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The state of Florida is known all over the world as the home of Walt Disney World and here stateside we like to call it “The Sunshine State.”

With its miles of coastline, beautiful beaches, the everglades and happening hot spots like Miami and the Keys it is no wonder Florida natives are so proud of their home state.

If you’re looking to make a transplant down South and want to enjoy all that the state has to offer consider one of our 15 best places to live in Florida.

 

15) Fort Meyers

If you’re looking for small town charm then this city on the Gulf may just be the perfect spot for you. Fort Meyers currently has a population of around 65,000 people and is full of all the amenities one would associate with Florida.

Residents get to enjoy the outdoors and fine weather here year round with plenty of opportunities to hit the sand at the nearby Cativa beaches and islands and the popular Sanibel beach. If immersing yourself in the local culture is something you are looking for, take your pick of activities like ArtFest Fort Meyers, the Music Walk or the Art Walk to help get your imagination and creative juices flowing.

This nautical city is full of gorgeous scenery and plenty of historical sites to get to know and love as well. Another great thing about the location of Fort Meyers is its close proximity to some of the best boating and fishing the state has to offer. Serious anglers and beginners alike can enjoy a wide range of fishing related activities year round in the area.

The city is also home of several different school options for students to choose from and overall is a great place to raise a family.

 

14) Vero Beach

The city of Vero Beach is one of those hidden little gems of a town with a small population of just about 15,000 residents.

As part of the state’s Treasure Coast, it is also a place rich in history and intrigue.

For those looking to visit and live in a city with plenty of activities available, Vero Beach offers a wide array of museums, historical sites and annual cultural events to enjoy with friends and family like the popular shows put on at the local J.M. Stringer Gallery of Fine Art.

If outdoor activities are what you’re looking for there are number of different kayaking and canoe activities offered in the city and the nearby Sebastian River.

The city is also just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Indian River Lagoon, making it a popular destination for visitors from all over the US. The diverse population of the city also features a great artist community that helps to shape the city’s overall character. With over 28 percent of the city’s population identifying as 55+ Vero Beach is also known as a great place to retire.

 

13) The Villages

Ranked by Forbes magazine as the number 1 Fastest Growing Small Sown in the US in 2012, currently the city has right around 72,000 permanent residents.

A popular retirement city, The Villages is also home to a large number of health and medical care facilities and a great deal of private care facilities that provide preventative care services.

There is so much going on in the medical community here that the community here likes to consider their small city, “America’s Healthiest Hometown.”

Another interesting fact about this small town is the fact that around 15 percent of the residents here enjoy the freedom of working from home. This may give these residents a better chance to get out and enjoy the many great recreational activities the city has to offer including a number of beautifully maintained golf courses, numerous recreation centers and visits to the polo field.

The city is also well known as a great place to raise a family as it has a great public school district and many of the residents here are families with small children.

 

12) Naples

For all the grandeur you may be used to hearing about the great state of Florida without the hustle and bustle associated with the city of Miami and its surrounding suburbs, Naples may be the place for you.

The city is one of the wealthiest in the US and is currently ranked with the 6th highest per capita income in the country.

Real estate here is among the highest in the country as well with some homes going for more than $40 million.

But it isn’t all lifestyles of the rich and the famous around here as there is plenty to see and do for the average resident as well.

The beaches in this area are known as some of the best that the Gulf Coast has to offer with miles of pristine sands and the city is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and boaters alike. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a bit of culture you can always make a visit to any number of the city’s well maintained and beautiful art galleries, golf courses, local parks and more.

 

11) Dunedin

As a neighbor of the much larger city of Tampa, Dunedin is known locally as a bit of a hidden gem.

This hopping little city is very popular with visitors the world over and is home to an impressive 22 different events and festivals each year.

It is also home to several incredible beaches and the gorgeous Caladesi Island State Park.

The park is a rare treat for visitors to explore as it is only accessible by boat and is one of Florida’s last undeveloped barrier islands. The city is also known for being the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays and is one of the smallest communities currently in use by Major League teams.

