moving to Orlando

Moving to Orlando: The Ultimate 2020 Guide

At McKinley apartments, we’re not just about providing housing for the people we care about—we also want to help guide you through the processes of moving or relocating. It can be a stressful experience, and that stress can begin long before you ever decide to move. For example, how can you know whether a new city will be right for you?

This is one of the questions that many in our audience have when it comes to moving to Orlando. Orlando has become a coveted destination for people from around the country, and it’s not hard to see why. The city’s culture, climate, night life, and much more have helped it become an increasingly popular city. Filled with entertainment opportunities, beautiful locations, and plenty of things to do for people of all interests, moving to Orlando has begun to be a more and more enticing idea for many people.

But if you’re considering moving to Orlando, you probably have a lot of questions. After all, a move to a brand-new city is no small task. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of whether you’re making the right choice. But moving to Orlando and finding apartments in Orlando doesn’t have to be stressful, and you don’t have to wonder whether it’s right for you. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help take you through everything you should know about the city in order to help you make an informed decision.

By the end, you’ll know whether moving to Orlando is the right move for you—and if you decide to make the move, you’ll be more excited than ever about everything the city has to offer you.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • Whether moving to Orlando is right for you based on what we know about the city
  • What you can do for fun in the city of Orlando
  • Cost of living in Orlando, and whether the benefits of the city are worth its costs
  • Weather and wildlife of Orlando, including what to expect from the various seasons and the animal life in and around the city
  • The lifestyle and culture of Orlando, including information about what local Orlando dwellers are like and how you’ll fit into the existing vibe
  • Areas around Orlando, because it’s not just about the city but the places it allows you to access in the nearby region
  • Why moving to Orlando might just be the best decision you ever make

Ready to find out everything you need to know about moving to Orlando? Let’s get started.

Should I Move to Orlando? Facts About Living in Orlando

To get things started, let’s begin with the basics. Orlando, FL has a population of around 286,000 people. The median age of residents in the city is about 34, with a median household income of roughly $52,000. Meanwhile, Orlando is on the rise. The population grew 2% from 2017 to 2018.

time lapsed photography of cityscape (moving to Orlando)

Now let’s look at some of the other basic info about Orlando to help you know what to expect when moving to Orlando for yourself.

Economy

Overall, roughly 160,000 people are employed in the city of Orlando. Some of the most common industries in which Orlando residents are employed include health care, retail, hospitality, and food services, and some of the most lucrative industries in Orlando include science, finance, agriculture, and more. One great aspect of Orlando that has many people excited is that income inequality is much lower than the national average. The city is also known for having a range of management occupations available, as well as a high degree of people in the legal profession compared to other areas. Looking to get into law? Moving to Orlando might be a great place to start.

Diversity

Orlando, and other cities in Florida like Miami, is known for its wealth of diversity. Residents of Orlando come from all around the world, making the city a richly cultured place where you’ll find music, entertainment, food, and much more from a wide range of countries and cultures around the world.

In fact, Orlando features a relatively even blend of white, Hispanic or Latino, and Black or African American residents when it comes to total population. This beautiful melting pot of a city is a great place to see what a range of cultures has to offer your life.

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Schools & Education

Each year, schools in Orlando hand out around 15,000 degrees—with around 50,000 students actively enrolled in college each year. Many don’t think of Orlando as a college city, with many of the state of Florida’s most well-known colleges located elsewhere, but it actually has a very active student population filled with people learning and progressing through life while also enjoying everything the city of Orlando has to offer them.

Some of the most popular available majors at universities in Orlando include Liberal Arts, Business Administration and Management, Nursing, and others. The largest university in Orlando is Valencia College, followed by Orange Technical College and Adventist University of Health Sciences.

Culture

One of the things that makes Orlando and much of Florida so distinct is that it combines multiple angles of the American experience into one unique cultural environment. Orlando combines the rich culture of the American south, including delicious foods, warm and inviting hospitality and more, with the richness of international cultures thanks to the many people from around the world who live in and visit Florida. Meanwhile, the urban environment of the city brings its own energy, excitement, and life to the Orlando experience.

