20 Best Cities to Live in Florida Right Now

Exploring The Top Places To Live In Florida

Today I would like to walk through some of the best cities to live in Florida. A great place to start for anyone thinking about relocating to the Sunshine State.

So, let’s get moving…

Best Cities To Live In Florida

Our list of the top places in Florida to live and listed in alphabetical order includes:

  1. Amelia Island
  2. Bonita Springs
  3. Cape Coral
  4. Destin
  5. Dunedin
  6. Estero
  7. Fort Myers
  8. Jacksonville
  9. Key West
  10. Lakeland
  11. Miami
  12. Naples
  13. Ocala
  14. Orlando
  15. Panama City
  16. Port Charlotte
  17. Sarasota
  18. St. Petersburg
  19. Tampa
  20. Venice

Next, I’d like to provide some highlights for each of these Florida cities and towns…

Best Cities to Live in Florida

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

And just in case Florida doesn’t end up being your new state to settle in. Check out all of our…

City, State, and Town Living Guides

Otherwise, stick with me here for the best places to live in Florida right now!

And note that every city is linked to a more detailed review. Perfect for additional information. As you narrow down your search.

Amelia Island

Amelia Island on Florida map

For anyone interested in living on an island. But, not too far removed from the mainland, then Amelia Island may be your perfect place.

Advantages Of Living On Amelia Island

  • Several different towns to choose from
  • More seasonal weather patterns
  • Amazing beaches nearby
  • Family-friendly with good schools
  • Close to Jacksonville for jobs and urban amenities
  • Limited commercialization

Disadvantages Of Living On Amelia Island

  • High cost of living
  • An older housing stock
  • Little racial and ethnic diversity

Things To Know Before Moving To Amelia Island

This is a 13-mile-long barrier island off the northeast coast of Florida. And just south of the Georgia border.

It has a resort-like atmosphere. Low crime rate. And access to good health care options nearby.

Next, we head to the southwest part of the state, as we continue to seek out the best areas to live in Florida…

Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs on Florida map

Landing us in the community that locals refer to as Bonita.

Advantages Of Living In Bonita Springs

  • Fewer restrictive homeowners associations (HOAs)
  • Not overly commercialized
  • Access to beautiful beaches
  • Centrally located between Fort Myers and Naples
  • Easy access to RSW Airport
  • 90-minute driving time to Miami
  • Recently built Bonita Springs High School
  • Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU)

Disadvantages Of Living In Bonita Springs

It’s hard to come up with many disadvantages of living in Bonita. But when pressed on the topic, there are a couple of them that stick out.

First of all, it has a limited scope of employment opportunities. Since the area is not overly commercialized.

And the nightlife isn’t all that great. Since many residents are retired seniors. Not necessarily looking for the late-night scene other places have to offer.

Things To Know Before Moving To Bonita Springs

Bonita is a smaller community. With a population of about 60,000 residents.

And you will find a cost of living that is roughly on par with the national average.

As you head south into Naples, it gets more expensive. While to the north, in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, costs tend to be a little lower.

Speaking of “the Cape” …

Cape Coral

Cape Coral on Florida map

Let’s highlight this peaceful community of mostly residential neighborhoods.

Advantages Of Living In Cape Coral

  • Water everywhere
  • Access to arts and culture
  • A variety of housing options
  • More traditional neighborhoods vs HOAs
  • Moderate cost of living
  • Multiple options for school-age children
  • Accessible colleges and universities
  • Fewer tourists vs other areas in Florida
  • Very little violent crime

Disadvantages Of Living In Cape Coral

  • Mostly residential property
  • Higher costs for waterfront property
  • Tricky to navigate the area
  • Limited nightlife
  • Pollution in the canals
  • Presence of property crime

Things To Know Before Moving To Cape Coral

First of all, Cape Coral is a planned community. Dating back to its initial development in the late 1950s.

This means the land development was organized from the start. With an emphasis on residential housing. Unlike other area cities that evolved more randomly.

Furthermore, there are about 400 miles of canals running throughout the city.

Making for plenty of waterfront living options. But making driving through the area difficult to navigate. Unless you know where you are going.

Next, let’s head into the state’s panhandle. It represents another one of the best areas to live in Florida.

