Florida real estate is hot, whether you’re looking to buy on the Atlantic coast, Gulf coast, or the interior. People are moving to the Sunshine state in the largest numbers since 2005, often because they can reach the ocean from any part of the state in a short amount of time. The tropical weather, beautiful beaches, jobs, family, a diverse population, no state income tax, low density compared to northeastern states, numerous outdoor sports, resorts and theme parks like Disney World, and relatively affordable cost of living are among the many reasons Florida is the third fastest-growing state, according to Destinationscanner.com. According to Realtor.com, real estate is on fire, with a state median list price of $434,000, compared to the national median of $392,000.
Florida’s rich history and culture are fascinating and explains why the state has one of the most diverse populations in the U.S. In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed on its shores and named the area La Florida, after the Easter celebration known as the Feast of the Flowers. He claimed the region for Spain, beginning a contentious battle of treaties as Florida was important to Europe’s attempts to control both the Americas and the Caribbean. For those who love Pirates of the Caribbean, Spain ruled the colony from the 16th to the 19th century, then by Great Britain during the 19th century until it became a territory of the United States in 1821. Following the Jacksonian government’s forced relocation of native Americans including the Seminoles, Creeks, Choctaw, and Cherokee, many Europeans moved to Florida once the U.S. established civil control in 1822. Over the decades, Florida has been a haven to many including escaped slaves prior to the Civil War and political and economic refugees from Cuba, Mexico and South America. Today, Latinos make up nearly two-fifths of the state’s population, and some areas are primarily Spanish-speaking.
The Sunshine States’ climate is attractive to retirement-age people who migrate from the North, leading to a high population of seniors. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, Florida has the highest percentage of residents over 65 at 20.1% of the population, and by 2040, 25% of residents will be seniors. California has the largest population of senior citizens (over 5.4 million), followed by Florida (4.2 million). But don’t think of the state as one large retirement village. Young adults and families are moving to Florida in droves, primarily for a lifestyle change or employment opportunities.
And jobs are plentiful. With a $1.0 trillion economy, Florida is the fourth-largest economy in the U.S. and the 16th-largest in the world. Tourism and hospitality are at the top of the list of job opportunities, but Florida also has a robust agriculture. EnterpriseFlorida.com explains that Florida’s other economic drivers are aerospace, cleantech, defense, information technology, life sciences, and much more.
Among the best cities to live for young adults are:
Tallahassee, median age 26, population 191,049. Chosen as the capital of Florida in the late 1800s, Tallahassee is inland on the Gulf of Mexico and unique among other Sunshine state cities. With one of the youngest populations – compliments of two state universities, Florida State University and Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, “Tally” is one of the most educated cities. Over half of the residents boast a bachelor’s degree or higher. It also has a rolling landscape in a state that’s mostly flat and more varied weather than other areas. There’s plenty to do if you love art galleries (24), museums (15), walking trails (40), biking trails (15), and much, much more. According to Realtor.com, the current median listing price is $249, 900 and medium sales price of $215,000.
Orlando, median age 33, population: 280,257. The home of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and a plethora of other attractions, Orlando an international destination and a model of diversity. Located in central Florida, the city is family oriented, close to the ocean, and easily accessible via air and highway travel. Orlando offers low unemployment and affordable homes. The current median listing price is 340,000, and the median sales price is $330,000.
Ocoee, median age, 36, population: 46,402. One of the most popular spots for families, Ocoee is a 25-minute or under commute from Orlando. Niche.com calls Ococee one of the best places to live in Florida. The public schools in Ocoee are above average, young professionals have plenty of opportunities, and families love the setting, replete with parks, wetlands, nature preserves, and an oceanside boardwalk. The current median listing price is $384, 500 and the median sales price is $ 406,000.
Plant City, median age: 36, population: 38,714. Inland, and just northeast of Tampa, Plant City lives up to its name with festivals celebrating blueberries, strawberries, and more. Among the most affordable of cities for first-time homebuyers, the small city has a majority population of young adults and families. The median list price is $347,000 and the median sales price is $340,000.
Miami Beach, median age, 41, population: 92,307. Across the Biscayne Bay fromMiami, Miami Beach is south of Bal Harbour and north of South Beach. The city is a playground with night life, water-sports, and lots of high-rated restaurants. Employment rates are high, and you don’t have to own a car as the transit system is among the best in Florida. The median list price is $575,000 and the median sales price is $480,000.
Winter Springs, median age: 42, population: 36,635 – Just northeast of Orlando,Winter Springs is an outdoor paradise and also offers low unemployment and high affordability. Winter Springs is home to one of the largest lakes in Central Florida as well as Wekiwa Springs State Park and the Bear Creek Nature Trail. The median list price is $390,500 and the median sales price is $365,000.
Sarasota, median age, 45, population: 56,994. For those who find Tampa too expensive, Sarasota is a more affordable place to live for commuters. With top schools, it’s a great place to settle down and raise a family. The median list price is $491,100 and the median sales price is $430,000.
St. Augustine, median age, 45, population: 18,118. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest settlement in the continental United States. It’s located in northern Florida on the Atlantic Coast. Money Magazine voted St. Augustine the best overall place to live in Florida. The median list price is $499,900 and the median sales price is 422,500.
Naples, median age, 66, population: 22,265. Northwest of the low-lying Everglades on the Gulf side, Naples is known for its white sand beaches, fishing, and dolphins and fabulous golf courses. A popular retirement destination for the wealthy, Naples ranks high in where-to-live studies such as USNews.com. Among the accolades, Naples was ranked:
Despite the high cost of living, Naples is increasingly attractive to young adults and families who value its exceptional schools and higher education. The median list price is $639,000 and the median sales price is $561,000.