The 11 Best Places to Live in Florida (Ya Know, If You’re Looking to Relocate)

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When you live in a state as eclectic as Florida, figuring out where to call home is not a decision to take lightly. You have to consider various living options, convenience, proximity to the city (and beach, of course) and affordability. Itching for a change? We did some digging and found the 11 best metro areas to plant roots in the Sunshine State. Whether you’re in the market to move or are simply looking to explore, check out our top picks for the best places to live in Florida.

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1. Naples

  • Why We Recommend It: central location, family friendly 
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and March
  • Where to Stay: Naples Grand Beach Resort

From serene beaches to top-notch dining to some of the most gorgeous sunsets we’ve ever seen, Naples feels like another world—which is why it’s one of the best places to live in Florida. Seriously: It won the second spot on U.S. News’ Best Places to Live in Florida list. One of the biggest perks to living in Naples is the fact that it’s approximately two hours from both Tampa and Miami, making it convenient to get to and from the state’s major cities. As for where to live, north of Old Naples offers various gated neighborhoods, high-rise condos and golf club communities. Marco Island is less than 30 minutes away too, serving as another popular living option.

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2. Coconut Grove

  • Why We Recommend It: close to Miami, lots of green spaces, tree-lined streets
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and March
  • Where to Stay: Mr. C Miami Coconut Grove

It’s no surprise that Miami made the list on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live in Florida. As the most populated area in the Sunshine State, Miami caters to both Florida residents and tourists alike. While you may not want to set down roots right in the center of Miami’s buzzy downtown, there are quite a few adorable suburbs located a short drive away—namely Coconut Grove. As Miami’s oldest neighborhood, this area is filled with locally owned restaurants, charming shops, and your pick of public green spaces. It also offers a range of quiet single-family houses with quality schools and kid-friendly activities.

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3. Coral Gables

  • Why We Recommend It: A+ ranking, close to the University of Miami
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and March
  • Where to Stay: The Biltmore Hotel

Minutes away from Coconut Grove, Coral Gables is another popular Miami suburb., a website that analyzes U.S. schools and neighborhoods, rates this area as an A+ spot, and the second best place to live in Greater Miami. Housing options range from snazzy mansions to low-key apartment complexes. You’ve also got your choice of high-end shopping centers, chic outdoor hangouts with large parks and family-friendly restaurants, and you’re close to the University of Miami here too.

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4. Tampa Bay

  • Why We Recommend It: great weather, fast growing and safe area
  • Best Time to Go: Between September and May
  • Where to Stay: Tampa Marriott Water Street 

The Tampa Bay metro area is one of Florida’s most underrated locations. It’s got gorgeous beaches, slightly cooler weather, stellar restaurants, art museums and tons of opportunities. Ranked among the top 50 places to live in the country by U.S. News (plus, the sixth safest spot and the 15th fastest-growing place), there’s a lot happening here, too. Hyde Park, Harbour Island, Davis Islands, Westshore and Beach Park are some of the best places to live, with housing options that range from modest, single-family abodes to high-rises and even a handful of mega estates.

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5. Palm Beach

  • Why We Recommend It: close to Broward and Miami-Dade counties, family friendly, Brightline station
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and April
  • Where to Stay: The Ben, Autograph Collection

An hour (ish, depending on traffic) commute from Miami’s center, Palm Beach offers a slightly slower pace of living with all the perks of being driving distance from the city. It also helps that there’s a 60,000-square-foot Brightline station in the area, which will get you to straight to Fort Lauderdale or Miami with zero traffic or parking woes. So perhaps it’s no surprise that when looked at quality of local schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment statistics and access to amenities, it ranked Grandview Heights, Highland Beach, and Boca Raton as three of the top places to live in the county.

best places to live in florida jacksonville
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6. Jacksonville

Jacksonville is big—like, really big. Measuring 840 square miles, it’s one of the largest cities in the continental U.S., with more than 22 miles of quiet beaches, hundreds of serene parks and green spaces, tons of local art and history and a blossoming food scene. It’s no wonder it ranks number 24 on Florida’s Best Places to Live list, and 13th out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for desirability. Another fun fact? Jacksonville boasts the largest urban park system in the country—with more than 80,000 acres of parks, including three national, seven state and more than 400 city parks—so you’ll probably want to spend a great deal of your stay here outside. (Pro tip: Use this explorer guide to help you experience it all.)

best places to live in florida aventura
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7. Aventura

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, safe, great mall
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and April
  • Where to Stay: AC Hotel by Marriott Miami

Safe? Check. Centrally located? Check. A good value (and a worthwhile investment)? Check and check. Aventura has it all, from the more chichi homes closer to the Biscayne Bay to the plentiful and well-priced apartments just east of West Dixie Highway. It helps that it’s also home to one of the best and biggest malls in the country (!!!).

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8. Lakeland

  • Why We Recommend It: quaint area, top rankings, near Orlando theme parks
  • Best Time to Go: Between October and April
  • Where to Stay: The Terrace Hotel Lakeland

There are a lot of pros to moving to Lakeland: It’s ranked among the fastest growing, safest and best places to live (and retire), per On a personal note, we’re not sure what we love most about the area: the architecture by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, the beauty that is Hollis Garden (home to some 10,000 flowers) or the fact that it’s one of the quaintest spots in the entire state. (Psst: It doesn’t hurt that you’re not far away from Orlando’s theme parks either.)

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9. St. Petersburg

  • Why We Recommend It: the best of beach and city
  • Best Time to Go: Between September and May
  • Where to Stay: The Hotel Zamora

Also in the Tampa Bay area, consider St. Pete as its beachy cousin. You get the best of living close to a bustling, fast-growing city while also enjoying the slow and steadiness that comes with living in a quiet beach town. Not to mention, it was ranked No. 41 on WalletHub’s Best Run Cities in America, which measured the effectiveness of local leadership and an area’s overall operating efficiency.

best places to live in florida sarasota
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10. Sarasota

  • Why We Recommend It: safe, clean, highly ranked 
  • Best Time to Go: Between September and April
  • Where to Stay: The Westin Sarasota

Get this: Sarasota made the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live in 2022-2023, ranking No. 9 in the county and No. 1 in Florida. Pretty cool, right? If you dream of beach living without the traffic jams—and costs—of Miami, Sarasota is it. It helps that the city is known for its fast-growing pace, safe neighborhoods and overall well-kept environment. The city even has its own app for uncovering secret beaches. If you’re looking to save, check out homes farther inland, in the Bradenton area, which run cheaper on average, according to Zillow data.

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11. Fort Myers

Coming in at No. 10 for the Best Places to Live in Florida, per U.S. News, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area is a popular destination for anyone interested in the best of Florida living on a budget, no exception. It’s south of Sarasota along the Gulf Coast, and Cape Coral alone boasts 400 miles of canals, so if waterfront living is your dream, look no further. There are plenty of places to go boating or fishing; just know that during the winter months, the roads will get a bit more congested as snowbirds flock in to take advantage of the favorable weather.

clarissa buch

Miami Editor

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Focused on food, lifestyle, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, and...