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The 10 Best Cities in Florida

We’ve ranked the top 10 largest cities in Florida according to their livability, using ratings for crime, cost of living, amenities, education, employment, weather, and housing.

Chris Kolmar

Chief Armchair Economist

158 articles, 136 comments

Florida, the Sunshine State. Its nickname certainly rings true as this is one of the sunniest states in the country, making it a popular place to live, but Florida is not without its bad weather too! Known around the globe as the home of Walt Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, the Everglades, and bustling cities like Miami, Jacksonville, and Orlando, Florida is a great place to visit, but how is it for living? We’ve ranked the top 10 largest cities in Florida according to their livability, using ratings for crime, cost of living, amenities, education, employment, weather, and housing. Here’s how they rank:

10. Miami

Best Cities in Florida
Miami has the largest metropolitan area in Florida, but as a city it is second largest in the state. Known for its great weather, a wealth of amenities, and a stable housing market, Miami only comes in as the 10th best city in Florida because of its high crime index, high cost of living, poor education, and a fairly high unemployment rate.

9. Hialeah

Best Cities in Florida
Located in Metro-Dade County, the city of Hialeah is the sixth largest city in the state and home to around 225,000 people. Hialeah is the ninth best place to live in Florida, and has a very similar livability score to that of Miami. Unemployment is slightly lower here, and there’s a little less crime, but the schools are not good, and the cost of living is high.

8. Tallahassee

Best Cities in Florida
Florida’s capital, and seventh largest city, is Tallahassee. Set in the north of the state, Tallahassee ranks highly for amenities, weather, and a stable housing market, and has the best schools out of all the cities on our list. A bad crime index keeps Tallahassee from ranking any higher than eighth best city in Florida.

7. Fort Lauderdale

Best Cities in Florida
Known as the Venice of America for its extensive canal system, Fort Lauderdale is an attractive city and popular tourist destination 23 miles north of Miami. Excellent access to amenities, great weather, above average employment, and a slightly lower cost of living are offset by the high crime index.

6. Tampa

Best Cities in Florida
Florida’s third largest city is on the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its vibrant cultural scene. Tampa is the sixth best city in Florida, and earned this accolade thanks to a very low cost of living, great amenities, sunny weather, and a stable housing market. A lower crime index and underperforming schools stops Tampa from being higher on the list.

5. Orlando

Best Cities in Florida
The fifth best city in Florida, and the fifth largest city, is Orlando. The Theme Park Capital of the World is home to around 238,000 people and has average unemployment rates, a low cost of living, great amenities, and average schools, but falls short on crime.

4. St. Petersburg

Best Cities in Florida
St. Petersburg is the fourth largest city in Florida. Fondly known as St Pete, the city has a very low cost of living, and a stable housing market. This along with the numerous amenities, average unemployment, and average schools puts it as the fourth best city in Florida. The bad crime rating is the only real downside to the city.

3. Jacksonville

Best Cities in Florida
For a large city, Jacksonville ranks very high on our list as the third best city in Florida. The crime index is better than Miami, St. Pete, Tallahassee, and Orlando, and a low cost of living helps to increase Jacksonville’s score too. Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida, and it’s in the north east of the state.

2. Pembroke Pines

Best Cities in Florida
Source: Flickr user emsolo
Though the cost of living is high in Pembroke Pines, this city in Broward County scores favorably in all other departments: better than average crime index, schools, and employment, and weather typical of South Florida all make Pembroke Pines the second best city in Florida.

1.Port St. Lucie

Best Cities in Florida
Source: Flickr user baseballoogie
Port St. Lucie is the best city in Florida! Home to around 155,000 residents, it’s the ninth largest city in the state. Port St Lucie takes the number one spot thanks to having the best crime rating among all ten cities. It also has a low cost of living, average schools and unemployment rates, and good access to amenities too.

