Is Gainesville Florida a Good Place to Live or Retire?

Is Gainesville, Home to the University Of Florida, Still One of the best places to live in Florida Today?

Here’s What I Wrote About Gainesville a Few Years Ago, Followed by More Recent Comments:

Want to move to a place in Florida where the average age of the residents is less than 100 years old? Well one of the true best places to live in Florida, Gainesville, with its “small town feel” may be the perfect for you. Picture a fairly small town in beautiful north central Florida where they have beautiful rolling hills. Now picture this town dominated by a large university with around 50,000 college students.

As the university has grown, so has the town with all kinds of great restaurants, shops and entertainment. You can’t think of a type of food, drink, product or service that you can’t find in Gainesville today. Chances are high the person who will be serving you will be a student because they are working everywhere. When I visit Gainesville, it’s like culture shock. Many counties in Florida have a higher than average median age, but Gainesville has the youngest population in the state, students dominate most of this town. Although the town is laid back and relaxed like most of Florida, is also has a definite sense of youthfulness and energy.

Many retirees are moving there also, and not they’re not just the alumni of the University of Florida, of which there are many. Recent surveys show today’s retirees desire to live somewhere where there a lot of things to do. Most college towns have just that, lots of things to do and Gainesville is no exception. Having a college in town means means that Gainesville offers something that towns without colleges usually can’t: learning. The University of Florida offers credit and non-credit courses to people of all ages to learn pretty much anything you desire.

Gainesville has many parks and recreation areas and it’s very bike and pedestrian friendly. It has to be because most of the students don’t have cars. Although the school has plenty of ground, they have chosen not to use it for massive parking lots. The public bus system in Gainesville is rated as excellent, safe and you can get anywhere you want. It’s perfect for students, seniors and everyone in between.

Located in the center of the state, it’s possible to do day trips to the theme parks in Orlando and destinations on both coasts of Florida. It is far enough inland that by the time a hurricane would affect the area, it would be downgraded to just a bad storm. In fact, Gainesville is one of the places I traveled to when hurricanes threatened my coastal area home. It was always like a vacation in a great area with lots of youthful energy and things to do, rather than just shelter from the storm.

florida move guide book cover and discription

I would recommend adding Gainesville to your list of possible places to live in FL regardless of your age. One warning, The Florida Gator football team is usually ranked near the top of all college football teams nationally and is usually in bowl games.  The town explodes on home game weekends with festivities, events, crowded shops and pubs but a great time is had by all. If you love to party and take part in festivities, you’ll probably love Gainesville.

If you don’t feel like parting, you can always just plan a weekend at home in the hammock and a quiet cook out in your backyard during big University of Florida events. The Gainesville area has grown large enough that you can enjoy living here and still avoid the whole town parties if you want to in a quiet suburb, even though you’re not far from “town” or the university. When I stay in Gainesville, no matter what my mood I was in before I got there, the town and its spirit put me in a partying mood! Check out the Ballyhoo Grill on University Ave for good food, drinks and fun.

 Haven’t seen Gainesville Florida on many of those “best places” lists out there? Don’t worry because those lists are now usually picked by computers and the authors of the articles have never even visited the places they’re writing about. If you are thinking about college in Florida, retiring in Florida or just looking for a great place to open a business, Gainesville is worth consideration.

Actually, you check out this video of Gainesville Florida right now to see if it’s worth looking into further.

Please Note: Gainesville Florida is no longer recommended as a best place to live in Florida by this site.

This post was originally written in 2011. Since we tightened the crime requirements needed to make our ‘Best Places in Florida Lists” (all best places now must have property and violent crime rates lower than the national average) starting in 2015, Gainesville Florida is no longer qualifies to be recommended. Gainesville’s property crime rate is far higher than the national average, and the violent crime rate is roughly twice as high as the national average.

Since Gainesville Florida is No Longer on Any of Our Best Places to Live in Florida Lists, Here’s What You May Want to Consider Before Moving Here:

  • Colleges towns can make excellent places to live or retire. If it wasn’t for our low crime rate requirement, Gainesville would qualify for our new lists. If the place you are moving from has more crime than Gainesville, your move may increase your overall safety.
  • The economy of college towns often remains good even when the rest of the country is is recession. Therefore Gainesville may be an good choice for opening a business if it’s something the students or residents need or want.
  • If you are thinking of Moving to Gainesville but need a job to support yourself, it may be wise to find a job here first before you actually move. So many UF students fall in love with the area that they try to secure employment here so they stay after they graduate. Competition for jobs can be brutal in Gainesville.
  • If you are thinking of sending your child to college at the University of Florida in Gainesville, how does the it’s crime rate compare with the towns of the other colleges you are considering?

