Are you looking at moving to Florida but can’t decide where? Let’s look at the 18 best Florida cities you can move to, whether you’re an expat, a retiree, or looking for a holiday home.
Among the most popular states to move to, Florida consistently outranks the other states. Expats love Florida for the endless sunshine, the amazing beaches, and its diverse population. There is certainly no shortage of great reasons to move to Florida. Making the decision to start a new life by moving to the Sunshine State is easy.
With that said, Florida is a big state and each city offers something different. If you’re looking to relocate to Florida, but have no idea which city to move to, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve gathered the 18 best cities in the Sunshine State for expats to move to.
Once you have decided where in Florida you want to live, you can head over to Florida Realtors who list thousands of beautiful properties for sale in every part of the Sunshine State.
The order of this list isn’t from best to worst, because we understand that no city in the world can satisfy everyone. One person’s perfect city is another person’s urban inferno. So, read on to see which of these top cities best fit your lifestyle and future goals.
If you’re young and ready for city living, Tampa is the place to be. Tampa itself has a population of nearly 400,000, but it’s part of a larger Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of 3.1 million. All 3 cities are a 30-minute drive away from each other, so moving to Tampa is like moving to 3 cities at once.
Tampa has a very rich culture. It has a lot of bars, nightclubs, museums, and clubs. You can also visit Ybor City, a historic neighbourhood in Tampa known for its charming boutiques and eateries with a Latin American theme.
Tampa is a bustling city with many job opportunities for young people. Families that like diverse sights will enjoy how varied the nearby activities are. Orlando is only an hour and a half away, so day trips to theme parks are easy to make frequently. There are multiple colleges nearby too, so your kids have a lot of options for higher education without having to move too far from the family
Miami is a great place for those that desire a fast-paced city life. Miami is the second-most populous city in Florida with a population of over 400,000. You’ll find residents from all walks of life in Miami. The diversity means you’ll have no problem integrating yourself with other expats like yourself or a community of vibrant people from other cultures.
Miami is known for its amazing nightlife, stunning golf courses, numerous restaurants, and active beach party scene. It’s a “young” city you’ll never get bored in, as there’s always a lot to do. It’s a large city filled to the brim with tourists, so if you love surrounding yourself with people, you’ll love Miami. Properties are expensive, but you may still find some inexpensive homes if you look towards the smaller neighbourhoods.
Miami suits adventure-loving retirees more than young adults trying to find their footing. Work is hard to come by in Miami, so if you’re still in the job market, you should already have something lined up before moving.
Jacksonville is a big city with big perks. Home to 950,000 residents, it is the 12th largest city in the United States and spans over 700 square miles. Despite its size, it has a very affordable housing market and a dynamic job market. Jacksonville is in the northern part of the state near Georgia, so it can get cold and it does snow occasionally. It melts before reaching the ground, but you might want to consider that if you’re looking for year-round summer temperatures.
Jacksonville is massive and has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a place to retire or looking for a place to start a family. There are plenty of quiet neighbourhoods where you can live away from all the noise of the big city. You can also choose to live in the more populated areas if that’s what you want.
The diverse scenery means that you can settle down anywhere in the city and be happy. Tired of your neighbourhood and wish to see new sights? Just move to a different part of the city! The place is so big and the houses so cheap, you can move anywhere and it’ll feel like a new place each time.
Lakeland – Best Place for Sociable People
If you’re a foodie looking to live among the best restaurants in Florida, Lakeland is the city you’ll want to stay in. Lakeland has an exciting downtown area filled with amazing places to visit. The highlight of the downtown area is the amazing restaurant scene. You can always count on there being friendly waiters and waitresses, unforgettable food, and great variety in Lakeland.
Lakeland is near Tampa, so you have a lot of job opportunities between the two cities. Expats, young and old can find a community to fit in with. There are a lot of local activities like family resorts, ranches, safaris, and more. If you are looking to move house to Lakeland you will be glad to hear that housing prices are reasonable and the city is safe.
Ocala is the horse capital of the world. If you like horses, you’ll love Ocala. It’s a medium-sized city with roughly 62,000 residents. It’s a fantastic city for both retirees and young adults. The real estate market is incredibly low and there is a lot to do in terms of activities, such as musical events, national parks, art centres, volunteer work, and more.
The community in Ocala is focused on rural life, so you can expect a lot of friendliness and strong neighbourly ties if you move there. The city itself is very safe and the beach and theme parks are within a reasonable distance from the city. If you’re looking for peace, tranquillity, easy-going traffic, and proximity to other cities, Ocala is for you.
