The 8 Best Biggest Cities in Florida

Everyone knows that The Sunshine State has a lot to offer as far as beaches, sunset views, and nature. But many don’t know much about the bigger cities in Florida. There are plenty of areas that are still close to the shore that can also offer big-cities amenities such as nightlife and rooftop bars.

Some Common Factors

All of the communities described here have certain characteristics in common. Here are a few:

  • Taxes. Florida has no state income tax; compare that to the national average of 4.6%. Property taxes, too, come in low, with an average effective rate of .83% of property value. The state sales tax rate is 6.0%, and some localities add their own tax of 0.5% to 2.5%, resulting in an average combined rate of 7.05%.
  • Climate. The climate of north and central Florida is humid subtropical, and south Florida is tropical in nature. Much of the state, especially the coastal areas, experiences rain and thunderstorms from May through October.

 

For each community below, we assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment – based on affordability, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors – of the city’s appeal as a place to call home.

Not every place is affordable to buy homes in, though most of the cities below are affordable to rent places. We have presented options that will fit different budgets and needs – there should be a choice for everyone.

1. Jacksonville

HOMEiA Score: 95/100

  • Population: 911,507 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 7% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $173,200/$54,701 = 3.17 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $54,701/$12,780 = 4.28 (renting homes is affordable)

Jacksonville is located on the coast of northeast Florida. The city has direct access to Interstate 95 and is only about two hours south of Savannah, Georgia. The Jacksonville airport is a large hub with plenty of major airlines.

a. Size and Population

Jacksonville has a population of 911,507 (2019 estimate) and an area just under 875 square miles. The population density is 1,219 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Jacksonville grew by 10.9% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% but below the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $54,701

Jacksonville Cost of Living

  • 7% Below the U.S. National Average
  • 4% Higher Than Gainesville, Florida
  • 50% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 13% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

Jacksonville Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$173,200 $16,392 $12,780

 

Jacksonville shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.17, based on the median home price of $173,200 and a median household income of $54,701. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the area.

Jacksonville shows an income to rent ratio of 4.28, based on a median household income of $54,701 and an annual spend of $12,780. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Jacksonville, 75.8 percent of residents own their home.

The 8 Best Biggest Cities in Florida

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

If you’ve decided to make Florida your new home, you’re in luck – it’s a big and varied place, with something for all ages, family dynamics and budget. Continue reading as we dive into some notable Pros and Cons about the state itself, the top cities to live in across a variety of categories, and…

Top Neighborhoods in Jacksonville, FL

  • Northside (Home Value Range: $200,000 to $1 million)
    This area is great for families with children. The neighborhood features plenty of single-family homes and is close to the Jacksonville Zoo and Talbot Island State Park. This area has plenty of nature and is a large transportation hub.
  • Riverside (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $3 million)
    This area is in a very trendy part of town and great for young professionals. Visit the Riverside Arts Market on Saturdays and walk around the historic district to find unique shopping and dining opportunities.
  • San Marco (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $5 million)
    This neighborhood is in the arts district and has plenty of shopping and entertainment. Visit San Marco Square to see its European statuary and fountain. On the shores of the river, there are plenty of art galleries and dining options.
  • Orange Park (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $650,000)
    This Jacksonville suburb has reasonable housing prices and is located in a more rural setting. This area hosts plenty of community activities throughout the year, such as the Fourth of July celebration and the annual fall arts and crafts festival.
  • Southside (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $850,000)
    The Southside neighborhood is an up-and-coming area great for families or those buying their first home. With shopping malls, dining and entertainment, there are plenty of things to do. Tinseltown, an area nearby, has a thriving nightlife.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Jacksonville is 4.2% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 14.9%, is above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida average of 12.7%.

The top employers in Jacksonville include two different naval air stations, multiple hospitals and healthcare facilities, and banking systems. Duval County Public Schools employ over 14,000 workers.

Jacksonville residents have an average commute time of 25.2 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida and the largest by area in the contiguous United States. The city was founded in 1832 and has tons of things to do.

