The Best Places to Live in Florida for Families

Which Sunshine State metro area best suits your family?

Florida is a big state with a fast-growing population. Which metro area would be the best fit for your family? To figure this out, we looked at data from the U.S. News Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings, including affordability, quality of life and job market. As with our list of the overall Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Families, we weighted these factors equally to calculate which spots offer a reasonable cost of living, high quality of high school education, ample job opportunities for parents and overall high quality of life, in addition to other factors. Read on for the Best Places to Live in Florida for Families in 2022-2023.

14. Miami

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 137
Metro Population: 6,129,858
Median Home Price: $247,112
Average Annual Salary: $52,970

This most populous metro area in Florida is notoriously expensive, which is the biggest contributor to Miami’s rank of No. 14 on this list and No. 137 on the overall Best Places to Live list. Residents spend 31.55% of the median annual household income on mortgage payments, rent and property taxes, making it the second-most expensive place to live in the U.S., after Los Angeles. On the plus side, Miami also ranks sixth out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness among high school students, based on data from the U.S. News Best High Schools ranking.

Learn more about Miami.

13. Orlando

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 118
Metro Population: 2,560,260
Median Home Price: $399,846
Average Annual Salary: $48,530

The Orlando area is well known as a family-friendly vacation destination, as it is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and plenty of other attractions that make it an easy place to find things to do during evenings and weekends. Orlando high school students rank eighth for college readiness out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list.

Learn more about Orlando.

12. Daytona Beach

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 68
Metro Population: 658,961
Median Home Price: $331,137
Average Annual Salary: $43,100

The median home price in Daytona Beach, at $339,137, is below the national median of $365,616, according to Zillow data. However, with Daytona’s average annual salary of $43,100, compared with the national average of $56,310, many residents struggle to cover their household expenses in addition to other regular living expenses for their family. Parents get a bit of a break with traffic, however, as the average morning commute of 26.4 minutes is a half-minute less than the national average.

Learn more about Daytona Beach.

11. Lakeland

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 113
Metro Population: 705,735
Median Home Price: $304,274
Average Annual Salary: $45,430

Lakeland residents need less of their income to cover the cost of living than many other Florida metro areas, with just 24.55% of the area’s median household income needed to cover mortgage and rent payments, property taxes and more. That’s still above the national median cost of living, which is 24.15%. Lakeland ranks No. 5 out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Learn more about Lakeland.

10. Fort Myers

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 100
Metro Population: 765,570
Median Home Price: $405,336
Average Annual Salary: $47,340

Fort Myers ranks No. 17 out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for air quality, based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. Fort Myers also ranks third out of the metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder. But other, less-positive factors, like the relatively low average annual salary of $47,300 and the long average morning commute of 27.6 minutes, land Fort Myers at No. 10 on this list.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

9. Port St. Lucie

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 481,334
Median Home Price: $233,133
Average Annual Salary: $46,670

With an average annual salary in Port St. Lucie that’s nearly $10,000 below the national average, residents see more of their income going toward the cost of living, which requires 25.53% of the median household income. But this area offers some benefits that may appeal to families: Port St. Lucie receives its highest score among the details considered for the best places to live for families list for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder, based on FBI data. Port St. Lucie is also growing fast — the metro area’s population increased by 10.34% between 2016 and 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Port St. Lucie.

8. Ocala

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 91
Metro Population: 360,210
Median Home Price: $168,850
Average Annual Salary: $42,050

The smallest metro area on this list, Ocala is the highest-ranking Florida metro area for its access to quality health care, based on data from the U.S. News Best Hospitals ranking. Additionally, Ocala residents benefit from a relatively short commute, which averages 25.8 minutes. The average annual salary is low, however, at $42,050, and families should consider the impact of a potentially lower income if considering moving to the area.

Learn more about Ocala.

