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Best Places to Live in Florida in 2021

Are the endless warm-weather days, paradise beaches and zero state income taxes of Florida calling your name?

Whether you’re moving the whole family, scoping out a new young-professionals scene, or looking for your dream retirement destination—we’ll help you narrow down the best places to live in Florida.

Let’s dive in!

14 Best Places to Live in Florida

First, let’s admit all “best places” lists are subjective. Still, they can inspire you with ideas on where to live. With that said, let’s dig into some of the most popular places in Florida so you can compare their stats and features to see if any stand out to you.1

1. Naples

Nestled in the southwest corner of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples holds the top spot for places to live in Florida. Naples is known for its paradise weather, gentle waters and “sugar” sand beaches. There’s plenty to do there like fine dining, boutique shopping—and dolphin viewing!

Population

371,453

Average Salary

$47,980

Median Home Price

$345,000

Median Monthly Rent

$1,3172

Average Annual Rainfall

39"3


Also lapping up the Gulf Coast shores, just below Tampa, is Sarasota—home to some of America’s best beaches, like Siesta Key Beach. The water is clear and warm and the sand is so soft and white you’ll feel like you’re sinking your toes into powdered sugar (just don’t sprinkle any on your French toast).

2. Sarasota

Population

803,709

Average Salary

$46,040

Median Home Price

$387,630

Median Monthly Rent

$1,209

Average Annual Rainfall

53”4

3. Melbourne

Okay, now let’s hang out on the east side of Florida. With a front-row view of the Atlantic Ocean, Melbourne is part of Florida’s Space Coast thanks to its close proximity to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. This is where every crewed spaceflight by NASA has been launched. It’s also where Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been flying astronauts and cargo into space.

Population

585,507

Average Salary

$51,180

Median Home Price

$217,400

Median Monthly Rent

$1,068

Average Annual Rainfall

52”5

4. Jacksonville

Now let’s travel up to the northeastern corner of Florida, just south of the Georgia state line. That’s where you’ll find Jacksonville—the largest city in the U.S. by land area (outside of Alaska). Several bridges make it convenient to travel between the vibrant downtown area and Jacksonville’s gorgeous beaches. Plus, Jacksonville gives you a front-row seat to cheer on the Jaguars NFL team among other sports teams.

Population

1,503,574

Average Salary

$48,270

Median Home Price

$303,789

Median Monthly Rent

$1,093

Average Annual Rainfall

49"6

5. Pensacola

If you head to the westernmost point on Florida’s panhandle, you’ll find Pensacola. Known as the “City of Five Flags,” Pensacola has a long history of other governments laying claim to the area (Spanish, French, British, Confederate, U.S.). This is another beautiful city with that sugar-white sand. There you’ll find emerald-green waves from the Gulf gently splashing along the shoreline. The area also offers plenty of boat ramps to launch you into a deep-sea fishing adventure.

Population

488,246

Average Salary

$43,920

Median Home Price

$200,800

Median Monthly Rent

$1,0157

Average Annual Rainfall

58”8

6. Tampa

With Tampa, you get the best of both worlds—one world, of course, referring to Disney World, which is only a short trip away. And the other world meaning the laid-back beach lifestyle of the Tampa Bay area—which connects to the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa also has its own popular African-themed animal amusement park, Busch Gardens. Tampa’s schools are good and the city is full of diverse culture—including a thriving Hispanic community. The metro area is also home to a number of professional sports teams.

Population

3,097,859

Average Salary

$49,590

Median Home Price

$301,963

Median Monthly Rent

$1,115

Average Annual Rainfall

46”9

7. Fort Myers

If you follow Florida’s southwestern river of Caloosahatchee, you’ll spot Fort Myers. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford put Fort Myers on the map when they chose to build their winter homes there. The famous sight of Edison’s royal palm trees along McGregor Boulevard earned Fort Myers the nickname “City of Palms.” As you travel past the gateway of Fort Myers and head closer toward the Gulf, you’ll come across a series of islands—including the shelling beach of Sanibel.

Population

737,468

Average Salary

$45,300

Median Home Price

$277,900

Median Monthly Rent

$1,154

Average Annual Rainfall

53”10

8. Port St. Lucie

On the Atlantic coast of southern Florida, Port St. Lucie sits between Orlando and Miami. Home of the spring training grounds for the New York Mets of the MLB, Port St. Lucie offers year-round perfect weather. Along with all the water activities like boating, fishing and paddling near manatees, you can work on your swing at the PGA Golf Club. And, hey, why leave the golfing lifestyle at the green? Keep your golf cart rolling to one of the many grocery stores in Port St. Lucie that provide golf cart parking.

Population

472,012

Average Salary

$45,630

Median Home Price

$233,133

Median Monthly Rent

$1,16211

Average Annual Rainfall

40”12

9. Ocala

Ocala is one of the Sunshine State’s inland cities. It offers a small-town feel and is surrounded by rolling hills and green pastures. It rivals Lexington for the title of “Horse Capital of the World” with its deep roots in horseback riding and annual Kentucky Derby racehorse training.

Population

353,526

Average Salary

$39,640

Median Home Price

$168,850

Median Monthly Rent

$89613

Average Annual Rainfall

42”14

10. Orlando

Home of Mickey Mouse and Hogwarts, Orlando is one of the top family vacation destinations of the world. But what is it like to live in Orlando as a resident? First, don’t move here unless you’re okay living with a constant flux of tourists. Orlando is a great central location for anywhere you’d like to visit in Florida. But there are also plenty of activities to enjoy in the area itself (besides just the theme parks)—including plenty of sports teams to follow.

