Orlando, Florida, is a city like no other, and if you live there and are moving around town, you probably already know about the theme parks and warm weather. However, even if you’ve lived in Orlando for years, there may be things you may not know that might surprise you.
We’ve gathered information and resources to prepare you for a possible move to Orlando. You’ll learn about some of Orlando’s most popular neighborhoods and find out what there is to do once you get settled there. You’ll also find tips and resources to help you get started with your new life in this one-of-a-kind place.
A Home for Everyone
Whether you’re a single adult, a couple, a family, a retiree, or a snowbird, Orlando has everything you could ever want in a new hometown. As Florida’s most popular tourist destination, Orlando has a robust economy. The job opportunities combined with an average temperature of 73 degrees attract new residents in droves. People often choose to retire here because of the beautiful weather and top-rated hospital system.
Although Orlando is a well-known retirement destination, around two-thirds of the population is of working age. Orlando often receives awards and accolades for its high quality of life for people of all ages. In 2020, The Crazy Tourist ranked Florida as one of the Best Places to Live, and in 2021, The U.S. News and World Report rated it among the Best Places to Retire.
Some things you may not be overjoyed about are hurricanes and alligators. Still, these potential drawbacks will be worth the tradeoff since the weather and scenery is fantastic, the schools are above average, and you’ll have close access to world-famous theme parks and attractions. Orlando has more than 100 lakes, providing limitless opportunities for watersports. Also, you’ll be within driving distance of several nearby beach towns.
Getting Around in Orlando
After you’ve moved to Orlando, getting around town will become second nature. However, it can seem complicated at first. One reason is that the new road construction and highway extensions may not be updated on your GPS. That said, the solution could be as easy as downloading a different navigation app.
Here are a few basics to keep in mind while driving around in Orlando:
- Interstate 4 runs east-west through the middle of Florida, but the part that goes through Orlando runs north-south. Think of the downtown area as east/north and most of Orlando’s attractions as west/south.
- Keep some change in your car until you become a legal resident of Orlando. As a local resident, you’ll be eligible to get a “SunPass” so you can stop paying cash for tolls.
- Street names often change when they head in another direction and as they wind around bodies of water.
Although Orlando is notorious for heavy traffic, it does have a good public transportation system to help make up for it. Options include:
Family Life in Orlando
If you have school-aged kids, they’ll be excited about Orlando’s many attractions, and you’ll appreciate the quality of the local schools. The Orange County Public School system ranked eighth nationally and first in Florida for the number of exams that received passing grades. Also, 16 of the district’s high schools made the Washington Post’s list of the most academically rigorous schools in the United States.
Orlando is also home to more than 30 charter schools offering innovative programs ranging from leadership and character education to special needs inclusion. If you prefer to send your kids to private school, you’ll have a whopping 132 schools to choose from, 64% of which are religiously affiliated.
Orlando Landmarks, Parks and Attractions
Moving to Orlando gives you easy access to many landmarks, over a dozen major theme parks, and world-famous attractions. You may be surprised to learn that after establishing residence in Orlando, you’ll qualify for resident-only deals and passes to attractions including Walt Disney World, Sea World, Legoland, Universal Studios, and more. Here’s a list of some of the main attractions:
- Walt Disney World
- Sea World
- SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
- Universal Studios
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
- Medieval Times
- Holy Land Experience
- Madame Tussauds
- Orlando Science Center
- Kennedy Space Center
- ESPN Wide World of Sports
- The Wheel at ICON Park
- iFly Orlando Indoor Skydiving
- Lake Eola Park
If you’re more interested in annual events than permanent attractions, there are literally hundreds of those to fill your calendar. Here are just a few examples:
- Downtown Food & Wine Fest
- Florida Strawberry Festival
- International Fringe Festival
- Fireworks at the Fountain
- Orlando Carnival Downtown
- Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Sports Teams in Orlando
Orlando isn’t one of the top Florida cities for sports since it doesn’t have pro football or baseball teams, but it does have its own sports draws, including professional basketball, soccer, and hockey. Although the city doesn’t have a major league baseball team of its own, the Florida Fire Frogs are a minor league team located in the greater Orlando area and the city has the honor of hosting the Atlanta Braves for spring training. If you’re into college football, you probably already know that Orlando hosts the annual Florida Citrus Bowl.
