Kissimmee-St. Cloud, FL

Heaven’s Place

Even though Kissimmee and St. Cloud are celebrated for being gateways to Orlando and Walt Disney World, these small Florida communities just 11 miles south of Orlando have definite identities all their own. Dubbed " Heaven's Place" by the native Caloosa tribe because of the area's extraordinary natural beauty, crystal clear lakes, and enviable climate, Kissimmee and St. Cloud make residents feel as though they have indeed found a slice of heaven. The area is home to vast groves of lush citrus trees, making this one of the best orange producing regions in the entire state.

More than 100,000 acres of recreational waters are just the beginning of fun in the sun in Kissimmee and St. Cloud.

Both spectator and participation sporting events are part of the daily program in these outdoor havens. The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes attracts boating and fishing enthusiasts year-round. White-tailed deer, bobcats, wading birds, and songbirds are just some of the abundant wildlife found here.

Recognized by 50 Fabulous Places to Retire as a prime retirement community, this area offer exceptional amenities for retirees, families, couples, and singles. People move here from all over the country for many reasons, including a reasonable cost of living, proximity to many attractions, easy access to coastal beaches, and the ability to enjoy fabulous outdoor activities year-round in the light of abundant sunshine.

These two communities offer a cost of living that is just slightly above the national average. A diverse economic base embracing manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism continues to generate numerous job prospects each year. Several higher learning institutions are found nearby and throughout the region, such as the University of Central Florida. Residents have plenty of access to quality schools and higher education. Whether newcomers are looking for a great place to retire, an exceptional community in which to raise a family, or a place to enjoy outdoor pursuits year-round, Kissimmee and St. Cloud are perfect choices for great living.

Kissimmee-St. Cloud, FL At-A-Glance

Population: 97,509

Avg. July high: 92

Avg. January low: 50

Avg. Annual Precipitation: 50

Closest Big City: 11 miles to Orlando

Health Care: 3 hospitals with 319 beds

Cost of Living: 3.9% less than the national average.

Housing Costs: 190,890

Climate

Located in central Florida about 45 miles from the Atlantic coast and 80 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Kissimmee and St. Cloud enjoy the benefits of refreshing gulf breezes moving inland. Average summer temperatures reach the low 90s, making these breezes especially welcome. The warm months are perfect for all types of water activities.

Seasonal rains peak during the summer, with the rainiest month typically being July. But nurturing rains fall throughout the year, making this a great place for backyard gardening. While many people in other parts of the country are shoveling a foot of snow off their driveways in spring, residents in this area will be tending to the flowers in their gardens. Spring temperatures remain within the very comfortable 70s. In autumn, temperatures in the 70s and 80s are the norm.

Even though the climate here is mild and temperate, locals still experience some seasonal changes. Winters offer temperatures in the 60s, and occasional cold spells are known to pass through the area. But they never stay for long, and residents can enjoy outdoor activities and shorts 12 months each year.

Art & Culture

Kissimmee and St. Cloud stand in the midst of extraordinary natural beauty. Good schools, a strong economy, a low cost of living, and rich, citrus-growing lands complete the picture.

There is never an absence of something fun to do in Kissimmee and St. Cloud. These cities offer a quaint small-town atmosphere while serving as gateways to countless attractions and cultural events, both within city limits and beyond. In Kissimmee, The Flying Tigers Warbird Air Museum displays vintage WW II aircraft, while Medieval Life offers a glimpse into a 12-cottage medieval hamlet Theatrical entertainment is very prominent in these central Florida communities.

The unusually named Tupperware Convention Center Theatre brings in an eclectic array of performances. The Osceola Center for the Arts presents comedy, drama, and musicals in its state-ofthe- art auditorium, as well as art exhibits and classes for all ages The area overflows with engaging special events year-round. Listed among Kissimmee and St. Cloud's regularly scheduled festivals are Jazzfest Kissimmee Osceola Art Festival, and Holiday Extravaganza. The Osceola Cultural and Heritage Exhibit and Kissimmee's Chili Cook Off round out a very full calendar of entertaining events.

The Downtown Kissimmee Farmers Market is the best spot in town for fresh produce and homemade treats. Old Town is a replica of a turn-of-the-century Florida village with brick-lined streets, specialty shops, fine restaurants, and a general store. The village's highlights are its antique, hand-carved wooden carousel and Ferris wheel- very popular with the kids.

City Recreation

The motto here may very well be " So much to do, so little time," but they’re not necessarily talking about work. Residents of Kissimmee and St. Cloud enjoy marvelous recreational activities year-round.

From world-class golf to rodeo, this part of the country has all kinds of fun.

The city's recreational system boasts a variety of offerings, including swimming, baseball, fishing, golf, scuba, soccer, softball, and tennis. The Family Aquatic Center and St. Cloud Municipal Pool provide room for splashing, while Big Toho Marina offers some of the best fishing in the area. People who enjoy the more fastpaced water sports will find many options for jetskis, parasailing, and snorkeling.

Sports of all kinds play a major role in the lives of Kissimmee's residents, from scuba diving to softball in the Osceola County Softball Complex. There are a number of fishing guides and competitive tournaments year-round. Options for action sports include ice skating, rodeos, skydiving, hang gliding, BMX tracks, and a skateboard park.

There's plenty of opportunity to join a big group of people at a ball game and cheer for the Kissimmee Cobras Minor League Baseball team, view the Houston Astros in training, or watch the Orlando Magic basketball team in action.

