Everything You Need to Know When Moving to the Lakeland, FL
Lakeland is a city in Polk County along Interstate 4 East of Tampa, Florida. The town was incorporated in 1885 and is the principal city of the Lakeland-Winter Haven Metropolitan Area. Abraham Munn purchased 80 acres of the land on which the city's downtown was built back in 1882 and platted it for the construction of the town two years later. Interestingly, before they settled on the name Lakeland, the town's residents considered various names, including Munneville, Rome City, and even Red Bug.
For a brief period, Lakeland was the second largest town south of Lake Parker after Acton, which was the largest town then. However, by 1906, Acton had begun to decline and resources and infrastructure concentrated in Lakeland.
Before long, Lakeland was the center of commerce, communication, and administration in Polk county. Lakeland had an excellent railroad service, it was in an attractive location, had a refined look for its time, and the community prospered.
The Lakeland of today is a vibrant, welcoming, and fun place for both residents and visitors. If you are looking to move to Lakeland, Florida, there is a lot to know about the history of the city and what it is today. Read on and discover the most important things you need to know to help shape your decision.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Lakeland City was 112,136 as of July 2019.
Here is the racial makeup of Lakeland's populace:
- White - 59.7%
- Black - 20.5%
- Hispanic - 16.4%
- Asian - 2.2%
- American Indian - 0.4%
- Native Hawaiian - 0.1%
- Two or more races - 1.8%
There are about 41,276 households in the city, which makes a typical family small with between 2 and 3 people. The median monthly household income for a household in the city in 2019 was $47,511. According to the US Census Bureau, this level of income is notably lower than the national average of $62,843 in the same period. The city covers an area of 65.27 square miles, which makes its population density only 1192.6 people per square mile.
Cost of Living
Considering the lower-than-average household income, Lakeland is moderately affordable to live in. The per capita income per household in 2019 was just $28,042, compared with the national per capita income of $34,103 in the same period.
According to the US Census Bureau, about 55% of the population of Lakeland live in their own homes. The median value of a home is $149,500, a figure significantly lower than the national average of $217,500. In addition, the median gross rent in the city according to the 2019 Census was $999, slightly lower than the national average of $1,062.
As you consider moving to Lakeland, you should know how much you can expect to pay in rent and other living expenSes. On average, the rental price of a studio apartment in the city, according to bestplaces.net, is $771, a one-bedroom costs about $777, a two-bedroom may go for $981, while the rent of a three-bedroom apartment may cost $1,350 per month.
Employment and Job Market
Lakeland, like most cities in Florida, was impacted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Polk County at its worst in mid-2020 was 14.2% but has since eased to 5.6% in Q3 2021.
The population of Lakeland is exceptionally educated, with about 26% of the residents aged 25 and over holding a bachelor's degree and 88% graduated high school. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Lakeland city is 5.5%. The average annual salary is $43,150, which is considerably lower than the national average annual salary of $53,490.
In the beginning, the economy of Lakeland was based mainly on cattle, citrus, and phosphate mining. While phosphate mining has stopped and cattle rearing is shrinking, citrus still plays a vital role in the city's economy. JBT FoodTech, with a processing plant off Main St., runs to meet the city's food demand.
Publix, a domestic name in the American grocery market, was founded in Winter Haven, right outside Lakeland. Today, it boasts of over 1,000 stores and warehouses. It is also the city's largest employer, with more than 6,500 workers in the city.
Other top employers in Lakeland include:
- Lakeland Regional Health (healthcare)
- GEICO (insurance)
- Pepperidge Farm (food products)
- Max Pak (manufacturing)
- Keymark (manufacturing)
- Saddle Creek Logistics
- MBM Corp (warehousing, fulfillment, and transportation)
- Rooms To Go (furniture)
- Haverty's (furniture and pellets)
- Amazon (retail)
- Coca-Cola (food)
- Southeast Paper (stationery)
- Purina Feeds (animal feeds)
- GC Services (customer services)
Since it was incorporated in 1885, Lakeland has invested in communication and transportation infrastructure to spur growth and serve its residents. Polk County has a long-term city transportation plan that includes road development, investment in mass transit, and pedestrian walkways. Overall, the roads in Lakeland are in good condition around the year, and the city has invested a lot in keeping them that way.
Public Transportation Options
The Lakeland Area Mass Transit District, branded as Citrus Connection, provides and maintains all public transportation in Lakeland and Polk County in general. These services include Winter Haven Area Transit and rural routes connecting Frostproof, Bartow, and Ft. Meade and the Paratransit service.
Transportation services, coordination of road works, and management of personnel and assets in Lakeland are simplified under the Citrus Connection. Fare is free in some routes, but most routes charge as little as $1.50 for adults.
