Florida is a great state for those who like sunshine, beaches, and low taxes. But, it’s also a large and diverse place with a variety of cultural influences. There is a lot of opportunity in Florida if you know where to look, but you have to be familiar with the local landscape to know what makes sense for your situation. This list has been compiled based on the amount of opportunity, cost of living, and the variety of local attractions. We’ve organized the list or the best places to move in Florida based on their geographic location. Without further ado, here is a look at some of the top cities in Florida to live in and what makes them so unique.
The Best Places To Live in South Florida
The best places to live in South Florida include Miami and Port Saint Lucie.
Median Household Income: $41,818
Median Property Value: $350,400
Miami is perhaps the most famous Florida city, and it’s one of the premier vacation spots in the state. It’s a city with a rich local culture that is one of the most unique places in America. There is nothing quite like Miami, and it draws a diverse crowd who love the city’s nightlife and cultural attractions. The city has four major league sports teams - the Heat, the Dolphins, the Panthers, and the Marlon’s – which provides added entertainment options. Its warm weather is a bonus for those who like the heat. The cost of living is higher than in other Florida cities, but the low taxes and quality schools make up for it. The Miami lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone, but those who fall in love with the local culture will be hard-pressed to find anything else like it.
Port Saint Lucie
Median Household Income: $57,113
Median Property Value: $180,400
Another one of Florida’s hidden gems, Port St.t Lucie is about halfway between Miami and Orlando. It’s a quiet coastal city with all the amenities Floridians love without all the traffic. The St. Lucie River provides ample recreational opportunities for boaters and fishermen. Plus, it is also on the Atlantic coast which offers gorgeous beaches and scenic views. It doesn’t have the same variety of entertainment options as some of the larger cities, but it’s clean and features a high standard of living. It’s more rural and suburban than many major cities in the state, and the homeownership rate is high. It’s a city for those who want to escape the tourists and vacationers who flock to other coastal areas. Property values are low, and its population has increased steadily over the past decade, indicating that it’s an excellent place to buy. It’s more of a community of older professionals and retirees, but the good schools attract families as well.
The Best Places To Live on the Southwestern Gulf Coast of Florida
The best places to live in Southwest Florida include Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Venice. Here's what makes living in these Florida Gulf Coast cities so great.
Median Household Income: $57,125
Median Property Value: $214,700
Cape Coral is a small community on the Gulf Coast. It’s near Fort Meyers and halfway between Miami and Tampa. It was developed as a planned community in the 1950s and has since grown into a thriving beach city. Cape Coral has a relaxed, suburban atmosphere that offers a variety of entertainment opportunities. In addition to gorgeous beaches and world-class golf courses, it’s also home to the SunSplash Water Park, a variety of museums and art studios, and Mike Greenwell’s Bat a Ball and Family Fun Park. It’s also known for its unique wildlife, including its large population of burrowing owls and spiny-tailed iguanas. The economy of Cape Coral is centered around healthcare, retail, real estate, and construction. The sleepy city has a good mixture of local culture and suburban living, and it’s a great community for families and retirees.
Median Household Income: $43,474
Median Property Value: $208,200
Fort-Myers is a mid-sized city with a small-town ambiance. It features a quaint downtown area that features excellent local restaurants, shops, and a historic district. Fort Myers was the site of a literal fort during the Civil War – which is where the city gets its name. It has a laid back and suburban feel that many residents crave. There is an abundance of entertainment and recreational options – like malls, parks, museums, boat marinas, beaches, and more. It has all the attractions and amenities of any coastal town, but it’s a bit more secluded than many more popular tourist spots. It’s a clean city with palm tree-lined streets that attracts frequent vacationers and retirees. It’s not as glitzy as Miami or as industrious as Jacksonville or Orlando – but it offers scenic views, fresh air, and affordable living. For many residents, that’s more than enough.
Median Household Income: $61,683
Median Property Value: $239,600
Sarasota is a unique gem that features a mixture of laid-back beach vibes and eclectic entertainment options. It has many of the coastal flavors of other Southern Florida cities like Tampa or Ft. Meyers. Its pristine white beaches are something out of a movie, and there are a plethora of aquatic attractions like fishing and jet skiing. There is also a trendy art scene and has been a major cultural hub for years. It’s home to the Sarasota Orchestra, the Sarasota Ballet, and the Florida Studio Theatre, a live theatrical venue. It also features the Mote Marine Laboratory, a marine rescue and research facility, and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
The local economy is based primarily on tourism, and there are many noteworthy attractions. Although it does get a decent flow of tourists, it still has more of an intimate, small-town vibe. Sarasota Bay also contains Lino Key and Siesta Key, two popular islands that are a notable spot for vacationers. Plus, the Ringling Brothers Circus has its winter headquarters in Sarasota, and the Ringling family has been influential in that area. Sarasota is an excellent place for young people and retirees. It’s a fun, hip resort town with a lot of activity for its size.
