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Old 05-12-2014, 11:34 PM
 
27 posts, read 30,460 times
Reputation: 19

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I posted this in the general Florida forum, without realizing there was a dedicated section for Ocala.

I have two potential job offers in Florida, one in Lakeland, one in Ocala. The general Florida forum said Lakeland was by far the better choice.

What do you Ocala people think?

Lifelong resident of the northeast, currently in CT, originally from NY. Looking to move to a better economy and tired of winters up here.

Admittedly, my vacations to Florida have always been to Orlando. I visited Ocala once for a day.

To start, looking for a pet friendly rental 3-4br for $1,000 or less. Schools are of course a must, my oldest is doing very well at a magnet school here and is finishing kindergarten. My youngest turns 4 in October.

My wife has been unemployed for 2 years since our move to Connecticut and would love to be back working. She has many years experience in accounts receivable/payable and medical billing and is also a photographer specializing in portrait sittings and sports photography.

We are mostly homebodies, but I do enjoy going out to bowl, movies, good food, family activities and would like to be more outdoors than I am now.

Thank you for you suggestions in advance.
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Old 05-13-2014, 03:39 PM
 
62 posts, read 55,491 times
Reputation: 39
No experience with rentals, but check out rentals on ocala4sale.com

My site is dedicated to Ocala events: ocala-living.com

The local paper is Ocala.com

As you will see on this forum there is a wide range of opinions on Ocala.

I live in the NE side and like the small town feel while still be centrally located to "adventure". Tampa to the West. Daytona to the East. Orlando south and Gainesville north.
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Old 05-16-2014, 07:59 AM
 
113 posts, read 161,347 times
Reputation: 52
What do you need to know about schools? I should have all sorts of answers for you.
The general thought is the best school districts is 8th Street Elementary, Osceola Middle, and Forest High. Of course if you are looking for magnet schools, everything changes. For elementary, Dr. NH Jones. For high school, the IB program at Vanguard. With those, you can live anywhere. I don't know that any middle school stands out. If you shoot me a middle school name, I can tell you the general reputation. People love to condemn Florida schools for no reason. It is an outdated perception from the 80s-90s. The schools around here are great now.

Ocala is a great city. People are friendly, it is slow (some consider this bad, I like it), traffic is great. I think the biggest complaint about Ocala is that there isn't a lot to do. If you are a homebody, then it really doesn't matter where you live.

As far as the specific stuff you listed, Ocala has a couple bowling alleys. They are old, but there are ten pins to knock down.

We have a couple of theaters (including the recently renovated Marion Theater).

The one thing I think Ocala is lacking is an assortment of good food. This doesn't mean Ocala has only bad food. If you like chain restaurants, Ocala has a ton of them. If you like to eat at local restaurants, you have to do some digging. But places like Mojos are absolutely wonderful.

Luckily for you, Ocala is trying to reinvent themselves for "ecotourist." There is zip lining (their website is kind of terrible. Try searching Google for some pictures. You won't believe they are taken in Florida), some of the best and most impressive mountain biking trails (many rank it as one of the best in the country), Ocala's oldest feature, Silver Springs is being turned into a state park (the pictures of this place is pretty incredible and the water is crystal clear), there are springs that are not too far including Rainbow Springs, and recently, there is a real push to connect everything in the Greenway including a bridge over I-75 and tunnels underneath other major local roads like Baseline and Maricamp.

Of course, as the person above me stated, you are a short trip (2 hours or less) from many other cities with plenty to do (Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tampa, beaches (east and west like Daytona and Clearwater) and Orlando). I think the best part about Ocala is that you get to have small town traffic when you want it. People say Orlando is a better place to live because there is more stuff to do, but why would I want to deal with terrible traffic everyday for the one day I decide to go to Disney a year? For Ocalans, you just make the drive once, and never have to deal with the traffic again.

I cannot say that jobs are plentiful in Ocala (they aren't) but the medical field is huge in Ocala. This is because there is a very large segment of retired people living there. This might be a "scale tipper" for you because your wife may find a job easier. Of course, what I am offering is anecdotal, not hard facts. Please do more research for your particular situation.

As far as raising kids in Ocala, I think it is a great place. I was born and raised there. I left to go to school but I am pretty sure I will be back to raise my family there as well.
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Old 05-26-2014, 02:13 PM
 
1,088 posts, read 1,044,054 times
Reputation: 660
Lived in Ocala for 15 years before moving to Va. after my wife finished college. The only negative I can say about Ocala is jobs. Ocala doesn't seem to have a good job market cause it's mostly retired and horse farmers who want to keep things as they are.

As far as everything else Ocala was a very nice community with some pretty country side, centrally located so trips to Jax, Daytona, Orlando, Tampa are doable.

We loved north Florida and originally picked Jax over Virginia but my wife's company was a flooded market in Florida so she had nowhere to advance. She got her business degree and the new market for promotion was Virginia.

My brother and sister are in the Ocala area still and I enjoy going down to visit.
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