Considering moving to Jacksonville, Florida? Join the club. My hometown is attracting folks in droves, but it’s not hard to see why.
I’ve lived in the “City on the Move” for the past 12 years and thought it’d be interesting to quickly roundup the perks and disadvantages of living in Jacksonville, Florida for anyone considering a similar lifestyle.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Pros & Cons of Living in Jacksonville
Pros of Moving to Jacksonville, Florida
#1. Ample sunshine year-round
Let’s kick off this list of the pros and cons of moving to Jacksonville with one of the most obvious reasons folks end up committing: the weather.
And it’s true — one of the best things about of living in Jacksonville is relishing in the glorious sunshine on a daily basis. With an average of 225 days of sunshine a year, and an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, moving to Jacksonville is a no-brainier for those allergic to bad weather.
#2. The low cost of living in Jacksonville
Let’s face it, these days there are very few affordable housing markets in desirable cities. Fortunately, Jacksonville boasts a median home price of just $291,597, which is lower than the national average.
The relatively low cost of living in Jacksonville makes it a particularly enticing landing spot for young families and others looking to save a buck. But that’s not all.
The State of Florida has a 0% state income tax, which can save the average taxpayer thousands on their tax bill. These benefits can save those who move to Jacksonville a large chunk of change.
In the long run, these incentives make moving Jacksonville a very attractive option, which is why so many folks end up here.
#3. Great job market
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t make any moves before having a job lined up. The same holds true here too, luckily, the job market in Jacksonville is looking good.
With an unemployment rate of 2.5%, Jacksonville’s job market is stronger than the national average. If you’re moving to Jacksonville for a gig, you’ll be happy to know that the area is home to several major corporations.
To name a few: CSX Corporation, Fidelity National Financial, and Southeastern Grocers. The city also has a thriving healthcare industry, with several major hospitals and medical centers.
Combined with remote work possibilities that have reshaped our modern job-seeking landscape, Jacksonville’s job market is looking as sunny as its beaches, meaning the perks of living in Jacksonville just keep adding up.
#4. Access to the beach, baby
Another perk for the year-round sunshine? Access to the local beaches. In fact, Jacksonville has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and many are just a short drive from downtown.
With over 22 miles of white sandy beaches, Jacksonville is the perfect spot for surfing, sunbathing, or simply relaxing in the glorious sun.
Whether it’s Neptune Beach or Atlantic Beach, living in Jacksonville will give you full-time access to these free, public spaces, where you can bring a towel and a book along to relax and enjoy the easy life.
#5. You can root for the home team
Look, I’m not a big sports person, but with so many options to attend sporting events around town, even I’ve been known to get caught up in the madness. If you’re into sports, Jacksonville has a lot to offer.
There’s nothing like taking a trip to TIAA Bank Field with family and friends to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars. The city is also home to the Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL), and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (MiLB).
Each year, the annual Florida-Georgia college football game also takes place in Jaguar Stadium, bringing crowds from across the region to see these old rivals duke it out.
All this to say, be prepared to learn about the sports culture (and pick a damn team) before moving to Jacksonville.
#6. Youthful vibe + great culture
Jacksonville might get a bad reputation for being a smaller city far when compared to our larger counterparts, but let me tell you, in all my years of living in Jacksonville, I’ve never been bored.
Whether it’s the sleek and modern Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts or the historic Ritz theater and museum, Jacksonville’s cultural landscape is cultivated enough for even the most sophisticated urbanite.
One of my family’s favorite weekend destinations, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, is home to over 5,000 works of art.
There are also several festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate the city’s arts and culture. With so much programming and wide, open spaces for performers and organizations to use, I always have a creative cultural outlet to explore in Jacksonville.
#7. Access to the great outdoors
On the rare occasion that I get bored of laying out in the Florida sun, Jacksonville offers alternative outdoor activities for residents and visitors.
In addition to its impressive collection of beaches, Jacksonville has plenty of parks, nature preserves, and hiking trails to explore. For instance, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, located just outside the city, is home to over 46,000 acres of wetlands, forests, and historic sites.
Additionally, the St. Johns River, which runs through the city, is a popular spot for boating and fishing. Whether you’re a nature lover or an amateur ecologist, Jacksonville is the perfect place to maintain your outdoor pursuits.
#8. Jacksonville’s food scene is top-notch
With a population of over 900,000 people from all over the world, Jacksonville’s food scene is wide-ranging and worth discussing. I didn’t expect to see such a wide variety of cuisines before moving to Jacksonville.
However, from low country cuisine to American fare like chicken and waffles, Jacksonville has restaurants to suit any palate. I love starting my day with a coffee and a homemade pop tart from Vagabond coffee or ending it with a date night at Restaurant Orsay.