Image Sources: Wikipedia

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posted on: September 26, 2013
299,111 views, 45 comments

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45 Comments

  1. BD

    Strange omission…Gainesville’s been ranked best city to live in the country (Cities Ranked & Rated, 2007), best place for career in Florida (Forbes, 2012) best place to live in America (Money, 1995), Tree City USA for 26 years (National Arbor Day Foundation), top 50 places to live and play (National Geographic), most technologically advanced in Florida (Popular Science), etc. etc.

  2. Scott

    I strongly doubt Port St Lucie should be number one
    Let alone in the top ten.
    I have lived in psl for over twenty years and I’m leaving as soon as possible.
    The school system is below average. With heavy focus on standardized testing, true education has taken a back seat. Not to mention my graduating class was less than 50%.
    The majority of the work force leaves the county to find employment of any quality jobs.
    There are no “amenities”. The main recreational activities are over priced hole in the wall bars.
    Residents that look to do anything in their free time leave the county and have to usually travel to west palm beach or Orlando, if not farther to find anything worth while. And at the very least Martin county.
    With constant heavy traffic, and poor city planning cycling is a huge risk. I have been hit by cars and trucks of many bad drivers. As well as many of my cycling friends. Not to mention all the litter and debris thrown about.
    So with all thy said I am moving my family back to Chicago and getting out of this black hole as soon as my house is fixed up and sold. Another down fall to the city is the horrible construction work. As I am a contractor and owned my own business. My company did very little work in the area and mainly traveled an hour plus for steady work.
    Stay out!! Do not make the same mistake I did.

    • penny steed in response to Scott

      Wow !!!!!!my husband and I are moving from pa in the next few months,my son just moved there and loves it , but its new ,moving from Boca, im looking for homes to rent now , Chicago that has lots of crime , what is the difference in the 2 places when it comes to crime,are there any areas in psl you can recommend.

      • John in response to penny steed

        I moved to Port Saint lucie in 2007 and I love it..

    • Carolyn in response to Scott

      Enjoy the Chicago winters!

    • Debbie in response to Scott

      How is Naples?

  3. Chase Trew

    Well when you move back to Chicago, i hope you or your family doesnt have to go to the hospital, seeing as Chicago has three or four of the worst hospitals in the country

  4. robin

    What makes PSL the best is, you have palm beach so close..(things to do) you have the mall so close(treasure coast)..thank god for no theme parks..(orlando…driving dist.2 hrs est.) I don’t panick if I forgot to lock my front door..I know my neighbors, I know the mail ladies name, publix employees remember me…the schools are what you make them..I never worry about being out after dark…

    • Joyce in response to robin

      Robin, Robin, Robin… you are way too trusting! I don’t know how old you are but you probably need a lesson or two in how to make your home safe. The police dept. will go to your home and tell you what you need to do or change to make you and your family safe. I know my mail lady and I love her dearly but she is in and out in 5 seconds flat. What will she possibly see before or after that if someone is trying to break into your house? You should panic if you forgot to lock your door or at least turn around and go lock it. I don’t care if you’re late for work or a social gathering especially now that you’ve posted it on here. Knowing the Publix employees please tell me what that will do to help you in a dark parking lot? They’re a bunch of kids that take out your groceries (and thank you to those people)so your screaming loud would be just as efficient as them not knowing or trained in what to do. Then there’s worrying about going out after dark…I’m not saying that you need to stay home or change your life style but you need to take your blinders off and be more vigilant to your surroundings. Just be more careful !

    • Kay in response to robin

      You’d better be careful, Robin! My brother and SIL were victims of a home invasion a few months ago during the middle of the day. The police told them they come up from Broward/Dade county and target all the houses near the turnpike/interstate because a lot of houses are vacant/in foreclosure, so less people to see them coming and going, and because they know most people in PSL work outside the county (Palm Beach), so they don’t come home for lunch or stop in during the day. Be careful. Not to mention, PSL is where a lot of drugs/weapons are run from down south to Ft. Pierce.

