My family and I were looking for a nice Southern town to move to in order to get out of Texas (which I hated!). It didn't take me long to develop a hatred for Ocala. The traffic here is horrendous as there are so many speeders, and the cops do nothing to help. The speed limit signs are a joke. There are constant traffic accidents and, as the mother of 2 teenagers, I'm worried sick about my kids driving independently. The older generation really isn't a problem as far as I can tell with regard to driving. I have one child in West Port HS and I could never recommend that school to anyone. They give you a packet of the alleged rules that a student is to follow, but I've seen pretty much every rule broken in the less than one year we've been here. Neither the staff nor the police do anything to help with morning traffic and it is always a nightmare. No one is courteous. I wish we'd never moved here and, as soon as possible, we are moving away!
I lived in Ocala from 2006-2010. I specifically went there because to have horses. Ocala is known for its horse farms, and if you're looking to buy , or lease a place, you can find anything from 1 acre to 1,000 acres. They have 2 facilities for horse shows. Unfortunately, the horse "industry" is not what it was back in the 80s, and so many properties are just standing vacant and overgrown. When I attended horse shows this time around, the number of participants was very low, and many classes were cancelled due to no entries. I don't know how things are for the thoroughbred business as I had show horses, so can't comment on that. For "horsey" people though, Ocala is a great place to be. And the public is welcome to attend and watch any of the horse events, which there are many throughout the year.I agree with the very first review here, by Bacon Thinker so I won't rehash those comments. I will relate my experiences. Ocala has small-town, southern charm. Rental apartments can be found at a very reasonable price, and if you're interested in buying a home, tons of those too. You can find a house or apartment in just about every price range, and there are many Mcmansions and estates in Marion County. Some very nice mobile home/manufactured housing communities. I personally enjoyed Ocala. People were very friendly. My negatives were: a) weather was too humid and oppressive in the summertime. Too far inland for a sea breeze, I often went to Daytona Beach to cool off. And we had a LOT of tornadoes and lightning storms. b) creatures. I hardly ever saw snakes when I was there in the 80s. This last time around, whenever I walked my dogs, I saw at least 1 a day. Mostly black racers, or garden-type snakes. Usually sunning themselves on logs or crossing the street. I lived in a somewhat rural area so perhaps that's why. My best friend lived in a more rural area than me, and she lost one of her dogs to a rattlesnake bite. The most fearsome one for me was called a Pygmy rattler that are very small but pack a deadly bite. One lady was bitten while cleaning up some leaves and branches that had blown down on her driveway in a storm. Another man was under his truck working. I had horse friends who reported the same, their horses getting bitten on their legs and hocks while out in pasture. I also saw my share of spiders, including a wolf spider that got into my house. Those are hideous. My bf was bitten by what doctors thought was a brown recluse. He thinks it may have happened at his work. He was a mechanic so always under cars, worked in a small local garage. He ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks, and after being released, still had to go back daily for IV treatments. While they couldn't say for certain it was a brown recluse, they said it had all the hallmarks, and I can only tell you it was an awful, and scary, mess. It was thought he might lose his leg. I had spiders spin huge webs during the night that would hang from treetops down to the ground. The spiders run if you approach the web, but they are kind of big and I wasn't sure what kind they were. I steered clear. There are other bugs to worry about. FL has a lot of fire ants, and if you step on them, you will be sorry. It feels like a million hot needles being jabbed into your skin. Chiggers cling to grass so if you go walking in grass, the chiggers can get you if you're wearing shorts or sandals. Those will cause a lot of itching but some people are allergic to them. I always cringe when I see people, especially kids, walking around barefoot in yards or rural environments. We also had a black bear in my area. I only saw it once, it lumbered across the road in front me when I was just about a mile from home. There were woods behind where I lived and I had already been told to watch out for the bear. I wasn't scared, just startled. Gators can be found in just about any body of water, no matter how small. They pose more of a danger to a small animal, so you must be careful not to walk dogs close to edges of ponds, lakes, etc. A gator can run FAST and they have been known to run up an embankment and snatch a small dog. If you swim in fresh water, NEVER swim where it says not to. There are reasons for that! The gator attacks that happened when I lived there, were to people who swimming when and where, there posted signs not to. My advice if you live in rural areas not