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10 Best Places to Live in Florida, 2021

By: Davina Ward
July 6, 2021

Florida is one of the most populous and popular states in the country. If your plan to move to the Sunshine State is set in stone, you’ve got a real challenge ahead of you.

There are so many great places to live in Florida that it can be genuinely difficult to choose the best city for you and your needs.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to live in Florida to help you narrow down your options. Let’s dive in!

1. Miami

  • Population: 467,963
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving to Miami from New York City, Chicago, and Boston.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $3,013
  • Median Household Income: $51,347
  • Walk Score: 78
  • Transit Score: 57
  • Bike Score: 65

Sandy beaches, high-rise apartment buildings, a booming social scene, and a thriving job market await on Miami's shores. In Miami, there's a new adventure waiting for you whenever you leave your home, whether it's a day spent sunbathing on the beach or enjoying a delicious meal at one of the city's lauded restaurants.

As one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US, Miami is known for its legendary nightlife scene. As a result, you have tons of options if you're searching for some entertainment after dark, including a plethora of sports bars, dive bars, clubs, rooftop events, and even arcades.

Beyond leisure, living in Miami provides tons of options when it comes to housing. High-rise condos are all the rage if you couldn't tell by the city's skyline.

However, you may also find units in smaller apartment buildings and communities spread out across the best neighborhoods in Miami.

Beware that many of these apartments offer luxury amenities, which will certainly affect your rent. Though it's not the most expensive city in the US, the high cost of living in Miami means it ranks low on the affordability meter.

In short, if you're looking to save on your Miami apartment, keep an eye out for move-in specials or opt for apartments with fewer bedrooms if you can swing it.

If you’re moving to Miami, you can save by living nearer the city's downtown center. Though rent will be higher, you can save big by walking or using public transportation instead of owning a personal vehicle. That said, it will be harder to employ this money-saving strategy the farther from downtown that you live.

2. Orlando

  • Population: 287,442
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving from Miami, New York City, and Lakeland.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,993
  • Median Household Income: $51,757
  • Walk Score: 41
  • Transit Score: 33
  • Bike Score: 60

Orlando has earned its title as the Theme Park Capital of the World as the home to both Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. As a bonus, Orlando residents also have daily access to some world-famous amenities that would be a dream for some people.

If you're not a Disney fan, this may not be the right Florida city for you! That said, if you're looking to make the move to Orlando, you'll have to prepare to deal with some of the challenges of living in a tourist hotbed. Namely, erratic driving styles, bad traffic, and a higher cost of living.

The higher cost of living adjacent to these parks correlates to the city's higher rent rates. According to our Orlando Rent Report, if you're renting in Orlando, you can expect the majority of apartments to fall between $1,000 and $1,999 per month.

Most Orlando rental units are in apartment communities and high-rises with luxurious amenities. Pool access is almost a given in the city. Additional amenities such as on-site laundry, great views, and gym access aren't difficult to find.

If you're looking for the most upscale apartments in Orlando, check out the units available in the city's downtown center. If you prefer a more relaxed vibe and want to save a bit on rent, start your apartment search in Altamonte Springs.

One last thing to remember about renting in this small city is you've got tons of options. Though it's not exactly a sprawling metropolis, Orlando neighborhoods offer residents a satisfying mix of entertainment, fun, and community.

3. Tampa

  • Population: 399,700
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving from New York City, Miami, and Orlando.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,195
  • Median Household Income: $53,833
  • Walk Score: 89
  • Transit Score: 65
  • Bike Score: 70

As one of the largest cities in Florida, Tampa offers new residents an excellent place to call home. The namesake bay gives residents access to the city's famed crystal blue waters and sandy beaches.

Moreover, the city is home to over 165 beaches and parks. So, whether you're a lover of water sports or simply enjoy being outdoors, Tampa provides tons of opportunities to keep yourself entertained.

If you're looking to keep your young family entertained, you can visit one of Tampa's many famed zoos and theme parks. Busch Gardens and ZooTampa are two of the most popular destinations in Tampa for residents and tourists alike.

However, when it comes to Tampa entertainment, sports rule. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a championship in 2020, so they're still hot on the heels of success. The Tampa Bay Rays have recently had great seasons.

Better yet, the Toronto Raptors are playing in Tampa for the 2021 season. It's safe to say that if you're a sports fan, you'll be right at home in Tampa.

Beyond the many available activities in Tampa, renting in the city is also a treat. The sheer number of condos and apartment units available in Tampa means you'll have a hard time choosing which one is right for you — there are just so many!

That said, you'll have to ensure that your wallet is ready for Tampa rent prices, as they are somewhat high. Start your search in New Tampa, as it's one of the most popular neighborhoods in Tampa for renters.

4. Jacksonville

  • Population: 911,507
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving from Miami, New York City, and Atlanta.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,703
  • Median Household Income: $54,701
  • Walk Score: 20
  • Transit Score: 31
  • Bike Score: 35

Jacksonville is one of the largest cities by area in the US, as well as the largest city in Florida. Its location along the northeastern most edge of the state means it boasts several beaches that residents enjoy year-round.