  • Nature. There are plenty of nature preserves where you can explore and take in the views: Cary Trailwalker Nature Trail, Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail, the Timucuan Preserve and the University of North Florida Nature Trails are just a few examples.
  • Attractions. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, The Crummer Museum of Art and Catty Shack Ranch are great examples of fun attractions in the area.
  • Shopping. Beaches Town Center, St. Johns Town Center and the Riverside Arts Market are great weekend activities for those looking to shop and enjoy some good food.
  • Sports. Catch a football game at the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the TIAA Bank Field.
  • Beaches. The options for beaches near Jacksonville are almost endless. With plenty of watersports available and areas to sunbathe, there is no shortage of sun and sand.

e. Education

There are plenty of options for higher education in the Jacksonville area. Smaller schools include Trinity Baptist College, Chamberlain University, Edward Waters College, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Jacksonville University.

The University of North Florida is located in the heart of Jacksonville and has a student population of over 14,000. One of Florida’s top state universities, it offers many scholarships and financial aid opportunities.

There are 190 public schools and over 600 private schools in the Jacksonville area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Jacksonville has an above-average educational infrastructure, the same as or better than similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015–2019 period, the high school graduation rate in Jacksonville was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree at was below with the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are over 20 hospitals and primary care medical facilities in the Jacksonville area. These include Memorial Hospital, Curahealth Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. All are rated generally above average.

Jacksonville has 6.49 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 33.35 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

2. Orlando

HOMEiA Score: 93/100

  • Population: 287,442 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 4% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $240,000/$51,757 = 4.68 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $51,757/$6,564 = 7.89 (renting homes is very affordable)

Orlando is located in Central Florida in the middle of the state. With major access to roads like 528 and Interstate 4, traveling is easy. The Orlando International Airport is located just outside the city and is a large hub for many airlines.

a. Size and Population

Orlando has a population of 287,442 (2019 estimate) and an area just under 295 square miles. The population density is 2,634 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Orlando grew by 20.4% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), significantly above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and above the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income. Housing Costs and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Orlando.

ORLANDO MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $51,757

Orlando Cost of Living 

  • 4% Above the US National Average
  • 15% Lower Than Miami, Florida
  • 44% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 3% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

Orlando Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$240,000 $19,548 $6,564

 

Orlando shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.68, based on the median home price of $240,000 and a median household income of $51,757. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is somewhat expensive to buy homes in the area.

Orlando shows an income to rent ratio of 7.89, based on a median household income of $51,757 and an annual spend of $6,564. Therefore, it is very affordable to rent properties.

In Orlando, 35.4 percent of residents own their home.

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Top Neighborhoods in Orlando, FL

  • Baldwin Park (Home Value Range: $450,000 to $1 million+)
    This area is full of beautiful homes and shopping areas. Located around a large lake, there’s also a 2.5-mile walking and biking trail around the water.
  • Lake Eola Heights (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $1.5 million+)
    This area is central to Lake Eola and has plenty of brick buildings and a large shopping area around the various homes.
  • Rose Isle (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $700,000+)
    This neighborhood is located just outside of downtown Orlando and offers plenty of quiet coffee shops, bars, and parks.
  • Thornton Park (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $1 million+)
    East of Lake Eola, this area is great for those looking for a chic neighborhood with various unique restaurants and bars.
  • Park Lake/Highland (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $600,000+)
    This neighborhood is located close to the downtown area and is great for anyone looking to be close to the city but still live in a quiet neighborhood.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Orlando is 5.4% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 17.1%, is above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

Orlando has many opportunities for jobs in the hospitality industry, with Darden Restaurants being a large employer in the area. Disney World is also the largest single-site employer in the country with all its employees living in or around Orlando.

Orlando residents have an average commute time of 26.1 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Attractions. Orlando is home to some of the most famous theme parks in the world. The Walt Disney World Resort includes four large theme parks, two water parks, a boardwalk area, Disney Springs, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Universal Studios has two large theme parts and a water park as well. Annual passes are available for Florida residents, so you’ll never get bored.
  • Nature. There are plenty of options to enjoy nature in the Orlando area. With natural springs, lakes of all sizes, and even trails and parks, there’s plenty to do. Rent a canoe or kayak at Wekiwa Springs State Park after taking a swim in the springs or rent a bike and coast along the West Orange Trail that runs over 20 miles long.
  • Arts. Grab tickets to a live show at the Dr. Phillip Center for the Performing Arts, or visit a gallery or two near downtown Orlando. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is a great option, as well as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum located on the Rollins College campus.

e. Education

Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, the largest public university in the United States by student population. The school offers more than 230 degree programs in 13 different colleges over 10 regional campuses.

