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19 Things to Know Before Moving to Orlando, FL

By: Susan Finch
April 30, 2021

Are you feeling the call of Florida's entertainment capital? Here's what to know before moving to sunny Orlando.

1. What it's Like Living in Orlando

Orlando is home to 285,705 people and is the fourth largest city in Florida and the most visited city in the state. It also ranks among the top vacation spots in the US. People from across the country relocate to Orlando or come to visit this theme park mecca. You may hear a variety of languages spoken around Orlando's neighborhoods.

Orlando is known for Disney World and Universal Studios, both of which attract over 60 million visitors each year. You can also hit the golf courses, growing nightlife, and shopping scene. You may not be beachside in Orlando, but there are 100 lakes to enjoy and you are less than an hour away from the Space Coast.

The city is a popular choice for hospitality professionals and entertainers looking for theme parks and film production work. Beyond entertainment, you also have your pick of technology, aviation, aerospace, manufacturing, warehousing, and more.

Orlando first rose to modern prominence in 1875 when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. After a catastrophic freeze in 1894, many gave up on their ruined crops and moved south. The area later became a popular resort between the Spanish-American War and World War I and eventually boomed in the 70s, especially when Walt Disney World opened its doors in 1971.

Orlando is full of surprises to newcomers and visitors alike. The total number of visitors in Orlando every day is equivalent to the population of Atlanta. Gatorland was the first theme park in Orlando, which opened in 1949 and had a 15-foot gator, which was said to be the biggest in the world.

2. Cost of Living in Orlando

Living in Orlando comes with urban amenities, year-round entertainment, pleasant weather, and an affordable cost of living. According to Payscale, the cost of living in Orlando is 5% lower than the national average. Housing is 11% lower than the national average.

Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to Orlando, as reported by Payscale:

  • Energy bill: $186.44
  • Loaf of bread: $3.40
  • Doctor's visit: $97.65
  • $2.45 for a gallon of gas

Orlando offers reasonable rent prices, though they are on the rise. The average rent in Orlando recently rose to $1,180 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,403 for a two-bedroom apartment. You can also save money by looking for Orlando move-in specials.

To live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in Orlando, you should have an income of at least $35,400 per year or $17.70 per hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll need to earn at least $42,090 per year or $20.24 per hour.

The median income in Orlando is currently $51,757, as reported by the Census Bureau in 2019. By comparison, the median income is $55,660 in the rest of Florida.

Median income estimates are different from the recommended basic living wage in Orlando. Living above the poverty threshold in Orlando requires $15.44 per hour for a single individual working full-time. Fortunately, Orlando's wages are solid, but you'll need a bump if you want to make nightlife and theme parks a regular part of your day-to-day.

If you’re on a budget, you can find affordable apartments in Orlando for less than $900.

3. No State Income Tax

Living in Orlando means saving some money on taxes. Like the rest of Florida, Orlando locals don't pay personal income tax or sales income tax. There is currently a 6% Florida sales tax rate, and property taxes are higher than the national average.

4. Who's Moving to Orlando?

Orlando is a diverse city with a reasonable cost of living that attracts newcomers from some major metro areas. According to Apartment List's most recent migration report, the highest percentage of people moving to Orlando are from Miami, New York, and Lakeland.

Get more info and tips about moving to Florida.

Many outbound moves are happening in the Orlando metro area. Renters who currently live in Orlando, but are considering moving elsewhere, are searching for apartments in Tampa, Miami, and Deltona.

Learn more about moving to a new state.

5. The Job Market and Economy in Orlando

Orlando's job market has increased 30.6% in the last 10 years and boasts a diverse mix of jobs to choose from. Entertainment, hospitality, tech, aerospace, and manufacturing, are just some of the industries you'll find.

Some of the world’s largest corporations have a significant presence in Orlando. You'll find headquarters for Amazon, JetBlue, Oracle, Sea World, and Tupperware, among others. There's also a major entertainment influence with Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios, and Electronic Arts located nearby.

