Living in Orlando: What Is It Really Like?

Living in Orlando What's it like? Magic Kingdom

What’s it really like to live in Orlando? I’ve been living in Orlando for going on 3 years now, and I’ve lived in Florida the majority of my life. I think that means I’m qualified to answer this question.

Online, I see a lot of people moving to Orlando. As someone who recently graduated from college (also 3 years ago), a lot of my alumni friends in Florida are picking up and moving to Orlando.

In truth, there are a lot of things I love about living in Orlando that I didn’t know before I got here. I’ve explored this place from all angles, and it’s a seriously cool place to live. At the same time, it’s far from the most Magical Place on Earth.

That’s why I wanted to share this guide to what it’s REALLY like living in Orlando and living near Disney World. That way, if you’re considering moving to Orlando or moving to Disney World, you can make the right choice for you.

Living in Orlando near Disney World | Celebration Florida
The gorgeous lake in Celebration, Florida

How I Moved to Orlando

Why did I move to Orlando? I moved here to work for Disney World! I graduated college in 2017, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be than Disney World. While I didn’t find Disney to be a great fit for me as an employer, I was so happy to live within quick driving distance to the parks.

I originally moved to Lake Nona, a newer suburb on the outskirts of Orlando located near the airport. I loved living in Lake Nona. It was a quiet, fun place to live. However, the costs of living there were really skyrocketing, and it was expensive to get around since every road from Lake Nona required a pricey toll.

Recently, I relocated to Kissimmee. I technically still consider it Orlando since I’m less than 1 mile from the southern Orlando border. I live within 10 minutes of Disney, I can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from my apartment’s parking lot, and it’s truly a crowded area.

What's it like to live in Orlando | Audubon Park
Audubon Park near downtown Orlando

Why Consider Moving to Orlando?

So why might you consider moving to Orlando or moving to Disney World? There are a few reasons that come to mind at first thought, but I’m sure I could think of an endless list if you give me the chance. I’ve narrowed it down to the top perks:

  • Weather – I have to be honest and say the hot weather really annoys me most of the time, but the winters here are pretty great. You can always look forward to the sunshine.
  • Theme parks – Of course, this is the theme park capital of the world. We have Disney World, Universal, Sea World, and more all within close driving distance.
  • Beaches – Orlando is less than an hour from Cocoa Beach, and you can get to a lot of nice beaches within a short day trip.
  • Outdoor Beauty – In Central Florida, we’re blessed with natural springs, lakes, and so much more to enjoy.
  • Central location – There are so many day trips from Orlando that there’s always something new to do.
  • Great food – Orlando is home to so much great food! Especially international food. We’ve got large Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Vietnamese communities here, and that means lots of delicious food! (Check out my guide to the best food near Disney World)
  • Local Businesses – While you might not escape the Disney bubble much during your stay, you definitely should. There are so many amazing local businesses, markets, and more.
  • Neighborhoods – One of the first things I fell in love with in Orlando is the many neighborhoods. Winter Park, Lake Nona, Mills 50, and Audubon Park are just a few of my favorites.
  • Inclusive – Orlando is a welcoming, inclusive community, and I feel like everyone is made to feel at home here, even the tourists.
Living near disney world Mills 50
Garden in Mills 50 near downtown Orlando

What are the cons of living in Orlando?

It wouldn’t be a complete list if I didn’t mention some of the things I don’t like about living in Orlando. Let’s face it: no place is perfect. Here are some of the things that aren’t so fun about living in Orlando.

  • Weather – Weather is a doubled edged sword here. It’s great in the cooler months, but summer is a killer. There are thunderstorms every day, and the heat index is well in the 100s. It’s miserable!
  • Hurricanes – Hurricanes are a serious threat here. While Central Florida is less prone to direct hits, storms happen during hurricane season every year.
  • Traffic – Traffic here can be really awful! If you have to take i-4, it’s much worse. You can expect to pay a ton of money on tolls and still be stuck waiting in traffic forever. Plus, since a lot of the traffic is full of tourists, there are a lot of bad/confused drivers.
  • Tourists – Speaking of tourists, dealing with tourists when trying to do normal things can be frustrating. Sometimes I just want to go grocery shopping without navigating around hoards of tourists, but it comes with living so close to Disney World.
  • Expensive – The cost of living is on the rise here, and it’s only going to get more expensive. It’s still cheaper than a lot of places, but it’s the most expensive city in Florida.
  • Pay – The average income/pay around here is lagging behind many other big cities, though we do have a lot of career opportunities. Just beware if you move here you might take a pay cut!
Living in Orlando near Disney World East End Market
Inside East End Market in Orlando, FL

Explore the Real Orlando

Are you visiting Orlando? If you’re planning to move here anytime soon, I’d highly recommend visiting for yourself. There’s so much to discover here outside of the theme parks.

For my full guide to Orlando, check out my guest post the local’s guide to exploring Orlando. I talk about my favorite neighborhoods, where to eat, and what to do. You’ll burst the Disney Bubble and be happy about it!

Thinking of Living in Orlando?

If you’re thinking of moving to Orlando to live near Disney World, I hope this guide was useful! As a local, I have to say I’m proud to live here. Orlando is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited, and I’ve been a lot of places.

Orlando’s weird, diverse, and happening. There’s always something to do here, even in the extreme July heat. Have you visited Orlando outside of the theme parks? Let me know in the comments!

What's it like to live near Disney World?
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