There are 200 public schools and over 400 private schools in the Orlando area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Orlando has an above average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas.

The high school graduation rate in Orlando is above the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree is also higher than the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are lots of medical facilities and hospitals in the Orlando area. Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center and the Adventhealth Orlando both have a patient experience rating of 77% according to data from HealthGrades.com.

Orlando has 7.59 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median rate of 4.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 50 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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3. Port St. Lucie 

HOMEiA Score: 91/100

  • Population: 201,846 | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: On par with the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $207,200/$60,587 = 3.42 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $60,587/$17,004 = 3.56 (renting homes is very affordable)

Port St. Lucie is located on the east coast of Florida just north of West Palm Beach. Easy access to Interstate 95 can take you anywhere up the east coast of the US. The Treasure Coast International Airport is located just outside the city and is a large hub for many airlines.

a. Size and Population

Port St. Lucie has a population of 201,846 (2019 estimate) and an area just under 121 square miles. The population density is 1,693 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Port St. Lucie grew by 22.9% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), significantly above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%, as well as the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income. Housing Costs and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Port St. Lucie.

PORT ST. LUCIE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $60,587

Port St. Lucie Cost of Living 

  • On Par with the US National Average
  • 4% Lower Than Orlando, Florida
  • 47% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 7% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

Port St. Lucie Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$207,200 $17,184 $17,004

 

Port St. Lucie shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.42, based on the median home price of $207,200 and a median household income of $60,587. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the area.

Port St. Lucie shows an income to rent ratio of 3.56, based on a median household income of $60,587 and an annual spend of $17,004. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Port St. Lucie, 76.9 percent of residents own their home.

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For each of these communities, we assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment – based on affordability, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors – of the city’s appeal as a place to call home…

Top Neighborhoods in Port St. Lucie, FL

  • Becker Ridge (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $400,000)
    This area is located in a quiet and safe area and is just west of the Turnpike for easy access to plenty of areas.
  • Cashmere Cove (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $1 million)
    This neighborhood is home to Turtle Run Park, a large recreational area with a pavilion, playground, and a large field.
  • Hidden Oaks (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $500,000)
    This area is just off the water and offers plenty of activities to enjoy, such as fishing and boating.
  • Newport Isles (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $500,000)
    This area is great for those looking for march and lake views. Plenty of wildlife can be seen from many properties in this area.
  • Palm Trails (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $450,000)
    This area is in a quieter part of town and is centrally located in the Port St. Lucie.
  • Sandhill Crossing (Home Value Range: $50,000 to $450,000)
    This area is located near the Indian River Lagoon and Savannas Preserve State Park. This location is great for those looking for water views and nature.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Port St. Lucie is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 9%, is below both the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

In Port St. Lucie, two of the largest employers are in the healthcare industry. This includes Liberty Healthcare Group and St. Lucie Medical Center. Another large industry in this area is construction.

Port St. Lucie residents have an average commute time of 28.8 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Boating. There are plenty of things to do as far as water activities in the area. One great activity that many love is renting a pontoon boat and spending the day on the water exploring the Indian River Lagoon.
  • Nature. If you’re a fan of nature trails, check out Oak Hammocks Park. This location has fishing piers and a butterfly garden. The Oxbow Eco Center is another great option if you’re looking for an educational experience where you can learn about the river and forest lands in Florida.
  • Beaches. Like many areas in Florida, Port St. Lucie is home to plenty of beaches. If you’re looking for a more unique experience, check out a dolphin boat tour where you’re whisked away to spot the intelligent animals in their natural habitat.

e. Education

There’s not a large selection for universities in or around Port St. Lucie. Indian River State College has a campus in the area and offers many two-year programs and certifications.

There are over 25 public schools and 12 private schools in the Port St. Lucie area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Port St. Lucie has an average educational infrastructure, comparable to similarly sized metro areas.

