Florida is a long-time favorite spot for retirees. Interestingly, the past few years have seen working households flocking to the Sunshine State for promising career opportunities, no state income tax, and a relatively low living cost. 

Not to mention the approximate 825-mile-long beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean sprawling across the panhandle and peninsula, as well as mild winters, are also contributing factors. 

If you are currently considering moving to the Sunshine State, then finding the best places to live in Florida is of utmost importance. We are happy to help – we have analyzed the metropolitan areas with the help of recent data on primary lifestyle factors like crime rates, personal income per annum, average home price, and rate of employment. 

So, without wasting time, here we go!

Moving To Sunshine State? Finding The Best Places To Live In Florida!

Moving To Sunshine State

So, where is the best place to live in Florida? 

Undoubtedly, Florida has witnessed plenty of growth over the past few years. People are flocking to Florida in droves from across the whole country for its stunning coastlines, warm weather, no state income taxes, and obviously booming career opportunities – who knew that no taxes would become equivalent to prosperity? Don’t ditch your Taxcaster tool just yet though, there are still federal taxes to contend with.

If you are here, then chances are you are also considering making the move. Does the concept of zero-income state taxes make you great? Are endless sunny days calling you? Can you live amidst torrential rain and gators? 

Whether you are moving with your whole family, or seeking your dream destination for retirement, or even looking for a fresh young professional scene – we are here to help you narrow down the best places to reside in Florida. Let’s dive in!

Read Also: 10 Things To Do In Florida Madeira Beach

But First, Choose Your Region:

Choose Your Region

In order to find out the best place in Florida to live, you need to select the region first! Florida can be easily divided into three distinctive regions.

  • uncheckedNorth Florida,
  • uncheckedCentral Florida, and
  • uncheckedSouth Florida.

Each region comes with its identity brought about through many decades of changing industry centers, cultural crossovers, environmental factors, and history. While many natives of this state are bound to argue about how the state is made up of several regions, for the sake of keeping things simple, we will stick to these three broad divisions. 

These regions might be different from each other culturally, but they do have one major thing in common – a subtropical climate. No matter which area you are selecting, you are most likely to encounter bugs and alligators, deal with high levels of humidity (god, the frizziness!), look for sinkholes, ride out hurricanes frequently, and get rained on most Summer afternoons. 

But depending on where you choose to land, the actual severity of most hazards could go up as well as down, just like those property insurance premiums. For instance, the inland locations do not deal with direct hurricane hits, but that does not mean they don’t have to encounter plenty of aftermath. 

Another thing: let’s just admit that most lists are subjective, especially lists like this one that talk about the best places specifically. While we did check data on rent prices, homes, population, and more, it ultimately boils down to subjective opinions depending on personal likes as well as dislikes. 

With that being said, let’s dive into the best places to live in Florida so that you can easily compare their features and stats to see if any works for you. The areas we have listed below are in no specific order and are presented by region. 

Read Also: What Is The Cheapest Place To Live In Florida

The Best Places To Live In North Florida:

The north Florida region covers what’s known as the Panhandle. This is the only part of the state that’s directly connected to the rest of the continental U.S. and resembles (you guessed it) the handle of a pan.

Because of its proximity to the rest of the American South, north Florida is the most “Southern” region of the state culturally. It’s also the oldest in terms of human settlement and has lots of history in its cities and towns.

1. Pensacola:

Pensacola
Metro Area Population516,388
Median Household Income$59,119
Median Home Price$389,900
Median Monthly Rent* $1,354
Average Annual Rainfall58”

*Median rent is calculated with respect to two-bedroom apartments. 

If you visit the westernmost point of the Panhandle, you will reach Pensacola. Popularly known as the City of Five Flags, Pensacola has an interestingly long history of different governments laying claim to the whole area (American, Confederates, British, French, and Spanish) – and it is no wonder why! 

In the Pensacola region, you will stumble upon emerald green waves from the stunning Gulf of Mexico, splashing gently along the whole shoreline and sunny skies. Plus, Pensacola has so many water activities, such as deep-sea fishing and boating. 

Additionally, Pensacola happens to be a military town and is home to the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the main base of the world-renowned Blue Angels. Plus, the NAS Pensacola is known for hosting the National Naval Aviation Museum – visitors can actually hop abroad flight stimulators and check out whether they have ‘the right stuff.’

