What's it like to live in Lakeland, FL?

Nicole Graham

Profile written by local expert:

Nicole Graham

Aptly named for its 38 stunning lakes, Lakeland is infused with Old Florida history and natural beauty. Remnants of Lakeland's past, like Polk Theatre and Munn Park, remind residents of the metro area’s 19th-century roots. Meanwhile, nearly 40 parks allow Lakelanders to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather.

Lakeland's location gives residents easy access to attractions and locations that other people travel far and wide to see. To the northeast, Lakeland residents find Orlando – home to famed attractions like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. To the southwest, some of the world's most famous beaches await; Lakeland is an hour and a half drive from the beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast.

Due to its placement between two of Florida's major metropolises, Orlando and Tampa, Lakeland is often overlooked. The relatively small metro area lends itself to a small-town feel where neighbors know each other and people often run into friends while out shopping or dining.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Lakeland, Florida is ranked:

#71 in Best Places to Live

#26 in Best Places to Retire




  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Lakeland, FL Quick Stats

  • 637,691

    Metro Population

  • $40,180

    Average Annual Salary

  • 85.2° / 62.7°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 40.4

    Median Age

  • $160,583

    Median Home Price

  • 52.2 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $883

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 25.6 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Lakeland, FL?

The cost of housing here is noticeably lower than in nearby Orlando or Tampa; however, Lakelanders spend slightly more than the average American on everyday expenses, such as groceries, transportation and health care.

Value Index

Index Score: 5.5 /10

How we calculate this.

Lakeland offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Lakeland, FL.

What's the weather like in Lakeland, FL?

Thanks to Central Florida's subtropical climate, Lakeland is known for mild winters. The summer heat can be sweltering and this region is also known for its high humidity levels, which can make the heat feel more intense.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.9 in


3.7 in


8.7 in


6.1 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Lakeland, FL?

Most Lakelanders get around by car. Businesses and residential areas provide ample parking, but rush hour creates noticeable congestion, especially around the Interstate 4 exchanges.

Public transportation isn't as readily available as it could be. Service provided by the Citrus Connection public bus system is limited: Buses stop running in the early evening on weekdays and Saturdays, and Sunday service is nonexistent.

Lakeland sits right on I-4, which makes it easy for residents to travel to surrounding areas, including Orlando and Tampa Bay. Other transportation services include the Greyhound bus system and Amtrak. Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is about 7 miles from the city center and is serviced only by charter aircraft. Residents usually head about an hour west to Tampa International Airport for access to commercial flights.

Commuting in Lakeland, FL

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

25.6 minutes

0.5 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Lakeland, FL?

This central Florida metro area has long been a location for couples and families. Half of Lakeland's population is married, and a significant portion of the population is over 65.

The Polk County area, where Lakeland is located, of the 40 percent of residents who consider themselves religious, most identify with a form of Christianity, which is exemplified by the hundreds of Christian churches found in the metro area. However, Lakeland is also the location for one of the first Hindu temples in the country: the Anoopam Mission Shree Swaminarayan Spiritual and Cultural Center.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Lakeland as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Lakeland, FL?

Lakeland has a nice balance between small-town living and resort-style amenities. The area is home to several public golf courses and state parks, while downtown hosts a variety of restaurants and shops. Iconic Lake Mirror is a favorite place to walk and jog. Lakeland also boasts natural parks like the Circle B Bar Reserve, a 1,267-acre reserve with numerous trails and beautiful views of Lake Hancock.

The area is also home to several museums, including the acclaimed Polk Museum of Art and the Florida Air Museum. And come spring, residents can watch the Detroit Tigers prep for the upcoming baseball season at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Nightlife in Lakeland is limited. A few restaurants and bars are open at night, but the metro area is largely family-oriented. Those who seek entertainment will find it at The Lakeland Center, which hosts everything from festivals and dance performances to sporting events and concerts.