The high school graduation rate in Port St. Lucie is on par with the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree is below the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

The St. Lucie Medical Center has a patient experience rating of 71% according to data from HealthGrades.com. Many smaller medical facilities and family practitioners have higher ratings. Overall, healthcare is adequate or better AT Port St. Lucie.

Port St. Lucie has 1.45 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, substantially below Florida’s statewide median rate of 4.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 8.40 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is also substantially below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

4. Cape Coral 


HOMEiA Score: 91/100

  • Population: 200,972 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 4% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $229,400/$61,599 = 3.72 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $61,599/$14,928 = 4.13 (renting homes is affordable)

Cape Coral is located in southwest Florida, just outside of Fort Myers. Interstate 75 connects major cities on the west coast of Florida. Many residents choose to use Southwest Florida International Airport – a regional hub about 30 minutes away.

a. Size and Population

Cape Coral has a population of 200,972 (2019 estimate) and an area just over 119 square miles. The population density is 1,835 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Cape Coral grew by 26% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), significantly above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Cape Coral.

CAPE CORAL MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $61,599

Cape Coral Cost of Living 

  • 4% Above the U.S. National Average
  • 16% Lower Than Miami, Florida
  • 45% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 3% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

Cape Coral Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$229,400 $17,496 $14,928

 

Cape Coral shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.72, based on the median home price of $229,400 and a median household income of $61,599. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the area.

Cape Coral shows an income to rent ratio of 4.13, based on a median household income of $61,599 and an annual spend of $14,928. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Cape Coral, 74.5 percent of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in Cape Coral, FL

  • Gator Circle (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $450,000)
    This neighborhood was established in 2004 and features reasonably priced midsize homes. Located near Yellow Fever Creek Preserve and Del Tura Golf and Country Club, there are plenty of things
  • Sunset Pointe (Home Value Range: $300,000 to $525,000)
    This is a relatively new community with plenty of single-family homes. This neighborhood is located on a canal and is adjacent to plenty of nature areas.
  • Casa Di Fiori (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $250,000)
    This condominium community was developed in 2012 and continues to add more cozy family homes. With low-maintenance living, this community features tennis courts, a fitness center and a pool.
  • Sandy Circle Condominiums (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $250,000)
    These condos were constructed in 1975 and are great for those looking to live a low-maintenance lifestyle. The community also features plenty of amenities, like a community pool and fitness opportunities.
  • Blue Heron of Cape Coral (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $275,000)
    This neighborhood features lots of competitively priced, cozy homes. Located next to waterways, there are lovely sunset views in many areas.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Cape Coral is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 10.4%, is below both the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

The biggest employer in the Cape Coral area is Viking Construction. Additionally, Century 21 Sunbelt Realty and Sellstate Priority Realty are both large companies located in the area.

Cape Coral residents have an average commute time of 28.3 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

Cape Coral is right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and was founded in 1957. With plenty of waterways and beaches, there are tons of things to do.

  • Parks. Rotary Park and Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve are both located in Cape Coral. There are plenty of water views and nature trails to explore.
  • Waterpark. The Sun Splash Family Waterpark is fun for the whole family. With plenty of water slides and a lazy river, be sure to bring your kids here for a day of fun.
  • Beaches. Lovers Key State Park is one of the top spots for locals and tourists. Swimming, sunbathing and other fun beach activities can be enjoyed here. Dolphins, eagles and tons of other animals are frequently spotted around the water.

e. Education

Cape Coral Technical College is a small school that provides technical certifications for a little more than 300 students. About 30 minutes away in Fort Meyers is Florida Gulf Coast University. This four-year public university has the top-ranked nursing school in the state and serves just under 14,000 students.

There are 27 public schools and 56 private schools in the Cape Coral area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Cape Coral has an excellent educational infrastructure, better than similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015–2019 period, the high school graduation rate in Cape Coral was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was below the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Cape Coral Hospital is the main hospital located within the city. A short driving distance away is Lee Memorial Hospital, Park Royal Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Cape Coral has 1.16 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 11.14 property crimes per 1,000 residents, significantly below Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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5. Tampa

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 407,599 (2020) | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: On par with the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $238,900/$53,833 = 4.44 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $53,833/$13,572 = 4.11 (renting homes is very affordable)

Tampa is located in Central Florida on the west coast near Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. With major access to roads like Interstate 4 and Interstate 75, you can easily travel to anywhere in the state. The Tampa International Airport is located just outside the city and is a large hub for many airlines.

a. Size and Population

Tampa has a population of 407,599 (2020 estimate) and an area just under 176 square miles. The population density is 3,506 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Tampa grew by 18.9% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), significantly above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and above the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income. Housing Costs and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Tampa.

