Where Are The Best Places To Live In Florida Right Now?
When most people picture Florida, the first things that come to mind are the beautiful beaches and the seemingly endless supply of sunny days and clear skies. This is absolutely a draw - after all, it is the Sunshine State! But Florida has so much to offer, from theme parks to historic sites, and many cities meet almost any needs.
Florida is so much more than just the bustling Miami nightlife you see on TV. In fact, some of the most popular cities for new residents are far north of well-known South Beach!
The top ten places to live in Florida are:
- Port St. Lucie
Wherever you choose, you’ll enjoy great weather, easy access to nature, a 0% income tax rate, and so much more.
Finding The Best Place To Live In Florida
As one of the largest states in the US, Florida offers a wide variety of cultures and communities in various cities. Not everywhere in Florida is the same and you might not like every area equally. If you are considering moving to Florida, it’s essential to spend time in the exact location you have in mind to be sure it’s the right fit for you and your family.
If you aren’t able to spend a lot of time in Florida yet, short trips can be enough to give you an overall sense of a city. Ieally, however, you will be able to spend long stretches of time there. Many people who retire to Florida will rent a second home there beforehand to ensure the community is the right fit.
Deciding where in Florida to live will ultimately come down to your priorities. Some people want to live close to the beach or an attraction, while others may care more about the school district or proximity to work opportunities. Whatever you are looking for in a new home, one of the best places to live in Florida is sure to fit your needs.
10 Best Places To Live In Florida
Throughout the state, you can experience everything from Walt Disney World to some of the world’s largest swamps. The variety of environments makes Florida diverse in terms of activities, residents, and even weather.
Florida is known for being a haven for retirees, but anyone can enjoy the state’s many benefits. For example, not only is the cost of living relatively low, but there is also no state income tax anywhere in Florida. At the same time, many of the world’s largest companies have headquarters there and the state has no shortage of hospitality jobs.
Every area of the state has its own unique benefits, but the top 10 best places to live in Florida that are popular for new residents are:
Sarasota, home of Siesta Key beach and other exquisite views of the Gulf
Naples, a luxurious town on the Southwest coast known for its white sand and upscale shopping
Melbourne, also known as Florida’s Space Coast, offers a technological hub among beautiful coastlines
Davenport, a small town with affordable housing and a relaxed community
Tampa and the Tampa Bay area, known for large ports and a laid-back lifestyle with access to amusement parks and a diverse community
Clermont, a family-oriented suburb of Orlando that is preferred by Olympic athletes for training due to the unique hills and Florida’s highest point
Orlando, known for its theme parks and hospitality industry
Port St. Lucie, which sits between Miami and Orlando, is a quiet town with a passion for sports, which is why the New York Mets do all their spring training here
Lakeland, named for its 38 lakes, is a historic district that offers a small-town feel and proximity to some of Florida’s largest attractions
Windermere, a small town outside of Orlando, where you will know every neighbor as you stroll the small downtown area
Why Move To Sarasota?
Located about an hour south of Tampa, Sarasota covers 26 square miles of land along the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's west coast. As a part of a large metropolitan area, the city offers a lively arts scene and business hubs, along with beautiful views of the clear water at every turn.
Sarasota's 58,000 residents are a mix of retirees, families, and young professionals who can all find something to do and the support they need. The average salary in Sarasota is $48,000, but know that you may also live among some millionaires like author Stephen King. Some of the state's elite occupy a stretch of beaches known as Longboat Key. Considering the wide variance of property values, the median home price in Sarasota is around $560,000 and the average rent is $2,100.
The schools in Sarasota County are consistently high-ranking among Florida's districts, with some even ranked among Florida's top two schools. Pine View High School comes in second in the state, while Bay Haven Elementary is a National School of Merit. The school district serves a total of 43,000 students.
While Sarasota is a popular retirement spot, there is plenty around for those who aren't at this stage in life. Those who choose to make Sarasota home will have a variety of employment opportunities in the area. A large medical industry, many grocery stores, and law enforcement agencies provide a large job market. Sarasota ranks in the top 10 cities of its size for business and naturally is one of the best places to live in Florida for young professionals.
The city also has a thriving art scene, boasting everything from an opera house to a ballet company to the Sarasota Film Festival. The Towles Court Artist Colony is another hidden gem, where a downtown district of bungalows houses endless galleries, studios, salons, cafes, and more.
Sarasota visitors and residents can also enjoy activities like the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Locals also enjoy numerous golf courses, including the first to be built in Florida and some notoriously challenging courses.
Why Is Moving To Naples A Good Choice?
