The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

Choosing to relocate can be quite overwhelming. Once you decide on a state, you still need to choose the right community. 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 a handy moving checklist.

In Section I below, we cover some of the many advantages of living in Florida, along with a few drawbacks you should be aware of and some fun facts.

In Sections II through IV, we examine some great destinations for the following groups:

  1. II. Young professionals just starting out
  2. III. Couples who have young kids
  3. IV. Retired folks looking to live out their golden years in the warm weather

For each community within Sections II through IV, we assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment – based on affordability, employment, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors – of the city’s appeal as a place to call home. Ranks are then assigned based on the HOMEiA Score(s).

Finally, in Section V, we look at a checklist for moving – some of the most important items to take care of when you relocate.

Continue reading below for an overview of the best places for any type of person.

I. Pros and Cons of Living in Florida

Pros and Cons of Living in Florida

As with any state, there are pros and cons to living in Florida. But as people often say, a bad day in Florida is still better than a good day anywhere else. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons side by side.

Pros

  1. a) You are never more than 60 miles from a beach in Florida. With nearly 1,200 miles of coastline, it is no wonder that a common phrase is “You can shake the sand from your shoes but not from your soul.”
  2. b) Florida has managed to stay affordable while attracting people from all over the country at a tremendous rate. Florida’s population grew by 14.2% over the past decade, which is more than double the national rate of 6.3%.
  3. c) At the same time, Florida’s median home price is still slightly below the national median ($215,300 vs. $217,500).
  4. d) Florida is one of nine states that don’t have an income tax. Save some money by moving to the Sunshine State!
  5. e) Many areas of Florida are extremely diverse. Foreign-born persons make up over 50% more of the population in Florida than in the U.S. in general (20.7% as opposed to 13.6%).
  6. f) There are plenty of theme parks in the state of Florida, including the biggest in the world: The Walt Disney World Resort. With over 40 square miles of parks, resorts, bars, dining and shopping, there’s always something to do.
  7. g) Don’t assume beaches are the only nature Florida has to offer. With over 200 state parks to visit, be sure that you make plenty of time to see the natural springs, lakes, rivers and hiking trails all across the state.
  8. h) And then there’s golf, golf and more golf! Naples claims to be the “Golf Capital of the World,” with more holes per capita than any other community. In addition, with more than 160 golf courses, Palm Beach County has more golf courses than any other county in the U.S.
The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

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With year-round warm weather and over 8,000 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder Florida is a prime vacation destination. Filled with wildlife, beaches, lakes, rivers, amusement parks, diverse entertainment options and much more, the population of Florida is growing with people that want to call Florida “home,” soak up the sun…

Cons

  1. a) Infestations can sometimes be a huge problem in Florida. Bugs, critters and small reptiles such as snakes can cause issues. On the plus side, typically these creatures are more annoying than deadly and can be taken care of by working with the right exterminator.
  2. b) Florida weather can be a struggle for those not used to it. The heat index in the summer can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity is sometimes around 90%. Hurricanes can be devastating as well, but the good news is that they are predictable, and Floridians are pros at preparing for any storm.
  3. c) Certain parts of the state can become overrun by tourists throughout the year. One good thing is that once you start noticing trends, you’ll be able to avoid crowds and crazy out-of-towners. Get ready to hear “Some call it a vacation; I call it home.”

Finally, here are some fun facts about Florida!

  1. a. The phrase “cool as a cucumber” originates in Florida. On a hot Florida day, the pulp of a cucumber can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding air.
  2. b. The first commercial refrigeration was used in Florida.
  3. c. The Florida Everglades is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist.
  4. d. Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first sunscreen in 1944.
  5. e. The first commercial flight took place in 1914 between Tampa and St. Pete.
  6. f. Gatorade was named after a drink developed for the Florida Gators.

 

II. Great Options for Young Professionals

Great Options for Young Professionals

The following eight cities are great places for young professionals to live and work. They have the right mix of a young population, good amenities and good employment opportunities, and they remain affordable places(for the most part) to buy or rent homes.