Population

2,508,970

Average Salary

$46,140

Median Home Price

$338,974

Median Monthly Rent

$1,210

Average Annual Rainfall

51”15

11. Daytona Beach

Although probably known best for the Daytona International Speedway, which hosts NASCAR’s famous Daytona 500, Daytona offers plenty of other things to do. For example, there’s fishing, golfing, and visiting museums and performing arts centers. Plus, trips to the beach are especially convenient because you’re still allowed to drive on the actual beach in certain areas.

Population

646,288

Average Salary

$40,930

Median Home Price

$278,897

Median Monthly Rent

$1,076

Average Annual Rainfall

50”16

12. Tallahassee

Even though it’s the state capital, you might say Tallahassee feels like the least Floridian city in all of Florida. For one thing, it enjoys four different seasons as a result of its unique position on the panhandle. Tally (as some locals call it) feels more like a little slice of southern heaven. It has gently rolling hills of red clay soil and is surrounded by natural springs and underwater caves. You’ll have plenty of fun activities to do since Tally offers a college-town vibe thanks to its surrounding universities.

Population

382,197

Average Salary

$46,500

Median Home Price

$190,500

Median Monthly Rent

$99117

Average Annual Rainfall

47”18

13. Lakeland

Our next city is a land of lakes! (No, not the butter.) Lakeland is home to nearly 40 beautiful lakes, so you’ll have plenty of options to enjoy Florida’s weather on the water. It’s also close to popular cities like Tampa and Orlando. That’s right! Disney World and Universal Studios are less than an hour’s drive away! There’s also plenty to do right inside Lakeland with its nature park and one of Florida’s top-ranked art museums—the Polk Museum of Art.

Population

686,218

Average Salary

$43,150

Median Home Price

$237,710

Median Monthly Rent

$978

Average Annual Rainfall

52”19

14. Miami

Miami is the third most populated metro area on the East Coast. While it may be on the pricier side than most Florida cities, it also has beautiful suburbs like Doral, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne. Seated on the southern tip of Florida, this tropical city offers year-round perfect weather so you can enjoy outdoor shopping sites and pro teams from every major sport. And don’t forget to check out the dancing scene at Little Havana for live Latin music.

Population

6,090,660

Average Salary

$50,060

Median Home Price

$247,112

Median Monthly Rent

$1,363

Average Annual Rainfall

62”20

Best Places to Live in Florida for Families

If you’re moving the whole family to Florida, you probably want to find an area near the safest cities and the best school districts. To get you started on your search, here are a few places that rank highest in Florida for raising a family:

  • Harbour Island (Tampa)
  • Palma Ceia West (Tampa)
  • Nocatee (Jacksonville)
  • Hyde Park (Tampa)
  • Virginia Park (Tampa)21

What Part of Florida Is Good for Young Adults?

Now, if you’re a young professional moving to the Sunshine State, you’ll probably want to know more about Florida’s economy and where you can find the best job opportunities—not to mention a place that’s full of other young adults to socialize with.

See how much house you can afford with our free mortgage calculator!

Here are a handful of suburbs that rank high in Florida for young adults:

  • Miami Beach (Miami)
  • North Bay Village (Miami)
  • Maitland (Orlando)
  • Jacksonville Beach (Jacksonville)
  • Doctor Phillips (Orlando)22

Best Places to Live in Florida for Retirees

For you folks who have been crushing it with your finances and can now enjoy your dream retirement, Florida is a great choice. It’s no secret that Florida ranks high on many best cities to retire lists year after year. After all, does any other state scream “paradise” as loud as Sunny Florida?

Here are a few favorite Florida cities among retirees:

  • Sarasota
  • Fort Myers
  • Port St. Lucie
  • Naples
  • Ocala23

What’s the Most Affordable Place to Live in Florida?

If you’re anything like us at Ramsey, you know one of the most important things to do before moving to a new area is to make sure you can actually afford living there.

One way to know you can afford it is to research the cost of living in Florida. The biggest factor that’ll determine whether you can afford living there is the cost of housing.

Here are Florida areas that rank high for affordable housing:

  • Chuluota (Orlando)
  • Mims (Space Coast)
  • June Park (Melbourne)
  • East Milton (Panhandle)
  • Virginia Park (Tampa)24

Keep in mind, these locations may be above or below your own housing budget. To figure out your housing budget, use the 25% rule—never buy or rent a home that comes with a monthly payment that’s more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

If you’re getting a mortgage, that 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, home insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI) and don’t forget to consider homeowners association (HOA) fees. Use our mortgage calculator to enter your down payment amount and try out different home prices within your budget.

If you want a mortgage you can pay off fast, talk to the home loan specialists we trust at Churchill Mortgage about getting a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Any other type of mortgage will drown you in interest and extra fees and keep you in debt for decades.

Ready to Move to Florida?

If you’re ready to move to Florida, the next step on your relocation journey is to find a real estate agent. For a fast and easy way to find Florida agents we trust, try our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We only recommend agents who are on a mission to help you crush your relocation goals.

Find a Florida real estate agent we trust!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

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