Yup, that's me above. At the Pig Floyd's restaurant on a Saturday afternoon -- about 2 o'clock -- photo was sent to my relatives who decided to move to the hills of North Carolina and were posting sub-freezing temperatures and rain for several days in January.
This winter we have turned on our electric heat for only 2 hours to date.
Let me count the ways I love Maitland, Florida and why we have been living in the Orlando area for the last 30 plus years!
Maitland has only about 18,000 people living here, but it is Central Florida's best-kept secret. It has a small-town feel but a large town reach. See new condo complex below right.
- BUSINESS The pull to Central Florida for me was a steadily increasing economy. Not a boom or bust from where I escaped. In the mid-80s Florida was bringing in retirees from the north with pockets full of cash (from the houses they just sold) and would do drive-bys and point to the new house they wanted to buy. They really didn't want to spend any time designing new houses. Speculative construction was booming as builders built as fast or faster than they sold. Banks were lending money hand over fist. Things have slowed down a bit since the last national recession but business in leisure and related industries is very strong. For me, several clients fly in to enjoy the fun and sun and will visit my office to have a house designed.
LOCATION Maitland is located in the middle of the state of Florida, just north of downtown Orlando and adjacent to Winter Park and Altamonte Springs. In under two hours you can drive to either the Gulf of Mexico or enjoy the Atlantic coast. In four hours you can visit Miami; in eight you can be in Atlanta or settled into your hotel room in the Keys. We are 45 minutes from an international airport with direct flights to Europe. Very convenient..
Maitland itself is 30 minutes from Universal Studios, Seaworld and Disney attractions. It takes 4 minutes from our house to get to the Interstate and downtown to national sports events to opera in 9 minutes.
- It's just super. DAY TO DAY LIVING: Wow, it's amazingly great! We can be at any mall, bank, food store, restaurant we like, 7-11, movie theater, park, funeral home, church, hospital, etc. within a 6 to 10-minute drive. We are in a subdivision of older homes, on a lake, heavy oaks, and can go north/south/east/west without any problems. The neighborhood is quiet and walking the doggies very easy while taking photos of the changing seasons and flora. There are over 5 parks with walking trails, lakes, children's playgrounds, etc. within that 10 minutes. The sheer convenience of day to day living is the number one thing.
- FUN THINGS TO DO Fish and boat on local lakes or deep water, attend art museums, golf on numerous courses at public and private clubs, attend NBA or baseball games, spend days at Universal Studios and Disney, jog and walk at nice neighborhood parks, drive to the beach and come back in one day, lots of restaurants and movies, have bbqs by the pool, stay casual nearly all year long, feel alive! Drive east for an hour and feel the thunder of a rocket launch from the Cape. While in the area stop in for an airboat ride! Drive 25 minutes north to Sanford and rent a float boat to navigate the clear waters of the St. John River. Florida is for outdoor folks who enjoy water, sun, sports, and sightseeing. A nearby freshwater spring and park, Wekiva, takes you back to primitive days as you swim in clear water as the Seminoles and canoe the tributaries watching 'gators glide underneath. My favorite haunt: Winter Park's Park Avenue on which numerous tasty restaurants and boutique shops lure you in. It is the closest thing to being in France or Italy. The outdoor cafes are fabulous. Friends + food = fun. Don't miss the Winter Park Scenic boat tour, and ask for Alan Woods! Culture? The only museum featuring the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany is at 445 N. Park Ave. There is an intact altar from the 1893 World's Fair. A 45-minute drive northwest lands you in beautiful Mt. Dora, on a large chain of lakes. Oh yes, we have a Film Festival sponsored by the Enzian theater and a Fringe Fest, which features very creative types. There are jazz and blues clubs to boot! Oh, the second largest Ferris wheel in the U.S. is on International Drive. The strip also has a Ripley's and other adventure rides. What else? I have never seen so many restaurants per square mile as in the Tampa area! My favorite is Mykonos in Tarpon Springs. Tell Andy I sent you. Amazing homemade Greek delicacies. While there take a tour on the sponge diving boat and another to take you out to the Gulf and watch manatees and dolphin frolic. Almost forgot: DAYTONA 500! And Bike Week for cycle lovers!
