8 Best Small Towns in Florida to Raise a Family in 2022 – Safe & Great Schools

We picked out the best small towns in Florida to raise a family that offer a strong sense of community along with great schools and a high safety rating.

The Sunshine State can be an excellent place for families to relocate to, as it offers an endless list of exciting things to do for both parents and children. Plus, its great weather all year round makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors and have fun at the beach.

But, not every city is exactly family-friendly, especially for those looking for a cozy community with some small-town charm. Therefore, we looked through all of the places across the state and hand-picked the best small towns in Florida to raise a family that provides a well-rounded quality of life where you and your kids can seamlessly integrate into the community.

Best Small Towns in Florida to Raise a Family – Our Research Approach

To determine the best small towns to raise a family in Florida, we first had to filter out all the places to live that were too big. So, we set a limit of a population of 10,000 people or less.

Then, we only looked at towns that offer a strong school system. Therefore, we used AreaVibes’ database for education rankings and only included towns that earned an A or A+ rating.

We also looked at the crime rates for each place and only chose towns that had a crime rate that was at or below the Florida state average based on data from the FBI via AreaVibes.

Now, let’s take a look at what our research has yielded for the list of the best small towns in Florida to raise a family.

The 8 Best Small Towns in Florida to Raise a Family in 2022

8. Keystone Heights

best-small-towns-in-florida-to-raise-a-family-KH

Population: 1,130
Cost of Living Index: 1% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 58% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A

Location: Check on Google Maps

Keystone Heights is one of the best places to live in Florida for those who want to experience a quiet lifestyle with their family and be surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural sights you could hope to see.

This small town is located just 30 minutes from Gainesville in Central Florida. It started off as a small beach community and retains the same close-knit feeling today, offering a wide range of restaurants, entertainment, and amenities for its residents and visitors. There is also a small retail district right in the heart of town on Lawrence Boulevard.

Additionally, Keystone Heights is a great spot for nature lovers as Keystone Beach is located at the edge of town, where you can capture the perfect view of Lake Geneva.

7. Tildenville

Population: 1,550
Cost of Living Index: 3% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 0% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

Tildenville is one of the oldest towns in Orange County, and it’s particularly well known for its close-knit and small town feel that goes way back to its deep history from the 1870s.

This small town is located about 20 minutes west of Orlando. Nature lovers can spend hours outdoors in Tildenville. Here, you can find the West Orange Trail, the Tucker Ranch Recreation and Nature Complex, and the gorgeous John’s Lake, which is one of the best places to go for fishing in the region.

Tildenville is also known for its produce, as the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association is proudly located right in this town.

6. Nocatee

best-small-towns-in-florida-to-raise-a-family-Nocatee

Population: 9,836
Cost of Living Index: 22% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 65% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

Nocatee is a master-planned town located about 30 minutes south of Jacksonville. The town’s close proximity to the beach has made it one of Florida’s best up-and-coming small towns.

It is also statistically one of the safest places on this list of the best small towns in Florida to raise a family. 

Nocatee is also home to Nocatee Community Park, an excellent place for walking trails, tennis courts, and soccer fields that the whole family can enjoy.

Additionally, Nocatee offers a surprising number of shops and restaurants with diverse cuisines, especially for a town of its size. Tank’s Sushi Bistro, South Kitchen & Spirits, M Shack Nocatee, and Pieology Pizzeria are some of the great restaurants in Nocatee that are a hit with locals.

There’s also the Nocatee Splash Water Park that opens on weekends where you can bring the kids to enjoy.

5. Celebration

Population: 8,410
Cost of Living Index: 30% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 65% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A

Location: Check on Google Maps

The town of Celebration was conceived by Walt Disney himself and was eventually built in the mid-1990s.

This cozy community is also located just minutes from Disney World, which makes it a great spot for families who cannot get enough of the magic of Disney.

Celebration has never lost its whimsical feel, which you can experience from its tree-lined streets, lovely nature trails, local restaurants, and community events that truly bring the town together.

Celebration also offers tons of amenities that kids and adults can both enjoy. Here, you can find the Celebration Golf Club and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The town also features a wonderful downtown area right on the lake, where you can take a stroll around its charming town center and stop by some boutiques and restaurants.

4. Nokomis

best-small-towns-in-florida-to-raise-a-family-Nokomis

Population: 3,431
Cost of Living Index: 6% Below Florida Average
Crime Rate: 44% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

The town of Nokomis is located along the warm waters of the Gulf Coast, and is one of the best small towns in Florida to raise a family for those who want to be near the beach and the water.

It is known for its small-town lifestyle and top quality shoreline. Residents here can easily access Nokomis Public Beach and the idyllic Casey Key to gain access to the beachfront.

Nokomis is also located right between Sarasota and Venice, which are two of the top large cities in Florida.

Additionally, the town is known for its great restaurants and dining options, including local favorites like Tikka Indian Cuisine and Anita’s Restaurant.

3. Belle Isle

Population: 6,542
Cost of Living Index: 11% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 33% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

The town of Belle Isle is located in Orange County just 20 minutes south of Orlando. It’s one of the best places to relocate to for families who want to experience an ideal blend of culture, nature, and safety all in the same place.

Belle Isle is close to many family-friendly experiences like the Crayola Experience, the Orlando Watersports Complex, and the Florida Mall.

This charming town also features two prominent lakes, Lake Conway and Little Lake Conway, which makes it a perfect place for those who like to spend a lot of time out on the water.

2. Melbourne Beach

best-small-towns-in-florida-to-raise-a-family-Melbourne-Beach

Population: 3,189
Cost of Living Index: 23% Above Florida Average
Crime Rate: 47% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

Melbourne Beach has quietly become one of the best small towns to raise a family in Florida. This idyllic beach community sits right on the gorgeous shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the central part of the state.

Melbourne Beach is incredibly rich in nature and offers a seemingly unlimited number of places for swimming, hiking, biking, and fishing.

It also offers a quaint little retail area, with a great selection of restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops.

The larger city of Melbourne is also located just across the water from Melbourne Beach, which gives families the option to enjoy the amenities of a big city, but the chance to live in a cozier place nearby.

1. Mary Esther

Population: 1,550
Cost of Living Index: 1% Below Florida Average
Crime Rate: 43% Below Florida Average
Education Score: A+

Location: Check on Google Maps

Mary Esther tops our list as the best small towns in Florida to raise a family in 2022. This quaint little town is located in northwest Florida on the Panhandle right on the Gulf Coast.

Named for the daughter of the town’s first postmaster, Mary Esther is a quiet, family-friendly spot tucked in between some of Florida’s most popular tourist cities.

For families who love the beach, you can visit the famous Destin Beach in less than 20 minutes, which is routinely ranked as one of the best beaches in all of Florida. Additionally, Pensacola Beach is just 40 minutes away.

Meanwhile, the town itself offers some top attractions for families to enjoy, including Oak Tree Nature Park and Surge Trampoline Park. There is also the Emerald Coast Science Center in nearby Fort Walton Beach as well.

Best Small Towns in Florida to Raise a Family – Summary

The best small towns to raise a family in Florida are:

  1. Mary Esther
  2. Melbourne Beach
  3. Belle Isle
  4. Nokomis
  5. Celebration
  6. Nocatee
  7. Tildenville
  8. Keystone Heights

These are all great places for young families to settle into and are located all across the state so that you have many varied options to choose from.

All of these small towns also offer great schools and have low crime rates, which make them the perfect places to start a new life.