12 Best Places to Live in Florida (By Quality of Life)

by Jem
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Florida is more than just a peninsula; it’s a lifestyle. From its sun-soaked beaches to its lush wetlands and vibrant cities, the Sunshine State offers an array of living experiences and scenic wonders. But given its extensive coastline and diverse communities, finding the ideal place to settle down can be overwhelming. That’s why I’ve crafted this guide to help you discover the best places to live in Florida.

Having traveled through Florida extensively, I can vouch for its incredible diversity and allure. From the tranquil beaches of the Keys to the bustling nightlife of Miami, and from the historic charm of St. Augustine to the theme park magic of Orlando, Florida’s range of experiences is unparalleled. Whether you’re captivated by the allure of ocean waves, the richness of cultural hubs, or the energy of thriving cities like Tampa and Jacksonville, there’s a slice of Florida that’s tailor-made for you.

So, what are the best places to live in Florida? The perfect locale varies for each individual. Some may prioritize proximity to the ocean, others may seek top-rated schools, and for many, affordability is a key consideration.

Let’s embark on this journey as I dissect the best cities to live in Florida, based on what matters most to you. With firsthand experience of the state’s diverse offerings, I’m here to navigate you through your options. I’ve poured over research, analyzed statistics, and engaged with locals to assemble a list that accommodates every lifestyle and budget. So, let’s get started!

The top places to live in Florida for all

The Best Places to Live in Florida       

Eager to explore the most enchanting places to call home in Florida? Situated in the southeastern corner of the U.S., Florida has a locale and lifestyle for everyone. Continue reading to unveil the top places to live in the Sunshine State.

Searching for places to move in Florida? No matter your plans or preferences, Florida has a spot that can meet your requirements.

  • Best for boating and water sports: Cape Coral
  • Best for retirees: Fort Myers
  • Best for outdoor activities: Jacksonville
  • Best for urban living: Miami
  • Best for luxury and leisure: Naples
  • Best for family-friendly attractions: Orlando
  • Best for beach life: Pensacola
  • Best for a growing economy: Port St. Lucie
  • Best for arts and culture: Sarasota
  • Best for arts and waterfront living: St. Petersburg
  • Best for government and history: Tallahassee
  • Best for vibrant city life: Tampa

Here are the must-know locations to consider when choosing where to live in Florida:

1. Cape Coral

Imagine a city where you can enjoy waterfront living without the hefty price tag. Welcome to Cape Coral, a paradise for boaters and nature lovers alike. With over 400 miles of canals, it’s no wonder this city is often referred to as the “Waterfront Wonderland.”

Best places to live in Florida often boast about their beaches, but Cape Coral offers a unique blend of natural beauty and suburban comfort. The city is home to various parks, nature reserves, and even a coral reef! Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or someone who prefers a quiet stroll along the water, Cape Coral has something for everyone.

The local community is vibrant, with numerous events and festivals taking place throughout the year. From seafood festivals to art shows, there’s always something happening. This makes Cape Coral not just a best city to live in Florida, but also a hub for culture and community activities.

If you’re considering a move to the Sunshine State, Cape Coral should be high on your list. It offers a high quality of life, affordable housing, and endless opportunities for recreation and leisure. Truly, a place where you can live your best life.

Cape Coral, a city where you can live on the shore without having to pay a high fee, one of the best laces to live in Florida.
Cape Coral, a city where you can live on the shore without having to pay a high fee, one of the best laces to live in Florida.

2. Fort Myers

Step into a world where history and modernity coalesce. Fort Myers, often dubbed the “City of Palms,” is a haven for history buffs and beachgoers alike. The winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are now museums, offering a glimpse into the past while you’re surrounded by the city’s contemporary buzz.

Among the coolest places to live in Florida, Fort Myers stands out for its blend of cultural richness and natural beauty. The downtown area is a lively hub filled with art galleries, boutiques, and an array of eateries that range from cozy cafes to gourmet restaurants.

What sets Fort Myers apart is its proximity to some of Florida’s most stunning beaches, including Sanibel and Captiva Islands. These are not just places to sunbathe; they’re sanctuaries for wildlife and havens for shell collectors. It’s this unique combination that makes Fort Myers one of Florida’s best cities to live.

If you’ve ever dreamed of a place that offers the best of both worlds—cultural depth and natural splendor—Fort Myers is where those dreams come true. It’s a city that invites you to explore, engage, and discover something new every day.

One of the best places to live in Florida, both beachgoers and history enthusiasts will find sanctuary in Fort Myers.
One of the best places to live in Florida, both beachgoers and history enthusiasts will find sanctuary in Fort Myers.