2. Tallahassee:

Tallahassee
Metro Area Population387,127
Median Household Income$49,077
Median Home Price$325,250
Median Monthly Rent$1,251
Average Annual Rainfall47”

While Tallahassee happens to be the state capital, it does feel like the least Floridian city in the whole state. Tallahassee actually enjoys all four seasons due to its unique location in the Panhandle region. If you love looking at different Fall colors, then don’t look beyond Tally, as it is known by some of the locals. 

With its beautiful rolling hills made up of red clay soil and nearby underwater caves, as well as natural springs, Tallahassee is a small slice of Southern heaven. Apart from all the natural beauty, the city also offers a nice college town, thanks to Florida A&M University and Florida State University. 

Even though Tallahassee has this old Southern history and look, Tally is definitely one of the best places to live in Florida for young adults. 

3. Gainesville:

Metro Area Population344,881
Median Household Income$40,937
Median Home Price$371,625
Median Monthly Rent$1,188
Average Annual Rainfall42”

Talking about college towns, practically, Gainesville is built in and around the University of Florida. Interestingly, the University happens to be the largest employer in Gainesville, with nearly 12% of the city’s total workforce working at the University. 

Also, Gainesville is popularly known for being Gatorade’s birthplace because of the University. And, of course, Gainesville is definitely the best affordable place to live in Florida, considering it caters to young adults mostly. 

But there is so much more to this college town than sports drinks and Gator football. The art community here boasts literally everything from public murals and theater to museums such as the Cade Museum for Creativity and the Florida Museum of Natural History. 

While there are no beaches close by, you will stumble upon several outdoor opportunities in the botanical gardens, natural preserves, and city parks, including the well-known Satan’s Sinkhole. 

4. Jacksonville:

Jacksonville
Metro Area Population1,637,666
Median Household Income$58,263
Median Home Price$399,700
Median Monthly Rent $1,412
Average Annual Rainfall41”

If you are looking for the best place to live in Florida near the beach, then Jacksonville, on the northeastern side of Florida to the south of Georgia’s state line, is one location you should definitely consider. 

Jacksonville boasts the largest city population in the whole of Florida, and not just that – it also happens to be the largest city by land area in the United States, just outside of Alaska. If life in a big city matches your speed better, then Jacksonville is a great option. 

Situated along the St.Johns River banks, there are multiple bridges that make traveling between the gorgeous beaches of Jacksonville and the vibrant downtown super convenient. Moreover, you will also be able to bag front-row seats in Jacksonville at the TIAA Bank Field to cheer the Jaguars or other teams.  

5. Ocala:

Ocala
Metro Area Population385,915
Median Household Income$46,841
Median Home Price$306,450
Median Monthly Rent$993
Average Annual Rainfall42”

Undoubtedly, the best place to live in Florida for retirees is Ocala, with its tight-knit community and small-town feel. The city also happens to be surrounded by spectacular natural beauty – green pastures and rolling hills with literally zero civilization in sight for miles. 

It is also home to one of the biggest natural springs in the United States, located at Silver Springs State Park. You can definitely board one of the famous glass-bottom boats at the park and observe the spring’s unique ecosystem underwater.

Additionally, Ocala is known for its interesting connection to horses as well. In reality, Ocala happens to rival Lexington (in Kentucky) for the much-coveted title of the world’s Horse Capital with its multiple horse farms. Plus, the biggest horse complex in the world, the World Equestrian Center, is also located at Ocala. 

Read Also: Things To Do In Florida

The Best Places To Live In South Florida:

Because of its closeness to the Caribbean, the South Florida vibe is just so more laidback and tropical. Everything from the music scene to the food is infused with a nice Latin flavor, thanks to the immigrants who settled here decades ago from places such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba. 

1. Sarasota:

Metro Area Population859,760
Median Household Income$62,615
Median Home Price$547,450
Median Monthly Rent* $1,875
Average Annual Rainfall40”

Home to the best beaches in the United States, Sarasota is located on the South Florida Gulf coast. The very popular Siesta Key Beach is located in this region. The destination consistently holds up the best spots to reside in Florida on multiple lists featuring the best places to live here. 

The water here is warm and clear, while the sand is so white and soft that you will feel like simply sinking your feet into powdered sugar – just avoid sprinkling the same on your French toast. Sarasota happens to be an ideal location to hang out if you are seeking a nice life once you have retired. 

The average age of residents in the Sarasota metropolitan area happens to be 54, so the population is technically made up of retirees. This indicates that more people here reminisce about the days spent, complain about annoying kids, and play shuffleboard, making Sarasota the best place to live in Florida with kids. 