We’ll dive into more about the cultural experience of living in Orlando later in this article, where you’ll discover just how much there is to see and do in the city.

Crime

One of the biggest questions people have when moving to Orlando or any city relates to crime and safety. With any city environment, there’s always the question of whether new residents can feel safe and secure. And while any neighborhood in the nation will experience some level of crime, there’s good news for those looking to move to Orlando— compared to urban areas in much of the nation, Orlando is on the lower end of the spectrum. While cities always experience higher crime rates than suburban or rural areas, Orlando isn’t unnaturally high when it comes to either property crimes or violent crimes. If you’re looking for city life but want to be on the safer side, Orlando is an excellent option.

When Relocating to Orlando, What Will I Do for Fun?

Orlando is one of the most attraction-filled cities in the entire country, with a range of activities that will satisfy every type of interest you can imagine. Let’s talk about some of the most beloved entertainment attractions in Orlando that you’ll get to enjoy anytime as a resident.

Walt Disney World Resort

Maybe the most famous theme park in the entire world, Walt Disney World Resort attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. And when you’re a full-time Orlando resident, you can enjoy this magical place year-round. And did you know that Disney World has much more to offer than just rides and movie-themed attractions? In fact, Disney World brings everything from water parks and attractions to world-class resorts, incredible restaurants, fantastic entertainment and shopping that rival some of the best destinations in the world.

So if you love having a place where you can experience it all, Walt Disney World Resort is the place to visit. 

Disney World; benefits of Orlando

New and recent attractions at Walt Disney World resort include the brand-new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park where visitors can see what it’s like to live within the Star Wars universe. There’s also Toy Story Land, the Wonderful World of Animation, the nighttime spectacular Happily Ever After, and much more.

Universal Orlando Resort

Walt Disney World isn’t the only incredible resort in Orlando—almost as famous is the Universal Orlando resort, bringing a similar experience but with a whole new range of activities and adventures to enjoy.

You’ll love the movie-themed attractions, the stunning Islands of Adventure where you can take thrilling rides over a beautiful sea landscape, and the water-based rides at Volcano Bay. Meanwhile, the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter brings one of the most popular books in history to life. Embrace your inner literary nerd by seeing what it would be like to actually live in the world of Harry Potter and his magical friends.

You’ll also love new attractions like the Fas & Furious park, the Cinematic Celebration and more.

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SeaWorld Orlando

Love ocean creatures? SeaWorld Orlando is one of the most famous places on earth to see them, combining the thrills of a water park with the thought-provoking look at some of the beautiful creatures that live in the sea. 

people watching sharks and moving to Orlando

Sesame Street Land is a new attraction at Sea World where kids can interact with all of their favorite Sesame Street pals. For nature lovers, Discovery Cove gives you the opportunity to swim around with dolphins, interact with some of the most unique creatures in the sea like sting rays and tropical fish, interact with and even feed a range of exotic birds, and even relax on delightful beaches. Living in Orlando gives you the chance to enjoy this magical park anytime, even in the off-season. That means you can ditch the crowds and visit when it’s more likely to be chill and open, beating long lines and making your experience even more enjoyable.

LEGOLAND Florida

If you’re like many of us, you grew up absolutely loving to build and play with LEGOs. As an Orlando resident you can enjoy the amazing LEGOLAND resort, where you’ll see massive structures made entirely from LEGO bricks as well as a range of other attractions. You can even create custom LEGO sets to bring home and build yourself, plus a whole lot more.

Restaurants

Now let’s move on from the theme parks, roller coasters, and movie-themed attractions of Orlando to get to our personal favorite—the food!

Orlando is known for being filled with all kinds of delicious dining opportunities in every neighborhood, but many of its best dining options can be found within a group of dining districts and areas. Here’s what you can expect in each.

