The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in relocations as people working remotely move from more expensive areas to parts of the country with lower costs of living. Because of this, Florida has seen a rise in people relocating to the state, from California in particular. Not all relocations are because of COVID-19, however. Disney recently announced that it was not only moving 2,000 jobs to Florida from California but also that it was investing millions of dollars into developing its Lake Nona Campus.

What should people moving from California expect when moving to Florida?

Finding a Financial Advisor in Florida

When you’re looking to move to a new state, it’s always a good idea to find a local financial advisor. Living in Florida is very different from living in California and you’ll have different financial concerns. For example, Florida doesn’t have a state income tax while California does. Florida residents only owe federal taxes on their income. On top of that, Florida housing prices are also cheaper than in California. If you find that you have more money than you’re used to because of your move to Florida, you will want to speak with a financial advisor who can help you make the most of it and invest your savings properly as well as help you be aware of any financial peculiarities about living in Florida that you might be unfamiliar with.

The Lake Nona Area

If you’re employed by Disney and are one of the 2,000 or more jobs that are moving to Florida, you’ll most likely be looking for a home in the Lake Nona area where Disney is establishing a regional campus. Lake Nona is an area of Orlando, Florida, on the southeast side of the city. It’s known for being a trendy planned community made up of family homes. Lake Nona is home to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus, which offers lessons as well as hosts major events in tennis. For those with children, the Lake Nona Adventure Park offers wakeboarding and a floating obstacle course in Lake Nona. To Lake Nona’s south, there’s also Boxi Park, where you can stop by food trucks and listen to live music.

What to Do in Lake Nona

There’s plenty to do for everyone in Lake Nona:

  • Lake Nona Town Center
    • Lake Nona Nights community events
    • Live music
    • Food trucks
    • Specialty restaurants
    • Family-friendly movies
  • Street art
  • Nona Adventure Park
    • Ropes course
    • Climbing wall
    • Water skiing
    • Wakeboarding
  • Walking and biking trails
  • Drive Shack
    • Driving range
    • Restaurants
    • Social leagues
    • Meeting spaces
    • Interactive golf games and courses
  • Boxi Park
    • Restaurants
    • Outdoor bars
    • Seasonal events
    • Dog park
    • Lawn games
    • Volleyball
    • Kids’ activities
    • Live music
    • Seasonal events

Schools in Lake Nona

Lake Nona is located in Orange County and is, therefore, a part of the Orange County Public Schools. Lake Nona High School is ranked 103rd in Florida and 1,782 nationally by US News’ Best High Schools Rankings. The overall score of the school is 90/100. US News ranks schools based on test scores, graduation rates, and how well students are prepared for college. The ranking is out of 17.857 high schools across the country and 682 within the state of Florida.

In the Lake Nona area, there are also elementary schools and middle schools, so there will be schools within the Orange County Public Schools for children of any age.

Buying vs. Renting in Florida

Whether to buy a home or rent one is a major financial decision. Before you move to Florida, you should talk about your options with both a real estate agent and a local financial advisor so you can determine which is best for your financial situation. California is the most expensive state in which to rent, so rental prices would be lower in Florida.

Another benefit of renting in Florida is hurricane damage. As a renter, you wouldn’t be responsible for maintenance or repairs that may be necessary due to hurricanes. Plus, the security deposit for a rental property may be less than the downpayment required for a home. However, depending on your finances, a mortgage may be less monthly than rent.

Renting in Lake Nona

Because Lake Nona is an up-and-coming area that is still being developed, renting could be a good option even if you eventually want to buy a home. You can wait out any market fluctuations by renting until housing prices are optimal for you. You can also wait to see how the area develops before committing to purchasing a house by renting for a while first.

Buying a House in Florida

Housing prices are much cheaper in Florida than they are in California. In fact, homes in the Los Angeles area of California cost up to 180% more than homes in Orlando, Florida. If your salary remains the same in Florida as it was in California, then you’ll have some financial decisions to make. You will likely be able to afford a larger home in Florida than you would in California. But if the size of your home in California suited you, you could choose to invest the money instead. Before you purchase a home, it’s a good idea to speak to your financial advisor in Florida who can make recommendations for your new situation.

To Build or to Buy?

