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Should we live here?

Ok Florida Nesties!  The hubs and I live in Chicago and just can't take the freezing cold anymore!  It's time for these birds to fly south!...but where?

We're considering Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida... So I need your help!

Why do you love where you live? What city do you live in?

I am 24 and he is 26, we're looking to move a year from now and have a great plan in place to save some money so we can buy a house soon after we get there.  We have no kids, and while we do want that eventually, we're not in a huge hurry - house comes first for us.

We've both agreed that Chicago may be a little *too* big for our tastes (driving an hour just to have dinner with "local" friends), but we are not tiny town people.  We need a place that has a fairly robust "downtown" but the benefits of suburbia as well preferably within a quick drive of each other.

Do you have a farmer's market or a Whole Foods market near you (I love to cook!).  Do you know anything about the automotive scene down there? (We met through drag racing). I would love to hear your pro's and con's about where you live. 

Thanks so much for your help! I look forward to learning more about your state and towns!

Re: Should we live here?

  • DH and I have lived in Clermont, FL (about a half hour northwest of Orlando) since June 2008. We moved down from NJ. We LOVE our house - we could have never purchased a house like ours in NJ and it's perfect for kids (no kids yet, but in the future). Clermont has a great small town feel, but is expanding - we got a movie theater last year and now have a BJs, Michaels, Ross, TJ Maxx, and your chain restaurants: Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Outback, etc.

    There's a farmers market that is held every Sunday in downtown Clermont and there are many more on different days within a half hour/forty five minute drive. We're close to Orlando, so that's nice for going out every once in a while and relatives will visit you because you're close to Disney (lol). I have no idea about the racing bit - I know that there is a nascar-ish thing at Disney...

    Anyways - we do miss "home" (NJ and PA) - the seasons, good food, family, history (Philly - where our nation began!). Schools up north are also better than down here, so that is one downside. We were thinking about moving back up, but are unable to at this time.

    On the flip side - I have made WONDERFUL friends down here and like being able to wear flip flops practically everyday.

     Let me know if you have any other questions I can help out with :-)

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  • I lived in Boston for 8 years, so I understand wanting a city that is smaller.  I didn't have a car in Boston due to the cost and inconvenience of parking. To me, Orlando feels like more of a big town in some ways.  There is no real public transportation (except for some bus lines, but nothing like the L) I live very close to what is considered downtown.  I don't think I could live further from the heart of the city since it is so small to begin with.  Lake Eola is the main downtown area where every Sunday there is a Farmer's Market.  Lots of people run around the lake and it's surrounded by condos and businesses.  There are always events going on.  I feel like there is a lot of energy on the weekends with people having "Sunday Fundays"....when the weather is good (which it usually is) a lot of young people are out having brunch enjoying the day (ie. drinking mimosas...yum).  If it's just you and your husband for now I would consider living in a condo.  The real estate market here will allow you to get a great deal whether you rent or buy.  If you are really looking to buy I highly recommend Baldwin Park.  It's a new community (about 3-4 years old) with very pretty houses in lots of different sizes (including townhouses/condos).  It has a lot of restaurants/bars and it's own grocery store.  It also has several lakes and great school districts.  As far as drag racing and stuff I really don't know.  Daytona is about a 45 minute drive from Orlando though.  Hope this helps!
  • I also live in Orlando, not far from downtown. There are a lot of things I like about here, but I will try to be honest about its pros and its cons.

    Orlando is definitely a good balance between the amenities and excitement of a larger city, but without the expense and overwhelming size of a truly big city. Because of the tourism industry, we're fortunate to have wayyy more attractions, shopping, dining and other things to do than other cities of a similar size. There's also a lot of local arts, music and culture for a city this size. Traffic is still a bit of a challenge, since everything is so spread out here, but I'd imagine it's a lot easier than Chicago.

    This is a great place to be a foodie. We have a lot of great restaurants, and there's a pretty big local food movement here right now. There are two Whole Foods and a Fresh Market or two, and there are farmer's markets in pretty much every neighborhood now. I can think of four or five that are a short drive from where I live alone.

    When you say drag racing, are you talking about hot rods, gassers and that scene? My husband and I have developed an interest in hot rods, but we don't have one ourself yet, so I can tell you a little bit about the scene but not a lot. Basically, I would say the scene is growing and emerging, but it is probably not on the level you're used to in the mid-West. There is at least one official local car club (a branch of the Rumblers, I think). I think there are some other less formal clubs around town as well, although I hear many of the folks in this area are more into restorations than hot rods or rat rods. The Billetproof car show now has an annual event at the Don Garlits museum in Ocala. We went the first year, and it was a pretty good show, with many of the entries coming from in state.

    The cons of living in Florida are that the recession has hit our state harder than most, and things are pretty tough for a lot of people right now. I would strongly urge you to have jobs lined up before moving here. I know people that have been looking for full time employment for more than a year now. It is scary. I would also encourage you to rent for a little while before racing into buying something. Some people say that the real estate market has bottomed out here, but others are saying prices will continue to drop for another year or two. I'm stuck in an upside-down mortgage right now, and it's something I wouldn't wish on anyone. So, take your time and do your homework very carefully. Also, look carefully at school zones even if you don't have kids yet. There is a lot of variation from district to district, since the state, as a whole, doesn't fund the schools like it should.

    To be honest, my husband and I like a lot of things about Orlando, but we don't see ourselves being here forever. If we can ever sell our condo, we're considering relocating to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It seems like the economy, schools, infrastructure, opportunities are all better there. (Have you considered Texas, yourself? You might want to?) That said, there's a lot to like about Orlando, and you might just find that this is a good place to call home.

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your decision!

  • I grew up in Florida and located to Atlanta after college.  I lived in Atlanta for 14 years.  We recently moved to the Orlando area this year.

    After living in a bigger city like Atlanta, Orlando just doesn't do it for me. It doesn't have that city feel and I don't see the big drive for cultural arts like I did in Atlanta.  Also, the job market is really stinky here.  I think there are a lot more opportunties in GA.

    I would highly recommend a trip to Atlanta and checking out some of the cool in-town neighborhoods like Virginia Highlands, Buckhead, and Decatur.

    With all the being said, I think that Raleigh would be an awesome city to live in.  I have not been there yet, but everything I read about that city is positive.

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