12 Cheapest (and Safest) Cities to Live in Florida in 2022

When we put together this list of the cheapest places to live in Florida, we not only considered the latest data on cost of living, but also housing values, crime rates, and desirability to give you the most complete list of cities that you would truly want to live in.

There are many lists online that only focus on the cheapest places in Florida. But, they are usually so cheap for a reason – high crime, no job opportunities, etc. This list takes into account the lowest cost of living in Florida, but also desirability to actually live in these cities.

We know that money is not the only factor to consider when deciding on where to live, so we created a unique scoring formula that takes into account all of these variables:

  • Cost of Living
  • Average Home Value
  • Average Rent Cost
  • Crime Rate
  • Unemployment Rate

Above all, you also have to want to live in a city. So, we made sure to only accept cheap places to live in Florida that had a strong sense of community and actually offer things to do, like access to the beach, parks, good restaurants, and shopping areas.

So, what is the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida that you would actually want to move to? Let’s find out!

Methodology to Find the Cheapest Places to Live in Florida

Data Sources

To determine the most affordable places to live in Florida that are also safe and desirable, we compiled data from multiple sources to ensure that you get the most objective recommendations.

For cost of living and housing data, we used the latest U.S. Census report, the AreaVibes living index, and Zillow’s housing market data.

For crime data, we referenced the latest FBI crime report and cross-analyzed it with AreaVibes crime review.

For unemployment rates and job growth, we looked at the most up-to-date figures from Bestplaces job market index.

Filtering and Scoring

To make the cut, we only included cities that met the following criteria:

  • Population of 5,000 or greater
  • Cost of Living Below U.S. average
  • Average Home Price at least 10% below Florida average
  • Average Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents below Florida average

To find the cities that have the lowest cost of living in Florida, we also evaluated all of the potential places on the amenities and desirability that each location had to offer.

Finally, we took a weighted average of each of the below category to create our final score and ranking:

  • 30% for Cost of Living Index
  • 40% for Average Home Price
  • 10% for Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents
  • 10% for Unemployment Rate
  • 10% for 10 Year Job Growth Outlook

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The 12 Cheapest Places to Live in Florida in 2022

12. Lynn Haven, Florida

Population: 20,768
Cost of Living Index: 99
Average Home Price: $238,000 (10% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $1,120 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 15.5 (39% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +34%
Location: See in Google Maps

Starting off our list of the cheap places to live in Florida that are actually desirable is Lynn Haven. This quiet, tree-lined suburb of Panama City is located right on the water of Florida’s panhandle.

Residents rave about the strong sense of community that has developed in Lynn Haven, which was especially felt after Hurricane Michael in 2018.

The cost of living and average home prices are slightly below the Florida average, but the very low crime rates and opportunity to live right on the water make Lynn Haven quite appealing.

There is also easy access to big stores and supermarkets in Lynn Haven. In the center of town, you can find a Publix at the Lynn Haven Shopping Center, which is also across from a Walmart.

Location-wise, it is only a 10 minute drive away from Panama City and only 20 minutes from Panama City Beach.

Lynn Haven has one of the lowest cost of living in Florida, and it even made it onto Niche.com’s top quartile of best places to raise a family in Florida.

11. Timber Pines, Florida

Population: 5,207
Cost of Living Index: 93
Average Home Price: $212,000 (20% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $895 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 20.8 (18% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +42%
Location: See in Google Maps

Timber Pines is a peaceful little suburb of Tampa located on the western coast of central Florida. It is just 1 hour away from downtown Tampa as well as the beautiful Clearwater Beach.

It is also less than 2 hours away from Orlando, giving you easy access to many major cities, but in an affordable and quaint suburb.

Speaking of affordability, the cost of living in Timber Pines is about 7% cheaper than the rest of Florida, with home prices 20% lower than the rest of the state.

The average home price is currently $212,000, although there are quite a few options around $175,000.

Meanwhile, the city offers many amenities, such as numerous golf courses, a shopping center with a farmers market, a Winn-Dixie, and even a Red Lobster and Chili’s.

5 minutes in either direction on the main highway through Timber Pines will also get you to a Walmart or Target.

Timber Pines was also named the 13th best city to retire in across all of America, so consider moving soon before too many people find out about this hidden gem.

10. Edgewater, Florida

Population: 21,892
Cost of Living Index: 92
Average Home Price: $207,000 (22% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $1,005 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 16.7 (34% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +43%
Location: See in Google Maps

Edgewater is one of the bigger cities on our list, but it still retains a small town, seaside community feel. It is located on Florida’s east coast just 30 minutes from Daytona Beach and 1 hour from Orlando.

The biggest attraction is the beach life, as the coastline in New Smyrna Beach is just 10 minutes away from the center of town. Of course, there is a great normal life here, too.

Edgewater has one of the lowest cost of living in Florida, as well as a strong school system. Also, you will easily find amenities like a Winn-Dixie and a Chick-fil-A, and growing job opportunities as well. In fact, job growth in Edgewater is expected to increase by 43%, which is above the national average of 33%.

Edgewater also has one of the lowest crime rates on our list of the cheapest and safest places to live in Florida, making it an affordable, yet safe place for everyone.

