Orlando area community recommendation for small children

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LoveTheBogle
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Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by LoveTheBogle »

My young family (children under age of 10) are looking at Florida as a potential relocation. We have a vacation planned in Orlando and have a day to check different areas out within a few hours of Orlando.

I realize that there are a million neighborhoods in Orlando and when saying "Orlando" it could mean a billion different things, cultures, demographics, etc. This is why I am starting this thread to get some feedback on particular communities that meet the below. Please note that we are willing to drive upwards of 2 hours from Orlando area to check things out.
  • Family friendly. All our children are under 10 years of age so the community needs to be geared towards young families.
  • Safe. No violent crimes. I shouldn't be concerned with leaving my garage door open.
  • Solid public schools or if that doesn't exist then solid charter/private options.
  • Within 60 minutes to the beach which I suspect most of Orlando's suburbs fit this.
  • Budget for single family residence: $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
  • Affluent area. Looking for "professionals" neighborhood where people actually live and not short term rental neighborhoods.
I would prefer specific communities/area's rather than responses such as "Kissimmee should fit the bill" since that city is very large geographically and we don't want to drive aimlessly. We want to checkout a few specific areas, get a vibe, and then if necessary drive around that area aimlessly. :mrgreen:

Thank you for any responses!!!
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FiIQ
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by FiIQ »

HorizonWest is the only option that’s close to meeting your criteria. It’s located in the southwest corner of Orange County. I will note the are is designed to mix income demographics. For example a neighborhood will have 1-2mm homes with townhomes two blocks away and a public school right outside the neighborhood with a village center 1/2 mile down the road. Is this your criteria or a wishlist?
LoveTheBogle wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:02 pm
  • Family friendly. All our children are under 10 years of age so the community needs to be geared towards young families.
    Horizon West
  • Safe. No violent crimes. I shouldn't be concerned with leaving my garage door open.
    Not available in Central Florida
  • Solid public schools or if that doesn't exist then solid charter/private options.
    Horizon West
  • Within 60 minutes to the beach which I suspect most of Orlando's suburbs fit this.
    Most areas in Central Florida are more then 60 minutes away from the beach
  • Budget for single family residence: $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
    Not a problem
  • Affluent area. Looking for "professionals" neighborhood where people actually live and not short term rental neighborhoods.
    Not in Central Florida
I would prefer specific communities/area's rather than responses such as "Kissimmee should fit the bill" since that city is very large geographically and we don't want to drive aimlessly. We want to checkout a few specific areas, get a vibe, and then if necessary drive around that area aimlessly. :mrgreen:

Thank you for any responses!!!
CPA without a cause
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by CPA without a cause »

The first post is incorrect in my opinion [disrespectful reply modified by Moderator Misenplace]. I live in Orlando and moved here from Boston a year and a half ago. Best decision I ever made.

Based on your criteria check out the following:

Baldwin Park - a planned community a few miles outside of downtown built on a former airbase. Best schools in Orlando, very family friendly and safe, walkable, etc. If i had kids i would live here.

Winter Park - a very upscale (i.e. expensive) historic town. This is where rich people built winter mansions in the 1920s so they didnt have to spend winters in the North. The downtown is gorgeous with restaurants, shops, farmers markets, events, etc. If money were no object I would live in Winter Park.

Windermere / Dr Philips - To me this is typical upscale boring Florida suburbs but Dr Philips has lots of good restaurants etc.

College Park - a nice neighborhood not far from downtown with a great main drag that is very family oriented. It is being gentrified very quickly.

I live in Thornton Park, which I absolutely love coming from Boston. It is a historic neighborhood steps from downtown with brick line streets, big old trees, historic homes ,etc. I think its a bit lacking for schools but for a DINK couple like DW and I it is perfect, walking distance to downtown, Mills 50, etc. Because you have kids I would not advise it...that being said check it out. Also check out Lake Eola Heights and Lake Cherokee, other beautiful historic districts you would never expect to find in Florida.

