Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Reader Requested Short Review of Celebration, Florida
Celebration, with more than 4,000 homes and 7,200 residents, is a master-planned community six miles directly south of Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida. It was built by the Walt Disney Company to exemplify Utopian New Urbanism in the mid-1990s and has tree lined streets, quiet neighborhoods, an extensive parks system, a quaint town square and a pretty waterfront. Disney sold Celebration to a private equity firm in 2003, but the entertainment company still has a few offices here and maintains some architectural control.
Thirty-three percent of residents are age 45 or better. Most of the people who live here lean to the left politically. The crime rate is below the national average. Racial diversity is minimal, and more than 60% of residents have at least a four year college degree. Celebration has boomed in the 10 to 15 years, and the cost of living is 28% above the national average.
The median home price is $385,000. The community is divided into a handful of villages, and each one has a mix of condominiums, town homes and single family homes in a variety of styles (garden, bungalow, cottage and more), many behind a white picket fence. Most single family residences have a front porch with a garage in the rear.
Architectural influences include Mediterranean, Colonial, Art Deco and Victorian, creating an eclectic, pleasing and colorful cityscape. Neighborhoods are not only tree shaded but clean and well groomed. Residents do have to pay an HOA fee and a trash pick up fee, which combined are approximately $1,200 or more per year. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their own yard and home exterior.
As might be expected in a place built by Disney, Celebration has a wholesome, shiny quality. The Town Center has brick paved streets, bright pastel-colored store fronts, neat rows of palm trees and lantern-type street lamps. There are several small lakes throughout Celebration, but Lake Rianhard, next to the Town Center, is the largest and is bordered by housing, merchants and green spaces. It also has fish and a few alligators.
Children play in the parks. People set up easels and paint outside. Homeowners sit on their front porch in the evening. Residents also enjoy an 18 hole golf course. It is worth noting that this is not a gated community, and tourists often come to visit.
The Town Center brims with festivals and events throughout the year. There are holiday celebrations, art and wine walks, food tasting events, car shows, pie festivals, pet parades, concerts, marathons, sidewalk sales, a farmers' market and much, much more. In the fall, the downtown lamp posts spray leaf-shaped confetti to simulate falling leaves, and during the Christmas season, soap flakes are shot into the air to replicate falling snow while holiday tunes waft from the sidewalks.
When Celebration first opened, Disney selected the merchants that would do business here, and today, more than 500 companies have a Celebration address. Banks, insurance companies, hotels, real estate agencies, spas, veterinarians, convenience stores, accountants, a movie theater, churches and more are sprinkled throughout the community, with about two dozen downtown. A dozen or more restaurants and cafes serve everything from sushi to Cuban cuisines. Electric cars and Segways are available to lease for traveling to local merchants.
Stetson University has a campus here and offers graduate degrees in a variety of fields. There are more than three dozen social and civic groups, including a bridge club, a veterans group, a garden club and a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Osceola County Library System has a Celebration branch, and it has free wi-fi, author talks and an interlibrary loan program.
Orlando's public transit system, LYNX, provides bus service to and from Celebration. The standard cost to ride is $2, but people age 65 or better may apply for a discount fare card. A para-transit service is available. Orlando's public transit system, LYNX, provides bus service to and from Celebration. The standard cost to ride is $2, but people age 65 or better may apply for a discount fare card.
The hospital is Celebration Health (200+ beds). It is is accredited by DNV - Healthcare, and Medicare patients are accepted. For military retirees, Orlando has a VA hospital.
Summer high temperatures are in the 80s and 90s. Winter temperature highs are in the 60s and 70s, with lows in the 50s. Average rainfall is 50 inches per year with the usual summertime afternoon showers.
Retirement in Celebration has some downsides. Some people complain that the covenants are too restrictive. Cultural amenities are few. It has been said that Celebration is surreal and artificial. Some people compare it to the movie The Truman Show, a place where the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred. Tourists visits year round. The biggest drawback, though, is poor home construction in certain areas. Celebration was built quickly, and thanks to leaking roofs, today mold permeates some homes. Many structures in the Town Center are physically unsound.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Maybe | Is Florida Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Many residents love Celebration, but others complain that poor workmanship and poor management by the equity firm that owns the community have made selling their homes difficult. So while Celebration has a lot going for it, it also has downsides that should be carefully researched before retiring here.
Named Pascua Florida by Juan Ponce De Leon, the Sunshine State did not enter the Union until March 3, 1845. Balmy mild winters began attracting snowbirds to the state in the late 19th century. Retirees continue to flock to the state. It's not hard to see why tourism has become the leading industry.
International trade and citrus are also major contributors to the state's economy. Eighty percent of the nation's oranges and grapefruits are grown here, and 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin America flow through Florida.
Florida's landscape includes uplands and coastal plains. It contains more than 11,000 miles of waterways and about 4,500 islands spread across 10 acres.
The state has 1,250 golf courses, more than any other state in the Union. The 47 mile Pinellas Trail is the longest urban trail on the east coast. Orlando theme parks attract more visitors than any other theme parks in the U.S. The only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist is in National Everglades Park.
Florida, particularly the Keys and the Gulf Coast, were struck by Category 4 Hurricane Irma in early September, 2017. Towns will rebuild, perhaps this time with climate change in mind, making them safer and better equipped to handle major hurricanes going forward.
Population - 20,612,439
Persons 65 years old and over - 20%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 87%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 24%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $47,525
Median home value - $159,900
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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