Everything You Need to Know About Living in Orlando, FL

We found out everything you wanted to know about the makes The City Beautiful so great to live in from the people that call it home. Download our Orlando, Florida Research Report to review all of the details.

Orlando, FL: Fast Facts

Orlando is the 71st most-populous city in the US and the fifth-largest city (by area) in Florida after St. Petersburg. Located in Central Florida, Orlando is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Tampa in the west; two hours and a half south of Jacksonville; about four hours north of Miami; and about a four-and-a-half hour drive to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, in the north.

Orlando is currently growing at a rate of 0.53% annually and its population has increased by 22% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 238,300 in 2010. Orlando reached its highest population of 290,520 in 2021, making it one of the fastest-growing regions in the USA, and the second-largest growing metro in Florida. The metro saw an increase of 12.8% in population between 2010 and 2019 and nearly 215 people move to the Orlando area every day.

As of 2020, Orlando is considered to be #1 for best cities for tech work, and tech-sector jobs are expected to grow by 10% over the next five years. The Orlando metropolitan market experienced a 30% increase in net tech employment between 2010 and 2019. 

Residents of Orlando are known as Orlandoans and the city is also known as The City Beautiful and O-Town. “The City Beautiful” was adopted in 1908 after locals were tired of the old nickname, “The Phenomenal City.” The new slogan was chosen after a contest. Orlando is proud of its diverse multicultural community and that it attracts people from across the country and globe who want to seek opportunities and call Orlando home. Diversity and inclusion are vital parts of their way of life. The City has a long history of advancing policies and initiatives that embrace diversity and celebrate various cultures, including Equal Opportunity and The Hispanic Office for Local Assistance (HOLA).

Orlando is definitely diverse with activities, but even if you don’t want the tourist attractions, there are so many beautiful natural areas around Orlando that are hidden gems. My friends and I love going to paddleboard in Wekiwa or swim in Rock Springs during the summer.

Kassandra M.

Orlando Neighborhoods

Downtown Orlando is the historic core and central business district of Orlando. There are several distinct neighborhoods downtown; North Quarter to the north, Lake Eola Heights Historic District just north of Lake Eola, South Eola contains Lake Eola Park and continues to the east and south of Lake Eola, Thornton Park in the east, Parramore in the west, Lake Cherokee Historic District to the south, and the Central Business District between Colonial Drive and Lake Lucerne in the center. It is home to residential and commercial towers; local, state, and federal government offices; sports facilities; performing arts theaters; art galleries; retail; restaurants; nightclubs; and parks. It is also the location of numerous festivals, parades, concerts, political demonstrations, and other high-profile events.

Described by some as a small New England village with a European flavor, quaint shops, and exquisite restaurants, Winter Park is as beautiful as it is unique. Located just three miles north of Orlando in Orange County, the City of Winter Park is ten square miles with more than 30,000 residents. It is known for its old-world charm, elegant homes, quaint bricked streets, extensive tree canopy, first-class shopping and dining experiences, world-class museums, and highly-rated schools.

Just two miles north of downtown Orlando is Baldwin Park, one of the most unique neighborhoods in Central Florida. Its traditional, but modern in so many ways. It’s urban, but with all of the high standards families expect to find in a suburban community. It’s close to all of the businesses and entertainment that downtown Orlando has to offer, but you might never need to leave the neighborhood to work, shop, eat or play. Families, retirees, and young professionals have all made this neighborhood-friendly and city-smart community their home. 

Nestled southeast of the Orlando International Airport, Lake Nona features sprawling parks and a business hub for work and play opportunities. This upscale Orlando neighborhood got its start when the Central Florida GreenWay was built through the heart of the neighborhood. Lake Nona also has a great design for those who love staying active. There are numerous walkways, gardens, and playgrounds. They’re all great places to soak up the afternoon sunshine. Recently, Lake Nona has been trading its exclusive “golf” image for a more scientifically cutting-edge one. A Medical City, which includes the University of Central Florida’s medical school, a VA hospital, and a 500-acre science and technology office park can also be found here.