Other public transportation options available in Lakeland include:
- Imperial Transportation
- Affari Transportation
- Amtrak train
- Royal Transportation Group
Commuting in Lakeland
Traffic can get heavy at times in Lakeland due to the city being a popular commuter town for people working in Tampa and Orlando. The typical commute takes about 21 minutes, according to bestplaces.net, which is impressively lower than the national average of 26.4 minutes.
Parking can also be a challenge during the weekdays due to many travelers using the interstate every day.
Weather and Climate
Like most parts of Florida, Lakeland has a humid subtropical climate. The summers in the city are hot, wet, and mostly cloudy, with temperatures ranging between 72°F and 95°F. The winters can get cold, with temperatures averaging between 51°F and 76°F, but no snow. Temperatures rarely ever drop below 50°F or go higher than 95°F.
Lakeland city is relatively warm in the fall, but the weather becomes more pleasant as the temperatures drop. There is always rain in this part of Florida, even in the driest months. The temperatures rise quickly during the spring, and pleasant breezes are the main attraction during this time of the year.
There is always a significant risk of Atlantic Hurricanes between June 1 and November 30 in Lakeland. However, note that hurricanes are not very common, and aside from the Hurricane Irma of 2017, there have not been major hurricanes in Florida since 2004.
Recreation and Outdoor Activities
One of the best things about Lakeland, Florida, is the many outdoor activities residents can enjoy at any time of the year. There is something for everyone to enjoy - from hiking and animal adventures to family outings at playgrounds and water sports.
Here are the most popular activities you should try when you visit or move to Lakeland.
Biking - There are many natural and paved trails on which you can bike in Lakeland, Auburndale, Winter Haven, and the entire Pol County. The most popular include:
- Fort Fraser Trail (7.75 miles)
- TECO Auburndale Trail (5.5 miles)
- James A. Van Fleet State Trail (29 miles paved)
- 3 Parks Trail (3.6-mile loop biking and hiking trail at Peterson Park)
- Banana Lake Park (grassed park)
- Walker Road Park (Multipurpose grass park)
- Lake Parker Park (Partially shaded trail)
Hiking - Here are the most popular trails on which you can walk or run alone or with friends or family.
- Lake Hollingsworth
- Peterson Park (boardwalk trail)
- Lake Mirror and Hollis Garden (paved walkway)
- Common Ground Park (the largest playground in Lakeland)
- Chain of Lakes Trail (3-mile long trail in Winter Haven)
- Lake Hartridge Nature Park (0.6-mile loop trail south of Lake Hartridge)
- Dobbins Park (Popular playground park with zip lines)
Canoeing and Kayaking - If you like to paddle, you should add these water spots to your list of must-visit attractions:
- Hillsborough River (54-mile-long river that passes through Central Florida)
- Chain of Lakes (Winter Haven)
- Colt Creek State Park (North Lakeland)
- Lake Kissimmee State Park
- Fort DeSoto Park
- E.G. Simmons Conservation Park (200-acre mangrove swamp that is also wildlife and bird sanctuary)
- Little Manatee River and Weeki Wachee River (Kayak with manatees)
- Silver Springs State Park (Florida's defacto main tourist attraction)
Playgrounds, Parks, and Open Fields - There is an abundance of open fields, shaded playgrounds, and parks where the residents of Lakeland can spend their free time. The most notable are:
- Banana Lake Park
- The Rotary Playground (Hernando's Landing)
- Christina Park
- Highland City Park
- Horney Park
- Hunt Fountain Park
- Carter Road Park
- Peterson Park
- Barnett Family Park
- Holloway Park
- Douglas M. Cook Park (with bike trails and paved walking trails)
Culture and Nightlife
Lakeland has over 120-year-long history and culture that is enthusiastically preserved. If you plan on relocating to Lakeland, Fl, permanently, you will be glad to be a part of the rich culture that defines the city. With so much to explore and discover, we can only cover the most notable cultural attractions you should know about by the time you visit.
Bok Tower Gardens: This is the world-famous neo-gothic legend Towering at over 200 feet high - way above the Central Florida Landscape.
Local Architecture: Most of the buildings in Lakeland are a part of the city's history. Some of the commercial buildings operated today were built in the late 17th century and still stand firm. The most notable is the Wonder House in Bartow. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture center at the Florida Southern College to discover more.
Polk Museum of Art Gift Shop: The museum hosts many different exhibitions ranging from ancient art to contemporary pieces.
Outdoor Public Art: Enjoy self-guided biking or walking exploring outdoor art in these places: Lemon Street Promenade, Lake Mirror, Curtis Peterson State Building, and Munn Park.
