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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Lakeland, Florida

The bustling college city of Lakeland is a city of just over 90,000 in central Florida, east of Tampa with Orlando to its east. Lakeland is part of the Lakeland-Winterhaven Metro and growing fast, having grown 18% from 2000 to 2008. Florida Southern College with its enrollment of just under 2,000 is located in town.  Lakeland was an important town during the Florida land boom and many of its historic structures date from that period including the Terrace Hotel, New Florida Hotel (Regency Towers), Polk Theatre, Promenade of Lake Mirror, and the former Lakeland Public Library (now the Trammel Building and home to the Chamber of Commerce). People often mention that the downtown area is very beautiful - the folks who live in Lakeland are very positive about their community.

Picture of Lakeland skyline from Lake Mirror by Thomas R. Radzak and courtesy of

Where to Retire in Lakeland and Home Prices

There are many active adult communities in the Lakeland - Winterhaven area. The Beacon Hill- Alta Vista residential neighborhood features historic homes.  There are frequent mentions of the areas south of town as being a particularly nice part of town, as opposed to the east side.
The National Association of Realtors reports the median sale price to be $338,300 in the Lakeland-Winter Haven area, during the 4th quarter of 2022.

What Is Special about Lakeland

The Detroit Tigers have held their spring training here in Lakeland since the 1930's. Frank Lloyd Wright's A Child of the Sun project for Florida Southern College is the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world. There are 9 buildings in the project. Lake Mirror Park in downtown Lakeland is a particularly beautiful setting. There are several historic districts.

What Is Not Special about Lakeland

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Climate and Physical Environment

Lakeland is near I4 between Orlando and Tampa in central Florida. The terrain is flat with Lake Mirror a prominent feature. Winters are warm and summers hot and humid.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

There are frequent festivals and many residents say there is a lively cultural scene. Its several colleges provide additional culture. Polk State College shares a campus with a regional branch of the University of South Florida. It is an easy drive to Tampa or Orlando for more serious culture.  The Detroit Tigers have spring training here and there is a minor league as well.


Crime in Lakeland is about a quarter higher than the national average.

Medical Facilities

The Lakeland Regional Medical Center provides the local hospital services. Other hospitals are nearby.


Lakeland has an Amtrak station. Residents can use the Orlando, Tampa, or even the small Lakeland airport - a former Army Airbase.

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