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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Act like a tourist on your off days with these other Orlando, Florida, resident vacation deals:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's no personal income tax from the state. The combined local sales tax for the state, county, and city is only 6.5%.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.