Cost of Living in Florida
One thing on almost everyone’s mind when moving to Florida is the cost of living here.
While the cost of living shouldn’t be the only thing you think about when deciding where to live, it can play a big role in that decision.
For this article, I examined the cost of living in 25 of Florida’s most popular cities, closely mirroring my list of 25 Best Places to Retire in Florida.
Read on to see what I discovered, or you can jump to a specific section:
Most sources express the cost of living of different cities as an index (the cost of living index they call it) and the average cost of living in the United States is expressed as a baseline of 100.
So if, for example, a place has a cost of living index of 105, its cost of living is considered 5% more expensive than the national average.
If a place has a cost of living index of 95, its cost of living is considered 5% less expensive than the national average.
Florida as a state has a cost of living index of 102.8.
The data below comes from BestPlaces.net. They get their data from a Long list from governmental and private organizations.
The costs included in the index include home prices for renters or owners, utilities (electricity, natural gas, oil), health care costs (premiums and common surgeries), entertainment costs, transportation costs (vehicle insurance and fees registration, gas prices and transportation costs, vehicle depreciation), food prices (meat, dairy, ready-to-eat products and more), childcare (both for babies and toddlers, at home and away home) and taxes (income, property, sales, motor vehicles).
Obviously, some of those costs may not apply to you, so at the end of the day, you’ll want to do your own numbers. But this should serve as a great starting point for you.
To the results!
The least expensive places to live in Florida
Here are the 5 least expensive places I found. Please note that I am using cities and places that appear on my list of best places to retire. There could These may be cheaper places in Florida to live, but may not necessarily be as attractive for retirement.
Ocala – 83.8 (Cost of Living Index)
Daytona Beach – 85.7
Residents of Latitude Margaritaville Daytona rejoice! Live in one of the least expensive places in the state to live. That means more money is left for Landshark Lager and Jimmy Buffett concert tickets.
Melbourne – 90.9
Melbourne is a popular location along Florida’s Space Coast (East), and is home to the master planned community of Viera, which year after year is always one of the best selling communities in Florida.
Jacksonville – 93.5
Jacksonville It is the largest city in Florida in terms of population and the largest city in the contiguous United States by area. You generally think that bigger cities are more expensive, but Jacksonville seems to break out of that mold.
Fort Myers – 96.2
I must say that I am quite surprised to see how reasonable the cost of living is in Fort myers it is. Mentally, I’ve always grouped it with Naples (which you’ll see below falls into the “Most Expensive” category) since they’re only 35 miles apart.
The most expensive places to live in Florida
On the contrary, here are the 5 most expensive places I found. With the exception of the first, I don’t feel the others are too cost prohibitive.
Key West – 154.8
If you are thinking of retirement in the Florida KeysI hope you don’t think you’re going to do it on a tight budget. Besides Key West, I tried but couldn’t find much cost-of-living relief in other popular places like Marathon (137.2), Islamorada (152.4), and Key Largo (160.2).
Ponte Vedra – 117.4
I couldn’t find the exact cost of living numbers for Ponte Vedra (too small perhaps?), So in this case I had to go with the figures for the next closest city, Jacksonville Beach.
Winter Garden – 114.2
I live quite close to Winter Garden, and I must say that I am a bit surprised to see that your cost of living is as high as it is. Since I live in one of the most expensive cities in the state, I guess the places around it, like Winter Garden, can’t escape runoff.
30A – 112
30A is a stretch of highway in the Florida Panhandle between Destin and Panama City Beach. While there are multiple cities along 30A, when mentioning it in my Top 25 Places, I did list the city of Watersound it’s the one I focused on because it’s the location of the 2nd Latitude Margaritaville 55+ community in Florida, Latitude Margaritaville Watersound.
But, as was the case of Ponte Vedra above where I had to make a substitution due to lack of data, in the case of Watersound and 30A I have taken the average of Destin (118.6) and Panama City Beach (105.4) to obtain an index of 112 for 30A. It’s definitely not scientific, but I think it’s a pretty good approximation.
Naples – 111.9
Based on the reputation, I honestly thought Naples would be more expensive than it is. It’s still the “most expensive” part of our list, but I don’t find it too terrible.
All places (from smallest to largest)
Here’s how the 25 cities on our Best Places list stack up:
|Town||Cost of living index|
|Port St. Lucie||100|
|Citrus Hills (Natural Coast)||103.1|
|New Smyrna Beach||106.6|
|Destin / Panama City Beach (Average)||112|
As I examined the data, it didn’t take me long to discover that the primary factor in determining whether a particular place had a low, moderate, or high cost of living was the cost of housing – that is, the purchase or rental costs at each location.
The cost of a gallon of milk or a kilowatt of electricity just doesn’t vary much across the state and doesn’t tip the scales much in either direction.
Also, here is a full breakdown of what it costs to live at The Villages, Florida’s most popular retirement spot.
With the exception of the Florida Keys, I feel that, in general, most of the places I visited had a reasonable cost of living. Which really makes sense, remembering that Florida overall is only 2.8% higher than the national average.
While no cost of living analysis will be perfect, in part because everyone’s spending levels and thoughts on what qualifies as cheap or expensive will vary, I hope this article provides an excellent starting point for your own thinking and research.
Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comment section below.