Greetings, Sunshine State renters, and welcome to your Pensacola, Florida apartment hunting headquarters! Situated on the westernmost edge of the Panhandle about ten miles from the ‘Bama border, Pensacola is home to not only the “World’s Whitest Beaches” but also some of the Emerald Coast’s most attractive and affordable apartments. Are you jonesing to join the 53,000-plus well-tanned Floridians who call Pensacola home? Then you’ve come to the right place, because we have the answers to all the questions we know you must have about life in the “Cradle of Naval Aviation …”
Think of a city a little like Birmingham (think Lynyrd Skynyrd) with just a touch of South Beach (think Miami Sound Machine), and you’ll get a fair impression of the pace and feel of life in the “City of Five Flags” (although, unlike Birmingham or pretty much any other city in the world, Pensacola has about as many nicknames as it does residents). In other words, if you appreciate living in a mostly (but not entirely) peaceful, quiet, laid back community surrounded by pristine beaches and breathtaking ocean views, you’ll soon fall in love with the “Western Gate to the Sunshine State.” Of course, there’s a lot more to do in Pensacola than catch some rays on the 60-odd miles of Gulf Coast beaches that surround the city (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Pensacola also boasts a storied historic village downtown that remains popular among tourists and locals alike, two minor league sports teams, a motor speedway, numerous museums, galleries, historic military sites, and a wide range of high-quality seafood joints. A smattering of watering holes dot the downtown streets, so night owls needn’t worry about having nothing to do but sit around their super sweet new apartments twiddling their thumbs after the sun’s gone down. The local drink of choice: the “bushwacker,” an Irish crème-coffee liqueur-and-rum-based concoction that’s as smooth and refreshing as a mild Gulf Coast breeze
“The Red Snapper Capital of the World” is, first and foremost, a city inhabited mostly by conservative, religious, old-timey Southerners, many of whose families have lived in the area for multiple generations. Churches, unsurprisingly, tend to outnumber bars about a gazillion to one in most Pensacola neighborhoods.
The city is also home to more than 16,000 military personnel employed at the famed Naval Air Station Pensacola, which also employs 7,000 civilians and is the local economy’s driving force (the site’s Museum of Naval Aviation remains the city’s biggest tourist attraction as well). Numerous apartment buildings are situated just a quick jaunt with afterburners on from the naval station, giving NAS personnel easy access to their place of employment.
Another population group consists of college students enrolled at the sprawling Pensacola State College campus, the University of West Florida, or the uber-stringent Pensacola Christian College. Many of the city’s most affordable lodgings (including apartments in the sub-$550 range) are located near these campuses.
Absolutely! Tons of quality 1 and 2BR units can be found in the $600-$800 range, and even spacious 3BR apartments are frequently available for around a grand. The city’s cost of living index is well below the national average, so you won’t be spending too many extra greenbacks on necessities like groceries, gas, and utilities, either.
The amenities in Pensacola crash pads range from extremely basic (especially in the bargain bin, dorm room-style apartments near UWF) to lavish (including in many of the pricier, more spacious military units near NAS). Our advice: If you don’t think an apartment’s amenities mesh with the landlord’s asking price, shrug it off and move on down the list. There’s no shortage, after all, of available rentals in Pensacola and waiting lists are pretty much nonexistent, so you should easily be able to find an apartment with all the amenities your little heart desires at a very reasonable price.
Just be sure to give your new place a solid inspection before moving in to make sure everything is up to par. Many apartments in Pensacola have a constantly revolving door of tenants moving in and out, and landlords sometimes don’t catch a blemish or two left behind by the previous tenant. In other words, don’t assume your new place would pass military inspection when they hand you the keys, Goose.
Also, living on the Gulf Coast means you’ll be living In hurricane alley. “Hurricane season” lasts from June through November and has been known to wreak havoc on Pensacola properties. We recommend taking out a basic renter’s insurance policy and gaining a thorough understanding of hurricane coverage (which generally costs only around 25 bucks a month) to protect your valuables in the vent of Ivan, Dennis, Erin, Ruben Carter, or Pat O'Brien.
Most likely, yes. You might be able to find a place within walking distance of your job or school, but most of Pensacola is so spread out that the only way to work, shop, dine, and play conveniently is with your own set of wheels. Not all streets have bike lanes, meanwhile, and the ECAT public buses run a very limited number of routes. Is it possible to get by in Pensacola without a vehicle? Possibly. But only with an F-16.
Violent crime in Pensacola is rare, although, like any modern city, it has a few dodgy areas that many locals advise newcomers to avoid. The Brownsville area on the west side of town has seen an influx of drug crimes in recent years, and some of the rentals in that area are a bit slum-like anyway. Generally, the eastern half of the city is more modern and family friendly, but don’t take our word for it: Come see for yourself which part of town suits you best before attaching your name to a leasing agreement in P’Cola.
Just this: You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check out the amazingly acrobatic Blue Angels fighter pilot demonstrations that take place at NAS frequently throughout the year. Nothing says living it up in “American’s First Settlement” like kicking back with a bushwacker (hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere!) and some boiled peanuts (another local fave) and watching the U.S. Navy’s most elite aviators perform their magic!
And now that we’ve covered all the basics, it’s time to scour the listings for your Pensacola dream dwellings, so welcome aboard and happy barnstorming!