7 Cheapest Places to Live in Florida
Florida is the third-most populous state with more than 22 million people. It is also the fastest-growing state in the nation. People are drawn to the bright sandy beaches and mild winters, but also to the lack of state income tax and plentiful job opportunities. All of this growth comes with a challenge: the more people who move to the Sunshine State, the harder it is to find housing. There isn’t much room for developers to build new houses, especially along coastal cities like Daytona Beach and Fort Myers.
Fortunately, there are a few hidden gems that offer affordable housing along with a beautiful living experience. Here are the seven cheapest places to live in Florida that are still safe, fun, and desirable.
Florida is a top tourist destination that is known for its beaches and theme parks. However, many of the theme parks are located in the center of the state. Orlando is at least an hour from any beaches on either side – if not more. What if you have a collection of Mouse ears but also want to improve your tan? How do you decide where to live?
Consider moving to Lakeland, which falls between Orlando and Tampa. You can flip a coin on the weekend to decide whether you will spend your day basking in the waves or exploring your favorite amusement parks.
This town is also known for its affordability. The median home price in the state of Florida is $362,400. In Lakeland, this drops to $282,500, well below the national average. You can also expect to save on other costs like your groceries, transportation, and utilities.
Not only is Lakeland one of the cheapest places in Florida to live, but it also serves as a good starting point for new residents. Once you move here, you can decide whether you want to stay in the area or find a place closer to the coast.
Gainesville is located in the center of the state in Alachua County. You can still enjoy weekend trips to Orlando or the coast while enjoying one of the Sunshine State’s most livable towns. There are plenty of events associated with the nearby University of Florida and Santa Fe College, which range from weekend football games to plays and film festivals. This might be the cheapest city with a major university in Florida.
The downtown area of this Florida city is perfect for relaxing during your time off. It is a walkable area that is also known for its bike trails. There are quaint bed and breakfasts nearby which are ideal for hosting events and housing visitors.
Gainesville is also an incredibly livable city compared to the national average. The median home cost falls around $271,700 and there are also plenty of places to rent because of the university nearby. This town is built in an otherwise rural area. You can decide whether you want to live in a bungalow near the town center or enjoy several acres of land a few miles away. Gainesville is often considered the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida.
Sebring is another charming city that is located in the center of the state. However, this town can be found in the southern half of Florida, to the east of Sarasota. This is an ideal town if you enjoy a slower pace in life and love spending your weekends hiking and exploring nature. Sebring is also known for its historic race track, which has been in operation since 1950. Think of it as the inland version of Daytona Beach.
The average cost of living in Sebring is less than $32,000 per year. This is much lower than the cost of living in Florida ($36,000) and the national average ($38,000). If you are interested in living in a historic home, the average home price is around $85,800 for a property built before 1939. However, homes built after 2014 will have average home prices of around $213,900. Even new homes fall below the national average.
While Sebring might be one of the cheapest places to live in Florida, it is also one of the more remote cities. There aren’t many direct highways to Orlando, Tampa Bay, or Miami that pass through here. Instead, enjoy driving through the backroads of Florida to take in the cattle ranches and orange fields until you reach I-75.
Arcadia is another town in central Florida that offers a low cost of living compared to the national average. It is closer to the west coast (less than an hour) and is within easy access to I-75.
While many people dream of moving to Florida and waking up on the beach, choosing an inland town has several benefits. They are more affordable and oftentimes considered safer from hurricanes and tropical storms. You might find that your home insurance costs are lower and you won’t need flood insurance in most areas. These savings add up.
It’s a good thing that the cost of living in Arcadia is low because this town is known for its shopping. The main street is packed with antique stores offering various curios and home accessories. It is an ideal town to find a historic farmhouse that is perfectly decorated to your liking.
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Speaking of housing, the median home cost in Arcaida is only $238,700. This gives it some of the lowest housing costs in the state. If you are looking to rent, it is possible to find a one-bedroom home or apartment for around $730 per month, much lower than the state average monthly rent of $1,290.
DeLand is one of the cheapest places to live in Florida if you want to stay close to Orlando and the beaches on the Atlantic Coast. This town is less than 45 minutes from Orlando (ideal for commuters or Disney weekend getaways) and only 30 minutes from Daytona Beach.
The median home cost in DeLand is slightly more than others on this list, falling around $323,400. However, this is still a good deal considering the location, the schools, and the amenities nearby. Also, surrounding towns around Florida’s east coast might be more affordable, but DeLand is a good place to start your search.
There’s also a secret benefit of living in the Sunshine State that even most locals don’t know about. North-central Florida is packed with natural freshwater springs that maintain the same temperature year-round (usually around 70 °F). The water is perfect for cooling off on a hot day when even the beach waters are too hot to swim in. You can also see manatees and their calves throughout the year munching on seagrass in these springs.
DeLand is close to several spring heads, which means you don’t have to drive far to reach your favorite swimming hole.
If you want to move to the Sunshine State exclusively to live on the coast, consider Cedar Key. This town can be found north of Tampa and close to Ocala and Dade City. It offers a more remote living experience where you can enjoy waterfront property on the Gulf Coast and daily fishing excursions.
The median home cost in Cedar Key is around $328,900. This makes it one of the most affordable cities on the coast and still falls below the Florida average. However, you might not find the sprawling white beaches in this area compared to other parts of the state. Mangrove forests are more common around here, along with other types of swampland.
If you plan to move to Cedar Key, consider saving room in your budget for a boat. Even a smaller boat will allow you to enjoy time on the water each weekend.
Another Gulf Coast option to consider is Homosassa, which is only an hour north of Tampa Bay. There are plenty of small Florida cities in this area that are growing in popularity with new residents. Move to Homosassa if you want easy access to the big city without having to actually live in it.
Homosassa and Crystal River (a town that also has housing costs below the national average) are known for their manatee sightings. This means there is a strong tourist presence in the area. Living here also means you will be close to Weeki Wachee, home to the famous Florida mermaids.
The median cost for a house in Homosassa is $312,100. This falls far below the median home price in the rest of Florida and the national average. Transportation costs are also lower, which is ideal if you have a Tampa commute. Keep in mind you might have to pay more for home insurance if you buy a house on the water. You will also need flood insurance. This includes the plentiful canals that Homosassa is known for.
Hire a Top-Rated Realtor to find Your Ideal Florida City
You can find the cheapest places to live in Florida scattered across the state. It’s possible to find homes that fall below that national average near Orlando, in South Florida, and within the central region. Start by determining the best part of the state to move to, whether it is Dade City or Fort Myers, then contact a Realtor to help you find your ideal home.
To hire a Realtor, turn to the professionals at FastExpert. We have the largest database of real estate agents and rank them based on their performance and experience. No one can buy their way to the top of our rankings. Our goal is to help you narrow your search of the cheapest places in Florida so you only see the top real estate agents in your area. Try FastExpert today and see how we can help you find an agent free of charge.
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