The Coolest Perks of Living in Orlando: Tips, Fun Things to Do and Florida Resident Deals

Moving to Orlando, Florida? Whether you're a fan of the mouse, a hard-working Floridian or a retiring partier, this happy town has so much to offer new residents. This guide covers the coolest perks of living in Orlando, including Florida resident discounts on theme park tickets, secret spots locals love and entirely free things to do around the city. Learn everything you need to know before you relocate with our guide to moving to Orlando: tips, cost differences, neighborhood guides and so much more.

Living in Orlando: A Brief Profile

Is Orlando a good place to live? It definitely can be if you know what you're in for. Relocating to Orlando can be a ton of fun, but before we cover all of the cool deals for Florida residents, let's go over some of the basics.

What Is it Like to Live in Orlando?

  • The Location: A lot of people visit the city expecting it to be right on the beach, but Orlando is surrounded by swamps. It's inland, about halfway down the state but still about a two-hour drive from Jacksonville and a one-hour drive from Tampa. Many people choose to live in nearby Kissimmee, which is about a half-hour drive away. The closest beaches in Cocoa and Titusville are about an hour's drive away.
    • What county is Orlando in? Orange County is the home of Orlando.
    • What's Orlando's ZIP code? The primary ZIP code for Orlando is 32825. But the Orlando area has 59 total ZIP codes.
  • Population of Orlando: How many people live in Orlando? The city itself has a population of 258,713 locals, according to the US Census, but Orange County is home to 1,380,645 residents. It's time to make more than a million friends.
  • The Climate: The climate is world-famous for being consistently warm. The lowest averages are in the 70s, in January, and the highest averages are in the 90s, in June, July and August. Orlando is very sunny, so you'll likely want skin protection. It gets a fair amount of rain, and regularly experiences daily thunderstorms that only last a few hours. It doesn't often experience snow or major swings in seasonal weather.
  • The Community:
    • Schools: U.S. News has ranked the local public schools in Orlando highly, pointing out the 18:1 student-teacher ratio and the college readiness score of 8.5/10.
    • Jobs: Meanwhile, jobs in Orlando have seen growth of 2.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    • Crime: The Orlando crime rate has gone down a great deal in the past few years.
  • The Cost of Living in Orlando, Florida: The median wage is $15.94 per hour, while local rent hovers near $1,375 per month on average for a one-bedroom apartment. MIT research found that a single adult needs to be paid at least $12.70 per hour to earn a 'living wage' in the area. The cost of living in Orlando in terms of utilities, groceries and common expenses is fairly on par with most other urban parts of the country.

The Perks of Living in Orlando: Resident Discounts on Theme Parks

Touring Orlando is a fun thing to do when you're on vacation. It's even more fun when you're a local expert. Many of the area's best attractions and theme parks offer special Florida resident deals that only require a photo ID, like Disney, Universal, Medieval Times, and Gatorland. 2019 Florida resident discounts may change in 2020, so definitely check out the official Orlando tourism page to see which deals are current. While you'll be living close and likely not needing a hotel stay, don't forget that you can also get deals on meals, spa visits and pool use, too. You can find a wide range of Florida resident discount tickets for nearly every tourist activity you can think of. The only difference is that as a resident you can go whenever you want.

Florida Resident Disney Tickets

There are several different deals available for locals who are big fans of Disney World. Florida resident tickets can be bought in the form of one-day tickets, three- or four-day tickets or a discounted Disney annual pass. The Gold Florida resident Disney pass gives you same-day admission to the four major Walt Disney theme parks, standard parking and special discounts on dining and merchandise, and it's very popular with Orlando locals.

Note that with all of these deals, you'll need proof of residency: either a Florida driver's license, state-issued ID or military ID. If you don't have one of those, you'll need a picture ID along with evidence of residency (bills or mortgage papers) dated within the past two months.

Proof is a fairly strict requirement, so keep that in mind if you're hoping to sneak in your cousin for a Disney vacation. Florida resident deals are great for locals whether or not they're hardcore Disney fans. For example, several frugal deals, like the water park annual pass, are very cheap for locals and offer the ultimate summer relief.