For a family-friendly exploration, visit the Explorations V Museum on Kentucky Ave.
Lakeland Restaurants, Bars, and Clubs:
Lakeland has a lot of options to offer when you are looking for a snack, a pint of beer, live music, or fine dining. Downtown is a perfect gathering place where friends, colleagues, and even families meet up to unwind and enjoy a spectacular sunset view. Here are some of the top places you should make a point to visit when you are in town:
- Revival Bar on Kentucky Ave
- Ave Bar by Arabella's in Winter Haven
- Swan Brewing on Pine St. has 30 taps of craft beer and live music
- Ovation Bistro & Bar claims to serve the best BBQ in town
- Galaxy Bar Lakeland - Gaming-themed bar
- The Pink Piano - a small intimate spot for small meetings
- Craft + Kitchen is a popular craft beer and eatery spot
- Union Hall is famous for its live music performances
- Union Taproom in Winter Haven has 40 self-pour beer taps
Here are some of the best fine-dining locations in town
- Scarpa's Italian Restaurant
- Texas Cattle Company
- Nineteen61 (On Main St.)
- Chef T's Garden Grill
- Harry's Seafood Bar and Grill
Lakeland’s Best Neighborhoods
With over 45 neighborhoods, there are just too many options to weigh while considering where to live when you move to Lakeland. Here is a simplified breakdown of the neighborhoods you should know about.
This is a sparsely populated, clean, and friendly neighborhood. There are coffee shops around every corner and residents walking their dogs on the streets is a common sight
Downtown Lakeland is popular for its colorful street art, small lakes, and open gardens and parks. There are also many upscale restaurants and low-key pubs dotting the streets and attraction centers.
Old historic buildings give the historic district of Dixieland its personality. The neighborhood is bounded by Florida Ave, Belvedere St, Lake Hunter, and Walnut St.
Do you have school-going children and wish to live close to the best schools? You may want to consider Cleveland. Bordering Cleveland Golf Course, the neighborhood is home to various top schools in the city, including Carlton Palmore Elementary School and Cleveland Court Elementary School.
Other Notable Neighborhoods in Lakeland
- Lakeland Heights
- Fox Town
- Fountain Heights
- Griffin and Galloway
Education and Schools
The city of Lakeland has invested heavily in education. Whether you have a small family or wish to pursue studies yourself, many institutions offer the level of education you seek.
In total, according to GreatSchools.org, the city has 50 school districts with 211 schools. Out of these, there are 166 preschools, 71 elementary schools, 49 middle schools, and 37 high schools. 152 of the schools are private, while 9 are public charter schools.
There are at least nine colleges in Lakeland, according to lakelandgov.net.
- South Eastern University (the largest in the city)
- Everest University
- Florida Technical College
- Florida Polytechnic University
- Florida Southern College
- Polk State College
- Keiser University
- Webster University
- White Theological Seminary
Cross-Town Move Vs. City Relocation
Here are important considerations to bear in mind before moving to Lakeland, Florida:
- Lakeland is famous for its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture collection. It is the largest in the world.
- It is always warm or hot in Lakeland. Prepare to dress lightly and spend more time in the sun, especially if you are coming from the north.
- There are no state income taxes in Lakeland and Florida. Property taxes are comparatively lower than most states in the country.
- You will need a car to get around and out of town in Lakeland. Be sure to register your car and get Florida registration and license plates before you finalize your move.
- Lakeland has some of the best healthcare institutions in Florida. BestPlaces.net estimates that you will pay 2% less for healthcare in Lakeland compared to the national average.
Pros & Cons of Moving to Lakeland
Reasons to Move to Lakeland
- There are plentiful job opportunities across all industries in Lakeland.
- Housing and living are more affordable than in other cities in the state.
- There is a lot to do, many attractions, and an impressive culture driving the city's growth.
- Affordable and accessible healthcare
- Lakeland has been rated the fourth best place to retire in the country.
Reasons Not to Move to Lakeland
- There is always the risk of Atlantic Hurricanes
- The hot and wet summers bring many bugs and insects. There are also alligators in all the lakes in the country.
Are You Ready to Move to Lakeland, Florida?
Lakeland is a mid-sized city in one of the most popular states to move to in the country. The city is consistently growing and is highly ranked for its affordability and options of things to see and do. If you are considering moving to Lakeland, there are more reasons to fast-track the move than to delay.
While the city would be a great place to live, you will need help moving and finding the most comfortable neighborhood and home. Your relocation will be more fun and cost-effective if you were to get the help of a professional company that knows Lakeland well. Contact College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving today and get help with the logistics and advice as you finalize your plans to move to Lakeland