Where to live in Florida – Part 1 – North Florida
Where to Live in Florida is the second most important question to ask when moving to the sunshine state.
The most important question is IF you should really be moving to Florida, but that’s not the subject of this particular post. For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume that you are serious enough about moving to Florida to explore exactly where to live in Florida.
Best Places to Live lists
When trying to determine where to live in Florida, many people end up on websites that offer yearly best
places to live lists, like that offered by Money Magazine, US News and other such sites. Many people mistakenly think that lots of people at the places who come up with these lists do lots of research and then visit these places, take pictures and write articles. The truth is that what they actually do is just feed criteria into a computer, push a button and the machine gives them their “best places”. They get the pictures from online databases that have photos that they can buy and insert into their story. So basically they are recommending places without ever actually vising the places, even for one day.
Worst Best Places to Live Lists
Another trend that is disturbing to me, is best places list put out by websites whose main purpose is to sell advertising, to people who will make lots of money when you move to Florida.
It works like this:
- They put together a website to make money by selling advertising to real estate developers, builder and others.
- They put a Where to Live in Florida list together based upon where their advertisers have property in Florida to sell. This list is probably not the best place for you to live in Florida.
- They buy ads on google, bing and other search engines to bring people to the website because the more visitors to the site, the more they can charge their advertisers.
What Happens to a Town that Makes a Best Places List
Whether or not these places are really worth spending a fortune or not to move to, you need to know what happens to these areas after a great mention by a major player like Money Magazine.
- Lots of potential buyers will descend upon the place. Agents, builders and landlords that would have bent over backwards for a you before, will now become very busy and may be downright rude unless you are ready to put money down and buy today.
- The influx of visitors and buyers may ruin the very reason the place was picked in the first place. For example, a small quiet small beach town may suddenly become know for traffic jams, long lines just to eat at a mediocre restaurant and other problems that weren’t present before the endorsement.
- Home prices are determined by supply and demand. The mention will drive drive the cost of homes in the area to increase at a ridicules pace. If you buy, you will usually end up paying too much because next year when the place isn’t on the list, the prices will start to come back down.
Moving to Florida for the Weather and North Florida
One of the main reasons people tell me they are moving to Florida, is for the weather. Ironically, when those same people want to sell and move out of Florida a couple of years later, the weather is usually one of the reasons they give for moving out. Read the Florida Move Guide for more on that. If you haven’t read the book you’ll have to trust me on this. Depending upon where you buy in Florida, it won’t be warm and sunny all the time. It will be warm and sunny three to four months a year, that’s it. The rest of the year it will be hot and humid and your ability to tolerate it will be less with every passing year you live in Florida.
Recommended North Florida Pro- 4 seasons. Con- many rural areas not suitable for north-eastern transplants
To someone like me who has lived in Florida a long time, north Florida has four distinct seasons. It’s not like the seasons up north but you will get a refreshing break from the H&H (heat&humidity). If you tell me you won’t mind H&H and actually look forward to it, I know you’ve probably never lived in year after year. If living in heat and humidity was comfortable for human beings, they would build Florida homes without central air.
- Pensacola: Pro- nearby beaches, lower cost of living / Con- can be a hurricane or tropical storm magnet during Florida’s 5th season (hurricane season)
- St Augustine: Pro- historic town area, nearby beaches, easier drive to visit smarter people back north that didn’t move to Florida. Con- cheapest homes are in high crime areas.
- Gainesville: Pros- too many to list. Cons- I can’t think of any. OK, I’m biased but for the record, I do not currently live in Gainesville or personally sell real estate there. I just like the place. So do thousands of University of Florida students and alumni who choose to live in Gainesville if they can find suitable employment.