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Thread: Tell me about Orlando, FL

  1. #1

    Tell me about Orlando, FL

    There is a possibility I will be moving to Orlando this fall to attend a trade school, so I'm currently trying to learn a bit about the area.

    Besides the obvious theme parks and tourist crap, I mean destinations...is there a 'real' city somewhere in there? I've looked up their official website, and they mention downtown revitalization and high-rise development in the same sentence. Is it all cul-de-sacs and freeways?

    Any information is appreciated.

    - belinda

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Here's a post from my Orlando years, lamenting at my geographic undesirability on the dating scene. This might not answer all your questions, but it does look at the lay of the land from the perspective of a local -- well, I was at the time.

    I work about 20 miles west of downtown Orlando. Orlando's road network is configured in a way that makes accessibility to the western suburbs difficult from the rest of the metro area; to avoid a "commute from hell," I've got to live fairly close to work.

    I'll be having a great conversation with a woman ... that is, until I tell them where I live. A couple of seconds later, it's "buh bye."

    I have just discovered that what seems like 80% of the "quality" single women in Orlando live north of downtown, in the I-4 corridor -- Altamonte Springs, Winter Park, Longwood, Oviedo and thereabouts. It's fairly easy to get from the "north side" to just about every part of the metro area -- except the "west side," where I live. Outside of rush hour, it'll be at least a half hour drive for me to reach Altamonte Springs, which seems to be the epicenter of Orlando's single population.

    Singles on the "west side?" Almost nonexistent. Lots of white trash women in one town (I sound elitist, but what would I have in common with a woman that has a femullet and a big "3" sticker in the back window of her truck?); tons of upper middle class families in Windermere, and in Ocoee, a relatively nice suburb where I just bought a house, I'm supposedly one of a very few single folk in a city of 25,000. In Ocoee, the average household size is 3.1, even in apartments.
    Here's what I wrote about Orlando's western 'burbs in another thread.

    In Florida, I lived in the western suburbs of Orlando, or "West Orange" as it was known. The city where I lived, Ocoee, was middle- to upper-middle class, and fairly well-planned and aesthetically pleasing for a suburban community. However, the place has a disproportionately large population working in the building and mechanical trades, and the cultural orientation leaned closer to the rural South than in other Orlando 'burbs. Next door was Winter Garden, which was the "town next door" -- very working-class, very ugly, stereotypically Bubba, home to the "redneck row" mentioned at the top of the thread, and the folks there liked it that way. Then again, they didn't know any different. Most young professionals lived north of Orlando, so my location was seen as "geographically undesirable" by my peer group.

    The other curse of West Orange -- because of its "geographic undesirability," it was usually outside the collective mindset of Orlando-area residents. There were very few independent restaurants, and no bars or clubs catering to young professionals (although there were plenty of dives, even in upscale strip plazas). When you look in the Thursday alternative paper, there are seldom ads for businesses located in West Orange, and no new restaurant reviews. The few small reprint reviews were along the lines of "It's hard to believe there's a place so nice in a place like Ocoee." Speaking with economic development planners, they said that most independent restaurant operators won't touch West Orange, because of its enduring reputation. Oh ... I couldn't find a family doctor (the few in the area weren't taking any new patients), and there were few medical specialists; you had to drive downtown or 45 minutes to the northern 'burbs for that.
    These posts are old, and the real estate boom has changed things somewhat. There's Orlando-area members here who can probably fill in the blanks, or describe what's changed in the years since I moved back to frigid climes.

    There is a "there there", believe it or not, and I found downtown Orlando to be surprisingly lively. Lots of nice neighborhoods to the north, east and south (but not the west) of downtown.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    You will find some beautiful but pricey older neighborhoods south, east, northeast, and northwest of downtown. If you are attending a school downtown, do not live anywhere that requires you to take I-4 to class! Downtown itself is, as you read, is undergoing a lot of changes. The core part of downtown is not lively in the evenings, except for the party spots. We have some very nice museums, theaters, and a science center, but they're all located just north of downtown. The Amway Arena (Magic Games and concerts, ice shows, etc) is downtown, just west of I-4. A lot of cultural/festival activities happen at Lake Eola, on the east side of downtown.

    There has been a tremendous amount of high-rise condo construction all around downtown and the hope is that it will bring in more day-to-day amenities, retailers, etc. Some neighborhoods close to downtown, such as College Park and Thornton Park, are walkable with restaurants and shops, but again, very pricey.

    If you will be in an outlying area I could give you additional info (except the west side, which Dan mentioned, I'm not too familiar there).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    My wife is from Orlando and I've been there multiple times. Honestly, some of the areas are nice (I really like Winter Park), but all in all it's like one giant suburb. It does not feel like a "city" at all. I was not impressed.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread View post
    My wife is from Orlando and I've been there multiple times. Honestly, some of the areas are nice (I really like Winter Park), but all in all it's like one giant suburb. It does not feel like a "city" at all. I was not impressed.
    I have to take exception with that. I'm an Orlando native and not a visitor and pretty well versed in the older/newer parts of town. There are some exceptional older suburbs around the immediate downtown, and some outlying towns, with grid pattern streets, local retail very accessible, good schools, parks, and what I love, so much of the town centered around the lakes. Even many of the '50's to '70's subdivisions have aged gracefully, with smaller homes snapped up by people wanting to live closer to the towns' centers (and not going into McMansion mode). But unless you know the local connector roads outside of downtown, you would never see this.

    Yes, the perimeter is a mess, with cookie cutter crap along the beltway, overwhelming formerly cute towns like Oviedo, etc. (Don't go there, it's all transplant families!) But a large part of the metro area has great neighborhoods. Winter Park is my hometown, I have to agree with you on that one, but it's not affordable until you're at the outer reaches. Then you hit connecting towns that have encouraged sprawl.

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