International Drive

International Drive is an area of Orlando that combines world-class dining options with plenty of places where you can eat delicious food while on a budget. One of the most popular destinations on International Drive is ICON Park, where you’ll find world-famous restaurants that include Tin Roof, Yard House, and the famous Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit. A little further down International Drive is another hot spot for great eats, including Lafayette’s, Taverna Opa, and Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar.

Whatever type of cuisine you love most, and whatever your budget, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for on International Drive. After all, it gets its name from the many global cultures that are represented in its delicious food selections.

Restaurant Row

Can’t find what you’re looking for on International Drive? Never fear, just a short drive away is Restaurant Row, filled with all kinds of incredible restaurants of its own. Some of the most critically-praised dining spots in all of Orlando (and the country) are located right here—including Rocco’s Tacos, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, and Dragonfly, where you’ll experience some of the best sushi you’ve ever had in your life.

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Universal CityWalk

Located right int he center of Universal Orlando Resort’s theme park, the Universal CitiyWalk is set up like a city block and is absolutely packed with incredible places to eat. One of the best parts is that each restaurant has its own unique theme, giving you not only delicious food but an experience unlike any other. For example, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen features a retro-futuristic, steampunk-inspired theme. But don’t worry, this restaurant is more than just a gimmick—in addition to the one-of-a-kind atmosphere, the food is simply incredible. You’ll find plenty of restaurants featuring this combo throughout the Universal CityWalk.

Disney Springs

Located at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Springs features so much world-class food and so many dining options that its an attraction all its own. No matter what your favorite style of cuisine, you’ll find it right in Disney Springs—not to mention the fact that there are more celebrity chefs cooking up signature dishes here than anywhere else in the country. Diners regularly have the chance meet some of the hottest culinary names in person, which brings a whole new level of excitement to your night out at a great restaurant in Orlando.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Speaking of nightlife, Orlando is absolutely packed with it. Perhaps no other city on earth has more diverse options for you to enjoy once you clock out of work and are ready to let off some steam. From live music and dance clubs that keep the music pumping until the early morning, to slick and luxurious lounges where you just might encounter celebrities—and just about everything in-between—Orlando’s nightlife has something for everyone.

We already mentioned the restaurants of International Drive, but this hotspot also features a range of nightlife options and clubs. There are also music venues, plus all kinds of entertainment—from karaoke to bowling.

two people standing beside body of water watching fireworks while considering moving to orlando

Want to catch a basketball game or globally-beloved touring act? Head to the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic and surrounded by plenty of its own nightclubs and more.

Love great bars? We don’t even know where to start in Orlando, which is so loaded with them that you might find 7 or 8 on a single street, all offering their very own custom drinks, cocktails, and signatures.

If you’re moving to Orlando, your problem won’t be finding things to do—it will be choosing between the thousands of options you have available to you on any given night.

Is It Expensive to Live in Orlando? The Cost of Living in Orlando

If you’re looking for some of the best places to live in Orlando, you might be wondering what the Orlando lifestyle will cost you. So let’s talk about the cost of living in Orlando.

low-angle photography of white and blue high-rise building; moving to Orlando

Cost of living, in general terms, refers to how much money you need in a given place in order to meet specific standards for how you live your life. In essence, it describes how much it costs you to live in a place—hence the phrase ‘cost of living.’

But as simple as that may sound, the factors that go into determining your cost of living can be complicated. This can include expenses like rent or mortgage payments, the cost of everyday needs like food, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and taxes, plus how much nonessentials like entertainment and other services cost compared to other places.

This also takes into account the average wages of an area. For example, two cities might have roughly the same rent costs, taxes, etc., but if the average wages in one city are higher, that city has a relatively lower cost of living. They may have the same costs as another city, but they earn more money on average in order to cover those costs.

Cost of Living in Orlando

Good news— in most metrics, Orlando has a relatively reasonable cost of living compared to much of the country, particularly when compared to other cities. In fact, in some key metrics, costs are considerably lower than the national average. For example, the cost of groceries in Orlando are lower than the national average— pretty amazing considering that Orlando is an urban center and the national average includes so many rural areas.

