in Orlando, and runs just west of Winter Springs. While it's convenient, it does tend to get congested often thanks to the Orlando parks traffic. Have patience and leave early when you can if you have the chance, and avoid being late for a very important date. Or, you can eschew the interstate all together if you'd like and stick with the other major roads and highways instead.