2. Naples:

Metro Area Population385,980
Median Household Income$125,306
Median Home Price$892,000
Median Monthly Rent* $2,119
Average Annual Rainfall39”

On the south of Sarasota is located Naples on Florida’s Paradise Coast. The name is inspired by the popular Mediterranean community situated on the Italian coast. The similarities between the two are a lot – both places are known for plenty of fishing opportunities, gentle waters, and sugar-sand beaches. 

Well-known for beautiful coastal sunsets and sugar-sand beaches with the popular Summer green flash, Naples is a beautiful place to settle down. Although the beaches are very cool and absolutely stunning, there is obviously more to Naples than just beaches. 

From swamp buggies, dolphin viewing, and botanical gardens to boutique shopping and fine dining, there is a whole lot to explore and experience in Naples. 

If OIcala is the Horse capital, then Naples is definitely the world’s Gold Capital. There are more than 90 gold courses in Naples, and many more are located in the vicinity. So, if you enjoy golfing in your pastime, then Naples won’t disappoint. 

3. Port St. Lucie:

Port St. Lucie
Metro Area Population503,521
Median Household Income$68,647
Median Home Price$459,900
Median Monthly Rent* $1,590
Average Annual Rainfall40”

On the Atlantic coast, situated in the south of Florida and to the north of Miami, is the city of Port St. Lucie. Golfing is a way of life in this city, and several businesses in this area even provide parking for golf carts. 

Popularly known for perfect weather throughout the year as compared to other areas, Port St. Lucie offers all the typical water activities common in any beach town – from paddling near manatees and fishing to boating; Port St. Lucie will cover you right. 

Talking about golf, other sports are also enjoyed here throughout the year. While the city is not really the Golf capital of the world, you can definitely work on your swings at ant one of the 72 holes at the well-reputed Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Village Resort, a unique theme park for golfing enthusiasts and golfers. Plus, the New York Mets are at Port St. Lucie for their spring training every year. 

4. Fort Myers:

Metro Area Population787,976
Median Household Income$51,682
Median Home Price$499,000
Median Monthly Rent* $1,737
Average Annual Rainfall45”

To spot Fort Myers, you will have to follow the Caloosahatchee River in southwestern Florida. Known as the sunniest spot in Florida, Fort Myers experiences around 265 sunny days throughout the whole year. 

If you follow Florida’s southwestern Caloosahatchee River, you’ll spot Fort Myers. This is the sunniest place in Florida, averaging about 265 sunny days a year. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison actually put Fort Myers on the global map when they decided to build winter homes here. 

Did you know that the well-known sight of Thomas Edison’s royal palm trees located along McGregor Boulevard is responsible for earning Fort Myers its nickname? The official nickname of Myers is the City of Palms. 

In 2022, Hurricane Ian impacted the area pretty badly, and today, the city is on the journey of bouncing back. 

5. Miami:

Miami
Metro Area Population6,091,747
Median Household Income$47,860
Median Home Price$599,410
Median Monthly Rent* $2,087
Average Annual Rainfall44”

Did you know that Miami has the third largest metro population on the whole of the East Coast? As one of the best places to live in Florida, Miami is sitting on Florida’s southern tip as a tropical city with a lively nightlife and beach scene, attracting people from all across the globe. 

In fact, you can actually spot celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports regularly on the beaches and resorts of Miami. Since an entire chunk of Miami’s population is Hispanic (nearly 70%), you will get to experience a pretty sizable Latin influence in the local customs, food, and culture here. 

And when in Miami, it is a shame to miss out on the lit dancing scene with live Latin music in Little Havana. 

Miami also has perfect weather throughout the year, making it an ideal spot for watching pro teams in every major sport, such as the Marlins (baseball) and Dolphins (football). Plus, the famous Miami Open tennis tournament is also hosted in Miami. 

The Best Places To Live In Central Florida:

Central Florida is one destination where LITERALLY everything comes together, speaking culturally. It happens to be the best of worlds – the vibrant energy of the South and the southern charm of North Florida. Central Florida happens to be the center of the tourism industry in the state and is also home to famous holiday destinations. 

1. Melbourne:

Melbourne
Metro Area Population616,628
Median Household Income$55,543
Median Home Price$376,725
Median Monthly Rent* $1,413
Average Annual Rainfall42”

With its spectacular front-row views of the vast Atlantic Ocean, Melbourne happens to be a major part of Florida’s Space Coast, thanks to its closeness to KSC or Kennedy Space Center. This is exactly where every single crewed space flight has been launched by NASA. 

