Sitting just east of Tampa, the city of Lakeland, FL is situated in the westernmost area of Polk County. While often thought of to be a part of the Tampa Bay community, it also has its own unique identity, culture and sense of place. With a population of over 100,000 people, it is considered to be a metropolis style city with small town roots.
Settled in 1875, the area’s history dates back nearly 12,000 years to the Native Americans who first roamed this Central Florida hot spot. Thirty-eight lakes dot the map, making up the aptly named city’s dominant features. As with most of Florida, Lakeland routinely sees hot and humid summers with mild and dry winters. Also affectionately known as “Swan City” due to the iconic birds that have loyally graced Lake Morton and other local waterways for nearly 100-years, these true pets of the city are all direct descendants of two royal swans which were gifted to Lakeland by Queen Elizabeth II.
Citrus, cattle and phosphate mining have historically dominated local industry, with tourism, medicine, music and transportation quickly rising to meet them. Companies such as FedEx, Amazon, Badcock Furniture, Mosaic and Geico all have a home or major presence here, and the largest employer, Publix Supermarkets, the biggest Fortune 500 company in the state of Florida, also calls Lakeland home.
Sitting along Interstate 4 (I-4) and the Polk Parkway, Lakeland transportation is primarily served via personal vehicles, but the city does offer Amtrak and Greyhound bus stations, as well as the Citrus Connection, a local bus service. In recent years, the city has become a favorite for cost-conscious consumers with it’s easy commute times to both Tampa and Orlando, but with much cheaper housing. In fact, Realtor.com recently named Lakeland, FL as the #1 place in America to buy a home in 2019!
Education abounds here, with a vast array of public and private schools along with nine colleges and universities. The beautiful Florida Southern College campus on Lake Hollingsworth is a true masterpiece that is proud to be the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture anywhere in the world. Florida Polytechnic University, which is the state’s only public polytechnic university, is poised to lead the Central Florida area’s charge into high-tech with it’s exclusive focus on STEM education and research. With higher education in major play, Lakeland intends to see a substantial rise in IT and other related technology fields in the coming future.
Five sports venues draw crowds on a regular basis. With the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Gulf Coast League Tigers, Florida Tarpons, Southeastern University Fire, Florida Southern College Mocs, Florida Tropics, Lakeland Magic (an affiliate of the NBA’s Orlando Magic) and Lakeland Tropics all playing within the city, fans of all sports can find a team to root for here. Lakeland is also the proud spring training home of MLB’s Detroit Tigers, since 1934.
Since the city is based around the various lakes that comprise the landscape, many of Lakeland’s outdoor activities are water based. Boating, fishing, water-skiing and paddle boarding are staples, however the city also hosts a variety of festivals, concerts, plays, markets and a thriving nightlife.
Housing remains relatively low cost, with a variety of homes available for less than $200K; and the population continues to increase, spelling a good resale market in the future.
If you’re considering buying a home in Lakeland or Polk County, a professional home inspection with Whitt Inspections can dispel any worries you may have. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or find out more information.