Embrace urban living in the quaint Orlando neighborhood of College Park. Situated just a few miles from downtown, residents know College Park for its mix of cottages and newer developments. It also boasts great outdoor recreation. Water enthusiasts have their choice of 280 acres of lakes. These include Lake Ivanhoe for wakeboarding and waterskiing with views of the skyline. There are also parks, walking trails, and a family-friendly vibe. For a cultural outing in College Park, try the Mennello Museum of American Art and Orlando Shakespeare Theater. You’ll find a wealth of restaurants from Caribbean to Parisian cuisine, such as Les Petit Pleasures. 

Newcomers looking for more diversity in their choice of Orlando neighborhoods can look to East Orlando. Popular with commuters and students, the neighborhood is home to the University of Central Florida. It lies just minutes from the Orlando International Airport. Shop the hubs at Waterford Lakes Town Center. Also, check out the area around Alafaya Trail. There, you’ll find a mix of big-box retailers and smaller brands. It’s also home to eclectic fare.

Charming, residential Thornton Park is known for its boho-chic clothing boutiques, organic juice bars, and stylish eateries, as well as its classic bungalow homes, shaded by large oak trees heavy with Spanish moss. At the neighborhood’s heart, lively Washington Street has a genteel European feel thanks to a decorative fountain and a number of wine bars and cafes with outdoor seating.

Doing Business in Orlando

The Orlando region offers major attractions but it’s also known for the University of Central Florida community, museums, and a modern, international airport.

Key Industries: Tourism and Hospitality, Entertainment, High Technology, Aviation and Aerospace, Biotechnology, and Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Distribution.

Major Employers: Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Orange County Public Schools, State of Florida Government, Adventist Health System, Walmart, Orlando Regional Healthcare System, Federal Government, and Publix Supermarkets

Major Tech Companies with Offices in Orlando: Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, L3 Harris Technology, Harris Corp, GolfNow, Cubic Corp., Summit Broadband

Major Financial Services and Insurance Companies with Offices in Orlando: Lamco Advisory Services Inc., Resource Consulting Group Inc., Cramer & Rauchegger Inc., Security Financial Management Inc., Ruggie Wealth Management, Brown & Brown of Florida, Baldwin Risk Partners, Insurance Office of America Inc., FCCI Insurance Group, and Statefarm Insurance

A recent report found that the Orlando metro area is among the most affordable areas for entrepreneurs looking to launch startups. The report, which was compiled by Clever Real Estate, ranked Orlando as the fifth most affordable metro area in the U.S. for startups. To determine the rankings, the report evaluated the nation’s top 50 metro areas on different criteria including cost of living, the density of new businesses, and investment in new businesses.

A golf entertainment business that’s partnered with world-famous athlete Tiger Woods is headed to Orlando. PopStroke plans to open its first City Beautiful location at the Waterford Lakes Town Center. Orlando Business Journal first reported in December 2019 that PopStroke was looking to open up to three locations in Central Florida. PopStroke will feature a restaurant and dedicated events space.

Cost of Living in Orlando

Orlando falls just above average on most expenses when compared to national medians. Healthcare is the only major factor that comes in ​at a lower cost than the national average and is even lower than the state median. Transportation, unfortunately, comes in higher than the national median for both the city and state.

For prospective homeowners, the median home in Orlando is about $14,000 above the national median, coming in just over $245,000. This, paired with the average costs of living and easy access to all of the amenities and entertainment venues, makes Orlando an appealing city to call home.

Florida continues to be a relatively low tax state, with extremely low per capita state taxation but considerably higher local taxes; however, its combined state and local rankings are rising. 

Orlando Apartment Living

At the onset of 2021, the median Orlando home price was $285,000 and the median Orlando monthly rent was $1,649 per month. Although this price point puts them above the national median, affordable housing is not in short supply in Orlando. 

The Orlando real estate market has been growing rapidly in recent years due to an influx of people relocating to the area. The city of Orlando has the second most expensive rent in the metro area, at $1,442 on average

According to ApartmentGuide, these Orlando neighborhoods offer a good selection of rental apartments, unique dining, shopping atmosphere, and a sense of community:

  • Downtown Orlando ($1,463/mo)
  • Thornton Park ($1,275/mo)
  • Winter Park ($1,291/mo)
  • Lake Nona ($1,487/mo)
  • Baldwin Park ($1,794/mo)
  • College Park ($1,995/mo)

What Orlando Renters Want

No two renters are the same, but many Orlando renters are constantly seeking features and amenities. Here are the top things tenants report looking for in a property.

