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Detailed Guide: Best Cities to Live in Florida in 2024

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Given how popular Florida is, if you don’t know the U.S. well enough, you might believe it’s a city and not a state. Known for its coveted sunny weather, beach resorts, and theme parks, Florida attracts millions of tourists yearly. 

With a population nearing 23 million, Florida is the third largest state in the U.S. by population. The city’s appeal does not strike a chord only with visitors, prospective residents’ migration has caused a 5% change in the state’s population since 2020.

In case you’re wondering if the allure of a coastal vibe is enough to rave about the positive net migration, the Sunshine State also boasts affordable housing units. Plus, no personal income tax, and a crime rate that eclipses the national median on high safety ranking.

But with over 400 cities, what are the best cities to live in Florida?

Here are some of the best cities to live in Florida in 2024:

Quick Overview

  • Gainesville — Low Unemployment Rate
  • Tampa — Most Cultural and Culinary Diverse City
  • Fort Myers — Best for Retirees
  • Melbourne — Best for Young Professionals
  • Naples — Most Family-friendly City

Gainesville, FL

As an urban-suburban region in Alachua County, the city of Gainesville has a high student population, as it is home to the University of Florida. 

Gainesville is ethnically diverse, and almost 50% of its adult population is educated.

Cost of living

With a cost of living relatively low compared to other cities in Florida by 4%, Gainesville also beats the national average by 6%, making it an attractive option for students, families, and retirees alike. 

Daily expenses such as groceries, utilities, and healthcare are reasonably priced, with a record 6%, 5%, and 77% costs lower than the national average.

Housing affordability

Housing in Gainesville is notably affordable. Although the majority of residents are renters, potential homeowners get a low entry point price with a range of options that suit various budgets.

For those planning to move to the area, local movers can assist in making the transition hassle-free.

  • Average Rent: $1,707
  • Median Home Price: $340,000

Economy

The presence of the University of Florida bolsters the economy in Gainesville. It not only provides jobs but also fosters innovation and research. 

Gainesville has a growing tech sector mixed with a strong healthcare and hospitality industry, contributing to a diverse and stable economy.

  • Median Household Income: $43,783
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Sales Tax Rate: 7.5%

Crime rate

Gainesville has a moderate crime rate. The chance of being a victim of a property crime in Gainesville is 1 in 36, higher than the national median.

  • Population: 145,812
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.88 (National median: 4.0)
  • Property Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 27.59 (National Median:  20.0)

Tampa, FL

If you’re still asking, ‘Is Florida a good place to live?’ Then, you are yet to visit the Hillsborough County city of Tampa. 

It is a large coastal city with ethnically diverse residents, mainly Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks.

Cost of living

Tampa’s cost of living is 4% lower than the national average. While food is 1% higher than the state average, housing and healthcare are both 3% lower than the state and national averages. 

Housing affordability

Although housing prices in Tampa have been on the rise, they are still more affordable than many other large cities in Florida. 

Almost 50% of the residents are homeowners, so renters and buyers alike can find suitable housing to match their financial situation and lifestyle preferences.

  • Average Rent: $1,920
  • Median Home Price: $401,000

Economy

Tampa boasts a robust and diverse economy driven by sectors such as finance, healthcare, retail, and technical services. 

The city’s port also plays a significant role in the local economy, facilitating trade and commerce.

  • Median Household Income: $66,802
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Sales Tax Rate: 7.5%

Crime rate

The violent crime rate in Tampa is higher than the national average, which is typical for large urban areas. However, many neighborhoods are pretty safe, and property crime is lower than the national median.

  • Population: 403,364
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.92 (National median: 4.0)
  • Property Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 14.37 (National Median:  20.0)

Fort Myers, FL

Fort Myers is unarguably one of the best places to live in Florida. It is in Lee County and presents itself as a top destination for tourists and water body activities like kayaking.

Cost of living

Offering a moderate cost of living, Fort Myers sits almost 12% lower than the national average. It makes it an attractive place for both families and retirees. 

