Looking for the Best Places to Live in Florida?
Florida has long been popular with vacationers and snowbirds looking for fun in the sun during the winter months. More recently, Americans from across the country have decided to make Florida not just their go-to vacation spot but also their permanent home.
With the rise of work-from-home during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote workers seized the opportunity to live in the Sunshine State year round. This continued a trend that started at least five years before the pandemic, with Florida welcoming the net largest number of movers each of those years.
14 Best Places to Live in Florida in 2022!
Florida has a lot to offer residents, with warm weather and beaches at the top of the list. But Florida also has tax policies and other economic factors that make it attractive to Americans from all income brackets. Florida’s lack of income tax makes it popular with the wealthy, although some of those gains are offset by high property taxes. Meanwhile, the low cost of living attracts low and middle-income movers. Florida also offers a mix of outdoor recreation and urban attractions like professional sports, museums and theme parks.
People considering relocating to Florida have a lot of great places to scope out. From large urban centers, to quiet suburbs, to smaller seaside cities, this list will introduce you to some of the top-ranked Florida cities from U.S. News and World Report, plus a few personal favorites.
- Metro Population = 6,129,858
- Median Home Price = $247,112
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,408
If you’re looking for a big-city lifestyle, Miami might be for you. As Florida’s largest city by population, Miami offers urban amenities inducing a thriving arts scene, professional sports, and excellent nightlife, all within a short drive from beautiful Atlantic beaches. The Miami Beach area rolls many of these highlights into one, featuring famous nightclubs, art deco architecture, hip shopping destinations, and of course gorgeous ocean views.
Young professionals flock to jobs in Miami, which is a booming international business hub linking the U.S. with Latin America and the Caribbean. As such, Miami boasts diverse neighborhoods and cultural offerings. The Little Havana and Little Haiti neighborhoods showcase their cultural specialties at galleries, local museums and cultural centers, and restaurants galore. Due to the awesome cultural scene, there are tonnes of things to do in Miami indoors when it rains.
For those who want access to urban attractions but don’t want to live in the city center, nearby suburbs like Davie may be a good option. They offer a lower cost of living within just a 30-minute drive from the city center. Biscayne National Park and the Everglades also provide retreats into nature about an hour’s drive from Miami.
Due to the great night-life Miami offers, it is one of the best places to live in Florida for young adults and singles.
- Metro Population = 1,533,796
- Median Home Price = $348,852
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,113
While Miami may be the largest city in Florida by population, Jacksonville is larger by area: at 840 square miles, it’s actually the largest city by landmass in the continental United States! Jacksonville is located on the Atlantic side of the state near the northern border. Like most cities in coastal Florida, it has good beaches, including Amelia Island and Ponte Vedra, which also boast great golf courses.
Jacksonville is known for its massive public parks system. Comprising 7 State Parks, 2 National Parks, a National Preserve, and 400 City Parks and Gardens, the entire system covers 80,000 acres. Park visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, cycling, and kayaking. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is a particular highlight, where visitors can experience a pristine coastal wetland. Diving and snorkeling enthusiasts will also find many jumping-off points in town.
Jacksonville’s population is also the youngest in Florida, with an average age of 36. The city attracts sports fans, who can take in everything from NFL football, to FC Soccer, to minor league baseball and hockey. Recently, Jacksonville has enjoyed a surge in its arts and music scene, which has led to business development and enticed young professionals to the area.
- Metro Population = 2,560,260
- Median Home Price = $399,846
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,273
When most people think of Orlando, they think of theme parks, and rightly so. Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, Sea World, LEGOLAND, and Universal Orlando. Some parks offer discounts for locals, and the constant flow of tourists means the job market in Orlando is strong, particularly in tourism and related industries.
