my personal blog

June 17, 2006

Orlando, More Than Theme Parks

Filed under: technology — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:50 pm

People ask me, if I’m already living in Miami, why I’m moving to the backwoods city of Orlando, known for theme parks like Walt Disney World and essentially nothing else. My answer is, they obviously do not know Orlando.

Fortunately for my argument, there is no shortage of articles such as this one from eWeek hailing Orlando as one of the great cities in the U.S. This article, in fact, lists it as one of the ten tech cities vying for the title of The Next Sillicon Valley. The thing with Sillicon Valley is, no one can afford to live there anymore. It’s the reason my family left Los Angeles, and it’s the reason I’m leaving Miami: The cost of living is far outpacing the salary one is likely to make.

Instead of quoting a bunch of facts and figures, I’ll stick with my own experience here. In Miami, I’m just a register jocky with a good pile of money from playing the stock market, but even that isn’t enough for me to buy even the most modest home. Instead, I put it toward buying a nice starter home for some $150,000 in an attractive north Orlando area, and less than a year later, you can’t find a home in the neighborhood for less than $220,000. That’s a fantastic appreciation, but compared to the housing prices in South Florida, it’s still a bargain: In Miami, a nice house goes for half a million.

The job market isn’t exactly fantastic down in South Florida either. My eldest brother moved to Orlando two years ago, and went from a dead-end programming job to one at Symantec that pays twice as much as what he was making. Add to the robust job market and good salaries the fact that the cost of living is some 30% lower than in South Florida, and Orlando is looking pretty attractive.

People are running to move to Orlando, and there must be a reason. From the article I mentioned earlier:

“Orlando• City population: 205,648• Companies that call it home: Lockheed Martin, Symantec, ElectronicArts (nearby) • The details: ranks Orlando No. 9 in thenumber of jobs per capita, with 10 technology jobs per 1000 people.Joel Kotkin, a writer on economic and political trends, lists Orlandoamong areas ripe to become the next Silicon Valley, noting its quickeconomic and population growth, and according to Inc. Magazine, amongthe reasons is that Florida has a job growth of 9.6 percent between2001-2005, the third highest in the country.”

In a nutshell, Orlando has a lot of growth in every sense of the word, from population to jobs, from business to real-estate. Miami has a lot of nightclubs, beaches, and bad drivers. For the folks who like that sort of thing, that’s great, but I’m following the money, and the money is in Orlando.

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