Key West is on an island at the very end of Florida. It is connected to the rest of Florida by a long highway. With a population of 24,000, it is the second smallest city on this list. It’s remote, quiet and suitable for people that want a bohemian lifestyle. It is among the most expensive places to live in Florida, but if you can afford it, it’s more than worth it.
What makes Key West so great is that it’s the perfect city for retirees that want a quiet tropical paradise. It’s a quaint city with a very strong community that all knows each other and works together to keep the city safe and clean. There isn’t much to do in terms of activities, but if you just want a place where you can stare out into the ocean all day, Key West is perfect for you.
Orlando – Best Place for Job Opportunities
If you think life is a thrilling rollercoaster, you’ll want to move to Orlando. The theme park capital of the world is home to 300,000 residents and is the most popular tourist attraction in the United States.
Orlando is a city that best suits a younger person. There are many job opportunities available and there’s always some sort of exciting party every day. There’s a little something for everyone in this city, whether you’re into indoor or outdoor activities. The only thing you can’t easily do is go to the beach since Orlando is right in the middle of the state.
If you love being around a lot of people, then you’ll find no shortage of them in the more touristy parts. If you want something a little quieter, there are many neighbourhoods and suburban areas where the residents like to keep to themselves.
Located in southwest Florida, Naples is a charming city that’s right along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s considered to be extremely safe, with great schools and amazing beaches. The city itself has a population of a little over 19,000, but the wider Metro Area has a population of over 300,000.
Like most ocean-side cities, the property market is on the more expensive side. But if you are looking to move house and can afford it, you’ll find yourself living among a lot of other foreigners that fell in love with the beautiful city.
Because it has a small-town feel with big-city amenities, it’s a great place to retire or settle down and raise children. The only downside Naples has in terms of lifestyle is that it isn’t an exciting place to live in if you’re a young adult. Naples has a very large retiree population, so there are a lot of events and attractions that cater to the older residents but not the younger crowd.
Sarasota’s motto is, “Where Urban Amenities Meet Small-Town Living”, and rightly so. This tranquil city will be your paradise on Earth if you’re looking for a slower lifestyle without having to move to a rural area. Over 52,000 people live in Sarasota.
Sarasota is all about community, so there’s always some sort of neighbourhood event or meet-up to attend. It’s also a good place to live if you love outdoor activities. There are a lot of hiking and cycling trails and sporting events. Fishing and boating are also popular among the residents.
If you have teenagers, make sure they can get around in a car. There are a lot of things for kids and teens to do, but Sarasota is a very spread-out city, so you need to drive if you want to get anywhere. Overall, it’s a great place to raise a family.
Coral Gables – Best for Raising Teenagers
Coral Gables is considered to be one of the nicer cities in Miami-Dade County. More than 49,000 residents call the city home. Coral Gables is also home to the University of Miami, one of the top private schools in the country.
At first glance, the houses seem overly expensive. While it is true that the newer apartments get a bit pricey, there are plenty of older, affordable homes. If you’re up for a nice renovation project, you’ll have no problem finding one for a good price in Coral Gables.
There are a lot of things to do in Coral Gables, such as swimming in the historical Venetian Pool, going to the beach, and walking through the Fairchild Botanical Garden. Job opportunities are plentiful and Miami and Fort Lauderdale are a short drive away.
Gainesville – Best College Town
Gainesville is a big city with 140,000 residents, but it doesn’t give off big-city energy at all. It’s a college town with humble, local breweries, lots of young folk, and a nice artistic scene.
There are a lot of opportunities in Gainesville, whether you’re looking for a job, an affordable place to live, or outdoor activities. The music scene is fresh and there’s no shortage of interesting, new activities organized by the local college kids. Entry-level jobs are monopolized by the younger crowd, but there are plenty of high-end jobs to go around.
Pensacola is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. Nicknamed the “Emerald Coast”, Pensacola is on this list because of its southern charm. The city and its 54,000 residents are nestled right underneath Alabama, so if you’re a fan of southern North American culture, you’ll find Pensacola to be right up your alley.
Pensacola is known for its beauty and simplicity. Water sports and outdoor activities are the most popular pastimes for the residents. It’s a great place to move to if you yearn for some simple country living without having to move to the middle of nowhere.