Central Florida Research Park is located in Orlando. The campus-like environment lies adjacent to the University of Central Florida and is home to more than 120 companies.

6. Orlando Weather

Orlando's weather is a major draw if you can handle the hot and humid summers. The overall climate is tropical, while winters are dry and chilly. You should take some hurricane precautions when living in Orlando, although they don't happen that often for those far inland. You're more likely to get severe tropical weather from the aftermath of a hurricane.

7. Public Transportation in Orlando

Orlando has a surprising amount of public transportation options for a driving town. The LYNX bus system has buses running along International drive with stops from SeaWorld to Disney. You can connect to different destinations through Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.

The SunRail electric commuter train features a double-decker passenger car, tables, and power outlets. The line runs North to South, connecting to additional Amtrak stations.

Other options include BRT and the affordable LYMMO option. The free-fare mover takes you to major entertainment spots. Bus lines run through Downtown, as well as the rest of the city.

In addition to public transportation options, you can also find rideshares. Grab a bike from HOPR bike share or get around the city with Uber and Lyft.

8. Best Orlando Neighborhoods

Orlando may boast a reputation as a theme park haven, but its neighborhoods have more to offer than thrill rides. Here's where to live, from the lakefront to urban amenities.

College Park

College Park is situated just a few miles from Downtown and features everything from cottages to new apartment complexes. The 280-acre Lake Ivanhoe offers wakeboarding and waterskiing with skyline views. You'll find walking trails, parks, and the Mennello Museum of Art.

South Eola District

South Eola is among the best neighborhoods in Orlando for urban dwellers. You'll find highrises and upscale apartment buildings outfitted with pools and on-site fitness centers. Watch live performances at Disney's outdoor amphitheater, Opera Orlando.

Celebration

You may feel like you’re lost in Disney World when you're walking around the immaculate Celebration neighborhood of Orlando. The neighborhood is a subsidiary of Disney, designed and built the community, although it's no longer affiliated with the entertainment juggernaut. You'll find upscale amenities and a natural habitat where deer still roam.

Want more ideas on where to live in Orlando? Read more about some of the best neighborhoods in Orlando.

9. Orlando Food & Drink Scene

Orlando's food scene goes far beyond fast food. There are scores of fresh seafood, with dishes like conch fritters, Apalachicola oysters, and stone crab claws.

Breweries are wildly popular around Orlando. Castle Church Brewing Company even operates as a church on Sundays. For Italian food with a chic warehouse vibe, Prato serves up wood-fired oven pizza in alfresco dining.

The sushi experience at Kadence is so popular, diners must pre-pay to get a reservation. Domu makes handmade noodles in savory broths. For wine lovers, there is an excellent wine scene in Orlando with events like the annual Orlando Wine Festival.

10. Orlando Outdoors

Orlando summers get steamy, though you can still enjoy the great outdoors if you can take the heat. Go canoeing at Shingle Creek Regional Park or cool off with a swim at Wekiwa Springs Park. For more water sports, try kayaking or paddleboarding at the Indian River Lagoon. Beyond the lakes and waterfront, golfing or ice skating are popular pastimes around the city.

You can get out of the city limits and go camping at Westgate River Ranch. Stay in the lodge, a yurt, or a cabin at this authentic Florida dude ranch. You can even join the crowd at the rodeo.

11. Orlando Animals

Orlando has a unique array of animals and creatures. When you live in Orlando, alligators, giant mosquitoes, and manatees are your neighbors. Make sure to bring bug spray and stay out of marshy areas.

12. Orlando Nightlife

Orlando has a growing nightlife scene with a variety of places to eat and drink. The Universal CityWalk features more than 30 places to dine, a 19-screen theater with an IMAX screen, and a nightclub.

Over at International Drive, you'll find dozens of restaurants that are popular with tourists staying in nearby hotels. Try Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, and the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant.

You can cool off with a drink at ICEBAR Orlando. It was named the largest permanent ice bar in the world with over 70 tons of hand-carved ice. The bar is built from ice and features an adjacent lounge to warm up with some dancing.

