Located between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland is known for its quaint old Florida charm and beautiful historical architecture. Living in Lakeland lets you enjoy the best of both worlds – the enchanting historical charm is supported by convenient modern amenities. Affordable home prices, a growing job market, and proximity to Florida beaches and attractions are reasons why young families, professionals, and retirees are attracted to the Lakeland lifestyle.

Lakeland’s Florida Southern College features the nation’s largest on-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Museums, parks, and tourist attractions provide culture and recreation for all ages. In the heart of historic downtown, Lake Mirror is beautifully accentuated by the neoclassical Hollis Garden with its extensive flower and native plant displays. You’ll enjoy year-round festivals, concerts, and other community events at Lake Mirror Park with its amphitheater and adjoining promenade. For nature enthusiasts, Lakeland is lush with natural landscaping and home to 38 magnificent lakes where locals enjoy water sports, camping, and adventure activities all year-round.

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Living in Lakeland, FL: What to Know Before Moving to Lakeland

Lakeland is an inviting city of just over 110,000 residents. With seven historic districts, residents enjoy the charming small-town vibe while still having easy access to Tampa’s and Orlando’s must-see attractions that the rest of the world travels far and wide to visit.

Pros and Cons of Living in Lakeland

Check out the pros that make Lakeland so attractive and the cons that challenge some residents:

Pros:

  • Plentiful job opportunities: Experts anticipate that the Lakeland job market growth will outpace the US job growth rate.
  • Affordable housing and cost of living: Lakeland’s housing is about 30% lower than the US average, and the cost of living is about 13% lower.
  • Proximity to attractions: Tampa is just 40 minutes west, Orlando is just 60 minutes northeast.
  • Great place to retire: US News rates Lakeland #15 out of 125 ‘Best Cities for Retirees’.
  • History, charm, and natural beauty: Seven registered historical districts, antique stores, galleries, oak-canopied streets, lush natural landscape, and many lakes – Wow!
  • Healthcare: One of Florida’s largest hospitals, the Lakeland Regional Medical Center, has been administering care to Lakeland residents for over 80 years.

Cons:

  • Hurricanes: Keep your emergency kits, food, and water supplies well-stocked.
  • Hot, humid summers: Expect muggy average summer highs of 90° F.
  • Crime: High property crime rate.
  • Heavy traffic: Anticipate congestion during peak am and pm commute hours
  • Bugs and mosquitos: The humid and hot climate is a favorite environment for all kinds of annoying bugs and insects.
  • Alligators: Beware of alligators that can be lurking in any of Lakeland’s 38 lakes.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: The average property tax rate in Polk County, Florida, is 0.909%. A homeowner will pay an average of $2,273 in property taxes per year. Lakeland property taxes are $427 below the national average of $2,700 and $177 below the average of other Florida municipalities.
  • Sales Tax: Lakeland sales tax is 7.0%. Average US sales tax is 7.3%.
  • State Income Tax: There is no state income tax in Florida.

Housing Market

Lakeland housing is affordable, and 64% of residents own their homes. As of December 2019, the median home value was $175,210, compared to the median US home value of $244,054. The Lakeland median home value increased by 4.8% in 2019, and Zillow predicts it will continue to increase by 5.4% in 2020. In comparison, the US median home value is predicted to rise by 2.8% in 2020.

If renting will be a better option for you, as of December 2019, the average rental price was $1,297 per month, and in the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area, the median rent was slightly higher at $1,400. The US median rent price is $1,650. As of late 2019, the most affordable neighborhoods were Dixieland with a median home value of $112,300 and Lakeshore with a median home value of $90,100.

Cost of Living

In comparison to the US average cost of living index of 100, Lakeland’s overall cost of living is lower and more affordable, with an index of 86.4 according to bestplaces.net.

