This isn’t a pretty story, but it’s real.
It’s typical of what’s happened here… and in many other parts of the U.S.
In 2014, we moved from NH to Florida to be nearer to extended family and because we love Disney World.
It wasn’t an easy move.
It was risky, financially. My husband did not have a job waiting for him in Florida. We trusted that my book income – which was more than he’d been paid – would be enough while we got settled.
Yes, we’d left behind a lot of friends and professional connections, but we knew where we wanted to be.
After a few months in Florida (and thanks to the hospitality of relatives with spacious guest accommodations), the pieces fell into place.
The move had been worth the stress and challenges.
We found a really nice apartment just up the street from my daughter and her family, and we were within an hour or two of other relatives who’d welcomed our arrival. Holiday get-togethers were the best!
Also, my husband had his best job ever, with a four-day workweek. That gave us nights and three-day weekends for visiting family and going to Disney.
From our front lawn, we could see nightly fireworks at Disney, and – in the other direction – see distant rocket launches on the Space Coast.
In addition, most of our neighbors were Disney Cast Members, and super-friendly.
Everything seemed perfect for several years.
Then, Covid changed everything.
- When Disney closed, all of our friends moved back to their home states.
- Our apartment complex was sold, and the new managers put profits first. Disgusted, most of the maintenance team quit.
- Cars were stolen from the parking lot. Our SUV was vandalized.
- Our complex became one of the few in Orlando that allowed large dogs. (One new neighbor proudly showed me the 11 pit bulls that lived with him.)
- Overhead neighbors woke us nightly between 11 PM and 3 AM. Management wouldn’t help. Attorneys said Florida tenant laws were useless.
- Our rent increased past our comfort zone.
- Family connections fractured. In a blink, we went from being part of regular family get-togethers, to being pointedly not included. We hoped that was temporary.
Despite that, we stayed because we love the location. We’re near family and Disney. Those matter most to us, and in that order.
Finally, Disney reopened. Remote workers flocked to Orlando.
But then, rents for apartments like ours nearly doubled, from $1380/month to over $2800/month, plus utilities, valet trash services, etc.
And a year later, Orlando relatives still weren’t talking to us. (We have no idea what triggered that. Even now, that’s utterly heartbreaking.)
Moving is a challenge, and something we don’t want to do, but we’ve reached the breaking point.
How Orlando’s cost of living — after Covid lockdowns — changed everything.
This is from a July 2021 article in the Orlando Sentinel:
“Put another way, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 115 hours a week.
“This report affirms the sad truth, what we already know about Florida’s housing crisis: The average person is priced out of the market,” said Sen. Victor Torres, who was elected to the Legislature in 2012 and represents Osceola County and parts of Orange County. “When it comes to rents, they’re $1,300, $1,400, $1,500 a month depending on if you need a two-bedroom or a three-bedroom. It’s just not fair.”
After that article, Orlando rents climbed far higher, way beyond our comfort zone.
Rents in New England were still within our reach, even along the coast. Even better, after an exploratory trip to the area, my husband quickly received a job offer than he accepted.
So, we’re moving.
Early 2023 update:
New England rents are now far higher than Orlando’s are, for comparable apartments.
That’s partly because rents in Orlando have dropped somewhat. Current tenants in our old apartment are paying $1850, plus utilities, etc. (However, the reviews of that complex are pretty awful; management seems not to have improved.)
Florida salaries in my husband’s field are higher than they are here, so that’s a plus.
Family connections are still unsteady, but we have a renewed appreciation for Disney World, if only for the exercise of walking around Epcot’s World Showcase every evening.
So, we’re weighing our options as we approach the end of our current lease in southern, coastal Maine.
Moving seems likely, either returning to Florida or exploring other opportunities outside New England.
Here’s why some U.S. rents are still high in 2023, despite apparent vacancies: https://www.curbed.com/2023/01/nyc-real-estate-covid-more-apartments-higher-rent.html