We have listed the cities below from lowest to highest cost of living. As described at the outset, the rankings and HOMEiA index scores are based on a larger set of characteristics that we have reviewed.

1. Palm Bay

Palm Bay

HOMEiA Score: 85/100

  • Population: 103,190 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 11% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $155,200/$51,408 = 3.02 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $51,408/$12,708 = 4.05 (renting homes is affordable)

Palm Bay is located in central Florida on the east coast. The population in Palm Bay grew by 11.1% 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%.

The population in Palm Bay is young, with 22.4% of the population under 18 and only 18.5% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Palm Bay is $51,408, and the median home price is $155,200 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.3% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Palm Bay area, including Eastern Florida State College.

Palm Bay is home to Castaway Point Park, Turkey Creek Sanctuary and Andretti Thrill Park. It is just over an hour away from downtown Orlando and many theme parks.

2. Jacksonville

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 911,507 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • 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 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%, though below the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The population in Jacksonville is young, with 22.9% of the population under 18 and only 13.4% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Jacksonville is $54,701, and the median home price is $173,200 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.2% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Jacksonville area, including the University of North Florida.

Nature trails, shopping districts, beaches and professional sports games are just some of the activities available to those living in Jacksonville.

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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…

3. Temple Terrace

Temple Terrace

HOMEiA Score: 93/100

  • Population: 26,639 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 4% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $228,900/$63,018 = 3.63 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $63,018/$13,716 = 4.59 (renting homes is affordable)

Temple Terrace is located in central Florida, just north of Tampa. The population in Temple Terrace grew by 9.1% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3%, though below the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The population in Temple Terrace is relatively young, with 19.3% of the population under 18 and only 12.8% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Temple Terrace is $63,018, and the median home price is $228,900 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Temple Terrace area, including the University of South Florida.

Temple Terrace is a beautiful haven for nature lovers. Riverhills Park, Lettuce Lake Park and Eureka Springs Park are all examples of places to visit for trails and wonderful views.

4. St. Petersburg

HOMEiA Score: 87/100

  • Population: 265,351 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 1% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $284,100/$45,483 = 6.24 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $45,483/$13,392 = 3.40 (renting homes is affordable)

St. Petersburg is located on the west coast near Tampa Bay. The population in St. Petersburg grew by 8.2% 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%. The population in St. Petersburg is balanced between young and old, with 16.9% of the population under 18 and 18.6% over 65 years old.

The median household income in St. Petersburg is $45,483, and the median home price is $284,100 (2021 estimates). 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%.

There are many options for higher education in the St. Petersburg area, including the University of South Florida.

St. Petersburg is home to the Salvador Dalí Museum and the Fred Marquis Pinellas Nature Trail, and it is minutes away from Clearwater Beach.

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5. Tampa

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 399,700 | Rank Last Year: #3
  • 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 slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $53,833/$13,572 = 3.97 (renting homes is affordable)

Tampa is located on the mid-west coast of Florida. The population in Tampa grew by 18.9% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above both the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%. The population in Tampa is young, with 21.4% of the population under 18 and only 12.3% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Tampa is $53,833, and the median home price is $238,900 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Tampa area, including the University of South Florida.

There are many attractions for those living in Tampa. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and the Tampa Museum of Art are prime examples.

The nightlife in Tampa is like no other, with plenty of bars and clubs that will keep you busy all night long. Check out the historic Ybor City for a fun night out with friends. Additionally, Tampa is home to many annual festivals, including the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Watch tons of ships sail to shore with hundreds of pirates onboard and attend the parade. Make sure to catch some beads!

6. Ocoee

Ocoee

HOMEiA Score: 86/100

  • Population: 48,263 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 6% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $242,500/$75,329 = 3.22 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $75,329/$17,292 = 4.36 (renting homes is affordable)

Ocoee is located in central Florida, just west of Orlando. The population in Ocoee grew by 35.1% 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%. The population in Ocoee is young, with 27.0% of the population under 18 and only 9.2% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Ocoee is $75,329, and the median home price is $242,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate in Ocoee is 5.4% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Ocoee area, including the University of Central Florida.