The low housing prices contribute to the lower-than-average cost of living. Although grocery expense is higher than average with an index of 102.7, other standard expenses are lower than average. Health is 96.4, housing is 70.3, utilities are 98, transportation is 84.6, and miscellaneous (repairs, insurances, eating out, etc.) is 94.1.

In Lakeland, a family of four will need to earn approximately $5,921 per month, or $71,046 annually, to live a moderately comfortable lifestyle.

Weather & Natural Disasters

In Lakeland, you’ll be able to enjoy summer-type temperatures all year round, although, in the heat of summer, you’ll be looking for shade and air conditioning. The two hottest months are July and August with average highs of 94 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, cooling down to an average 74 degrees at night.

Rain falls throughout the year and totals about 49 inches annually, however June, July and August are the wettest months; you’ll see about seven inches each of those months.

By January and February, the temperatures drop to an idyllic average 75-degree high with average lows of 51 degrees. Winter months are drier and skies are sunnier. It would be a miracle of nature if you ever saw snow in Lakeland, but every few years temperatures can drop below freezing.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and strong thunderstorms pose serious natural disaster threats for Lakeland residents. The comprehensive City of Lakeland hurricane preparedness guide provides extensive information on alerts, shelters, emergency checklists and kits, and much more. Stay safe, and be sure to check it out!

Economy & Job Market

The Lakeland unemployment rate is 4%, a fraction above the average national unemployment rate of 3.9%. In 2019, the job market increased by 2.9%, with expected growth of 42.5% in the next ten years – 9% higher than the US average job market increase of 33.5% over the same period.

The major industrial sectors include education, health care, transportation and service industries, citrus, and phosphate mining. Major employers in these sectors include Florida Polytechnic University, Florida Southern College, Polk State College, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, FedEx, Saddle Creek Logistics Services, Sykes, GC Services, Publix markets, Amazon, and Geico

The average annual income in Lakeland, at approximately $40,560, is considerably below the national average of $50,620. If you’re looking for a job, there are great opportunities in higher education and transportation logistics. Check out job boards such as glassdoor.com, ziprecruiter.com, simplyhired.com, and many more.

Traffic & Transportation

Because public transportation is limited, most Lakelanders commute and run errands by car. Bus service is available from the Citrus Connection, which operates routes in Polk County and also services Bartow, Fort Meade, Winter Haven, Lakeland, and the surrounding areas.

Toll-free Interstate 4 is the main route west to Tampa or northeast to Orlando. Because Lakeland is a major transportation hub, I-4 can have heavy traffic at all hours, particularly during am and pm peak commute times. West Memorial Boulevard runs east-west through the historic downtown center of Lakeland and gets congested during peak commuter-hours.

Due to the increasing population and tourism, the city has been building up its highway infrastructure. State Route 570, also known as the Polk Parkway, is a toll road that provides easier access from I-4 to Polk County cities like Winter Haven, Bartow, Auburndale, and South Lakeland.

Lakeland’s Walk Score is 36, and the bike score is 52, mainly due to recent bike infrastructure upgrades that include the Lake-to-Lakes, University, and Fort Fraser bike trails. The most walkable Lakeland neighborhoods are East Lake Morton, John Cox, and Parker Street.

What to Do

Historic Lakeland is known for its architecture and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff or nature lover, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Seven historic districts and significantly important historic buildings keep Lakeland’s past alive.

Lakeland truly is a land of lakes – 38 lakes fill the region with beauty. The area surrounding Lake Hancock, home to Circle B Bar Reserve, is a picturesque protected land with an array of plants and animals you can see from any number of hiking trails. Located downtown on historic Lake Mirror, Hollis Garden is known for its natural beauty and botanical garden designed in the neo-classical architectural style. Water skiing, paddle boarding, and fishing are just some of the many water sports you’ll be able to enjoy in and around Lakeland.

When you’re ready for some theater and culture, be sure to explore the Polk Theater. Built in 1928 and on the US National Register of Historic Places, the theater features musical and theatrical performances, live music, and movies. The Polk Museum of Art features classical and contemporary art from renowned artists that include Rembrandt, Van Rijn, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso.