say, downtown Ocala or a condo/apartment complex, invest in monthly pest control. It will be worth it. Do not walk around barefoot. Keep your grass cut as short as possible (snakes like it when the grass is high). Do not let debris accumulate on your property. Critters can hide in, and under toys, equipment, etc. Be especially cautious around sheds. Sweep away any cobwebs. If you have a shed or area in your house where you are storing boxes or containers, be careful when you open them up. Don't just reach in, something may have made a home when you weren't looking.Regarding crime, there is a lot of drug-related crime. If you are not buying or selling drugs, you will not be involved with that element. Unfortunately, as in many places in FL, there are home break-ins and home invasions of people looking to steal for drug money. Have a good alarm system. Do neighborhood crime watches so that you keep an eye out for one another. Don't go around bragging or advertising about any valuables or money you might have. Be careful who you hire as handy-men; get references from other people, check Angie's list. I can't comment on the school system as I did not have children.Job market is not great. Most jobs are in retail, restaurants and hotels. People with medical background can usually get jobs quickly. Pay scales aren't high, but I was able to live on $10.00/hour from my hotel job by keeping my expenses low, not incurring debt and loans, and living in a reasonably priced apartment. I loved the friendliness of the Ocala people. I also lived in the Tampa Bay area and did not find people to be friendly there at all. But in Ocala, I was comfortable going into restaurants solo. And Ocala had a lot of restaurants I liked. Pub-type bars and chains. I wasn't looking for nightlife. I wanted a peaceful, pleasant existence. Ocala had festivals and farmers markets which I loved, and The Villages was nearby that had entertainment and specialty restaurants that were quite good. Other than horses, I wasn't "outdoorsy" but lots of places to kayak and canoe, or ride bikes for those who do. LOTS of state, county and city parks. There were movie theatres and bowling alleys, which I enjoyed, for my recreational needs.And I just loved Silver Springs the attraction. I was able to buy an annual pass which also allowed use of the water park and in summertime, I was a daily visitor. Silver Springs is probably the last of the original florida attractions, but I always found it nice, well kept and just an enjoyable place to spend time. Many concerts!Love the Gator football games. A lot of fun, high energy. For major league sports, you aren't far from Orlando and Tampa area.I think Ocala is great for a retiree or someone who has a decent-paying job. I can't comment on racism, I didn't notice it nor talk to anyone about it. But if you are a family or someone who makes minimum wage, you may have a tough time in Ocala. But definitely check it out.
I grew up my first 13 years in Ocala before moving to NYC. I have since gone back a few times over the years to visit. However, after living in Boston, Dubai, NYC, DC, Virginia Beach, and Richmond - I am returning due to a corporate relocation. Here is the honest run-down. Demographics: if you are White you will do just fine in Ocala, FL. That bluntness may come as a shock to some, but I am just being honest. Ocala is a town with some traditional, deeply entrenched, gentrified pockets. I would not want to be Black in Ocala. Caribbean Hispanics - like everywhere in Florida - are a welcomed part of the Community, but there are probably fewer in Ocala than the average for the state. Culture: Be respectful of its Southern heritage and it will respect you. There are a lot of transplants - retirees - from the Midwest and Northeast, so it has other regional influences. But all in all, this is one of Florida's most truly Southern towns. Personally, I like that about Ocala. You will see Confederate Battle Flags ... you will hear "y'all" ... you can find biscuits-and-gravy ... people are open about Jesus Christ. If that makes you uncomfortable, Ocala may not be for you. Crime: the reasons for the high crime rates are (A) not many high paying job opportunities, (B) the horse industry invites a number of transient employees, (C) predatory criminals take advantage of some of the less financially secure elderly, (D) the cops WILL arrest you for even the most minor infraction. Most of the crimes are burglaries of elderly homes. Have a great alarm system. In addition, that last part - D- probably hurts the statistics. Make no mistake, the Ocala PD and Marion Sheriff are the REAL deal. They will crack down and they are getting harder and harder on criminal elements of any kind. That said, if you are in the right area and not prone to stupid shannigans, you will probably never see a cop except on the roads. Which reminds me - DONT SPEED in Ocala. Neighborhoods: The area - like anywhere else - has its good parts and it's bad parts. The downtown is under significant construction and still improving. Stay away from Silver Spring Shores. Immediately South and West of the city center is best. Weather/Nature: Ocala as a whole has incredibly pretty, natural parks adjacent to the city. The temperature, in my opinion, is the best in Florida (with just enough chill in the Winter nights