Despite the influx of tourists, Orlando is a livable city with a growing population and job opportunities in a variety of up-and-coming sectors like tech and healthcare. It attracts young professionals and families due to the virtually endless list of things to do. Besides the theme parks, Orlando offers a huge variety of outdoor adventure activities, from zip-lining to air boat rides, from paddling pristine springs in a clear kayak to hang gliding and swimming with manatees.
Downtown Orlando features night clubs, restaurants, concert vendues, and the seat of Orange County government. Orlando also contains quiet, shady residential areas, some of which surround the city’s many lakes. While Orlando is in central Florida, it’s still only a couple of hours away from the nearest beach.
- Metro Population = 38,342
- Median Home Price = $377,500
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,838
If you like the idea of living in Orlando but don’t want to be in the thick of the theme park action, Winter Springs may be a great option. In fact, the area used to be known as North Orlando but changed its name to minimize confusion. Winter Springs is 30 miles from Disney World and within commuting distance of downtown Miami, 17 miles away.
Winter Springs has lots of parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas, such as Winter Springs Community Park and Central Winds Park, making it a nice place for families. It’s also a very safe place to live, with a crime rate 60.4% lower than the national average. Another perk is its low cost of living, which is 6% lower than the national average.
There are plenty of outdoor activities for adults, too, including playing a round at the Orange Tree Golf Club. Winter Springs borders Lake Jessup, which has several preserves and conservation areas nearby where outdoor enthusiasts can hike and paddle.
- Metro Population = 3,152,928
- Median Home Price = $369,299
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,160
Tampa is a well-rounded business hub located on Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Residents enjoy a laid-back beachy vibe but also have urban amenities at their fingertips. Tampa offers pro sports, museums, fine dining, and an array of educational institutions including the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida. The Tampa metropolitan area includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater, making it the second largest metro area in Florida after Miami. Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater all have their own unique atmospheres.
Tampa has a vibrant Hispanic community, especially in Ybor City. Cuban and Spanish cigar factory workers developed this historic neighborhood, which now boasts popular dining and nightlife destinations. Tampa’s Latin Quarter hosts musical and cultural events year-round, and local guides are on hand to introduce newcomers to the food, history, and legends of this historic district.
Exploring the Tampa Riverwalk is another great way to get to know the city. In 2021, Fodor’s Travel named it one of the top 15 riverwalks in the country for its scenic views and great attractions along its 2.6-mile length. And for those who want to explore further afield, Tampa is less than two hours from The Most Magical Place on Earth – that’s Walt Disney World in Orlando!
One of the best places to live on the Gulf Coast for sure.
- 2019 Metro Population = 37,546
- 2019 Median Home Price = $259,700
- 2019 Median Monthly Rent = $1,274
If Tampa’s attractions sound enticing, but you’d prefer something quieter than a big-city lifestyle, Valrico may be the place for you. This residential suburb is 15 miles from Tampa, making commuting feasible. The cost of living is lower than in the city, and you’re more likely to find larger homes and lots. Valrico was once farmland and plantations, and it’s still possible to find properties on more than an acre of land. Although Valrico’s population has grown over the past few decades, it still retains its reputation as a tranquil oasis outside the city.
Valrico offers outdoor spaces to enjoy Florida’s famously good weather. For example, the Dover Horse Trails are open to equestrian use, as well as hiking and biking. Other local parks include All Person’s Rotary Park and Bertha and Tony Saladino Park, which offer playgrounds, picnicking lawns, and sports facilities for basketball and baseball.
- Median Home Price = $154,800
St. Petersburg offers a smaller-town beachy vibe close to Tampa’s urban core. Real estate is more affordable in St. Pete than in other parts of the state, and the cost of living is in line with the national average. You’ll be a 35-minute drive from downtown Tampa, with its many job opportunities at Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, and universities. St. Pete itself features a variety of beach activities, from dolphin-watching cruises to parasailing. Nearby Clearwater Beach and Sand Key offer white sand beaches on Tampa Bay.
