There is a lot more to Orlando than theme parks and the job market is pretty good however, the traffic is horrible. If you choose this city try looking a little North into Seminole County. The housing is less expensive and you will have only a short commute.
Winter Haven is located in rural Polk County. Polk has few public amenities compared to other areas because they are a poorer county dependant mainly on agriculture.
Both Orlando and Winter Haven are landlocked cities which means they have little or no cooling ocean breezes to offer relief from the brutal six month summers. I have lived and worked in both of these cities. They are both great places to explore when you have the time.
Roca Raton is beautiful. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the state. It is a very busy place with lots of traffic congestion. Many people will find the housing costs a bit much however.
Destin is beautiful too as another poster so eloquently points out. I have been there for vacation several times. But it is mostly resorts, condos, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Unless you are financially independent of your living location, you may need to either own or work in one of these type establishments or commute out of the area to Pensacola for employment. And many of the businesses in Pensacola cater to the Armed Forces in one way or another. Also, the Florida Panhandle has been seeing more than its share of hurricanes lately.
I have lived all over the state since 1974 from Tallahassee to Jacksonville to Orlando to Miami to Key West. My work required that I relocate often.
I like Sarasota the best and I have made my home here. If I am to live in Florida then this is the place for me. Both of my sisters and their families have relocated to this semi-tropical paradise from New Jersey and brought homes here too.
Sarasota is a medium sized city on the Gulf of Mexico with about 370,000 people in season and about 315,000 off season.
Home prices range from under one hundred thousand to more than six million dollars. Many very famous people discretely keep Sarasota as their home. If you like to play golf, see the many communities which have championship courses such as Prestancia or the Longboat Key Club. The last time I counted, there were forty five golf courses in the area. Also there are many mobile home parks where you can find homes for less than fifty thousand dollars.
If you are looking to rent first, you will find houses and apartments ranging from five hundred per month and up.
Our crime statistics are below state and national averages.
We have an excellent school system including both public and private institutions, a school for the exceptionally gifted, a military school, two universities, a business college, a vocational school, three community college campuses and of course, The Ringling School of Art and Design.
If you're looking for work and you work in the health care related field, there are plenty of opportunities, you can just about pick and choose where you want to work. You will usually find nationally competitive pay scales and benefits. There are too many health care facilities to list. I feel obliged to point out that Florida is not immune to the economic downturn the entire country is facing. There are many people out of work across the state and gas and food are going up.
We have the Suncoast Off-Shore Grand Prix during the week of the Fourth of July. There will be a parade and numerous festivals. You can find boat rental locations and some of the best fishing around.
Just up the Interstate about twenty minutes in Ellenton, you can even ice skate in a professional arena.
The Mote Marine research center offers tours of their facility and you can tour Sarasota Bay with the Sarasota Bay Explorers.
Casperson Beach is a great place to look for prehistoric sharks teeth. They wash up on shore twenty four hours a day by the tens of thousands.
Siesta Key Beach is reputed to have the whitest and finest sugar sand in the world. They rake the entire beach using tractors on a regular basis to keep it as clean as possible. Usually you won't even find a cigarette butt.
Other beaches include Lido Beach, Venice Beach, Beer Can Island, Nokomis Beach, Casey Key Beach, Coquina Beach, Turtle Beach and more. Every one of these beaches has its own distinction and is unlike the others.
Outdoor activities include; scuba, snorkeling, water-skiing, para-sailing, wind-surfing, sunset cruses on the Marina Jack, sunbathing, jet-skiing, cycling, kayaking, birding, horseback riding and hiking.
The 66-acre John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a great place to explore both inside and out. You can find important works by Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Hals, and Velazquez. Ringling also acquired important decorative arts and a collection of Cypriot, Greek and Roman antiquities from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
Jungle Gardens is a great place to walk around. It is one of the original roadside attractions from before the advent of interstate highways. Much of it is as it was in those bygone days yet is well kept.
There is a rich and diversified cultural community which includes many theaters for world class performing arts.
I used to live in Siesta Key Village. It was always a nice place to walk through to watch the sun set. Many times on the way back we would stop for an ice cream cone at Big Olaf's.
The Olde Salty Dog, Gilligan's Island or the Midnight Pass Pub are fun places to relax outside with an informal meal and an adult beverage. If nightlife is your thing you will find a variety of places in the area ranging from the latest dance clubs to small and intimate establishments perfect for quiet conversation.
I recently saw a sign on one of the convenience stores that read, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem, This is Florida".
If you like to shop, check out the many shopping malls or reserve a private fashion show on St. Armand's Circle.
There are hundreds of restaurants for every taste and budget.
There is a lot more too. You will not be at a loss for things to do.
We have all of the amenities of a large city but you can still get a feel for that good old laid back Southern hospitality. When it comes to choosing between the East and West coasts of Florida, remember "the West is the best and the East is the least". So before you make this important decision, be sure to check out the Southwest Florida area just South of Tampa Bay otherwise known as the Suncoast.