Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011


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New Service To Help You Find a New Church

There’s a new service online that will help you find a new church when moving to a new area, including Central Florida.

FaithStreet will use the info you provide to help youy locate a church that bests fits your need.

https://www.faithstreet.com/


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Getting To Know – Winter Park

WinterGarden

For this entry in our ‘Getting to Know’ series on the places you can look at moving to in Florida, we have information on Winter Park from Beatrice Feeney.  We are very happy to have Bea’s information on this area of Central Florida.

We live in Winter Park. I believe it is the PERFECT neighborhood for us, but not for everyone. For us, we needed a nice neighborhood close to work. My hubby & I have had good experiences finding jobs in the Altamonte Springs area, north Orlando area – and that has been very convenient to home. Our area on the Lynx Bus System that services the Orlando area – I don’t know the schedules or how things are done, but for someone who needs transportation, that could be very useful.

I must warn people who move here to be closer to Disney that if you live on the north side of Orlando, you either have to deal with TRAFFIC on I-4 or Toll Roads. We have tried both. I can get from home to EPCOT (22 miles) in 45 minutes or sometimes it takes an hour and a half to get into the parks because you go 16 mph on the highway for 15 miles.

If you want to move to a great community with a lot of FUN activities around your HOME then Winter Park truly is a GREAT place! There are always activities for holidays in Central Park – free music, free outdoor movie to relax in the park with neighbors and friends. We’ve been to free events for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Christmas Parade…it truly is a wonderful town to call home.

I also want to share that we don’t have kids, but have heard that around our area in Winter Park and Maitland there are good schools – I’m sorry that I can’t help too much more in that area. (Mark’s note: School info has been added below.)

Our Realtor has been amazing with questions as we were new to the area and he was one of the FIRST non-Disney Florida friends. He continues to keep in touch and helps us anytime we ask, as he has lived here all his life. That sort of trust in a Realtor is something that I have never found with anyone else. He helped us find both the house & neighborhood that was perfect for us.  Just remember, if you want to be able to go to Disney every day after work, this may be a bit too far but it’s not too far to go weekly.

I hope some of this information is helpful to you – but if I can give you other information or help in any way, just let me know & I will be happy to help!

You can reach out to Bea via Facebook: www.facebook.com/beatrice.feeney.  Bea also authors a great blog you should all check out at adisneygirlinorlando.blogspot.com.


Some Places of Interest in Winter Park

Full Sail University

Rollins College

Crealde School of Art

Amtrak Station

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany glass.


For more information on Winter Park, please visit the links below.

http://cityofwinterpark.org/Pages/Government.aspx (City of Winter Park)

http://www.wppl.org/ (Winter Park Library)

http://www.communityexplore.com/winterparkfl/ (Explore Winter Park)

http://www.wphistory.org/ (Winter Park Historical Association)

http://www.winterpark.org/ (Chamber of Commerce)


Winter Park Area School Info

2012 Public School Grades
School Types: 1 = elementary; 2 = middle; 3 = high; 4 = combination

School Name 2012 Points Scale Grade – 2012 School Type
LAKEMONT ELEMENTARY 593 800 A 01
GLENRIDGE MIDDLE 641 900 A 02
BROOKSHIRE ELEMENTARY 641 800 A 01
ALOMA ELEMENTARY 559 800 A 01
WINTER PARK HIGH 1244 1600 A 03
LAKE HOWELL HIGH SCHOOL 1120 1600 A 03

https://www.ocps.net (Orange County Schools)

https://www.ocps.net/Students/Pages/SchoolDirectory.aspx (Orange County School Directory)

https://www.ocps.net/Parents/Pages/FindaSchool.aspx (Orange County Schools – Find a School)

Winter Park Private Schools:

St. Margaret Mary Catholic School

The Geneva School

The Parke House Academy

Trinity Preparatory School


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Getting To Know – The Orlando Area

Welcome_Orlando_Sign
For this installment of ‘Getting To Know’, we have information from our friend Cheryl Perlmutter.  We are thrilled to have Cheryl’s thoughts on the Orlando areas that she and Todd have lived in.  You can learn more about Cheryl at
http://about.me/cherylp3.

2007 – Waterford Lakes in East Orlando
While the shopping and dining is great in this area because you are close to the college.  The area has had theft issues, breaking into cars.