For visitors and residents looking for a truly unique experience, the city is also home to the state’s oldest micro brewery, the Dunedin Brewery where you can sit back, relax and enjoy a delicious brew or two.

Dunedin is also a culturally and racially diverse city with a great connection to its sister city of Stirling, Scotland and is host to the Dunedin Highland Games each year that welcomes a number of Scottish clans to participate in the events.

 

10) Miami

Although the well known city of Miami may have the largest metropolitan are in the state of Florida, it ranks only second in population.

The city is perfect for those looking to live in a culturally and racially diverse city that has something to offer for everyone.

There is never a shortage of things to do in the coastal city and whether you are looking to simply hit one of the city’s many beaches or party it up like a rock star at any number of its exclusive clubs, there is a great scene happening here.

From cultural events like the famous Art Basel show each year to the blossoming film and music industries, Miami is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US.

But it is much more than just the glitz and glamour that you may have heard about, the city is also rich in culture and tradition and for the foodie, it is a perfect place to eat your fill. Take your pick of Cuban delicacies, 5 star restaurants and little hole’s in the wall, the truth is you can’t go wrong when it comes to an adventurous appetite for life in Miami, FL.

 

9) Hialeah

This suburb of Miami is also located within Miami-Dade county and is currently the 6th most populated city in the state.

This city is extremely rich in culture and is also home to the highest population of Cuban and Cuban American residents out of any other city in the US.

The city is also home to one of the largest Spanish speaking communities in the US, making it the perfect place for the Telemundo headquarters.

The city also offers a wide array of recreational activities for its residents to enjoy year round including 5 public swimming pools, an aquatic center, 3 different tennis centers and 14 incredible public parks. Its close proximity to the coast also makes for an easy trip to a number of southern Florida’s famous beaches.

Education is also a cornerstone of the community here as the city is home to several different private schools as well as its main public school system. It is a great alternative to the much busier and heavily populated city of Miami, but still well within striking distance for those who want to make a drive into the metropolis.

 

8) Tallahassee

The capital city is situated in the northern part of the state and is home to many great amenities and a diverse cultural scene.

For those looking to raise a family, Tallahassee ranks high on our list due to its great public schools system and high college aged population.

The college town is home to both Florida State University and Florida A&M University.

Many of the city’s residents are employed through the colleges as well, creating a great sense of community throughout the city. Tallahassee also ranks well for its great weather and a very stable housing market.

The city is also rich in history as it has been a min hub for trade since the 17th century. The city is also home to a great deal of festivals and events each year including the Tallahassee Film Festival, Tallahassee Wine and Food Festival and the Southern Music Rising Festival.

Add to that a number of exquisite museums and a great parks system and Tallahassee pretty much covers all of the bases needed to be an interesting and comfortable medium sized city.

 

7) Fort Lauderdale

The city of Fort Lauderdale is known to many as the “Venice of America” due to its very extensive canal system.

Located on the coast just over 20 miles north of Miami, the city is another one of those great locations that puts its residents within arm’s reach of the more popular and heavily populated landmark city.

Because of its gorgeous year round weather and average temperatures of about 77 degrees, the city is also a very popular tourist destination.

Visitors and locals alike have the chance to enjoy any number of great amenities in Fort Lauderdale including a great parks system, wonderful fine dining restaurants, over 60 golf courses, multiple museums and a great night life scene as well. The city is also a well known and loved destination for spring breakers and its economy relies heavily on tourism.

The city is also home to the incredible Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex and and International Swimming Hall of Fame which is a great draw for locals and international visitors alike. With never a shortage of activities and interesting sites to discover, Fort Lauderdale really is one of the best cities Florida has to offer.

 

6) Islamorada

This smaller city is located in the southern part of the state as part of the Keys and is well known as a “city of islands.”

It once again ranks high on our list due to its excellent location and large number of amenities for visitors and locals to enjoy year round.

One of the city’s main attractions is its great fishing and boating scene. The city proudly boasts the title of the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World” and this industry is a main contribute to the local economy. The city is also home to the gorgeous Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina and is known as a favorite destination for visitors from all over the state.