Destin

Destin on Florida map

Destin is in an amazing location on the Gulf of Mexico. With plenty of fun outdoor activities and entertainment options.

Advantages Of Living In Destin

  • Very accessible from nearby states
  • Great beaches
  • Scenic harbor boardwalk
  • Plenty of good restaurants
  • Nice people in a relaxed atmosphere
  • Good public schools
  • More seasonal temperatures

Disadvantages Of Living In Destin

  • Higher cost of living
  • Limited job market
  • Lacking big city amenities and diversity
  • Minimal access to hospitals
  • Limited options for higher education

Things To Know Before Moving To Destin

Destin is a good place to live. But only if you do not mind your hometown being dominated by tourists and the hospitality industry.

And can deal with the inconvenience that results from thousands of visitors during the peak season.

Because this is a resort town. And you just might feel like you are on vacation 12 months a year!

Next, let’s transition to the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. For the next place on our list of best towns to live in Florida.

Dunedin

Dunedin on Florida map

For the record, the town’s name is pronounced as (duh·nee·dn).

Advantages Of Living In Dunedin

  • A quaint but vibrant downtown area
  • Lots of fun seasonal festivals
  • Access to professional baseball
  • Low crime rates
  • Close to several beaches
  • 30 minutes to Tampa International Airport
  • 30 minutes to downtown St. Petersburg
  • 45 minutes to downtown Tampa
  • Less than 2 hours to the Orlando metro area

Disadvantages Of Living In Dunedin

This is another one of those spots where it’s hard to find a lot of faults. However, coastal living near the major metropolitan area of Tampa does have a couple of drawbacks.

First, there is a more expensive cost of living to deal with. Also, a higher level of population density in the immediate area.

Things To Know Before Moving To Dunedin

On the other hand, what you will find here is a quaint, comfortable, and outdoorsy community. With a small-city feel about it.

And Dunedin being a coastal town, has a relaxed beach-like vibe. That residents enjoy.

Next, let’s travel south along the Gulf Coast. As our journey continues to uncover all of the best cities to live in Florida…

Estero

Estero on Florida map

To find ourselves in the village of Estero. A tiny village with a population of just over 30,000 residents.

Advantages Of Living In Estero

  • Easy access to waterfront and beaches
  • Enjoyable parks
  • Excellent golf courses
  • Plenty of opportunities for shopping
  • Good school system
  • Moderate cost of living

Disadvantages Of Living In Estero

This is a sleepy village. So, you won’t find much local nightlife and entertainment.

Other than that, I can’t come up with many negative things to say about Estero.

Things To Know Before Moving To Estero

Whatever you need that you can’t find in this small community. It’s good to know that you are a short distance from the larger metropolitan area of Fort Myers.

Speaking of Fort Myers, it’s next. And it just might be one of the best places to live in Florida for retirees…

Fort Myers

Fort Myers on Florida map

Moving to the city of Fort Myers means choosing an area that dates back to the late 1800s. And it has the greatest concentration of historic buildings located in southwest Florida.

Advantages Of Living In Fort Myers

  • Dozens of golf courses
  • Lovely natural parks and preserves
  • Fort Myers beach
  • Charming and historic downtown
  • Plenty of entertainment options
  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Moderate property taxes
  • Good schools

Disadvantages Of Living In Fort Myers

  • Densely populated
  • Congested beach access
  • Lower household incomes

Things To Know Before Moving To Fort Myers

The city’s popularity has given rise to a modern commercial district. So, you will have convenient access to restaurants, shops, festivals, and street fairs.

If a little more action is what you are looking for. Then moving to Fort Myers is a good choice.

Next, go big. Or, go home. What I mean is…

Jacksonville

Jacksonville on Florida map

The city of Jacksonville is one of the best places to live in Florida. Since it’s the largest city in Florida based on population.

Advantages Of Living In Jacksonville

  • Big city life with a small-town vibe
  • Nice neighborhoods to choose from
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Beaches galore
  • The St John’s River
  • An enormous park system
  • Pros sports
  • Culture and the arts
  • Access to excellent health care
  • Limited hurricane activity

Disadvantages Of Living In Jacksonville

  • Neither walk nor bike-friendly
  • Lower household incomes
  • Urban sprawl
  • Higher crime rates

Things To Know Before Moving To Jacksonville

First of all, you should know that based on land area, Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States.

