As one of the top ten fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Orlando is a mecca for those seeking diverse culture, sumptuous cuisines, and year-round warm weather. However, for newcomers planning to permanently relocate and those who have only visited the city for brief vacations, it can be tough to choose the right neighborhood in which to settle. In some cases, financial factors or personal circumstances may make buying a home a great (or terrible) idea, but for many, the decision whether to buy or rent can be more difficult. Read on to learn more about some of the factors you'll want to consider before deciding whether you want to dive into home ownership immediately upon arrival in your new city.
What are the benefits of renting in Orlando?
In some cases, renting is just the option that makes more financial or logistical sense -- regardless of where you're located in the country. However, Orlando has some unique and specific qualities that can sometimes make apartment or home rental an even more attractive option for certain consumers. Because Orlando boasts a number of theme parks that utilize college students or international visa holders as employees, there tend to be many more short-term rentals available within the city than in other parts of the country. This can be a boon to those who are interested in the flexibility to move from one part of the city to another upon relatively short notice or who have relocated to central Florida during a probationary term of employment and risk being sent back "home" if performance is not up to par. If, for any reason, you're reluctant to commit to a home purchase (or even a full year lease) upon moving to Orlando, you shouldn't have much of a problem finding an ideal short-term rental situation or even a sublet to fit your needs.
- Time to find your niche
Depending on your interests, Orlando has a place for just about everyone -- from nightlife enthusiasts to artists to rodeo fans. Finding the community that speaks to you while also keeping driving or transit time to your job in mind can be a challenge while juggling the other responsibilities that come with moving, and renting gives you time to find the perfect neighborhood without the pressure of a 30-year commitment or even a multi-year lease.
- Opportunity for extra savings
For millennials just starting out in the workforce, taking a few years to build up a down payment and home maintenance fund can be crucial to long-term financial success. Because the inventory of available homes for sale in Orlando is down due to high demand, sales prices have increased by double digits recently. Waiting for a period of higher inventories and less competition (and building up savings in the meantime) can give you a major boost in purchasing power while allowing you to enjoy the other advantages that come with renting.
When should you buy a home in Orlando instead?
In some cases, buying a home in the city of Orlando -- whether immediately upon arrival or after a few years of renting and neighborhood scouting -- is the better decision.
- You're seeking stability
According to Katrina Barone of Housesforsaleinocalafl.com, "many people buy a home for no other reason than that they crave the permanence and stability that homeownership brings." If you have young children and can't stomach the idea of another move, or if you're determined to get into the simmering Orlando housing market before you're priced out, you may find that homeownership gives you the stability you've been looking for and the freedom to branch out once you've set down roots.
- You want the tax benefits
As many retirees have discovered, living in Florida brings a number of tax advantages, from the constitutional lack of a state income tax to the many sales tax exemptions. Becoming a property owner can boost these tax savings even further by allowing you to deduct mortgage interest paid if you itemize your federal income taxes As an added bonus, you won't pay any state-level property taxes. Orlando has assessed a citywide property tax, but most of the burden of this tax falls on renters and those who own vacation homes rather than first-time Orlando homeowners. Today's historically low mortgage interest rates don't hurt the financial end of the equation, and with rates predicted to remain low in the foreseeable future, you should have time to buy at a low rate (letting your purchase dollars go farther) while enjoying many of the other benefits of homeownership.
- You need the ideal school district
Orlando has a variety of top-notch public, charter, and private schools to ensure you'll be able to make an educational choice that fits your child, whether your philosophy leans more toward Montessori or the strict discipline of a military-based academy. Because competition for slots at the top schools can be fierce, in some cases, buying a home in a certain location is the best way to ensure your child or children are able to attend the school you're sure is their best option.
States Fred Franks of Local Realty Service, a Ocala Florida real estate agent Fortunately, investing in a home based primarily on the school district should pay off if you eventually decide to sell. Homes in desirable school districts tend to move off the market more quickly and sell for higher prices than homes in average or poor school districts, and if you've added other personal touches over the years, you should have no problem recouping your initial investment and perhaps even a tidy profit.