3. Jacksonville

Unveil the allure of a city where urban sophistication meets coastal relaxation. Jacksonville, or Jax as the locals call it, is a sprawling metropolis that offers a lot of experiences. From its bustling downtown to its serene beaches, this city is a study in contrasts.

As one of the best places in Florida to live, Jacksonville boasts an impressive arts scene, complete with museums, galleries, and live music venues. The Riverside Arts Market is a weekend staple, offering everything from local produce to handmade crafts. It’s a city that celebrates creativity in all its forms.

Don’t let the city’s size fool you; Jacksonville is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean provide ample opportunities for water sports, while the extensive park system offers hiking, biking, and more. It’s a nice city to live in Florida, especially if you’re someone who loves to stay active. Plus, Jacksonville is full of dining options, and unique restaurants.

In Jacksonville, you’ll find a community that’s both welcoming and diverse, a place where you can indulge in cosmopolitan luxuries or escape to nature whenever you wish. It’s a city that offers you the freedom to live life on your terms.

Jacksonville is a vast city that provides a wide range of experiences.
Jacksonville is a vast city that provides a wide range of experiences.

4. Miami

Picture yourself sipping a mojito on a vibrant beach, the skyline shimmering in the distance. Miami is more than just a playground for the rich and famous; it’s a melting pot of cuisines, cultures, and lifestyles. From the art deco architecture of South Beach to the pulsating rhythms of Little Havana, Miami is a city that never sleeps.

Miami stands out as one of the best places to live in Florida for its unparalleled cultural diversity. The city is a global hub for the arts, fashion, and entertainment. Whether it’s the annual Art Basel event or the Miami Fashion Week, the city is a canvas painted in bold strokes of creativity.

Water sports enthusiasts will find Miami to be a dream come true. With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, activities like sailing, jet skiing, and scuba diving are just a day at the beach. This makes the beautiful city of Miami a best place to live in Florida for those who crave an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Every day feels like a vacation in Miami. Yet, it’s a city that offers real-world amenities and opportunities, making it not just an ideal holiday spot but a perfect place to call home.

Imagine yourself enjoying a mojito on a colorful beach while watching the cityscape glimmer in the background.
Imagine yourself enjoying a mojito on a colorful beach while watching the cityscape glimmer in the background.

5. Naples

Feel the sand between your toes as you stroll along some of Florida’s most pristine beaches. Naples isn’t just a destination; it’s a lifestyle. Known for its high-end shopping, dining, and white sand beaches, Naples is the epitome of South Florida‘s laid-back elegance.

As one of the good places to live in Florida, Naples offers more than just scenic views and outdoor activities. The city is a hub for arts and culture, boasting an array of galleries, theaters, and museums that cater to a variety of tastes. The Naples Zoo and the Botanical Garden are family favorites, offering educational and fun experiences.

For the golf enthusiasts among us, Naples is a slice of heaven. With more than 80 championship golf courses, it’s no wonder the city is often referred to as the “Golf Capital of the World.” This makes Naples a best Florida city for those who love to tee off in style.

Living in Naples means embracing the finer things in life, from savoring a glass of wine at a beachfront restaurant to watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a city that captures the essence of the good life, making every day feel like a luxurious escape.

Stroll down some of the most immaculate beaches in Florida and feel the sand under your toes.
Stroll down some of the most immaculate beaches in Florida and feel the sand under your toes.

6. Orlando

Step into a realm where imagination takes flight. Known worldwide for its theme parks, Orlando is a city that promises endless fun and adventure. Yet, there’s more to this city than just roller coasters and fairy-tale castles.

Orlando is one of the best areas to live in Florida, especially if you’re in the tech industry. The city is rapidly becoming a tech hub, with a growing number of startups and tech companies setting up shop here. It’s a place where innovation meets entertainment, offering a unique blend of opportunities for career growth and leisure activities.

Outdoor activities abound in Orlando, from kayaking in the numerous lakes to hiking in the scenic parks. The city’s natural beauty complements its bustling urban life, making it a great place to live in Florida for those who want a balanced lifestyle.

In Orlando, you’ll find a diverse culinary scene, vibrant nightlife, and a calendar packed with events and festivals. It’s a city that keeps you entertained, engaged, and inspired, whether you’re visiting for a weekend or planning to stay for a lifetime.

Orlando, a city well-known throughout the world for its theme parks, is a place that offers never-ending excitement.
Orlando, a city well-known throughout the world for its theme parks, is a place that offers never-ending excitement.

