10 Best Places to Live in Florida

If You’re Going to Go Through the Trouble of Moving 1000 Miles, Why Settle for Anything Less Than the Best?

Here They Are, The 10 Absolute Best Places to Live in Florida

You can see the criteria I used to choose these particlular places, at the bottom of the article.

In alphabetical order…

1) Destin

Destin Florida is a small fishing/beach town of about 13,000 located on a peninsula in Florida’s northwest Panhandle area of the state. One side of town has beaches located right on the warm clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The other side of town is bordered by the Choctawhatchee bay. All of that water surrounding the town is one reason this great little place is on our best places to live for boating and fishing list too.

If there’s anywhere in the state where remnants of “old Florida’s” fishing villages and beach towns still exist, it would be in the panhandle. This part of Florida is more “southern” and a world apart from places like Orlando and Miami. Many people here tend to be conservative, religious and patriotic. There is still a strong sense of community in Destin because it still hasn’t experienced the huge influx of people from other parts of the country and world that constantly move in and out of most of Florida today.

Both property and violent crime rates in Destin are far lower than the national average. Student test scores in Destin are higher than the national average. As I write this, unemployment is low and job options are surprisingly good for a small town. Currently home prices here are considerably higher than Florida’s average, but for a very safe small fishing village/beach town, you could argue it’s a bargain for the lifestyle that comes with living in Destin.

You can see what Destin Florida looks like in this video

I found you can get a better “feel’ for what a place is like, by taking a look at the city’s website. Does is appear to be designed to be helpful to residents? Do they have a doggie park or sponsor concerts in the park?

Here’s the City of Destin’s website: https://www.cityofdestin.com/


2) Doctor Phillips

Doctor Phillips is just 15 minutes southwest of Orlando. If you love theme parks, this beautiful quiet town is surrounded by the property of Disney, Sea World and Universal Studios, so you can beat the crowds and traffic (well, at least a little bit).

This is another place ideal for people moving to Florida for full-time living. It’s great for those looking for a high quality of life and to be near lots to do, but don’t want to deal with high crime, traffic congestion, and tourist who had a little to much to drink making noise right outside their door at 1am. Every night. What you will find here are student test scores and crime rates that area among the best in the US. Anyone can find a job in nearby Orlando during this economic expansion.

Video: Again, Doctor Phillips is an excellent place to live but since they don’t promote tourism here, there aren’t any promo videos. Here’s one where someone uses a drone to fly a camera over the place.

Doctor Phillips is an unincorporated Census-designated area in Orange County Florida. So Here’s that website:



3) Marco Island

Marco Island is a half hour south of Naples and about as far south as you can get by roads in Southwest Florida without driving into the Gulf or the Everglades. Living on an island or key in Florida offers a truly distinctive lifestyle. People often dream of living on a beautiful tropical island. Moving to Marco will make that dream a reality.

Marco Island and the amazing nature in and around the island is unique even to Florida. It so special it’s surrounded by many large parks to preserve it. Here you’ll an amazing array of beautiful tropical vegetation you won’t find in central or northern Florida. Marco would be perfect for snowbirds or “sixers” as described in the Florida Move Guide but living here year-round would require someone who won’t mind or can adjust to the high temps and humidity. If that’s you, this slice of paradise is worth investigation.

City of Marco Island’s website: https://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/

florida move guide book cover and discription

4) Niceville

Niceville is such a nice place to live that it has been on many of our best places to live in Florida lists over the years. While quality of life scores can sink in many Florida towns as the population shoots up, often because of crime, this small northwest Florida town’s scores remain just as high as ever. Niceville has 12,000 people and is located in Florida’s panhandle area on a body of water called Boggy Bayou. Boggy Bayou, which connects to Choctawhatchee Bay and Niceville, sits inland just across the bay from Destin, which is on this list also.

Niceville has a lower overall cost of living than the other excellent places on this list. Crime rates here are among the lowest in Florida. The schools are highly rated. There are a lot of locally owned restaurants and shops. Niceville is located near Eglin Air Force Base so aircraft noise should be taken into consideration.

There is a strong sense of community in Niceville. It’s not all that far from the Georgia and Alabama borders and the surrounding area is mostly rural. If you’re looking for a great little place to live near fishing, boating and beaches, Niceville just might just be your best place to live in Florida.

There weren’t a lot of videos of Niceville but this one may be helpful.

Town of Niceville Florida’s Website: https://cityofniceville.org/


5) Oviedo

Oviedo is a 20-30 minute drive northeast of Orlando, depending upon whether you take the faster toll roads. It borders the University of Central Florida. The town offers parks, baseball leagues, gymnatics, scouting and more for kids making this a great place to raise a family. There are lots of bike paths throughout the area.

Violent crime here is half the national average and property crime rates according to FBI statistics are among the lowest I’ve seen anywhere in the US. Student test scores for children in Oviedo are far higher than the national or Florida’s average.

Oviedo has it’s own places to shop and dine but you can find an endless selection just 30 minutes away in Orlando. The airport, theme parks and Orlando’s major employment market are that close too. The beaches are just 45 minutes away. Looking for a great place to live in Florida close to everything but away from the direct effect of 110+ million tourists annually?

