The Best Places to Live in Florida for Families

We rank 11 Florida metro areas for how they’ll appeal to families based on the details that matter most.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |March 4, 2020, at 3:09 p.m.

The Best Places to Live in Florida for Families

Slideshow

Which Sunshine State metro area best suits your family?

Family walking  to the beach. People enjoying time on the beach on summer vacation. Footpath with palm trees, and ocean in the background. South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA

(Getty Images)

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.

11. Miami

11. Miami

Downtown Miami, Florida, USA, and the port, seen from MacArthur Causeway at sunset.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 113
Metro Population: 6,019,790
Median Home Price: $247,113
Median Annual Salary: $46,860
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 31.08%
College Readiness Rank: 2
Average Commute Time: 28.9 minutes

This most populous metro area in Florida is notoriously expensive, which is the biggest contributor to Miami's rank of No. 11 on this list and No. 113 on the overall Best Places to Live list. Residents spend 31% 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 San Juan, Puerto Rico. On the plus side, Miami also ranks second out the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness among high school students, following only San Jose, California.

Learn more about Miami.

10. Daytona Beach

10. Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, Florida, USA beachfront skyline.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 99
Metro Population: 623,675
Median Home Price: $192,817
Median Annual Salary: $38,710
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.84%
College Readiness Rank: 61
Average Commute Time: 25.4 minutes

The median home price in Daytona Beach, at $192,817, is well below the national median of $227,025. However, with Daytona's median annual salary of $38,710, compared with the national median of $50,620, 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 25.4 minutes is a minute less than the national average.

Learn more about Daytona Beach.

9. Port St. Lucie

9. Port St. Lucie

Aerial drone image of Port St Lucie Florida USA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 454,482
Median Home Price: $211,083
Median Annual Salary: $42,500
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.5%
College Readiness Rank: 80
Average Commute Time: 27.2 minutes

With a median annual salary in Port St. Lucie that's $8,000 below the national median, residents see more of their income going toward the cost of living, which requires 27.5% of the median household income. But this area offers some benefits that may appeal to families: Port St. Lucie is the highest-ranking Florida metro area on the list for its proximity to quality health care facilities, based on data from the U.S. News Best Hospitals ranking.

Learn more about Port St. Lucie.

8. Fort Myers

8. Fort Myers

Florida Fort Myers beach catamaran sailboat in USA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 700,165
Median Home Price: $219,200
Median Annual Salary: $41,380
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.47%
College Readiness Rank: 86
Average Commute Time: 27.2 minutes

Fort Myers ranks No. 11 out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which surveys people throughout the country on their feelings of general satisfaction, health and community pride about where they live. But other, less-positive factors, like the relatively low median annual salary of $41,380 and the long average morning commute of 27.2 minutes, land Fort Myers at No. 8 on this list.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

7. Orlando

7. Orlando

A colorful sunset over Lake Eola and Orlando, Florida with reflections captured off the lake.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 63
Metro Population: 2,390,859
Median Home Price: $233,050
Median Annual Salary: $44,410
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.72%
College Readiness Rank: 8
Average Commute Time: 28.2 minutes

The Orlando area is well-known as a family-friendly vacation destination, as it is home to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and plenty of other attractions that make it an easy place to find something to do during evenings and weekends. Orlando high school students rank eighth for college readiness out of the 125 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list.

Learn more about Orlando.

6. Lakeland

6. Lakeland

Lakeland, Florida, USA downtown cityscape on the lake at twilight.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 59
Metro Population: 652,256
Median Home Price: $171,967
Median Annual Salary: $40,560
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.88%
College Readiness Rank: 70
Average Commute Time: 26 minutes

Local crime is often a concern for families, and while no place offers a crime-free environment, there are areas that see it less frequently. Lakeland ranks sixth out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its low rates of property crime and murder. Additionally, Lakeland residents need less of their income to cover the cost of living than many other Florida metro areas, with just 25% of the area median household income needed to cover mortgage and rent payments, property taxes and more.

Learn more about Lakeland.

5. Pensacola

5. Pensacola

Beautiful colorful morning scene of a marona in Pensacola, Florida with fluffy clouds

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 37
Metro Population: 476,702
Median Home Price: $175,875
Median Annual Salary: $41,200
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 23.79%
College Readiness Rank: 68
Average Commute Time: 24.2 minutes

With a cost of living that requires about 24% of the area median annual household income, Pensacola is the most affordable place to live in Florida out of the 11 metro areas on this list, which contributes to its No. 37 rank on the overall Best Places to Live list. Additionally, Pensacola’s panhandle location makes it less busy than many other Florida metro areas, which helps keep the average morning commute to 24.2 minutes.

Learn more about Pensacola.

4. Tampa

4. Tampa

Tampa, Florida, USA downtown city skyline.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 56
Metro Population: 2,978,209
Median Home Price: $199,717
Median Annual Salary: $46,080
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.53%
College Readiness Rank: 12
Average Commute Time: 27.1 minutes

Families looking to raise teens in Florida will be pleased to know that the metro area’s high school students rank 12th out of the 125 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for college readiness. Job opportunities also keep unemployment low in the area, as Tampa’s unemployment rate is 3.4%. Tampa’s population and popularity as a vacation destination make it tougher to get around: Tampa residents experience an average morning commute of over 27 minutes.

Learn more about Tampa.

3. Sarasota

3. Sarasota

Sarasota, Florida, USA downtown skyline at night.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 18
Metro Population: 768,381
Median Home Price: $237,260
Median Annual Salary: $42,680
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.51%
College Readiness Rank: 19
Average Commute Time: 24.5 minutes

Ranking No. 18 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Sarasota is the place to be if you’re looking for a metro area where the community around you feels content: Sarasota ranks No. 1 out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Additionally, high school students in Sarasota rank 19th out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness, and the average morning commute is relatively short at 24.5 minutes.

Learn more about Sarasota.

2. Jacksonville

2. Jacksonville

Skyline, Jacksonville, Florida, America

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 42
Metro Population: 1,447,884
Median Home Price: $174,658
Median Annual Salary: $45,760
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.32%
College Readiness Rank: 14
Average Commute Time: 26.5 minutes

Jacksonville is the second-most affordable Florida metro area to live in out of the 11 on this list, following only Pensacola. Residents spend just over 24% of the median household income on the cost of living. The median annual salary for Jacksonville residents is $45,760, which is below the national median of $50,620 but above other Florida metro areas on this list, including Daytona Beach, Port St. Lucie, Orlando and Sarasota.

Learn more about Jacksonville.

1. Melbourne

1. Melbourne

The Eau Gallie Causeway Bridge in the Morning Sunrise

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 25
Metro Population: 568,183
Median Home Price: $198,425
Median Annual Salary: $48,240
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.65%
College Readiness Rank: 4
Average Commute Time: 24.5 minutes

Melbourne high school students rank fourth out of those in the country's 125 most populous metro areas for college readiness, behind San Jose, Miami and Reno, Nevada. 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 median annual salary and unemployment rate. The median annual salary, at $48,240, is still slightly below the national median of $50,620.

Learn more about Melbourne.

The best places to live for families in Florida include:

The best places to live for families in Florida include:

Mother and daughter running inside the water on tropical beach

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  • Melbourne.
  • Jacksonville.
  • Sarasota.
  • Tampa.
  • Pensacola.
  • Lakeland.
  • Orlando.
  • Fort Myers.
  • Port St. Lucie.
  • Daytona Beach.
  • Miami.

Read More

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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