This is also the sport where SpaceX by Elon Musk has been responsible for launching astronauts into space as well as his Tesla. Additionally, Melbourne is very close to one of the busiest shipping hubs and cruises in the world, Port Canaveral. 

Beyond the seacraft stuff and cool space, the beach-based community of Melbourne provides different kinds of fun activities for all the residents. Undoubtedly, Melbourne is the best place to live in central Florida. 

2. Orlando:

Metro Area Population2,691,925
Median Household Income$58,968
Median Home Price$440,995
Median Monthly Rent* $1,582
Average Annual Rainfall43”

Did you know that Orlando is not just a popular holiday destination in the United States but also in the whole world? 

Home to the world-famous Walt Disney World as well as Universal Orlando Resort, you will find both Hogwarts and Mickey Mouse here. And that’s not all – you will also find Legoland Florida Resort and SeaWorld Orlando here! Orlando is a theme park paradise, basically! 

But there is so much to Orlando besides the world-famous theme parks! Undoubtedly, it is one of the best places to live in Florida. Due to its rich multicultural base, Orlando boasts plenty of cultural festivals as well as a wide range of different restaurants that will be sure to satisfy your hankering! 

You will also find pro sports to watch, such as the Orlando City SC (soccer) and Orlando Magic (basketball). Additionally, due to Orlando’s central location in Florida, you can reach so many places in the vicinity and that too in just a few hours. 

3. Tampa:

Tampa
Metro Area Population3,219,514
Median Household Income$59,893
Median Home Price$411,000
Median Monthly Rent* $1,641
Average Annual Rainfall44”

In Tampa, you will find the laid-back beach lifestyle along the shores of the famous Tampa Bay blended beautifully with the touristy energy of a big city like Orlando. It is definitely a great combination! Plus, Tampa also has its own theme park complete with exotic animal exhibits and roller coasters – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is also the second largest theme park in Florida. 

But if a busy big-city life is not really your thing, then the relatively quieter Tampa suburbs will suit you better. 

Tampa can be characterized by intertwining cultures, including the vibrantly thriving Hispanic community. In fact, the city claims to be the delicious Cubano sandwich’s birthplace – it’s one of the primary dishes of southern Florida, though Miami will tend to disagree. 

Every year, Tampa celebrates its legendary world-famous pirate history with the Gasparilla Pirate Festival – yes, the pirates hailing from the Caribbean are a very real thing! Plus, the metropolitan area of Tampa is home to not one but three major teams from three different sports – the Rays (MLB), the Lightning (NHL), and the Buccaneers (NFL).

4. Daytona Beach:

Daytona Beach
Metro Area Population685,344
Median Household Income$42,392
Median Home Price$399,000
Median Monthly Rent* $1,435
Average Annual Rainfall41”

Best known as the home ground for NASCAR, Daytona Beach hosts the famous Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway, and that is very awesome. 

But there is more to Daytona Beach besides the super fast four-wheelers! The unique beach vibe and culture include an amusement park, a pier, shops, restaurants, and a beautiful boardwalk. Here, you can golf, fish, check out performing arts centers, and visit museums. Plus, the trips to beaches here are particularly convenient since you will be allowed to drive around in certain areas on the actual beach.

5. Lakeland:

Lakeland
Metro Area Population753,520
Median Household Income$52,972
Median Home Price$349,950
Median Monthly Rent* $1,360
Average Annual Rainfall42”

Lakeland is the final name on our list of the best places to live in Florida! The land of lakes is home to almost frosty beautiful lakes, and as a result, you will get several options to experience as well as enjoy the warm weather and the crystal-clear water of Lakeland. Plus, Lakeland also happens to be very close to popular cities such as Orlando and Tampa

Additionally, Lakeland is well known for possessing the biggest collection of buildings, all designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the legendary architect – all situated at the Florida Sothern College. Lakeland is also home to the Polk Museum of Art, one of the top-ranked art museums in Florida, and nature parks. 

And It’s A Wrap! 

And it’s a wrap on the best places to live in Florida. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for the best place to live after your retirement or the best place to live as a young adult – because we have got you covered on all fronts! So, if moving to the Sunshine State has been a priority always, then you must consider the regions we have mentioned above. 

Feel free to share your stories, experiences, and thoughts about the Sunshine State in the comments below!

Additional Reading:

Barsha Bhattacharya

Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.

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