7. Pensacola

Discover a city where the past and present harmoniously coexist. Pensacola, with its rich naval history, offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. The Historic Pensacola Village is a living museum, transporting you back to the city’s colonial days.

Pensacola ranks among Florida’s best places to live for its quality of life. The city offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from sailing in the bay to hiking in the scenic parks. The Pensacola Bay Area is a haven for water sports, making it a perfect destination for those who love to be on or near the water.

The city is also a food lover’s paradise. From fresh seafood to international cuisines, Pensacola’s dining scene is as diverse as its population. This makes it the best city to live in Florida for those who appreciate culinary adventures.

Pensacola has a community that values its history while embracing the future. It’s a city that offers a high standard of living, a strong sense of community, and endless opportunities for recreation and leisure. Truly, a place where life feels like a perpetual vacation.

Pensacola has a distinctive fusion of contemporary conveniences and old-world charm.
Pensacola has a distinctive fusion of contemporary conveniences and old-world charm.

8. Port St. Lucie

Unearth the hidden gem of Florida’s Treasure Coast. Port St. Lucie is a sanctuary for those seeking a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle. With its lush landscapes and serene waterways, the city offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Among Florida’s best places to live, Port St. Lucie is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is home to the beautiful Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens and the Savannas Preserve State Park, offering a range of activities from bird-watching to kayaking. It’s a city that invites you to reconnect with nature.

Port St. Lucie is also a golfer’s paradise, boasting courses that cater to both beginners and pros. The PGA Village is a highlight, offering three professional courses for those looking to perfect their swing. This makes Port St. Lucie one of the most livable cities in Florida for golf aficionados.

Living in Port St. Lucie means embracing a lifestyle that’s both relaxed and active. It’s a city that offers the best of both worlds, making it an ideal place for families, retirees, and everyone in between.

For individuals looking for a more tranquil, relaxed lifestyle, Port St. Lucie is one of the best places to live in Florida.
For individuals looking for a more tranquil, relaxed lifestyle, Port St. Lucie is one of the best places to live in Florida.

9. Sarasota

Unlock a world where culture and coastal beauty converge. Sarasota, often considered the cultural capital of Florida, is a city that celebrates the arts in all its forms. From the iconic Ringling Museum to the Sarasota Opera House, the city is a mecca for art lovers.

As one of the best cities to live in Florida, Sarasota offers an unparalleled quality of life. The city is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its quartz-crystal sand. It’s a place where you can enjoy the sun and surf by day and attend a ballet or symphony by night.

Sarasota is also a foodie’s paradise, boasting a diverse culinary scene that reflects its cosmopolitan vibe. From waterfront seafood joints to upscale Italian bistros, the city offers a gastronomic journey like no other. This makes Sarasota a best Florida town to live for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

This place has a harmonious blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, making it an ideal place for those who refuse to compromise on either. It’s a city that lets you live your most fulfilling life, every single day.

Sarasota is a city that honors all forms of artistic expression.
Sarasota is a city that honors all forms of artistic expression.

10. St. Petersburg

Imagine a city where the sun almost always shines, casting its golden glow on a vibrant arts scene and a bustling waterfront. Welcome to St. Petersburg, a city that combines natural beauty with a rich cultural landscape. Known as the “Sunshine City,” St. Petersburg holds the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine.

St. Petersburg is one of the best towns to live in Florida, especially if you’re an art aficionado. The city is home to the world-renowned Salvador Dalí Museum and a plethora of art galleries that dot the Central Avenue Arts District. It’s a city that thrives on creativity and innovation.

For those who love the great outdoors, St. Petersburg offers a wide array of activities. From paddleboarding in Tampa Bay to cycling along the Pinellas Trail, the city is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. This makes St. Petersburg one of the top cities in Florida to live if you’re keen on an active lifestyle.

In St. Petersburg, you’ll find a community that’s as warm and welcoming as the climate. It’s a city that offers a little bit of everything, from world-class art to stunning natural beauty, making it a place where you can truly live your best life.

St. Petersburg is a city that blends a vibrant cultural scene with scenic natural beauty.
St. Petersburg is a city that blends a vibrant cultural scene with scenic natural beauty.

11. Tallahassee

Unveil the charm of a city that’s as steeped in history as it is in natural beauty. Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, offers a unique blend of political buzz and tranquil landscapes. The city is home to the Florida State Capitol, an architectural marvel that stands as a symbol of the state’s rich history.

Tallahassee is one of the best place in North Florida for those who crave a mix of urban and rural experiences. The city is surrounded by national forests and state parks, offering endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and bird-watching. It’s a place where you can attend a political rally in the morning and go kayaking in the afternoon.