Here are some of Orlando’s popular sports teams:
- Orlando Magic (basketball)
- Orlando Solar Bears (hockey)
- Orlando City Soccer Club (soccer)
- Orlando Pride (soccer)
- Orlando Griffins (rugby)
Orlando Colleges and Universities
Central Florida is known for its many colleges and high-quality universities where you can pursue a degree in a wide variety of subjects. The higher learning institutions in the area provide educational opportunities and contribute to diversity since people come from all over the world to get a quality education.
With more than 60,000 students on the roster, the University of Central Florida is the second-largest university in the United States. With more than 230 degree programs, this metropolitan research university is immensely popular. Other college campuses in the area include:
Choosing an Orlando Area Neighborhood
When planning a big move, an important consideration is finding a neighborhood that will be the right fit for you and your family. The good news is that in Orlando, you’ll have a wide variety of communities to choose from and shouldn’t have trouble finding one that provides all of your must-haves.
Whether you’re looking for an affordable neighborhood, an easy commute to downtown Orlando, or a walkable neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and coffee shops, this overview of several Orlando neighborhoods and nearby suburbs will give you a starting point in your search.
Some of the most popular areas in Orlando are Kissimmee, Winter Park, and St. Cloud.
- Kissimmee: The cost of living in Kissimmee is slightly lower than that of Orlando itself. This town is a golfer’s paradise and living there would put you close to the Sunshine State’s largest theme parks.
- Winter Park: North of Orlando proper, this suburban community with close access to downtown offers top restaurants, shopping, and events. Winter Park is home to upscale boutiques, fine dining, world-class museums, and high-end homes. Founded in 1881, Winter Park has the feel of a charming European village. This city is also home to Rollins College, an exclusive private school.
- St. Cloud: Located on the southern shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga, St. Cloud is a little further out and more rural. The Reptile World Serpentarium is a popular attraction there.
Here are several more distinctive neighborhoods to consider:
- Audubon Park: This is an area where most residents are young professionals who own their own homes. With many bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, Audubon Park has a sparse urban feel.
- Minneola: If you’re looking for a small, affluent community within commuting distance from downtown, Minneola is for you.
- Baldwin Park: As picturesque as it gets, Baldwin Park is a dog-friendly, walkable neighborhood with plenty of fun street festivals.
- Celebration: If you’re a Disney fanatic, you’ll love Celebration, a master-planned community developed by the Walt Disney Company. As a bonus, it’s less than 10 miles from The Magic Kingdom.
- College Park: This neighborhood derives its name from the fact that its streets are named after higher learning institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. Close to downtown, most residents are working people who are homeowners.
- Doctor Phillips: This affluent area named after an innovative citrus tycoon provides a suburban feel while still being close to downtown.
- Lake Nona: This fast-growing lakeside community offers everything from luxury apartments and assisted living communities to single-family homes. You’ll find the largest tennis complex in the world there as well as plenty of parks and trails.
- Milk District: Named for an iconic dairy plant, this area is comprised of a few city blocks in the central part of Orlando. The Milk District is a cultural hub providing unique shopping opportunities, award-winning restaurants, and eye-catching murals. People often move here from other parts of Orlando for the relatively affordable housing and great schools.
- Park Lake Highland: Although the crime rate is a bit high here, finding a rental home in this scenic urban area will be easy. Like most of Orlando, this neighborhood offers above-average public schools. Park Lake Highland also happens to be home to one of the top private schools in the nation, Lake Highland Prep School.
- Thornton Park: This area is a suburban/urban mix where most residents own their homes. You’ll love the brick homes that line the streets here, but there’s a bit of a housing shortage if you’re looking to buy.
Restaurants in Orlando
Living in Orlando means you’ll have a vast array of culinary choices. You’ll find everything from down-home Southern food to seafood from Florida’s coasts, and just about anything else. National chains abound, but don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things because the local food scene in Orlando is top-notch.
