Best Places To Live In Florida In 2023: Top 5 Sunshine State Cities, According To Experts

People are on the move. A new poll found that one in four people have moved in the last five years. The most popular destination? Florida. And the migration is not slowing down. Florida tops the list of states Americans are moving to right now, and it’s also the third-most popular state Americans want to move to in the future! Currently, the population is nearing 22 million in the Sunshine State, and that got us thinking about the best places to live in Florida. 

After all, there’s so much to love about this southern state: sunny days, 600+ miles of beaches, amusement parks, wildlife galore and much more. According to a survey, today’s new Floridians are drawn by the same factors that have lured settlers and snowbirds for a century: warm weather and waterfront views, along with lower taxes and fewer regulations than in other parts of the country. 

Speaking of waterfront views, Florida’s Clearwater Beach ranked as one of the four best U.S. beaches. See all the must-visit sandy spots for building sandcastles and memories, here. And if you do make it to Clearwater, you should know there’s an incredible sand sculpting festival. Sand artists from around the world flock there to create sandy masterpieces, so make sure to bring your camera. But is this area the best place to build your castle and call it home?

Let’s find out! We’ve compiled a list of the five best places to live in Florida, according to 12 experts. So, if you’re one of the people looking at this literal hot spot for a place to settle down, read on. And if you’re already a full-time resident or part-time snowbird loving your Florida haven, tell us about it in the comments!

The List: Best Places To Live In Florida, As Recommended By Experts

1. Sarasota

U.S. News ranks this city in the top spot, writing, Sarasota has a distinct vibe that’s different from Florida’s relative coastal cities, with its own vibrant arts scene, beachy atmosphere and burgeoning food culture. People who choose Sarasota as their home are generally called by its unique charm. This metro area of just over 800,000 people has a renowned opera house, a number of rooftop bars and the popular beach of Siesta Key.” 

This Gulf Coast location trades the big-city traffic and noise of Tampa, one hour north, for a more laid-back lifestyle. While the beach is an obvious draw, the city boasts plenty of culture, too, including the International Ballet of Florida in nearby University Park and the annual Sarasota Film Festival. And while this is a perfect pick for retirees, Sarasota also offers plenty of nightlife options for younger residents, too,” Bankrate says.

Sarasota tops the list of best places to live in Florida.
Sarasota, Florida is one of the best places to live in the Sunshine State.(Photo by Josiah Gibbs on Unsplash)

And LifeFamilyFun.com recommends it highly: Sarasota is a beautiful place to live. It’s also the perfect distance from fun cities like Orlando and Tampa, which you could drive to for a weekend getaway. It has sandy shores and a thriving art scene, making it one of the most desirable places to live in the country.”

2. Naples

Even the dolphins love it in Naples! Ramsey Solutions says, “Nestled in the southwest corner of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples holds [a] top spot for places to live in Florida. Naples is known for its paradise weather, gentle waters and ‘sugar’ sand beaches. There’s plenty to do there like fine dining, boutique shopping — and dolphin viewing!”

“Naples has become a prime destination for retirees and seasonal residents. While the area is notorious for its sophisticated lifestyle and culture, Naples is an affordable destination for families. Enjoy the white sand and gorgeous sunset views at Naples Beach, perfect for any beach lover. Sightsee off of the Naples Pier, or wine and dine at one of the many fine-dining establishments with ocean and beachfront views. With an expansive selection of golf courses, a low crime rate, and a high-ranking school district, Naples continues to be named one of the best places to live in Florida,” according to Uphomes.com.

Beautiful house in Naples, Florida
There’s no shortage of beautiful waterfront real estate in Naples. (Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay)

PureWow is wowed by Naples, saying, “From serene beaches to top-notch dining to some of the most gorgeous sunsets we’ve ever seen, Naples feels like another world — which is why it’s one of the best places to live in Florida. As for where to live, north of Old Naples offers various gated neighborhoods, high-rise condos and golf club communities. Marco Island is less than 30 minutes away too, serving as another popular living option.” 