In addition to these beaches, the city is home to hundreds of gorgeous parks. If you're planning on making the move to Jacksonville, be sure to bring your bathing suit, as most residents take full advantage of these parks and the access to water they provide.

You'll also catch the vast majority of Jacksonville residents cheering for the city's professional football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though the team hasn't made the playoffs in four years, you'll certainly find that sports bars across the city are packed during the football season when the home team plays.

While Jacksonville isn't exactly the safest place to live, it doesn't require much more than street smarts to get by without trouble in the city. Avoid walking alone at night, take extra precautions if you live in a first-floor apartment at street level, and of course, always be aware of your surroundings.

Renting in Jacksonville means saving money, as it's one of the more affordable cities in Florida. Starting your apartment search in Downtown Jacksonville will require a bit more from your bank account, but you'll be right in the center of things. For a little more culture and less bustle, head to San Marco or Avondale to find an apartment that meets your needs.

5. St. Petersburg

  • Population: 265,351
  • Who’s Moving Here?: Many new St. Petersburg residents are those moving from other Florida cities, according to data trends.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,133
  • Median Household Income: $56,982
  • Walk Score: 44
  • Transit Score: 35
  • Bike Score: 61

St. Petersburg is known for its unique ability to maintain optimal weather year-round. With an average of just four days a year without sunshine, St. Petersburg has earned the moniker The City of Sunshine.

As a part of the Tampa Bay Area, St. Petersburg records high crime rates compared to the national average.

While it's not an inherently unsafe city, you should take precautions and ensure that your locks are always in good working condition. If you want to take your apartment safety a step further, invest in a security system for added security.

That said, you can always rent in an apartment community with front desk staff or a doorman for more restricted access to the unit.

Though uncommon outside the New York City area, you can find doormen and lobby staff around the Tampa Bay Area as a luxury amenity.

If you're opting for a luxury apartment in St. Petersburg, be sure to consider the financial aspect of the move.

The city has its share of affordable apartments, so you don't have to pay exorbitant prices to get your foot in the door of a great apartment.

For a mix of affordability and amenities, try the Jungle Prada neighborhood. It boasts an upscale vibe mixed in with historical units that give the neighborhood a unique culture.

However, if you prefer a bit more action, head Downtown. You'll likely find a great apartment in one of the city's high-rises overlooking the beach.

6. Hialeah

  • Population: 233,339
  • Who’s Moving Here?: Many new Hialeah residents are those moving from other Florida cities, according to data trends.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,263
  • Median Household Income: $35,068
  • Walk Score: 76
  • Transit Score: 36
  • Bike Score: 50

Hialeah’s unique culture and demographic make it a wonderful place to call home. The city boasts a large Cuban population helping residents enjoy a piece of the culture, from delicious foods to annual celebrations.

You may also want to brush up on your Spanish if you make the move to Hialeah, as over 96% of Hialeah residents speak Spanish at home, making it a bilingual city

That said, everyone in Hialeah speaks the language of sunshine and good times, as the city offers close proximity to gleaming beaches, awesome restaurants, and a thriving community.

Renting in The City of Progress is relatively inexpensive, especially if you know where to look. Start your apartment search in the Palm Springs North neighborhood. Its rentals range from super affordable to super expensive, but there are several options to choose from.

Due to its proximity to Miami, many see Hialeah as a low-cost alternative to living within Miami's borders. In addition, public transportation in Hialeah offers commuters fast access to downtown Miami, whether for work or play.

Finally, you'll want to set aside some funds to cover the cost of utilities for the summer months in Hialeah. The muggy, hot weather during this time necessitates near-constant running of your A/C.

Not only will this drive up your electricity bill, but it's also a nightmare for the environment. So, if you're feeling the need to cool down, head over to the famed West Palm Beach to splash around a bit.

7. Tallahassee

  • Population: 194,500
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving from Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,024
  • Median Household Income: $45,734
  • Walk Score: 69
  • Transit Score: 50
  • Bike Score: 64

Tallahassee is not only fun to say, the city is a dream to live in. This city is uber affordable, with rent prices starting as low as $450 a month. Additionally, with a median age of 27, Tallahassee is a young city with a booming nightlife scene.

Happy hour runs the entire evening and means that you might find yourself walking home in the late hours of the morning some weekends. Of course, it might be better to Uber or Lyft, as the city's crime rate is notably high.

If you're beyond your nights of slogging home at 4 am on the weekend, Tallahassee still has a lot to offer you. The city's schools are phenomenal, so if you intend to put down more permanent roots, it's a great place to raise children.

Residents enjoy access to Tallahassee's many lovely parks, which boast trails, gardens, and lakes. In short, there's always something to do in Tallahassee, regardless of your interests.

Not to mention, you'll have plenty of time to spend on leisure, because you won't be wasting it on your commute. The average Tallahassee resident spends less than 20 minutes commuting to work.