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.


11 thoughts on “Is Gainesville Florida a Good Place to Live or Retire?”

  1. Sorry but there are too many in Gainesville and they have ALL of the jobs, they are loud, stinky, most are criminals! They rob, pillar and shoot. Stay away from Gainesville and if you send your children to college here, they will not be safe from the criminals and rapist murderers!!!

    • There’s no need to purchase it. You can get it for free at pixabay dot com. Just put Gainesville Florida in the search bar.

  2. Hi Ron, reading this article and noting the date is 2015/2016. We are in the middle of 2018 are there any improvements in crime? Looking for a place to retire in a couple of years. Thanks

    • Hello Sandy,
      This website is about the pros and cons of moving to Florida and the best places to live, retire or snowbird in the state. Once a place doesn’t qualify for any of our lists, such as Gainesville because of crime rates, we don’t write about it any further. Gainesville’s crime rates, both violent and property, are higher than New York, NY. The overall rate in Gainesville increased year over year according to the last full year of available statistics. It’s been our experience in Florida and the country because we are now starting to cover the whole country on another site, that once crime gets to a certain point it rarely reverses and just tends to get worse. Increases in crime can lower property values as more people try to sell and move out but people avoid buying because most will not buy in an area of high crime. Well, except slumlords who will anything if it’s priced low enough and then rent to anybody. Gainesville however does have the University of Florida which is a huge plus that most other places don’t enjoy. So who knows, maybe… Good luck Sandy.
      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.
    • The statistics are misleading. In a college town you have things such as bike theft that add to the list. With 40,000 plus at UF and 20,000 plus at Santa Fe. these t\kind of things play in. I love Gainesville. Sports, theatre, trails, gardens etc. something for everyone

      • Hello chrissy,
        Thanks for sharing your opinion. Gainesville was one of my favorite places to visit in the past. For the purposes of this website, a place must have property crime (which bike theft would fall under) and violent crime rates lower than the national average to be considered to be chosen as a “best” place, with a preference for places with crime rates far lower than the national average. There are places in Florida and elsewhere that offer “Sports, theatre, trails, gardens etc. something for everyone” plus Gulf or Atlantic beaches or theme parks (which Gainesville doesn’t) without the high crime rates (see below) Gainesville has.

        Statistics aren’t misleading by themselves. What’s misleading is when people express opinions without even knowing what the facts/statistics are, and somehow want other people to believe it’s true. Wrote this March 2019. The latest info I have based on FBI reporting (after numbers are reported to them by local law enforcement) facts/statistics for Gainesville Florida is that both property and violent crime are far higher than the national average. It’s violent crime rate (including 4 murders) is actually worse, when compared to the national average, than its property crime. Both rates disqualify it as a best place on this website.

        In over 30 years of selling real estate, no one ever told me they wanted to move to a place with high crime rates. Almost all of them wanted to know how safe a place was before buying, unless they were very familiar with the area, which most people moving to Florida aren’t.
        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.
  3. Gainesville is a terrible
    Place to live. The weather is unbearable hot, the shopping stinks and the traffic is the worst. Not to mention all the uneducated people. It is also very expensive and anything normal is at least a 2 hour drive away. If I could leave, I would!

  4. Gainsville is our first experience leasing property here. We rented property for a year during that time we experienced 1 A/C leak 1 Roof sunlight leak and 2 Separate leaks from the roofs in the kitchen, all as for which were not properly repaired he just put a tarp on it. We have also experienced mold and mildew of our belongings during the entire winter months btw I have photos and videos to prove all of this. I got GRU to come to the house for the energy audit and they disclosed that the A/C unit was old and wasn’t properly cooling the house the only thing it was doing was increasing our electrical bill. The water in the Mayer bedroom smells of rotten egg and I called GRU about that and they informed me that it was a plumbing issue with the house. When we moved into the house Aug of last year we came into the house first day to find a guy on his phone standing in the kitchen while the kitchen faucet was leaking and there was broken tile on the floor by the glass door. There was ants all over the place and the carpet was damp and smelled. The carpet was torn and dirty and wet. After living in this nightmare they have the audacity to try and keep our deposit after we left the place on better condition than we found it and we paid for professional cleaning. They call my husbands job because we wouldn’t remove our truthful review.