Daily expenses such as groceries and utilities are affordable, allowing residents to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without the high costs found in more tourist-heavy areas.

Housing affordability

Housing in Fort Myers is relatively affordable, with a range of options from waterfront properties to suburban homes and downtown apartments. 

The real estate market is growing, but prices remain affordable by many, making it a great place for first-time homebuyers and those looking to invest.

  • Average Rent: $1,938
  • Median Home Price: $378,000

Economy

The economy in Fort Myers is largely driven by tourism, healthcare, and retail. The city’s picturesque beaches and recreational activities attract visitors year-round, supporting a stable and growing economy. 

Additionally, Fort Myers is seeing growth in the construction and real estate sectors, contributing to economic diversity.

  • Median Household Income: $57,403
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Sales Tax Rate: 6.5%

Crime rate

Fort Myers has a crime rate below the national average, with a reported 1 in 301 chance of being the victim of a violent crime—many of its neighborhoods are safe.

  • Population: 97,372
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 3.32 (National median: 4.0)
  • Property Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 15.91 (National Median:  20.0)

Melbourne, FL

Melbourne is a dense suburban city in Brevard County. As one of the best cities in Florida to live in, Melbourne prides itself as the economic center of Brevard County. 

The city has a renowned bustling art scene and a low cost of living.

Cost of living

Providing a reasonable cost of living, expenses in Melbourne sit almost 5% lower than the U.S. average. 

The city’s beauty and lifestyle support appeal to both young professionals and retirees who can afford to live here without sacrificing quality.

Housing affordability

Home prices in Melbourne are more affordable compared to other coastal cities. Both renting and buying are viable options in this market, with a greater percentage owning their homes.

  • Average Rent: $1,560
  • Median Home Price: $425,000

Economy

Economic benefits in Melbourne range from a strong aerospace and defense sector. The city has major employers like Harris Corporation and Northrop Grumman.

Moreover, the growing retail, healthcare, and manufacturing industries contribute to economic diversity and job opportunities. 

  • Median Household Income: $60,917
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Sales Tax Rate: 7%

Crime rate

Melbourne’s crime index is low; however, its relatively high crime rate varies with neighborhoods, with many being particularly safe. 

  • Population: 86,960
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.98 (National median: 4.0)
  • Property Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 26.09 (National Median: 20.0)

Naples, FL

A list of the best cities to live in Florida won’t be complete without Naples. It is a high-end, urban city in the heart of Collier County. 

Naples is ideal for those who crave modern amenities with lots of natural beauty.

Cost of living

Known for its higher cost of living, Naples truly reflects its status as a luxury destination. 

While daily expenses such as groceries and healthcare can be more expensive, residents enjoy exceptional amenities, beautiful surroundings, and a high quality of life that justifies the costs.

Housing affordability

Housing in Naples is on the pricier side, with a market that caters to luxury buyers. However, there are still affordable options available, particularly in the outskirts of the city. 

  • Average Rent: $2,369
  • Median Sales Price: $650,000

Economy

Naples has an economy driven by retail, professional services, and finance. The city’s upscale reputation attracts affluent residents and visitors, supporting a thriving service industry and a strong job market. 

  • Median Household Income: $135,657
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
  • Sales Tax Rate: 6%

Crime rate

Boasting a low crime rate contributes to the appeal as a safe and desirable place to live. Residents enjoy a high sense of security, making Naples an ideal place for families.

  • Population: 19,115
  • Violent Crime Rate (per 1, 000 residents): 1.07 (National median: 4.0)
  • Property Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 15.6 (National Median: 20.0)

Bottom Line—Best Cities to Live in Florida 

When deciding on where to live in Florida, it’s often easy for many people to pick famous cities like Miami. However, on further inspection, there are a few other places that have proven their worth as the best.

For instance, you could get drawn to the academic vibrancy of Gainesville, the cultural wealth of Tampa, or the coastal beauty of Fort Myers. 

It could also be the professional atmosphere of Melbourne or the luxury and safety of Naples. One thing is that some of the best cities in Florida have something for everyone.

The goal is to find what’s right for you and make that move!