to justify a fireplace, but warm days). You will be shocked as to the beauty of the Silver Springs. There are gators and even monkeys in the park. There are also gators in the suburbs, as well. On a very rare occasion the news will relay a story about a gator eating some old lady's poodle, but for the most part, gators keep to themselves and prefer to chill by the water's edge. Schools: I went to Blessed Trinity and I can honestly say that my New York peers were a full two years BEHIND me when I finally moved up there. I cannot answer for the public schools, but Blessed Trinity was a great education (NOTE: I am Pentacostal; the school is Catholic - but it accommodates non-Catholic students in a welcoming way). Nightlife: eh... this is not Miami, but if you are reading this, you already knew that. You will find your typical compliment of chain restaurants coupled with some local pubs. There are a couple of places to go out and have fun. If you are in your mid-forties, like me, a few drinks, laughter, and maybe an urge to dance to a cheesy 80s tune will suffice. Otherwise, get your fix in Orlando, Tampa, or even Gainesville. Finally, this town has one of the largest concentrations of home-grown SEC, ACC, and NFL players. It is not uncommon to see football players walking around from time to time (usually, in town to visit mom). A lot of stars and wealthy families have their horses in Ocala, as well. Thus, a concentration of wealth - to include the amenities that go with it - can be found in Ocala. If this will be a commuter town for you or if you have a comfortably paying position available, you can really enjoy Ocala. If you have a career position and a young family, this is an EXCELLENT town for getting your financial house in order. You might miss New York or Chicago pizza... the pubs are nothing like Boston... this isn't Richmond's "The Fan" ... but if you are getting transplanted here, there is plenty to enjoy.
Ocala Florida is a place of hidden racism, no good paying jobs, and no economic growth. How does a near by city such as Gainesville Florida continue to grow and there are so many different cultures of people, but yet Ocala is behind the times. All the good jobs are for someone who already knows someone and they are all friends. People hire who they know and let's not get started on the whack health care system. Everytime my kids had to go see a specialist we had to go to Gainesville. There is nothing for the kids to do and if it is, it is very expensive. There is no competition retail wise, bad shoppping, even the Burlington Coat Factory is bad, and that is one of my favorite stores. The school system is run by uneducated people that are only in office because of the color of their skin, not experience. A good majority of the minority population works low-paying jobs while the white majority has the good in-door office jobs. The wrong people are in position politically and that is why this place is not growing. I gave 1 half star because its quiet and slow. It is only for the people who are retired. I had a lady turn her nose up at me in Target and I am thinking to myself, so miniorities can't shop in Target,,well whatever get over yourself. This is not the best place in Florida to be. Somebody needs to take a stand.
I relocated to Ocala, Florida from Tampa and I've lived in Ocala for over 15 years. Compared to the larger Florida cities, Ocala is a very small town and more than lives up to its nickname of "Slow-Cala." The pace there is that of a small Midwest town with very friendly people who aren't in much of a hurry to get anywhere.
The city is very clean and a great place to raise a family where you don't have to worry about the issues of big-city life, like crime. If you want excitement you will need to head to Orlando or one of the larger cities on either coast, as you won't find it in Ocala. Additionally, as a "retirement community," Ocala is not the place for young single people.
If you like to live in a clean environment and atmosphere of a small town than Ocala is the right city for you, and this, along with the nice climate, is why so many people from the Midwest move there to retiree. For hiking, camping, fishing and hunting the Ocala Wildlife Management Area is nearby.
While the weather in Ocala is great for most of the year, it does get very hot during the summer, and being inland from the ocean there are no coastal breezes to cool things down. Not being on the coast is the biggest knock against Ocala, in my opinion.
Traffic congestion isn't bad and the shopping does have pretty much everything you need. The cost of living in Ocala is reasonable, compared to the larger Florida cities, and homes are priced fairly. Overall, for a small town atmosphere with nice weather, Ocala is a great place to live.
its a damn redneck town, boring, terrible transportation, drivers usually don't care about pedestrian i
almost got run over many times, they park and drive on side walk ,you have to go to dangerous traffic just to pass those damn parked cars on side walk. the routing is so bad that there will be always car accident, people here don't give a damn
the city counsels are greedy, they will make sure they take every last penny on your pocket when you commit violation, example of j walking.
I would not recommend to move here, you will regret it.
