8 Best Places to Live in South Florida in 2024 – Updated Power Rankings

We put together this selection of the best places to live in South Florida to give you a good sense of where to find the best blend of desirability and entertainment in areas that are safe and with a high standard of living. South Florida is primarily known for its star attraction, which is Miami, but there are many other great towns and cities in the area that are just as lively and fun for all ages.

It’s easy to understand why South Florida is so popular among those looking to move to Florida. The semi-tropic weather and sunny days provide endless opportunities for relaxing on the miles of pristine beaches, going for a hike in the numerous nature preserves, walking around the vibrant downtowns, or just enjoying the good life.

There is also the blend of multiple cultures that make South Florida one of the finest melting pots in all of America. Where else can you find authentic Latin and Caribbean cuisines alongside some savory southern style comfort food?

Our analysis of the best places to live in South Florida accounts for the latest data on cost of living, crime rates, and overall desirability. Additionally, we made sure to review our evaluation with other rankings and lists from major news publications like the U.S. News and World Report and Wallethub.

We specifically focused this list on what is known as Florida’s legendary “Gold Coast,” which is the southeastern area along the Atlantic coast. If you are also interested in the Florida Keys, then check out this article that we recently published about the Keys. Likewise, this article details the best cities in Southwest Florida that are on the other side of the state.

We present to you our choice of the 8 best places to live in South Florida – each one has strong merits of its own, so it is just up to your preferences to determine the best fit for your lifestyle.

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Best Places to Live in South Florida

8. Fort Lauderdale

Best Places to Live in South Florida - Fort Lauderdale

Pros and Cons:

+ Great school system
+ Tons of cultural activities
+ Easy access to beaches and parks
– Above average cost of living

Location: Check on Google Maps

Fort Lauderdale is the first entry on our list of the best places to live in South Florida. Contrary to its past reputation as a spring break party destination, Fort Lauderdale is actually fit for all ages. Young professionals can land a job at one of the several large companies in the area and can enjoy the buzzing downtown filled with restaurants and numerous emerging craft beer breweries.

Families can expect to find top quality public and private schools and be able to indulge in the finer elements that Fort Lauderdale has to offer – art galleries, upscale dining locations, and luxury boutiques.

Fort Lauderdale is also ideal for retirees, as it was named the 6th best city to retire in all of America.

A main attraction for all ages is the access to the waterfront that Fort Lauderdale offers. You can get to the beach in less than 10 minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale and relax on the miles of sandy beaches with clear waters.

7. Coral Springs

Best Places to Live in South Florida - Coral Springs

Downtown Coral Springs by Jedi94 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pros and Cons:

+ Relaxed atmosphere
+ Quick access to outdoor activities
+ Good location near multiple large cities
– Expensive housing values

Location: Check on Google Maps

Coral Springs is a quiet suburb of Fort Lauderdale, just 20-30 minutes from neighboring cities like Boca Raton and Delray Beach, and less than 1 hour from Miami Beach. It is known to be more relaxing and calm compared to the larger cities in the area, making it a great choice for families and retirees.

Residents rave about the sense of community in Coral Springs, with year-round events and activities such as 5K runs, festivals, and exhibitions that offer something for everyone.

There are also plenty of outdoor activities to do, as the beach is only about 30 minutes away and the Florida Everglades are just west of the city. Meanwhile, the city itself has plenty to see, with a downtown core that is lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars. There have also been more investments recently to improve the walkability and bikeability of the city. The ArtWalk was recently installed that offers a pedestrian and bike-friendly environment right in downtown Coral Springs.

But, all of these great amenities do come at a cost, as Coral Springs’ cost of living is 24% higher than the rest of America. Housing is the primary driver of these elevated costs, coming in at over 50% higher than the rest of the U.S.

6. Parkland

Pros and Cons:

+ Safe and quiet community
+ Close to many major cities in Southern Florida
+ Great school system
– High cost of living

Location: Check on Google Maps

Parkland is one of the best-kept secrets of South Florida, although the cat may be out of the bag as it was recently named as the fastest growing city in all of Florida.

Parkland is a small upscale city in Broward County that is just 5 minutes north of Coral Springs and 30 minutes from Fort Lauderdale. It has a reputation of being a small and quiet community and even prohibited stores and traffic lights within its city limits up until the early 2000s.

Parkland is a great place to raise a family, with very low crime rates (77% below the national average) and a school system that received an A+ from AreaVibes. Its relaxed atmosphere combined with its proximity to the beach and other large cities make Parkland one of the best places to live in South Florida.

5. Davie

Pros and Cons:

+ Access to great entertainment options
+ Perfect for outdoor lovers
+ Excellent school system
– Limited walkability
– Some areas of crime

Location: Check on Google Maps

Davie is another suburb of Fort Lauderdale that offers lots of things to do nearby and a great school system, making it ideal for virtually anybody looking to move to Florida. For entertainment, Davie has numerous golf courses, public parks, and is just 15 minutes from the start of the Everglades. There is also Flamingo Gardens, a botanical garden filled with flamingos in the center of the city.

Meanwhile, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is located right in Davie and provides fresh entertainment and dining options.

