Florida’s business-friendly climate entices thousands of California’s Disney employees to relocate

Walt Disney World — Courtesy: Shutterstock — VIAVAL TOURS

Some of the 2,000 Walt Disney Company employees who are being transferred from California to Florida are already eyeing up the housing market near Orlando.

“They are already trickling in,” Armel Real Estate owner Deanna Armel told WKMG of the Disney employees looking at homes. “I’m working with a Disney relocation right now buying in the Winter Garden area.”

Disney announced in early July that 2,000 employees from California would be moved to the Sunshine State because of “Florida’s business-friendly climate,” chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro, said at the time. He added that expanding Disney in Florida “makes sense” because of the state’s lack of income tax among other business issues, such as collaborative efforts for the brand. 

The jobs will be located at the new Disney campus being built in the Orlando community, Lake Nona. The move was set to take place over 18 months, beginning in July.

Central Florida is experiencing never-before-seen lows of available houses for sale, which Armel said is making the move even more difficult. The September housing market in Orlando fell by 39% when compared to last year, according to the latest housing report by Orlando Regional Realtor’s Association.

“It’s not just 2,000 employees, it’s 2,000 employees, their families, and extended families,” she said. “I also kind of panicked and was like, ‘Gosh, we don’t have enough inventory as it is,’ more buyers coming in is going to make it more difficult to win bids for these buyers and we’re trying to help.”

The median price of a home is much further below California’s, sitting at $318,000 for Florida and $951,000 in California.

“It’s cash, it’s all cash,” Armel said.

Another realtor from the area, Sean Faulk of Forever Magic Realty, said he is also working with at least 20 other Disney employees looking to make the same move. 

“A great deal of Disney employees are contacting me to make that move,” Faulk told WKMG. “Even as crazy as the housing market is, it is still a lot less expensive than their housing market in California.”

“It does change the scale of things. There are a lot of people from California, even if they don’t pay it off, there is so much equity in their home that they can pay cash for a house here. So, it makes our market even more competitive and drives prices up.”

This year, California reported its first yearly population decrease in the state’s history. In total, California’s population decreased by more than 182,000 in 2020. Many have blamed the state’s high taxes, and how it is extremely expensive for families.

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