The City of Oviedo website: https://www.cityofoviedo.net/


6) Palm Beach

Lets get this out of the way right off: This choice refers only to the Town of Palm Beach that is located on the island, across the bay from West Palm Beach and most of Palm Beach County. What’s the difference? The Town of Palm Beach (the island town) has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Unfortunately, the other places mentioned suffer from high crime areas common to much of Florida.

If you’re rich and famous (or want to meet someone who is) Palm Beach is probably the best place in Florida to move to. Many of the wealthiest people who own homes in Florida, also own numerous other homes in other states. They only “winter” in Florida. Palm Beach only has around 14,000 residents but the population swells to a few times that number during the winter when the heat and humidity gives way to some of the best weather in the country.

Crime rates are about as low as you can find anywhere in the United States. The schools are among the best in the country also. The available shopping, dining and recreation is world class. Yes, all quality of factors are excellent in Palm Bay, except the most important one for most Americans. That factor is affordability. The cost of living here is quite high and it begins with the cost of housing. However, if you’re moving to Florida or just want a top place to own a winter home, this playground of old and new money alike, may be the right place for you.

Here’s a quick video look at Palm Beach Florida

Here’s the Town of Palm Beach’s website: https://www.townofpalmbeach.com/


7) Palm Valley

If you’re looking for the best place to live in north Florida, this may well be it. You’ll find the headquarters of the PGA tour as well as the Players Champonship Golf Course in this area.

Crime rates are so low here it’s one of the safest places to live in the US. Local student test scores are among the highest in the nation and Florida. The beaches are are just a short drive away. If you can afford the high cost of housing here, this is certainly one of the best places to live in Florida today.


8) Satellite Beach

How can you make the folks back home green with envy when you move to Florida? Move to a town with the word beach right in the name. Satellite Beach is located right on the Atlantic Ocean of Florida’s east coast and is bordered on the west by the Indian River Lagoon.

Only about 10,000 residents call this beach town home. However, there are far more shops and restaurants in town than you’ll find in other places of the same size. You’ll also likely feel very safe living in Satellite Beach because the property and violent crime rates here are so low, they’re just a small fraction of the national average.

Student test scores here are considerably higher than the national average. Unemployment is low currently and employment options in the area are better than average. When this was written, home prices in Satellite Beach were quite a bit higher than in most of Florida. However, you’re not just buying real estate in Satellite beach, you’re buying an island lifestyle that most people will only ever dream about.


9) Venice

Venice has made the cut to be on our best places to live in Florida lists every year since this website was started. It’s quality of life scores have actually improved slightly over the years and are now about as high as you can get in Florida.

Too often, people choose a place to live in Florida based on what it looks like when they visit. However, explosive growth can make your new place almost unrecognizable just 5 years latter. Unfortunately many places become more crowded, polluted, experience increased crime, traffic congestion and other quality of life lowering problems. Venice grows but manages to continue to remain a better place to live in Florida.

Venice has a small historical downtown that’s just blocks away from the beaches. It’s a very safe place to live. It’s located in Sarasota County where the average age of residents is among the highest in the US. If you’re looking for a safe small beach city in Southwest Florida, Venice should be on your list. And don’t worry, there are young people and families here too and more are moving in every month.

The City of Venice website: https://www.venicegov.com/


10) Westchase Florida

Westchase Florida is a half hour northwest from Tampa as you head toward the Gulf beaches, which are just a short drive away from this beautiful area. What? You never heard of Westchase in Florida? That usually means it may be a great place to live in Florida for full time residents because it’s not a place that tourist overtake in the winter months and make local resident’s lives more challenging.

Student test scores here are far higher than Florida’s or the national average. Crime rates are far lower. The major employment markets of Tampa and St Petersburg are close. So are white sand Gulf beaches. Like most places in Florida today that offer the best quality of life, housing is not cheap here. But if you you want to move to one of the best of the best places to live in Florida, Westchase is worth visiting.

Westchase’s website: https://westchasewca.com/


Most cities and towns in Florida do not qualify as best for our lists. Why?

Because of low quality of life scores…

  • We don’t consider places that are located within the 10 and 50 mile radius warning zones of Florida nuclear plants, located right on the beach vulnerable to direct hurricane and storm surge hits, as “best”.
  • We don’t consider places that don’t have enough restaurants, shopping, entertainment or recreation as best places to live. Are you moving 1000 miles to Florida just to sit outside sweating in the humidity swatting mosquito (the state bird) for something to do?
  • Crime! Florida has a higher overall crime rate than most other states. The very first criteria any place in Florida must meet to be considered as best on this website, is lower crime rates (both property and violent crime) than the national average (according to FBI reporting). This disqualifies most cities and towns in Florida form our lists. However, the best of the best places listed below have crime rates so low they’re not only the safest places to live in Florida, they are also some of the safest places to live in the entire United States today.

More High Quality of Life Factors

Better Schools. The Places on this list also have students that have higher test scores and/or high high school graduation rates than most other places in Florida. Personally, I believe that everyone, including retirees should consider school rankings when choosing a new place to live. Why? Because kids with a better education are better prepared for college or gainful employment, and that will help to maintain the area’s low crime rate that everyone desires. You’ll also be paying to support your new local schools through real estate taxes if you’ll own your home or through your rental payment because your landlord has to pay real estate taxes that goes towards schools too.