7. Tallahassee

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 110
Metro Population: 384,783
Median Home Price: $190,500
Average Annual Salary: $48,290

As the noncoastal capital of Florida, Tallahassee may feel a bit atypical of what you’d expect for a Florida metro area, but it certainly has its appeal. Tallahassee ranks 35th out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness among high school students, according to Best High Schools data. Living in Tallahassee isn’t cheap, though: Tallahassee area residents spend 26.24% of the area’s median household income on housing expenses.

Learn more about Tallahassee.

6. Naples

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 12
Metro Population: 379,345
Median Home Price: $345,000
Average Annual Salary: $50,040

Ranking No. 12 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Naples is a hot spot that many are moving to for the South Florida weather along the Gulf Coast, smaller metro area and, naturally, ample access to beaches. However, Naples is the second-most expensive Florida metro area on the list, requiring 27.16% of the area’s median household income to cover the cost of living. Only Miami is more expensive, when looking at metro areas in the Sunshine State that are among the 150 most populous in the U.S.

Learn more about Naples.

5. Tampa

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 39
Metro Population: 3,152,928
Median Home Price: $369,299
Average Annual Salary: $51,770

Families looking to raise teens in Florida will be pleased to know that Tampa’s high school students rank 23rd out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for college readiness. Additionally, Tampa ranks sixth for its low crime rates. Tampa’s population and popularity as a vacation destination make it tougher to get around: Tampa residents experience an average morning commute of 27.8 minutes.

Learn more about Tampa.

4. Pensacola

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 44
Metro Population: 496,278
Median Home Price: $200,800
Average Annual Salary: $45,170

Pensacola was once the most affordable place to live in Florida out of the 14 metro areas on this list, but a rising cost of living has seen that change. Now, Pensacola residents spend about 24.27% of the area’s median annual household income on housing costs, and both Ocala and Melbourne are considered more affordable. Pensacola ranks 17th out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder.

Learn more about Pensacola.

3. Jacksonville

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 24
Metro Population: 1,533,796
Median Home Price: $348,852
Average Annual Salary: $49,940

The cost of living in Jacksonville has been on the rise in recent years, with residents now spending 25.08% of the median household income on housing costs. The average annual salary for Jacksonville residents is $49,940, which is below the national average of $56,310 but above most other Florida metro areas on this list, including Daytona Beach, Port St. Lucie, Orlando and Sarasota. High school students in Jacksonville rank 36th out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness.

Learn more about Jacksonville.

2. Sarasota

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 9
Metro Population: 821,613
Median Home Price: $387,630
Average Annual Salary: $48,180

Ranking No. 9 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Sarasota is better known as a highly desirable place to live among retirees than growing families, though both populations can find plenty of appeal. The average age in the Sarasota metro area is 52.9 years, and it ranks No. 1 on the U.S. News Best Places to Retire in 2021-2022 list. Of the categories considered for the best places to live in Florida for families list, Sarasota’s highest score comes from its low rates of property crime and murder, with solid scores for air quality and college readiness among high school students and general well-being, based on the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index.

Learn more about Sarasota.

1. Melbourne

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 20
Metro Population: 594,001
Median Home Price: $217,400
Average Annual Salary: $51,740

Melbourne high school students rank 19th out of those in the country’s 150 most populous metro areas for college readiness, and the area ranks 11th for crime. Making life in Melbourne for families even easier is the strength of the area’s job market, which has the highest ranking out of the Florida metro areas on the list, factoring in both the average annual salary and unemployment rate, and ranks No. 42 out of 150. The average annual salary, at $51,740, is still below the national average of $56,310.

Learn more about Melbourne.

The best places to live for families in Florida are:

— Melbourne.

— Sarasota.

— Jacksonville.

— Pensacola.

— Tampa.

— Naples.

— Tallahassee.

— Ocala.

— Port St. Lucie.

— Fort Myers.

— Lakeland.

— Daytona Beach.

— Orlando.

— Miami.

More from U.S. News

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The Best Places to Live in Florida for Families originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/30/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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