  • Large Storage Spaces – A spacious walk-in closet or a large kitchen pantry will certainly draw the attention of prospective tenants. Storage spaces are a most sought-after commodity, especially for renters. Tenants are always looking for properties that offer additional storage spaces. Large closets add appeal to the unit. With additional storage space, your tenants will have a place to store their things and keep the unit clutter-free.
  • Outdoor Spaces and Other Amenities – Having greenery and other outdoor amenities in your rental property will add to its curb appeal, increasing your chances of attracting potential tenants and keeping them long-term.
  • Laundry Facilities – Another amenity that tenants look for is an in-unit washer and dryer. Having to pack your laundry and bring it to the laundromat can be inconvenient especially if your tenants don’t have the luxury of time. Having a washer and dryer aren’t extra amenities that you are required to offer. They will, nevertheless, make your rental more desirable than others that don’t include them.
  • Flexible Pet Policies – According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 65 percent of Americans own pets. Not allowing pets severely limits your property’s marketability. Additionally, it’s been found that most pet owners are generally more responsible and will rent for a longer amount of time. Having a flexible pet policy will allow you to have a much larger tenant pool to choose from. As a result, your chances of selecting a good quality tenant increases because of this.
  • Central Air Conditioning/Heating and Other Utilities – In areas with hotter climates, like Orlando, prospective tenants look for air-conditioned properties. While those in colder climates look to make sure that heating is available. These amenities vary where your rental is located. Having these utilities is an absolute must-have for tenants. Experienced landlords know that there is an extra demand for rentals with air conditioning installed. Basic utilities such as water, electricity, phone, and Internet connectivity should already be in place.
  • Modern or Smart Features – With all the technology available today, it’s no surprise that most tenants are looking for properties that are tech-savvy. In a world where renters are becoming more tech-savvy, apartments have to be up-to-date with the latest features. This could extend from simple features like USB charging outlets to more complex amenities like internet-connected HVAC systems and locks. Also, with the growing need to be constantly online, renters are now looking for places that feature a strong cell reception and wireless/wired connectivity for all their smart devices. Today’s tenants want the convenience of having an online payment and maintenance request option.
  • Parking Space – Tenants in Orlando are looking for safe and secure places to keep their vehicles, such as a garage or covered parking. You can even opt to charge a small extra for tenants who use the parking space. As a landlord in Orlando, to find a quality tenant, you will need to provide the ideal living environment for your tenant. A high-quality renter is one who is willing to pay extra for the amenities that make living at your property convenient, thus, more enjoyable. These upgrades will cost money but will assure you that high-quality tenants who rent on time, cause no damage to your property, and rent long-term, will be staying at your property.

My roommates and I feel comfortable with our monthly rent. It is slightly higher here, but it comes with  a washer/dryer and we all get our own parking space which is a plus.

Gio V.

Arts, Recreation, and Entertainment in Orlando

Orlando offers newcomers world-class entertainment and art venues, such as the Amway Center home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic, along with concerts and events plus the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and Orlando City Soccer stadium.

The same ideals of creativity and innovation that rank Orlando’s theme parks among the best in the world overflow to the surrounding community, making this a haven for artists and performers. Orlando is also home to hundreds of museums, galleries, theatres, gardens, and historic homes.

Orlando’s LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade began in 1991 but was renamed Come Out With Pride (COWP) in 2005, when it was moved to October, to coincide with National Coming Out Day and better weather. This program covers events of the week up to the parade. With an attendance of over 185,000 guests, this event is a staple in the Orlando community. 

The City of Orlando Recreation Division offers the citizens of Orlando quality recreational, fitness, cultural, and educational facilities and programs.  The goal of the division is to meet the recreational interests and needs of the growing community while providing high-quality service.Ask any Orlandoan about their favorite sport and you’ll hear about everything from football to basketball to soccer to baseball.

Orlando is also home to many sports teams:

  • Orlando Magic (NBA)
  • Orlando City SC (MLS)
  • Orlando Pride
  • Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
  • UCF Knights

Read the full research report: Orlando, Fl.. We interviewed the people that live there to find out what makes their city special. Stay tuned for more city research.

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