These best of the best places also enjoy higher than average median household incomes, lower poverty rates and fewer residents without health insurance, than in most of Florida.

Better Employment Availability. The following places have more jobs available per capita than other places in Florida. They may be located in the town itself or in combination with a nearby major employment market that can be accessed with a reasonable commute. We feel better job options also helps to maintain low crime rates into the future.

More Fun! These cities/towns have an overall higher combined number of…

  • Restaurants, pubs and places to dine or enjoy some liquid refreshment.
  • Places to shop for groceries, clothes and other items you need right in the community.
  • Establishments for entertainment or enjoying art and culture.
  • Recreation or places to relax such as beaches, boating, fishing, golfing and almost everything that people move to Florida for. We all need recreation, and these places have it or it’s just a short drive away.

So the towns listed above aren’t just safe places to live, they’re safe places where you can enjoy your life!

Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.


56 thoughts on “10 Best Places to Live in Florida”

  1. YOU ARE 150% CORRECT. You will not get ahead. Schools are dangerous & hazardous – administrators DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Rents excessively high. Drivers – are among the worst in THE WORLD – yes, THE WORLD!!!! Friendly – ABSOLUTELY NOT! Going back to northeast where neighbors help out neighbors, where police actually arrest bad drivers or take away their license, where there are top rated schools, where rents are way less than Florida in decent places, where there are resources for everyone-particularly disabled and senior citizens – that is the northeast and anywhere else above the Mason Dixon line.
    If it weren’t for the transplants Florida would be nothing!

    • hi ron, is there any 55 plus communities in these towns with new homes being built, and is it safe from hurricanes, or tropical storms. dunedin looks so peaceful, but so very close to the water. love these videos. thank you.

      • Hello Mary,
        You are wise to be concerned about tropical storms and hurricanes when considering a place to live anywhere near the coast of Florida, such as Dunedin. Of course there’s the safety and damage concern that most are aware of, but many have no idea of the potential additional cost of insuring a home located where there’s a higher risk of storm damage. This article explains all you’ll need to know about buying near the coast/beach and hurricanes, and where the safest places from hurricanes in Florida are.

        I don’t currently have an article on retirement communities that may be located in my best places choices in the article, but you are on the right path. This is because the best place to look for a 55+ community would be in city/town that is a best place to live so you can enjoy a better quality of life. If it were me, I would narrow my choices of best places down to a few ideal places, then do an internet search to see if there are any retirement communities located in those areas. A word of caution however, just like Florida itself, I’ve sold a lot of homes to retirees moving into retirement communities and moving out after they learned it really wasn’t for them. Expensive lesson.

        I need to do a best retirement communities in Florida article but I have a lot of projects already currently taking up my time. However, I do plan to produce some new lists for 2023 for this website and I’ll try to include a retirement community article.
        Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

        • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.


  2. Jackie,
    Vero Beach’s violent crime rate is higher than the national average and so is it’s property crime rate. For that reason alone, it doesn’t qualify to named as a best place to live on any of our lists. Towns must have crime rates lower than the national average to be considered for listing on this site. There are still similar towns where both crime rates are significantly lower and they have a lower cost of living too. Also, it appears that Vero Beach is within the 50 mile evacuation zone of the nuclear power plant that may already be troubled, plus it sits right on water in an area at risk of hurricanes and storm surge. After the nuclear meltdown of a nuke plant on Japan’s coast I would not suggest any of my family or friends move 1000+ miles and relocate near a nuke plant when there are far better places to chose from.

    Image from D Ramey Logan
    Ron Stack

    • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
    • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  3. What’s the deal with Palm Beach and Boca Raton? Real estate prices are super cheap. Mansions on sale for peanuts for over a year? Please advise.

  4. Ron,

    My husband has a job opportunity in Miami. I have two small children, one with special needs. I’m lost. What are good options for private independent elementary schools, safe neighborhoods and a commute under 45 minutes?

    • Hello Susan,
      Of course, the real question is will moving be great for your family or will it be a disaster? Miami isn’t on any of our best places lists but this article might be a good place to start your research: The best places to live in the Miami/South Florida area. Good luck Susan.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
    • 10-27-19
      Since you have a child with special needs you’d be wise to research medical providers (Florida is/or recently was ranked 48th from the bottom for medical care). A commute under 45 minutes? That’s hardly possible. If you have the opportunity take a trip down there and spend a week – looking and finding out more. Depending where you are living now this opportunity might not be the best choice.

