Post Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in Orlando, Florida
Thinking about moving to Orlando, Florida? I have you covered.
I’ve been living in Orlando for the past six years and thought it’d be fun to roundup some of the pros and cons of daily life in Orlando. Best known for its warm climate, beautiful scenery and having some of the best theme parks in the world, the city is a gold mine for those that fear boredom.
Without further ado, let’s cover the pros and cons of moving to Orlando, Florida. Hope you enjoy!
Pros & Cons of Living in Orlando, Florida
Helpful Tip: If you’re planning on visiting the city before finalizing your decision to move to Orlando, I highly recommend this GREAT hotel. I always suggest it to my own family and friends.
First, the Pros of Moving to Orlando
#1. Glorious sunshine year-round
Let’s kick off this list with a personal favorite: year-round sunshine is one of the biggest perks of living in Orlando and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
As someone that grew up in the Pacific Northwest, daily sunshine is a perk that simply can’t be overstated. Heck, I’d argue that the optimal weather conditions is one of the biggest reasons people end up moving to Orlando.
But I must admit, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to make everything sound awesome. The sunshine is great, absolutely, but realistically — not every month of the year is enjoyable. With average summer temperatures clocking in the mid 90s, it’s usually hard to be outside.
The upside are the mild winters, springs and falls, which make 9 months of the year enjoyable. I’d gladly take 9 months of pleasant weather and hot summers if that means I get to avoid brutal winters, but to each their own.
#2. Tons of entertainment options
My second favorite thing about living in Orlando is that there’s so much to do. Aside from the theme parks we’re best known for, we have a great local scene ripe for exploration. From unforgettable restaurants to trendy bars and quaint cafes, you’re bound to find something to love.
From annual film festivals dedicated to independent filmmakers to the Orlando Museum of Art, the city is able to capture the imagination of anyone eager to expand their social circle.
The downtown core is buzzing with energy in the evening hours, which makes it a great place to spend your first few evenings after moving to Orlando. You’ll get a feel for the energy of the city and find the spots locals love most (look for hole-in-the-wall restaurants with long lines).
If that’s not enough, living in Orlando means you’re within a day’s drive to most every major city in Florida (Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami). Much like Orlando, Miami is constantly hosting big events and world-class musicians so if you see something that piques your interest you’re a mere 3.5 hours away (make a weekend trip out of it!).
Oh, and the beach is only one hour away, hard not to love that.
#3. The job market
You can’t have a robust entertainment scene without offering jobs to fill those roles. Tourism is the lifeline of Orlando, which allows the economy to prosper. So much so that Orlando was recently deemed the best city for job growth, seeing 9.2% increase in jobs from 2021 and 2022.
The biggest boom occurred in the leisure and hospitality industries, but that’s barely scratching the surface. Those moving to Orlando in the hopes of growing their careers will find opportunities in aviation, aerospace, film, engineering, healthcare and digital media (to name a few).
With an unemployment rate of 2.3%, Orlando fares better than the national unemployment rate of 3.5%. According to PayScale, the average salary is $68K per year, but varies greatly from industry to industry.
Some of the largest employers in Orlando include: Amazon, NBC Universal, JetBlue, AAA, Siemens and Oracle.
And while $68K per year seems lofty, I don’t want to fool you. The city’s recent popularity led to a sky-high cost of living in Orlando that means you won’t be living in the lap of luxury by any stretch of the imagination. (I’ll cover the true cost of living in Orlando in depth shortly).
#4. Great food scene
Orlando’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past two years. That’s not to say the city was ever a secret gem, on the contrary – Orlando has been attracting top names in entertainment and international cuisine for ages. Case in point? The incredible food scene for those living in Orlando.
Home to more than 7,700 restaurants, you can easily eat a new spot every day of the year and barely scratch the surface. There’s no denying that Orlando has become a destination for foodies, reason enough for most millennials moving to Orlando.
You’ll find everything from fine dinning and beloved hole-in-the-wall gems while living in Orlando. Special occasions can be celebrated at Michelin restaurants and the hardest thing about grabbing drinks with coworkers is deciding on a place to go.
Since moving to Orlando six years ago, I’ve had some of the best Mexican, Cuban and Indian food in my life. If you’re new to the city and would like some guidance on places to try, here’s a quick roundup of my (personal) favorite restaurants in Orlando.
