Okay, so Boca Raton's general reputation in the popular imagination is that a large portion of residents are either in the mafia or geriatric. This is only half true. Yes, Boca is overall an incredibly upscale city that draws in a lot of revenue from the aged American haute bourgeoisie, and yes, notorious Boca residents include members of the Gambino family. But, Boca is also home to several universities and has a recently renovated and developed downtown that caters to people of all ages and incomes.
Beach bums and water sports fanatics will love living so close to so much beach, as the southern Florida coastline is pretty much the prime destination for Boca residents of all (and I mean all) ages. If you're prone to sun burns or are more of an indoor kid, the city still has a lot to offer. The downtown area has recently been renovated to include two large outdoor malls. Both the Mizner Center and the Town Center of Boca Raton offer premier shopping, dining and nightlife to residents throughout the city. Both also feature outdoor community spaces. Additionally, the Boca Raton Museum of Art is conveniently located in the Mizner Center.
Boca Raton's neighborhoods are laid out in a pretty straightforward way, as the city is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway to the east, and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to the west. The downtown is situated near the Waterway, and most of the city development sprawls to the west.
Because of the general upscale, middle class vibe throughout all of Boca Raton, the city sees little crime throughout most neighborhoods.
The Downtown is for Young Professionals Downtown Boca Raton functions as both its economic and commercial center. As mentioned before, the Mizner Center and the Town Center of Boca Raton draw in a large number of both tourists and residents. Recent renovation around these shopping centers has provided safer, more community-oriented housing options for residents. Though the area around the Mizner Center is continuing to develop, current and future rental options include town houses and apartment complexes with on-site parking and a number of additional amenities. Living downtown provides you with the added benefit of being in an easily walkable and bikeable commercial area, as well as being within walking distance to the beach. Rents for two bedrooms in this area generally range from $1500-1700. The downtown area is safe and lively for young singles and families, with one exception. The Pearl City area, located directly north of downtown, has been known for its criminal activity, and is generally considered undesirable by most residents.
The North Side is for Young People If you're young and not exactly professional, try looking around the Florida Atlantic University area, located north of downtown. The neighborhood surrounding campus has a wide variety of affordable housing available that tends to cater to college-aged students. Yes, college students mean college parties, but overall, the campus area has a fairly decent reputation in terms of safety and noise. Two bedrooms in this area tend to go for between $1050-1200.
The West Side is for Families As development has continued westward from the city center, the suburban feel of a suburban city makes for a great area for families. Some of the best school districts in the city are also located on the west side. Adjacent to numerous Boca golf courses, the west side has many different types of rentals available based on neighborhood. For instance, Waters Edge and Mission Bay are both located in the western reaches of town, and generally have more larger, single-family homes for rent. Del Prado, located slightly further east, has more apartment and condo rentals available. Home rentals on the west side vary greatly, but three bedrooms generally go for between $1600-2000, while apartments and condos generally rent from $1600-1800.
The Boca Raton rental market is fairly similar to that of other SoFla cities. You can occasionally take advantage of seasonal prices and rentals--particularly close to the beach--by signing leases in the hot, off-season summer months. Most larger apartment and condo complexes are rented through real estate agents, so unless you're looking for a single-family house, you'll have more options to choose from if you take advantage of a professional realtor's services.
Once you've landed your dream apartment, beware of hidden fees. Boca Raton is the home of large monthly condo and maintenance fees. So before you sign your lease, make sure there aren't any hidden costs associated with your new complex.
With the exception of the downtown area and portions of FAU's campus, Boca Raton is a suburban city that will require a car. Because many Boca residents commute throughout the Palm Beach and Miami area, traffic can be a nightmare during the morning and evening rush hour. Traffic running south into Fort Lauderdale on I-95 and east-west on the Everglades Expressway can add up to 40 minutes to your commute.
Boca is serviced by Palm Tran, which provides local and express bus routes throughout most neighborhoods in the city, as well as into neighboring cities in Palm Beach County.
Break out that sunscreen (and that retirement plan) and find your new Boca apartment!