Oviedo, Florida

Wild chickens roam this central Florida city, and bumper stickers declare, “I brake for Oviedo’s chickens.” The birds give Oviedo a small town feel — despite being 20 miles northeast of Orlando and having experienced a rapid influx of newcomers. The population has surged 25% to just over 37,000 in the past decade. Residents hold onto the city’s rural roots with a monthly farmers’ market and airboat tours of Lake Jesup (just watch out for alligators).

The short commute to Orlando’s many attractions helped maintain 2.8% unemployment in Oviedo before the pandemic. Unfortunately, like other places with tourism-heavy economies, the region was hit hard and as of June unemployment in the city was still over 10%. A local emphasis on high-tech skills may help Oviedo recover faster than after the last recession.

With a $296,000 median home price, Oviedo is more expensive than Florida at large. Yet, with comfortable incomes — the $93,000 median is 45% higher than the rest of the state — almost three-quarters of households own their homes. — Samantha Sharf

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