  5. NoseyNose

    Top 10 Florida Cities for highest crime rate; 1. Mangonia Park (Palm Beach) 2. Riviera Beach (Palm Beach) 3.Miami (Miami Dade) 4. Opa Locka (Miami Dade) 5. West Palm Beach (Palm Beach) 6. Belle Glade (Palm Beach) 7. Fort Pierce (Port Saint Lucie) 8. Orlando(Orange) 9. Daytona Beach (Valousia) 10. Miami Gardens (Miami Dade)

    Tallahassee? Seriously? Crime riddled? North Florida, Gainville and the Florida Panhandle are easily the prettiest and nicesest places to live in Florida. Port St. Lucie is crowded, lots of traffic and uh-ohhhh it has the states highest unemployment rate. Is the author a real estate agent with multiple listings in PSL? *giant eyeroll*

    • Bill A in response to NoseyNose

      Did all of the haters miss the opening paragraph : “We

  6. BillYbOY

    As a long time Florida resident, I have to wonder who made this list up and what criteria did they use?! I have been in all these cities, and believe me there’s nothing no. 1 about Port St. Lucie!

  7. ABetterEconomist

    This is actually the worst list I’ve ever seen. You clearly haven’t been to any of these cities. If you had, you’d know that PSL is NOT where you want to live. PSL is part of the “Treasure Coast,” and save for Ave D in Vero, PSL is the LAST place you want to live.

    Statistics CANNOT tell you where to live, this is why economics and basing judgements off pure statistics fails miserably.

    Clearly every Florida resident is disagreeing with you so far… so that must either tell you every Florida resident is clearly insane, or you have no idea what you’re doing.

    I’m going to go with the latter.

  8. susan

    What is up with all you negative people?
    PLS is a great place to live. Yes! There is a Mall and every kind of box store you need not to mention the abundance of restaurants and year round outdoor festivities. It is a great community with lots of activities year round. My husband commutes to WPB and I work medical in Palm City. We had no problem finding work and enjoy everything that the PSL area has to offer.

    • Rhonda Rose in response to susan

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve traveled a lot in my life & lived in many city’s & states. By far PSL is superior in every way. You need to look at the city website for daily activities & events. There is a park every few miles along with the ocean. City planning is on going to create a top notch city for today & tomorrow. The city of PSL doesn’t include Ft. Pierce the County where most of the crime occurs….I’ve been here 5 yrs and love it…Neighbors look after neighbors..I wouldn’t leave this community for any where in the world!

  9. Elizabeth

    The Publix on Becker Rd is the prettiest plaza I have ever been to. Go PSL!

  10. Florida Lover

    I have lived in 5 states and numerous cities and have been in Florida for almost 25 years. I hated Palm Beach County-crowding, traffic, crime. I love Port St. Lucie. Yes it has gotten more crowded in the last 10 years. Correct-you do drive 1-2 hours for major entertainment..but that is what makes it great. Thank God we are not like Orlando or Miami. The city is clean, business is developing, shopping has improved and housing values can be found. You never lived in New York or PA where everything is taxed, or Washington DC where crime is terrible or Virginia Beach where drugs trafficking is taking place. Our crime is very low for a city our size, all Florida schools are horrible, employment at this time (as with many many places across the US) is tough. So those of you who don’t like it here, please leave. Why live here 20 years if you don’t like it! We prefer to be with positive people. So don’t let the road hit you in the butt!

  11. Kate Luke

    PSL..REALLY??? Born and raised in Vero Beach, FL..Only 45 min north of port st lucie. I cannot believe that PSL made any list of great cities. My family and I laughed hysterically at it, I’m baffled at the fact that Stuart, Jensen, Palm City, or Jupiter weren’t mentioned…dude that wrote this should retract the article..its 100% misleading!

    • Will in response to Kate Luke

      Its for Cities with 200,00 plus people not little Vero Beach Pay attention !!