Keep in mind that these deals haven't always been available and are subject to change.

Free Places to Hang Out at Disney for Orlandoans

If you're going to live near Disney, you may as well enjoy it, right?

Of course, you don't necessarily need to be a member or buy tickets to get onto Disney property. Orlando locals often love to stroll Disney's BoardWalk, which has a lot of great entertainment. And Disney Springs, which has a massive shopping and dining district, has become the new gem in town.

Definitely consider grabbing a meal at The Edison at Disney Springs, brunch at the Grand Floridian and dessert at the French Quarter. Many of the resorts and hotels around Disney are actually free to visit. Orlandoans love it so much that locals do an unofficial 'monorail bar crawl' along the monorail line and its adjacent resorts.

Another option is to watch films for free at the Movies Under the Stars events or watch the fireworks display from outside the parks. For example, there's a great view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at the fourth-floor concourse of Disney's Contemporary Resort.

Universal Studios Florida Resident Tickets

The second-most-popular resort in Orlando also offers deals for Florida residents: Universal. Tickets are often at a discounted rate for locals.

Proof of residency is required for these deals at Universal Orlando Florida. Resident tickets require a driver's license, state-issued ID or college ID, and there are special rules about alternatives, just like with Disney. If there are questions, consider calling ahead.

While Universal is a smaller park, it's home to many new, popular attractions, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The park has created a deal specifically for residents who love The Wizarding World. Locals frequently like to visit the water park in the summertime, and there are special deals for locals on annual passes to Volcano Bay, too.

Free Places to Hang Out at Universal that Orlando Locals Love

The Universal CityWalk is full of entertainment, shopping and cool restaurants, like the steampunk-style Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. It's also home to Universal Cinemark, which is one of the most state-of-the-art movie theaters in Florida.

Starting at sunset, you can find nightly music at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal, which is a great free show.

Other Orlando Specials for Florida Residents

Act like a tourist on your off days with these other Orlando, Florida, resident vacation deals:

  • SeaWorld Florida Resident Tickets: Locals get access to EZpay prices on annual passses, which allow you to pay monthly. Also, residents can get free Aquatica tickets along with their SeaWorld Orlando tickets. Florida resident options have come up in the past that involved packaged deals, so be sure to keep a lookout for new offers.
  • Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Orlando: Watch the joust while saving up to $26 per person — use the promo code and be sure to have your ID when you go to the box office.
  • Wild Florida/Gatorland Promotions: Residents typically get 50% off on tickets at Gatorland as well as 15% off on airboat tours with Wild Florida. Both of these local institutions invest a great deal in local wildlife.
  • WonderWorks: This over-the-top science adventure for kids is inside the upside-down building in Orlando. Orange County locals can get a special deal after texting 'wonderorlando' to 31996.
  • Discovery Cove Exclusive Discount: Save 20% when you visit with the dolphins as an Orlando local.
  • Icon Park and The Wheel (aka the 'Orlando Eye'): This Ferris wheel gives you a whole new view of your new city. It's a great idea for when you first move to Orlando. Locals can get cheaper general admission as well as bundled deals with Madame Tussauds and Sea Life.
  • Madame Tussauds Orlando Tickets: Get cheaper tickets to the popular wax museum. Don't forget that you can bundle tickets with other sites.
  • Sea Life Aquarium: The local aquarium fills kids with wonder and does a lot for local conservation, too. Get cheaper tickets or bundle them with other popular attractions.
  • Tree Trek Adventure Park Promo: Get 15% off of your ticket with a valid Florida ID at this park, which has zip lines, aerial challenges and ropes courses.
  • Jungle Adventures Promo: During certain months of the year, locals can get $4 off their ticket.'
  • Spa Treatments: Locals can get deals on spa treatments at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.'
  • Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows: Feel like solving a murder while you eat? Call 407-363-1985 to get a special Florida local discount.
  • Legoland Florida Resident Discount: Within an hour's drive of Orlando is the Legoland Florida Resort, which does offer deals for Florida residents on annual passes but not on single-day passes.
  • Busch Gardens Florida Resident Tickets: In nearby Tampa Bay, there's the popular theme park Busch Gardens, which offers an annual Fun Card pass for residents.