We’ve included some of the most popular spots in every major category:
Downtown Orlando has a lot to offer as far as nightlife, from lounges known for their happy hour to high-end nightclubs where you can dance the night away. Some of the most popular local watering holes include:
Universal Resort’s CityWalk is a nighttime entertainment complex with an eclectic collection of clubs, restaurants, and shops. It’s basically an entire zone dedicated to nightlife. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase tickets to attend, and you may need to get them in advance. Some of the shows and venues are separately ticketed and require that guests are over 21 and show I.D.
Shopping in Orlando
If you love to shop, the shopping centers alone might be a reason for moving to Orlando since people drive from miles around to shop here. Whether you prefer luxury brands at upscale boutiques or you love bargain hunting and thrifting, Orlando has it all. The most notable places to shop in Orlando include:
The Mall at Millenia
This large mall is the place to go for luxury shopping. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Rolex have stores here as well as numerous other name brands ranging from mid-priced to high-end. If you really want to live it up, call ahead for a personal shopper and tailoring assistant.
Orlando International Premium Outlets
Located in the heart of Orlando’s hospitality district, Orlando International Premium Outlets is the largest outlet shopping destination in Florida. If you like getting name brands at a bargain price, there are enough outlets to keep you shopping all day.
If you enjoy unique shops and need a break from the tourists, visit this tree-lined, cobblestone thoroughfare for an unparalleled variety of stores. Winter Park is a cultural gem that’s so much more than just clothes shopping. It also provides gourmet dining opportunities at Park Avenue’s acclaimed restaurants. It’s easy to spend the entire day there, and when you’re done shopping and eating, you can relax in some of Florida’s most comfortable movie theaters.
Not only is Disney Springs a great place to find all manner of Disney merchandise, but you’ll also find must-have trends from popular name brands like Anthropologie and Coach. Start your day out with a handmade donut and cold brew and visit unique shops such as the Lego Store and the M&M Store. Shop ’til you drop while satisfying your sweet tooth in multiple candy stores.
With so much to do in Orlando, it may be a while before you venture outside the city limits. Once you’re settled into your new home and ready for a weekend trip, you’ll be pleased to find that some of Florida’s top cities such as Tampa, Daytona Beach, and Cape Canaveral are close by. While Orlando has plenty of lakes, it’s definitely a plus to live somewhere within driving distance of some of Florida’s most beautiful coastal beaches.
Nearby State and National Parks
Orlando is also in close proximity to Canaveral National Seashore, a barrier island that’s a sanctuary to thousands of species of plants and animals. Take in the scenery of the open lagoon and keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles and other exotic wildlife. Several state parks are within driving distance of Orlando including Lake Griffin State Park, Lake Louisa State Park, and Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Important Links for Moving to Orlando
There’s always a lot to do when relocating to a new city or state, but starting a moving checklist will help you stay organized. One of the items on your list will be contacting utility providers to set up services at your new home. Don’t forget about updating your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance.
You may find the following resources helpful as you’re getting established in Orlando:
Main Utility Provider
Orlando Utilities Commission (electricity, gas, water, and sewer)
Trash and Recycling
Top 3 Cable and Internet Providers
Drivers Licenses and Vehicle Registration
Register to Vote
Hurricane Evacuation Maps
While inland Florida is not as prone to hurricanes as coastal areas, it’s a good idea to look over some evacuation maps:
Things to Know About Orlando
Median Home Price: $300,238
Average Income: $85,100
Job Market: Orlando has a robust job market with significant growth in the past few years. Some of the top employment sectors here include hospitality and tourism, healthcare, education, professional services, and retail. A few of the top employers include Walt Disney World, Universal Parks and Resorts, The State of Florida, Orange County Public Schools, Walmart, and Adventist Health System.
Crime Rate: As is the case with a lot of big cities, the crime rate of the town as a whole is above the national average (124.7% above in this case), but there are many safe neighborhoods here. ESRI is an excellent resource for stats on Orlando neighborhoods based on zip code.
Clubs: Both the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club have local chapters in Orlando, including the Downtown Orlando YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida.
Expert Orlando Movers
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your Orlando move is selecting a reputable moving company like MoveDay. Find out more about the local moving services and helpful resources that MoveDay offers and get a free moving quote today.
FAQs About Moving to Orlando
Is Orlando, FL, a good place to retire?