Also checkout Maitland, Winter Garden and Lake Mary, but the ones I listed above is where I would live if i were you and had your housing budget.
jandres12
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by jandres12 »

The list above by CPA without a cause is on point. The only other thing I would consider is commute if you are going to have one. Avoiding I-4 or long commutes on toll roads would be a strong consideration for me. Also, Windermere is split between old Windermere which is quaint with a small downtown and mostly dirt roads, and the new areas of Horizons West that use the Windermere address but are just nicer suburban subdivisions. Good luck, Orlando is a nice place to live with many things to do, that many people overlook because they just think of the theme parks.
MAandMEMom
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by MAandMEMom »

I personally love the feel of Celebration, the planned community originally developed and owned by WDW. We were there one October and went trick or treating there and the vibe was so amazing and family friendly. Back when it first opened in the 90s, we did a tour of a unit and this house was so well though out in terms of design for a family. They have all sorts of models for all sorts of families. Additionally, many sections are designed in such a way that the garages are around the back so the streets are left uncluttered. It sort of reminds me of the movie The Truman Show. It's definitely worth a drive through and maybe an open house or two.
jandres12
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by jandres12 »

Celebration is beautiful and a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Step outside of Celebration and you are on US192 in the middle of tacky tourism, Old Town, short term rentals, hotels and transients. The schools are not very good. If you are obsessed with Disney World it might be a good place to live and provides easy access to the theme parks.
GTBuzz
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by GTBuzz »

I second Horizon West. My family (me, wife, 2 y/o daughter, one more on the way) live pretty much in the backyard of Cinderella's castle, but you wouldn't really know it (besides the nightly fireworks visible from the back yard). The north side of Disney is pretty well shielded from the hotels/motels and tourist traffic that pervades the areas between the theme parks and the airport. New schools are opening up pretty quickly in this area to keep up with the growth. It's more than 60 minutes to a beach, but you're within 2 hours of beaches on both coasts (and I think most would agree Gulf beaches are superior to the Atlantic coast).

With your budget, I'd look at one of the many new communities of single family homes that have popped up in the Hamlin "village" of Horizon West, or perhaps you could look at Windermere proper if you're looking for something older/quieter/on a lake. Dr. Phillips is another good option for a suburban feel that is more established (e.g. Bay Hill is nice if you don't mind the major golf tournament held there each year).
CPA without a cause
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by CPA without a cause »

no disrespect to prior commenters, but just to fully inform you Horizon West and Celebration, while they have their charms, are basically vapid, cultureless wastelands. If you are obsessive about raising your kids in a sanitized upper middle-class vacuum then I would say go for those areas. But if you want them to actually have a well-rounded childhood I would go for one of the neighborhoods I mention above.

Also, as another commenter noted, these locations are in the middle of nowhere. If you want to be near culture, arts, etc, that aren't Disney, one of the neighborhoods I mention near Downtown Orlando is where to go.

I do want to hear your thoughts OP.
jandres12
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by jandres12 »

I would say Winter Park is really the best intersection of convenient location, livable community, diverse housing, good schools, good restaurants, culture, shopping and entertainment.
AB609
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by AB609 »

If you don't need to be right in Orlando, I would look at Merritt Island. Schools are good by FL Standards and it is family friendly. There are some nice neighborhoods with access to the Indian River. Not nearly as much traffic or tourists as Orlando but still within easy reach of Orlando.
protagonist
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by protagonist »

A few comments:
1. An hour from the beach around Orlando is pushing it. You might be able to get to New Smyrna Beach in an hour if you lived east of Orlando. New Smyrna Beach is a very nice community with a cute downtown area. My only beef (a big one for me) with New Smyrna is that they let people drive on the beach, but others like that. Many of the Atlantic beaches around there allow driving. Daytona is slightly closer....about an hour drive....wouldn't be my choice but others like it. The gulf beaches are a good 2 hr drive from Orlando.
2. Something to consider: Depending on your children, living in some "planned communities" may become quite boring when they get to be teenagers. Boredom for teenagers is a recipe for disaster. Some of the places people move with "safety" as their primary concern are so boring for kids that there is an ugly undercurrent, often not recognized by parents, of heavy drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, vandalism, etc. that flies under the radar. Just food for thought.
3. Coming from Massachusetts, from what I have seen, good public schools in FL are few and far between, though I am sure they exist. You might also look into proposed and existing laws that might influence how certain things can be taught in FL, if that is of concern to you.
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zhiwiller
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by zhiwiller »

