Your Checklist for Finding The Best Neighborhood In Florida

Moving to a brand new state can be a lot of things- exciting, overwhelming, and even confusing. Deciding where your family will live for the foreseeable future is a huge commitment, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area. As big as Florida is, nearly every type of community is available, so the neighborhood you choose could have a huge impact on your experience. But if you’re asking yourself, “what should I know before I move to Florida?” this guide is for you. Read on for tips on choosing the neighborhood that fits your needs.


If you are moving to Florida for a job, to be near family, or anything else with a geographic component, this will be the place to start. After all, finding your dream home in Miami won’t help if your goal is to work in Orlando! Identifying a general region of Florida, or even a city or metropolitan area, will help you begin your home search and narrow down options immediately.

A great way to determine whether something is close enough to your destination is to plug in a few nearby addresses throughout the day and see what traffic looks like. Even though some commutes may only be a few miles on paper, traffic in certain areas could have you spending hours in your car when you’d rather be enjoying your new home!

You should also consider proximity to amenities within that region. Do you want to be close to grocery stores, shopping, and a city center? Or do you want a more rural experience? Take into consideration what each distance would look like, especially for places you frequently visit like the gym or a daycare center.

School District

For anyone with children or planning to have them, it may seem obvious to start with the school districts. Public schools are zoned based on counties in Florida, so where you live will directly impact the quality of schools your child attends. Most real estate listings include the names of the school district and the schools themselves, making it easy to search for the options you will have. Look for information like the school’s ratings, test scores, student-to-teacher ratio, and reviews from local parents to help understand if you’d want your child to attend.

Even if you don’t plan to utilize public schools, this may be a consideration. Property taxes on your new home will fund schools, and you may see them go up in better school districts. At the same time, a better school district can mean higher resale value in the future. Understanding the quality of schools in the area can give you insights into your potential costs as well as future property values.


Of course, you will want to feel safe in your new home. While home security systems and personal protection can be helpful, you’ll want to also understand which neighborhoods are the safest for you and your family. There is no neighborhood in the world with zero crime, so you should understand what the rates are in that area and what kinds of crimes are most often committed.

Crime statistics are often split into the categories of violent crime and property crime. Both are important and may tell you something about the activity in the neighborhood. Property crime is more likely to be directed at someone random, like having your house vandalized or broken into, while violent crime is often linked to gang activity or domestic violence. Of course, you want to find a neighborhood with as little of both types as possible, but don’t downplay a high property crime rate just because violent crime is low.

While these statistics are helpful, there are other ways to get a sense of the safety of a neighborhood. You could take a walk in the area at various times of day with a friend and see if you feel safe, if you are approached by anyone, and what general sense you get. You can also look out for signs of a less safe area- bars on the windows, outdoor items locked or mounted, or police on constant patrol. Positive signs may include children playing outside alone, porches or yards with items left out, and neighborhood watch signs.


 Even within a single city, different neighborhoods can have vastly different price ranges. If there is a particular area you’re interested in, one of the first things you do may be to look at the average cost of homes in the area and if those fit your budget. It can also be helpful to look at their sales history if possible to see what kind of return you may expect on your investment.

Your realtor should understand your budget upfront and only show you houses with sales prices in that range. But there is more to consider when it comes to the affordability of a neighborhood than the home itself. This is especially true if you are looking at a condo or townhome that may have Homeowners Association fees, which can get hefty. Things like property taxes and insurance costs may also vary depending on the type of home you’re in, so be sure to calculate that properly.

Also, take into consideration any unique costs the neighborhood may bring. If there is a requirement to keep your lawn a certain way, you might incur landscaping costs, for example. On the other hand, a community having a shared pool may mean you save money on installing one yourself. You can balance the neighborhood’s amenities and costs to see what works for your budget as a homeowner.


 Some people want to move into a neighborhood that feels like a true community. Block parties, kids going between houses, and welcome wagons could be exactly what you need in a neighborhood. As much as you can, seek out residents to talk with and ask about what it is like to live there and see if it fits with your desires for a new home. On the other hand, you may prefer to live in a home and not interact much with the people around you, so this information can also be useful if you want to avoid an overly friendly community.

Activities in the Area

What each person likes to do for fun may vary widely, but you should always be sure you have some access to activities in your new neighborhood. This can be as simple as finding the nearest park or neighborhood pool to be sure you have something to entertain children. You may also look for gyms, tennis courts, or golf courses nearby if you enjoy physical activity.

Someone who loves to shop on the weekends may prefer a neighborhood close to the city, for example, while a diehard fisherman may choose a quiet home on one of Florida’s many lakes. The neighborhood you choose should offer at least some recreational activities in your wheelhouse to make it feel like home.

Be Open to the Unexpected

Each neighborhood will have something unique about it, and you may or may not know it’s a part of your moving checklist before you see it. It can be tempting to ask your realtor to only show you homes that meet an exact description, but some flexibility can help you think of things in new ways. Things like school district quality may be non-negotiable, but deciding that you need all the houses to look a certain way or something to be exactly 5 miles from your office may not serve you in the end. Trusting your instincts during the house hunting process can help you to find the neighborhood you didn’t know you wanted! 

Posted by Florida Realty Marketplace on
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