Furthermore, you will find neighborhoods that fit within most any budget. And meet with virtually any lifestyle you are looking for.

Next, for something completely different. But yet another one of the best cities to live in Florida.

Key West

Key West on Florida map

I’m talking about Key West living. Where the greatest concentration of residents in the Florida Keys lives.

Advantages Of Living In Key West

  • Unsurpassed natural surroundings
  • Low-stress living
  • A slow pace of life
  • Plenty of restaurants
  • A unique sense of community
  • Reasonable property taxes
  • Decent public schools

Disadvantages Of Living In Key West

  • Expensive housing
  • High cost of living
  • Isolation and island fever
  • A limited job market for professionals
  • Slow car travel to the mainland
  • Transient residents
  • Higher property crime

Things To Know Before Moving To Key West

Key West is at the southernmost tip of the lower 48 United States. And the far end of the tropical island chain known as the Florida Keys.

Moving here means you are choosing an island-like lifestyle. In a very popular resort area.

It’s a unique place. And although wonderful. Living in Key West won’t be for everyone.

But here are some great places to live in Florida that aren’t on the coast or near the saltwater. Here’s one now…

Lakeland

Lakeland on Florida map

We are talking about Lakeland. Located just beyond the northeast edge of the Tampa metro area.

Advantages Of Living In Lakeland

  • Unique historical charm
  • Vibrant downtown area
  • Close to regional attractions in Tampa & Orlando
  • Moderate cost of living
  • Access to robust job markets nearby
  • Florida Southern College
  • Lake Mirror Park
  • The annual Sun n Fun air show

Disadvantages Of Living In Lakeland

  • Troubles with drugs
  • Higher crime rates
  • It’s not on one of the Florida coasts

Things To Know Before Moving To Lakeland

Lakeland is a vibrant medium-sized city. With a population of about 110,000 people. It is located in Florida’s Polk County.

As the name suggests, the city is surrounded by several lakes. You will find Lake Wire, Lake Mirror, and Lake Morton. Just to name a few closest to the city center.

Next, our list of Florida’s top places to live continues…

Miami

Miami on Florida map

As we head to south Florida. For a stop in the energetic city of Miami.

Advantages Of Living In Miami

  • Amazing South Beach
  • Access to Miami Beach
  • Hundreds of parks
  • Nightlife
  • Culture and the arts
  • Ethnic diversity
  • South American and Cuban-inspired foods

Disadvantages Of Living In Miami

  • High cost of living
  • Pricey real estate
  • Higher crime in some areas
  • A long way to another state

Things To Know Before Moving To Miami

South Florida is a great place to live. But it’s very densely populated. With Miami at the heart of it.

Next, let’s head west to the other side of the state…

Naples

Naples on Florida map

To talk about Naples. A very popular retirement destination.

Advantages Of Living In Naples

  • Spectacular beaches
  • Nearby Marko Island
  • Lots of golf courses
  • Low crime rates
  • Robust law enforcement

Disadvantages Of Living In Naples

  • High housing prices
  • Expensive cost of living
  • Mostly gated communities
  • HOA fees and restrictions
  • Limited road infrastructure

Things To Know Before Moving To Naples

Naples is a great place to live. And it might be one of the best places to retire in Florida. But only if you can afford it!

Next up, one of the best places to live in Florida for families…

Ocala

Ocala on Florida map

Located in Florida’s Marion County, Ocala has a small-town feel about it.

And there is a noticeable community spirit. In this town of about 60,000 residents.

Advantages Of Living In Ocala

  • Affordable cost of living
  • A nice downtown square
  • Plenty of shopping
  • Festivals, arts, and culture
  • Horses and horse farms
  • The World Equestrian Center
  • Ocala National Forest
  • Convenient central Florida location
  • Good access to health care
  • Minimal hurricane risk

Disadvantages Of Living In Ocala

  • Lacking big city amenities
  • No professional sports
  • Not close to the beach
  • Limited racial and ethnic diversity
  • Little access to professional jobs
  • Growth and urbanization
  • Risk of sinkholes
  • Possibility of tornadoes

Things To Know Before Moving To Ocala

The city calls itself the Horse Capital of The World. And many people work in the equine industry here.