3. Tampa/Hyde Park 

Budget Travel Buff recommends Tampa as a great place for families to settle down: “Tampa is the best place to live in Florida with kids. The city is surrounded by Tampa Bay in the north and Old Tampa Bay in the East. Tampa has stunning views of beaches, and Hyde Park, Westshore, Davis Island, and Beach Park have the best housing options to reside and welcome newcomers from worldwide. It is considered as the 6th most attractive region of the country for job opportunities and land development. It also has a lot of professional sports teams and museums.” 

Niche says the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa is the best place to live, writing, “Hyde Park – Spanishtown Creek is in Hillsborough County and is one of the best places to live in Florida. Living in Hyde Park offers residents an urban feel and … there are a lot of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. The public schools in Hyde Park are highly rated.” 

Beautiful nighttime skyline view of Tampa
Beautiful nighttime skyline view of Tampa. (Photo by Jesse Adair on Unsplash)

4. Orlando/Winter Park

“Situated in the heart of central Florida is Orlando, nicknamed “The Theme Park Capital of the World” and drawing 55 million annual visitors. For residents, the city has 115 neighborhoods, great schools and excellent health care, along with numerous high-tech companies. About 25 colleges and universities operate in Orlando,” according to Livability.

“[It’s] a great pick for the best places to live in Florida for families. Regardless of whether you’re looking to be close to Disney World or simply want a safe and secure place to raise children, Winter Park remains one of the best places to live in Florida for families,” The World and Then Some writes.

Winter Park, Florida near Orlando
The cozy, quiet confines of Winter Park, Florida near Orlando make it an ideal place to live. (Photo by AK on Unsplash)

5. Pensacola

Pensacola isn’t just a desirable place to live. It’s also considered the third best place to retire in the U.S. WEAR-TV says, “The region’s warm climate and desirable setting isn’t the only reason people choose to live in Pensacola. The military has a relatively small, though very significant, presence here. Naval Air Station Pensacola draws military families to the area. Residents also find employment in the health care, higher education and, of course, tourism sectors.”

Not only is Pensacola one of the most western Florida cities, but it’s also one of the wettest; Pensacola sees an average of 64 inches of rain per year. On sunny days enjoy strolling along the beach and visiting local highlights like the Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Pensacola is home to other great open spaces like Bay Bluffs Park and Bayview Dog Park and Beach. This panhandle city leans conservative and has 14 hospitals in its vicinity. If you prefer life in the suburbs, check out Tiger Point, Gulf Breeze, and Oriole Beach,” NewHomeSource.com recommends.

Pensacola Beach, Florida
Pensacola Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Ciciarelli on Unsplash)

Looking to move to Florida? Already in The Sunshine State? Let us know what you think of the experts picks in the comments.

Sources

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Comments

  1. I’ve been visiting Fl for about 15 years. I’ve stayed all over the state. Lauderdale, Ocala, The Villages, Naples etc.
    I moved here permanently 2 years ago. Lived in Sarasota and loved it. I bought a home in Bradenton near I-75 bordering Lakewood Ranch and found this area (Tara) to have everything. Traffic? This is Florida. Being retired I am able to pick and choose times and I rarely have a problem.
    In closing I found this list, with the exception of Sarasota, to be somewhat inaccurate. To each his own! Enjoy the Sun, warmth and beaches or move to Buffalo.

  2. Pensacola is definitely not the best place in Florida. Born and raised here and once upon a time very nice but its high rent, dirty, tons of crime, worst schools in state, rates worst water and high std for state. The beach is the only thing to do and its beautiful but if you don’t drink there’s nothing to do. Rents tripled and you are lucky to find a house. Electric high since bought out by FPL. SOME nice areas but def not best. One of worst actually.as far as Naples, lived there also. Its very expensive but definitely the area is amazing. Ft Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda all great areas but you will pay for them. Also let me mention murder rate high in pcola and we number one for drug overdose. My goal is to move asap. Came back after divorce. Worst mistake ever.

  3. Four of the five places 30% are dumps. Naples is beautiful but very expensive. Now if I was to move to Florida I moved to lighthouse point now there’s beauty everything you need is around lighthouse point great restaurants yeah if you like fast food plenty of them. Even the police are nice.