Sitting on the state’s southwest coast, Naples is one of the wealthiest and most luxurious cities in Florida. The city is known for high-end shopping, golf courses, and pristine beaches with quick access to the Gulf of Mexico. It is also one of the safest cities in Florida, making it one of the best places to live in Florida for families.
Naples is a high-end city with a luxurious feel thanks to the many millionaire residents- but you do not have to be wealthy to live in the area. The average salary is around $61,900 per year, and the median home price is $699,000 or $2,250 per month for rentals. While these are slightly above average numbers, many people find it easy to live in Naples because of the booming job market, with an expected increase to the market of nearly 40% in the next ten years.
The Collier County School District serves nearly 48,000 students through their highly rated schools. Some of the best schools in the area include Pelican March Elementary School, Sea Gate Elementary School, North Naples Middle School, Pine Ridge Middle School, Naples High School, and Gulf Coast High School. For those with older children or looking for more education themselves, there are also several universities within an hour of Naples.
Of course, one of the main draws of Naples is the beautiful beach, complete with soft white sand and crystal clear waters. These shores are known for unique shells, shark teeth scattering the sand, and picturesque sunsets. The Naples Pier offers restaurants on a pier 1,000 feet into the ocean, while the Clam Pass Park area is great for family trips to spot wildlife.
Besides the beach, Naples is known for a culture of wining and dining, with highly-rated culinary experiences throughout the city. Between fine dining experiences, you can also experience the upscale shopping in Naples, with everything from designer boutiques to antique stores in the prestigious shopping districts. With this level of culture in the area, it's no wonder your neighbors can include celebrities like Judge Judy, Bob Segar, and Jane Seymour.
In addition to retirees and families, Naples is a tourist destination for many travelers who come for the beaches and the many festivals throughout the year. Naples boasts its own festivals celebrating the arts, wine, Shakespeare's works, stone crabs, and craft beer. With this many options, you'll never be bored if you call Naples home.
Why Move To Melbourne?
Known as Florida’s Space Coast, Melbourne is the perfect choice for anyone who wants the beautiful Florida beach experience while being surrounded by technological advancements at every turn. The eastern coastal city is at the center of Florida’s aerospace development, which brings many experts to the area for work and draws tourists. But Melbourne also offers natural explorations, beach life, and easy access to many of Florida’s largest attractions.
Melbourne draws many people because of the relatively low cost of living for the state. Housing costs are about 20% more affordable than in other areas of Florida, with median housing prices of $390,000 and average rental costs of $1,470. With an average salary of $59,000, Melbourne is a great option for those who want a beachfront lifestyle without the prices of more luxurious cities.
Brevard County’s Public Schools consistently rank in the top 5 districts throughout Florida and have even been acknowledged by national rankings like the U.S. News and World Report. While the kids are learning at school, there are plenty of job opportunities for rocket scientists and other professionals. Melbourne boasts large markets in the healthcare system and manufacturing industry, in addition to the hospitality workers that Florida always requires.
The nature in Melbourne is exceptional, even for Florida, with everything from surfing and snorkeling to kayaking available every day. Parks like Erna Nixon Park take you out of the city life and immerse you in wildlife, while those who prefer something more urban can enjoy the downtown area’s various restaurants and shops.
If all of Melbourne’s activities aren’t enough to keep you busy, it’s only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne to Orlando for a day in the world’s most famous amusement parks. It’s no wonder that Melbourne has a slightly younger demographic than other areas in Florida, making it one of the best places to live in Florida for young adults and families.
What’s in Davenport, Florida?
Just minutes from Walt Disney World, the small town of Davenport, FL, is a hidden gem of the state. The access to popular attractions combined with the small-town feel of Davenport makes it one of the fastest-growing cities in central Florida.
Davenport is often recognized for its proximity to Florida’s flagship attractions, including popular theme parks and beaches. Four major beaches - Clearwater, St. Pete, Daytona, and New Smyrna - are all within 90 minutes of the town. But Davenport itself also offers plenty to do without leaving the city limits.
Even without a beach in town, there is no shortage of outdoor fun in Davenport. With multiple golf courses and free parks, any nature lover will be happy to experience trails, wildlife, and gorgeous views in the year-long sunshine. All of this is nestled in a small town of under 8,000 people for a tight-knit community feel.
For those with children, Davenport has a variety of schools, including public and magnet programs. The school district boasts a lower student-to-teacher ratio than most of Florida. Davenport has a lower median age than many areas in Florida due to the family-friendly neighborhoods.