- WEATHER Most of the fun things above are possible by nearly perfect weather all year round. Yes, it rains and we see a hurricane or two a year or every two to three years. The winter is so easy to take. Fine weather starts in November and goes through mid-April until things just start heating up. There is heat and humidity for a good three to five months but is not overbearing for more than 3 or 4 weeks. Flip flops, t-shirts, and shorts are the look of summer and through most of the year in fact. Today, March 2, 2020, we have a high of 77 degrees. Gorgeous. Oh yes... 'gators love to come out in the cold weather and sun on the shores of the lakes. Boat tours in Mt. Dora and The Villages take you through beautiful pristine waters so that you can watch them in their natural habitat...
- HOUSING Orlando is in the “Top 10 best cities for first-time homebuyers.” Appreciation last year was 6%. Median rents are at $1,599 per month. The median price of homes currently for sale in Orlando is $289,000. You can move to Central Florida with little money and rent a house or apartment easily as you move up in your career and expand your contacts. There are multiple luxury gated golf communities for the high-end buyer (Isleworth, Lake Nona, Alaqua, Golden Oaks) and a wide mix of housing below that. Condos have sprung up to get you closer to the concentrated fun described above. Mid-level prices are still very good and appreciation is quite nice. There is a lot of construction activity at this time and remodeling seems to be strong. (Transitional style house above designed by John Henry Architect, Builder is Charles Clayton Construction).
- EMPLOYMENT Florida enjoys an unemployment rate of 3.2%~! The Orlando metro area is at an astounding 2.8%! -- the tenth lowest in the country. Business is churning, people are working, and fortunes are being made. This is the lowest rate in over 8 years and well below the 3.6% national average. Florida attracts 900 people a DAY. This should be good news for anyone related to the housing and food industries and all support businesses in between. Another statistic: there is a 34% deficit of houses for sale.
- YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL No doubt, living in Central Florida is a 'best of all worlds' adventure! So many things to do, so much bright sun and outdoor living. From children's activities to adult living, there are a myriad of choices available. Maitland is a hidden gem and still priced right. You are in secluded tree-lined streets and feel small town but in 6-8 minutes you can get just about anything you want. Florida has zero income tax to boot! If you come by on a Saturday, I will give you a tour. Wear flip flops, a t-shirt, and shorts! Let's meet at the Croissant Gourmet in Winter Park for boutique coffee and some of the best French pastries available in Florida! If you miss me, ask for Francois; he will treat you right. Doesn't this look like the European riviera below?
- TOURISTS (If you can't manage a trip to Italy right now, stay at the Universal Studios Portofino Hotel, above, and with just a little squint -- you're there!) The Orlando theme parks drew over 75 million visitors in 2018!! That is a 5% increase over the year before. You would think that living here would be a true jungle with so many people running around. Well, the nice thing about Maitland is that NO ONE drives through this area unless they live close by. Maitland is about 20 miles away from Universal Studios, Sea World and Disney attractions. You can freely move about and rarely bump into a tourist. The amazing resort hotels, discount malls, and attractions centered in the southwest part of the metro area keep all these people in that zone. So if you want a year-round Florida pass to any of the parks, you can pick the best times to go and to stay away when packed and too hot!
- ARCHITECTS Why, you only have to contact me to have nearly anything you have in mind designed! There are a lot of close-in properties that are ready for a teardown start from scratch custom design or great remodel. We do both and are well known in the area. For over thirty years I have been creating inspiring and practical custom homes for Central Florida in Maitland, Winter Park, and the Orlando and Windermere area. We have won multiple local and regional awards. We are doing historical projects and custom homes from 2,800 SF to 28,000 SF here and out of state. Let me know if you have any questions about the area and where you would like to live. I can also put you in touch with several great Realtors. Here is a link to start now with any design that you have in mind. I am here to help make your vision a reality. (Craftsman style home above, Palm Beach mansion below)
This post is part of the The Perks of Living in My Community – March 2020 ActiveRain Challenge