      • Debbie Shearn in response to Will

        Visited Florida several times and loved every visit. Visiting a place is different then living there. I’ve been looking on line on the West coast for cost of living and crime rate. Looking at Naples, St. Pete’s, Marco Island and Tampa. If anyone could give me feedback I’d appreciate it. Looking to move there.
        Thanks,
        Debbie

  12. Pete Meyer

    Obviously this is not a reliable resource. I grew up in St. Lucie and finally moved to Palm City. Night and day as far as crime and neighbors. I don’t know anyone that even lives there in their right mind that enjoys living there. That’s people who grew up there as well as people new to the area. I for one believe this article must be biased. Another misguided piece of Internet info. DON’T GO TO PSL.

  13. Vivian

    I love Lakewood Ranch Florida very nice city with the biggest mall under construction.

  14. PJ

    I don’t think the person who wrote this article has ever lived in FL. I lived in Orlando for 22+ years (My whole life up until 3 years ago). There is nothing “average” about the unemployment rate. If there was, I’d still live there. There is zero job market in FL, period, and the cost of living isn’t exactly low. It was, however, correct about the high crime rate.

  15. Vannessa Williams

    I came from wpb an port st lucie is beautiful place to live. I sleep with windows an doors open, 14 years never ever stolen from, no crimes in my part of town, Gatlin an I 95. Couldn’t be happier. Those complaining about this site being wrong but you go to martin county, lol, drive thru hobe sound, golden gate, ect..lol…drug’s, crime ridden, yet statistics say different. 14 yr residents an wouldn’t change nothing, son has went to school here since starting an now in high school an no problems,

  16. Cheri Smith

    This is a joke, PSL floods like crazy, there retention ponds over fill, there waterfront property is a few hours away from the intercoastal, bumper to bumper traffic. The best thing about PSL everything is off the I95 exit for the ones that don’t live there.

  17. RM

    Been in Port Saint Lucie for 3 years now. Nice city. If your looking for a better city than this and you live here and do not like it, then you have every right to pack up and leave. I’m sure there are many people all over this country and even this world that will take your place and enjoy it as we have so far. Heaven is the only paradise. Come and take a vacation here one time and make your own judgement. Jesus Saves…..

  18. Jamees Rich

    Port St. Lucie is indeed a great place to live. With a low cost of living, no Florida income tax, parks and recreational opportunities, low crime rate for a city of 165,000 residents and being located close to international airports, we have much to offer. If elected mayor, I intend to aggressively market Port St. Lucie globally. We need to broaden and diversify our employment base and reduce the number of residents commuting to work. Job #1; restore honor, integrity and respect to the office of mayor!

    • Vannessa Williams in response to Jamees Rich

      Please dont try to make this west palm or I will sell home an move. We need jobs but no more building, we took hard hit bc ppl tried to grow us too fast an so many not paying property taxes, would be nice to focus on sidewalks an bettering our schools. An more police because people coming from other counties an cities to rob our stores an make our area feel unsafe. If they think Stuart, Jensen beach, ect better, drive at night or day down a1a or us1 an see the drug dealers. Go buy homes in golden gate. Lol. Owned house in rocky point! Yep SOLD an able to retire at 38 an buy my home which is gorgeous 1800sq ft under air 3/4 acre lot, no neighbors behind drainage canal Never flooded thank you, an 2900 sq ft under roof of garage an porch on back. 1 mile from Sams, Walmart, , Publix, traditions an all the events they hold for free. I am upset that Newport Isles is letting HUD section 8 housing an I just dont feel my tax dollars should house people in gated beautiful half million dollar condo’s/townhouses. Some even have pools in back yard, if I have worked an own home an pay taxes an cant afford a pool in yard an maintenance, why an how are they allowed because they get electric assistance an pool not cheap to maintain. Ijs. So whoever is running for mayor, can you please listen to the peop, e an realize we need jobs yes, but we must get ourselves back on track an use budget to really fix broken things like flooding in certain areas an sidewalks an street lights on dark roads like Savage with sooooooooo, many children standing at 6:30 am for buses an cant see an getting hit because they dont want to walk near woods or in mud an wetness of grass. We need sidewalks. No more building until we need it. Need to get these people paying taxes on empty properties an homes an another great idea is the homes the city ownes needs to get them sold an even hold mortgages for families who work an may not make alot but need help instead of welfare system paying rents. I would have no problems with that, at least they would take pridean keep money rolling in. We have had a dirty old boy system in our county seats. I think personally if your going to be on counsel, do like hoa, donate your time, if you love your city so much. I would. Thank you, but we don’t need a bunch of outsiders here raising our crime rates, ppl travel to work because it’s so nice to come home an not have traffic, crime, an extra money to afford a great lifestyle. I know alot you will loose. We dont want to be like west palm or this place would’ve never grown in last 10 years like it did. Tourist means everything goes up.