Meanwhile, healthcare costs in Orlando are also lower than the national average.

Let’s talk taxes. Did you know that Florida as a state does not impose income tax on citizens? That’s right, not state income tax for anyone living as a resident in Florida. That can significantly help keep your costs of living down when moving to Orlando.

Meanwhile, the average gas price in Florida is roughly the average for the whole country, which means you don’t have to worry about paying much higher prices per gallon for gas thanks to living in an urban center.

Comparing Orlando Cost of Living

For comparison, let’s compare Orlando cost of living to another sunny U.S. city—Los Angeles. On average, the cost of living in Los Angeles is 66% higher than in Orlando, with homes costing 180% more than they do in Orlando. If you make $100,000 in Orlando, you’d have to make $173,500 to have the same standard of living in Los Angeles. That’s a big difference.

Moral of the story—if you want to experience city life without the exorbitant city cost of living, Orlando is the perfect place for you to do exactly that.

Weather and Wildlife: What is the Natural Environment Like in Orlando?

So we’ve talked a lot about the culture, nightlife, entertainment, and cost of living like in Orlando. But what about the weather? What can you expect when it comes to walking outside your door on the average day? We’re here to fill you in.

body of water in Orlando

Orlando’s climate is known as subtropical, which means that it brings very mild winters and very warm summers. Good news about Orlando weather— you don’t have to stress about constantly changing conditions, as Orlando weather is fairly stable. You have your warm and rainy season, from May until September, and then your warm and dry season, from October to April.

During the hottest time of year, Orlando’s temperatures usually top out in the lower 90s—hot, to be sure, but not blazingly hot. We call that the perfect weather for a trip to the beach or swimming pool. Interestingly enough, the humid climate of Orlando in summer actually helps protect against incredibly high temperatures. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in Orlando is 103 degrees Fahrenheit—hot, sure, but interestingly not dramatically hot considering that many other southern locations in the U.S. can experience weeks at a time of 103+ days during summertime.

But what about winter? Will you have to break out your parka and scarf? Not even close. Winters in Orlando bring low humidity and very mild weather. In fact, the average daily temperature in January in Orlando is a delightful 60 degrees. It’s no wonder why so many people in colder climates escape to Orlando during the wintertime. 

Rainfall in Orlando

As we mentioned earlier, most of Orlando’s average rainfall comes during the rainy season from May to September. During this period, the average rainfall is right around seven inches per month, while the dry season sees only about 2-3 inches of rainfall per month.

If you’re worried about snow, forget about it. There’s only been one recorded instance of snow accumulations in the history of Orlando, and that was way back in 1948. 

Hurricanes

Many people considering a move to Orlando hear about Florida’s risk of hurricanes and wonder whether they should be worried. The truth is that every city comes with its own unique environmental risks, from tornados in the midwest to earthquakes on the west coast to, yes, hurricanes in the southeast. That said, Florida’s highest risk area for hurricanes is actually in South Florida’s urban corridor, with Orlando experiencing a significantly lower risk of hurricanes than these areas.

Overall, here’s what you can expect from the weather when moving to Orlando— the annual high temperature average is 82 degrees, with the annual average low a pleasant 64 degrees. The overall average temperature? A heavenly 73 degrees. Orlando gets slightly more than the U.S. average rainfall per year, but most of this is concentrated in just a few months. You can expect about 233 sunny days every year, nearly a month more of sun on average than the United States as a whole. 

Wildlife in Orlando

Now let’s talk about wildlife. After all, when you move to a place you don’t just have to consider your human neighbors— you also have to think about the critters that crawl, slither, walk, and fly around the area.

What is moving to Orlando like? close-up photography of gray crocodile

Because Orlando is an urban area, you’re not likely to spot quite as many wild animals as you would in the more rural or suburban areas. In some ways, that’s a very good thing. Who wants to wake up and find an alligator or snake in their apartment?

