Orlando, Space Coast or Tampa Bay Area (Palm Bay, Melbourne: appointed, city hall)
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I'm a firm believer in living in the town that you are working in for several reasons. First, I believe that it's good for business, and you never know when you might be called upon to spend more time in the city you are employed in. Second, you never know when you might be looking for a new job. If you live in Meritt Island and commute to Orlando, you will not have made any good friends, contacts, or business aquaintences in Orlando if you get canned, or if you decide to quit and do something else. Third, why commute if you don't have to. It's much easier to drive 45 minutes to the coast evern now and then to go surfing, if that's your thing, than to be forced into commuting on some regular basis during the week during rush-hour traffic.
There are pleanty of houses anywhere in Florida where you can get enough house and land for 1M to spread out in. If your budget was around $300,000, that would be a different story.
We are thinking of moving to the Space Coast also. We have been there several times to check it out - there is a town (a new town) called VIERA....aka as Rockledge if you are doing a house search. It's a brand new town with an interesting history. It's a great place for families - the washington National base ball teams do their spring training there. The schools are excellent - and everything is new - which I like....so...let us know what you end up doing!! :-) Keep in touch - maybe we can compare notes. Moving is so exciting - but stressful too.
Thanks, Prichard. I appreciaite your viewpoint. My husband is in a job/industry where you "leave with the one you brought to the dance," and I am in a field where I can find a job most anywhere - so schools and quality of life outside the workplace are at the top of the list. That said, we are still left wondering and hope that we'll have more answers after test driving both the Orlando and Space Coast areas.
Amax, thanks for your views and results from your trip. We will definitely be checking out both east and west Orlando, and I'll be working off of the best schools lists and some of the information gleaned here on good neighborhoods to check out.
KelsBelles, we have heard good things about Viera from a work acquaintance of my husband. The new areas are certainly appealing, but it is important to consider the growing pains (tiny lots, overcrowded roads and schools) that come with new areas.
Thanks for the suggestions and keep 'em coming. We will be on our way down there in threes weeks so all information is appreciated - the good, the bad and the ugly!
I've lived in Melbourne since last May, and I love it here. We're 10 minutes from the beach and an hour from Orlando (the south side at least). The traffic isn't as bad here (Orlando-area traffic is the worst) and the locals are more relaxed than in Orlando. Satellite Beach High is supposed to be one of the best around, and Viera just opened up a new HS this year.
As for the nicer parts of town, I'd recommend Beachside (the barrier island). Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, and Satllite Beach are all beautiful communities with low crime. Satellite Beach is right next to Patrick AFB, so a good number of military families live there. My favorite neighborhood in town is Windover Farms on the north side of Melbourne. The lots are huge and the houses are very nice. And unlike lots of places in town, they actually left some trees and forest around. Very beautiful. It seems like a very family-friendly place too, there are always lots of kids around.
I'm not impressed with Viera personally. It seems like the houses are all "cookie-cutter," over-priced, and packed in like sardines. It's like the stereotypical suburban hell. Just my opinion, I'd still probably recommend checking it if you're here. It's still better than what I've seen of the Orlando area.
I don't know much about anything farther north on the coast like Rockledge, Cocoa, or Titusville. I can say that I'd avoid the south side of Melbourne. It's a bit more urban. It's not dangerous or anything, just an older part of town. I'd also recommend avoiding Palm Bay like the plague.
The best part about the space coast though is the fact that it has way more families than other parts of Florida. We don't get as many retirees here as other places, and the tourists don't leave Cocoa Beach. A lot of the people here work as engineers for either NASA or the whole host of defense contractor companies here (Northrop Grumman, Harris, Rockwell Collins, GE, L3, etc). It's not as exciting as Orlando or Miami (the local high schoolers call it "Melboring" sometimes), but that's not always a bad thing.
I've lived on the Space Coast for years and I'll be completely honest with you. I live in Cocoa Beach and have absolutely had it with snowbirds. Trust me, if you lived here you'd understand. I'm not sure what you're usedto in terms of property taxes and insurance, but we have seen major increases. For a million dollar home you're probably looking at around $10,000 per year in property taxes, give or take a couple hundred dollars. As for insurance, a friend's rate just jumped from $1700 per year to $6000 per year and his house is only worth about $400,000. I can tell you that if we get another hurricane, that number is going to rise again. As for schools, there are some pretty good schools in Merritt Island, Stevenson, Audobon, etc. but I certainly wouldn't say that they are the best in the State, just better than a lot of other schools around here. If you do choose to live beachside (Satellite Beach, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, etc) be prepared to pay through the nose for your homeowner's insurance. Also, be aware that because this is such a transient area and high tourist area, there are a lot of pedophiles. Before you make an offer on any home, I would go to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website and pull up info on the street you are looking at. I hope this helps! As for Viera, it is a nice area with shopping and newer homes, although a bit overcrowded. It's about 30 minutes from the beach and seems to attract a lot of transplant families as you can get a 1800-2000 square foot home for around $300,000 or so. Much cheaper than anything beachside.One thing I can tell you, if you move to Cocoa Beach, you're used to driving no more than 10 minutes or so to get to what you need. After awhile you become VERY lazy, and if someone tells you it's going to take 30 minutes to get somewhere, you no longer want to go! LOL Just think about that when considering a commute to Orlando!
The snow birds are just part of Florida life - they've been coming here since the beginning of time. I actually think they're fun to watch at the beach. They either don't use any sunscreen and burn like a lobster; or they wear more clothes and cream to the beach than some of our infantry men wear in Iraq. The old men wear these skimpy speedos, which are good for a few laughs, and some of the younger snow-birds wears overly-trendy "surf" garb, while they thrash around on styrofome rental "surfboards".
I especially like the ones from New York . They yell, scream, fight and bicker with each other non-stop. You can't pay for better entertainment at a commedy club!
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