16 Best Places to Live in Florida *New 2021 Rankings*

We’ve done extensive research to find the 16 best places to live in Florida in 2021. As the 3rd most populous state in the U.S., Florida is well-known for its great weather, growing job market, and overall relaxed culture.

To make our list, we compiled stats from multiple databases on liveability rankings, such as:

  • Affordability
  • Culture
  • Job opportunities
  • Healthcare
  • Commute time
  • Crime rate
  • Air quality

We also cross-referenced it with recent ratings from large publications like U.S. News and World Report, Wallethub, and Marketwatch.

We made sure to include cities and towns that offer something for everyone, including Millennials, young families, and retirees, which some other lists might have overlooked.

So, where are the best places to live in Florida? Let’s find out!

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16. Cape Coral

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Cape-Coral

Rank Last Year: Not Ranked

Pros and Cons:
+ Great for retirees
+ Growing job market
Above average housing costs
Limited options for singles

Closest Beach: Fort Myers Beach, 25 minute drive

Location: Southwest Florida – Check on Google Maps

Cape Coral is a new entry on our list for 2021. Located across the bay from Fort Myers, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Florida and is ranked as the 12th best places to retire in the U.S. by Wallethub.

But, Cape Coral’s appeal isn’t just for the over 65 crowd. It has the highest quality of life out of any big city in Florida and ranked in the top third of all cities in Florida for families.

15. Daytona Beach

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Daytona-Beach

Rank Last Year: Not Ranked

Pros and Cons of Living in Daytona Beach:
+ Incredible affordability
+ Beautiful sandy beaches
Tourists
Some areas of crime

Closest Beach: Daytona Beach, 0 minute drive

Location: Northeastern Florida – Check on Google Maps

Daytona Beach is another new city on our list this year. This super affordable beach community offers a great blend of outdoor tranquil living and good job opportunities, all with housing costs that are 17% below the national average. Don’t forget about the miles of white, sandy beaches that make Daytona Beach an excellent place to live.

14. Lakeland

Rank Last Year: 16

Pros and Cons of Living in Lakeland:
+ Centrally located between Orlando and Tampa
+ Affordability
+ Historic charm
Traffic
Bugs and mosquitoes around the lakes

Closest Beach: Clearwater Beach, 1 hour and 15 minute drive

Location: Central Florida –  Check on Google Maps

Lakeland remains on our list for 2021 and offers residents a quaint historic downtown and lots of green and natural areas around the city. It also is quite affordable – Lakeland’s cost of living is 14% lower than the rest of the U.S.

13. Mount Dora

Rank Last Year: Not Ranked

Pros and Cons of Living in Mount Dora:
+ Great for families
+ Affordability
Far from the beaches
Limited options for singles

Closest Beach: New Smyrna Beach, 1 hour and 15 minute drive

Location: Central Florida – Check on Google Maps

If you are looking for a smaller town with some charm, then check out Mount Dora. Nestled just north of Orlando, it offers an intimate feel but still with access to major locations.

12. Pensacola

Downtown-Pensacola-Florida

Downtown Pensacola, Florida by jared jennings licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rank Last Year: 12

Pros and Cons of Living in Pensacola:
+ Great school system
+ Strong job market
+ Affordable housing
Some areas of crime

Closest Beach: Pensacola Beach, 15 minute drive

Location: Western Florida Panhandle – Check on Google Maps

Pensacola remains steady on our list as #12 of the best cities to live in Florida. It is best known for its superb school districts and housing costs that are 27% lower than the national average.

Zillow estimates that the average price for a house in Pensacola is a very reasonable $150,000 to $170,000.

11. Dunedin

Rank Last Year: 13

Pros and Cons of Living in Dunedin:
+ Affordability
+ Right on the beach
Limited job market
Long drives to major centers

Closest Beach: Honeymoon Island State Park, 10 minute drive

Location: West Central Florida – Check on Google Maps

Dunedin is a cute beach town on the western coast of Florida near Tampa. It offers residents a relaxed lifestyle while still providing many opportunities for entertainment. There is also the historic Dunedin downtown district that is packed with shops, restaurants, and bars.

The best part is the cost of housing – Dunedin’s home prices are on average 34% less than the average in the U.S.

10. Miami

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Miami

Rank Last Year: 15

Pros and Cons of Living in Miami:
+ The center for nightlife and culture
+ Great beaches
Expensive
Extreme weather

Closest Beach: Miami Beach, 20 minute drive

Location: South Florida – Check on Google Maps

No list of Florida would be complete without Miami. It rises 5 spots on our list this year due to its growing job market and the ever-increasing amount of things to do for people of all ages.

However, Miami’s cost of living is still relatively high compared to other cities in Florida and it can get unbearably hot and humid in the deep south of Florida.

9. Port St. Lucie

Rank Last Year: 10

Pros and Cons of Living in Port St. Lucie:
+ Affordability
+ Quick access to the beach
Limited job market
Relatively isolated

Closest Beach: Jensen Beach Park, 25 minute drive

Location: Eastern Coast Florida – Check on Google Maps

Port St. Lucie is a small beach city that earns rave reviews from everyone who lives there. It offers a slow, relaxed lifestyle with the opportunity to go downtown and enjoy a nice meal or a drink.

It even took the top spot in Bankrate’s top places to live in Florida.

