Florida’s Major Cities Compared and Rated

Which Florida Major City is the Best for You To Live or Retire?

In this article you’ll find 6 different lists ranking Florida’s 5 Major cities.

Each list will name the best big cities to live in Florida, based on the following criteria…

  1. Highest overall quality of life rating
  2. Best for job seekers
  3. Ranked by overall cost of living
  4. Rated by safety based on crime rates
  5. Ranked by better school districts
  6. Rated best for retirement

Please note: None of the large Florida cities on this list would qualify for our best places lists. We have prepared this list for those who, for various good good reasons, want to move to Florida but will only consider a major city. There are many places on our best places lists that meet all of our high quality of life requirements, that are located just outside of of these major Florida cities or within a reasonable daily commuting distance.

Here They Are, Florida’s Large Cities

List #1 Best Major Cities to Live in Florida by Highest Overall Quality of Life Ratings

Just like we do for all of our lists, we factor…

  • Crime rates
  • Employment data
  • School ratings
  • Cost of living
  • Recreation options
  • Availability of goods and services per capita

#1 Tampa Highest Overall Quality of Life Ratings

#2 Jacksonville

#3 St. Petersburg

#4 Orlando

#5 Miami Lowest

List #2 Best Major Cities to live in Florida for Employment

You should have no problem finding a job in any of these major Florida cities currently.

We used income per capita, starting with the highest income first (according to the US Census Bureau).

We included the Florida and national average for comparison purposes.

#1 Tampa $32,869 Highest Income

#2 St Petersburg $31,724

National Average $31,177

Florida Average $28,774

#3 Orlando $28,117

#4 Jacksonville $27,486

#5 Miami $24,067 Lowest

_____

List #3 Best Major Cities in Florida by Lowest Cost of Living

Based on the cost of the following items…

  • Goods and services
  • Groceries
  • Health care
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities

This how Florida’s major cities compare, starting with the lowest cost of living first.

#1 Jacksonville Lowest Cost of Living

#2 St Petersburg

#3 Orlando

Florida Average

#4 Tampa/National average

#5 Miami Highest

Notes:

  • Jacksonville’s cost of living is considerably lower overall than the other places on the list.
  • Tampa’s cost of living is about the same as the national average.
  • Miami’s cost of living is considerably higher than other places on the list.

List #4 Best Major Cities to Live in Florida by Lowest Crime Rate

Using the total number of crimes per 100,000 people (according to information derived from FBI reporting) for the latest year available, we started with the major Florida city with the lowest total reported crimes first.

The total crimes reported includes both property and violent crimes.

#1 Tampa Lowest Total Crime Rate

#2 Jacksonville

#3 Miami

#4 St Petersburg

#5 Orlando Highest

florida move guide book cover and discription

List #5 Best Major Cities to Live in Florida for Better School Districts

The quality of education in Florida can vary wildly, even for schools within the same district. This list is an overall comparison.

We would suggest checking which particular school(s) your children would actually be attending, for each neighborhood you might consider.

Here’s a list with the best school district first.

#1 Miami Highest Student Test Scores*

#2 St Petersburg

#3 Orlando

#4 Tampa

#5 Jacksonville Lowest

Notes:

  • The list is based on information derived from test scores from the Florida Department of Education.
  • *Reporting is based on School Districts which are usually for the entire county in which the city is located.

_____

List #6 Best Major Cities to Retire in Florida in

This list is based solely upon the healthcare quality rating of hospitals located in Florida’s major cities, starting with the city that has the most, higher rated medical facilities.

Please note, it’s been reported that most hospitals in Florida are rated below average.

Our Best Places to Retire in Florida list has 6 towns that offer both, a high quality of life (including low crime rates) and 4 or 5 star hospitals.

#1 Tampa Higher Quality Health Care Ratings

  • St. Joseph Hospital, rated 5 stars by Medicare
  • Memorial Hospital, rated 4 stars by Medicare
  • Florida Hospital Carrollwood, rated 4 stars by Medicare
  • Tampa Community Hospital, rated 3 stars by Medicare
  • Tampa General Hospital, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Florida Hospital Tampa, rated 1 star by Medicare

#3 Jacksonville

  • Baptist Medical Center, rated 4 stars by Medicare
  • Mayo Clinic, rated 4 stars by medicare
  • St. Vincent’s Medical Center Southside, rated 3 stars
  • St. Vincents’s Medical Center Riverside, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • UF Health Jacksonville, rated 2 stars by Medicare

#4 Orlando

  • Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center, rated 4 stars by Medicare
  • Florida Hospital, rated 3 stars by Medicare

#2 St Petersburg

  • St Anthony’s Hospital, rated 3 stars by Medicare
  • Palms of Pasadena Hospital, rated 3 stars by Medicare
  • St Peters General Hospital, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Northside Hospital, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, rated 1 star by Medicare

#5 Miami Lowest

  • Kendall Regional Medical Center, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Weschester General Hospital, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • South Miami Hospital, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Baptist Hospital of Miami, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center, rated 2 stars by Medicare
  • Larkin Community Hospital, rated 1 star by Medicare
  • North Shore Medical Center, rated 1 star by Medicare
  • Jackson Memorial Hospital, rated 1 star by Medicare

_____

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.

_____

14 thoughts on “Florida’s Major Cities Compared and Rated”

  1. Hi, my husband and I are looking to retire in the next four years. We were thinking Jacksonville or the Palm Coast area. I’m wondering rather or not this is a good move. Currently we are stationed in Biloxi MS, and the area isn’t bad at all I just don’t really care for the schools. What’s your suggestion?