Plus, you will see supporting businesses including feed suppliers and gear stores.

Finally, because of the lower cost of living. Ocala has become a popular destination in Florida for retirees. Looking to make their budgets stretch a little farther.

Could this next city be the best place to live in Florida? I don’t know.

That’s too subjective of a question. With an answer that depends on what exactly you are looking for.

Nevertheless, let’s continue our march through Florida’s best cities and towns…

Orlando

Orlando on Florida map

Because we are talking about the theme park capital of the world. That being all about Orlando.

Advantages Of Living In Orlando

  • Fun theme parks to visit
  • Tons of entertainment options
  • Disney World
  • A robust economy and job market
  • Moderate cost of living
  • Good schools
  • Decent public transportation
  • Access to everything in central Florida

Disadvantages Of Living In Orlando

  • Endless urban sprawl
  • Lower than average wages
  • So many visitors
  • Not pedestrian or bike-friendly
  • Must watch your entertainment budget

Things To Know Before Moving To Orlando

Golf, parks, lakes, culture, restaurants, you name it. And you can probably find it in Orlando.

But it’s a big spread-out city. So, plan on spending plenty of time in your car getting around. As you go about your daily business.

Okay. Maybe this next place is one of the most affordable beach towns in Florida.

Panama City

Panama City on Florida map

As we head back to the Florida Panhandle. To the town called Panama City.

Advantages Of Living In Panama City

  • The Emerald Coast
  • Panama City Beach & Pier
  • Shell Island Beach
  • Diverse marine wildlife
  • Golfing, hiking, biking, and camping
  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Good access to education
  • Laidback residents

Disadvantages Of Living In Panama City

  • Overdevelopment of the waterfront
  • Poor quality of life for some
  • Limited job market

Things To Know Before Moving To Panama City

Similar to some of the other best areas in Florida we have discussed. Panama City is another popular resort area.

But because of the cooler winter temperatures. It gets pretty quiet here from November through February. While other parts of Florida are booming with tourists.

Next, back to southwest Florida…

Port Charlotte

Port Charlottte on Florida Map

To discuss the best things about Port Charlotte living.

Advantages Of Living In Port Charlotte

  • Port Charlotte Beach Park
  • Miles of water canals
  • Charlotte Harbor
  • Spring training baseball
  • Moderate cost of living

Disadvantages Of Living In Port Charlotte

  • Limited economy
  • Mostly retired residents
  • Boring for teenagers
  • Not much nightlife

Things To Know Before Moving To Port Charlotte

Port Charlotte has a quiet small-town feel to it. People are welcoming in and around the community.

With a population of about 60,000 residents. It’s an easy-going and laid-back city.

The best cities to live in Florida continues…

Sarasota

Sarasota on Florida map

Next up, we have the popular southwest Florida city of Sarasota. Right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Advantages Of Living In Sarasota

  • Powdered quartz crystal sand beaches
  • Good access to health care
  • Art galleries and culture scene
  • Great restaurants of all kinds
  • Dozens of local golf courses
  • Close to many Florida cities

Disadvantages Of Living In Sarasota

  • Popularity is increasing living costs
  • Not many options for nightlife
  • Limited racial, ethnic, and age diversity

Things To Know Before Moving To Sarasota

Sarasota has become a popular destination for music, the arts, and dining options.

But the attractions and quality of life are attracting more and more wealthy people. Driving up the cost of everything.

So, you won’t find it to be one of the most affordable beach towns in Florida.

St. Petersburg

St. Pete on Florida map

There are so many fun things to do and places to explore here in St. Petersburg. It is another great place to live in Florida.

Advantages Of Living In St. Petersburg

  • St. Pete Beach
  • Very walkable
  • Central Avenue
  • Bayshore Drive
  • Interesting mix and diversity of residents
  • Plenty of museums, festivals, and music
  • Great downtown nightlife
  • Access to pros sports
  • Convenient to Tampa
  • Reasonable cost of living

Disadvantages Of Living In St. Petersburg

  • Median home prices are rising
  • Limited diversity of job opportunities
  • Higher crime in certain areas

Things To Know Before Moving To St. Petersburg

Find a great neighborhood to live in here. Then you can stroll the beach, window shop on Central Avenue, and enjoy the vibrant entertainment scene.