2009 – Winter Springs – Rented a house
Lesson learned.  Make sure you see your security into a bank or use a management company.  After 1 year – one day the landlord came and said stop paying me rent and I haven’t been paying my mortgage for the past few months.  I never saw my money back.
I had realtors knocking on my door.
I had some great neighbors though, we lived on a road lined with trees and my neighbor would blow the leaves on the street all the time. 

2010-2012 Winter Springs – Apartment
I picked the place I lived because it accepted my breed of dog I had at the time.  Apartment was growing mold and had large AC bills. 

2012- Present Davenport by the Omni – renting condo using management – http://www.statemanagement.us
Although Todd works in Lake Mary we moved to be closer to our friends and Disney.  I enjoy living here also close to 429.
We have some full time neighbors and some tourists.
It is mostly quiet here.  

There are both small and large synagogues in the Orlando area.

The local Jewish newspaper is the Heritage, http://www.heritagefl.com

For women, we have a few active Hadassah groups in the area.

There is a Kosher hotel by Disney.

Traffic in Orlando stinks.  You never know how I-4 is going to be. 

Shopping is great I enjoy both Winter Garden and Millennia Mall equally.

It’s nice to have Ikea.

Ikea_MaM_Map


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Getting To Know – Clermont

Clermont

To kick off our new ‘Getting To Know’ series on the places you can look at moving to in Florida, today we have information from Greg Pabst.  Greg and his family moved to Clermont in 2012 and I am glad to have his extra take on Clermont to add to what Jen and I can provide.

I thought I would share reasons why we picked Clermont since you already know everything else about the Clermont area. Orlando is very spread out and not compacted. It was important for us to find an area that would be as centrally located to potential work locations as well as Disney. Also our proximity to shopping, dining and area conveniences was important too. We don’t like living in the sticks, but we don’t like to be in the city either. Clermont offered this to us. Initially we were looking at Winter Garden, since it was closer to Disney but the housing cost more there and yards were very small with you practically looking into your neighbor’s window out your own. For the same price as Winter Garden we got a much larger house with nice extras like granite counter tops and large tile floors. Clermont did push my comfort factor regarding how far we were from Downtown etc, as a lot of tech and office jobs are in that vicinity or north of there (Maitland and Altamonte Springs etc). But, in the end it was worth the extra drive for the deal we got in Clermont. Since we are in southern Clermont (proper), near Hammock Ridge and 27, Disney is about 30 mins drive for us. We also heard of the growth that Clermont has recently undergone. We like areas that are growing and new. I was impressed by the road infrastructure improvements. I can’t wait to see new things popping up (ie. Like the new Hobby Lobby). Schools and crime rates were important to us as well. Clermont is much safer than other areas in Orlando. We were a little scared of the schools in Clermont as they aren’t as good as Winter Garden, but we have been happy so far with Pine Ridge Elementary. If you have any specific questions for me, I’d be happy to help out more.

You can reach out to Greg via Facebook: www.facebook.com/gregpabst.  Greg also runs a great website for all of us Disney addicts to help us find each other; www.DISaddicts.com.

For more information on Clermont, please visit the links below.
http://clermont.govoffice.com/

http://www.clermontflorida.com/

http://www.city-data.com/city/Clermont-Florida.html

http://www.clermontdowntownpartnership.com/

http://www.southlakechamber-fl.com/home/

http://www.lakecountyfl.com/


Clermont Area School Info

http://lake.k12.fl.us/lakeschools/site/default.asp (Lake County School District)

http://lake.k12.fl.us/Page/1542 (School Directory)

http://lake.k12.fl.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=272 (School Zone Address Look-up)

2012 School Grades

School Types: 1 = elementary; 2 = middle; 3 = high; 4 = combination

School Name 2012 Points Scale Grade 2012 School Type
CLERMONT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 495 800 B 01
SAWGRASS BAY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 525 800 A 01
EAST RIDGE MIDDLE SCHOOL 635 900 A 02
MINNEOLA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 512 800 B 01
LOST LAKE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 576 800 A 01
CLERMONT MIDDLE SCHOOL 600 900 A 02
WINDY HILL MIDDLE SCHOOL 573 900 B 02
PINE RIDGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 533 800 A 01
CYPRESS RIDGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 634 800 A 01
SOUTH LAKE HIGH SCHOOL 998 1600 B 03
EAST RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL 1075 1600 A 03
LAKE MINNEOLA HIGH SCHOOL 552 800 A 03
IMAGINE SCHOOLS AT SOUTH LAKE 606 900 A 04


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Choosing Our Florida Home

It’s hard to believe looking back, now that we’re at 32 days, but we began this journey with a decision way back on January 1st, 2008 after our Christmas season visit to WDW.  Then came our next decision, where to live.

