Florida is full of dozens of small towns that are perfect to spend your life in. Among these, Winter Haven is a well-known area that attracts a wide range of people, from retirees to young families.
With close access to much of the rest of the state and a national attraction, there’s plenty to draw you into the scenic city.
Undoubtedly, its natural resources make this city a unique spot. Winter Haven is surrounded by its famous Chain of Lakes, composed of 50 lakes, which are linked by a canal. Many of these lakes have waterside parks, restaurants, boat ramps, and water-sport rentals for the residents to enjoy.
So, if you’ve been curious about Winter Haven, we’re here to help. There’s plenty to love in this small community and a great amount of Florida you can access. Read on to learn the most relevant information on moving to Winter Haven.
Where Is Winter Haven?
Winter Haven is located almost directly in the center of Florida. Roughly an hour or so south of Orlando and about the same east of Tampa, it’s a small town situated neatly among larger communities.
Pros of Living in Winter Haven
There’s plenty to love about living in a city as beautiful as Winter Haven. Here are some of the biggest perks of living in this small community.
Small Town Feel
Winter Haven isn’t too small of a town, though its population is much smaller than many nearby communities. Between Winter Garden and Winter Park, Winter Haven, our small town, has the middle ground at over 50,000 people as of 2018.
In comparison, nearby Lakeland has around 110,000 people. Up above in Orlando, you’ll find more than a quarter-million, whereas Tampa boasts just below 400,000 citizens. Needless to say, Winter Haven has a much smaller, cozier feel than these much larger cities.
One of the most notable things about Winter Haven is that it has the first Legoland park! The Cypress Garden park draws plenty of tourists to the small town, helping to fuel the economy and giving locals something fun to do.
The many sources of family entertainment are one of the fantastic things that make Winter Haven so great to raise a family. There’s even a Peppa Pig theme park!
If you aren’t a fan of theme parks, there are still many activities you can enjoy. For example, outdoor enthusiasts love the Winter Haven area for its access to a massive number of natural attractions.
The many lakes, like Lake Eloise and the famous Chain of Lakes, are fantastic for boating, swimming, fishing, and anything else you can think of.
Close to Everywhere
If you come to Winter Haven, the chances are good that the city itself is what attracts you. But we don’t all live in isolated communities, and there’s plenty to see outside of the city you’ve chosen to live in.
On that metric, Winter Haven excels. Being smack in the middle of central Florida makes it so that you’re never too far from somewhere else. With less than an hour between Winter Haven and Orlando, you’re close enough to visit Orlando’s many theme parks without having much hassle.
Tampa is close enough that a day trip to the city is barely far enough to even be considered a trip! Given the many musical concerts and cultural events, these areas hold, being so close is a massive bonus, especially for family fun.
Even Miami isn’t too far away! And if you’re in the mood for a beach day, you have easy access to anywhere you’d like. Hop over to St. Pete for a lovely visit to the west coast or drive nearly the same distance to the east coast instead.
It’s no secret that Florida is hot. Heat indexes can easily reach 100 degrees or higher in Florida no matter where you are, and as you move further south, the temperatures tend to get just a bit warmer.
If you’re looking for a warmer climate than what you can find in other states farther north, Winter Haven is an excellent option. With so many outdoor activities, you’ll enjoy the hot summer days with a dip in one of the dozens of lakes.
When winter comes around, you can expect a handful of chilly weeks. The temperatures dip to around the low 40s, though there’s some variation. Still, you shouldn’t expect a white Christmas – the last notable amount of snow anywhere in Florida received was in January of 1977.
Outside of a few sparse flurries, nothing has been seen since then, so don’t bring a coat!
Low Cost of Living
The market prices soar on housing frequently, and Florida is especially difficult to deal with when it comes to the housing market. Many people choose to retire here, and some will purchase homes specifically for vacation.
However, Winter Haven is rarely a place that retirees will land. The housing market in Winter Haven is a bit cheaper than in many of the areas around the city.
Cons of Living in Winter Haven
It’s essential to look at more than just the good sides of somewhere that you’re thinking of moving. Winter Haven is amazing, but it isn’t flawless. Here are some of the few cons you can expect to encounter when living in Winter Haven.
Maybe Too Hot?
Many favor Florida for its warmer climate, but there are often days when you might wish it wasn’t quite so hot. While you won’t have to worry about your tires melting to the asphalt as in Arizona, you should know that the heat isn’t a joke.
The heat in Florida can get downright hazardous. If you’re doing something outdoors, you need to ensure you have enough water with you because you will sweat profusely even during light summer activities.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious and common threats down in Florida and not something you should take lightly.
On the less dangerous side of the heat, you might find it a bit of an inconvenience. For example, you could find yourself limiting your fashions to what’s comfortable. Thicker clothes, layered outfits, and winter clothing are all rare to see here.
It’s far from uncommon to find 90-degree days even during “winter,” so expect to change up your wardrobe.
In all fairness, this is not an issue specific to Winter Haven. You should be aware of the heat no matter where you live in Florida.
Higher Crime Rates
Winter Haven’s crime rate is a bit higher than in much of the rest of Florida. As far as the state-wide average goes, Winter Haven is considerably higher than most communities.
In 2018, the crime rate was at 558.34 per 100,000 population. This was almost a 16% increase from the previous year.
However, it’s worth noting that the crime rate has steadily lowered over the last two decades. While it remains above the state average, crime has gone down.
You shouldn’t take this as some sign that Winter Haven is a dangerous, lawless place to live. Though the crime rate is relatively high, it’s still a completely safe place to live – you should just familiarize yourself with local events.
Higher Property Taxes
Though the general cost of living is lower than in much of Florida, the property taxes are a little higher than in many of the surrounding areas. It’s also difficult to find a home that isn’t part of the Home Owner’s Association.
Many may want to move to a small town for something with everything close by. It’s a romantic idea to have a city small enough that you can walk anywhere important and only rely on your vehicle in case of travel.
Unfortunately, you can’t expect to get to live out that romantic idea in Winter Haven. The suburban city has dealt with quite a bit of suburban sprawl in its construction.
That said, there are certainly some areas where you’ll be fine to walk around. While you shouldn’t ditch your vehicle during your trip here, you can safely assume that there will be a few times when you can walk to your destination.
Winter Haven is a fantastic community to raise a family and keep tabs on the rest of Florida. From here, you can easily reach the best parts of the state and enjoy your time in a small, comfortable city with plenty to keep your days happy.
Whether you’re being drawn to Winter Haven for the lower cost of living or the beautiful nature, it’s a fantastic place to settle down. No matter what the draw, we’re happy to have you!
For more information on settling down in Florida, feel free to contact us or browse our website to learn more.
Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Sun City Center, Florida