The cost of living in Davenport is notably lower than in many other areas in Florida, with the median home purchase price coming in at $272,000 and average rent of $1,800. The median salary is $36,250, and every resident will be happy with the lack of a state income tax. Davenport has seen positive job growth in recent years and is a short commute from some of the largest hospitality industries in the nation.
Why Move To Tampa?
As part of the second-largest metropolitan area in Florida, Tampa has about 377,000 residents who enjoy its relatively temperate weather and array of activities. Tampa offers a bit of everything Florida has to offer, including the beachfront lifestyle and a vibrant city, so it’s no wonder the population continues to grow. A wave of technology companies has brought new life to the city and turned it into a modern oasis for people of all ages.
The median price of a Tampa home remains lower than the average in Florida, coming in at about $400,000 to purchase a home or $1,800 to rent one. With a median salary of $55,000 and housing costs about 22% below the national average, Tampa is an affordable city for many families, young professionals, and retirees alike, and it is easily one of the best places to live in Florida. With several large headquarters in the area and one of the nation’s largest sea ports, finding a job in the area is more than feasible.
Tampa’s greater metropolitan area has four school districts, including some of the highest-rated in the state. Hillsborough County is one of the top-rated districts in the entire country, and Passo County Schools have been named College Board AP District of the Year 10 years in a row.
But schools aren’t the only place you will learn in Tampa- the city is filled with arts and culture, with murals throughout common areas and many museums to choose from. Tampa is also a haven for any nature lover and wildlife enthusiast who can visit multiple rivers and wetlands or spend leisurely hours on a boat. The area also boasts many theme parks, including Busch Gardens.
If you’re looking for unique community experiences, look no further than Gasparilla season in Tampa. From January to mid-March of each year, the town celebrates the Gasparilla Pirate Festival with a parade and several community events to honor Tampa’s history. This celebration perfectly captures the fun of living in Tampa!
Why Move To Clermont?
If you’re looking for a Florida town with beautiful scenery, a community feel, and a population size that isn’t overwhelming, Clermont may be a great choice. Outside of Orlando, the city offers easy access to some of Florida’s largest attractions while allowing you to maintain a more suburban lifestyle with a unique flair.
Clermont is right below Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in Florida, as well as many lakes and scenic hills. Many homes are in lakeside communities, with the water and small-town centers marking each neighborhood. Along with families and retirees, you may notice that your neighbors in Clermont are particularly health-conscious, making it one of the best places in Florida to live.
Sometimes known as the City of Champions, Clermont hosts a large amount of Olympic Training annually, making it a haven for health and wellness. It is very bicycle and runner-friendly, with a vast selection of physical activities and gyms.
Clermont is an affordable option, especially given its proximity to larger markets like Orlando, with the median home listing coming in at $458,000. The average salary is around $58,000 annually, and rental units of $1,600 monthly are considered normal. Clermont is also experiencing a lot of growth in its job market and expecting more in the next decade, especially as more young professionals have been moving there.
The Lake County School District serves families in Clermont, as do a variety of private schooling options. Lake Minneola High School and Cypress Ridge Elementary School are some of the most highly rated options in the area.
Residents often spend their days in Historic Downtown Clermont, where you can learn about the town’s history and visit local shops and restaurants. Retail is popular in Clermont, so you can find almost anything you need in the area. You’ll also see residents running on Clermont’s hills, biking on the roads and the coastal trails, and hiking in the public parks.
What's Great In Moving To Orlando?
Orlando is one of the top tourist destinations in Florida and the entire United States, which is impressive considering it isn’t even on a beach! Orlando is home to many famous theme parks and a huge hospitality industry that draws in millions of visitors each year. But Orlando isn’t just a great place to visit--it’s also a great place to live.
Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND Florida, to name just a few attractions. But even if theme parks aren’t for you, you will never be bored in Orlando, as the area also has thriving arts and sports communities and an endless stream of activities. Not only does this mean that you will always have something to do, it means there are many job opportunities in the hospitality industry.
The city also has a large business district and is home to many multinational companies that help the economy continue to thrive. The average salary is $41,00 per year because of the many people working part-time hospitality jobs, but you can find almost any industry in the area. Despite being one of Florida’s major metropolitan areas, Orlando is very affordable, with the median home price at $375,000 and a $1,800 average rental price.
Schools in Orlando receive national honors, with the Orange County School District as the main provider of public education. Both the graduation rates and test scores in the district outpace the rest of Florida. The area also offers something unique called the Program of Emphasis, which allows students to focus on specific industries early on. Pathways are available in areas like bioscience technology, aviation, forensic science, and more.
