From its beaches to its theme parks and everything in between, the Sunshine State of Florida offers something for everyone. Floridians may argue over which place in the state is tops, but which actually deserves the fame that comes with being the absolute best?
The Movoto Real Estate Blog decided it was time to find out which place should get these bragging rights. We slipped on our shades and sandals (hey, we tend to have those handy out here in California) and set out to collect the data that would give us our results.
What did we find? Coral Springs came out on top of our ranking, like a flag planted on top of a sand castle. Getting to the top wasn’t easy, since it had to outdo the rest of the 10 Best Places In Florida:
1. City of Coral Springs
2. City of Deerfield Beach
3. City of Winter Park
4. City of Pompano Beach
5. City of Gainesville
5. City of Cape Coral
5. Town of Jupiter
8. Town of Davie
9. City of Coconut Creek
10. City of Weston
We realized that folks in Orlando and Tampa may be a bit bewildered at not seeing their cities on the top 10. Where did they rank, and how did we arrive at the top 10 above? You can find the top 50 best places in a chart at the end of this post, and as for our methodology, we’ll tackle that next.
Fun In The Sun With Math
As with all of our Big Deal List rankings, we started out by finding the most populated places in the state. In the case of a very large state like Florida, we looked the top 100. Once we had our list of places, we collected data across seven unique criteria for each:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
We gathered this data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the FBI, and business listings. Then, we ranked each place from 1 to 100 in all of the criteria, with one being the best. The average of these individual rankings became our Big Deal Score, the lowest of which was our No. 1 place, Coral Springs. Why is this city so great? Let’s examine what factors gave us our top 10, as well as what other things our best places have to offer.
Coral Springs really does have “everything under the sun,” as its slogan claims. The 31st-place amenities include an arts museum, theater, golf club, and much more.
There’s even an Our Town American festival every year, complete with games, food, and entertainment. When it comes to just finding a nice place to sit down and grab a bite, there’s always the Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar, where they have scrumptious hummus and a huge selection of wines.
If we look beyond the cool things to see, do, and eat here, there were still some strong numbers saying that Coral Springs really is a great place. The taxes here were very low, and the employment was quite high at 91.1 percent. The median income is very high at $71,456, which ranks eighth on our list, so the only thing that workers really have to be concerned about is their grueling average commute of 31 minutes.
The crime rate here was also very low, which makes this a safe, fun, and affordable place for workers and families alike.
Deerfield Beach is home to 75,018 people as well as some pretty great attractions. From
Renaissance festivals to outdoor concerts, this place has plenty to offer those looking for activity or just a little culture. There are parks like Quiet Water to relax in, and an arboretum to explore for those who need a little dose of nature.
The commute time was low and the employment rate was high for all the working Janes and Joes, and the weather was generally pretty comfy. The crime was fairly low as well in this city at only 3,656 crimes per 100,000 people.
Although it’s not the highest on our list for this ranking, Deerfield Beach placed a respectable 43rd for amenities, so you’re bound to be able to find something to entertain your mind or tastebuds around here.
3. Winter Park
Winter Park is the smallest place in our top 10 at 27,852 residents. A little city doesn’t mean small time stats, however, and this city boasts the No. 3 quality of life, No. 13 commute time rank, and even a high No. 18 when it comes to amenities.
Art fans will simply love this little city, considering it’s the home of one of the oldest outdoor festivals in the U.S. Visitors to the festival can peruse the work of local and national artists, sample wine and food, and have a grand cultured time. If that’s not quite your speed, there’s also boating, swimming, and fishing at locals lakes, and even one rather unusual and historic sinkhole-turned-lake to visit.
Whether you’re working or studying for your diploma, Pompano Beach has you covered. Parents will be pleased to see that Pompano Beach placed third when it came to student-teacher ratio, with 14 students to every teacher. Workers, on the other hand, will be pleased to see that the city ranked fifth when it came to employment and that the commute ranking wasn’t too bad, either.
The other area this city excelled in was amenities, where it ranked 18th. The wide spectrum of amenities includes Pompano Beach Golf course, the Curtain Call Playhouse, and more. If you’re the festival type, this place has a little of everything, including the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival, the St. Patrick’s Irish Festival, the St. Coleman’s Italian Festival, a Holiday Boat Parade, and a Holiday Yuletide Parade. Basically, there’s something for you in this 100,154 population city.