TAMPA MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $53,833

Tampa Cost of Living 

  • On Par with the US National Average
  • 2% Higher Than St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 47% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 7% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

Tampa Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$238,900 $19,464 $13,572

 

Tampa shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 4.44, based on the median home price of $238,900 and a median household income of $53,833. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is somewhat expensive to buy homes in the area.

Tampa shows an income to rent ratio of 4.11, based on a median household income of $53,833 and an annual spend of $13,572. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Tampa, 48.6 percent of residents own their home.

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Top Neighborhoods in Tampa, FL

  • Citrus Park (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $2.5 million+)
    This area is great for young couples and families. With a big community presence, this affordable area is a great choice for a casual lifestyle.
  • New Tampa (Home Value Range: $275,000 to $750,000+)
    With plenty of new home construction, this area is great for those looking to live near a more rural area with plenty of parks and nature nearby.
  • Palma Ceia (Home Value Range: $400,000 to $2 million+)
    This area is on the expensive side but boasts huge oak trees, brick streets, and beautiful houses, great for those looking for some charm.
  • Tampa Heights (Home Value Range: $50,000 to $500,000)
    This area is an up-and-coming part of Tampa just outside of the downtown area. If you’re looking for a fixer-upper with tons of potential, this is a great option.
  • Westchase (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $1.25 million+)
    This area is a typical suburb of a larger city, with affordable housing great for families. This area is next to a more rural area which is perfect for those interested in nature.
  • Hyde Park (Home Value Range: $1 million to $6 million+)
    Located on the water with views of Tampa Bay, this pricey area is great for those looking for a historic home or estate.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Tampa is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 18.6%, is above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

Tampa has plenty of jobs in the hospitality industry, with Bloomin’ Brands being the largest. This company owns restaurants like Outback and Carrabba’s. Hillsborough County Public Schools is also a large employer, as it’s the third largest school district in the state.

Tampa residents have an average commute time of 24.6 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Attractions. Visit The Florida Aquarium, Adventure Island, Busch Gardens, and Dinosaur World are all nearby and great for family fun.
  • Sports. Tampa Bay has been a big name in the sports arena lately. With three major sports team, there is always a game to catch. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the 2021 Super Bowl, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have won the last two Stanley Cups. The Rays are also a favorite for MLB fans.
  • Art and History. Tampa is home to an extensive art and history community that is always changing. The Tampa Bay History Center, as well as the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts are two great examples of local activities. The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is great for those looking to catch a play or a Broadway touring cast.

e. Education

Tampa is home to the University of South Florida, a public 4-year university that offers over 200 undergraduate programs in 13 different colleges.

There are 176 public schools and over 400 private schools in the Tampa area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Tampa has an above average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas.

The high school graduation rate in Tampa is on par with the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree is higher than the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are lots of medical facilities and hospitals in Tampa including Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital. Both are located within the city and have a patient experience rating of 81% according to data from HealthGrades.com.

Tampa has 4.18 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, below Florida’s statewide median rate of 4.78 and just above the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 17.4 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is below both Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

6. St. Petersburg 

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 265,351 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 1% below the U.S. national average.
  • Home price to income ratio: $205,000/$56,982 = 3.6 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $56,982/$13,392 = 4.25 (renting homes is affordable)

St. Petersburg is located in central Florida on the west coast near Tampa Bay. Major highways link the city to other large areas like Tampa. There are a few small airports, but many use the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. If you’re looking for a larger hub, the Tampa International Airport is only 30 minutes away.

a. Size and Population

St. Petersburg has a population of 265,351 (2019 estimate) and an area just over 131 square miles. The population density is 4,293 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in St. Petersburg grew by 7.6% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% but below the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in St. Petersburg.