Visitors to this small, beautiful island community may have a hard time finding a good reason to leave and that seems to be just fine with residents here as many of them are able to enjoy a unique isolated residency here on many of the city’s small private island. The combination of the city’s great location, fantastic weather and laid back attitude make it a perfect place to call home.

 

5) Tampa

The city of Tampa is Florida’s 3rd largest city and sits right along the Gulf of Mexico.

It is well known for having a great cultural scene with a number of fabulous attractions and activities for visitors and residents to take part in.

Tampa is also famously the home to a number of different sports teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Lightening.

The city was also named the 5th Best Outdoor City by Forbes magazine in 2008 due in large part to its wonderful parks system and excellent year round climate. We love the city for its relatively low cost of living compared to other city’s of its size, great location and its stable housing market.

It comes off as a great place to live and raise a family in as well, with plenty of activities for one to see and do year round. Tampa also offers a unique and diverse dining scene for residents to enjoy along with a number of great museums and festivals to take part in annually.

 

4) Orlando

A list of great cities in Florida just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Orlando.

As the Theme Park Capital of the World, Orlando is home to not only Walt Disney World, but also Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld and the truly unique Gator World.

It is the most visited city in all of the US and as you can imagine, tourism is the main contributor to the economy in the city.

Orlando also ranks as number 4 on the list of cities American’s would most like to live in according to a Pew Research Study conducted in 2009. The city is made up of mostly wetlands and offers visitors a wide array of opportunities to visit its many different lakes and swamp lands.

With its gorgeous tropical year round temperatures and close proximity to the coast Orlando is a fun and exciting city to live in even if you aren’t the theme park type. The city also ranks high on our list for it’s relatively low cost of living, good public school system and unbeatable location within the state of Florida.

 

3) Jacksonville

Jacksonville is the largest city in the state and ranks very high on our list due to a number of great qualities including its low overall crime index, affordable cost of living and its large number of great facilities available for residents to savor.

The coastal city is also very diverse and offers resident the chance to bask in its great cultural and historical scene.

As is common with the rest of the city’s on this list, Jacksonville relies heavily on its tourism industry to contribute to the local economy and for that, there are a great number of things to do in and around the city.

The city is home to a number of world class golf courses, a lively performing arts scene, The Jacksonville Film Festival and the annual Gator Bowl. Its large number of museums, festivals and zoo are also all great attractions to visitors form around the country.

The city’s great focus on education with its good public school system plus its large number of colleges and universities make it a great place to grow up in and to raise a family as well.

 

2) St. Petersburg

The 4th largest city in the state of Florida is a great place to live and grow up in.

We love this city because of its great location, tropical climate, large number of amenities and its very low cost of living when compared to other cities of its size throughout the US.

The city is located on the Gulf of Mexico and offers a great boating and fishing scene as well as plenty of options for different water activities and sports.

It has long since been a popular destination for snow birds and retirees, but in recent years has seen a resurgence in a more youthful crowd sue in large part to its blossoming arts scene. With lots of wonderful dining options and cool nightlife spots, the central part of the city sees a ton of action on weekends and during the summer months.

The city is also another good place to raise a family as it has a good public education system, lots of fun things to do and several different higher education institutes located throughout the city.

 

1) Port St. Lucie

The number 1 spot on our list goes to the small city of Port St. Lucie. The city is home to about 155,000 people and ranks as the 9th largest city in the state.

Its low cost of living, excellent location and low crime rates make this city a great place to live and an even better place to raise a growing family.

Its location on the Atlantic coast also offers residents and visitors great access to a number of beautiful beaches, outdoor recreation and a subtropical climate that is hard to beat. Home to a number of great attractions, there is a great deal to explore in and around the city.

Tourism is a big draw for the local economy here and visitors can enjoy lots of nautical activities including fishing, golfing and horseback rides along the beach. The city is also home to the New York Mets spring training which is a big draw for visitors each year.

For those looking to have their family focus on education you won’t be disappointing with the city’s good public school system and many options for post-secondary education as well. In Florida, Port St. Lucie has got a bit of it all.