St. Petersburg is the first designated Green City in Florida for its initiatives in water conservation, tree planting, recycling, and fuel efficiency. Biking is popular both as a mode of transportation and a leisure activity in St. Pete, which offers 40 miles of bike trails and a convenient bike share program.
St. Pete also has a strong arts scene. The beachfront Salvador Dali museum houses Reynolds and Eleanore Morse’s large collection of artwork from the surrealist painter. The Museum of Fine Arts showcases works from ancient to contemporary, and the Chihuly Collection features abstract blown glass creations along with live glass blowing demonstrations.
- Metro Population = 496,278
- Median Home Price = $200,800
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,046
Pensacola is located in northern Florida on the Gulf of Mexico and borders Escambia Bay and Pensacola Bay. The area offers great offshore fishing for snapper and grouper. For those who want a taste of fresh seafood without the effort of catching it themselves, never fear: many Pensacola restaurants feature a catch of the day.
Pensacola has a storied and vibrant history. Native Americans have lived there for thousands of years, and Spanish settlers arrived in the 16th century. Since then, it has also fallen under the jurisdiction of the French, British, Confederate, and American governments. Locals celebrate their rich history with a 10-day festival each year. History buffs can visit a variety of sites such as Fort Pickins, a Civil War-era fortification, and Historic Pensacola, a complex of 12 museums featuring live interpretations of several periods throughout Pensacola history.
Pensacola also boasts significant natural beauty, with chances to encounter local wildlife. Daily dolphin-watching tours ply the bays year-round and visitors often spot sea life from the boats. The state government and its partners have spent millions of dollars on Project Greenshores, an initiative to restore habitat along Pensacola’s shorelines and estuaries. These places are now home to ospreys, bald eagles, and shorebirds, and provide nesting sites for sea turtles.
- Metro Population = 821,613
- Median Home Price = $387,630
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,259
For a hip coastal city with a great arts scene and food culture, look no further than Sarasota, located on the Gulf Coast one hour from Tampa and two hours from Orlando. Sarasota has both a downtown, metropolitan feel with rooftop bars and an opera house, but also the beachy atmosphere of a smaller seaside town. Although popular with retirees, young professionals are also moving into the area.
Sarasota boasts spectacular beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its sparkling and powdery white sand. But so far, Sarasota has escaped the notice of Spring Break revelers and instead cultivates a more artistic feel. It’s home to an orchestra, opera, ballet, and museums. You can also visit Ca’ d’Zan, the palatial home of John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Sarasota also has a great dining scene, known for fresh seafood such as lobster, octopus, and shrimp. Sample Italian preparations at Dolce Italia, or try Peruvian-influenced dishes at Selva Grill. Get a nightcap at one of Sarasota’s rooftop lounges or tiki bars, or stay out salsa dancing on Siesta Key into the morning hours!
- Metro Population = 658,961
- Median Home Price = $339,137
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,127
There’s no getting around it: Daytona Beach is popular with snowbirds. This means traffic often snarls in the winter months, but also that the city can feel strangely empty by comparison in the summer. But Daytona Beach is popular for good reason, and residents can benefit from many of the same things that draw retirees and tourists. Aside from typical beach activities, fishing and golf are popular pastimes for visitors and locals alike.
Daytona Beach has a long history of car racing and a strong car culture; perhaps for this reason, the city still allows motorists to park on designated sections of the beach. Racing, however, no longer takes place on the sand. For that, you have to visit the Daytona International Speedway, where you can watch a NASCAR race up close.
For a more tranquil evening, take in a free outdoor concert at the Daytona Beach Bandshell Amphitheater right on the shore. The city also has several museums, galleries, and theaters which offer indoor options for beating the heat.
While the cost of living in Daytona Bech itself is on the higher side, the surrounding area offers other attractive places to live at various pricepoints such as Port Orange, Holly Hill, and Ponce Inlet.