    • Hello Mrs B.,
      Neither Jacksonville or Palm Coast qualify as a recommended place to live in Florida on this website because both places have crime rates that are higher than the national average. Places that have crime rates far lower than the national average plus higher scores in other quality of life factors that are located not too far from the places you asked about, and qualify as a best place to live in Florida on this site are:

      Fernandina Beach
      and
      Pointe Vedra Beach

      Good luck Mrs B
      _____

      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
  2. North Port Florida WORST CITY EVER

  3. Hello,

    I currently live in San Diego California. I am considering moving to florida within the next year (2018). Reason for moving is to find a cheaper place to live but just as nice weather as California. I hear so much about the least humid area in Florida would be in the Northern area. What can you tell me about some good areas to raise two children in, cheaper rent than what I am paying now ($1800 for two bed/ two bath apartment), and the least humid.

  4. Hello Cindi,
    This is the master list of the best places to live in Florida today. There are towns and cities in South Florida on the list. In general, the places in southeast Florida will have a higher cost of living than similar southwest Florida areas but there are no cheap highly desirable places left since we are in real estate bubble territory right now. Any of the places on any of those lists that you can comfortably afford may be an ideal choice for you. Good luck Cindi.

    __________
    Ron Stack
    Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? I guarantee you’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

  5. Hi, i live in miami, but im looking to move a lit of bit up,like orlando, jacksonville, naples scince here people are always fighting, with bad humor, the streets looks like 3rd country , the hot its gross, and the rent its really high you pay for one bed one bath $1500 and when it comes to work they always pay the lowest 8 dol an hour, i will like to move to a very different place, with calm people, decent rent and good jobs can you please help thats

    • Hello Myriam,
      We’re getting more and more questions from people who already live in Florida like you, who are looking to move from the Florida city where they now live, to a better place. So just like most of the people who don’t live in Florida but are considering it, you are looking for a place with a low cost of living, low crime rate, and where most jobs pay more than $8 per hour? Ok, ready? Here’s the secret list:
      ___

      blank
      ___

      The truth is, $8 an hour is what Florida employers can pay because there are almost always far more people looking for a job in Florida, than there are job openings. Many People move to Florida without having a job lined up and then desperately fill out application after application and will take just about any job, at any pay, so they can eat. Retired people move to Florida never intending to work again, but then the cost of living shoots up and they go back to work to make ends meet, often working just part time but again, just thankful for any job and their $8 and hour. If you read through the comments on this site you’ll find RN’s complaining about low pay compared to where they moved from.

      $1500 a month for rent? That’s not that far out of line in Florida right now. Artificially low interest rates has created a huge bubble in Florida property prices again. As prices go up drastically, so does the property tax, insurance, etc. so rents must increase just to break even. When rent, real estate taxes, and insurance go up people must get a 2nd job or come out of retirement and this adds to all those other people looking for a job, so the low pay loop continues. An employer won’t pay someone $10 an hour when they have 100 people who are willing to do it for $8 and be thankful.

      You said you’re looking at moving to Orlando but you also want low crime? Orlando’s murder rate went up 113% from 2014-2015. Jacksonville? Drive-by shootings are an ongoing problem and the trigger pullers are rarely caught. Naples? That would be an excellent choice like all of the cities and towns on our best places lists. The crime rate in Naples is lower than the national average, not easy to find in Florida. However, the rent and home prices in Naples are among the highest in the country (except the eastern portion where crime is an issue).

      So in closing, there isn’t anywhere someone can move in Florida that is going to pay $12 an hour for a worker when they have 100 people that will do it for $8 an hour. If you want the highest quality of life you can get in Florida (minus higher pay of course), stick to the places on our best places lists. One option would be to consider other states that offer a higher quality of life according to actual studies by government and nonprofit organizations that report on such matters. Those same states have higher resident satisfaction according to national polls. There’s a reason that Florida towns are regularly absent on many best places to live lists the last couple of years (even the best places to retire lists), even though Florida dominated those lists 20 years ago. If you’re willing to look beyond Florida, here are the best places in some other states. Good luck Myriam.
      _____
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
  6. could anyone tell me anything about Deltona? crime rate and so on , and why so many foreclosures on homes . I saw some nice houses for good prices I’m looking for a nice place for my wife and me to retire .in fl. but do not want to live in a big city.

    • Hello Larry,
      Deltona is not on any of our lists because the towns property crime rate and violent crime rate are both much higher than the national average. If you find a town that still today has a lot of foreclosures and low prices in the hottest seller’s market since before the last bubble burst, I’d be cautious. The Best Cities list is the wrong place to find a small town, this list may be more suitable. Good Luck Larry.
      _____
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
    • Larry,
      We have lived in Deltona for 25 years. It was originally a retirement area but is no longer. Younger families with young children and lots of Puerto Ricans, though home prices are lower so is the resale value.

    • Deltona is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a drive to get anywhere, especially shopping, jobs, stuff like that. I live near Deltona in Daytona-and after the first 2 years here, I wanted to run and never look back. Now thats Daytona, Deltona is not that great. Yes cheap homes becaue you have to compensate for lots of gas $ to get anywhere. A lot of run down homes are there, and not the most savory kind of people reside there. This is true of most of west Volusia County. But if youre retired and like Florida, youre in luck because even educated people can’t get a decent job here, and for livable pay. The rents are ridiculous but unless one works at least 2 jobs and has a roomate…There is nothing here in Volusia except lots of restaurants, and loud crowded stupid activities: bike week, nascar, events like that interfere with your leaving your house for like a week. The homeless population here is ridiculous, and daytona is very ghetto.

  7. Florida is awful and I try to find the positivity in living here but truly can’t. Yes it’s true the weather is nice but it can be brutal and I know because I was severely dehydrated because of the damn heat…sweating out my electrolytes. Florida is uninspiring and people can’t drive.

  8. Thats for sure!!!

Comments are closed.