      • James Rich in response to Vannessa Williams

        Vannessa – Port St. Lucie is very unique and has assets and challenges no other city has. I personally do not want to become like West Palm Beach. We must broaden and diversify our workforce if we are to reverse the number of citizens commuting for work. You have a number of issues you brought up in your response. Street lights are being erected where neighbors petition the city. There is a procedure to follow and works well. Flooding has bee reduced through the Eastern Watershed Improvement Project(EWIP). Millions of dollars were spent and so far, it has worked well. Sidewalks are planned and poured as funds are made available through the budget or grants. You said something about volunteering; I volunteer as a baseball umpire at various levels. Providing children a safe environment is paramount. Be well Vannessa!

  19. Aliona Buresh

    All of these lists are entirely subjective based on what criteria is included and how much weight each category has. Everybody is looking for something different. There is no one size fits all approach to these rankings.

  20. robhwright

    just recently retired..58 yr old single man..moved from maryland,where police cars speeding 80 miles an hour chasing criminals,ambulances sirens screeching all day…in st lucie near becker road….beautiful lakes,palm trees,beautiful homes…police bring their police cars home parked in front of their homes….nice and quiet..utility bill electric 30.00 a month..unheard of up north….a short drive from the ocean….list goes on an on….

    • Rita Henry in response to robhwright

      I am a Marylander who is also looking at retiring to PSL. I will love to get the views of someone from the MD perspective of comparison.

  21. andrea mern

    whomevever came up with this list obviously have not lived in florida.case and point hialeah at number nine.i worked in hialeah and could not wait to leave its like living in a foriegn country no one speaks english.traffic is horrible.people are rude.and crime is very high.unless you speak spanish .this is no place to be.

  22. Kathy

    Jensen beach and Stuart and Hutchinson Island have to be the prettiest areas near PSL. Living here for 5 years, cannot understand why Jensen Beach or Hutchinson Island does not make top areas for beach goers. Have to agree, PSL cannot hold a candle to the above mentioned areas

  23. lindy

    looking for a place in flordia resonable to raise two girls by my self. How are jobs? just finished school for medical assistant in Seattle washington. Ive been in seattle all my life and need a change.The rainis starting to drive me crazy. what area has good public schools. my daughter will be in the fith grade.my other child just turne 2 years of age and will need a great daycare, because i wont just put her anywhere. I dont have much help and or family, but im a very strong and social person.

  24. Kat

    Jensen Beach and Hutchinson Island beaches are the most prettiest areas on the east coast. The beaches are uncrowded and the ocean is aqua blue. Why doesn’t this area make Floeida’s most beautiful beaches?

  25. sue jones

    I am a 62 year old lady single now and looking to relocate…I have lived with my son and grandkids for a long time and I feel they take advantage of me where would be a great place to live and enjoy life.

  26. Pat

    Sue Jones,

    I can’t believe they take advantage of you like that. If you give me $25k, I can tell you where the perfect place to live would be, that they would never be able to do that again. -Pat

  27. Maree Mulvoy

    We have lived in PSL since 2005, and we love it here. We used to leave town for nice restaurants, but now there is no need. One night, we counted 40 restaurants between our house and the turnpike. We never lock our doors. In fact, we actually left the house for 13 days and left the garage door open (by mistake) and the house unlocked. We love our Church, St. Bernadette’s. It is more beautiful than the cathedral in West Palm. There are so many good golf courses, two health clubs within 2 miles of our house. Now that there is a brand new hospital at Tradition, more and more of the doctors are opening offices here, so we don’t have to drive to Stuart. We shop at Tradition, or along St. Lucie West Blvd. I do miss having a book store, but now we buy most of our books on-line. I have heard the schools are mediocre, and we have no children in school now, but I always vote for school and library mileage requests. A better educated community is better for all.