There are currently a fair amount of 2 and 3 bedroom houses available for under $200,000. Check out Zillow for the latest listings.

9. Fellsmere, Florida

Population: 5,629
Cost of Living Index: 91
Average Home Price: $171,000 (35% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $697 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 9.1 (64% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +38%
Location: See in Google Maps

Fellsmere is a small city nestled in a state park near the eastern coast of Florida. It is located about 45 minutes from Port St. Lucie and 1.5 hours from Orlando. But, it is only 20 minutes from the nearest beach.

Fellsmere made our list based on its excellent scores for housing costs and crime. It offers the 2nd lowest rent prices on our list of cheapest cities to live in Florida, while its home prices are 35% lower than the rest of Florida.

Combined with the fact that it also has the 2nd lowest crime rate on our list, Fellsmere is a strong choice for providing a very cheap and safe community.

It would have ranked higher on our list, but its future job prospects are only average compared to the rest of the nation and it can feel a bit secluded.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to consider Fellsmere. It is green all around – trees line virtually every street of this city. Additionally, it retains a small town charm that is perfect for young families.

8. Haines City, Florida

Population: 23,400
Cost of Living Index: 85
Average Home Price: $204,000 (23% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $804 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 20.9 (17% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +44%
Location: See in Google Maps

Haines City enters our list at number 8 of cheap places to live in Florida and offers the lowest cost of living index on this list. So, if you are looking for the absolute cheapest total lifestyle in a safe and desirable community, then look no further than Haines City.

It may very well be one of the most affordable places to live in Florida that is truly worth living in.

The safety levels in Haines City are very good, with crime rates 17% below the state’s average.

Meanwhile, its future is also bright, with job growth expected to increase by 44%, outpacing the national average by 10%.

Location-wise, Haines City is situated in central Florida, right between Tampa and Orlando, making it an ideal place to access some of the best large cities in Florida, but with a cheaper lifestyle.

Haines City is also the biggest city on our list, which offers many things to do and makes it a fun place to live. There are numerous parks, lakes, and golf courses across the city along with a terrific range of restaurants that serve a wide range of international cuisines.

Of course, there are also many shopping areas for a city of this size. There is a Walmart for all your miscellaneous needs as well as a Publix and Winn-Dixie for your groceries.

Haines City continues to expand and grow in popularity, so check it out now before it gets too expensive.

7. Milton, Florida

Population: 9,771
Cost of Living Index: 92
Average Home Price: $192,000 (27% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $999 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 19.8 (22% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +43%
Location: See in Google Maps

Milton, Florida offers one of the best income to home price ratios in Florida and is great for people who are looking for strong wages and cheap housing.

Located on the Florida panhandle just 30 minutes from Pensacola, Milton is a tight-knit community that balances low cost of living with low crime and good job prospects.

It is a great place for families, as there is an excellent public school system, as well as for people who enjoy the outdoors. There are numerous parks and rivers in Milton as well as hiking trails through state parks nearby.

Meanwhile, Pensacola Beach is only about 40 minutes away.

There were even a handful of housing options under $150,000 at the time this article was published, so start searching today if you are interested in one of the most inexpensive places to live in Florida.

6. Arcadia, Florida

Population: 7,934
Cost of Living Index: 93
Average Home Price: $143,000 (46% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $678 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 19.5 (23% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +39%
Location: See in Google Maps

If you are looking for the lowest home prices in a safe community in Florida, then check out Arcadia. This city is indeed one of the most affordable places to live in Florida. In fact, the average price for a house is only $143,000, which is a whopping 46% below the average cost in Florida. Rents are also very affordable – the average cost is only $678 per month, which makes it one of the cheapest places to rent in Florida.

Arcadia doesn’t just offer low housing rates. Crime is also quite low, with less than 20 reported crimes per 1,000 residents, which is almost a quarter lower than the Florida average.

Meanwhile, Arcadia’s central location makes it an attractive city to consider to be close to some of Florida’s biggest cities. It is only 1 hour by car from Fort Myers and 1.5 hours from Tampa. The nearest beach is also only about an hour away around Sarasota.

But, what about the attractions in the city itself? Well, there is a small historic downtown with over 25 specialty shops, boutiques, and restaurants. There’s also the Arcadia Antiques Fair that is held on the 4th Sunday of every month.

Additionally, while the city does a great job of retaining a small town feel, it still offers many modern conveniences, as there is a Walmart, Publix, and Winn-Dixie located all less than a 10 minute drive from downtown.

 

5. Lake Alfred, Florida

Population: 5,565
Cost of Living Index: 86
Average Home Price: $188,000 (29% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $843 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 6.5 (74% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +44%
Location: See in Google Maps

If safety is your top priority during your search for cheap places to live in Florida, then consider Lake Alfred. It has the lowest crime rate out of any city on this list, with a minuscule 6.5 crimes reported per 1,000 residents, which is 3 times lower than Florida’s average crime rate.

But, Lake Alfred is also very affordable – cost of living is about 14% lower than the rest of Florida, making it one of the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida.