PETERSBURG MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $56,982

St. Petersburg Cost of Living 

  • 1% Below the U.S. National Average
  • 4% Lower Than Jacksonville, Florida
  • 52% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 16% Lower Than Chicago, Illinois

St. Petersburg Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$205,000 $17,544 $13,392

 

St. Petersburg shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.6, based on the median home price of $205,000 and a median household income of $56,982. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the area.

St. Petersburg shows an income to rent ratio of 4.25, based on a median household income of $56,982 and an annual spend of $13,392. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In St. Petersburg, 60.4 percent of residents own their homes.

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Top Neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, FL

  • Bayway Isles (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $3.5 million)
    This neighborhood dates back to 1968 and features just 200 single-family homes. Most homes have waterfront views of the gulf or different canals. Downtown St. Petersburg is 12 minutes away.
  • Casa Del Mar Condominiums (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $575,000)
    This community features low-maintenance living and lots of waterfront views. As an alternative to the beach, this condo features a community pool.
  • Colonial Place (Home Value Range: $100,000 to $725,000)
    This community features some homes that date back to the 1910s and is reasonably priced. Most homes are designed in the colonial style of architecture.
  • Harcourt (Home Value Range: $250,000 to $600,000)
    This area dates back to 1950 and specializes in single-family homes in a variety of architectural styles and lot sizes.
  • Forbes Park Roberta (Home Value Range: $175,000 to $300,000)
    This community has smaller homes for a cozier feel. They are built in many different styles, and many are situated on small lots.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in St. Petersburg is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 13.4%, is above the national average of 10.5%.

The largest employers in St. Petersburg include Jabil, Raymond James and HSN. Jabil is a manufacturing product management firm with headquarters in the city. A variety of financial services and retailers are also based in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg residents have an average commute time of 23.7 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

St. Petersburg was founded in 1903 and was named after the city of the same name in Russia. This area is right on the water and has plenty of things to do.

  • Waterways. The St. Petersburg Pier is a great area to visit if you’re looking for some water views. With things to do and plenty of restaurants, this area is a great place for a family to spend the afternoon.
  • Museums. The Salvador Dali Museum is a great place to visit all throughout the year. This kooky surrealist artist from the early 1900s has plenty of unique paintings for public viewing.
  • Beaches. The closest and best nearby beach is Clearwater. With beautiful sunsets and, as its name suggests, clear water, this is a great beach for those looking for some sun.
  • Nature Trails. The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a 37-mile-long abandoned railroad corridor that runs from the waterfront of St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.

e. Education

Ecker College is a small liberal arts school with over 40 programs and majors located in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg College is a state college and has a student enrollment of over 65,000 across eleven campuses, four of which are located in St. Petersburg.

The University of South Florida has three different campuses, including one in St. Petersburg, with the main campus located in Tampa. With 28 undergraduate degree programs, 17 master’s programs and 11 certification options, this is great alternative for those not wanting to drive to Tampa.

There are 45 public schools and over 150 private schools in the St. Petersburg area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, St. Petersburg has a below-average educational infrastructure, the same or slightly lower than similarly sized metro areas.

Over the 2015–2019 period, the high school graduation rate in St. Petersburg was above the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree was also above the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are over 30 hospitals and medical care facilities in the St. Petersburg area. These include St. Petersburg General Hospital, St. Anthony’s Hospital and Bayfront Heath St. Petersburg. These are all rated generally above average.

St. Petersburg has 6.01 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median rate of 3.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 32.49 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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7. Fort Lauderdale 

HOMEiA Score: 82/100

  • Population: 182,437 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 18% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $334,000/$59,450 = 5.62 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $59,450/$15,516 = 3.83 (renting homes is affordable)

Fort Lauderdale is located on the east coast of Florida, north of Miami. With major access to Interstate 95, you can easily travel anywhere up the coast. The Fort Lauderdale International Airport is located just outside the city and is a large hub for many airlines.

a. Size and Population

Fort Lauderdale has a population of 182,437 (2019 estimate) and an area just above 36 square miles. The population density is 5,275 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Fort Lauderdale grew by 10.9% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% but below the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income. Housing Costs and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Fort Lauderdale.

