What's it like to live in Ocala, FL?


Profile written by local expert:

Carlos E. Medina

Known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Ocala maintains deep equestrian roots even as the area evolves into a diverse metropolitan community. 

The rolling hills and green pastures of surrounding horse farms meld into the urban center of the city, where a burgeoning logistics industry takes advantage of the centralized location in the heart of Florida.  

A vibrant, historic downtown features Victorian-era homes framing a city square with an active food scene and nightlife. A creative impulse locally fuels independent movie makers, artisanal brewers, painters and sculptors. 

The proving ground of Kentucky Derby winners, every year the top thoroughbreds in North America come to Ocala to learn how to become racehorses. 

See all the best places to live in Florida.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Ocala, Florida is ranked:

#69 in Best Places to Live

#6 in Best Places to Retire

#5 in Fastest-Growing Places

#10 in Best Places to Live in Florida

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.5
  • Value
    6.2
  • Job Market
    5.6
  • Quality of Life
    6.5
  • Net Migration
    9.1

Read how we rank places

Ocala, FL Quick Stats

  • 348,371

    Metro Population

  • $38,690

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 48.6

    Median Age

  • $152,442

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.8%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $859

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 25.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Ocala, FL?

Ocala has plenty of golf, tennis and other activities, but its natural attractions are among the most unique in Florida.

Silver Springs State Park operated as a private attraction for years and is now back in state hands. The spring is one of the largest in the U.S. and puts out millions of gallons of crystal clear water every day. 

Visitors come to the park to ride the famous glass-bottom boats and get a glimpse of the wildlife that inhabits the waters. 

The area also is home to a sizable portion of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The greenway features miles of walking trails, bicycle paths and horse trails, all through natural Florida flora. The greenway stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River and was once a planned barge canal. 

The Appleton Museum of Art houses a vast collection of artifacts, including European, American, Asian, African, contemporary and pre-Columbian art. It also features traveling exhibitions and works of art on loan from other museums. 

The city also is home to theater and ballet companies and boasts its own symphony orchestra.

What's the cost of living in Ocala, FL?

The median sales price for a single-family home in Ocala is below the national average. The real estate market continues to heat up, with home prices increasing steadily.

There is no state income tax in Florida, and Ocala’s sales tax rate is just under the state average. Property taxes are near the state average.

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Ocala, Florida.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.2 /10

How we calculate this.


Ocala offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019


Ocala
$152,442

USA
$232,933

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Ocala, FL.

What's the weather like in Ocala, FL?

Warm weather dominates the year, but the area gets a taste of winter, with temperatures dipping to near or just below freezing a few times a year. 

Summer is the typically wet, hot and humid Florida, with afternoon thunderstorms the norm. Spring and fall usher in a multitude of festivals where residents and visitors can enjoy moderate temperatures. 

Hurricane season is usually quiet. The area’s central location means it’s protected from the worst of the storms. Ocala is one of the major evacuation areas for the rest of the state.

What's the best way to get around Ocala, FL?

Most residents get around in personal vehicles, and traffic can get heavy at peak times. Local and state highways have expanded to try to alleviate the congestion with mixed results, and rush hours continue to run bumper-to-bumper. 

Ocala offers public transportation through the SunTran line that covers the city. Ridership is limited but continues to grow.

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic is limited. While newer road projects include sidewalks and bicycle lanes, some major roadways lack both.

The Ocala International Airport is open to private and charter flights. While no commercial carriers service the city, the airport recently completed a new, expansive terminal. The airport is a hub for flights shuttling horses to and from the area. 

Ocala is less than an hour’s drive from Gainesville Regional Airport and just under an hour and a half away from Daytona Beach International Airport and Orlando International Airport.

Commuting in Ocala, FL

Means of Transportation
Driving
90%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
0%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

25.5 minutes

1.1 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Ocala, FL?

The Ocala metro area features a diverse population. What was once a retirement haven now has a population that is about half under age 50. 

There is still a significant number of people over 65 in the county, and many are an active part of the community. Their presence is felt most from fall to spring, when a lot of residents flock to the area fleeing the frigid north. 

Those who live here year-round take advantage of the many leisure activities offered at their 55-plus communities.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Ocala as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.