Across the Nation

Best Places to Raise Kids: Oviedo, Florida

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Oviedo, Florida, might seem like a nice place to visit on the way to Walt Disney World, but locals know there is much more to this Orlando suburb than Mouseketeers and princesses. High-ranking schools, access to year-round outdoor recreation, and affordable cost of living make this city one of the best places to raise kids in the U.S.

Top-Ranking Schools

Public schools in the area belong to the consistently highly ranked Seminole County school district. In 2003, Newsweek magazine ranked five Seminole high schools, including Oviedo High, in the top 4 percent in the nation, based on the number of Advanced Placement students divided by the graduation rate. A 2013 Newsweek ranking reveals that 90 percent of Oviedo High School’s students are college bound. Another Seminole County school, Crooms Academy of Information Technology, was named the nation’s best connected high school by U.S. News and World Report in 2011, for its computer access and technical resources.

Seminole County elementary and middle school students have the option to attend magnet or charter schools instead of their zoned public school, while high school students can apply to magnet schools or other specialized programs that suit their needs and skills. A diverse student population, high parental involvement, and high academic standards make this central Florida school district a top choice.

Tax Breaks for Florida Residents

Florida is one of seven states that has no state income tax. Homeowners can also get a break on property taxes through the Florida Homestead Exemption, which deducts up to $50,000 off a home’s assessed value. While residents do pay state and local sales taxes, they pay 15 percent less in taxes overall than the average American taxpayer, according to WalletHub.

Summertime All the Time

While Florida is hot and humid during the summer, it’s hard to beat the city’s annual climate, with temperatures averaging around 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Families who love being outdoors, especially those who enjoy water sports, will be right at home paddling the Wekiva River or enjoying one of Seminole County’s other 2,000 lakes and rivers. Hikers and bikers have easy local access to the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Atlantic Ocean beaches and Cape Canaveral are an hour away, and with Orlando’s city amenities and theme parks only about a half hour’s drive away, there is no shortage of family fun and recreation in the area. While some land lovers might worry about hurricanes, being inland shelters the city from major storm damage that coastal residents might face.

High Incomes, Affordable Homes

Home prices took a nose dive after the housing crash of 2006, and Florida homes lost 52 percent of their value due to rampant foreclosures. Real estate has been on the rebound since then, but with median home prices currently around $236,000, families can still find affordable housing relative to income. Oviedo’s median family income is around $81,000—considerably higher than the Florida state average of about $47,000.

Plenty of jobs and career options are available in the area. Major employers in nearby Orlando alone include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Siemens, Lockheed Martin, and the University of Central Florida.

Southern Charm

While Oviedo isn’t many miles from Orlando, the city maintains its southern charm through year-round farmers’ markets, local festivals commemorating its agricultural roots, and the ever famous flock of wild chickens that roam the downtown area. Warm temperatures, good jobs, great schools, and being able to literally watch the chickens cross the road make Oviedo, Florida, one of the best places to raise kids in the U.S.