But if checking out cool wildlife is your thing, there are plenty of places in and around Orlando where you can do exactly that.

Here are some of the most famous creatures that call Florida home.

Alligators & Crocodiles

You won’t find these modern-day dinosaurs striding through the streets of Orlando, but they can be found at nearby nature preserves like the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Myakka River State Park. They’re much more commonly seen during the warmer months than in winter.

Armadillos

Armadillos are often associated with the southwestern deserts of America, but they’re actually quite common in Florida. These small but noisy creatures are surrounded in their own suit of armor. Like the alligators, armadillos can be seen at Myakka River State Park. Fun fact— did you know that each litter of armadillos is comprised of identical quadruplets?

Deer

Known as the Key Deer, the native deer of Florida may as well be known as the Adorable Deer. These tiny creatures are unbearably cute, and are generally found in the Keys region of southern Florida.

Pelicans

Capable of gulping up big splashes of water with their inflatable throats, pelicans are one of the most famous sea birds in the world—and they call Florida home. They can most commonly be seen at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Sea Turtles

These gentle icons often migrate to Florida shores in order to nest and lay eggs. Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent place to try and catch a glimpse of these amazing mothers. In fact, this refuge features the most dense population of Loggerheat turtles in the entire hemisphere.

Manatees

Gentle giants, and closely related to elephants, manatees can be as long as ten feet and weigh half a ton. They like enjoying the warm waters off the coast of Florida, and can be seen in Blue Spring State Park, Three Sisters Springs, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Dolphins

Everyone loves dolphins, and can be seen off just about every coast of Florida all year long. They can also be seen at SeaWorld, local aquariums, and sanctuaries.

Bald Eagles

Did you know that bald eagles are the only species of eagle that’s only found in North America? And Florida has them—in fact, more bald eagles breed in Florida than in any other state in America. You can check them out at the official bald eagle sanctuary at Marco Island.

Bobcats

These wild cats are relatively small (though still twice as big as your domestic cat) and can be spotted if you’re very observant and visit St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge or Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Bears

Bears, oh my! Florida black bears are very sweet animals that generally avoid people rather than get into confrontations. You might be able to spot them at Wekiwa Springs State Park, particularly in May, June, August, or September.

Florida Panthers

The Florida panther doesn’t get much press these days, but it should. In fact, this incredibly beautiful and rare panther is now one of the most endangered animals on the entire planet. They reside in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and if you’re lucky enough to see one, it can be an inspiring experience.

Blue Heron

This four-foot-tall bird has a wingspan as wide as a grown adult and lays beautiful blue eggs. You’re most likely to catch a sight of them at Sebastian Inlet State Park, particularly Melbourne Beach. 

The Orlando, Florida Lifestyle: What Are Orlando’s People Like?

One of the things many people wonder when moving to Orlando or any other city in the world— will I feel welcome here? People want to know whether the environment and vibe of a city is welcome and inviting, and whether they’ll feel like this  is a place where they belong.

Orlando people walking near concrete buildings during daytime

The best way to understand the overall vibe of a city is to learn about the locals. Fortunately, many of the people in Orlando bring a unique and inviting perspective you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

To understand why, it can help to take a look at the Orlando tourism industry. Orlando tourism is one of its biggest sources of income, and millions of visitors come through every year. In fact, Orlando has the third-most visitors of any city in the United States. Much of this is owed to the many theme parks and other attractions in Orlando.

Because Orlando is so dependent on tourism, the local people of Orlando have learned to become comfortable with a rotating door of people coming in and out of the city. They’re not hostile to outsiders,  because outside visitors are a major part of life— and help make the city so successful and vibrant.

When you move to Orlando, you don’t have to worry about being surrounded by entrenched lifelong locals who are suspicious of your presence. Orlando is constantly bringing in outside visitors, so many of your neighbors will often have moved in just a little bit before you.