Location-wise, Davie is only 20 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale and a short 30 minute drive to Miami. Of course, that means that the beaches are nearby, too, with Hollywood Beach Boardwalk being only a 20 minute drive away.

The best part about Davie is its relaxed atmosphere with expansive suburban neighborhoods filled with lakes and trees.

4. West Palm Beach

Pros and Cons:

+ Fun and exciting downtown
+ Access to many beaches
+ Top quality dining and entertainment options
– Above average cost of living
– Some areas of crime

Location: Check on Google Maps

West Palm Beach is located the furthest north out of all the cities on this list, but it is still close to the heart of South Florida. It has a population of 104,000 people and offers many amenities of a big city, yet also features more quiet, suburban neighborhoods, too. West Palm Beach probably provides the best quality of dining, entertainment, and nightlife outside of Miami in all of South Florida.

There is a vibrant downtown area that is filled with some of the best restaurants in Florida alongside many fun bars and cocktail lounges and live music venues. There is also a pedestrian-friendly Rosemary Square, a European-like town center that offers shopping and dining options.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach is just 10 minutes away from downtown, which stretches 18 miles along the Atlantic and where you are sure to find a quiet place to sunbathe for the day.

For accessibility, West Palm Beach is about 1 hour, 10 minutes from Miami, 2.5 hours from Orlando, and even has its own international airport.

3. Boca Raton

Pros and Cons:

+ Strong school system
+ Good job opportunities
+ Filled with parks and beaches
– High cost of living
– Competitive housing market

Location: Check on Google Maps

Boca Raton sits right between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and is best known as a clean and quiet suburb filled with parks, golf courses, and easy access to the coastline.

It is a great city for young professionals, families, and retirees. The Boca Raton job market is expected to be strong, with a predicted growth of almost 44% over the next 10 years, which is much higher than the national average of 33.5%. Office Depot’s global headquarters is located in Boca Raton, while there is also an office for IBM in the city.

Boca Raton boasts a top-notch school system, scoring an A+ from AreaVibes. That is great news for families looking to relocate their children into a strong educational program. Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic University is also located in the city, adding to the academic atmosphere of Boca Raton. That makes Boca Raton one of the best places to live in South Florida for families.

Additionally, downtown Boca Raton is only about 15 minutes from the beach and oceanfront parks. If you frequently travel, then Boca Raton is a great choice as it is less than 1 hour away from 3 international airports – Miami International Airport, Palm Beach International Airport, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

2. Miami

Best Places to Live in South Florida - Miami

Pros and Cons:

+ Unlimited nightlife options
+ Growing job prospects
+ World-class dining and entertainment
– Above average cost of living
– Crowded with tourists

Location: Check on Google Maps

The city of Miami needs no introduction. It is the epicenter of fun in South Florida, with some of the best entertainment, beaches, and nightlife options in the whole U.S. There are several major sports teams that call Miami home – the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, and Miami Marlins will keep you occupied all year-round. Meanwhile, you can check out Downtown Miami, which is filled with open-air malls, numerous boutiques, and countless bars and restaurants.

You could also head over to Miami Beach, home to the glamorous South Beach, and cruise down Collins Avenue and take in the Art Deco Historic District.

Miami doesn’t just offer non-stop fun and games, though. The city is home to many top employers and the job market is expected to grow by 42.7% in the next 10 years, better than the national average of 33.5%. In fact, there are 5 Fortune 500 companies located in Miami and a whole host of other large employers that will ensure the market remains strong, such as America Airlines and Royal Caribbean.

1. Coral Gables

Best Places to Live in South Florida - Coral Gables

Pros and Cons:

+ Top choice for families
+ Quiet and relaxed, but close to Miami
+ Strong employment opportunities
– Expensive

Location: Check on Google Maps

Coral Gables comes in at #1 on our list of the best places to live in South Florida due to its blend of great schools, low crime, strong job prospects, and extensive list of things to do. This 50,000 person suburb of Miami sits south of the city and is known for being one of the most desired residential neighborhoods in Florida and is home to some of the most exclusive zip codes in the nation.

Others have taken notice of Coral Gables, as it was named the best large suburb in Florida and also ranked #6 on our list of the best cities in Florida.

It is just 20 minutes from downtown Miami, yet is more relaxed and is one of the safest neighborhoods in the area, giving residents the best of both worlds. The city is surrounded by things to do both outdoors and indoors. For example, there are numerous public parks around Coral Gables as well as the beautiful, 120 acre Montgomery Botanical Center (pictured above). Miami Beach is also just 30 minutes from the center of town.

Meanwhile, Coral Gables offers a diverse array of dining and nightlife options and is a delight for foodies, wine lovers, and craft beer aficionados.

You can also find the world-famous University of Miami in Coral Gables, which adds a flavor of youthful energy and activities fit for a college town.

But, be aware that this paradise does come at a cost. The average cost of living in Coral Gables is 65% higher than the national average, with housing costing 208% more than the U.S. average.

Summary – Best Places to Live in South Florida

There you have it – the 8 best places to live in South Florida. There really is no wrong choice from our list of big cities and smaller suburbs. They all offer a nice blend of entertainment, relaxed living, and access to the beach. South Florida will always keep you young at heart, as long as you can afford it and can deal with the hot and humid summer days.