The city also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. From the Railroad Square Art District to the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the city offers a wide range of cultural experiences. This makes Tallahassee a nice city to live in Florida for those who appreciate both nature and culture.

In this city you’ll find a diverse community that values education, culture, and outdoor activities. It’s a city that offers a balanced lifestyle, making it an ideal place for students, professionals, and families alike.

Tallahassee offers a distinctive fusion of peaceful scenery and political commotion.
Tallahassee offers a distinctive fusion of peaceful scenery and political commotion.

12. Tampa

Step into a city where cosmopolitan flair meets tropical tranquility. Tampa is a bustling metropolis that offers a diverse range of experiences, from its vibrant downtown to its serene beaches. The city is a hub for both business and leisure, making it a dynamic place to call home.

Tampa is one of the best areas to live in Florida, particularly for those who thrive in a fast-paced environment. The city is home to several Fortune 500 companies and offers a thriving job market in sectors like healthcare, technology, and finance. It’s a city that pulses with energy and opportunity.

For leisure, Tampa doesn’t disappoint. The city offers a plethora of activities, from exploring the historic Ybor City to enjoying a day at Busch Gardens. This makes Tampa the best answer to your question where to live in FL for those who seek a balance of work and play.

You’ll find in Tampa a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and experiences. It’s a city that offers something for everyone, making it a place where you can truly live life to the fullest.

Tampa is a thriving city with a wide variety of experiences.
Tampa is a thriving city with a wide variety of experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Florida     

Want to know where the best place to live in Florida is? Here are some questions that come up often regarding the best neighborhoods.

What is the best part of living in Florida?

The nice part of Florida varies depending on individual preferences, but many people are drawn to the state’s year-round warm climate and abundant sunshine.

  • Cultural Diversity: Offers a rich mix of food, music, and festivals from various cultural backgrounds.
  • Lifestyle Choices: From bustling urban cities like Miami to laid-back coastal towns, there’s a setting for everyone.
  • No State Income Tax: A financial benefit that appeals to both working professionals and retirees.
  • Outdoor Activities: Abundance of state parks, hiking trails, and water sports options.
  • Quality of Life: Generally lower cost of living compared to other states, especially in terms of housing and utilities.
  • Tourist Attractions: Home to world-famous attractions like Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Florida Keys.
  • Proximity to Beaches: Almost every resident is within a reasonable driving distance to a beach.
  • Job Opportunities: Thriving job markets in sectors like tourism, healthcare, and technology.
  • Educational Options: Home to several top-rated schools and universities.

What is the best suburb to live in Florida?

Determining the “best” suburb to live in Florida can be subjective and depends on various factors such as lifestyle, family needs, and career opportunities. However, some suburbs frequently receive high marks for quality of life, schools, and amenities:

  • Winter Park: Located near Orlando, it’s known for its charming downtown, excellent schools, and beautiful parks.
  • Coral Gables: Near Miami, this suburb offers a Mediterranean feel, top-rated schools, and a strong sense of community.
  • Naples: Known for its luxury living, beautiful beaches, and high-end shopping.
  • Boca Raton: Offers a mix of suburban calm and upscale amenities, with excellent schools and beautiful beaches.
  • Ponte Vedra Beach: Near Jacksonville, it’s known for its excellent schools and outdoor activities, including some of the state’s best golf courses.
  • Windermere: Located in the Orlando area, it offers a family-friendly environment and is close to major attractions like Disney World.
  • Palm Beach Gardens: Known for its high quality of life, including excellent shopping, dining, and golf courses.
  • Sarasota: Offers a mix of cultural activities and beautiful beaches, making it popular among retirees.
  • Cooper City: Located near Fort Lauderdale, it’s known for its excellent public schools and family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Weston: Near Fort Lauderdale, it’s highly rated for its schools, safety, and quality of life.

Where is the nicest but cheapest place to live in Florida?

Finding a place that is both “nicest” and “cheapest” can be a bit of a balancing act, but there are several areas in Florida that offer a good mix of affordability and quality of life:

  • Gainesville: Home to the University of Florida, it offers a youthful vibe and plenty of cultural activities while maintaining a lower cost of living.
  • Pensacola: Known for its beautiful beaches and historic downtown, Pensacola offers a lower cost of living compared to other coastal cities in Florida.
  • Ocala: Located in Central Florida, it’s known for its outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding, and it offers affordable housing options.
  • Lakeland: Situated between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland offers a lower cost of living while still being close to larger cities’ amenities.
  • Port St. Lucie: Offers affordable housing and a lower cost of living, along with access to beaches and outdoor activities.
  • Daytona Beach: Known for its famous beach and motorsports, it offers a range of affordable housing options.
  • Melbourne: Located on the Space Coast, it offers a mix of affordability and quality of life, with proximity to beaches and tech jobs.
  • Fort Pierce: Offers affordable housing and a lower cost of living, along with access to beaches and a historic downtown.
  • Lehigh Acres: Near Fort Myers, it offers affordable housing options and a quieter lifestyle.
  • Kissimmee: Close to Orlando’s attractions, it offers a range of affordable housing options.
Florida is a mix of peaceful beach communities and vibrant city centers, each with its own distinct character and way of life.
Florida is a mix of peaceful beach communities and vibrant city centers, each with its own distinct character and way of life.

