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Orlando /ɔrˈlændoʊ/ is a major city in the U.S. state of Florida. Located in Central Florida, it is the county seat of Orange County and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. The Greater Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2,134,411, making it the 26th largest metro area in the United States, the sixth largest metro area in the Southeastern United States, and the third largest metro area in the state of Florida.
According 2010 census, Orlando has a city-proper population of 238,300 making it the 77th largest city in the United States, this is mostly attributed to the fact that the majority of area residents live in surrounding suburbs outside of city limits. Orlando is the fifth largest city in Florida, and the state’s largest inland city.
Orlando is nicknamed “The City Beautiful” and its symbol is the fountain at Lake Eola. Orlando is also known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World” and its tourist attractions draw more than 51 million tourists a year, including 3.6 million international guests. The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth busiest airport in the United States and the 29th busiest in the world. Buddy Dyer is Orlando’s mayor.
As the most visited American city in 2009, Orlando’s famous attractions form the backbone of its tourism industry: Walt Disney World Resort, located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971; the Universal Orlando Resort, which consists of the two parks of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; City Walk; SeaWorld; Gatorland; and Wet ‘n Wild Water Park. With the exception of Walt Disney World, most major attractions are located along International Drive. The city is also one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions.
Like other major cities in the Sun Belt, Orlando grew rapidly during the 1980s and into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, which is the second-largest university campus in the United States in terms of enrollment as of 2012. In 2010, Orlando was listed as a “Gamma−” level of world-city in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. Orlando ranks as the fourth most popular American city based on where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.
As of 2010, there were 121,254 households out of which 15.4% were vacant. As of 2000, 24.5% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.97.
In 2000, the city’s population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $35,732, and the median income for a family was $40,648. Males had a median income of $30,866 versus $25,267 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,216. About 13.3% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.0% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.
Orlando has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in Florida and their cultural impact on Central Florida is similar to that of the large Cuban population in South Florida. Orlando is home to the fastest growing Puerto Rican community in the country. Between 1980 and 2010, Hispanic population share rose from 4.1 to 25.4%. Orlando also has a large and growing Caribbean population, with a large West Indian community (particularly Jamaicans and the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population), and an established Haitian community.
As of 2000, 75.43% of all residents speak English as their first language, while 16.60% speak Spanish, 1.93% speak Haitian Creole, 1.33% speak French, 0.99% speak Portuguese, and 0.54% of the population speak Arabic as their mother language. In total, 24.56% of the population 5 years and older speak a language other than English at home.
The geography of Orlando is mostly wetlands, consisting of many lakes and swamps. The terrain is generally flat, making the land fairly low and wet. The area is dotted with hundreds of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Apopka. Central Florida’s bedrock is mostly limestone and very porous; the Orlando area is susceptible to sinkholes. Probably the most famous incident involving a sinkhole happened in 1981 in Winter Park, a city immediately north of downtown Orlando, dubbed “”The Winter Park Sinkhole”.
There are 115 neighborhoods within the city limits of Orlando and many unincorporated communities. Orlando’s city limits resemble a checkerboard, with pockets of unincorporated Orange County surrounded by city limits. Such an arrangement can be cumbersome as some areas are served by both Orange County and the City of Orlando. This also explains Orlando’s relatively low city population when compared to its metropolitan population. The city and county are currently working together in an effort to “round-out” the city limits with Orlando annexing portions of land already bordering the current city limits.
Orlando’s climate has characteristics of a tropical climate, but is situated on the southern fringe of the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), and on the border of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9B and 10A. There are two major seasons each year. One is hot and rainy, lasting from May until late September (roughly coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season). The other is the dry, relatively cool season (late October through April) bringing less frequent rainfall, yet still with warm temperatures. The area’s warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low elevation, its position relatively close to the Tropic of Cancer, and its location in the center of a peninsula. Many characteristics of its climate are a result of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which flows around the peninsula of Florida.
During the height of Orlando’s humid summer season, high temperatures are typically in the lower to mid 90s °F (32–36 °C), while low temperatures rarely fall below 70 °F (21 °C). The average window for such temperatures is April 19 – October 11. The area’s humidity acts as a buffer, usually preventing actual temperatures from exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), but also pushing the heat index to over 110 °F (43 °C). The city’s highest recorded temperature is 103 °F (39 °C), set on September 8, 1921. During these months, strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over Central Florida. They are highlighted by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rain (sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as well as occasional damaging hail.
Orlando is a major industrial and hi-tech center. The metro area has a $13.4 billion technology industry employing 53,000 people; and is a nationally recognized cluster of innovation in digital media, agricultural technology, aviation, aerospace, and software design. More than 150 international companies, representing approximately 20 countries, have facilities in Metro Orlando.
Orlando has the 7th largest research park in the country, Central Florida Research Park, with over 1,025 acres (4.15 km2). It is home to over 120 companies, employs more than 8,500 people, and is the hub of the nation’s military simulation and training programs. Near the end of each year, the Orange County Convention Center hosts the world’s largest modeling and simulation conference: Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Metro Orlando is home to the simulation procurement commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
Public primary and secondary education is handled by Orange County Public Schools. Some of the private schools include Orlando Lutheran Academy, Forest Lake Academy, The First Academy, Trinity Preparatory School, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Bishop Moore High School and Orlando Christian Prep.
The hip hop music, metal, rock music, reggaeton and Latino music scenes are all active within the city. Orlando is known as “Hollywood East” because of numerous movie studios in the area. Major motion picture production was active in the city during the mid-to-late 1990s, but has slowed in the past decade. Probably the most famous film-making moment in the city’s history occurred with the implosion of Orlando’s previous City Hall for the movie Lethal Weapon 3. Orlando is now a large production center for television shows, direct-to-video productions, and commercial production. In early 2011, filmmaker Marlon Campbell constructed A-Match Pictures and Angel Media Studios; a multi-million dollar film and recording facility that has been added to the list of major studios in the city.
According to 2014 rankings at Neighborhoodscout.com, which utilizes “the most up-to-date and fully vetted data with complete national coverage that is available”, Orlando ranks 81 on the list of 100 Most Dangerous Cities.
Orlando is the center of the 19th-largest media market in the United States according to Nielsen Media Research as of the 2010–11 TV season. Its primary newspaper, Orlando Sentinel, is the second-largest newspaper in Florida by circulation. The Sentinel’s Spanish language edition, El Sentinel, is the largest Spanish language newspaper in Florida.