Whatever your taste may be, the city has the restaurant scene for you, which makes me content living in Jacksonville (knowing I’ll never go hungry).
Cons of Living in Jacksonville, Florida
#1. The schools are struggling
While Florida schools have more recently come to the forefront of national controversy, The Duval Public School District has struggled for much longer.
While Jacksonville has several good schools, the city’s public school system has been criticized for its low graduation rates and poor academic performance.
Families with school-aged children might be wary of moving to an area where schools have such a poor reputation, but things are looking up.
Duval County Public Schools received a report card score of B from the Florida Department of Education, with many schools improving at least one letter grade. Any way you slice it, the poor public schools are one of the biggest disadvantages of living in Jacksonville, FL.
#2. Traffic is a bear
Jacksonville’s sprawling suburban layout makes traffic a major issue for most residents. According to the INRIX 2022 traffic scorecard, Jacksonville had the 45th worst traffic in the U.S.
And I can attest that the maddening traffic is one of the worst things about living in Jacksonville. These delays can make commuting to work, running errands, or meeting up with friends a frustrating experience.
Making traffic problems worse, Jacksonville’s public transportation system is not as extensive as other major cities. While the city does have a bus system, it’s not always reliable or convenient.
This can make it even more difficult for people without cars to get around the city, contributing to worse car congestion. If you’ve ever been frustrated with commutes, or are committed to a car-free, environmentally friendly lifestyle, be prepared to experience some headaches while living in Jacksonville.
#3. Crime is still high
While crime rates in Jacksonville have been declining in recent years, the city still has a higher crime rate than the national average. According to NeighborhoodScout.com, Jacksonville’s crime rate is higher than 71% of all other cities in the United States.
Property crime is a persistent problem in many Jacksonville neighborhoods. Lower crime rates suggest things are getting better and efforts by local organizations to improve things like homelessness are helping to improve these dire statistics.
#4. The bugs (really) suck
The heat and humidity that plagues Jacksonville in the summer can bring a plague of its own. Florida’s tropical temperatures attract pests like roaches, flying insects, mosquitos, and (much) more.
Indeed, those muggy summer nights when the mosquitos swarm every inch of exposed skin makes be reconsider my decision of moving to Jacksonville.
While citronella candles, eco-friendly pesticides, and sealing your home can help, it’s important to take precautions. Some insect bites can be deadly for people with allergies.
If you’re considering moving to Jacksonville, expect pests as part of the landscape. You may even learn to live in harmony with them. Ha, that part was sarcastic (unless you know something I don’t?).
#5. Extreme weather conditions are part of daily life in Jacksonville
Florida’s heat and humidity make the state a target for hurricanes. But there’s some good news in this list of bad news. Jacksonville is actually less likely to experience a direct strike from a hurricane than other Florida cities.
But, while the city hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane in several years, it’s always a possibility. Hurricane season runs from June to November, and storms bring with them the possibility of power outages, property destruction, flooding, and more.
Though infrastructure to mitigate the damages caused by hurricanes is improving, if you’re planning to move to Jacksonville, and especially if you’re planning to buy property, consider assessing how hurricane-proof your home is.
#6. Homelessness is on the rise
Like many other cities, Jacksonville struggles with persistent homelessness, and the pandemic has only made this worse. According to the Jacksonville Coalition for the Homeless, there are over 3,000 homeless individuals in the city, but there are only just over 1,000 shelter beds.
This is a difficult issue to fix, and something many Jacksonville locals are trying to solve. I don’t have the solution but am always open to learning more about the topic so that I can better contribute to the conversation.
#7. The heat & humidity
While the weather is warm year-round, during the summer months, the heat and humidity in Jacksonville can become oppressive. Even if you have central A/C, you might be surprised to see just how much your comfort is costing you in the form of costly electricity bills.
With climate change making weather more unpredictable, expect that extreme temperatures in Jacksonville will continue, if not get worse. Indeed, this is definitely one of the biggest challenges of living in Jacksonville, Florida.
Pros & Cons of Living in Jacksonville, Florida (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the disadvantages and perks of moving to Jacksonville, hope you enjoyed my quick list!
- Ample sunshine year-round
- The low cost of living in Jacksonville
- Great job market
- Access to the beach, baby
- You can root for the home team
- Youthful vibe + great culture
- Access to the great outdoors
- Jacksonville’s food scene is top-notch
- The schools are struggling
- Traffic is a bear
- Crime is still high
- The bugs (really) suck
- Extreme weather conditions are part of daily life in Jacksonville
- Homelessness is on the rise
- The heat & humidity
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