Commenting from Winter Park right now. We are moving soon because of my job, but I wouldn't pick anywhere else in town.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

zhiwiller wrote: Fri Oct 01, 2021 2:48 pm Commenting from Winter Park right now. We are moving soon because of my job, but I wouldn't pick anywhere else in town.
Pricey, but a great place, for sure.

Broken Man 1999
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Topic Author
LoveTheBogle
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by LoveTheBogle »

We went and visited the following communities: Baldwin Park, Horizon West, Winter Park, and Celebration. Below are my comments and order that we liked:

Baldwin Park - Awesome feel. Many of the homes had Halloween decorations out. Beautiful mature trees and big grass areas. A lot of dog walkers which isn't surprising since it is a beautiful area to walk while also getting quite a bit of shade. The downtown commercial center had a bit of a trendy-vibe and it was clean. Seemed extremely family friendly and safe. I went into a town-home open house that was 2000 sqft and 3 stories tall and it felt extremely cheap made and not a place to stay indoors. There were some homeless people and an essentially abandoned mall immediately outside of where we entered the community which is a bit disheartening.

Horizon West - Stereotypical large scale suburbia. Very clean. Very family friendly. Very boring. Many people had Halloween decorations out but not as many as Baldwin Park. If you ever needed anything you need to use a car. You can go on nice walks around cookie cutter tract homes so a bit boring. Felt very safe and very middle to upper middle class.

Winter Park - Felt like the area is very old. The downtown area had a lot of people out and about but outside of the walk-able area near the train station the retail shops were very dumpy. It reminded me of a town that has super wealthy people and super poor people with no one in between.

Celebration - It felt aged where it was the cool place to be but is no longer. The people outside were very diverse and several languages besides English was heard. Mature trees and overall looked pretty good but didn't feel near as safe as Horizon West or Baldwin Park. Felt a bit cheap.


Most of these areas we actually parked and walked around. Obviously these area's aren't just tiny little areas so maybe we only caught a small glimpse of the good (or the bad) part of the area. We tried to get to the town center and drive up and down streets and neighborhoods randomly to spot the cheap areas, the expensive areas, etc. Baldwin Park overall had the most consistency.

Are my comments above fairly accurate? What is missing or inaccurate?
hahabye
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by hahabye »

I am born and raised in Orlando, and I have lived in College Park, Windermere, and Dr. Phillips. All are nice places to live and unique in their own way.

In College Park (zip 32804) you will get less square footage but more charm (brick streets, older architecture along with Mcmansions, etc) and you are only minutes to downtown.

Windermere/Horizon West area (zip 34786) is nice but traffic really sucks. It has gotten really bad in the past 10 years or so as Horizon West has been built up.

I currently live in Dr. Phillips (zip 32819) and love it. The public elementary and high school are among the best in all of Orange County, and you don't have to deal with the traffic of Windermere. Fantastic restaurants nearby, upscale shopping and outlets are within an easy 10-15 min drive, and downtown is about 15-20 minutes away.

Winter Park is the nicest suburb (zip 32789), and by far the most expensive. You may get brick streets, great public schools, Park Avenue, lots of good restaurants, etc...You will definitely pay a premium though.

Personally I would stay away from Celebration because it is in Osceola County and is surrounded by suburban Disney sprawl. Public schools are not very good and overall the location is the worst of the communities mentioned.

Good luck in your search, in your price range you will be able to find something very nice in any of the above mentioned zip codes.

