One of the best and worst places to live
I have lived and worked in the Orlando area for more than 10 years. I really wish I could give Orlando two ratings because half the year it is wonderful and other half is less than magical (actually really bad). Summers are long, hot and humid/muggy - probably 6-8 months with temps in the 80s or higher. We even occasionally have 85F days in January. Orlando is basically a swamp flanked by beaches - so keep that in mind. On the plus side, we are far enough inland that hurricanes aren't a huge issue. Honestly, Ian (tropical storm) was a bigger deal than Irma (a cat 2 hurricane) because of flooding. However, the winters are glorious and are really what most folks call "fall" or "spring" with mornings in the 50s but in the 70s by lunchtime with relatively low humidity. We do have an occasional cold snap that dips into the 40s, but that's rare. Our dry season (less rainy) is from November until early March. The rest of the time it rains nearly every day about mid-afternoon. This isn't some misty Seattle rain, no this is full-on bucket-challenge downpour. Sometimes it is for about 20-30 minutes, but often it is off and on the rest of the afternoon - only clearing up just in time for fireworks. You might think this is a bad thing, but believe me, it is so freaking hot that a bonesoaking storm is welcomed relief - as long as you have an umbrella, and sometimes an ark.
Not just the weather but the bugs and other critters too (snakes, spiders, gators). Mosquitos will freaking eat you alive. We have four venomous snakes (2 rattlesnakes, cottonmouth, and coral snake). Cottonmouths are the worse since they are actively aggressive. Thankfully we are just too far north for the invasive pythons in the Everglades. Black Widows are the only spiders to really worry about here, we are too far south for the Brown Recluse. Alligators are deceptively fast - faster than you - even on land - normally they aren't aggressive - but there are exceptions. Yes, they can get into your pool even with a screen enclosure - look before jumping in.
This is a golfer's paradise since they tend to be early risers anyway - able to tee off year-round. However, all bets are off by noon - either too hot or already raining. Theme parks are a lot of fun as long as you don't go during the summer, last two weeks of the year, spring break, or holiday weekends. Pick a Wednesday, call in a mental health day at work/school and "recover" at Sea World or some place like that. Access to the beaches is pretty good - about 90 minutes to FL west coast beaches and 45 minutes to east coast beaches - water is good from April until late October, otherwise it is too cold without a wetsuit.
If you are more the indoors type or a homebody, then Orlando might be the perfect place.
Overall Florida schools are pretty good but Orlando area is very hit or miss. Real Estate agents are not allowed to discuss schools or crime - so you need to do your own research. We have colleges and universities pretty well set. Valencia has several campuses around the area and is relatively affordable while UCF has one of the largest campuses in the country.
Most homes have pools but almost none of them have basements. Housing has been going crazy in the past 2 years as a top relocation destination. A 1 bedroom apartment starts in the $1700 range and quickly goes up. Average selling price of a house in Orlando is over $500k. At least you can get a better value by going further out (Clermont, Davenport, Lakeland, etc), but then you have a longer commute if you work downtown. Thankfully, there are several work locations outside of downtown - especially in hospitality or medical.
We do have odd traffic - I've been in gridlock at midnight in Kissimmee because the parks let out at 11pm. If you move here, you are not on permanent vacation if you still work - we have rush hour traffic too. Our public transit is pretty bad - Disney has a better bus system. We have a lightrail system but it currently only goes north-south and doesn't even service the airport or any entertainment districts or run on the weekends. I'm hoping they fix that soon. Brightline is opening up a station at the Orlando airport for service to/from the South Florida metro area.
Central Florida has lots of toll roads - you basically can't leave the airport without paying since it is surrounded by toll roads. Technically there are ways, but it takes way longer. Until I went fully remote, I had to pay a toll every day to get to work - so I had to factor that into my budget. Other folks have to deal with I-4 - so you either pay with time or money (or both).
We have paved multipurpose trails, like extra large sidewalks, for biking, walking, etc - some of these are converted old rail lines. My favorite is the West Orange Trail near downtown Winter Garden - but there are several interconnected trails like this in the area and some nearby - with well over 300 miles of off-street paved bike trails in Greater Orlando. However, I would never ride a bicycle on an Orlando street - bike lanes are inconsistent and not well observed.
If I had the money, I would be snowbird. Go north for the summers and return to Orlando for winter. Most folks I see complain about the winters where they live, I do the opposite. Half the year this is the best place to live, the other half it is darn near the worst. Hades might be warmer, but we have more humidity.
There are plenty of folks that flock here and love it. I both love it and hate it here - depending on the season. If narrowing down to just Florida, Orlando is hard to beat - just depends on your lifestyle and priorities.
Jason | Orlando, FL