Disney employees begin relocating from California to Florida: 'Business-friendly climate'

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Some of the 2,000 Walt Disney Company employees who are being moved 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."

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Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA – August 19, 2015: an entrance of Walt Disney World Resort. Some cars are visible. (iStock / iStock)

Disney announced in July that it would move 2,000 employees from California to Florida in part 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 its lack of state income tax among other business issues, such as collaborative efforts for the company. 

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

Central Florida is seeing historic lows of available houses for sale, which Armel said is making the moves more difficult. The September housing market in Orlando dropped by 39% when compared to last year, according to the latest housing report by the Orlando Regional Realtor’s Association. 

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"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."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – OCTOBER 01: Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. () (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The median price of a home is far below that of California’s, sitting at $318,000 for Florida and $951,000 in California, WKMG reported. 

"It’s cash, it’s all cash," Armel said.

Another area realtor, Sean Faulk of Forever Magic Realty, said he’s also working with at least 20 other Disney employees looking to make the 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."

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"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."

Istock illustration (istock / iStock)

This year, California reported its first yearly population decrease in the state’s history. All in, California’s population fell by more than 182,000 in 2020. Many have cited the state’s high taxes, and how it’s not affordable for families. 

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