8. Fort Myers

Rank Last Year: 14

Pros and Cons:
+ Affordability
+ Revitalized downtown
+ Tons of beach options
Tourists

Closest Beach: Fort Myers Beach, 30 minute drive

Location: Southwestern Florida – Check on Google Maps

Fort Myers jumped up 6 spots this year, which was the 2nd biggest year-to-year increase. This improvement can be linked to its strong efforts to redevelop its historic downtown, which is now buzzing with shops and restaurants for all to enjoy.

Fort Myers is also located near many beaches and islands, making a life of leisure possible year round and making it one of the fastest growing cities in Florida.

Retirees take note – Fort Myers was named the 2nd best city to retire in all of America.

7. Orlando

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Orlando

Rank Last Year: 6

Pros and Cons of Living in Orlando:
+ Booming job market
+ Tons of outdoor activities
Some areas of crime
Tourists for theme parks

Closest Beach: Cocoa Beach, 50 minute drive

Location: Central Florida – Check on Google Maps

Right in the heart of Florida is Orlando, where the theme park capital of the world also continues to be a great place to also live. With a wide range of housing options, from exclusive neighborhoods to affordable areas, Orlando is a fine choice for all.

The job growth in Orlando has continued to impress, as they have now led the nation in growth 4 years in a row through 2019.

6. Coral Gables

Rank Last Year: 8

Pros and Cons of Living in Coral Gables:
+ Great for families
+ Foodie paradise
+ Close to Miami
Expensive

Closest Beach: Miami Beach, 30 minute drive

Location: South Florida – Check on Google Maps

Coral Gables is an upscale suburb of Miami and offers a great standard of living, especially for families. It is one of the safest neighborhoods in Miami, which is only 20 minutes away, and provides excellent schooling options as well.

However, it is not exactly the most affordable place on this list. Cost of living in Coral Gables is about 12% higher than the national average, with housing being 25% more expensive.

5. Melbourne

Rank Last Year: 4

Pros and Cons of Living in Melbourne, Florida:
+ Limitless outdoor activities
+ Strong school system
+ Low cost of living
Small downtown area
Some areas of crime

Closest Beach: Melbourne Beach, 5 minute drive

Location: Eastern Coast Florida – Check on Google Maps

Melbourne continues to score well as a top city to live in the Sunshine State. There are plenty of parks and beaches for all to enjoy. Its low cost of housing and great school system is also the perfect combination for people starting a family.

Look out for West Melbourne especially as it is a great up and coming place to live in the area as well.

4. Naples

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Naples

Rank Last Year: 2

Pros and Cons of Living in Naples, Florida:
+ Great school districts
+ Low crime
+ World-class beaches and golf courses
Expensive

Closest Beach: Naples Beach, 0 minute drive

Location: Southwestern Florida – Check on Google Maps

Naples remains a mainstay near the top of our list for 2021. It’s one of the most family-friendly cities on our list and was even named #1 in Wallethub’s best cities for families based on education, health, and safety.

Naples also offers access to some of the world’s best beaches and golf courses, although these amenities come at a price – the average home price is north of $350,000.

3. Sarasota

Rank Last Year: 1

Pros and Cons of Living in Sarasota:
+ Small town feel with big city amenities
+ Lively arts and culture scene
+ Beautiful beaches
Relatively high housing costs
Traffic during tourist season

Closest Beach: Lido Key Beach, 15 minute drive

Location: Western Central Florida – Check on Google Maps

Sarasota drops a few spots from its #1 ranking last year, but it still remains among the best places to live in Florida. It is packed with things to do and offers a great lifestyle for everyone. It is not rare to find a mix of college students, retirees, young professionals, and families wherever you go.

2. Tampa – St. Petersburg

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-Tampa-Bay

Rank Last Year: 9

Pros and Cons:
+ Affordability
+ Growing job market
+ Strong education system
Traffic

Closest Beach: St Pete Beach, 20-40 minute drive

Location: Western Central Florida – Check on Google Maps

The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area has skyrocketed up 7 places on our list and is now #2 of the best places to live in all of Florida for 2021. Others are definitely taking notice, as Tampa was named the 9th fastest growing large city in the U.S. in 2020.

This booming expansion has also brought more things to do in the bustling downtowns as well as job opportunities. Jobs are especially a hot topic, as Tampa has earned a reputation of being Florida’s unofficial tech hub, making for exciting years to come.

Tampa and St. Petersburg also offers affordable housing for all types of residents and provides a nice mix of urban downtown and suburban options.

1. St. Augustine

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Florida-St.-Augustine

Rank Last Year: 3

Pros and Cons of Living in St. Augustine:
+ Dynamic cultural scene
+ Old world charm
+ Beautiful beaches
Expensive
Tourists

Closest Beach: Vilano Beach, 7 minute drive

Location: Northeastern Florida – Check on Google Maps

St. Augustine offers a thriving arts and culture scene within its beautiful, historic 144 block historic district. It is also a great place for families and retirees alike, making St. Augustine the best place to live in Florida for 2021.

It was ranked the #5 out of 205 top beach towns across America by Wallethub and continues to expand its melting pot of culture and heritage, especially in the last few years.

Summary – Best Places to Live in Florida for 2021

That concludes our list of the best places to live in Florida for 2021. As you can see, there are a lot of attractive cities across the Sunshine State that offer a diverse list of attractions and lifestyles. Now, it is up to you to choose which city fits the best with your desires and ambitions.

But, don’t delay your move to Florida since it continues to boom and will likely get more expensive.