- Metro Population = 379,345
- Median Home Price = $345,000
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,374
Naples is another Florida city popular with retirees, which means the cost of living and housing prices can be on the higher side. But if it’s within your budget, living in Naples offers some great perks. It’s on the Gulf side in the south of Florida and boasts white sand beaches, high-end shopping and dining, and luxurious golf courses. It’s also within a two-hour drive of both Tampa and Miami.
Residents of Collier County can receive a free sticker that allows them to park at local beaches in Naples without paying parking fees. This is a big plus if you plan to spend lots of time on the sand. The historic Naples Pier also offers great ocean views, with chances for anglers to try their luck and for wildlife lovers to see dolphins. Naples is near the Everglades and other natural areas such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, home to manatees, birds, and a host of other wildlife.
Although the cost of living in Naples is somewhat high, there are many free attractions and events. Cambier Park offers free jazz concerts, and you can explore local history at Collier County’s five museums free of charge.
- Metro Population = 756,570
- Median Home Price = $405,336
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,225
Young professionals have begun moving to Fort Myers in recent years, rounding out the population in a city that has long been popular with retirees. Located on the Gulf Coast between Miami and Tampa, Fort Myers is known for its relaxed lifestyle and abundance of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, golf, tennis, and pickleball. The Caloosahatchee River creates miles of channels which are great for fishing, boating, and kayaking. And of course beachgoing is also popular, with Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island as local favorites.
Fort Myers has a long history of attracting notable visitors seeking a warm climate. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both had estates here, which visitors can now explore. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates encompasses their former homes and research labs, along with a lush botanical garden and interpretive museum.
The downtown River District of Fort Myers offers opportunities for the younger population to continue the fun after dark at bars and breweries. Residential options in this area range from riverfront high rises to refurbished single-family homes, many close to some of the best restaurants in Florida, along with farmers markets featuring fresh and local ingredients.
- Metro Population = 62,373
- Median Home Price = $435,000
- Median Monthly Rent = $1,677
Jupiter is one of Florida’s hidden gems, located on the Atlantic Coast and situated as Palm Beach County’s northernmost city. It is 30 miles from Palm Beach International Airport and 87 miles from Miami and features white sand beaches such as Jupiter Beach. In fact, most beaches in Jupiter are free to residents and visitors alike. The population is a good mix of young professionals, families, and retirees. Some of Florida’s top-ranked public schools are in Jupiter.
Jupiter also attracts sports fans, particularly golfers and baseball fans. During Spring Training, the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball teams play at Roger Dean Stadium, offering a great chance for fans to watch their teams in a smaller venue and get up close to the players. Famous golfers including Tiger Woods have homes on Jupiter Island, which features swanky beachfront properties and easy access to Jupiter’s many golf courses.
For more kid-friendly options, check out the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, a nature preserve with trails through woods and wetlands, and chances to observe Florida wildlife. Or visit the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, where visitors can climb to the top for ocean views or explore museum exhibits to learn about the area’s history. One of the best places to live in Florida for families for sure.
- Metro Population = 384,783
- Median Home Price = $190,500
- Median Monthly Rent = $990
If cost of living is your biggest deciding factor, look no further than Tallahassee. Compared to other cities in Florida and even to the national average, housing prices are very affordable.
Located in the panhandle, the state capital has a different vibe from many other cities in Florida. For one thing, the climate is more temperate and residents will experience all four seasons. If you love colorful leaves in fall and crisp temperatures in winter, Tallahassee might be a great fit. You can experience the changing seasons in the nearby forests and parks, which boast a 700+ mile trail system along with rivers and natural springs. And if you still crave the ocean in the summer months, white sand beaches are only an hour’s drive away.
Tallahassee is home to two major universities: Florida State University and Florida A&M University. As such, college football is big here and locals love to cheer on the FSU Seminoles and the FAMU Rattlers. Residents can also take advantage of cultural events held at the universities, including music, dance, theater, and lectures. Tallahassee also hosts annual festivals such as the Chain of Parks Art Festival and the Wofd of South literary and music festival.