  28. Jasmine

    Port Saint Lucie is a great place to live safe and has good neighbours.

  29. glenn

    hello all from delaware well no sale taxes ect great beach and all the crack and other drugs u need so i two am looking to move to port st lucie and work in the food industries hope some one can give me a good realtor name

  30. TropicalConcier

    I have a business that collaborates some of this . Because I have moved all over this state in the last 15 years .To know everything about the history of the state . I also came here 30 years ago during the development of the Condo and Housing Markets. For inspections on construction sites.I have been in Corporate in Several cities as well as Tropical Destinations. I also look into the states main focus.Which is There Quality of life and Agricultural as well as Environmental changes within our Seas and Land . With each city and Community’s crime for Tourism as well as the quality of life . This is my Passion these comments are my concern . Now this list is a bit off . But not that far off . The state of Florida receives such bad reports . Due to a number of reasons . Yes Crime is bases on FBI reports from data . As well as political Corruption ! West Palm Beach came in as the worse place to live next to Miami. We have our problems but things will only be escalating in the years to come . As the port will be the highway to produce to states over to Texas . From imports due to our weather exstreams as clothing will be imported in as well to places such as NY . We will be known as the Latin America and out of all Florida’s and over to Texas . Our Economic Growths will be empowered .There is crime everywhere I know this every state is suffering from this . But each year we have 1 million snowbirds visit our state . The Population in the next 10 years I won;t even tell anyone
    33 “Florida’s Population Projections: 1995 to 2025,” U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Division As far as the top place to live in Florida …I would say with all my experiences and places . I am now leaving only to go to another state .But will always have my heart in Florida and my major focus will always be Florida . There is so much to enjoy in each place .The media just spins so much ..But we do have the best here . It is what you make of it .I was living in Palm Beach and found the best people .In all I have met and still will always love them there . The same about the Keys if you love the Out Doors the people there are the so different then anywhere . I never can or will leave the keys behind ! I am in Windermere and it’s schools are A and B as well as Private . You are in a safe place a 6 mile down the road to everything .Or up the road to Winter Garden .And right near all the Celebrities and grand Dr Phillips and Islle’s Worth .People drive around on Golf Carts . And your on the other side on Disney. So close to everything but back in the rural area ..But there building so won;t last there is nice lakes. Family place and close to it all. But the county is bad on crime but not here!!! I love it just need more will miss it but alone won’t do here. Unless well maybe you can be better than me .Waterford is also a nice spot. So have fun and Florida will be some day worse than Cali .But Orlando will have it’s mark Forbes already has it on there list .

  31. maria

    We are a couple in our late 30, we are looking to move to Florida, from Atlanta before winter comes. I would greatly appreciate some more of your opinion were to look. We just came from Pensacola beach.

    Thank you so much

  32. vera

    I moved to Florida from California. While I was able to buy a house when I moved (would not have been possible in California), this is not the place to move to if you need a “real” job. Too many geezers move here and they skew the job market because they will work for peanuts in order to have something to do. Their income is subsidized by social security and pensions so if they are only making minimum wage they don’t care. The problem is that employers offer that same low wage to people who need to make more money and people with college degrees who have some actual skills to bring to the job. You can’t earn a decent living in Florida. Also, the crime rate and the fact that any warm state attracts the vagrants, homeless and ex-felons from every other state isn’t to be minimized. I’ve lived in Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia, Oakland, CA., and it wasn’t until moving to this stupid little town in Florida that I ever saw a SWAT team do a home invasion with guns drawn. Yeah, and it was the house next door. Public schools are horrendous and the current governor is a souless bloodsucking cyborg. If you have half a brain or aspire to grow a career beyond taking orders at a drive-thru window, this is not your state!

 

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