Yes! Orlando is repeatedly ranked as one of the “best places to retire.” With an average temperature of 73 degrees and retirement communities galore, it’s no surprise that this rapidly expanding city is a popular place to spend one’s golden years. Whether you’re looking for assisted living, independent living, or just a house or apartment, Orlando has a place for you to call home.
Is the cost of living high in Orlando?
With a cost of living that’s close to the national average and a high average salary, Orlando is an easy place to live. There’s no state income tax, and there are many different types of housing to fit your budget. Homebuyers get a tax break in the form of a homestead exemption on up to $50,000 of the assessed value of their primary residence.
When is the best time of year to move to Orlando?
If you choose a professional moving company like MoveDay and book your move in advance, anytime is a good time. If you’re moving your belongings yourself, you may want to avoid the hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1st and extends through summer and fall. October signals the beginning of the dryer season.
What do I need to know about relocating to Orlando?
Aside from changing your address and setting up utilities at your new home, there are a few more things to do while you’re getting settled into Orlando — especially if you are a new Florida resident. To vote in Florida, you’ll need a picture I.D., so be sure to get your new driver’s license or state I.D. card first thing. Once you have that, you can register to vote. You’ll also need to register your vehicle in Florida, which requires proof of insurance, so you’ll need that too.
Is Orlando a good place to raise young children?
Orlando has a lot to offer families with children, from top theme parks to great schools with a higher-than-average graduation rate. Once the kiddos graduate high school, they’ll have top-rated college and university options nearby. There are also plenty of fun activities for kids, such as the Florida Aquarium and Kennedy Space Center. And since the weather’s great in Central Florida, the kids will enjoy plenty of time outdoors.
How is the job market in Orlando?
Orlando offers a strong employment market spanning a wide range of industries and job opportunities. Not surprisingly, Walt Disney World is one of Orlando’s largest employers. Other top employers include Walmart, the Federal government, Universal Orlando, and Publix Supermarket.
There are also thousands of employers related to the thriving hospitality and tourism industry, such as hotels and restaurants. Wages tend to be above the national average, and if you’re the entrepreneur type, you’ll be pleased to hear that in 2019, Wallet Hub ranked Orlando the Number One Best City in America to Start a Business.
What else is there to see and do in Orlando?
That depends on what you enjoy doing, but whatever it is, you can probably find it here! If you’re wondering what else to do beyond the theme parks, Visit Orlando is an excellent resource that highlights local attractions such as:
- Blue Spring State Park: Just 30 miles north of downtown, this is the best place to check out Indian Manatees.
- Bok Tower Gardens: Located in nearby Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark that includes almost 700 acres of conservation lands, nature trails, citrus groves, and more.
- Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens: Just 20 minutes from Orlando, this beautiful zoo is home to more than 500 animals housed within 23 acres of lush gardens.
- ICON Park: This entertainment complex on International Drive includes a 400-foot tall observation wheel, providing a breathtaking view of Orlando.
- The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey: Get a close-up view of birds of prey including eagles, falcons, hawks, and osprey as they’re being rehabilitated. This conservation program is located in the Maitland area.
What kind of public transportation can I use in Orlando?
Whether you’re leaving town or just moving about the city, there’s a way to do it here in Orlando — especially in the downtown area. As mentioned above in this guide, you have these choices:
- The LYNX bus system will take you all over Orlando.
- The LYMMO Downtown Circular is a free service for quickly getting around downtown.
- The SunRail Commuter Rail and Amtrak are both options for venturing outside of Orlando.
What cities are close to downtown Orlando?
If you’re hoping to live outside of Orlando proper, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s an easy commute downtown from neighboring communities.
- Winter Park is a small city located 15 or 20 minutes from Orlando with lots of shopping along beautiful oak-shaded walkways.
- Maitland, a lakeside community, is eight miles from downtown Orlando and offers a slow-paced lifestyle with plenty of open space and watersports options.
- Winter Garden is 14 miles from downtown, has its own dining and cultural scene, and is often ranked as one of the best places in Florida to raise a family.
What are some pros and cons about living in Orlando?
- Warm weather
- Strong economy
- Job opportunities
- High-ranking schools
- Being close to Disney
- Beautiful homes and neighborhoods
- Hot summers
- Heavy traffic and tourists
- Costly entertainment