Pro Tip: Don't forget to look for other types of discounts. For instance, Orlando loves teachers. Some theme parks and attractions offer special deals for Florida teachers, and others offer deals for teachers nationwide. If you're a teacher, definitely keep that in mind when you're booking anything locally. Military members, veterans and seniors sometimes can find really good local deals as well.

16+ Cool Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks for New Residents

There are plenty of things to do in Orlando besides theme parks. While Disney's BoardWalk and the Universal CityWalk get a lot of the publicity, here are other cool things to do in Orlando for new locals that aren't affiliated with either Disney or Universal.

  1. Tibet-Butler Preserve — This is a lovely, calm natural preserve with an environmental center. It's a great place to hike, bird-watch and learn more about the environment. It's one of the top free things to do in Orlando.
  2. The Downtown Arts District — This section of Orlando is full of theaters, museums and galleries for locals to check out. For example, artists would love the CityArts Factory or the Grand Bohemian Gallery. Theater fans would love the Mad Cow Theatre Company.
  3. Market on South — A haven of plant-based dining with a big shared market space, this is a really nice date spot in the Milk District, which is a great place to visit.
  4. Tasty Tuesdays — Every Tuesday, there's a food truck meetup event in the Milk District from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
  5. Lake Jesup Park — Home to gators and boat launches, this is a great free place for Orlando locals to chill out away from tourists while still being close to the water.
  6. Leu Gardens — Admission is $10 for adults, but most locals chose to become members/supporters of this favorite local garden. Explore 50 acres of local plant life.
  7. Lake Underhill Park — A perfect place for exercising and right next to the airport, this park connects with Festival Park, the skate park and more, so it's a good place to start. There are dozens of other little parks, though. Another favorite to check out would be the Big Tree Park.
  8. Winter Park Farmers' Market — This will likely be your new favorite Saturday-morning activity. There are sometimes very cool local art events there as well as some of the best local food.
  9. Cornell Fine Arts Museum — At Rollins College, you can find a beautiful art gallery that's completely free and open to the public.
  10. Drive to the Beach — Lori Wilson Park is a short distance away and has fairly cheap admission. Visiting the beach is one of the best parts of living in Florida, so check it out.
  11. Fort Christmas — Check out the pioneer-style architecture of this small historic fort.
  12. Local Golfing — There are tons of golfing opportunities in Orlando, some affiliated with the major resorts. Arnold Palmer's club is just one example of many.
  13. Local Brewery Tour — Orlando Brewing is a relatively new craft brewery that locals should hop on over to visit. There's also Ocean Sun Brewing, Crooked Can Brewing Company, and the Redlight Beer Parlour.
  14. The Cloak & Blaster Gaming Pub — Nerds hoping to play some games will have a blast at this really interesting local pub, complete with a sci-fi-style lounge. The fries come highly recommended!
  15. Kraft Azalea Garden — This secret garden is tucked away in a 5.22-acre park on the shore of Lake Maitland.
  16. Charles Homer Morse Museum of American Art — A huge collection of Tiffany glass and fine arts are found here.

Explore beyond the tourist spots and become a part of the local Orlando community. We've only scratched the surface of what's around for Orlando locals to enjoy. You might turn the corner and find a new secret gem like the Rifle Paper Company, bump into a lover of classic films at the Enzian Theater, watch a thrilling Orlando Magic game or bite into a perfect croissant at Buttermilk Bakery. As an Orlando resident you're free to explore an endless list of attractions and fun things to do in your new city.

Other Important Things to Keep in Mind: Tips for Moving to Orlando

There are a lot of pros and cons of living in Orlando, Florida. Moving to Orlando can be a big jump both physically and culturally. Here are some major ways the Theme Park Capital of the World differs from many metro areas, outside of the obvious things like 'there's a lot of sunshine here' and 'those darn tourists are everywhere.' Let's try to go into more detail to answer the question, 'What is Orlando like?' by examining some pros and cons of moving to the area.