Port St. Lucie – Best for a Slower Pace of Life
Port St. Lucie is a sleepy city known for its affordable housing and slower pace of living. It’s right along the eastern coast and is nestled between Palm Bay and West Palm Beach. It’s home to 200,000 residents and has a large retiree community.
If you’re planning for your retirement, Port St. Lucie should be on your list. You can enjoy living in a friendly coastal city without having to spend all of your savings. The people are hospitable and there’s little to complain about if you’re looking for simplicity.
West Palm Beach – Best for Introverts
Florida is known for its party scene. Sociable people that love being in the middle of all the action will feel comfortable in most cities in Florida. West Palm Beach, however, is a city that introverts will like.
The residents mostly keep to themselves. That’s not to say that they are unfriendly (far from it), but the city’s culture encourages quiet, indoor, individual activities. Coffee shops, museums, and private events are abundant. There are a lot of young, working professionals in the city, so it isn’t impossible to find friends, but if you and your partner prefer to spend time alone, you’ll find the city very enjoyable.
With 115,000 residents, there’s no shortage of diverse experiences you can enjoy in West Palm Beach. The housing prices are reasonable for a city along the coast, but you have to look at properties furthest from the beach. There are a lot of high-paying jobs in West Palm Beach, so it’s a good place to settle into if you’re thinking about your career. There’s a good mix of young people and older expats for you to mingle with.
Fort Myers is a city along the south-western coast with a population of 770,000 residents. People that appreciate laid-back cities will enjoy the City of Palms and its many splendours. Instead of high-rise apartments and nightclubs, you’ll find many family homes and community activities in Fort Myers.
Every year, college students flock to the beaches during Spring Break and summer, so there’s a good party scene during those times. Every other time, however, you can expect little traffic and small-town energy.
Real estate is relatively high but still considerably lower than in other coastal cities. There are many jobs here, but most of them are entry-level jobs that are better suited to retirees that want easy work. Overall, the city is excellent for older expats looking to relax.
Cape Coral is called the Venice of America because of its beautiful canal system. It’s a lovely city with little traffic and a lot of water sports activities you can indulge in. The city contains 200,000 and it has a large retiree population. People love Cape Coral for its affordable housing market and slower pace of life.
In Cape Coral, kayaking, fishing, and boating are common activities. It’s a city for outdoorsy adventure lovers.
If you already have a job in Cape Coral and are looking to move your family to Cape Coral, don’t hesitate. The city is extremely safe. There are virtually no bad neighbourhoods and the schools are fantastic. If your kids need more options in terms of colleges, activities, and diversity, Fort Myers is a short car ride away.
Tallahassee – Best Place for Cultural Experiences
Culture, art, and history are the name of the game in Tallahassee. This city is home to some of the most interesting historical sites in Florida. Mission San Louis, the Knott House Museum, Tallahassee Automobile Museum… The list of things to see is endless.
Tallahassee is better suited for young people that want to start a new life in Florida. It’s a college town with a very low cost of living and it has a growing population of nearly 200,000.
Jobs are abundant, especially for younger folks. It’s a small enough city for you to not feel suffocated, but it’s big enough that you’ll have no trouble finding a community to settle into.
Tallahassee is to the northwest and doesn’t have any nearby beaches since it’s closer to Georgia than it is to the Gulf of Mexico. However, if you’re up for the trip, you can take the 40-minute to an hour drive south to one of the many beaches in Apalachee Bay.
Fort Lauderdale has to be the most convenient city in Florida. It’s close to the airport, close to all the major highways, and close to major cities like Miami and West Palm Beach. With 183,000 residents, it is the 10th largest city in Florida.
Fort Lauderdale is known for its outdoor activities and beachside events. Young adults that enjoy the occasional party will fit in well with the chic Fort Lauderdale youth. Retired expats will have no trouble finding a community. Many foreigners retire to Fort Lauderdale because of the low cost of living and amazing weather. Moving to Fort Lauderdale is a good idea if you have a job in Miami but can’t afford to live there.
Florida is a lot more diverse than many would have you believe. The cities on this list are the best because they provide the greatest benefits depending on what you’re looking for. Whether you need a city with good job opportunities, friendly neighbours, or vibrant nightlife, there’s bound to be one city on this list that’s perfect for you.
If you need help moving to Florida, we can help you. You can check out our guide on removals to the USA, get a US quote for shipping boxes and baggage from PSS or use our online USA shipping cost calculator to get an estimate for moving to the US.