  5. I’ve been looking at Palm Coast. Any thoughts on that area? I work from home, so good internet is my biggest work need. The housing seems reasonable, especially compared to Nashville. (the real Nashville, not the published median price for anything beyond a postage stamp yard)

    • Hello JYN,
      Palm Coast is not on any of our best places to live list because the property and violent crime rates for that area are substantially higher than the national average according to government reporting. As a general rule, places with higher crime rates usually have lower home pricing because of supply and demand. Most won’t buy in areas with higher crime (if they’re aware of it) and people who are concerned about their safety will move out if they can afford it. If crime increases in an area it can cause home values to sink and make a place harder to sell. All of the towns in the article above have crime rates far lower than the national average and are some of the safest places to live in the US.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  6. I live in Florida in a relatively new “planned development”, Lakewood Ranch.” It is reputed to be one fo the most “successful” PUDs in the entire country. It is typical of this hot, humid, bug infested swampland. Nothing but a rural cow pasture turned into very expensive real estate occupied by idiots and misguided old fogies. For a MINIMUM of AT LEAST 5 MONTHS EVERY YEAR, and sometimes SEVEN, the temperatures and humidity are literally unbearable. Without AC, you would not survive. So, what do you do during those months? Go to the beach? Hardly. No one who lives here really goes to the beach more than a few times a year. Then it is crowded with tourists. This year (and more frequently recently) we have chronic “red tide” which leaves the beaches (and canals) literally covered wall to wall with dead fish, a stench in the air and air which is unbreathable. Wonderful! This whole place is about marketing to people in other states who bring their money down here. Then they attempt to vacuum it out of your pockets with their “designer” homes (basements above ground), thousands of restaurants (few of them any good), “entertainment” (have you seen the latest Frank Sinatra imitator, or instead of “live” bands, how about “nearly dead” bands), charities and not for profits (that is how many people make a living here, just glorified panhandling), and the “good life”. Well, if you like living indoors with expensive air conditioning in a concrete basement above ground for half a year, then getting out to roam among the traffic congested road from the “snowbirds” who believe they are somehow privileged to run over everybody and have no manners whatsoever, go for it. Nearly all of the subdivisions are built with dead end streets and no thoroughfares. As a result everybody drives out onto the same congested roads everyday. Lakewood Ranch? I call it a traffic jam in a cow pasture. If you are not old, why would you move here? If you have children, do you want them to suffer through 6 months of agonizing, skin burning, sweltering heat? If they go outside, they will be subjected to bugs (love those fire ants); bugs, bugs; snakes; alligators, rain nearly everyday in the summer (more humidity) and the most outrageous moronic “crackers” you could imagine. I believe raising a child in this environment is per se child abuse. And that includes the schools. The old people who live her do not want to finance them and the politicians are in the pockets of the “charter” school, private school and for profit “education” crooks, not to ignore the right wing religious schools. For old people, well many of them have only a limited time to live anyway and believe me, Florida leads the US in depression, anxiety and just morose behavior among old people. Many of them are stuck here and just warehoused using their life savings fo live indoors in the most inhospitable conditions until they finally melt. Florida. Moronic. Uncomfortable. And then there are the disgusting, dishonest, fraud mongering, and criminal developers and their bought and paid for government (at all levels). So, come on down. The water with the “red tide” is just great. Bring your money. That is all they are interested in here. And bring a lot.

    • Why u still in Florida?? U know what im coming down anyway and im gonna buy a nice house with a swimming pool, since I get a nice job. Just leave if u don’t like it. Or come to this s*** hole in kansas, Olathe among the safest , my a**. Come and see how suffering is to live in this AKA VERMONT illness, crime raising houses prices unbelievable high. This is how human are, we are never satisfied. Of course if u live in a large city u will see crimes its everywhere, come to Kansas city MO the first state with high crime rate and u know overland park is just 15 minutes away and it is among the best places to live in USA. If I want to move I go there first see with my own eyes then move. Thats it I dont listen to people anymore

  7. Hubby was looking at purchasing a home so we can use for the winter and eventually retire to in 10 or so years. Started looking at South Lakeland communities. Any thoughts?

    • Hello SLA,
      Lakeland Florida is not on any of our best places lists because it’s property crime rate is almost twice the national average. The violent crime rate is still lower than the national average. The median home price in Lakeland is significantly lower than Florida’s overall home price. There are better places in Florida and much worst places. Still have 10 years or so until retirement? I would ask myself, what will Lakeland look like in 10 years from now? The property crime rate is already high, will the violent crime rate also rise and if it does, how will that affect the money I sink into a home there now? Good luck SLA.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  8. Step foot in Fla & your almost guaranteed a Hurricane expierience, no matter what part of the state you are in!!! We’ll get ya next year, if not this one!!!
    It’s Crazy… you can’t get away from them!!!!!

