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We're The Best

Featured Photo from We're The Best

Oviedo is the only city in Florida to make Money.com’s list of the "50 Best Places to Live in America"

Mayor Megan Sladek of Oviedo knows the secret. If you ask her why Oviedo consistently ranks as one of the top places to live in the country, she’ll tell you about the great people, the wonderful parks, and the convenient proximity to everything Central Florida has to offer. She’ll also tell you there is no place else she would ever live.

“In high school, I thought this was a sleepy, lazy town,” says the lifelong resident. “Then, after I left for college, I realized this is the greatest place on earth.”

The first-term mayor is not alone in her love for the city of more than 40,000. In the past decade, no less than seven outside entities have commended Oviedo for being “the best” at what it does.

The most recent accolades arrived via Money.com, which named Oviedo as one of the “50 Best Places to Live in America” this September. Oviedo ranked number 43, the only city in The Sunshine State to make the list.

To determine the rankings, Money.com looked at cities and towns with a population of at least 25,000 and collected nearly 212,000 different data points. Researchers considered economic factors, housing, cost of living, diversity, health, safety, education, weather, lifestyle, and amenities. Teams visited each location to assure the data truly represented the city and its ranking.

Money.com writer Samantha Sharf lauded Oviedo’s well-rounded blending of growth, above-average incomes, and a high homeownership rate with a clear preservation of its rural composition:

“Wild chickens roam this Central Florida city, and bumper stickers declare, ‘I brake for Oviedo’s chickens,’” Samantha wrote. “The birds give Oviedo a small-town feel – despite being 20 miles northeast of Orlando and having experienced a rapid influx of newcomers.”

It’s the second time this year that Oviedo received praise as one of the top places to live. Niche.com, which ranks schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, chose Oviedo as the “Best Suburb to Raise a Family in the Orlando Area.”

Oviedo is proud of its family-oriented community feel, a major attraction for new residents and businesses. That family feel is truly evident in the city’s park system and recreation opportunities.

Like to bike or walk? Trails are everywhere. Into swimming or rock climbing? Visit the Gym & Aquatic Facility. If pickleball is your thing, you’re in luck.

“I am proud of the amount and depth of our programming year-round for all ages,” says Dru Boulware, director of Oviedo’s Recreation and Parks department. “It plays into the quality of life here in Oviedo.”

Dru further praises city leadership for prioritizing connectivity and safe zones that allow seamless passages to and from schools, parks, and neighborhoods, whether on foot or riding a bike.

“User-friendly trails and sidewalks connect throughout the city, something that sets Oviedo apart,” he says. “Parents love it.”
And so does the mayor.

“I love that I can ride my bike every day,” she says. “The shift away from the car is happening here. It’s a whole new way of thinking about things. That’s what you need for a sustainable community.”

Smart Growth
Bridget Lake, president/CEO of the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce, has her finger on the pulse of the Oviedo business community, and she’s been keeping a close eye on that pulse throughout 2020.

“With COVID, everyone is supporting each other,” Bridget says. “We need each other to have a strong business community and a strong economy. We have always had a strong connection in our business community.”

The Money.com ranking is not a total surprise to Bridget – although she is humbled – because of the way the city handles growth while not losing sight of Oviedo’s core amenities and services.

“We have created a pro-business environment with a rural feel, a low crime rate, and A-plus schools,” she says. “We are growing in a smart way. All of it matters. Oviedo is rich in business because we have boomed in the past couple of years, and that has attracted a lot of people. Businesses come here because it is a great place to live.”

Bryan Cobb is someone who has seen that evolution firsthand. The city manager, who has worked for the City of Oviedo for the past 25 years, is well aware of the hills and hurdles the once-small town had to clear to get to this point.

“It does make me smile,” Bryan says of the Money.com ranking. “It means everything we went through was worth it.”

Bryan believes the recognition is a culmination of things, especially the growth in the past five years that created double-digit property value increases in the city. Residents have witnessed an explosion of restaurants, doctors’ offices, commercial space, and apartments. 

On the medical front, there is a new hospital, two emergency rooms, three women’s clinics, and additional urgent care centers. Oviedo’s quality of life recently received other boosts with the revitalization of the Twin Rivers golf course and expanded recreational activities. Bryan credits the city’s budget process, instituted a few years ago, which created a much stronger reserve – strong enough to survive a pandemic.

“We are even seeing things that went into motion 10 to 20 years ago starting to happen,” says Bryan. “We are now moving into that next level of evolution.”

Oviedo’s Accolades

•    “50 Best Places to Live in America” – Money.com, 2020
•    “Best Suburb to Raise a Family in the Orlando Area” – Niche.com, 2020
•    “Best Places to Raise Your Kids” – Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, 2013
•    “Charitable Community in Central Florida” – Orlando Business Journal, 2013
•    “Top 25 Suburbs to Live in Florida” – Coldwell Banker, 2012
•    “Top 10 Best Towns in America for Families” – Family Circle magazine, 2011
•    “Top 100 City” – Relocate America, 2009, 2010, 2011

Special Thanks to the Oviedo Photo Club...
... For helping us tell Oviedo's story one picture at a time

For 10 years, the Oviedo Photo Club has been capturing stunning images of the city and surrounding communities, thanks to some of the best amateur and professional photographers in Central Florida. They have produced a priceless archive of the city’s soul, telling the tale of Oviedo’s people, its natural beauty, and its thriving spirit. 

Through times of triumph and tragedy, Oviedo Photo Club photographers have been on the scene to immortalize the city’s positivity and perseverance, so when Oviedo-Winter Springs Life needed to tell the visual story of Oviedo’s rise to become a “Best Place to Live in America,” we knew just who to call.

With the help of Christine Touchstone, current Oviedo Photo Club president, club members sent us a colorful gallery of their favorite, quintessentially-Oviedo images to adorn this issue’s cover and this article. OWSL wants to thank Christine for her leadership and pay homage to all the photographers who not only helped make this issue beautiful, but have shown us why Oviedo is such a special place to live:

Christine Touchstone
Richard Polaski
Mike Hurley
Erin Monroe
Vallie Piloian
Richard Kolar
Susan Pierce
Oviedo Mural by Xavier Moss

To learn more, visit OviedoPhotoClub.org.

 

 
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