Ocoee is a great city minutes away from downtown Orlando and a short drive to the theme parks. There are plenty of things to do in the town, including visiting the historic downtown Ocoee area and fishing on Starke Lake.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

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7. Oviedo

Oviedo

HOMEiA Score: 95/100

  • Population: 41,860 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 15% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $289,200/$95,935 = 3.01 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $95,935/$19,548 = 4.91 (renting homes is affordable)

Oviedo is located in central Florida, northeast of Orlando. The population in Oviedo grew by 25.1% 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%. The population in Oviedo is young, with 25.9% of the population under 18 and only 10.7% over 65.

The median household income in Oviedo is $95,935, and the median home price is $289,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.4% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Oviedo area, including the University of Central Florida.

Oviedo is a short drive away from Orlando and the theme park area. Lake Jesup, Black Hammock Wilderness Area and Spring Hammock Preserve are all nearby for relaxing on the water or exploring nature trails.

8. Doral

HOMEiA Score: 83/100

  • Population: 65,741 | Rank Last Year: #8
  • Cost of Living: 23% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $394,000/$77,493 = 5.08 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $77,493/$23,892 = 3.24 (renting homes is slightly expensive)

Doral is located in south Florida northwest of Miami. The population in Doral grew by 43.8% 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%. The population in Doral is very young, with 26.5% of the population under 18 and only 7.2% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Doral is $77,493, and the median home price is $394,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 7.1% (May 2021), which is above both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are many options for higher education in the Doral area, including the University of Miami.

Doral is a short drive away from the larger city of Miami and a short distance from the beach. There are plenty of activities for both kids and adults to enjoy. Doral is also known for its casinos.

 

III. Cities to Suit Families with Young Kids

Cities to Suit Families with Young Kids

The following 9 cities are great places for families with young kids to move to. They have the right mix of a young population, good educational infrastructure and family-style amenities. It also remains affordable, for the most part, to buy or rent homes in these areas.

We have listed these cities from lowest to highest cost of living. As described at the outset, the rankings and HOMEiA index scores are based on a larger set of characteristics that we have reviewed.

1. Jacksonville

HOMEiA Score: 93/100

  • 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)

Key economic and demographic data on Jacksonville was presented in Section II (Great Options for Young Professionals) above, along with information on certain amenities. In this section, we present additional information that will be of interest to families with young kids – such as schools, healthcare and other activities/attractions suitable for young children.

Jacksonville is home to Duval County Public Schools, the 20th-largest school district in the nation. In the 2019-2020 school year the graduation rate in all of Duval County was just over 90%, higher than the national average. There are 190 public schools and over 600 private schools in the Jacksonville area.

Families can enjoy themselves at many kid-friendly venues, including the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden, the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park and the Museum of Science and Industry. For something a little different, visit the Jacksonville Artwork on the first Wednesday of each month. Then there is the ultimate adventure spot for kids at the Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach.

There are plenty of hospitals and primary care medical facilities in the Jacksonville area, including Memorial Hospital and Curahealth Jacksonville.

2. Port Orange

HOMEiA Score: 86/100

  • Population: 64,842 | Rank Last Year: #8
  • Cost of Living: 3% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $179,400/$51,883 = 3.46 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $51,883/$13,932 = 3.72 (renting homes is affordable)

Port Orange is located on the east coast of Florida, just south of Daytona Beach. The population in Port Orange grew by 14.5% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%. The population in Port Orange is relatively young, with 18.6% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Port Orange is $51,883, and the median home price is $179,400 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.0% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and slightly above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are 15 public schools and 23 private schools in the Port Orange area. There are also many options for higher education, including Nova Southeastern University.

Golf courses and beautiful beaches surround the Port Orange area. The Daytona International Speedway is a short drive north.