  9. I lived in Orlando from 2010-2016. I wanted it to work out so bad my first couple years there. I’d never thought I’d leave. Trying to make a life there was too difficult. Don’t move to Florida for work. Be established, buy a vacation home and just go for a few months, retire there, own a business, whatever, just don’t go looking for promise. Most jobs that aren’t in medical, real estate, education, banks, or construction will all be in the hospitality field and pay low. Have fun working at a theme park, restaurant, hotel, call center, night club, or in retail for the rest of your life. Also prepare to work two jobs just to make ends meet and more than likely you’ll have 1-2 roommates or be living with your spouse/partner but definitely not alone. I can’t even think of ten people I knew there that could afford their own place and if they did they were in areas like Pine Hills, Hiawassee, OBT, Mercy Drive, Tymberskan, (The ghetto). Speaking spanish will be “required” or “preferred” on most applications and a majority of positions pay $9/hour. I once worked at Daytona Speedway working in the boxes as a cocktail server and only made $8.50/hr, and that was in 2015, still have the paystub which makes me laugh until this day. Maybe the pay is $11 now not sure. Public transportation is awful and life is harder if you don’t have a car. The Lynx bus is sure to arrive late if it even arrives at all and doesn’t cover a good majority of Orlando or its’ surrounding areas. So if you live in areas like Apopka, Sanford, Kissimmee, Seaworld 535 area, Winter Haven, Winter Garden, Altamonte Springs etc… and don’t work near where you live, getting around will be very difficult without wheels. I-4 is awful. Accidents along the highway everyday and insurance will go up even if you haven’t been in an accident. You can live in a nice apartment or home and still have roaches which people will try to cover up by calling them “palmetto bugs”. They are roaches. You will love the beaches, the parks, the night life, the food, the weather, being able to drive to Miami, Panama City, the Keys, Cocoa, Daytona, the whole Florida grand allure. But eventually it wears off and you just want to be stable. I left Florida when I was offered a job out of state, living in Raleigh, NC now making better money.

  10. Ok, so most of the comments are negative and would deter anyone from moving to FL. I’m originally from PA and moved to NC a year ago. Looking to possibly move to FL within the next 2 years. If you were to move somewhere other yhan FL, where would it be and why? I do not want to be up North where it snows and gets really cold. I’m done shoveling snow. I prefer the warm and beaches, but would also like to be somewhere that feels like a community and you know your neighbors, or better yet everyone on the block. Obviously safety is a concern as I am single and do have a dog that likes to take walks. If I were to move to Florida, I do like the Oviedo area.

    • Hello M.L.,
      So you moved from my home state of PA to NC a year ago, and are now thinking FL? The Florida Move Guide says that a large number of people who move to Florida to solve their “too cold” problem, often gain an equal or larger problem of too hot and humid that causes them to move back. It can be a bigger problem because the heat and humidity lasts far longer than just the 3 months the calendar says it’s summer in Florida. What’s ironic, is that while many move back “home”, a large number become what we call “half backs” because they only move half way back to their original northern state. Guess which state most of these half-backs move to? If you guessed NC you’d be right.

      I have a new book coming out in February that will help people determine if retiring in place, or moving for retirement would be better. The book explains why the best option for most (but not all) people is to retire in place, and solve their “cold shoveling snow” problem by becoming a snowbird and heading south for the winter. That way you’re never where it’s too cold, or too hot most of the time and you avoid other other issues like FL’s 6 month hurricane season. While this option is best for most, the new book covers the many valid reasons (old and new ones you haven’t heard of yet) when it could be best to move for retirement, and how to decide which is best for us individually.

      If you already like Oviedo FL, that may be a good choice as it’s on many of our best places to lists because it has high overall quality of life scores including low crime rates. Good Luck M.L.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
    • Hello Jenny,
      Lake City Florida is not on any of our best places to live in Florida lists because it fails the first test we apply for every city/town, and that’s low crime rate. According to information derived from FBI reporting, the property crime rate in Lake City Florida is about 300% higher than the national average. Violent crime is about 400% higher. For a place to be considered as best for our lists, a place must have crime rates below the national average, only then do we start to look at other quality of life factors.

      The north Florida border along the Georgia and Atlantic coast is where Fernandina Beach Florida is located. It has beaches and a historic walkable downtown, and is currently on some of our best places lists but we’re watching the property crime rate and realize there’s a possibility we may have to remove our recommendation in the future. Jacksonville, north Florida’s major city, doesn’t meet our criteria because of crime rates. The rest of that area along the border as you move towards Alabama is sparsely populated for the most part because it doesn’t have what most people move to Florida for (beaches, theme parks, etc.) except warmer weather. Living anywhere in Florida does provide certain benefits over other states according to the Florida Move Guide, such tax and asset protection advantages. Good luck Jenny.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  11. How do you feel about Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Palm Habor? I thought I saw these were considered good areas but there’s not a search option and I don’t see them anymore. Thank you!

    • Hello Susie,
      Safety Harbor and Dunedin (which is on more than 1 of our 2019 best places lists) can be found on our “2019 best beach towns” list
      Unfortunately, Palm Harbor does not qualify any longer because both property and violent crime rates are now estimated to be above the national average. To prevent a “best” place from dropping off our lists in the future, because we don’t want you to spend a ton of money to move 1200 miles and end up in a place that goes bad a year or two latter, we now only choose places with crime rates far lower than the national average.

      Please be aware, places with low crime rates will be in greater demand as other places go bad. This higher demand will push home prices up. The upside is, higher home prices = higher tax revenue that can easily pay for more law enforcement to keep that place safe. People flee places experiencing higher crime, depressing home values and therefore tax revenue, which can make it harder to deal with the problem.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  12. Ron, what do you think of Freeport? It is near to two cities on your list here – Destin and Niceville. There is a lot of new housing going up there, and it looks like in a few years, it won’t be the “sticks” anymore.