Con: Get Used to Some New Pests

The joke is that Floridians see alligators about as often as northerners see deer, but that's untrue: Floridians have deer, too. There are scary spiders like the brown recluse and the black widow in addition to your normal pests like ticks. You'll want to learn which pests are poisonous, and think about your pets to protect them as well.

Pro: You'll Be in One of the Foodie Capitals of the U.S.

Orlando is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and not all of them are locked behind Disney's front gates. You can find everything from classic American dishes at the Hash House A Go Go to sushi crafted by an internationally famous chef at Morimoto Asia to a classic slice at the Italian Pizza Bruno to tapas at Caf' Tu Tu Tango. There's no shortage of restaurants. Discovering your personal gem will be an adventure all your own.

Con: There's an Orlando Curfew Law for Minors

Technically, under Florida law, minors should not be in a public establishment from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. The level of enforcement really depends on your area.

Pro: There's No State Income Tax

There's no personal income tax from the state. The combined local sales tax for the state, county, and city is only 6.5%.

Con: Traffic Can Be a Real Problem

Locals complain a lot about the tourist traffic, and I-4 was recently dubbed the most deadly highway in the nation, but luckily the city itself has committed to lessening the traffic with the creation of the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project.

Pro: There Are Public Transportation Options

The city is home to the LYNX system, which also features the SunRail and the LYMMO Downtown Circulator. For inter-city transit, the city is currently building infrastructure for the Brightline, connecting to Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Also, dock-less bike-sharing has become popular in the city. While it's not quite a public-transit-oriented town, efforts have been made to make the city more eco-friendly.

The Best Places to Live in Orlando

Important Nearby Cities

If you don't mind commuting, Kissimmee, Sanford and St. Cloud are all nice cities near Orlando. If you prefer to be near the beach and Disney, Cocoa and Titusville are about an hour's drive away, which is quite a bit of a commuting distance. And there's also the world-famous city that Disney built, Celebration, Florida. This 'all-American neighborhood' is often considered one of the best places to live near Disney World. The town is one of the more expensive places to live, however.

The Coolest Orlando Neighborhoods

There are plenty of great places to live without a commute, too. These are some of the best areas to live in Orlando. Suburbs like College Park and Winter Park have a lot to offer as well, and they're much closer than places like Kissimmee. Here are some of the highlights for those wondering where to live in Orlando, Florida:

  • College Park: According to Orlando Weekly, this suburb 'almost feels like Pleasantville.' Its old Southern Florida aesthetic charms local professionals. It's also less expensive than one might think, all things considered.
  • Mills 50: Diversity, nightlife, high walkability and easy access to downtown makes this neighborhood ideal for the hip and happening.
  • Winter Park: A popular landing spot for snowbirds, this upscale neighborhood is home to many northerners.
  • Audubon Park/Baldwin Park: A hip, chaotic community borders the very planned community of Baldwin Park and creates something magical in the mix.
  • Parramore: Technically made up of several official neighborhoods (Lake Dot, Callahan and Holden), this historic area is home to the Creative Village.
  • Ivanhoe Village: Home to 'antique row,' Ivanhoe has a fashionable stretch along a calm lakefront.
  • Dr. Phillips: This unusually named section is home to gated communities and estates as well as golf clubs.
  • Thornton Park: This diverse, accepting historic district is very walkable and fun.

We're just scratching the surface here: There are dozens and dozens of amazing neighborhoods in Orlando, Florida, which are all fun for their own reasons.

Finding Apartments in Orlando, FL

After weighing all of the pros and cons of relocating to Orlando, you may be now a little bit closer to deciding on making the move for sure. Changing your life and living in sunny Orlando is likely easier than you think. Check out our listings to find apartments for rent in Orlando. There are apartments near Disney and homes for rent in cute local neighborhoods, and there's so much potential ahead of you.