All right here, in St. Petersburg. Or, you can cross the bay and find another one of the best cities to live in Florida…

Tampa

Tampa on Florida map

And consider moving to nearby Tampa. For all this modern city has to offer.

Advantages Of Living In Tampa

  • Livable and diverse neighborhoods
  • Hillsborough County schools
  • The economic center of west-central Florida
  • Robust job market
  • Year-round festivals
  • Professional sports teams
  • Heights Public Market
  • Reasonable cost of living

Disadvantages Of Living In Tampa

Outside of the costs and requirements of homeowners associations here. There aren’t a lot of downsides.

Things To Know Before Moving To Tampa

But understand that this is a large, diverse, and sprawling U.S. metropolitan center.

So, do your homework. And choose your exact location wisely.

Finally, our last on the list of best cities in Florida to live in.

Venice

Venice on Florida map

And I think Venice living is nice to end on.

Advantages Of Living In Venice

  • A beautiful waterfront city
  • Charming downtown
  • Easy access to the Tampa metro area
  • World-class beaches
  • Plenty of parks
  • Great fishing
  • A boaters paradise
  • Nice biking trails
  • Ample golf courses
  • Spring training baseball

Disadvantages Of Living In Venice

  • High cost of living
  • Mostly older residents
  • Overcrowded
  • Limited hiking options

Things To Know Before Moving To Venice

Venice is a great place to live. Especially for those who enjoy water sports, beaches, golf, and the many other outdoor activities the area offers.

As long as you can afford it. Because the city’s popularity has come at a cost. In the form of higher prices here for everything.

Okay. That completes today’s city-by-city review. So, allow me to conclude with a few parting thoughts…

Best Cities To Live In Florida

Each city, town, or village reviewed today is unique. But don’t forget about some of the great things regarding just about the entire state of Florida.

Such as…

  • Lots of sunshine
  • Mild winter temperatures
  • No state income taxes
  • Plenty of outdoor activities
  • The Gulf of Mexico
  • The Atlantic Ocean
  • Fresh and tasty seafood

On the flip side. And to present a balanced case.

Florida living, in general, does have some downsides you should understand. No matter where you choose to live here.

For example,

  • Rain, thunderstorms, and lightning
  • Risk of hurricanes
  • Lots of snowbirds and tourists
  • Limited public transportation
  • Heavy traffic congestion
  • Hot and humid summers
  • Insects and pesky critters

So carefully consider all the pros and cons of some of these best places to live in Florida:

  1. Amelia Island
  2. Bonita Springs
  3. Cape Coral
  4. Destin
  5. Dunedin
  6. Estero
  7. Fort Myers
  8. Jacksonville
  9. Key West
  10. Lakeland
  11. Miami
  12. Naples
  13. Ocala
  14. Orlando
  15. Panama City
  16. Port Charlotte
  17. Sarasota
  18. St. Petersburg
  19. Tampa
  20. Venice

Top Resources For Making A Move To Florida

Moving is a big deal. It impacts so many aspects of your life. Especially your finances.

So, here are some of my favorite resources to help the process go smoothly…

conclusion: best cities to live in Florida
The conclusion is written on a whiteboard

Author Bio, Disclosure, & Disclaimer: Please join me (Tom) as I try to achieve my goals, find my next place to live, and make the most of my money. But understand, I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial adviser, real estate agent, or tax professional. I’m a 50-something-year-old guy, CPA, retired finance professional, and part-time business school teacher with 40+ years of DIY investing experience. I’m just here because I enjoy sharing my findings and research on important topics. However, nothing published on this site should be considered individual investment advice, financial guidance, or tax counsel. Because this website’s only purpose is general information & entertainment. As a result, neither I nor Dividends Diversify can be held liable for any losses suffered by any party because of the information published on this blog. Finally, all written content is the property of Dividends Diversify LLC. Unauthorized publication elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

Best Cities To Live In Florida