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Located in central Florida, Orlando is one of the largest cities in the state. One of its nicknames is "The City Beautiful," due in part to its scenic wetlands and hundreds of lakes. The city was known as Jernigan until the late 1850s, when its name was officially changed to Orlando. Interestingly, historians can't seem to agree on how the city earned its name, and local legend spins at least five different stories about its origin.
Orlando experienced a major economic and residential boom in 1971 with the development of the world-famous Walt Disney World. Sea World Orlando, EPCOT Center and Disney-MGM Studios followed during the next two decades, making Orlando one of the world's most popular vacation destinations.
Living in Orlando
Orlando has a diverse economy that offers a wide range of career options. In addition to the tourism and entertainment industries, Orlando has high-tech and high-wage careers in industries like digital media, life sciences, simulation and biotechnology. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Hewlett-Packard are just a handful of the major companies that have large facilities in Orlando. You also have the option of making the convenient commute to the nearby Patrick Air Force Base or Kennedy Space Center if you work in those fields.
Depending on where you're moving from, you might find Orlando's weather to be a big change. Unlike much of the United States, Orlando doesn't have four separate seasons. Instead, its weather is categorized into just two: the rainy and hot season from May till September, and the cool and dry season from October through April. The city is considered to have a humid subtropical climate, so you can leave any winter jackets or snow boots behind when you come here.
Things to Do in Orlando
When you're in the "Theme Park Capital of the World," there's no shortage of things to do. Living in such close proximity to major attractions like Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios Florida means that you'll have to deal with crowds of tourists on a regular basis. However, one upside is that you can stop by one of the parks anytime for a spontaneous visit.
If you'd rather avoid the tourist-heavy locales of Orlando, there's still plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment to choose from. The city has a vibrant arts and culture scene, with a large theater population that makes it easy to catch a show anytime. Or, if sports are more your style, Orlando is home to a handful of professional sports teams, including the NBA's Orlando Magic.
Here are a few of the great neighborhoods to check out when you're in Orlando:
Winter Park is one of Orlando's most affluent neighborhoods, complete with its very own Park Avenue lined with luxury shopping and dining. A weekend farmers' market provides a more casual shopping experience where you can sample baked pies, homemade jams and exotic spice blends.
The University of Central Florida is the heart and soul of this friendly college town, with a mix of students and young families calling the area home. Football games and college theater productions are a regular occurrence in East Orlando, with the campus also offering free lectures and film showings to the public.
Lake Nona is often considered the golf capital of Orlando, and is well known as the host of the Tavistock Cup. The neighborhood was actually originally designed as a golf resort spanning several thousand acres.
The streets in College Park are named after well-known colleges of the U.S., hence its collegiate-inspired name. The neighborhood stands out as a very pedestrian-friendly spot in the generally car-centered city of Orlando, with a variety of shops and restaurants all easily accessible on foot.
Tips for Moving to Orlando
Here are a few resources to help you plan your move to Orlando:
- Utilities: The Orlando Utilities Commission provides both power and water to the Orlando area.
- Garbage and Recycling: Trash and recycling are collected curbside on a weekly basis by the City of Orlando, with weekly yard waste pick-up also offered at no cost to you.
- Public Transit: Orlando is a car-centered city, but you do have bus and limited commuter rail options for public transit.
- Personal Vehicles: New residents have 10 days to register a motor vehicle with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Pets: Orange County doesn't require pets to be licensed, but cats and dogs must maintain current rabies vaccinations.
The public schools in the Orlando area are managed by Orange County Public Schools. The school district is divided into several different learning communities, with Orlando being one of the communities in the northern region of the district. You can also elect to send your children to one of the several Orlando private schools, many of which are faith-based institutions.
If you're pursuing a college degree, there are many schools to choose from in Orlando. The University of Central Florida is a large state university located in the Orlando area, in addition to an assortment of state colleges and private universities.