It’s no wonder that Orlando is one of the fastest-growing cities in Florida and one of the top 10 best places to live in Florida. It has 300,000 residents today, which includes many college students at the University of Central Florida and other institutes of higher education alongside the families, young professionals, retirees, and park employees who populate the region. Residents can enjoy the beautiful weather and the endless opportunities Orlando offers.
Why Move To Port St. Lucie?
About halfway between Miami and Orlando is a scenic city with a relaxed environment and an old-fashioned feel. Port St. Lucie is the eighth largest city in the state but has a much quieter feel than other cities and is known for peace and quiet amongst the bustle of the state’s tourism industry.
Port St. Lucie is known for having 21 miles of pristine beaches, with about half being public preservation land that cannot be developed. This leaves coastlines intact for those who prefer their beach trips to be more about nature than about the activities on the boardwalk. Port St. Lucie has more public beach access points per square mile than anywhere else in the state, meaning there is more than enough to go around and enjoy a relaxing day near the water.
In addition to the beach, Port St. Lucie has no shortage of outdoor activities, from the 40 parks and recreation facilities to a large boating and fishing culture. You can even combine the outdoors with a love of sports at the PGA Learning Center and other top golf courses or by watching the New York Mets do their annual spring training!
Along with the feel of a smaller town, Port St. Lucie also offers the affordability of these areas compared with large cities in Florida. The average salary comes in at just under $60,00 per year, and the median home price is about $330,000. Renters can expect an average of $1,850 per month. The largest employers are local schools, colleges, and medical centers.
When it comes to schools, the local district is known for its focus on STEM, enrichment, and language programs. The St. Lucie County School System boasts 8 A-rated schools alone. In addition, Indian River State College offers local programs with dual enrollment options for high schoolers who want to kickstart their higher education.
Along with the great schools, many families love that Port St. Lucie is in such close proximity to other Florida attractions. Orlando is a short day trip away, so the kids can enjoy Disney and other theme parks without living among the travel hub. Miami is an equal distance for a change of pace and a weekend in the city. Whether you want to keep to the quiet streets of Port St. Lucie or use it as a springboard for your next Florida adventure, it is a great place to build your home.
Why Move To Lakeland?
Between Orlando and Tampa, about 100,00 people live in the historical city of Lakeland, FL. With a downtown area lovingly called "Lakeland's living room," the Old Florida feel has carried through into the modern-day, and the area is known for a strong sense of community among residents.
Lakeland is often ranked among the best places to retire, even when compared to other cities in the state known for retirement. The history, charm, and natural beauty make Lakeland a place anyone would like to relax and enjoy when given the chance. However, plenty of families and young adults live in the area as well, especially as the job market grows.
Major industries in Lakeland include education, healthcare, citrus, and phosphate mining, along with the typical hospitality options. The average annual salary is around $57,000 for those still working, and with a median home price of $335,000, it is considered a very affordable place to live. Renters will see an average cost of $1,400 per month to live in the city.
There are over 200 schools in Lakeland, including public schools at all levels, preschools, and private and charter schools. Many of these are rated extremely highly, with options like Lawton Chiles Middle and McKeel Elementary scoring a 9 out of 10. Lakeland also has five colleges and universities for those who choose to continue their education.
The city is known primarily for its nature and architecture, with history buffs and those who love the outdoors often driven to Lakeland. Seven unique historic districts are filled with museums and live performances. Architecture fans will know Lakeland as home to the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, housed at Florida Southern College.
The city is also named for its 38 lakes, with many offering unique experiences. Lake Hancock is a picturesque protected land full of plants and animals you can watch from several hiking trails; Lake Mirror sits alongside Hollis Garden, known for a botanical garden and neoclassical architecture. Other lakes offer water skiing, paddle boarding, and fishing and many sit alongside beautiful golf courses.
Lakeland is near other metropolitan areas like Orlando, which is less than an hour away. However, most Lakeland residents find more than enough to do in the historic town itself, meaning it’s easily one of the best places to live in Florida.
Why Windermere Is A Good Place To Live?
Often called a hidden gem in central Florida, Windermere is a small town that feels outside of the tourism and fast-paced nature of nearby Orlando. With no major tourist attractions and shopping centers, the entire town is about 2 square miles- just enough for its residents to enjoy a suburban and close-knit feel among Florida’s beautiful nature.
In fact, Windermere is known as a hotspot for business professionals, athletes, musicians, and other busy individuals who want to get away from it all for a break. The strong community paired with the beauty of the local lakes makes it a great choice for second homes, as well as the 3,000 residents lucky to live there year-round.