We discussed above just how culturally and racially diverse the city of Orlando is, and this helps add to an atmosphere of welcoming all kinds of people from all walks of life. You’ll meet people from all over the country and the world, helping add to the incredible richness that makes moving to Orlando so desirable.

Overall, the people of Orlando are inviting, welcoming, and diverse in their beliefs, opinions, and backgrounds. You’ll quickly feel like you’re part of the neighborhood and vibrant culture that makes the city so incredible. 

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Areas Around Orlando: What is There to Do Around Orlando?

Like many cities, Orlando isn’t all one thing. There are neighborhoods with their very own vibes and styles, and if you’re moving to Orlando it’s important that you understand what to expect. After all, not everyone wants the fast-paced downtown lifestyle. For every person that wants to be right in the heart of everything, there’s another who wants to enjoy a more laid-back suburban vibe—all while being able to get to the city whenever you want.

With that in mind, here are a few neighborhoods to consider in both the more city-center areas and the suburban sections of the city.

tree near building during day; benefits of moving to Orlando

Urban Neighborhoods

College Park

College Park might sound like it’s all about college students, but it’s actually a great place to live if you want both the city lifestyle and a more family-friendly or laid-back vibe in one spot. Downtown is just a short drive from College Park, and the neighborhood features a range of incredible, award-winning restaurants and nightlife opportunities while combining the chill lifestyle of a smaller town with the thrill and excitement of Orlando.

Lake Eola Heights

Lake Eola parks is one of the most beautiful natural areas of Orlando, and Lake Eola Heights is just a few blocks away. Here you’ll find beautiful historic homes, many of which are being renovated and restored to their original beauty by residents.

Thornton Park

Walking through Thornton Park is like stepping 100 years into the past when it comes to architecture. It features lots of 1920s-style homes and also boasts delicious restaurants, some great shopping opportunities, and is just a short walk from Orlandos’ downtown.

Suburban Neighborhoods

Lake Nona

Lake Nona is a hot and up-and-coming spot in Orlando, featuring a combination of family-friendly environment and brand-new places to live. It’s a fascinating combination of small-town feel while being just a short drive to downtown Orlando.

Winter Park

Winter park is a historic suburban neighborhood that boasts great restaurants, natural beauty, and plenty of attractions within a short drive. It’s a tight community where housing is less expensive than in downtown.

Moving to Orlando Will Be the Best Decision You Have Ever Made!

Let’s review a bit about Orlando as a city and just what makes it so special.

  • Orlando’s cost of living is reasonable compared to a range of other cities in the United States, including being dramatically less expensive than major cities like Los Angeles and New York.
  • Orlando is a very diverse city, featuring people from a wide range of backgrounds, places, ethnicities, beliefs, and lifestyles. You’ll see the full range of human experience when living in Orlando.
  • Orlando features great schools and plenty of educational opportunities, as well as a relatively low crime rate compared to many other cities.
  • Orlando’s nightlife is vibrant and unparalleled. It begins with Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and all of the other resorts and theme parks, but Orlando is absolutely filled with other opportunities—clubs, lounges, bars, and much, much more
  • Orlando is known for world-class restaurants, including many operated by famous chefs you’ll see on TV on a regular basis.
  • Orlando’s weather is warm and mild, with hot summers and warm, pleasant winters. Rainfall is mostly confined to the wet season, with over 230 sunny days per year
  • Orlando may not be crawling with wildlife, but Florida as a state is filled with unique wildlife that you can see and enjoy in a range of wildlife preserves and wild areas.
  • People in Orlando are welcoming and inviting, and come from all kinds of backgrounds. Visitors and new residents are likely to experience a welcoming atmosphere and quickly feel right at home.

If you feel like Orlando is a place where you can feel at home, it’s time to start thinking seriously about moving to Orlando. In this city unlike any other in the world, you’ll experience vibrant culture, engrossing nightlife, delicious food, and a range of neighborhoods with their own vibes to suit your interests.

If you are thinking about moving to Orlando, check out our roomy apartments located in some of the best Orlando neighborhoods.

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