FORT LAUDERDALE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $51,757

Fort Lauderdale Cost of Living 

  • 18% Above the US National Average
  • 13% Higher Than Orlando, Florida
  • 37% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 10% Above Than Chicago, Illinois

Fort Lauderdale Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend

(Rent & Utilities)

$334,000 $25,008 $15,516

 

Fort Lauderdale shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 5.62, based on the median home price of $334,000 and a median household income of $59,450. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is expensive to buy homes in the area.

Fort Lauderdale shows an income to rent ratio of 3.83, based on a median household income of $59,450 and an annual spend of $15,516. Therefore, it is affordable to rent properties.

In Fort Lauderdale, 52.7 percent of residents own their home.

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Top Neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Rio Vista (Home Value Range: $950,000 to $6 million+)
    This area is located south of the downtown area and has a strong community centered around boating and other water activities.
  • Imperial Point (Home Value Range: $75,000 to $800,000+)
    This neighborhood is great for those looking for an area with plenty of events like harvest festivals, 5k’s, and community yard sales.
  • Harbor Beach (Home Value Range: $1.5 to $25 million+)
    This area is close to the beach and boasts a tropical, luxurious vibe. Residents enjoy 24/7 security and privacy. This is one of the priciest areas in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Coral Ridge (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $2 million+)
    This is an upscale area that has plenty of residential activities like golfing, tennis, and boating.
  • Colee Hammock (Home Value Range: $200,000 to $2.75 million+)
    This community is laid-back and away from the main city area. With plenty of history, this neighborhood is great for those looking for unique eateries.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Fort Lauderdale is 5.2% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%. The poverty rate, at 16.9%, is above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

There are lots of different employers in the Fort Lauderdale area. The top companies include SFN Group, a temp work agency, and AutoNation, a Fortune 500 company with over 26,000 associates.

Fort Lauderdale residents have an average commute time of 27 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Grab A Drink. If you’re into craft beer, visit Funky Buddha Brewery, located just outside of Fort Lauderdale. One of the largest breweries in the state, this craft beer company is a fan-favorite in Florida. Go on tour or hang out in the tap room on a sunny afternoon.
  • Casinos. Located just outside the city is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Here you can enjoy the resort pool, grab a drink at the bar, or test your luck on a slot machine. This spot is great for a stay-cation, even if you’re not into gambling.
  • Beaches. South Florida, including the Fort Lauderdale area, is known for its year-round warm weather and beautiful beaches. Catch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean from almost anywhere as you take in the sights of the shore.

e. Education

There are no public universities in Fort Lauderdale but there are plenty in the surrounding areas including Florida Atlantic University. Nova Southeastern University is a private school located in Fort Lauderdale.

There are 40 public schools and over 100 private schools in the Fort Lauderdale area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Fort Lauderdale has an average educational infrastructure compared to similarly sized metro areas.

The high school graduation rate in Fort Lauderdale is on par with the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree is higher than the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

There are multiple medical care facilities located in and around Fort Lauderdale. Broward Health Medical Center has a patient experience rating of 66% and Holy Cross Hospital has a rating of 72% according to data from HealthGrades.com.

Fort Lauderdale has 6.42 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median rate of 4.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 50.44 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

8. Miami 

HOMEiA Score: 74/100

  • Population: 467,963 | Rank Last Year: #8
  • Cost of Living: 23% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $317,700/$39,049 = 8.14 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $39,049/$6,564 = 2.75 (renting homes is expensive)

Miami is located in South Florida on the east coast. You can easily travel up the coast by using Interstate 95. The Miami International Airport is located just outside the city and is one of the largest airport hubs in the country.

a. Size and Population

Miami has a population of 467,963 (2019 estimate) and an area just above 56 square miles. The population density is 11,136 per square mile (2019 estimate).

The population in Miami grew by 17.1% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), significantly above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and above the Florida rate of 14.2%.

b. Median Income. Housing Costs and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Miami.

MIAMI MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $39,049

Miami Cost of Living 

  • 23% Above the US National Average
  • 18% Higher Than Orlando, Florida
  • 34% Lower Than New York City, New York
  • 15% Higher Than Chicago, Illinois

Miami Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend
(Rent & Utilities)
$317,700 $23,676 $14,196

 

Miami shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 8.14, based on the median home price of $317,700 and a median household income of $39,049. The U.S. average is 4.0. Therefore, it is expensive to buy homes in the area.