There are a number of primary care facilities and hospitals in the Port Orange area, including Halifax Health Medical Center of Port Orange.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

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3. Rockledge

Rockledge

HOMEiA Score: 92/100

  • Population: 28,227 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 1% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $204,800/$68,265 = 3.00 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $68,265/$15,480 = 4.41 (renting homes is affordable)

Rockledge is located on the mid-east coast of Florida. The population in Rockledge grew by 13.3% 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%. The population in Rockledge is relatively young, with 19.2% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Rockledge is $68,265, and the median home price is $204,800 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.3% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are nine public schools and 28 private schools in the Rockledge area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including Eastern Florida State College.

Rockledge is minutes away from beautiful beaches, as well as a short drive from the world-famous Cocoa Beach. For space lovers, the Kennedy Space Center is close enough that many residents can see launches from their backyards.

There are many medical care facilities in the Rockledge area, including hospitals like the Rockledge Regional Medical Center.

4. Tampa

HOMEiA Score: 87/100

  • Population: 399,700 | 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 slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $53,833/$13,572 = 3.97 (renting homes is affordable)

Key economic and demographic data about Tampa was presented in Section II (Great Options for Young Professionals) above, along with information on certain amenities. In this section, we present additional information that will be of interest to families with young kids – such as schools, healthcare and other activities/attractions suitable for young children.

Tampa is home to Hillsborough County Public Schools, which serves over 200,000 students. There are 176 public schools and over 400 private schools in the Tampa area. In the 2019-2020 school year, the graduation rate in Hillsborough County was 90%, just over the national average.

Tampa is a great city for those looking for family-friendly adventures. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and the Tampa Museum of Art are just a few examples of the things families with young kids can enjoy in and around the city.

There are an average number of hospitals and primary care medical facilities in the Tampa area, including Tampa General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Tampa.

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5. Orlando

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 287,442 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 4% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $240,000/$51,757 = 4.64 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $240,000/$51,757 = 4.64 (buying homes is expensive)

Orlando is located in central Florida. The population in Orlando grew by 20.4% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), substantially above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and exceeding the Florida rate of 14.2%. The population in Orlando is young, with 21.1% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Orlando is $51,757, and the median home price is $240,000 (2019 estimates). 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%.

There are about 200 public schools and over 400 private schools in the Orlando area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including the University of Central Florida.

Orlando is home to more than a dozen theme parks. With a large downtown area featuring plenty of bars and clubs, this city is a great mix of family fun and nightlife.

There are more than ten hospitals and primary care medical facilities in the Orlando area, including Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital.

6. Clermont

HOMEiA Score: 86/100

  • Population: 38,654 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 8% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $233,000/$64,736 = 3.60 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $64,736/$16,980 = 3.81 (renting homes is affordable)

Clermont is located in central Florida, about 30 minutes west of Orlando. The population in Clermont grew by 34.1% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), substantially above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%. The population in Clermont is relatively young, with 19.8% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Clermont is $64,736, and the median home price is $233,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.4%, which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are 19 public schools and 30 private schools in the Clermont area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including Lake-Sumter State College.

Clermont has a lovely historical downtown area and plenty of biking and walking trails. Lake Minneola, Lake Minnehaha and Lake Louisa State Park are all nearby, so residents can enjoy the nature and trails.

There are lots of primary care medical facilities in the Clermont area, including Orlando Health South Lake Hospital.

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7. Winter Springs

Winter Springs

HOMEiA Score: 92/100

  • Population: 37,312 | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: 9% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $246,500/$71,898 = 3.43 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $71,898/$15,120 = 4.76 (renting homes is affordable)

Winter Springs is located in central Florida, just north of Orlando. The population in Winter Springs grew by 12.0% 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%. The population in Winter Springs is relatively young, with 19.2% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Winter Springs is $71,898, and the median home price is $246,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.4% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are nine public schools and over 15 private schools in the Winter Springs area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including the University of Central Florida.

