As you get older, retirement plans start to cross your mind. Part of retirement planning is determining where you want to live. While some people plan to downsize to a different house, others expand their horizons. They consider moving to a different city or state with warmer weather and perhaps a lower cost of living.
Lakeland, Florida, might be one of the places you’re considering relocating to. After all, its warmer weather and lower cost of living can be dually enticing. Plus, Lakeland has been named the number one city in Florida to retire in.
The city of Lakeland is located between Tampa and Orlando along Florida’s I-4 corridor. This location makes it an ideal commuter town for those who still want to work. Lakeland residents have the convenience of working for a major employer in town or commuting to either Tampa or Orlando.
But just like any other place, Lakeland has its pros and cons. So, is Lakeland, FL, a good place to live in? Let’s look at what you can expect if you move to this Florida location.
An Overview of Lakeland, Florida
Lakeland, Florida, has a population of just over 115,000 residents. It’s a growing city expanding at a rate of 7.8%. Lakeland isn’t as crowded as a major metro area like Tampa as far as population density goes. However, there are about 1,743 people per square mile. Think of Lakeland as a somewhat dense suburb surrounded by a few patches of land.
You’ll find many city conveniences without as much congestion as Orlando. The economy is relatively good, with modest job growth. There are plenty of major employers and well-known insurance carriers in the area, meaning a mix of white-collar and blue-collar jobs exist in Lakeland.
The cost of living in Lakeland is about 13.6% below the national average, and the median home price overs around $221,000. That said, average wages reflect the lower cost of living. Median salaries are slightly below $40,000 a year. Retail and service sectors tend to dominate the local economy.
Generally, you’ll find the weather to be spring or summer-like all year long. Average temperatures in the heat of the summer can get into the 90s and only dip down to the 70s in the fall and winter months. Once in a while, you’ll experience a “cold front,” with temperatures in the 60s or upper 50s.
Pros and Cons of Living in Lakeland, Florida
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, shall we? Living in Lakeland, Florida, does have some drawbacks. A few of those are linked to living in Florida in general, but others are unique to the city.
While Florida weather can be delightful, it can also be frightful. The state is prone to hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rainstorms. Although the center part of the state doesn’t bear as much brunt as the coast, Lakeland is below sea level. Plus, it’s only 30 miles from the Tampa city limits.
Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricanes put residents and their property at risk. This risk means you’ll probably pay higher rates for home, car, and flood insurance. The humid weather also puts your property at increased risk of termites and other pests. Adding routine pest control to your household expenses is a must.
If you decide to rent, pest control is covered in your monthly rent check, so that’s something to consider. Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Lakeland is around $1,023 a month. Compared to other areas of the country, this isn’t bad. However, this rental rate could stretch the income of retirees who are more dependent on Social Security.
Other drawbacks of living in Lakeland, Florida, include:
- Possibility of sinkholes
- Slower job growth
- High humidity
- High temperatures
- Limited public transportation
In addition to this, a car is considered a necessity as the city’s not considered walk-friendly.
Alright, now for the good stuff! Is Lakeland, FL, a good place to live? Yes, it’s a safe and cost-effective area. While Lakeland is more remote than Orlando or Tampa, you have the conveniences of both cities within driving distance.
Lakeland has relatively affordable housing, with home prices appreciating at about 18.4% a year. You’ll also find various museums, parks, and entertainment in the area.
Lakeland is home to five different colleges and three trade schools. If you have a family with children, they’ll have plenty of post-secondary education opportunities.
You’ll also find golf courses and property taxes that are below the national average. While there aren’t any beaches in the city, there are several beautiful lakes to enjoy.
If you don’t like cold weather and don’t mind living inland, Lakeland can be a thriving place to live. Here are some additional pros:
- Within driving distance of two major international airports
- A lower than average unemployment rate
- Various community activities, including theatre
The Best Lakeland Neighborhoods for Retirement
Some of the best neighborhoods in Lakeland, Florida, include Cleveland Heights and Cleveland Heights Golf Course. Others that make the top of the list are:
- South Lake Morton
- Beacon Hill
- New Jersey Road
- Florida Southern College
These areas are all relatively quiet but with plenty to do, making them ideal for settling down.
Is It Safe To Live in Lakeland?
Overall, Lakeland has a crime grade of a B minus. On average, a crime happens every 34 minutes in the city limits. Property crime is a higher risk for those who don’t have alarm systems. However, the crime rates in various neighborhoods can vary widely.
So, is Lakeland, FL, a good place to live? Lakeland, Florida, is a fantastic place to live if you prefer warm and humid weather. The city has a lower cost of living than the national average while being close to bigger cities with lots to do. Learn more about buying a home in a safe Lakeland, Florida, neighborhood here.