    • Hello Nancy,
      Freeport is a small place of about 3000 people. The main drawback is it has a dollar store, auto parts store and tattoo parlor and not much else. It’s an hour or more round trip to a shopping, restaurants, doctors, a hospital, etc. and it could be more than a few years before that changes much, and maybe a decade if a recession hits within the next few years (we’re overdue, they happen every 7 years on average). The main advantages are very low crime rates and it’s about the same distance to beaches, small beach towns and Destin. Freeport doesn’t qualify for our best places lists currently but it may be ideal for someone relocating from a similarly rural area. My guess is that any future commercial development will look like what some consider to be “urban sprawl” with strip malls, parking lots, franchise food outlets and traffic lights every block on Route 20, which is just fine for some people but a turn-off for others. Thanks for the question Nancy.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  13. I was just turning 30 when I moved from Virginia to Florida with my Dad. Job right away, able to buy my own home in 9 months, meeting a whole new world of interesting people and, yes, it rained but at least the rain was never freezing cold. How could life be better?
    Fast forward 4 years…
    The 45 min commute to work is unbearble (and I have ALWAYS had a long drive because I like bopping down the road). A high percent of drivers either go 15/20 mph under the speed limit or go 30mph over. Most don’t observe simple road safety laws. O, and about all those interesting people. A few of them are great, but most of them are rude, inconsiderate, incompetent or just plain crazy. All those “FL man” stories you hear on the news happen way more often than you think. Don’t even get me started on “snowbird season”.
    But all this is tolerable right? I mean, at least I have my Dad and he is my best friend so I can always escape Florida people by going to hang out with him. Weeellllllllllllll, not so much. You saw the other posts speak of high crime and remember how I was just saying that there are some plain old crazies here? My Dad was MURDERED. Yup, and his girlfriend was too! One always thinks, “This won’t happen to me”. I did too, until it happened. My Dad was an old school stand up guy that everyone liked. He was not involved in any crazy shenanigans. Just wanted to live the retired lifestyle and chill. Geez I miss him so much….
    So here I am, stuck in this hell hole of a state….because you won’t be paid enough so that you can afford to leave…even though you are in a specialized medical field…

    • Sorry for your loss. As far as getting out try every social service agency you can for financial assistance BUT FIRST you have to decide where you want to move to. Also try church organizations. If you are in a specialized medical field start looking the availability of jobs in the area you want to move to.

    • Horrible!! My heart skipped a beat after reading about the tragic deaths in your family. May their souls rest in peace!!

  14. Pine Island Saint James City area looks nice and more like old Florida. Im thinking about moving there from Bradenton to get on the water with the boat behind the house.
    The waterfront in cheaper then here in Bradenton too. The crime seems to be down in the area too from charts I seen.
    I was born here in Bradenton, Fla but the one thing I do worry about is the Hurricanies if I move to Pine Island Saint James City area. They have been pretty lucky over the years
    but these storms seem to be getting stronger over the years so Im trying to make my mind up. I might move to some property on the salmon river in Idaho and get away from the storms if
    I go that way.

  15. You hit the nail on the head. More folks should read your take on Florida that it could potentially ruin them financially and otherwise.

  16. 10/2019 You’ll have a lot of research to do. Just moved back to CT after 16 years in Central Florida (Orlando area) – extreme overgrowth, terrible traffic congestion, etc. There might be some “planned communities” but those are usually located with quick access to the theme park area. Keep in mind that red tide, toxic algae has become more prevalent on each coast that doesn’t make it very fun to enjoy any beach. Some say Port Orange, New Smyrna area are nice – New Smyrna has a nice little downtown area (or did) with regular art events plus a well known beach (considerable shark attacks though). Cocoa Village near Cocoa Beach – maybe but there has been quite a bit of crime before I left – the village itself has one of a kind shops, a theatre that folks supposedly rave about. As far as housing, prices can widely vary – suggest renting before buying – and if you’re going to buy get a good real estate attorney – Florida has some unique real estate laws – if at all possible, stay away from HOAs who mandate just about everything you can do. Also consider what medical care you may need now & in the future as Florida IS NOT RANKED highly. CT, by far, has many more services compared to Florida – which are far less costly. Homeowners/auto insurance will increase when in Florida as will many other things.

  17. 11-2019
    Hi Ron. I’m a big fan of your site. I’m a Florida native. My grandparents moved from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to the Tampa Bay area back in the 1950s. I remember growing up in the 80s and 90s how every part of Florida still had it’s own character. You could go north or south and see a mix of natural and man made wonders. A trip to Disney was expensive, but didn’t put your family in debt for 10 years. There was still income inequality throughout the state, but nowhere near what has happened since the overdevelopment/gentrification boom of the 2000s. Unfortunately, even if you live in one of the “best places” listed here, you will still eventually have to drive through one of the crime/traffic nightmares, areas of horrific sprawl, and pay the climbing costs of food, housing, and healthcare in our state. Not to mention – developers and gentrifiers LOVE coming to any nice or quiet place here and terraforming it into yet another overpriced, bland, treeless traffic nightmare.

    All that said, I hope people do continue to VISIT Florida while there is still a Florida left. See the state parks and the unique ecosystems, enjoy the theme parks and the beaches. But don’t move here. All that magic you have experienced on your travels will dissipate the first time you pay an electric bill in July, witness yet another multi-car collision with gruesome fatalities, or see yet another roadside attraction or orange grove get closed down to build low-quality high-cost housing. Looking to move out of state once my fiance finishes school, because I just can’t watch this keep happening to a place I loved.