Are you a sports fan? Lakeland hosts the Lakeland Magic basketball team, an affiliate of the Orlando Magic, and the Tropics SC of the Major Arena Soccer League. You can catch the Lakeland Magic play basketball, and the Tropics SC play soccer at the RP Funding Center, a multipurpose entertainment complex with a convention center, arena, and theater.

Schools and Universities

Polk County School Board, rated a B- from areavibes.com, operates 38 schools in the Lakeland area. Some top schools include Lincoln Avenue Academy, rated 10/10 by greatschools.org, and  McKeel Academy of Technology, a public charter school, rated 9/10. Other 9/10 rated schools include Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Magnolia Montessori Academy, McKeel Elementary Academy, and Lakeland Montessori School House.

You’ll have some solid choices for post-secondary education in Lakeland. You can select from Florida Southern College, Southeastern University, Florida Polytechnic University, Polk State College, and Florida College. Additionally, Keiser University and Everest University both have satellite campuses in Lakeland.

Crime

In Lakeland, property crime is much higher than the national average. The US property crime rate is 35.4, and in Lakeland, the rating is 66.7. The US average for violent crime is 22.7 and in Lakeland, the rating is 26.4. The areas of higher crime include Crystal Lake, Lakeland Highlands, Fuller Heights, Plant City, Kathleen, and Polk City.

Utility Providers

  • Gas service: Florida Public Utilities provides natural gas, electricity, and propane service to residences and businesses throughout Florida. Create your account online at Florida Public Utilities.
  • Electric Service: Lakeland Electric provides electricity service for residential and commercial properties in Lakeland. You can start your service by visiting Lakeland Electric.
  • Water Service: Water Utilities for the City of Lakeland provides water to your home or business. Start your service with the City of Lakeland.
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service: Residential Trash for the City of Lakeland has weekly automated garbage and recycling collection. To start your service and obtain trash and recycling bins, visit Residential Trash for the City of Lakeland’s website.
  • Internet/Cable service: To set up cable and internet packages, contact Spectrum, Frontier, or DirectTV for their list of packages. You can also check out highspeedinternet.com. When you enter your new zip code, the site will display a list of available internet and cable service providers, their pricing and packages.
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Best Neighborhoods in Lakeland, FL

The following neighborhoods feature a variety of Lakeland lifestyles – some are centrally located in historic districts while others highlight less dense suburban living. We hope the details help you decide on a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle.

Camphor

With an overall livability rating of 91, according to areavibes.com, Camphor is Lakeland’s most sought after neighborhood. Located five minutes south of Downtown, Camphor is a small neighborhood bordered by Ariana St on the north, Camphor Dr and S Shady Lane on the east, W Beacon Rd on the south, and Citrus Center Ave and Harden Blvd on the west.

Camphor is a desired neighborhood because of its affordable housing, safety, and proximity to all the great amenities of Downtown. You’ll find older, one-story, two and three-bedroom homes and a few apartments.

In addition to Downtown conveniences, plenty of handy amenities are available just steps over Camphor’s western border. You’ll find dry cleaners, a music center, a dentist, and a grocery store. The neighborhood is anchored by Lakeland Christian School, which boasts a beautiful modern campus and provides quality education.

  • Population: 1,047
  • Home Price: Median home value $167,132, as of January 2020
  • Rent Prices: $757
  • Employers: Small businesses, local shops
  • Schools: Lakeland Christian School, Dixieland Elementary School, Southwest Middle School, Lakeland Senior High School

Something to try: Take a stroll around the lake – it’s lovely!

Lakeland Highlands

Located about six miles south of Downtown, Lakeland Highlands is one of Lakeland’s largest neighborhoods. The borders include Lake Miriam Dr on the north, Lakeland Highlands Rd on the east, SR 540 and E Carter Rd on the south, and Hwy 37 on the west. Over 15 small lakes dot the neighborhood, and large Scott Lake sits in the northern section of Lakeland Highlands.