Locals truly have something to gain from living in this city. The unemployment rate here was the third lowest on our list at 7.9 percent, and the cost of living ranked 10th best.
The commute time here was pretty phenomenal as well at a mere 20 minutes. With the weather here, working folk might even consider walking to their jobs, seeing as the average summer temperature was only 79 degrees.
Gainesville also had a pretty sunny outlook as far as things to do. Home to the University of Florida, this place has a college town vibe offering great music venues, bars, art festivals, and local improv groups. If it’s fun and lively and takes a lot of heart, this city is probably into it. It’s not surprising Gainesville’s slogan is “every path starts with passion.”
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5. Cape Coral
Next in our three-way tie for fifth place is the largest spot in our top 10, Cape Coral. This city is known as the “waterfront wonderland” and we’d say that’s pretty appropriate considering all the great things it offers.
Art festivals, independence day festivals, and even a massive Oktoberfest are held here annually, all nearby a huge number of canals, more than any other city in the world. That proximity to water also means some great seafood at places like Pete’s Fish and Chips.
Residents are free to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to the weather, considering that the average summer temperature is nice and the air quality was the second best on our entire list. Financially, residents enjoy a low tax rate and a high quality of life, as well as the No. 16 crime rate with only 2,701 crimes per 100,000 people annually.
This town is simply out of this world with some over-the-moon stats. Those concerned about safety will be relieved to know that this place had the seventh lowest crime rate on our list with a mere 2,252 crimes per 100,000 people annually.
While this may be a slightly larger location for our list at 55,156 people, it also offers big bucks for workers, with a median household income of $67,905. The air quality here was great and ranked sixth, and the weather was fair with summer temperatures averaging 82 degrees.
During the spring, locals can enjoy the Jupiter Seafood Festival, which consists of three days of food, rides, music, and more. The rest of the year, history fans and those who love some epic scenery are able to check out the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, which is a registered historical landmark.
The most highly populated town in Florida, Davie showed some pretty great rankings across the board. Low taxes and very high employment rate made this a fairly affordable place to be, in addition to the numerous 38th ranked amenities.
The quality of life here was also good and ranked 29th for that criterion. Davie also had some very livable weather, which ranked 22nd overall.
Davie also packed with things to see and do. From the historic Old Davie School to the many parks, this is a very pretty place. For more active types, there are also plenty of sports facilities, including an aquatic center, and a yearly Independence and Family Fun Day festival that includes a massive fireworks show.
Coconut creek is home to some 52,909 people as well as one of the most amazing butterfly aviaries in the nation. Butterfly World is home to over 5,000 butterflies, as well as beetles, moths, and mantises. However, it’s not the only fantastic animal-centric part of the city. Millpond Farm offers riding lessons, special horse-related events, and a specialized clinic for our equine friends.
The quality of life was none too bad here for people, too, and ranked a comfy No. 23 for that criterion. The crime rate was a fairly low 21st overall, and the unemployment rate was tied for fifth best. Combining that with low taxes makes this an obvious choice for our top 10.
Culture hounds are going to love it in Weston, as there are many different historical places to explore. From an 8,000 year old native American burial mound, to local museums for kids, there’s a lot to be learned around these parts. There are also lots of beaches and biking, and even a parade or two throughout the year for those who like to have fun in the sun.
Speaking of which, the weather here is actually quite comfortable, with summer temps staying at around 82 degrees. The unemployment rate was very low, as was the tax rate, and there are a fair number of amenities to enjoy.
The median household income was very impressive at $93,553, but where this city really shone was in the safety department, due to the fact that the crime rate here was only 1,232 crimes per 100,00 people. That was the lowest crime rate on list, making this a safe and financially friendly place to call home.
Not Everywhere Can Shine So Bright
Although Coral Springs is looking pretty in pink and stands out as the best place in the state, there were a few places that did not do so well. Kissimmee and Tarpon Springs scored as the bottom two places we looked at due to poor weather rankings and quality of life scores. St. Cloud also ranked in our bottom three with long commute times, a high unemployment rate of 10.8 percent, and a low quality of life ranking.
Beyond those areas, Florida really came across beachy-keen overall. Warm weather, wonderful ocean views, and some really fun festivals make this state an interesting and always lively part of the nation.
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