  5. Not true at all! Gainesville is a beautiful town surrounded by lakes, natural Springs and only 70 miles to a beach on either coast. In addition, it has wonderful speakers from all over with the University of Florida. We have the Harn Museum, Butterfly Gardens, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Santa Fe Zoo, The Devils Millhopper, San Felasco Park, The Performing Arts Center, The Hippodrome Theatre and a walkable downtown area with Restaurants, hotels and nightlife. We have the Spring Arts Festival, The Fifth Avenue Arts Festival (celebrating African American culture, history) and Gay Pride Festival. The outlying areas of Gainesville have everything from Zucchini Festivals to Strawberry Festivals. There are tons of Parks within the city, Westside Park, Depot Park, Possum Creek Skate Park and the Tom Petty Park. We have new shopping going in at Celebration Point with new grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes and a host of Chinese and Spanish groceries. You can find any spice you need here in town. Is there crime? Where isn’t there? By no means would I believe Gainesville is unsafe. I have lived here going on 35 years and it has been very safe and comfortable for me. The summers are hot as Hades, but either go swimming or stay in the AC—the fall and winters are wonderful here. Yes, it leans liberal as most all college towns do. Lastly, we have outstanding medical and research. Some of the best doctors in the US practice here and you will receive top notch care. Don’t believe the hype, Gainesville has very few homes on the market because most residents love Gainesville and do not want to leave.

    • Hello Ruth,
      Thank you for your input. It’s always helpful for readers of this site to hear from residents who actually live in the cities an article is written about.

      Gainesville Florida is no longer recommended on this site because it fails the first test that all places must pass to qualify for any of my lists, and that’s safety. To make qualifying uniform for all towns, I don’t use perception or opinions about crime. I use actual data publicly reported by the FBI. Because Gainesville Florida’s crime rates are almost twice the national average according to the latest data available from them, Gainesville does not meet the requirements to qualify as a best place on this website. There are other plenty of other cities and towns that have lots of things to do and see that are also offer the peace of mind of low crime rates. It’s common for people trying to “sell” others (builders, developers, real estate agents, people trying to sell to move out, etc.) on a place with high crime rates to say things such as “Is there crime? Where isn’t there?”. I hope that isn’t your motivation. Additionally, Gainesville Florida’s overall crime rate has also increased year over year in the latest FBI data even though the national rate decreased.

      The fact is, most of the recommended places on this website have rates that are just a small fraction of the national average, and we are far safer in some places than others. Safety is more important now than ever to most people according to recent surveys including this one that shows most Florida residents worry about their personal safety on a daily basis.

      You also wrote “The summers are hot as Hades”. I just want to make sure people from outside of Florida understand that summer weather in Florida lasts far longer than just 3 calendar months. Summer-like temperatures and humidity can be 6-9 months depending upon the weather that particular year. Do you believe in global warming? Gainesville has been referred to as “the swamp” for a reason.

      On Healthcare in Gainesville Florida: If you’re a senior, you may want to know that both the NORTH FLORIDA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER and UF HEALTH SHANDS HOSPITAL both received a quality of healthcare rating of below average from Each got just 2 stars of or 5.

      You also wrote “Don’t believe the hype, Gainesville has very few homes on the market because most residents love Gainesville and do not want to leave.” A search done the date of this writing 6/21/20 showed 1052 homes and condos for sale in Gainesville starting in the $40,000 range. I would suggest anyone thinking of moving to Gainesville to view an up to date crime rate map of the city if their concerned about their personal safety. After a 10+ year run up of home prices in Florida, there are reasons why some places in Gainesville are still very cheap. I always check what the surrounding neighborhood looks like in late evening or at night on multiple days in including the weekends, because once you buy and move in, you’ll be living there at that time of night too. Almost everywhere looks safe at 8 in the morning.

      I agree with everything you wrote about things to do and see in Gainesville. I loved the place when my son when to school at UF. I also rode out some hurricanes in Gainesville, when they threatened my home on the coast. However, I feel there are far better places to live in Florida. I’m happy you like it Ruth. Have a nice day!

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