I have lived in Ocala for 6 years now I moved here from Gainesville Fl I would love to move back to Gainesville there is nothing here to do for the ages 18 to 25 year old everything is catered to for and around the elderly including the jobs. limited colleges, attractions resources and not to mention the racism yeah I understand this is the south I m originally from up north the amount of people that say the same thing about
Ocala being extremely racist is unbelievable. there is a lack of diversity in everything in Ocala especially in the shores. the police target the urban community more than I have seen anywhere else I have lived. anywhere you go as an African American you can expect to be discriminated against in this county. this ignorance is almost unbearable there are even certain places in Ocala or Marion county that if you are of any ethic group you are not allowed to go at the risk of being harmed based on solely your race and nothing else. these ideologies should have been let go a long time ago but are not. there is a area on MLK where it is engraved on a stone display "Negro Slaves Remembered" in Gainesville FL this would not be. Marion county as a whole is not the best place to live the city commissioner turned down the request to build a theme park in hopes of not attracting any more of the younger generations to keep Ocala as a retired City there is only one community college CF and they are so full the professors are backed up and they can't fit students in the classes and has Ocala tried to build another college or university to assist the community no the jobs are going to the elder as a main priority. the only good thing is properly housing is alot cheaper than surrounding counties
Ocala, Florida is nestled in among some beautiful rolling hills which are dotted with horse stables. I enjoyed living in Ocala for 5 years and I found the area to have plenty of good restaurants and great shopping is only one and on-half hours away either to Orlando or Tampa. Both of these cities have international airports that welcome a number of national and international carriers.
The city is beautiful and it has many beautiful locales nearby. The current population is 55,568. The median household income is $37,992, which is much lower than the Florida median household income. The population is composed of 58 percent under age 40 and 22 percent are over the age of 60.
Crime in Ocala is 50 percent higher than the Florida average which is indicative of problems for the people living in Ocala. The cost of living index for Ocala is 99.69 on a scale of 100. Ocala's cost of living is higher than most cities in Florida. City services are still very good.
The great attraction in Ocala is all of the wealthy people who have an interest in the horses in the Ocala area. They come from all over and they add a lot of class to Ocala during the winter season. They also bring a lot of money.
Property tends to be higher priced in the Ocala area with the median home price being $188,000. Ocala is also a city that suffered a decline in the housing market, but it is slowly returning.
Ocala is a city with many good restaurants and some good nightlife. The restaurants cater to every taste and every budget. At the last count there were 48 restaurants in the city. The variety of food shopping is also very good.
The main attractions in Ocala are the golf clubs which seem to be everywhere. Golf is the big attraction and it ranks up there with horses.
The climate is a little less harsh in the summer and very mild in the winter.
We've traveled (and lived) all around the world, but ended up in Ocala at a fairly young age as we fell for the lovely rolling hills (we actually have a "view" property), dotted with big Oak trees and horses.
We enjoy the rural life but wouldn't live here if it were not for the easy access to multiple large cities too - both Tampa and Orlando are under 1 1/2 hours easy drive so we can get cheap, nonstop flights anytime (and my wife won't live too far from Nordstroms - a high end store!)
Ocala has decent stores and restaurants in all price ranges - all the national standards like Olive Garden, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Macys and Target, etc. and it's just a short drive to Gainesville to add to our selection of restaurants and a little culture (large state college there, so a younger atmosphere and a commercial airport which is more expensive than Orlando/Tampa but okay if you plan ahead for travel).
We're not horse owners, and Ocala gives a lot of attention to the horse crowd - but we do enjoy the fact the active horse community encourages a lot of visitors from the colder climates. Not to sound "stuck up" but we find the race and show horse people who come here for a few months each year a bit of a step up from the typical RV snowbirds throughout Florida - they bring money, appreciation for private restaurants and nightlife that give Ocala a nice non-rural boost but with a country charm overlay. No regrets about employment (which is tough everywhere right now) as we're in a high-tech industry where our home base is not critical and even if paychecks have dropped lately our pretty Ocala setting makes "roughing it" seem more pleasant. We live just north of Ocala (between Ocala and Gainesville), but our city - Citra - wasn't offered on this site.
If you're not familiar with Ocala - keep in mind there are a ton of little cities around Ocala (I think a stop sign and a PO box qualified an area to be it's own city!) that are still considered "Ocala" by the locals and while a NW address seems to be preferred a bit by the horseshow people, there are beautiful homes and farms all around the area.