What type of price range where you looking to stay within?
I'm originally from S. FL as well, and the area around here that seems most like home is Dr. Phillips, that has easy access to the 528 that will take you directly to the watersports complex, and if you keep following the 528 you will eventually hit cocoa. Also easy access to I-4 if you wanted to go the other way to west coast beaches.
The night life can be found several places. Mostly Downtown Orlando which would be the most central place to live, but there are also clubs and lots to do in City Walk (just North of Dr. Phillips) or Downtown Disney.
Dr. Phillips can get pricey for a Single family home though. East Orlando would put you closer to the beach and close to alot of the younger crowd here around UCF, but no real night life other than house parties in the immediate area....most will go downtown. Homes are also less expensive in this area. If you wanted to consider downtown, there are several condo's ranging in price from the low 100's to the millions, as well as several homes you may consider in Thornton park. The downtown condo market is a mess though, so there are deals to be found everywhere, but the market downtown will most likely stay pretty soft for some time to come.