Set Amid Lakes About an Hour Outside or Orlando in North Central Florida, Leesburg Boasts a Pretty Setting, a Nice Downtown and Fun Festivals
Cost of Living: Below the National Average
Known as the "Lakefront City," Leesburg is a pleasant town nestled between a handful of lakes, Lake Griffin, Lake Denham, Lake Yale and Lake Harris, in north central Florida. It is approximately an hour outside of Orlando and a few miles south of the sprawling retirement community The Villages.
The town started out as a watermelon growing community in the early 1900s. Over the years, though, the watermelon industry moved farther south and Leesburg looked for ways to secure its economic footing.
Luckily, that was not hard to do as the town is now bedroom community for Orlando workers seeking a more affordable place to live. Thanks to its close proximity to The Villages, Leesburg is also morphing into a popular retirement spot. And Bikefest, an annual three-day spring event started in 1997, now attracts nearly a quarter million people every year.
Population, Median Age, Crime Rate, Cost of Living, Etc.
Today, about 25,000 people call this lakeside town home. The median age is 38, and 30% of locals hold at least a four year college degree. Politics lean to the right. The crime rate is above the national average (location matters). The cost of living is below the national average.
The median home price is about $310,000, and real estate includes everything from manufactured homes and average ranch ramblers to elegant custom homes. Neighborhoods are generally well-maintained, but a few have seen better days. Lakeside homes include both less expensive properties and higher-end residences.
Recreation and Amenities
The city has more than two dozen parks in all shapes and sizes. History buffs enjoy the 88-acre Bourlay Historic Nature Park. It sits along the edges of Lake Griffin and part of its land once belonged to Leesburg's first settler, Thomas Robertson. Years later the property ended up in the hands of another prominent local family, the Bourlays, who donated it to the city. The Park is a quiet place and has a number of secluded hiking trails.
Locals and visitors also enjoy 64-acre Venetian Gardens, a beautiful waterfront park with rock gardens, ponds, bridges and lots of wildlife (including alligators). It is a soothing spot to spend a quiet afternoon and even has a marina.
The busy public library has a good selection of both books and programs, including a chess club, a senior health class, a senior technology class and more.
Downtown's Main Street has a good variety of locally-owned shops, boutiques, cafes, antique store and restaurants. Many of the buildings housing these retailers boast brightly painted outside murals.
One of the most popular downtown stops is the Two Old Hags Wine Shoppe, a must-visit destination with a great selection, good service and music every Friday night.
The wonderful downtown Leesburg Farmers' Market is open on Saturdays year-round and is chock full of fresh meats, dairy products, healthy snacks, veggies, fruits and much more. Vendors include Allder School Berries, Baker Farms, Beechwood Orchards and many others.
UFHealth Leesburg Hospital is the local medical facility and has won a number of awards from U.S. News and World Report and the American College of Cardiology.
Local public transportation is operated by Loudoun County Transit. It has a number of services and routes, including a shuttle that provides rides between areas on the east and west sides of the busy Route 15 Bypass.
Festivals and Events
Festivals and events are in good supply. The annual Leesburg Art Fuse Festival is a two-day event that showcases artists from around the region and boasts pop-up art shows, live demonstrations, live music and more.
Mardi Gras is celebrated with gusto every February.
The daddy of them all, though, is Bikefest each April. It is one of the biggest bike festivals in Florida and involves contests, concerts, shows and more.
This being Florida, the area receives 51 inches of rain on average each year. Summer temperatures are typically in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Retirement in Leesburg has some drawbacks, the most significant one being the higher than average crime rate. Areas with higher rates can generally be avoided, and locals say that overall they feel safe.
Is Leesburg a Good Place to Live and Retire?
The crime rate is a concern, but relatively reasonable housing costs, a pretty lakeside setting and peaceful vibe make Leesburg worth a look at retirement time.
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