Median Household Income: $57,601
Median Property Value: $241,600
Venice is a quiet beach city outside of Sarasota. It’s known for its great shopping, world-class golf courses, and pristine beaches. It’s a popular retirement community, has a fair amount of opportunity going on for young people as well. The Venice Theatre is the world’s largest per-capita community theatre in the United States, and several museums and landmarks are on the National Register of Historic Places. It has a historic district downtown where visitors can learn about the history of the community. It’s been called the Shark’s Tooth Capital of the world for the fossilized shark teeth that can be found in many places around the shore. It’s been named by several reputable publications as one of the top beach towns to live in. Overall, it’s a quiet beach city that is great for those who want a bit of peace and quiet. It’s clean and safe and features a mild climate. Those who want a little more action can always head into Sarasota or Tampa. But Venice is a great community for those who want to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
The Best Places To Live in Central Florida
Median Household Income: $54,599
Median Property Value: $257,600
Tampa is often overshadowed by flashier, more tourist-friendly Florida destinations. But it’s a diverse and affordable city with a wide array of economic opportunities. Its major industries are healthcare, finance, tech, and supply chain management. Tampa's port is the largest in the state and supplies a healthy mixture of both middle- and working-class jobs. Tampa also features a mild climate that never gets too hot or too cold. It’s a fast-growing city that attracts young families and working professionals who are drawn by the abundance of opportunity and high standard of living. The city of Tampa is clean and well organized. Plus, there are several attractive suburbs – like Carolwood and Westchase – that offer peace and security. Tampa may not be as busy as Miami or Daytona Beach, but has a lot to offer its local community.
Median Household Income: $51,820
Median Property Value: $262,700
Orlando is best known for its famous theme parks – like Disney World and Universal Orlando – but it’s also consistently rated one of the best places to live in Florida if you can deal with the tourists. It has a robust economy that is supported not only by entertainment and hospitality but also by industries like technology, digital media, aviation, and aerospace. If you’re a fan of theme parks, you’ll be in heaven. But even if you’re not, there are plenty of other things to do – like golf or visit the beach. The cost of living is relatively affordable as long as you stay out of the major tourist areas. Plus, there are world-class seafood restaurants everywhere you go. The mild temperature and the access to opportunity and amenities make up for the occasional traffic and annoying tourists. It’s a great city for young families and professionals who want a stable economy and a plethora of places to go on the weekend.
Median Household Income: $58,057
Median Property Value: $220,700
One of the lesser-known Florida cities, St. Petersburg, is a major metropolis with a small-town vibe. It has one of the healthiest job markets in the entire US, and it’s below the national average in terms of affordability. Couple that with the year-round good weather, you have the makings of a very high standard of living. It has a strong healthcare and educational system and the third largest downtown waterpark system in North America. St. Petersburg is also the most environmentally conscious city in Florida, and in 2017 the city made the transition into using clean and renewable energy. Plus, you don’t get the kind of tourist traffic you find in Orlando or Miami. There are still plenty of parks and beaches to keep you occupied on the weekend. But the pace of life is a bit slower and less chaotic. St. Petersburg has a mixed urban and suburban feel that appeals to families, white-collar workers, and retirees alike. If you’re looking for a good mix of affordability, opportunity, and cleanliness, St. Petersburg might be the right choice.
The Best Places To Live in Northern Florida
Median Household Income: $54,269
Median Property Value: $183,700
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and offers a variety of opportunities to residents. The city offers affordable living and a high quality of life. It doesn’t have quite the same tourist pull as other Florida cities – but many Jacksonville residents love it because of that. It’s a major transportation and distribution hub, which creates economic opportunities for residents. Plus, it has a business-friendly government and no personal income tax, which is attractive to entrepreneurs and working professionals.
Jacksonville has one of the largest park systems of any city in the US, and there are miles of beaches that residents can enjoy. The city has an outstanding balance of urban amenities and natural splendor, contributing to its high standard of living. It’s also home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the major league football team, and a major symphony orchestra. There is a little something for everyone in Jacksonville, which makes it such a great place to live.
Ultimately, almost anywhere in the sunshine state will offer good weather, affordable living, and easy access to the ocean. But each city on this list has its own unique flavor, and who you are and what you’re looking for will ultimately determine where you end up. Young professionals looking for a career change will not have the same tastes as retirees who want a place to relax. There is something about Florida that attracts people from all walks of life, and almost anyone can find something interesting in this large and eclectic state. Whether you’re a CEO, a healthcare worker, a tech guru, or you work in hospitality, Florida has something to offer. No matter where you go, you’ll find sandy beaches, sports facilities, and a low standard of living compared to the national average – so you can’t go wrong no matter where you end up.
**All data on population, household income, and property values came from DataUSA.