Winter Springs is a short drive away from Orlando and most major theme parks. Lake Jesup, Black Hammock Wilderness Area and Lake Jesup Conservation Area are all nearby for relaxing on the water or exploring nature.

There are a lot of medical facilities in the Winter Springs area, including Advent Health Hospital.

8. Fish Hawk

Fish Hawk

HOMEiA Score: 87/100

  • Population: 14,087 (2010) | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 17% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $350,000/$119,208 = 2.94 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $119,208/$22,980 = 5.19 (renting homes is affordable)

Fish Hawk is located in central Florida, southeast of Tampa. The population in Fish Hawk is substantially young, with 37.4% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Fish Hawk is $119,208, and the median home price is $350,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are 7 public schools in the Fish Hawk area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including the University of South Florida.

Fish Hawk is a short drive from the Tampa Bay area, giving residents easy access to plenty of activities and city life. A short drive south is the Alafia River State Park, for those interested in nature trails and great views.

There are a few primary care medical facilities and hospitals in the Fish Hawk area, including St. Joseph’s Hospital South.

9. Pembroke Pines

HOMEiA Score: 81/100

  • Population: 173,591 | Rank Last Year: #9
  • Cost of Living: 19% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $288,700/$68,745 = 4.20 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $68,745/$18,180 = 3.78 (renting homes is affordable)

Pembroke Pines is located in south Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The population in Pembroke Pines grew by 12.1% 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%. The population in Pembroke Pines is relatively young, with 20.3% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Pembroke Pines is $68,745 and the median home price is $288,700 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.2%, which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

There are 32 public schools and over 40 private schools in the Pembroke Pines area. There are also many options for higher education nearby, including Strayer University.

Pembroke Pines is near many attractions and a short drive from the beach. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a short drive away, as are many nature trails to the west.

There are lots of primary care facilities in the Pembroke Pines area, including Memorial Hospital West.

 

IV. Great Options for Retirees

Great Options for Retirees

The following 8 cities are great places for retirees to spend their golden years, soaking up the heat and enjoying the many attractions of Florida. These towns have older populations, good amenities, decent to good healthcare and better safety ratings than many other cities in Florida.

While some of these communities are affordable, others are more luxurious. We have presented options that will fit different budgets and needs, so there should be a choice for everyone.

We have listed the cities below from lowest to highest cost of living. As described at the outset, the rankings and HOMEiA index scores are based on a larger set of characteristics that we have reviewed.

1. Palm Coast

Palm Coast

HOMEiA Score: 85/100

  • Population: 89,800 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 4% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $209,300/$54,360 = 3.85 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $54,360 /$15,576 = 3.49 (renting homes is affordable)

Palm Coast is located about an hour south of Jacksonville on the east coast of Florida. The population in Palm Coast grew by 19.4% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), substantially above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and also the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The median household income in Palm Coast is $54,360, and the median home price is $209,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.0% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but just above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

Palm Coast is home to plenty of parks, golf courses and beaches. This area is great for those looking to live an active lifestyle. St. Augustine is a 45-minute drive and a great weekend getaway option.

Advent Health Palm Coast is a great place to find care for a variety of medical needs. According to HealthGrades.com, 65% of patients would recommend this location.

2. Clearwater

HOMEiA Score: 77/100

  • Population: 116,948 | Rank Last Year: #8
  • Cost of Living: 2% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $206,300/$48,691 = 4.24 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $48,691/$13,104 = 3.72 (renting homes is affordable)

Clearwater is a coastal town off the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The population in Clearwater grew by 7.2% 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%.

The median household income in Clearwater is $48,691, and the median home price is $206,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

Downtown Clearwater is a great place for the whole family. Visit Moccasin Lake Nature Park or the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for more fun and learning.

