So you’re considering a move to Jacksonville, Florida? Whether you’re relocating in search of better weather or for a job, you’re probably trying to figure out what to expect from this city. Its reputation for picturesque shore and hot summers might precede it, but there’s so much more to this Florida city than meets the eye.
|Population||Median Age||Bachelor Degree or Higher|
Pro: low cost of living
The cost of living in Jacksonville is 5% lower than the national average.
Con: public transportation in the city isn’t great
Jacksonville is a vast city. If you own a car, the sheer size of this metropolitan area might not be a concern, but if you need to use the public transportation system to move around, you’ll notice that it’s a problem. When compared to other major metropolitan areas, Jacksonville’s public transportation infrastructure is considerably weak. With plenty of forethought and planning, you can make it work for you, but it’ll be a huge adjustment, especially if you’re moving to the city from places like Seattle and new york city.
|Median Jacksonville Commuting Time||Median U.S. Commuting Time|
|25.2 Minutes||26.9 Minutes|
|Means of Transportation to Work/School||Percentage %|
|Working from Home||8.89%|
Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021
Pro: the weather in Jacksonville is quite pleasant
Jacksonville’s climate is best described as tropical and warm. Winters are typically mild, with real snow not falling in the city since 1989. Summers can get hot, but the breeze from the ocean makes the season a bit more bearable. The humidity is also more manageable and not nearly as oppressive as what you would encounter in other southern cities.
Jacksonville Temperature Table
Best months to visit Jacksonville: January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.
|Month||Temp. Low. Avg.||Temp. High Avg.|
Data sourced from numbeo.com
Pro: proximity to the beaches
Living in Jacksonville means that there’s always a beach nearby, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy some sand and sunshine in your downtime. Depending on the traffic at the time, most people living in the city can reach a beach in less than an hour.
There are 22 miles of uncrowded, white sandy beaches just a couple of minutes from downtown Jacksonville. Some of the best beaches in the city include:
- Jacksonville Beach
This serene beach has so much to offer, from adrenaline-pumping surfing to the picturesque Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier that is nearly a quarter-mile-long, not to mention the waterside cafes where you can take in the scenery and the salty air while dining
- Neptune Beach
Are you looking to wind down with a summer read all day or watch a beautiful sunset on the beach? Neptune Beach is the place for you!
- Ponte Vedra
Ponte Vedra is located in St. Johns County, just outside Jacksonville, and is famous for its golf courses and massive dunes.
- Atlantic Beach
Located just north of Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach is a popular spot for surfing, biking, swimming, and sunbathing.
- Little Talbot Island State Park
This idyllic barrier island is a favorite among explorers who love to birdwatch, hike, admire the driftwood sculptures of Boneyard Beach, sunbathe, and camp overnight.
Con: walkability in Jacksonville is relatively low
As previously mentioned, Jacksonville is a sprawling metropolitan area that spreads out over many square miles, so unless you’re in the downtown area (San Marco, Riverside, or Avondale), it’s not particularly walkable. Biking in Jacksonville is a great way of getting around either. If walking, biking, or running are important to you, then living in Jacksonville may not be the best option for you.
Pro: access to plenty of green spaces
Jacksonville operates the country’s largest urban park system. 262 designated parks are covering over 80,000 acres. Each one has its own unique charm, allowing you to have various options for a weekend out with your family. Whether the rich history of the Hemming Plaza appeals to you or you crave the peace that Riverside offers, there is a park in the city that will suit your needs.
Con: crime is an issue in the city
When compared to other cities throughout Florida, the crime rate in Jacksonville is far too high. Until 2011, the city was known to have the highest rate of murders in Florida for 11 consecutive years. Although there are plenty of safe neighborhoods with relatively low rates of crime, the city’s reputation as a whole could discourage some people.
Pro: Jacksonville offers tons of fun activities
You never have to worry about not having anything to do in your free time living in Jacksonville. Here are some interesting places to visit and things to do:
- Top Golf
Top Golf is a high-tech alternative to a traditional golf course that boasts over 65,000 square feet of space. Avid golfers can enjoy high-tech golf games that allow for tracking of microchipped golf balls from their more than 100 climate-controlled bays.
- Autobahn Indoor Speedway
Thrillseekers can head to the Autobahn Indoor Speedway to race high-speed pro-karts. The indoor 80,000 square foot facility is the perfect place to spend a fun day of karting with your family or a group of friends.