Orlando is home to side-splitting comedy clubs. Stop by the Orlando Improv for karaoke and comedy or the SAK Comedy Lab, which offers a 25-seat improv comedy theater and nightly shows.

Orlando never lacks live music and entertainment options. The House of Blues features a beautiful music hall located in Disney Springs, as well as many delicious Southern dishes. Dine on po'boys and jambalaya during a performance or join a Gospel Brunch for food and live music.

13. Orlando Art Places to Explore

Orlando's art scene has quietly grown into a flourishing showcase of local, regional, and national artists and performances. The Mennello Museum of American Art exhibits paintings, sculptures, and a permanent collection by Earl Cunningham. The nearby Cornell Fine Arts Museum is a teaching museum with rotating exhibitions and ongoing programs open to the public year-round.

The Orlando Museum of Art was founded in 1924 to inspire creativity and intellectual curiosity. They host "1st Thursdays" with a showcase of local artists, live music, and an open bar and cafe.

For live entertainment, the Orlando Repertory Theater delights young audiences with performances from both children and adults. Local kids can join camps and classes to ignite their inner creativity.

14. Orlando is Big on Theme Parks

It's no secret that Orlando is big on theme parks. Disney World is likely the most well-known, with campuses including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. From Mickey Mouse to Yoda, there is no shortage of characters entertaining visitors throughout the various parks.

Universal Studios is home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, attracting nearly 11 million visitors each year. Legoland Florida is located in nearby Winter Haven. The interactive, 150-acre theme park features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions.

SeaWorld Orlando is a theme park and marine zoological park. You can also visit its adjoining neighbor, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, for a mix of rides, roller coasters, and animal encounters.

15. Orlando Family Attractions

Orlando is a city with family-friendly attractions scattered throughout the city. Get hands-on with interactive exhibits at the Orlando Science Center. A La Carte hosts Movie Monday, perfect for a weekly family outing.

The Museum of Illusions Orlando is located in ICON Park. It has more exhibits and illusions than any other edutainment stop in Central Florida. You'll see illusions like the Tilted Room and the eerie Head on a Plate.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition features over 300 artifacts with full-scale recreations of the ship. Enjoy interacting with costumed actors and raise a toast at the gala dinner.

16. Orlando Annual Events

Orlando is a mecca for entertainment and hospitality. You'll find year-round events like the Florida Film Festival and ICE! frozen holiday event at Gaylord Palms. The annual Orlando Heritage Festival features an action-packed national music festival and awards ceremony with middle and high school performers.

Of course, Disney also has its share of annual events. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a yearly food festival at Epcot that promises a "party for the senses." The multi-month festival features global cuisine, wine, and live entertainment. At Taste of Epcot, you’ll find exclusive bites, gardens, exhibits, and gorgeous topiary displays.

17. Orlando Sports

Sports lovers rejoice, as there are many major sports franchises in Orlando. The Orlando Magic (NBA) plays at the Amway Center, a stadium that is also the home of the Orlando Solar Bears hockey team. Soccer enthusiasts cheer for the Orlando City Soccer Club at the Exploria Stadium in Downtown Orlando.

18. Universities in Orlando

Higher education is a major draw for students and academic professionals in Orlando. The University of Central Florida is the second-largest university in the US. This public research university focuses on Optics, Lasers, Modeling and Simulation, Engineering, and other fields, including video game design.

Rollins College is a private liberal arts college in nearby Winter Park, Florida, with programs like Business Administration, Management and Operations, Journalism, Communication, and more.

Stetson University is known for its Business Management, Marketing, and Social Sciences programs. It also boasts 18 NCAA Division I teams.

19. Final Thoughts - Should You Move to Orlando?

Ready to move to Orlando? Start apartment hunting with Apartment List.

You can also learn more about:

Florida:

Miami:

Tampa:

Learn more about the best places to live in Florida!

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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