Florida is the golf capital of the world, and Kissimmee and St. Cloud offer some of the best greens in the region.

Buenaventura Lakes lays claim to three courses, while the half-dozen incredible courses available at nearby Walt Disney World Resort provide state-of-the art golf experiences. The area boasts more than a dozen additional public, private, or resortbased courses.

Even though Kissimmee is popular mainly for its proximity to Central Florida's attractions, the city is proud of its own exciting activities. People interested in checking out exotic animals should visit JungleLand, a seven-acre wildlife park complete with alligators, hiking trail, and petting zoo. The Green Meadows Petting Farm is famous for its tours of more than 300 farm animals. Kids or kids-at-heart who love slimy creatures can get their fill at the Reptile World Serpentarium. It offers huge indoor displays of snakes, lizards, and more. When residents are ready for a fun place to cool off, they can go to Water Mania, a 36-acre water park and beach that has something for everyone

Education

From scuba diving to softball, world-class golf to Walt Disney World, St. Cloud and Kissimmee promise plenty of recreation to keep all ages happy.

The University of Central Florida in Orlando is the largest institution of higher learning in the area. A member of the State University System, it offers degree programs in a half-dozen colleges, including engineering and business administration.

Other post-secondary schools serving the county include University of Phoenix, Stetson University, Rollins College, and Florida Metropolitan University.

People make quality education a top priority in these twin communities. The public school system's philosophy is: " Education which inspires all to their highest potential is made possible by hard work, community involvement, and personal accountability." There are more than four dozen public schools serving the area. Osceola School District is also home to several alternative schools, charter schools, multi-level schools, and other programs, including the Environmental Center, Challenger Learning Center, Even Start, and COPE Center.

The Osceola Foundation for Education is an ambitious county-wide program, which provides a college scholarship for every graduating senior. Adult and postsecondary education is also a high priority in the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area, and several schools meet this need. They include Technical Education Center for Osceola County, Technical and Adult Vocational Education, and Community High School.

Housing & Cost of Living

The overall cost of living is below the national average, and the local economy is strong.

People who want to be surrounded by natural beauty, abundant lakes, and sunny days and cool nights should check out Kissimmee and St. Cloud.

Located in one of the fastest growing counties in Florida, the Kissimmee and St. Cloud area is still largely undeveloped, making the local standard of living quite exceptional.

Both communities boast cost of living figures that are even with the national average. Although some items are expensive, housing and childcare are not.

Parents will pay anywhere from $5,000 (state average) to $7,800 for care at an accredited center, depending on the age of the child.

Plus, the government-subsidized Voluntary Prekindergarten Program offers four-year-olds born before September 1 free education for the year prior to kindergarten.

Since Kissimmee and St. Cloud are targeted as major growth areas, family homes have shown above-average appreciation. Still, the average price for three-bedroom homes are low- $230,000 in Kissimmee and $250,000 in St.

Cloud. For the one-third of residents who rent in Kissimmee, monthly payments run about $709 per month.

Crime & Safety

Florida's crime rate falls above the national average. Like other Florida cities, particularly those with a high number of visitors, Kissimmee and St. Cloud have crime rates higher than the national norm.

However, the vast majority of crimes are committed against property, not people.

Citizens of Kissimmee and St. Cloud strive to make their city a safe haven through grassroots efforts. Active neighborhood involvement is paramount, and the many Neighborhood Watch programs found here effectively thwart crime. The police department sponsors many awareness programs that make their way into area schools and communities. These efforts have been successful, as the area continues to be one of the fastest growing, the crime rate has dropped considerably in the last three years.

Earning a Living

Well-known for natural beauty, this spot was home to Earl Tupper, the inventor of Tupperware...

Until recently, the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area has been prime grazing and agricultural land. Cattle ranching remains a bedrock of the economic community, although these days tourism contributes significantly to the economy. Citrus fruit orchards are another mainstay; central Florida provides the country with about a quarter of Florida's total citrus production.

Add international travel and tourism, manufacturing, and service-related industries to the already strong economic base, and it's obvious this is a thriving financial region. The services and retail industries account for more than 50% of employment in the county, and major employers include McLane/Sunset, Inc., Florida Hospital, Osceola Regional Medical Center, and Hyatt Orlando-Kissimmee The city's close proximity to Disney World has had an immeasurable impact on the growth here. Kissimmee and St. Cloud have worked diligently with advertisers and others in the tourism industry to bring in visitors of the Disney complex, and they have met with fabulous success.

Economic indicators project a significant growth in tourism well into the coming years.

Whether newcomers are looking to relocate their already established business or are searching for new career horizons, Kissimmee and St. Cloud offer a wide array of opportunities from.which to choose.

Health Care

Two primary care hospitals serve the people of Kissimmee and St. Cloud, providing high quality emergency and specialty services. Florida Hospital-Kissimmee is owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and serves as a community care center for the greater Orlando region. Orlando Regional has grown from a small community hospital to a comprehensive, high-quality medical center and is just 20 miles away. The Osceola Regional Medical Center has a cardiac lab, an oncology unit, nuclear medicine, and radiology services. Just 11 miles to the north, Orlando offers a wide range of other health care choices.

Senior citizens have access to more than a dozen accredited living centers, which offer everything from independent living services to respite and Alzheimer's care and continuing care.