Best restaurants to try after moving to Orlando, Florida
- Mexican: Black Rooster Taqueria
- BBQ: Polite Pig at Disney Springs
- Burgers: Swine and Sons
- Steak: Linda’s La Cantina Colonial
- Sandwiches: Pom Poms Bumby
- Fried seafood: Boston’s Fish House on Aloma
#5. There’s no state income taxes in Florida
No list of the pros of living in Orlando would be complete without mentioning the lack of state income taxes. After moving to Orlando you will only be expected to pay federal income tax, property taxes and a sales tax of 7%. Note, grocery food is exempt from the sales tax.
Lack of state income taxes is why so many folks end up retiring in Orlando or moving to Orlando for work.
#6. Access to theme parks
There’s a plethora of theme parks to choose from while living in Orlando. Heck, folks travel from all over the US (and world) to visit some of the city’s biggest hitters.
Disney World alone attracts more than 58 million visitors a year, making it the most visited vacation resort on the planet. And then there’s Universal Studios which saw nearly 9 million visitors in 2021.
Going hand-in-hand with my earlier point of never being bored while living in Orlando, this city is a dream for those with kids. The incredible list of amusement parks is nothing to scoff at. From Legoland and Epcot, you’re bound to find a way to keep your kid motivated to do well in school.
The biggest perk for those living in Orlando with kids is the generous discount for the state’s residents. I don’t have you tell you that visiting theme parks isn’t even in the same timezone as affordable, but thankfully the discount makes the endeavor slightly more manageable.
For example, Disney offers Florida residents a 40% discount on 4-day tickets. Likewise, Universal offers an annual pass for residents, which starts at $320 for the year.
You can look like a real star to out-of-town guests! But you may need to get a second bedroom for the inevitable visits from distant family and friends after moving to Orlando. Everyone wants to visit this lively city as least once (but it’s hard to blame them).
Popular Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida
- Disney World
- Universal Studios
- Hollywood Studios
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Disney Animal Kingdom
- Discovery Cove
#7. The LGBTQ+ Community
Florida is a red state through and through, but Orlando leans more liberal (60% of residents identify as democrats). As such, you may not be surprised to learn that Orlando is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the country.
My husband and I ended up moving to Orlando around the same time as our neighbors (a gay couple) from Seattle. We recently caught up with them over drinks and they mentioned how pleasantly surprised they’ve been by Orlando’s gay scene.
They feel accepted everywhere they go and don’t feel unsafe. In their opinion, as long as you’re a decent neighbor most folks accept you as you are. Plus, there’s tons of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and events peppered throughout the city.
For what it’s worth, they’ve moved around a bit, but found the SoDO and Delaney Park area to be the most gay-friendly. Moving to Orlando as a gay couple doesn’t seem to be an issue based on what I keep hearing.
If helpful, here’s some information about the LGBTQ+ Community for those living in Orlando.
#8. Access to beaches
While the nearest beach is about an hour’s drive away, there’s no shortage of water-centric outdoor recreation while living in Orlando because the city is home to more than 100 lakes. Although I’ll be honest with you, I’m too nervous to swim in most local lakes because of the gators, which is why I prefer to visit the beach.
In terms of my favorites, it’s a toss up between New Smyrna and Sebastian inlet. Both are great family-friendly beaches with plenty to do. But regardless of which beach you prefer, there’s no drying that having access to great beaches is one of the biggest perks of living in Orlando.
Cons of Living in Orlando
#1. The high cost of living in Orlando
In 2021 Bloomberg released an article titled COVID Has Made Orlando Less Affordable than San Francisco. And while I don’t personally agree with the assessment (the article seems like clickbait to me), I can’t deny that the cost of living in Orlando has skyrocketed over the past two years.
The main culprit is housing costs, which skews the income-to-housing ration out of proportion. Most gigs in Orlando are low-paying jobs centered around the tourism industry. In September 2022, the city’s minimum wage rose to $11 per hour.
As you well know, $11 per hour is nowhere near a livable wage when the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is nearly $1,600 (and rising annually). Even the suburbs are not immune to atrocious rent spikes, which is where a decent number of minimum wage employees live.
However, according to MIT, the living wage for a single adult living in Orlando is $18.85, which means the minimum wage still has a ways to go. Thankfully Amendment 2 (passed in 2020) is scheduled to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2026.
While the overall cost of living in Orlando doesn’t make it the most expensive large city in the country, the city is nowhere near affordable, which is one of the biggest disadvantages of moving to Orlando.
#2. Driving I-4 is a headache
If Dante’s Inferno ever needs a new circle, I’m nominating Orlando’s notorious traffic and the canvas upon which it prospers: Interstate 4. Being a touristy city has some perks, but it also has some major drawbacks. Chief among them is the notorious traffic on I-4 you will deal with on a daily basis while living in Orlando.