With a less dense population, winding streets, and lots of greenspaces, the neighborhood has a suburban and residential vibe. While Lakeland Highlands maintains “A” ratings in the areas of amenities, housing, schools, and weather, it’s one of the more expensive areas to live in Lakeland.

The majority of residents own their homes; the renter occupied households are under 10%. Amenities include the SPCA Adoption Center, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, LeRoy’s Bikeworks, Mysti’s Music Studio, and several churches. Locals enjoy a meal out at Sonny’s BBQ and Outback Steakhouse.

  • Population: 12,426
  • Home Price: Median home price $193,900
  • Rent Price: $1,468
  • Employers: Small businesses, local shops
  • Schools: Scott Lake Elementary School, Lakeland Highlands Middle School, George Jenkins High School

Something to try: Play a round at the nearby Sanlan Golf Course

South Lake Morton Historic District

Located in the heart of Downtown, this tiny pocket community borders E Palmetto St and Lake Morton on the north, S Ingraham Ave on the east, Frank Lloyd Wright Way and E Belmar St on the south, and Florida Ave S on the west. Lake Hollingsworth is directly south of the district.

You not only have the convenience of being able to walk to all of Downtown’s shops, coffee houses, and restaurants, but you’re surrounded by greenspace and lovely lakes on the north and southern boundaries. This charming district is officially on the US Register of Historic Places for its excellent example of early 20th-century urban planning and many architecturally significant buildings.

The affordable homes are typically charming and older. You’ll find small two-bedroom cottages, 2,000 square foot ranch styles, and four-bedroom Italian Revivals.

The Pink Piano, Mister Fish, and Reececliff Family Diner are a few locals’ favorites. South Lake Morton is also a great neighborhood for college students, as Florida Southern College is just a few minutes away.

  • Population: 1,951
  • Home Price: Median home price $161,600
  • Rent Price: $1,158
  • Employers: Small businesses, local shops, law
  • Schools:  Highlands Grove Elementary School, Lakeland Highlands Middle School, Lakeland Senior High School

Something to try: Enjoy some live music at Branscomb Memorial Auditorium

Mulberry

Mulberry was put on the map by now famous Badcock Home Furniture, established in 1904. Located ten miles south of Downtown, charming Mulberry is part of the LakelandWinter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area, with areas of unincorporated Lakeland on its northern boundary.

You’ll find a huge range of home types that vary from small mobile homes to million-dollar estates on beautifully landscaped grounds. The housing market in Mulberry is strong – home values rose 4.7% in 2019 and are forecast to rise another 5.4% in 2020.

Phosphate mining anchors the Mulberry economy. The Bone Valley, according to the Chamber of Commerce, is the “Official Phosphate Capital of the World.”

You can enjoy hiking and picnicking at the Alafia River Reserve, an area of 334-acres that conserves and sustains extensive wetlands. Because of its small size, Mulberry doesn’t have an array of amenities. You’ll probably need to head into Lakeland now and then for major shopping.

  • Population: 4,118
  • Home Price: Median home price $184,148
  • Rent Price: $817
  • Employers: Phosphate mining, City of Mulberry, food, and retail services sectors
  • Schools: Purcell Elementary School, Mulberry Middle School, Mulberry Senior High School

Something to try: Explore the exhibits at the Mulberry Cultural Center

Beacon Hill Historic District

Beacon Hill is a small historic oak-canopied community located in Downtown and bordered by W Belvedere St on the north, Florida Ave S on the east, W Beacon Rd on the south, and Fairview Ave on the west. This community is a perfect neighborhood if you prize living in a National Register of Historic Places neighborhood that values a sense of community and is close to the action.

Pre-war and mid-century homes are typically older small two to three-bedroom two-bath residences, but you can also find some four and five-bedroom homes with lovely mature landscaping.