Housing costs are also reasonable, but only if you can find a house that is available. There is quite some demand to enter this small community, so start looking now if you want to move here eventually.

If you do get a chance to rent or buy a place, then you will enjoy a quiet and cozy city situated right on a group of lakes. This is truly an authentic small town as you won’t find any big chain stores here. But, fear not, as many big stores are available in neighboring Winter Haven just 10 minutes away.

If that’s not enough, you can also get to Orlando or Tampa in less than 1 hour in either direction, making this one of the most inexpensive places to live in Florida that also has a top location near other big cities.

4. South Daytona, Florida

Population: 12,734
Cost of Living Index: 88
Average Home Price: $169,500 (36% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $833 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 18.3 (27% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +43%
Location: See in Google Maps

South Daytona offers a great blend of low cost living and a strong local economy in a community that provides its residents with a safe environment. Its housing cost is one of the lowest on this list at 36% lower than average, which makes South Daytona one of the most affordable places to live in Florida.

At the time of this publication, there were even several condo units listed under $120,000 on Zillow, making it one of the cheapest cities to live in Florida.

The job prospects for South Daytona are also very strong, with an estimated 10 year growth of 43%, which is 10% more than the U.S. average.

This positive outlook is probably linked to South Daytona’s good fortune of being directly next to neighboring Daytona Beach.

The bigger city offers numerous resorts on the beachfront as well as Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach International Airport, and many other shopping and nightlife options.

Overall, residents of South Daytona get all the benefits of a larger city, but in a more relaxed atmosphere that is also at a lower total cost, making it a top choice as one of the most affordable cities in Florida that give you the best bangs for your buck.

3. Lady Lake, Florida

Population: 15,118
Cost of Living Index: 90
Average Home Price: $219,000 (17% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $927 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 18.8 (26% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +51%
Location: See in Google Maps

Lady Lake is located in central Florida adjacent to The Villages, the immensely popular and ever-growing 55+ retirement community.

Lady Lake is the third cheapest place to live in Florida that we would recommend.

The city scored well on providing future job opportunities, which was tied for the strongest job growth on this list, as well as on offering a good, affordable life with many things to do in the area, especially for seniors.

Virtually every big city amenity can be found here – hospitals, clinics, churches, big box stores like Target, Walmart, The Home Depot, and all your favorite restaurants and fast food joints, making it one of the most affordable cities in Florida that also has access to all of these stores and services.

You should act now if you want to join this growing community – there are new neighborhoods being built with houses for sale that start around $160,000 (at the time of this publication), but they are going fast. Check out Zillow for the latest offers.

If you are also considering The Villages, then read our recommendations for the best neighborhoods in the area.

2. Lake Wales, Florida

Population: 15,735
Cost of Living Index: 86
Average Home Price: $165,000 (38% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $752 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 24.4 (3% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +44%
Location: See in Google Maps

Lake Wales is also located in the Lakeland-Winter Haven metropolitan area like Lake Alfred and benefits from being a quiet and affordable suburb with easy access to its larger and more expensive neighboring cities.

It made it to #2 on our list of the cheap places to live in Florida mainly due to its extremely low costs across the board – Lake Wales’ cost of living is 14% lower than average, while houses are only $165,000 and rent is around $750 per month, which is one of the lowest on this list.

Of course, the city is also quite safe, coming in slightly below average in its crime rate compared to the rest of Florida.

Therefore, Lake Wales is one of the most affordable places to live in Florida, that also provides a safe community.

What’s life like in Lake Wales? The city is known for its peaceful lifestyle with a large lake as its centerpiece. Although, there are still plenty of things to do, from the numerous parks that surround the lake to the cute historic district on East Stuart Avenue that is filled with shops and restaurants.

There are also modern chain stores like Walmart and Winn-Dixie at the edge of town.

So, while Lake Wales is the second cheapest place to live in Florida, there is actually another city that we think is the best.

1. Tavares, Florida

Population: 16,199
Cost of Living Index: 86
Average Home Price: $223,000 (16% below Florida average)
Average Rent Price: $907 per month
Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents: 17.8 (29% below Florida average)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
10 Year Job Growth Outlook: +51%
Location: See in Google Maps

So, where is the cheapest place to live in Florida that is also desirable? Coming in at #1 is Tavares, which is a suburb of Orlando and is in one of the fastest growing counties in Florida.

Tavares took our top spot based on having the best mix of cheap living, low crime, and great job prospects, all within a city that offers its residents an exciting mix of things to do.

Its 10 year job growth outlook was the strongest on this list, expected to grow 51% compared to the national average of 33%.

Meanwhile, the city provides a wide range of entertainment for all ages. The nature scene in Tavares is outstanding. The city is situated between 3 major lakes and there are parks all around the water.

There is also a thriving downtown on the waterfront that offers countless bars, restaurants, and boutiques.

Nearby, there is the bustling town of Mount Dora, which is routinely named as one of the best places to live in Florida. Orlando is also less than an hour away by car.

All of these facts make Tavares our top choice as the cheapest place to live in Florida that you would actually want to live in.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida?

Based on our research, the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida is Tavares, Florida, where the average home prices are 16% below the Florida average while crime rates are 29% lower than the state average.