10 Best Places to Live in Florida by the Beach – Towns & Cities for 2023

We found the best places to live in Florida by the beach as well as the best beach towns in Florida to live in so that you can plan your move to your own slice of paradise.

Imagine waking up to the sound of the waves and walking right onto the sand with your morning cup of coffee. This dream lifestyle is actually possible if you choose one of these cities or towns in Florida.

The Sunshine State is known for having some of the best beaches in the world, with pristine sand and calming, warm waters at many shores across the state. It also helps that Florida is surrounded by water in almost every direction, making for an abundance of desirable places on the beach.

To make this list, we considered the major aspects of what makes a city a good place to live, like its cost of living, job opportunities, safety, and education.

Additionally, we also factored in the quality of the beaches to ensure that you can have a good time outside on the sand.

Therefore, we broke down our list into two major categories:

  • Best Beach Towns in Florida to Live – Small Towns under 50,000 people
  • Best Places to Live in Florida by the Beach – Large Cities over 50,000 people

We are sure that this split between big and small places will help you find your ideal spot on the water.

So, let’s take a look at the best places to live in Florida near the beach so that you can decide where it’s best to soak up some rays and relax by the water!

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5. Sanibel Island

Location: Check on Google Maps


Sanibel Island is an idyllic island with just 7,400 residents that sits right across the bay from Fort Myers and Cape Coral. It is known for its relaxed way of life, where there are no traffic lights on this 12-mile stretch of land.

The beaches on Sanibel Island are also magnificent and plentiful, which include the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park, Bowman’s Beach, and Tarpon Beach. 

4. Anna Maria Island

Location: Check on Google Maps

Anna Maria Island is a quaint little area that is routinely named as one of the best beach towns in Florida to live in. It offers a pristine coastline right on the Gulf Coast with sugar white sand and an “Old Florida” throwback vibe.

The town is filled with cozy little cafes and locally-owned restaurants that make it feel like a warm, welcoming community. Its close proximity to Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota also make it an ideal spot to settle in.

3. Key West

Location: Check on Google Maps

Key West is the crown jewel of the Florida Keys and is one of the most iconic beach towns in the world. Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful, pastel-colored buildings add to the overall ambience of this ideal beach town.

If you ever get bored of Key West’s beaches, there are also plenty of other majestic beaches and towns nearby, like Calusa Beach, Sombrero Beach, and Islamorada.

2. Seaside

Location: Check on Google Maps

Seaside is located in the northern part of Florida on the Panhandle on the Gulf Coast. It offers its 10,816 residents a picturesque lifestyle with a strong sense of community and a host of exquisite beaches, like Grayton Beach and Rosemary Beach.

The town was built as one of the first master-planned “New Urbanism” communities in America and is designed to be walkable and incorporate mixed-use developments.

1. Destin

Location: Check on Google Maps


Destin is also located on the Florida Panhandle and is truly one of the best beach towns in Florida to live in. What makes this charming town of 14,000 people so special? Well, it offers some of the best beaches in Florida, often even coming in 1st place.

Meanwhile, the town itself features a lively atmosphere with many residents and tourists flocking to Destin Harbor Boardwalk, where there are numerous bars and restaurants that sit right on the water.

Destin is truly the quintessential Florida beach town for those looking for fun in the water and in town.

Best Places to Live in Florida by the Beach – Large Cities

5. Pensacola

Location: Check on Google Maps

This city of almost 60,000 residents is located on the shores of the Gulf Coast on Florida’s Panhandle. Pensacola Beach is only a 20 minute drive across the bay from the city and Destin, which is our top-rated beach town, is just 1 hour away.

The city itself is quite large and features many things to do, yet it also retains a small town feel that is relaxed and unrushed. 

Don’t miss the tree-lined streets of the Pensacola Historic District, where you can find countless gourmet restaurants and lively bars to spend your evenings and forget about life for a while.

4. Tampa

Location: Check on Google Maps


Tampa is one of the fastest growing large cities in Florida and is making its case for being one of the best places to live in Florida near the beach. The vibrant and affordable city offers something for singles, families, and retirees as well. 

For those looking for beaches, the warm, welcoming waters of Clearwater Beach and St Pete Beach are just 30 minutes away, while Anna Maria Island, which was our 4th best beach town in Florida, is only an hour away from Tampa.

3. Miami

Location: Check on Google Maps

No list of the best places to live in Florida by the beach can be complete without Miami. The city needs no introduction and is best known for its rich blend of cultures, excellent nightlife and some of the best beach parties in the world.

There are also three professional sports teams that you can watch here, as the Dolphins, Marlins, and Heat are all located in Miami.

The famous Miami Beach and South Beach are just 20 minutes from Downtown Miami and feature fun and excitement all year round. 

2. Sarasota

Location: Check on Google Maps

This city of 50,000 people on the Gulf Coast enjoy some of the best beaches in all of Florida. The list includes Siesta Key Beach, which is often ranked as the top beach in the US, Longboat Key Beach, and Lido Key Beach, which are all 15-20 minutes away from Downtown Sarasota.

Meanwhile, the city itself features one of the richest arts and culture scenes in Florida and continues to attract people of all ages. There always seems to be some sort of festival going on in the city as well, which really adds to the strong sense of community here. 

1. St. Augustine

Location: Check on Google Maps


St. Augustine is not only the best place to live in Florida by the beach, but it is the best city in the whole state. The historic core of St. Augustine makes you feel like you are in another era. There are historic, Spanish colonial buildings with top quality restaurants and boutiques that line the streets.

St. Augustine’s location directly on the east coast of Florida also makes it ideal for beach goers. St. Augustine Beach and Vilano Beach are just a 10 minute ride from downtown and are some of the most breathtaking beaches in the state.

If that’s not enough, there is also the expansive Anastasia State Park that is right across from the city that features 1,600 acres of unspoiled sandy beaches and marshes.