Nestled in between several lakes and directly east of Camphor, Beacon Hill is within walking distance to lots of amenities. Although you won’t find cafes or restaurants within the neighborhood, you can easily walk to Peking House for a Chinese meal, Fred’s Market for buffet comfort food, or Cob & Pen for innovative cuisine and excellent service.

  • Population: 338
  • Home Price: Median home price $189,100
  • Rent Price: $757
  • Employers: Florida Southern College, Southeastern University
  • Schools:  Dixieland Elementary School, Lakeland Christian School, Southwest Middle School, Lakeland Senior High School

Something to try: Take a stroll around Lake Hollingsworth

Cleveland Heights

Rich in amenities and close to the action, Cleveland Heights is two miles south of Downtown. Boundaries include Glendale St on the north, Cleveland Heights Blvd on the east, Westover St on the south, and Florida Ave S on the west.

Cleveland Heights is attractive if you’re looking to infuse a little country club living into your life. The Cleveland Heights Golf Course is a beautiful municipal facility with 27 holes and often hosts small tournaments. The Cleveland Heights Country Club is open to the public and features a beautiful restaurant and lounge.

With a suburban vibe, this is a great neighborhood to raise a family, but it also appeals to young professionals. Homes are typically three to five-bedrooms and set on large lots with mature trees and lush landscaping.

You’ll find all kinds of handy amenities in Cleveland Heights like a Verizon store, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jet’s Pizza, a few vape stores, and Weatherbee’s Magic & Comedy.

  • Population: 1,823
  • Home Price: Median home price is $109,350
  • Rent Price: $920
  • Employers: Florida Southern College, Cleveland Heights Golf Club
  • Schools: Cleveland Court Elementary School, Southwest Middle School, Lakeland High School

Something to try: Join new friends for a round at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course

Lake Watkins

About three miles east of Downtown, the Lake Watkins area is a small neighborhood just off Bartow Rd and north of Cleveland Heights Country Club. Roughly, the boundaries are Crystal Lake Dr on the north, Bartow Rd on the east, E Edgewood Dr on the south, and Lake Hollingsworth Dr on the west.

The area boasts some lakefront properties and several multi-million dollar estates, so if you’re looking for a more upscale lifestyle, this is a great area to consider.

Plenty of green space surrounds properties, and Common Ground Playground with its Born Learning Trail and Handley Park are popular with families. A travel agency and several churches are also part of the neighborhood.

  • Population: 2,142
  • Home Price: Median home price $170,000
  • Rent Price: $940
  • Employers: Florida Southern College, Cleveland Heights Golf Club
  • Schools: Crossroads Lakeland School, Magnolia Montessori Academy, Southwest Middle School, Lakeland High School,

Something to try: Sit down to a scrumptious meal at family-owned Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant

Auburndale

Located about twenty minutes east of Downtown via SR 92, Auburndale is a town all its own. Surrounded by hundreds of small lakes, larger Lake Ariana sits in the center of town. Winter Haven Regional Airport is directly east, I-4 forms the northern border, and SR 540 forms the southern border.

Home types range from very affordable and popular mobile homes, newer two-story three and four-bedroom residences to beautiful lakefront estates.

Orlando and Disney World are about 45 miles northeast of Auburndale. However, if you like exploring in the outdoors, be sure to get to know Lake Hancock and the Marshall Hampton Reserve. Located about 15 minutes south of Auburndale, the fascinating 1,000-acre reserve features a blend of oak hammock areas canopying over mesic flatwoods, hardwood forest wetlands, and a 60-acre pond.

If you need to shop for outdoor gear for your Marshall Hampton Reserve outings, a Walmart Supercenter is in west Auburndale. Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro, Lakeside Grill, Beef O’Brady’s, and Peebles Bar-B-Q are popular spots with locals. Supermarkets, banks, a library, and a dog park are additional in-town conveniences.