Families in Windermere have access to the Orange County Public School District, which has a wonderful reputation and many A-rated facilities. While some opt for private schools, local public options like Windermere Elementary and Olympia High School offer an excellent education to residents.
While Windermere is small, many people can work in nearby large cities, giving them access to a range of job opportunities. In fact, many people in nearby cities commute from Windermere, and the median household income is $153,000. The average home costs $595,000, and the average rent is $2,195 for two bedrooms or more.
The heart of the community is downtown Winderemere, which is shaded by oak trees and full of old brick roads. A public library, park, and small businesses line the streets, and Fridays bring out local vendors for an outdoor market. Nearly everyone in Windermere is right next to this area, which is where the community gathers for food, walks, and even their morning coffee. If you are looking for a town where you know everybody and feel safe everywhere, Windermere may be for you. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the top 10 best places to live in Florida
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Florida For Families
While Florida is often known for its population of retirees, the state is also a top choice for families. Where else can children play outside year-round and get to Disney easily? Of course, some areas of Florida are best suited to families and are easily considered the best places to live in Florida for families, including these five.
Clermont offers a small-town feel and sense of community that can make any childhood picturesque. The quiet environment, access to Orlando’s theme parks, and top-rated schools make Clermont an excellent choice for any parents.
Orlando is the perfect balance for parents who need to be in a large business district. Small neighborhoods offer a suburban feel with an easy commute, and kids will love the theme parks and other attractions at their fingertips.
Minneola is a suburb of Orlando with an almost rural feel without sacrificing proximity to the city. A low cost of living, a well-ranked school system, and low crime make this an obvious choice for raising your family.
Lakeland is often associated with retirement, but the population of families is growing every year in the area. Kids will love the unlimited access to nature, and the historical aspect of the city offers further educational opportunities. Lakeland also has a huge number of options for schooling.
Groveland is a welcoming, friendly town with open spaces and a rural feel. Kids can run free on large lots while still accessing great schools and a vibrant community near their homes.
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Florida For Retirees
There are many reasons people love to retire in Florida- the beautiful weather is perfect for a lifelong vacation, and the state's tax structure benefits the older population. Almost anywhere in Florida, you'll find a thriving community of retirees, none more so than in these cities, which have easily landed on most lists for the best places to live in Florida for retirees:
Orlando may call theme parks and attractions to mind, but the reasonable cost of living and central location make it a great choice for retiring. Many also love it because the city's popularity makes it easy to convince family to visit!
Fort Lauderdale is a well-known retirement community with many active adult living areas and waterfront condos to choose from. Retirees who like to spend time out on the town and live in more urban areas often choose Fort Lauderdale.
Davenport is popular with those who want to stay active and visit larger attractions but live in a small city with a community feel. Davenport offers everything that makes retirement enjoyable, from fine dining to endless golf courses.
Ocala is a peaceful town, often known as the Horse Capital of the World. Those who lived a busy professional life often choose Ocala for permanent relaxation and its tranquil landscapes.
- Windermere is the perfect choice for retirees who want the feel of a small town and a tight-knit community. Whether it's a stroll through downtown or enjoying the local farmer's market, Windermere offers relaxation that nowhere else can.
What Are The Best Cities In Florida For Young Professionals
With a multitude of metro areas and many diverse industries, Florida is a great place for a young professional to call home. Much of the growth in Florida is driven by this group, especially as remote work becomes more common and they are looking for a relaxing environment. Young professionals often value access to amenities and economic value, but many areas in Florida are attractive to this set. Here are the best places to live in Florida for young professionals:
Orlando is one of the state’s largest cities, with a diverse population and a large business district. Many companies, from Disney itself to Marriott and Tupperware, are headquartered in Orlando, making it a great place to begin your career. The wide array of nightlife, arts, and activities make it a great choice for a recent grad.
Minneola is the choice of many young professionals who want access to the jobs in Orlando but without city living. The suburb is a simple commute from the city center, but with a quieter feel and many opportunities for buying a first home.
Tampa is another Florida metropolis that is known for its nightlife, diverse population, and thriving economy. Young professionals who want to balance their work with a relaxed, waterfront lifestyle may choose Tampa as their home.
Sarasota has one of the younger median ages in Florida, representing its appeal to young professionals. The relatively low cost of living has drawn in people starting out their careers and looking for their first home somewhere near the beach.
Winter Springs is another suburb of Orlando, offering access to central Florida’s largest employers with a more laid-back atmosphere than the city center.
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