Orlando, FL

If You're Moving to Orlando, Check Out These 4 Safe Neighborhoods

Caroline de Braganza

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(Orlando - Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay)

People know Orlando as the Theme Park Capital of the World, or “The City Beautiful”, so if you’re planning to move to Florida, it’s a brilliant choice.

If you love the city life but enjoy the outdoors too, the city is ideally situated in central Florida, with nature parks, lakes and beaches within or less than an hour’s drive in any direction.

Points to consider

With hundreds of neighborhoods and areas to choose from, you’ll want to consider those which have reliable safety and crime rates. Those listed here fall into that category.

Your lifestyle needs to be compatible with the neighbourhood. You might enjoy night life, great food and choice of cuisines, entertainment, or prefer a quieter location for you and your family with access to excellent schools and parks, restaurants and grocery stores within easy reach.

If not working from home, you need to consider your daily commute to the office as the traffic can be horrendous, especially in and around the theme parks.

“There is only 1 freeway (I-4) running northish and southish (diagonal) that always seems to be under construction. There are no freeways running east and west, only city streets. There are 2 toll roads that run east and west, but a lot of people don’t use them, very expensive.”—Anthony Ricciardo, local Orlando resident.

Don’t let that deter you. The benefits of living in Orlando far outweigh any traffic snarl-ups you may meet, provided you choose your location wisely.

#1 Azalea Park

Lying east of the central business district, Azalea Park is only a 15-minute commute to downtown Orlando.

The neighbourhood features parklands, trails, and natural beauty, and great opportunities for birdwatching. The Nature Park and Lake Barton lie just over a mile away on the west side of Azalea Park.

Residents love this cozy neighbourhood, where you can walk your dog, the kids play outside, the streets are well-lit, and restaurants and grocery stores are within walking distance.

Restaurants offer diverse cuisines, including Mexican, Korean, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese, Peruvian, Vietnamese, Cuban and Indian. Or you can settle for a burger or an Argentinian steak.

If you love living in a diverse, pleasant area with ample entertainment opportunities, great restaurants, and excellent coffee shops, then try it.

#2 Conway

Conway lies 7.5 miles south-east of downtown Orlando, with easy access to Orlando International Airport 6 miles to the south. Close to a central hub of highways, it provides you easy access to every area of Orlando and beyond—only a 15-minute drive to downtown Orlando.

You’ll enjoy a diverse choice of places to shop and dine, with popular chains and small local eateries. New apartment complexes are bringing in younger residents.

Try the Shaka Shaka Tea House, who serve fresh fruit smoothies and green tea. Or check out amazing Mexican food at the family-friendly Las Cazuelas. Cork & Fork is one of the best restaurants in Orlando featuring dishes such as Drunken Scallops and IPA Mussels. Or enjoy happy hour at High Tide Harry’s, a restaurant and bar known for cheap drinks and great seafood plates.

If you love being near the water, fishing, boating and lakefront views, will make you forget you’re in the city! The south-west corner borders The Chain of Lakes comprising Lake Conway, Big Lake Conway, Lake Gatlin, and canals along the way. Locals call them Middle Conway, South Lake Conway, and Little Lake Conway to differentiate the four sections of lakes.

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(Sunset at Lake Conway - Photo by Daniel Piraino - Creative Commons 2.0 Generic)

#3 Kirkman South

Located south-west of Orlando, Kirkman South is a 15-minute drive away from the central business district.

An entire world of activities and opportunities will be within walking distance of your door. We’re talking shopping, groceries, nightlife, and delicious restaurants, including Thai, sushi, Italian, French, Chinese, barbecue or steakhouse.

Popular eating places:

  • Agave Azul (Mexican)
  • Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que
  • Bloodhound Brew Pub and Eatery.

There are a ton of activities available, from local museums and attractions to cafes, libraries, and outdoor adventures.

Home to Shadow Bay Park, formerly known as Lake Cane Marsha Park, this oasis safeguards a biologically rich remnant of the Lake Wales Ridge. Although surrounded by urban development, diverse habitats thrive - rosemary scrub, longleaf pine forest, xeric oak scrub, wetlands and four ponds.

A paved walkway and a separate, unpaved foot path span most of the park’s perimeter. The northern section of the park offers great birdwatching, especially the foot trails between Lupine Pond and Woodland Pond.

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(Lake Cane at Sunset - Photo by Giuseppe Milo - Creative Commons 2.0 Generic)

#4 Windhover

Only a short drive or train ride from downtown Orlando, this neighbourhood sits next door to Kirkman South, tucked into the south-east corner—not too far from Shadow Bay Park and Lake Cane to the west.

Windhover hosts people from diverse backgrounds enjoying everything the city offers - best bars, clubs and nightlife.

With walkable restaurants and attractions such as Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Universal Orlando Resort and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey further south, Windhover is convenient and fun.

What you should know

The weather is hot and muggy in summer—air-conditioning is essential—and the wet season lasts from late May through late September. The hottest month is July with an average of 82°F.

Then the drier season runs from late September to late May, with the coldest month being January at an average of 59°F.

Wages are lower, but keeping in mind Florida has no state income tax, that’s a good tradeoff!

Orlando is in Orange County, with a city population of 290,520 in 2020, the 4th largest in Florida after Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. The urban population is 1.5 million people, while the Greater Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2.13 million.

Average household income in Orlando is $75,669. The median rental cost in recent years is $1,196 per month, and the median house value is $240,000.

Be warned that property is in high demand right now—people are literally making offer sight unseen—it’s a seller’s paradise. A friend of this writer recently made an offer $25K above the asking price, but the seller still waited to see if another buyer topped that. Another colleague sold her house within a day with over 8 offers in 5 hours.

Do your homework before you commit.

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.

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