  • Population: 14,638
  • Home Price: Median home price $181,252
  • Rent Price: $830
  • Employers: Walmart, H&R Block, retail and services sectors
  • Schools: Caldwell Elementary School, Lena Vista Elementary School, Stambaugh Middle School, Auburndale Senior High School

Something to try: Check out the Osprey Overlook Loop Trail


Quality Moving Services from Lakeland Movers

We want your move to be as easy and stress-free as possible. That’s why we thoroughly vet every company we recommend. We make sure they’re licensed, insured, and will provide you with exceptional customer service.

Interstate Moves

While the thought of moving to Lakeland from out-of-state can be daunting, it won’t be when you use a trusted state-to-state moving company. We connect you with reliable, insured, and professional movers who’ll make sure your move is efficient and safe.

Intrastate & Local Moves

If you’re moving to Lakeland from another Florida city, we’ll match you with a highly rated local moving company that’s professional and reliable. They’ll ensure your move to Lakeland is affordable and stress-free.

Small Load Moves 

Don’t underestimate the complexity and frustration of moving, no matter how small your move may be. If you’re moving into a Lakeland dorm, studio, or one-bedroom apartment, a small load moving company can offer cheap but high-quality service. They’ll move you in a flash!

Furniture Shipments

We know and understand how expensive furniture can be and how important it is to your home and your comfort. That’s why we’ve vetted the best furniture shippers in Lakeland. They’ll make sure your furniture is transported safely and arrives at your new home damage-free.

Piano Transport

Pianos often hold sentimental value and priceless memories, so the idea of moving your piano might be stressful. When you hire professional piano movers, they’ll move your piano safely and securely, then set it up in your new venue or home exactly where you specify.

Arts & Antiques

Moving valuable one-of-a-kind antiques or fine art needs to be accomplished by a highly trained art and antiques moving specialist. Ordinary movers don’t have the training or equipment to move your valuable fine art or antique pieces safely. Get quotes from affordable yet top-notch arts and antiques moving companies now.

Storage-in-Transit

Professional temporary storage is the perfect solution when you have to move out of your old place before your new place is ready. You’re already under enough pressure when you move, why add to it trying to find a temporary storage unit on your own. Pro storage-in-transit service picks up your belongings and places them in a clean, temperature-controlled warehouse that’s completely secure.

Car Shipping

Yep, you can walk in many of Lakeland’s historic districts, but you’ll need to car to explore this beautiful area of Florida. Shipping one or more vehicles sure does solve the logistical burden of how you’ll relocate your car, motorcycle, truck, or boat. Get quotes now for affordable Lakeland vehicle transporters.

Packing Services

There’s no reason to lose sleep over packing. Vetted pro moving companies near you can efficiently have you packed up and ready for your move to Lakeland – all you have to do is decide which and how many rooms you want packed. Full-service packing and unpacking are available too!

Residential Moves

Your upcoming move to Lakeland is not just an ordinary move. You’re uprooting your life to head to a new destination, and you want to work with a moving company you can trust. Get free moving quotes from Lakeland’s top-rated residential movers.

Commercial Moves

When you move your business, hiring a premium business moving company is the key to a successful relocation. Only a licensed, insured commercial mover can customize services that are unique to your particular business. They’ll ensure your business move is as carefully planned and executed as possible.

Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice

We’ve researched for you and have vetted the most reliable last-minute movers to relocate your home or office on the fly. Just because you have an emergency move doesn’t mean your expensive and fragile items need to suffer. Get a quick quote now!

Moving Supplies

Save yourself the time and hassle of having to rummage around grocery store parking lots when you need moving supplies. Get affordable supplies delivered to your door. We’ll connect you with a moving and storage company near you that stocks quality supplies.

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Great Guys Long Distance Movers only contracts with Lakeland’s most reliable, licensed, insured moving companies. No matter what kind of move you need, they’ll make it simple, easy, and hassle-free. Get your free quotes today!

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