Morton Plant Hospital is the main medical facility serving the Clearwater area. According to HealthGrades.com, over 82% of patients would recommend this location.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

Texas and Florida are vast and have hundreds of communities to choose from. But what are the pros and cons of living in each state? Come with HOMEiA as we explore 7 crucial factors that reveal the true costs of choosing Florida or Texas as your new home

3. Venice

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 23,985 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 1% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $252,200/$60,086 = 4.20 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $60,086/$16,260= 3.70 (renting homes is affordable)

Venice is located on the west coast of Florida, a little over an hour south of Tampa. The population in Venice grew by 15.3% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% as well as the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The median household income in Venice is $60,086, and the median home price is $252,200 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.2% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

Venice is home to a beautiful and welcoming historic downtown area that boasts many shopping and dining venues. There are also plenty of options if you’re looking for nature views.

Venice Regional Bayfront Health offers many different kinds of care. According to HealthGrades.com, over 50% of patients would recommend this location.

4. The Villages

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 51,442 (2010) | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: 3% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $283,300/$63,841 = 4.44 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $63,841/$20,196 = 3.16 (renting homes is slightly expensive)

The Villages are located about an hour northwest of Orlando. The last population report (from 2010) shows that over 50,000 people live in this retirement community.

The median household income in The Villages is $63,841, and the median home price is $283,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.8% (May 2021), which is on par with the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

The activities inside The Villages include sports, social groups, community events and educational opportunities, as well as amenities like three town squares and several recreation centers. For a day trip, visit the lakes around the area or Ocala National Forest.

The Villages have plenty of healthcare facilities, including AdventHealth, The Villages Center for Health, The Villages Regional Hospital and UF Health The Villages Hospital.

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5. New Smyrna Beach

HOMEiA Score: 84/100

  • Population: 27,843 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 7% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $256,100/$57,043 = 4.49 (buying homes is slightly expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $57,043/$13,548 = 4.21 (renting homes is affordable)

New Smyrna Beach is a small town on the east coast of Florida, just south of Daytona Beach. The population in New Smyrna Beach grew by 18.8% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The median household income in Smyrna Beach is $57,043, and the median home price is $256,100 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 5.0% (May 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.8% but just above the Florida rate of 4.9%.

New Smyrna Beach has a large variety of activities. Visit the Smyrna Dunes Park, Sugar Mills Ruins or the Marine Discovery Center to learn about the history and nature of this area. For a different adventure, the New Smyrna Speedway is a great attraction.

AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach is a popular healthcare option for those in this area. According to HealthGrades.com, over 60% of patients would recommend this location.

6. Naples

HOMEiA Score: 96/100

  • Population: 22,088 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 12% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $988,500/$107,013 = 9.23 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $107,013/$16,284 = 6.57 (renting homes is very affordable)

Naples is located in south Florida on the west coast of the state. The population in Naples grew by 13.2% 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%.

Naples has a very high proportion of seniors, with 52.5% of the population being over 65 years of age (2010). This is very high compared to both the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Florida (26.8% seniors). By comparison, only 8.1% of the population is under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 16.8% in Florida.

The median household income in Naples is $107,013, and the median home price is $988,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate in Naples is 3.7% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

Naples is home to lovely beaches and sunsets as well as gulf views in many places. Visit museums such as the Baker Museum or take a walk on one of the nature trails in the area. The nation’s smallest post office is located in Ochopee, Florida, near Naples.

The NCH Baker Hospital Downtown offers a variety of healthcare services. According to HealthGrades.com, over 65% of patients would recommend this location.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Florida + Pros & Cons

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7. Boca Raton

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 99,805 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 21% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $458,600/$83,114 = 5.52 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $83,114/$21,120 = 3.94 (renting homes is affordable)

Boca Raton is a coastal town located between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The population in Boca Raton grew by 18.2% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), above the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% as well as the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The median household income in Boca Raton is $83,114, and the median home price is $458,600 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate in Boca Raton is 4.6% (May 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

Boca Raton comes from the Spanish “Boca de Ratones,” meaning “rat’s mouth” – a term used by seamen to describe hidden rocks that could damage a ship. This area is home to plenty of different amenities and activities for those of all ages. Relax at the beach, visit the Boca Raton Museum of Art, or take a walk on the nature trails offered throughout the city.