    • Florida is a dream compared to my hometown near Baltimore, Maryland. I just spent 2 weeks in Destin to get away from traffic, crime, and trash. It was heaven. My dream is to retire in 2 and a half years at age 55, and spend my retirement in peace, close to the water.
      You don’t know what you have. If you did, you wouldn’t leave.

      • I am originally from Baltimore. I have lived in the Destin/Miramar Bch/Niceville area since 2002. This place is beautiful for tourists but it is definitely not great for locals. I have raised 3 kids here. We have too many rude tourists year round now! The healthcare is crappy. Not enough doctors and hardly any quality doctors. It is gorgeous but local residents’ quality of life have gone downhill and the local commissioners are not working for the resident voters but for their own financial interests. This is a tourist destination period. The road construction on hwy 98 has been another nightmare. The contractor cites inability to get workers! By the way, highway 98 will be under construction for the next 10 years rivaling Orlando! There are not enough public beach accesses for the tourists or locals, not enough parking for the existing beach accesses. The infrastructure is horrendous here.
        I work here and live a block from the beach. The author of this list must have a financial interest in Destin to put it #1 on the list. Yes, crime is low but housing and rent is soaring. It is outrageous that the author put Destin at the top. The healthcare situation here is atrocious. I was born in raised in Baltimore , so I know quality healthcare. I lived 5 yrs in Chicago suburbs. Again, this list is a bunch of bunk. We had to travel 6 hrs for quality cancer care at the Mayo in Jacksonville.

        • Angela, Angela, Angela,
          Destin, as I write this today 8/2/2021, is absolutely one of the best places to Live in Florida based on actual quality of life factors. It has far more amenities per-capita, than most other places in Florida. That means there’s far more places to dine, shop, be entertained, and in general, things to do or see than most places in FL. Both property and violent crime rates are just a fraction of Florida’s and the national average. The schools are top-notch: student test scores are over 50% high than the national average, more students graduate with a diploma and go on to earn degrees than elsewhere in Florida and the country. Individual and household income is much higher than the national average, and unemployment is lower.

          What is really going on here, is the typical poor planning when moving to Florida, I saw it every day with buyers, as a real estate broker. People buy because of palm trees, the beach or theme park (like they are tourist?), then complain about it and blaming others for the predicament they got themselves into when they learn they made a mistake. For instance, if you are like most people who move to Florida, you didn’t even consider healthcare quality when you decided where to move to in Florida. If you moved to a place where healthcare wasn’t to your standards then, is it fair to bash the place, because it still doesn’t meet your standards now?

          Did you really expect a great little beach town in Florida was going to remain uncrowded and cheap forever? People who read the Florida Move guide know better than that (not your fault, the book wasn’t available when you moved). It’s also amusing when people visit a place in Florida on vacation, often for years, then move there and complain about the “tourist”. Just so you know, even the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville was much smaller and offered far fewer services in 2002, when you moved to Florida, than it does today. Also FYI, you won’t find Jacksonville Florida on any of my best places to live lists, because Jacksonville’s quality of life ratings are far lower than Destin. Everyone is different, but if it were me, I would be grateful to have lived in such a great place for 20 years, and that some of the best medical care in the country is only six hours away. Most people in the US have to travel much farther than that.

          I’ve had to face the same situation recently with two close family members, one right after the other, as you are. I truly hope your situation resolves itself positively. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and make it a great day.
          Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

          Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.

    • Sorry, but they don’t even come close to qualifying as best places on this website.
      If I had a worst place in Florida list…
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  18. Are the high crime rates in Melbourne, Florida and Cocoa, Florida a good reason not to buy a home along the space such as Melbourne Beach, Satellite Beach and Merritt Island.

    • Hello Stan,
      Like many questions I get asked, I feel the answer requires more of an explanation than is appropriate to write in a comment. So here’s a few thoughts…
      1) It cost far more to buy, to insure, to maintain, etc. a place in a beach town.
      2) Crime affects the supply and demand of homes in a given area. If crime goes up, values will tend to eventually head in the opposite direction.
      3) I sold homes on a beautiful key, many of which were on beach to bay lots. So you had the beach on one side and the bay on the other, so you could have a dock for your boat. The closer these homes were located to a public beach with a parking lot, the longer it took to sell them and the less they sold for. And the closest towns enjoyed very little crime.