Is Florida high cost of living?

Florida offers a range of living costs, making it possible to find areas that are more budget-friendly. However, some costs like housing and utilities can be higher than the national average in certain areas.

  • Varied Costs: Florida’s cost of living can vary significantly depending on the area. Cities like Miami and Naples tend to be more expensive, while smaller towns and inland cities are generally more affordable.
  • Housing: Housing costs can be high in popular coastal cities but are generally more affordable in inland areas.
  • No State Income Tax: Florida has no state income tax, which can offset some living costs.
  • Utilities: The cost of utilities like electricity can be higher due to the hot climate, leading to increased air conditioning usage.
  • Transportation: Owning a car is often necessary, especially in areas with limited public transportation, adding to living costs.
  • Groceries: The cost of groceries is generally on par with the national average, although it can be higher in more remote or upscale areas.
  • Healthcare: The cost of healthcare is generally close to the national average but can vary by location and provider.
  • Tourist Areas: Living in tourist-heavy areas can be more expensive due to higher costs for dining, entertainment, and other services.

Is it cheaper to live in California or Florida?

Florida is generally cheaper to live in than California, especially when considering housing and state income tax.

  • State Income Tax: Florida has no state income tax, while California has some of the highest state income tax rates in the U.S.
  • Housing Costs: California, especially cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, generally has much higher housing costs compared to Florida.
  • Utilities: Utility costs can be high in both states but are generally more expensive in California.
  • Transportation: Both states require a car for most areas, but California’s gas prices are usually higher.
  • Healthcare: Both states have varying healthcare costs, but California tends to be more expensive on average.
  • Groceries: The cost of groceries can be higher in California, especially in more remote or upscale areas.
  • Overall Cost of Living: California generally has a higher overall cost of living compared to Florida, taking into account housing, utilities, and transportation.

What salary do you need to live comfortably in Florida?

In general, a salary of $50,000 to $70,000 might be sufficient for a single person to live comfortably in many parts of Florida, while a family might need $70,000 to $100,000 or more. However, these are general estimates and the actual amount can vary significantly based on individual circumstances.

  • Location Matters: The salary needed can vary widely depending on the city or area in Florida. For example, living in Miami will generally require a higher salary than living in Pensacola.
  • Housing Costs: The largest expense is usually housing. The median home price in Florida is around $300,000 as of 2022, but this can be much higher in popular cities.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Your lifestyle choices, such as dining out, entertainment, and travel, will also impact the salary needed.
  • Family Size: A single person might live comfortably on $50,000-$60,000 a year in some areas, while a family of four might need $70,000-$100,000 or more.
  • Additional Expenses: Don’t forget to factor in costs like healthcare, transportation, and utilities, which can add up.
  • Retirement and Savings: If you plan to save for retirement, emergencies, or other goals, you’ll need to factor this into your required salary.
  • No State Income Tax: Florida’s lack of state income tax can make your salary go further compared to states with high income taxes.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Florida

Florida is a state of contrasts, offering a blend of bustling cities and tranquil beach towns, each with its unique charm and lifestyle. From the vibrant arts scene in Miami to the laid-back vibes of Pensacola, there’s a corner of the Sunshine State that speaks to everyone. If you’re contemplating a move, you’ll find that Florida offers a diverse range of living options that can cater to various budgets and lifestyle preferences.

The absence of state income tax is a significant financial perk that can make your salary stretch further. However, it’s essential to weigh this against other living costs like housing, utilities, and healthcare, which can vary widely depending on your chosen locale. Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or looking to retire, Florida offers a multitude of options that can meet your needs without breaking the bank.

For those still on the fence, consider visiting some of the best places to live in Florida to get a feel for the communities and what they offer. Each city and town has its unique culture, amenities, and opportunities, making it crucial to find a place that aligns with your lifestyle and career goals.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to explore the diverse and vibrant communities that make Florida a great place to live in. Your dream home in the Sunshine State awaits!

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