- St. Johns River Taxi
A great way to explore Jacksonville in all its glory is by hopping on a water taxi and riding across the St. Johns River to the Northbank. You can hop off at the Jacksonville Landing to head to the downtown area for a bite or shopping trip or opt to ride it for the entire loop to enjoy stunning views and live music.
- Adventure Landing
Adventure Landing is the perfect place to go as a family. The kids can play in the arcade, hit up a round or two mini-golf, or race go-karts around the track. You’ll also find the Shipwreck Island Waterpark here, which has four major water slides, rides, and plenty of fun for kids of all ages.
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is another great spot for families to visit. The vast zoo is home to over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants. Whether it’s watching the tigers in the zoo’s wide-open spaces or feeding the giraffes, there’s plenty of fun to be had!
Con: the education system in Jacksonville is a bit lacking
Although Jacksonville’s public school system is hardly the worst, it’s a bit subpar, especially in other major metropolitan areas. Test scores are slightly lower in the city than they are in other parts of Florida. Although grade schools are somewhat better off in terms of performance, the upper grades could use a lot of improvement. Many families choose to send their kids to private schools to try and counter this issue, but this is a costly option.
Pro: the city offers an array of neighborhoods
You have an array of options for finding a neighborhood to live in as a resident in Jacksonville. Some of the best options include:
- San Marco
San Marco is located south of downtown and north of Mandarin. Single professionals, art lovers, and creatives in general flock to this neighborhood, and it’s easy why – this eclectic arts and shopping district is filled with trendy boutiques, vibrant bistros, and a diverse population.
Located about 20 minutes northeast of the city, the Northside is a residential area that features several acre lots and new home developments. Its proximity to the airport and its numerous shops and several state parks and nature preserves make it a top choice for families, first-time homebuyers, and retirees.
- The Beachfront
Located to the East of the city along the coast, the Neptune, Atlantic, and Jacksonville Beach areas are home to some of the most desirable neighborhoods in Jacksonville, but they’re also the priciest. These areas offer easy access to the water and outdoor life.
The Southside and Mandarin areas of Jacksonville offer some of the most breathtaking river views in the city. The residential area has great schools, access to parks and recreation centers, and a low crime rate. It is popular with young couples buying their first home and families with young kids.
The Westside area of the city is ideal for those looking for a break from the hustle and bustle downtown. The house prices in the neighborhood are reasonable, plus there are several-acre lots for those looking to buy land.
Con: there are no direct international flights
If you travel internationally frequently, a move to Jacksonville may not be the best idea. This is because the airports in the city don’t offer direct flights overseas. In most cases, you’ll need to get a connecting flight if you’re planning to travel internationally. This is inconvenient and makes for longer journeys.
Pro: Jacksonville is a great destination for food lovers
Jacksonville has an underrated thriving culinary scene. There’s something for everyone from upscale bistros and locally sourced seafood to sandwich shops and family-friendly restaurants. Some Jacksonville food joints to try out include:
- American Eats
Looking to satisfy your sandwiches and burgers craving? Check out Kickbacks Gastropub / Goozlepipe & Guttyworks and Poe’s Tavern. Maple Street Biscuit Company is the place to be for something sweet – make sure to try out their delicious chicken biscuit. Alternatively, you can head to The Mini Bar for a unique selection of doughnuts.
- Food trucks
Jacksonville boasts an impressive 100 food trucks for when you want to eat on the go or want to try something new. Must-try food trucks include Mother Truckin’ Pizza, The Butt Hutt Smokehouse, Salty Dog, Fusion Food Truck, and The Happy Grilled Cheese Food Truck.
- Seafood Galore
For a taste of the sea, head to Whitey’s Fish Camp in Fleming Island or Clark’s Fish Camp in Mandarin for the first-hand experience. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Bistro AIX and Palm Valley Fish Camp are worth checking out.
- Ethnic Cuisine
Jacksonville offers a unique variety of ethnic food options. For Middle Eastern cuisine, head to the Green Erth Bistro. If Ethiopian cuisine is more of your vibe, try the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. The Mandaloun Mediterranean Cuisine is the top choice for those looking for a taste of Lebanese food, and the Asian fusion menu at Domu is to die for.
As you can see, there are upsides and downsides to living in Jacksonville. For many of the residents, the positives outweigh the negatives, which is why there has been a surge in the number of people flocking to the city to make it their home.
Jacksonville compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)
|Cities||Studio||1-BR Avg. Rent||2-BR Avg. Rent||3-BR Avg. Rent||Median Home Prices||Median Household Income|