  4. My family has been on the same property in central fl for over 150 yrs,,we are being over run with OUTSIDERS, people moving here everyday and not slowing down,I hate it,it has ruined our small town,our state….prices skyrocketed on everything,can’t move around for all the people,,,it’s awful just awful…😢😢😢😢

    1. I am a Florida Native and so was my mom. It is ridiculous what they are doing to this place. Building moratorium needs to be put in place. They originally were not supposed to build east of the interstate!!! Now they are building it up like Lakewood Ranch! It all needs to 🛑

      1. Just moved to Sarasota from last June, so far I liked it very much, I am officially snowbirds from Seattle, I have lived in Seattle for 40 years plus, love my home town but could not handle the winter there anymore, Florida offering me the best of both ways, and I am counting our blessings, Floridian people are nice and pleasant, we’re all must accept the ways of life , can’t stop growing people migrate from other states,try to adapt and welcoming us all , under God’s eyes, we’re one ,indeed

  5. Lots of NIMBY going on in the comments, as well as “I’ve got mine, but you can’t have yours, so please stay away”…lol.

  6. Stay away from Lake County , FL ( Mt. Dora , Leesburg, Claremont or even Howey-in-the-Hills). We like it just the way it is!

  7. Sarasota is definitely not the number one place to live in Florida, unless your wealthy. Housing prices, rent has tripled in the past couple of years. Service workers are relocating because of lack of affordability. Population has increased dramatically, making traffic unbeatable. Roadways are over taxed with vehicles. Both roadways and sewer systems will soon not be able to handle the growth. I grew up in what was once a beautiful beach town, not, like so many others, I’m disgusted and saddened by the choices of the leaders of this once beautiful place and will relocate

  8. I agree with Naples being beautiful,but definitely not cheap at all. And as some have mentioned,it’s very crowded and driving through it can become very frustrating. I live in Bonita Springs and it is also very beautiful and expensive as well. There is top shelf dining and shopping everywhere,and many more new attractions coming. Also homes and rentals are out of reach for most$$$$..And let’s not forget that now and probably for another 2 years, part of Naples,all of Bonita,through Ft.Myers along the Gulf of Mexico and inland,are “wiped out”from Hurricane Ian.

  9. None of these communities have planned for this expansion the roads are not wide enough the parking lots are not big enough and driving is not something that you really want to do in these areas

    1. You got that right. My city used to be so serene, beautiful and scenic and it is completely been destroyed by transplants. We don’t want or need any more publicity. We have to fight for our neighborhoods on a regular basis to keep prevent a new building or expansion from destroying our neighborhoods.

  10. Orlando is a shit hole of ignorance. Traffic is terrible and it’s overrun with pedophiles and sex trafficking.

    Areas of the panhandle are desirable as well as the resurgent space coast.

  11. I’m not quite sure who chose Pensacola but it is most assuredly NOT the place to move to for any reason. Trust me it is a trap. Pensacola is dirty, the housing market sucks for lack of a more intellectual word. If you are degreed like myself the pay will be devastatingly low. There is nowhere to go, and nothing to do.

  12. I relocated to Pensacola FL 3 + years ago from the DC area. I feel as if I’ve moved to an area that is so far behind the technology curve, it’s as if I’m living in the dark ages. Also, ghetto like areas are all around. And, ethical contractors, for the most part, are non-existent. While there are some PROS – the CONS definitely out weigh them.

  13. All of these locations are expensive due to the crazy prices in waterfront Real Estate and property insurance.
    Who ever wrote this article probably never lived in Florida. Orlando is a traffic nightmare during rush hour however there are some nice retail outlets. North of Orlando in Sanford or Clermont is better. Ocala is a growing city that has a nice central location. A lot of new housing communities are being built here with the option of buying larger lots for your dream home, something you are not able to do on the over develop coast line. Gainesville/Ocala also has a growing medical sector.

  14. Sarasota is definitely the Best big city, but much to crowded and traffic is crazy.. I prefer the smaller towns like Venice , Punta Gorda and definitely the West Coast

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