The Lake Nona area is an up-and-coming area of Orlando that is still developing its residential areas. This means that many of the homes in the Lake Nona area are brand new. You may also have the opportunity to build your own home. It may be less expensive to buy an existing home, but with housing prices cheaper in Florida, many who couldn’t afford to build a new home in California may be able to afford it in Orlando. If you’re on a tight moving schedule, however, buying a pre-built home may be a better option. Many of the homes for sale in Lake Nona are new, meaning that you may still be the first owner of your home even if you buy a pre-built one.

Getting Insurance in Florida

Once you have a home in Florida, the next step is to ensure that you have homeowners’ insurance. In California, you most likely had to purchase insurance to cover damage from fire and from earthquakes. Florida, however, has completely different weather concerns. In Florida, the greater risks are from hurricanes and floods.

Hurricane Insurance

Hurricane season in Florida runs from June to November, with most hurricanes arriving after August 1st. Hurricanes are categorized from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe storms. A hurricane can involve a number of different hazards that can damage a home, including:
● Strong winds
● Heavy rain
● Storm surge
● Tornadoes

Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover hurricane damage, but not necessarily all damage. Damage from floods or wind may be excluded, so it’s important to check your insurance policy and make sure that you have the necessary insurance to fully cover your home in the event of a hurricane. There may be a separate deductible for hurricane damage, or there may be exclusions for damage from things like wind and floods. You may need to purchase extra insurance for floods and windstorms.

Windstorm Insurance

Damage from wind during a hurricane may be covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy. But some insurance companies may require that you have a separate policy for wind damage. Whether it’s a part of your standard policy or an extra policy, you should make sure that your insurance will cover damage from winds. Hurricanes are guaranteed to happen in Florida and repairing the damage due to wind afterward can get very expensive.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is also vital if you live in Florida. It’s especially important if you live in a coastal city, where storm surges from hurricanes can cause flooding. However, even in Orlando, it’s a good idea to have flood insurance. Hurricanes also involve a lot of heavy rainfall, which can cause rising waters that flood your home. You may also need to have separate flood insurance to protect your home.

Renter’s Insurance

If you’re renting instead of buying or building a house, it’s essential that you have renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance covers the belongings that you have within the house and can also cover the costs of needing to stay elsewhere should your rented home be temporarily unlivable. Renter’s insurance doesn’t cover the property itself, but any damage to the home and land would be covered by the landlord’s insurance policies instead.

Setting up Utilities

Utilities in Florida may be slightly more expensive than those in California. However, this increase in cost is more than offset by the lower taxes and the lower cost of living in the state. You’ll want to get your utilities set up right away when you move so that you can start enjoying your new home in Florida right away.

These may be some helpful resources:

Taxes in Florida

Taxes in Florida are slightly different from in California. The state sales tax is only 6%, rather than California’s 7.25%. Additionally, there is no state income tax in Florida. Florida residents will still owe federal income tax, however.

Weather in Florida

While both California and Florida are warm states, in California, it’s a dry heat with very little humidity. Florida, by contrast, is very humid, which makes the heat feel even worse. Florida also has a much greater average rainfall than California. In fact, during the summer months, it rains most afternoons, but the rain never lasts long. There’s still plenty of the sunshine that gives Florida its nickname of the Sunshine State.

What to Do in Florida

Like California, Florida is known for its theme parks, like Disney and Universal Studios, as well as its beaches. Florida has a very long coastline and nowhere in the state is very far from either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Florida also has some excellent waves for surfing. Florida’s cities offer a lot of cultural diversity and have a wide variety of nightlife offerings, restaurants, art galleries, and much, much more. If you’re more into nature, Florida will be very different from California. Instead of hills and mountains, Florida has a more tropical landscape. The Everglades National Park is millions of acres of preserved wetland that are unlike any other national park in the US.

Watch Out for Alligators

Florida has a lot of water, including lakes, rivers, canals, retention ponds, and swimming pools. That’s a lot of potential homes for alligators, which live in both brackish and freshwater. There are millions of alligators in Florida, about one for every fifteen people. Florida residents have been known to find alligators in their swimming pools or even on their front porches. Plus, some alligators can get big enough to consider a human a reasonable meal. For the most part, though, humans are too big to be considered a part of an alligator’s regular diet. However, there are still unprovoked alligator attacks that occur every year and it doesn’t hurt to be careful and both pets and young children are small enough to be a target for even smaller alligators.

Florida has a hotline that you can call about nuisance alligators: 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

Resources for Relocating to Florida

Tax information:
School information:
Becoming a legal Florida resident:
General information for relocating to Florida: