If You’re Going to Go Through the Trouble of Moving 1000 Miles, Why Settle for Anything Less Than the Best?
Here They Are, The 10 Absolute Best Places to Live in Florida
You can see the criteria I used to choose these particlular places, at the bottom of the article.
In alphabetical order…
Destin Florida is a small fishing/beach town of about 13,000 located on a peninsula in Florida’s northwest Panhandle area of the state. One side of town has beaches located right on the warm clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The other side of town is bordered by the Choctawhatchee bay. All of that water surrounding the town is one reason this great little place is on our best places to live for boating and fishing list too.
If there’s anywhere in the state where remnants of “old Florida’s” fishing villages and beach towns still exist, it would be in the panhandle. This part of Florida is more “southern” and a world apart from places like Orlando and Miami. Many people here tend to be conservative, religious and patriotic. There is still a strong sense of community in Destin because it still hasn’t experienced the huge influx of people from other parts of the country and world that constantly move in and out of most of Florida today.
Both property and violent crime rates in Destin are far lower than the national average. Student test scores in Destin are higher than the national average. As I write this, unemployment is low and job options are surprisingly good for a small town. Currently home prices here are considerably higher than Florida’s average, but for a very safe small fishing village/beach town, you could argue it’s a bargain for the lifestyle that comes with living in Destin.
You can see what Destin Florida looks like in this video
I found you can get a better “feel’ for what a place is like, by taking a look at the city’s website. Does is appear to be designed to be helpful to residents? Do they have a doggie park or sponsor concerts in the park?
Here’s the City of Destin’s website: https://www.cityofdestin.com/
2) Doctor Phillips
Doctor Phillips is just 15 minutes southwest of Orlando. If you love theme parks, this beautiful quiet town is surrounded by the property of Disney, Sea World and Universal Studios, so you can beat the crowds and traffic (well, at least a little bit).
This is another place ideal for people moving to Florida for full-time living. It’s great for those looking for a high quality of life and to be near lots to do, but don’t want to deal with high crime, traffic congestion, and tourist who had a little to much to drink making noise right outside their door at 1am. Every night. What you will find here are student test scores and crime rates that area among the best in the US. Anyone can find a job in nearby Orlando during this economic expansion.
Video: Again, Doctor Phillips is an excellent place to live but since they don’t promote tourism here, there aren’t any promo videos. Here’s one where someone uses a drone to fly a camera over the place.
Doctor Phillips is an unincorporated Census-designated area in Orange County Florida. So Here’s that website:
3) Marco Island
Marco Island is a half hour south of Naples and about as far south as you can get by roads in Southwest Florida without driving into the Gulf or the Everglades. Living on an island or key in Florida offers a truly distinctive lifestyle. People often dream of living on a beautiful tropical island. Moving to Marco will make that dream a reality.
Marco Island and the amazing nature in and around the island is unique even to Florida. It so special it’s surrounded by many large parks to preserve it. Here you’ll an amazing array of beautiful tropical vegetation you won’t find in central or northern Florida. Marco would be perfect for snowbirds or “sixers” as described in the Florida Move Guide but living here year-round would require someone who won’t mind or can adjust to the high temps and humidity. If that’s you, this slice of paradise is worth investigation.
City of Marco Island’s website: https://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/
Niceville is such a nice place to live that it has been on many of our best places to live in Florida lists over the years. While quality of life scores can sink in many Florida towns as the population shoots up, often because of crime, this small northwest Florida town’s scores remain just as high as ever. Niceville has 12,000 people and is located in Florida’s panhandle area on a body of water called Boggy Bayou. Boggy Bayou, which connects to Choctawhatchee Bay and Niceville, sits inland just across the bay from Destin, which is on this list also.
Niceville has a lower overall cost of living than the other excellent places on this list. Crime rates here are among the lowest in Florida. The schools are highly rated. There are a lot of locally owned restaurants and shops. Niceville is located near Eglin Air Force Base so aircraft noise should be taken into consideration.
There is a strong sense of community in Niceville. It’s not all that far from the Georgia and Alabama borders and the surrounding area is mostly rural. If you’re looking for a great little place to live near fishing, boating and beaches, Niceville just might just be your best place to live in Florida.
There weren’t a lot of videos of Niceville but this one may be helpful.
Town of Niceville Florida’s Website: https://cityofniceville.org/
Oviedo is a 20-30 minute drive northeast of Orlando, depending upon whether you take the faster toll roads. It borders the University of Central Florida. The town offers parks, baseball leagues, gymnatics, scouting and more for kids making this a great place to raise a family. There are lots of bike paths throughout the area.
Violent crime here is half the national average and property crime rates according to FBI statistics are among the lowest I’ve seen anywhere in the US. Student test scores for children in Oviedo are far higher than the national or Florida’s average.
Oviedo has it’s own places to shop and dine but you can find an endless selection just 30 minutes away in Orlando. The airport, theme parks and Orlando’s major employment market are that close too. The beaches are just 45 minutes away. Looking for a great place to live in Florida close to everything but away from the direct effect of 110+ million tourists annually?
The City of Oviedo website: https://www.cityofoviedo.net/
6) Palm Beach
Lets get this out of the way right off: This choice refers only to the Town of Palm Beach that is located on the island, across the bay from West Palm Beach and most of Palm Beach County. What’s the difference? The Town of Palm Beach (the island town) has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Unfortunately, the other places mentioned suffer from high crime areas common to much of Florida.
If you’re rich and famous (or want to meet someone who is) Palm Beach is probably the best place in Florida to move to. Many of the wealthiest people who own homes in Florida, also own numerous other homes in other states. They only “winter” in Florida. Palm Beach only has around 14,000 residents but the population swells to a few times that number during the winter when the heat and humidity gives way to some of the best weather in the country.
Crime rates are about as low as you can find anywhere in the United States. The schools are among the best in the country also. The available shopping, dining and recreation is world class. Yes, all quality of factors are excellent in Palm Bay, except the most important one for most Americans. That factor is affordability. The cost of living here is quite high and it begins with the cost of housing. However, if you’re moving to Florida or just want a top place to own a winter home, this playground of old and new money alike, may be the right place for you.
Here’s a quick video look at Palm Beach Florida
Here’s the Town of Palm Beach’s website: https://www.townofpalmbeach.com/
7) Palm Valley
If you’re looking for the best place to live in north Florida, this may well be it. You’ll find the headquarters of the PGA tour as well as the Players Champonship Golf Course in this area.
Crime rates are so low here it’s one of the safest places to live in the US. Local student test scores are among the highest in the nation and Florida. The beaches are are just a short drive away. If you can afford the high cost of housing here, this is certainly one of the best places to live in Florida today.
8) Satellite Beach
How can you make the folks back home green with envy when you move to Florida? Move to a town with the word beach right in the name. Satellite Beach is located right on the Atlantic Ocean of Florida’s east coast and is bordered on the west by the Indian River Lagoon.
Only about 10,000 residents call this beach town home. However, there are far more shops and restaurants in town than you’ll find in other places of the same size. You’ll also likely feel very safe living in Satellite Beach because the property and violent crime rates here are so low, they’re just a small fraction of the national average.
Student test scores here are considerably higher than the national average. Unemployment is low currently and employment options in the area are better than average. When this was written, home prices in Satellite Beach were quite a bit higher than in most of Florida. However, you’re not just buying real estate in Satellite beach, you’re buying an island lifestyle that most people will only ever dream about.
Venice has made the cut to be on our best places to live in Florida lists every year since this website was started. It’s quality of life scores have actually improved slightly over the years and are now about as high as you can get in Florida.
Too often, people choose a place to live in Florida based on what it looks like when they visit. However, explosive growth can make your new place almost unrecognizable just 5 years latter. Unfortunately many places become more crowded, polluted, experience increased crime, traffic congestion and other quality of life lowering problems. Venice grows but manages to continue to remain a better place to live in Florida.
Venice has a small historical downtown that’s just blocks away from the beaches. It’s a very safe place to live. It’s located in Sarasota County where the average age of residents is among the highest in the US. If you’re looking for a safe small beach city in Southwest Florida, Venice should be on your list. And don’t worry, there are young people and families here too and more are moving in every month.
The City of Venice website: https://www.venicegov.com/
10) Westchase Florida
Westchase Florida is a half hour northwest from Tampa as you head toward the Gulf beaches, which are just a short drive away from this beautiful area. What? You never heard of Westchase in Florida? That usually means it may be a great place to live in Florida for full time residents because it’s not a place that tourist overtake in the winter months and make local resident’s lives more challenging.
Student test scores here are far higher than Florida’s or the national average. Crime rates are far lower. The major employment markets of Tampa and St Petersburg are close. So are white sand Gulf beaches. Like most places in Florida today that offer the best quality of life, housing is not cheap here. But if you you want to move to one of the best of the best places to live in Florida, Westchase is worth visiting.
Westchase’s website: https://westchasewca.com/
Most cities and towns in Florida do not qualify as best for our lists. Why?
Because of low quality of life scores…
- We don’t consider places that are located within the 10 and 50 mile radius warning zones of Florida nuclear plants, located right on the beach vulnerable to direct hurricane and storm surge hits, as “best”.
- We don’t consider places that don’t have enough restaurants, shopping, entertainment or recreation as best places to live. Are you moving 1000 miles to Florida just to sit outside sweating in the humidity swatting mosquito (the state bird) for something to do?
- Crime! Florida has a higher overall crime rate than most other states. The very first criteria any place in Florida must meet to be considered as best on this website, is lower crime rates (both property and violent crime) than the national average (according to FBI reporting). This disqualifies most cities and towns in Florida form our lists. However, the best of the best places listed below have crime rates so low they’re not only the safest places to live in Florida, they are also some of the safest places to live in the entire United States today.
More High Quality of Life Factors
Better Schools. The Places on this list also have students that have higher test scores and/or high high school graduation rates than most other places in Florida. Personally, I believe that everyone, including retirees should consider school rankings when choosing a new place to live. Why? Because kids with a better education are better prepared for college or gainful employment, and that will help to maintain the area’s low crime rate that everyone desires. You’ll also be paying to support your new local schools through real estate taxes if you’ll own your home or through your rental payment because your landlord has to pay real estate taxes that goes towards schools too.
These best of the best places also enjoy higher than average median household incomes, lower poverty rates and fewer residents without health insurance, than in most of Florida.
Better Employment Availability. The following places have more jobs available per capita than other places in Florida. They may be located in the town itself or in combination with a nearby major employment market that can be accessed with a reasonable commute. We feel better job options also helps to maintain low crime rates into the future.
More Fun! These cities/towns have an overall higher combined number of…
- Restaurants, pubs and places to dine or enjoy some liquid refreshment.
- Places to shop for groceries, clothes and other items you need right in the community.
- Establishments for entertainment or enjoying art and culture.
- Recreation or places to relax such as beaches, boating, fishing, golfing and almost everything that people move to Florida for. We all need recreation, and these places have it or it’s just a short drive away.
So the towns listed above aren’t just safe places to live, they’re safe places where you can enjoy your life!
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.