If living in Tallahassee sounds like a dream, you'll love the rent rates. There is a good mix of apartment communities and single-family home rental units, so you don't have to sacrifice space for luxury in the city.

Start your search in the Southwest Tallahassee neighborhood, as it’s right in the heart of things and will guarantee that you're never far from a good time.

8. Port St. Lucie

  • Population: 201,846
  • Who’s Moving Here?: Many new Port St. Lucie residents are those moving from other Florida cities, according to data trends.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,135
  • Median Household Income: $60,587
  • Walk Score: 13
  • Transit Score: N/A
  • Bike Score: 37

Port St. Lucie doesn't have a high vacancy rate, so finding an apartment in the city can be a bit of a challenge. You'll have to start your search early and be prepared to wait if you want to find your dream apartment.

Beyond strategy, you'll need a good chunk of change to rent in Port St. Lucie, as it's quite expensive.

Check out the St. Lucie West neighborhood for a mix of new apartment units and proximity to entertainment options such as restaurants and shopping. If you have the patience, you can find a truly affordable apartment in this neighborhood, though most are in the mid-range price-wise.

However, if you prefer to live in one of the larger neighborhoods with a slightly slower living pace, check out Sandpiper Bay. You'll find that there's always something to do, whether it's chilling in the sun or watching the Mets complete spring training.

Speaking of spring training, Port St. Lucie's many green spaces and golf courses mean that you'll never be at a loss for activities to keep in shape. Running on the beach and biking around town are just a few of the popular recreation and fitness options in the city.

Despite its higher-than-average rent rates, Port St. Lucie boasts a relatively low cost of living. Additionally, Port St. Lucie is a green city with eco-friendly initiatives that make everything from public transportation to recycling more efficient.

9. Cape Coral

  • Population: 194,495
  • Who’s Moving Here?: New residents are moving from Miami, Naples, and New York City.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,333
  • Median Household Income: $61,599
  • Walk Score: 55
  • Transit Score: N/A
  • Bike Score: 45

Cape Coral boosts Florida's reputation as a dream destination for water lovers. Nicknamed Venice of America, Cape Coral boasts over 400 miles of waterways (beating out Venice for more waterways than any city in the world).

Located on the southwestern edge of the state, Cape Coral is home to a single beach within city limits. However, Fort Myers Beach is just a stone's skip away for those that want more options.

That said, Cape Coral is also home to SunSplash Water Park, a community theater, museums, and even a public yacht club. Moreover, residents enjoy visiting the city's many parks and golf courses.

However, the crown jewel of Cape Coral is its canal system which locals navigate with ease from one of the city's three boat launching stations.

Once playtime is over, you can enjoy Cape Coral’s thriving job market composed of several major corporations. As a result, commutes are a breeze.

Public transportation is enough to get you to where you need to be, especially if you don't mind walking or biking along the way.

If Cape Coral sounds like a good fit for you (read: you love to be surrounded by water), check out the city's Southwest Cape Coral neighborhood.

With many apartment complexes, communities, condos, and even townhouses, there are a ton of options to consider in Southwest Cape Coral. Just be aware that the city isn't exactly cheap. If you want to save, opt for an apartment with fewer bedrooms or search for rent specials.

10. Fort Lauderdale

  • Population: 182,437
  • Who’s Moving Here?: Many new Fort Lauderdale residents are those moving from other Florida cities, according to data trends.
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $3,382
  • Median Household Income: $59,450
  • Walk Score: 57
  • Transit Score: 39
  • Bike Score: 57

Why move to Fort Lauderdale?

For starters, it's a gorgeous place to live. With miles and miles of beaches at your doorstep, there’s a reason why so many make the move to this city. Not to mention, the lightly crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean can lull you to sleep.

However, if you're close enough to the water to fall asleep to its sound, you're likely paying a small (or not so small) fortune in rent. If you can afford that — more power to you! If you can't, there are plenty of more affordable rental units that will put you near enough to the ocean without making your wallet weep.

The city is overflowing with high-rises and apartment complexes, many of which are bursting from the seams with luxury amenities, including pools (yes, plural), on-site gym and recreation centers, modern appliances, and rooftop bars. It's no wonder the rental market in Fort Lauderdale is so popular.

If you're looking to rent in Fort Lauderdale, start your search in Las Olas. This neighborhood has an enviable location right in the heart of the city's nightlife scene. Additionally, it sits near shopping, restaurants, and grocery stores, allowing you to complete most errands on foot.

If you prefer a more suburban vibe, search in neighborhoods like Davie, Weston, and Plantation. These neighborhoods are more affordable and certainly less fast-paced.

Final Thoughts - Where Should I Move to in Florida?

Deciding where to live in Florida starts with understanding your preferences. There are plenty of great cities through the Sunshine State, so you’ll have to start with your needs and narrow down the list of possibilities.

If the places listed above seem out of your price range, consider places that are more affordably priced.

Take our quiz to help you find your Florida dream apartment based on what you want out of your next home.

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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