Bill
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an_asker
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by an_asker »

I've never been inside it - and it might well be outside your budget, OP - but no one has mentioned Isleworth. I wonder why? Because of budget?
Paradise
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by Paradise »

an_asker wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:25 pm I've never been inside it - and it might well be outside your budget, OP - but no one has mentioned Isleworth. I wonder why? Because of budget?
Isleworth is Dr Phillips / Windermere.


Most areas in Orlando are 1 hour to either Cocoa or Daytona.

In terms of safety and what I believe you’re looking for, Dr Phillips / Windermere is unmatched… truly safe suburbs with generational families. Disney nearby, high end restaurants, mostly mid/upper class/wealthy people with amazing homes in your range (your range is high and rare in Orlando. Windermeres public schools are top.

Winter Park / College Park, while beautiful, has the spillover of vagrancy and poverty from surrounding areas.
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hahabye
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by hahabye »

an_asker wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:25 pm I've never been inside it - and it might well be outside your budget, OP - but no one has mentioned Isleworth. I wonder why? Because of budget?
Isleworth is way out of his price range. You are not getting anywhere close to that community for his max price point of $1.5M
spaddlewit
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by spaddlewit »

If you are willing to drive up to 2 hours, that includes the coasts from Orlando.

If you are not aware, east coast FL vs. west coast FL is very different. One is fast-paced, northeast-style (east), and the other is laid back and more southern (west). I would recommend you spend some time finding out which one suits your personality better.

You may want to consider the Lakewood Ranch / Sarasota / Venice / North Port areas, as they are very up-and-coming and high in demand. Good school area, too.
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MilleniumBuc
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by MilleniumBuc »

I haven’t lived in the area for over 7 years but your description of Baldwin Park and Winter Park were spot on even back then. I don’t know about family friendly, but many people I worked with were moving to Lake Nona back in the day and searching online it still looks like a nice place that is close to Cocoa Beach by taking the 528 toll road (1 hour probably).
Ricecakes
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by Ricecakes »

LoveTheBogle wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:02 pm My young family (children under age of 10) are looking at Florida as a potential relocation. We have a vacation planned in Orlando and have a day to check different areas out within a few hours of Orlando.

I realize that there are a million neighborhoods in Orlando and when saying "Orlando" it could mean a billion different things, cultures, demographics, etc. This is why I am starting this thread to get some feedback on particular communities that meet the below. Please note that we are willing to drive upwards of 2 hours from Orlando area to check things out.
  • Family friendly. All our children are under 10 years of age so the community needs to be geared towards young families.
  • Safe. No violent crimes. I shouldn't be concerned with leaving my garage door open.
  • Solid public schools or if that doesn't exist then solid charter/private options.
  • Within 60 minutes to the beach which I suspect most of Orlando's suburbs fit this.
  • Budget for single family residence: $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
  • Affluent area. Looking for "professionals" neighborhood where people actually live and not short term rental neighborhoods.
I would prefer specific communities/area's rather than responses such as "Kissimmee should fit the bill" since that city is very large geographically and we don't want to drive aimlessly. We want to checkout a few specific areas, get a vibe, and then if necessary drive around that area aimlessly. :mrgreen:

Thank you for any responses!!!
Have you considered Seminole county, specifically Lake Mary/ Heathrow? Many housing options in your price range. You may want to consider the neighborhoods of Timacuan, Alaqua or Lake Forest( Lake Forest technically is in Sanford but is a beautiful gated community). There is a large professional population, with number of tech/ medical companies in the area. Lake Mary is a small city with an ethnically diverse population, good restaurants, top schools, golf, parks and trails, safe and 30 minutes to Daytona Beach or 45 to New Smyrna Beach. Moved here twenty years ago and still love it.
PoppyA
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by PoppyA »

Fair warning….the traffic anywhere in & around Orlando is HORRENDOUS! Just HORRENDOUS. Especially around Disney & downtown. Any place on or near I-4 too.
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tennisplyr
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Re: Orlando area community recommendation for small children

Post by tennisplyr »

The following forum might be more suitable for your questions:

www.city-data.com/forum
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