The Boca Raton Regional Hospital is the main hospital in this area. According to HealthGrades.com, over 75% of patients would recommend this location.

8. Saint Pete Beach

Saint Pete Beach

HOMEiA Score: 84/100

  • Population: 9,587 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 30% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $462,500/$76,516 = 6.04 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $76,516/$13,236 = 5.78 (renting homes is very affordable)

St. Pete Beach is located on a barrier island just off the coast of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. The population in St. Pete Beach grew by 2.6% from April 2010 through July 2019 (U.S. Census), below the overall U.S. rate of 6.3% and the Florida rate of 14.2%.

The median household income in St. Pete Beach is $76,516, and the median home price is $462,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6%, which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.8% and the Florida rate of 4.9%.

St. Pete Beach is almost entirely surrounded by waterfront views. Visit the small parks on the island for more nature watching or check out the bar and dining options offered all over the town.

There are no major hospitals on the island of St. Pete Beach, but there are plenty close by. St. Anthony’s Hospital is highly rated and has a variety of services available. According to HealthGrades.com, over 80% of patients would recommend this location.

 

V. Moving to Florida? Our Relocation Checklist Will Help You Cover Your Bases

Moving to Florida? Our Relocation Checklist Will Help You Cover Your Bases

If you’re planning on relocating in the near future, there are lots of things to get done so that the entire process runs smoothly. Follow these steps to ensure that your relocation will be as stress-free as possible.

Step One: Organization

  • Block time on your calendar to prepare for the move. Take time off work, cancel appointments and make sure the time is available to only focus on the move.
  • Set a budget for how much you’d like to spend. Consider moving supplies, moving trucks, overnight stays and any other expense to make everything run smoothly.

 

Step Two: Planning

  • Go through all your belongings and decide what items to bring and what items to get rid of. Consider donating old pieces and purchasing new ones at your destination to save space in the truck.
  • Research and hire a moving company that you can trust with your large pieces of furniture. Decide if you’ll also drive some of the belongings to your new location.
  • Prepare to change your address and have your mail forwarded on the correct date.

 

Step Three: Packing

  • Begin packing lesser-used items first so you are not struggling during the last few days in your current location.
  • Clean and prepare your home before the movers come so they can efficiently pack large furniture items.
  • Ensure that you have essentials with you so that you are comfortable right away. This is especially important if the moving trucks won’t arrive until a day or two later.

 

Step Four: The Move

  • Keep an ongoing list of things to remember for the day of the move, including any stops you might make along the way.
  • Make sure everyone is comfortable on the journey, including any pets or kids who are making the trip.

 

Step Five: Settling In

  • Once all your belongings have made it to your new location, begin unpacking and getting settled.
  • Make it a point to explore your new town, even if it’s just taking a walk or a short drive to see the new sights.
  • Set up appointments to register your car (if you are in a new state) and update your driver’s license.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of great cities to live in around the state of Florida. Whether you are a young professional just starting out, have recently started a family, or are looking to retire, we hope this guide is helpful as you take the first step on this journey.

15 Essential Steps for Moving to a New City

If you’re moving to a new city, though, the process is even more complicated. Without the ability to make a quick trip here and there, you’ll need a detailed plan to keep everything running smoothly. This guide to relocation will help you make a plan and check all the boxes so your move will be as painless as possible…

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.

HOMEiA.com aims to be the premier site for people planning to relocate, providing them with insightful content and connecting them with skilled real estate professionals.

We also empower real estate professionals to establish or strengthen their web presence by highlighting their experience, knowledge and achievements. If you’re selected to join our list of certified real estate professionals, you will distinguish yourself from your peers — and earn HOMEiA’s support.

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I’m an avid writer who often focuses on real estate, business consulting, economics and finance. Before leading business and investment advisory services for over 25 years, I got a Ph.D. in Economics and taught at the university level. I have lived in Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois for a combined 35 years. I also traveled to 40+ states on business and pleasure, and love writing about the great cities and small towns across the US. Read more >>
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 >>