The interstate is congested most hours of the day, but rush hour is a special type of hell. The city recently invested in improving a 21 mile stretch of the interstate, which makes sense because 1-4 is considered the most dangerous highway in the US.
Is it any wonder why Orlando residents have some of the highest car insurance rates in the country?
#3. Making friends is hard while living in Orlando
Something I wish I would have known before moving to Orlando was how challenging it would be to make friends. I’m not saying that it would have changed my decision, but it would have been nice to be prepared.
It probably not nice to say this, but if I’m being honest, a lot of locals seem like the flakey sort. You know the type — they invite you out only to cancel the day of. Don’t get me wrong, people are friendly, but they tend not to follow through on invites. I think it’s more common to get cancelled on then to follow through on a meet up.
This makes friendships hard to establish while living in Orlando. The best luck I’ve had is befriending other transplants and signing up for volunteer work. Maybe (hopefully) you’ll have better luck than me. Just know that living in Orlando can be lonely the first few months, so you’ll really need to make an effort on the friendship front.
#4. Orlando is a touristy city
Having Disney in your backyard is a perk until you realize the crowds it draws in every day of the year. The airport is always buzzing with international tourists and American-flag clad families eager to get their fill of overpriced drinks while avoiding inevitable sunburns.
But don’t just take my word for it, Orlando is the 3rd most visited city in the country! And while it’s fun to mingle with happy-go-lucky tourists from all corners of the world, you may find yourself getting tired of it pretty quickly.
Crowds bring extra traffic, long lines at top attractions and restaurants, very large crowds in the downtown core and sometimes make daily life in Orlando feel like living in a theme park (which I guess technically is true).
Living in a touristy city is not all doom and gloom though. One of the biggest perks of living in Orlando is getting great customer service almost everywhere you go. And we largely have the top-notch theme park customer service training to thank for that.
#5. The heat & humidity is overbearing
The biggest complaint most locals have about living in Orlando is the unbearable humidity and summer heat. The year-round sunshine is glorious indeed, but that doesn’t mean the humidity is any less tolerable.
But before you label me dramatic, allow me to share this tidbit: the average daily humidity clocks in at 74%. Mercy.
With average daily temperatures in the summer months hitting the mid-90’s you’ll want to budget A/C expenses into consideration before moving to Orlando. You’ll be running that bad boy 10+ months of the year.
Making matters worse, rain is practically a daily occurrence from August to November. Along the same lines, hurricane threats become a weekly consideration from June 1 – November 30th. It’s estimated that Orlando gets 1-2 legitimate hurricane threats a year, which (thankfully) means it’s a low-risk city for hurricanes.
As such, you’ll notice after moving to Orlando that most locals hibernate in summer, going from one air conditioned location to the next. So much so that the city knows better than to host outdoor festivals and concerts during the oppressive summer months.
But there is an advantage to this con of living in Orlando and that’s the dreamy mild winters. No wonder Florida is a snow-bird hotspot.
#6. Moving to Orlando to buy a home? Good luck
Once upon a time, many years ago, Florida was an affordable place to live. However, in this day and age, people moving to Orlando to buy a home are in for a rude awakening.
For starters, median home prices are currently $360K, which is an 11% increase from last year alone. For perspective, the median home price in 2015 was $169K.
And while Orlando’s home prices are lower than the national average of $430K, many locals are being priced out of the city. All this to say, those moving to Orlando with the hopes of buying a home and settling in long term should do proper research because the prices seem to be going up.
#7. Public transportation is non-existent
You’re going to need a car while living in Orlando because public transportation is non-existent. I mean, sure, the LYNX bus system exists but I swear, that thing can turn an easy 30-minute car trip into a half day adventure.
Lack of public transportation coupled with abhorrent traffic guarantees that everyday errands will greatly eat into your time. So much so that my husband and I have dedicated one day per week for errands (groceries, hair cuts, etc.) to avoid the traffic. There’s no way to avoid driving while living in Orlando.
All this to say, budget the cost of car ownership (maintenance, car insurance, etc) before moving to Orlando.
Pros and cons of living in Orlando, Florida (Post Overview)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of moving to Orlando. Hope you enjoyed!
- Glorious sunshine year-round
- Tons of entertainment (always something to do)
- Taxes, baby
- Great food scene
- There’s no state income taxes in Florida
- Access to theme parks
- The LGBTQ+ Community
- Access to beaches
- The high cost of living in Orlando
- Making friends is hard while living in Orlando
- Traffic is a bear
- Orlando is a touristy city
- The heat & humidity is overbearing
- Moving to Orlando to buy a home? Good luck
- Public transportation is non-existent
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What do you think?