Miami shows an income to rent ratio of 2.75, based on a median household income of $39,049 and an annual spend of $6,564. Therefore, it is expensive to rent properties.

In Miami, 29.6 percent of residents own their home.

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Top Neighborhoods in Miami, FL

  • Surfside (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $800,000+)
    This small area is located off the coast and is home to upscale ocean-front real estate. There are plenty of walking and biking areas in the community.
  • Brickell (Home Value Range: $275,000 to $1 million+)
    This community is located south of the Central Business District and has a fast-paced, vibrant atmosphere.
  • Aventura (Home Value Range: $275,000 to $600,000)
    This area is one of Miami’s largest suburbs. It’s known as a clean, safe, and upscale community that is near plenty of shopping.
  • Bal Harbour (Home Value Range: $350,000 to $3 million+)
    This area is north of downtown Miami and is said to be a quiet, coastal village where tranquility attracts residents from all over the world.
  • Sunny Isles Beach (Home Value Range: $150,000 to $600,000+)
    This community is full of luxury condos and is great for those looking for a variety of unique bars and restaurants.

c. Employment Prospects

The unemployment rate in Miami is 7.1% (June 2021), which is above both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 5%. The poverty rate, at 23.4%, is above the national average of 10.5% and the Florida rate of 12.7%.

There are plenty of job opportunities in the Miami area in a variety of disciplines. Cruise lines employ many people in the area, with Norwegian and Royal Caribbean being the two largest.

Miami residents have an average commute time of 29.3 minutes.

d. Unique Attributes and Lifestyle

  • Calle Ocho. This area is located in Little Havana and great for those looking to eat some authentic Cuban food, hear great music, and experience the unique culture that the area has to offer.
  • Art and Culture. Miami is home to plenty of art museums that are constantly rotating new exhibits. The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, as well as the Lowe Art Museum are both great options. Check out the Museum of Graffiti for a unique experience where you can learn about this specific art style.
  • Beaches. Miami is located almost entirely on the coast and is home to some of the world’s most famous beaches. Crandon Park has some of the most clear water in the area, while South Beach is a fan favorite among visitors.

e. Education

Florida International University is a public university located in Miami with lots of programs. University of Miami is a private university located just outside the city and services under 18,000 students.

There are over 200 public schools and over 900 private schools in the Miami area, based on data from GreatSchools.org.

Overall, Miami has a slightly below average educational infrastructure, lightly worse than similarly sized metro areas.

The high school graduation rate in Miami is below the U.S. national average of 88%. The population of adults above 25 years of age with a college degree is also lower than the national average of approximately 32%.

f. Healthcare and Safety

Miami has plenty of hospitals and smaller medical care facilities. North Shore Medical Center has a patient experience rating of 62% and Jackson Memorial Hospital has a rating of 68% according to data from HealthGrades.com.

Miami has 6.16 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median rate of 4.78 and the U.S. national median rate of 4.00. It also has 37.73 property crimes per 1,000 residents, above Florida’s statewide median of 21.46 and the U.S. national median of 21.00.

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CONCLUSION

Overall, Florida has a ton of large cities, each with unique offerings and environments. If staying close to the beach is a priority, stick with cities like Jacksonville or Miami. If you’d like to be near the water but not necessarily close to the beach, Tampa is a great pick. If you can’t choose and want to be in the center of it all, you can’t go wrong with Orlando.

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HOMEiA is a city living guide site where visitors can find detailed information about communities of interest. HOMEiA’s City Living Guides, created in partnership with local writers, are curated lists of the best, safest, and most affordable places to live. The guides feature the HOMEiA Score, a proprietary index that rates communities on such factors as housing costs, education and employment.

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Lisa Sinatra was born in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has lived in the state her whole life. After attending the University of Central Florida and earning her Bachelors’s degree, she decided to stay in Orlando and start working. Lisa is currently a high school mathematics teacher in the public school system and loves working with her students daily. When she’s not teaching, Lisa loves spending time at theme parks and various nature trails or springs in the Central Florida area.… Read more >>