      For all of my best places to live in Florida lists, I don’t select places I feel will only remain great places to live in the short term. In another of my upcoming books I will be including a rating for how long a place may remain best into the future, based on studying places for almost two decades, not only in Florida but across the country (for another website of mine).
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  19. Have lived and/or visited all over Florida…currently living in Bradenton…overpriced and junky….only good thing are the beautiful beaches that you have to time your visit just right it you can’t get to…area geared for the wealthy…

    That said…am tired and frustrated with the beach scene…enjoy beautiful trees and friendly people that are not rascists…I am now looking to move out of Florida when my lease is up next year…but where…I like the seasons but don’t want extreme cold such as Minnesota…any suggestions

    • Hello Yvonne,
      A few thoughts…
      Bradenton Florida does not qualify as a best place in Florida on this website. No matter what state someone chooses to move to, their chance of satisfaction with their decision increases if the city/town scores high in actual quality of life factors.
      The Florida Move Guide explains how many people move from colder northern states like Minnesota, to hot states like Florida, only to learn they replaced their too cold problem with a too hot one. They often move again looking for that “Goldilocks” state. Moving long distance is generally disruptive and expensive so it should be avoided unless the odds are high that it will actually improve our lives long term.
      This other website of mine that describes the pros and cons of many states other than Florida, and has a short list of some of the best places to live in those states using quality of life scores. It may help you find your ideal place.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  20. Hi Ron,

    We are currently living in NJ and we have two kids under two. We wanted to live near Tampa (where my husband’s job would most likely be) but wanted something that is family friendly, good schools (I am a teacher and would be looking for a job as well), and offer things for us to do (walkable downtown, really close to beaches, nature parks, etc.)

    Do you think Dunedin would be a good place for us to look into? If not, what are some other towns you recommend? We recently returned from a Florida trip and visited North Port, Venice, Siesta Key, Longboat key and just felt they were too far from Tampa so my husband wouldn’t be able to come home before the kids go to bed. We are planning on returning in September to look at some other towns and would love your advice! I purchased your book and am waiting for it to come in, but any direction you could give would be greatly appreciated!

  21. Hi!
    So I am noticing that most of the very safe places and best places to live, are also uber expensive! Are there any good places to live in Florida that are affordable for the average retired person (not a condo) and maybe has a little land, but yet not far from beaches and boating/kayaking areas? Not everyone is a millionaire and can afford these nice, safe places!

    • Hello Robin,
      Decades ago, you could sell a home just about anywhere in the US, then move to one of the best places to live in Florida and buy a similar home for less and put the difference in the bank. Those days are long gone. Real estate prices are a result of supply and demand. Right now (May 3rd 2021) there are still millions of people thinking of moving to Florida for a multitude of reasons. That demand has badly outstripped supply, not only in Florida, but just about every desirable place to live in the US. Builders can’t increase supply fast enough because they can’t find enough qualified workers, lumber prices are up 265%, permitting logjams, etc. If I would name a cheap better place to live in Florida right now where you could get a home with some land, near the beach and boating, that place would be overwhelmed with buyers and end up like every other best safe place with nothing but homes that are sale pending, or over-priced junk, or homes the average retiree couldn’t afford even if they worked until they where 140 years old. Again, it’s not just Florida. Take a look at homes near any lake, ski or other recreational area in your state, or any other, and you’ll see the same thing.

      This is the worst time to be a buyer in my nearly 40 years in real estate. It’s the best time ever to be a seller, especially in the best places to live where demand is off the charts…
      Unfortunately, selling where we live now at the top of the market during the best sellers market ever (for many areas), does not guarantee we can afford to buy now in areas that are now considered the most desirable, so be cautious.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
    • Norman,
      In April, the average temps along the Gulf are in the 80’s with the return of humidity, making the heat index (feels like temp) even higher. There’s a reason most “snowbirds” are gone by the end of March according to the Florida Move Guide. This article, if you haven’t seen it, will give you some places to consider.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  22. Curious what the total costs are to own a home in Florida. I understand certain taxes are lower but other costs are much higher. I’m concerned about these hidden X-factor costs like flood and hurricane insurance? Auto/Homeowners insurance? Water/sewer? Pest control? Pool cleaning? Other???

    Any general parameters for what these services cost?

    • Hello Rob,
      You wrote “I understand certain taxes are lower”
      Lower than where? They are lower than some places and higher than others. All states including Florida need to provide services. If they don’t raise those funds through real estate or income taxes, they have to them raise elsewhere. In Florida, real estate assessments can be adjusted every year, so when prices shoot up…

      Yes, homestead provisions can provide full time Floridian residents with some tax relief but they may still rise faster than fixed retirement income or wages.

      You also wrote: “Auto/Homeowners insurance? Water/sewer? Pest control? Pool cleaning? Other???”
      It’s next to impossible to give general parameters because it depends upon where you live in Florida. They generally cost much more in major cities as you might expect, but they’re different from city to city, and exactly where you live within it, and even the type of home you buy. What I can tell you is that I’ve met a lot of people who thought they would never have to work again, working for low wages to make ends meet. I’ve also sold homes on a regular basis for people who could no longer afford to live in what was to be their forever home. From what I’ve seen, moving and financial problems are more difficult to handle and recover from, the older people get. I do thoroughly cover the real threats of rising costs in Florida (that you won’t hear from someone trying to sell you something there) in my book the Florida Move Guide. Pay special attention to the eye-opening chapter on insurance.

      You are wise to look before you leap. Too many people buy the “paradise” thing and make expensive mistakes. Florida IS a great place for vacation if you blow through far more money in just one week than you ever would in just everyday normal living. If you buy the book and don’t have a far better understanding of of living in the state, including costs and risks, I’ll refund you purchase price. That goes for anyone.

      Have a good day Rob.
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.


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