We started by deciding that we wanted to be no further away than a 20-30 minute drive.  Then by reading through the blogs of people we knew online who lived in various areas of Central FL we had many ideas as to which areas we’d like to make our new home.  We then made a list of all of the cities we had found from that reading as well as those we knew of from past visits.  Then using Google Maps we scouted other cities within that 20-30 minute ‘zone’.  That gave us our original search areas of NW Osceola County, NE Polk County, S Orange County and S Lake County.

With the areas “narrowed down”, our plan was then to visit as many of these areas as we could on our 2009 Disney trip (our first time driving down); with our primary focus being the areas just south of WDW.  We were able to drive through several places and stop in a few stores (to gauge prices, etc.) and made some notes to take back home with us.  The drive-through was cut short by a FL rainstorm, but we did come away with a new perspective.

At this point I want to say that where you choose to live will depend a lot on your personal feelings, choices and lifestyle.  And keep in mind that when choosing a new home in the WDW area you will need to make some trade-offs.  From many months of research online and from having mailings sent from many different commerce groups, I did learn several things.  As an example, the closer you live to WDW property, the higher the prices tend to be in the local grocery stores; but further away you’ll have a longer drive to WDW but the grocery prices are lower.  This is especially true in the “tourist corridor” to the immediate south of Disney property where many stores raise their prices to catch the tourist dollars from those staying in Vacation Homes and/or Suite Resorts.  So you’ll want to keep things like this in mind when you start your adventure, and everyone’s choice is theirs, there is no “right or wrong’ choice…just the choice that is best for you.

This is where the work began.  Using websites such as www.greatschools.org, www.homesforthegoodlife.com, www.bardellrealestate.com (Relocation tab), www.discoverourtown.com, www.mydreamlocale.com, www.cort.com/relocation, www.city-data.com/city/Florida.html (city-data is excellent for giving pure statistics on everything) and www.moving.com/real-estate/ (Real Estate Tools section) we researched the ins and outs of each city: schools, taxes, crime rates, cost of living, etc.  The city at the top of our list going in ended up being eliminated early because we could see the cost of living would be far higher than we liked and a city we hadn’t even considered moved to the top of our list.  This process took almost a year of being thorough in looking for what we wanted to see in a new hometown.

Once we narrowed our choices to Clermont, Windermere, Winter Garden, Reunion, Groveland and Minneola we started “visiting” these cities virtually using Google Maps, Google Images, YouTube videos, blogs and also through the help of local friends who live in these areas or who would visit for us.  This helped us to ‘see’ what areas looked like and to learn what shops, restaurants, etc. were in each area.  We also learned at this point that apartment and home rental costs were very similar.  Sites such as www.rent.com, www.rentalhouses.com, www.apartments.com, www.forrent.com, www.trulia.com and www.realtor.com are excellent resources for viewing apartments and rental homes.  The last two are great if home-buying.  We also read the online versions of all the local newspapers.

By this time Clermont had risen to the top of our list and we do have friends living there who were able to give us great info on the city in general.  Then it was a house-search.  We decided mid-way along that we wanted to rent an apartment to start so that we could personally learn about the communities and neighborhoods.  Using the apartment search sites above we narrowed our search to 3 apartment complexes.  Our preference was to have a first floor apartment and we needed 3 bedrooms, so this narrowed the search to 2.  At this time an ‘outside contender’ popped up unexpectedly.  There was a house for rent in the city which had topped our list early on.  The house seemed great; a pool and yard (lawn care and pool maintenance included), a nice sized house and the price was right.  But the owners couldn’t get licensed to rent and so we dropped this house from the list and we had our final contenders: Village at East Lake and The Gardens at Citrus Tower.

We spoke and emailed with leasing reps at both apartments and Carrie at The Gardens just really sold us on them.  She took the time to answer all our questions and we came away from our calls knowing everything about The Gardens and only half as much about Village at East Lake.  The rest is history.

~Mark.