Home Buying

Cost of Living in Florida

Cost of living in Florida

8 Minute Read

So you’re dreaming of moving to Florida—the home of Disney World, Universal Studios, airboats and alligators, the Kennedy Space Center, and some of the country’s most beautiful beaches!

But how expensive is the cost of living in Florida? That’s a smart question to ask before you replace all your winter clothes with gallons of suntan lotion and head toward the Sunshine State.

Despite being one of the most popular vacation and retirement destinations in the U.S., Florida can be affordable. In fact, the average cost of living is 1% lower than the national average, according to a Cost of Living Index. But there’s still a wide range—some Florida cities rank 10% lower to 17% higher in cost when compared to the average U.S. city.1

To learn if you can afford to live in Florida, you’d have to compare the cost of living in your current city with the Florida city of your dreams. To help you make a confident decision, we’ll show you how much Florida charges for “super fun” grown-up stuff like housing, food, taxes and bills.

Let’s hit the beach!

Housing Costs in Florida

Okay, let’s start with housing costs. In May 2020, median home prices in Florida were more than $335,000—not even 2% higher than the national median of nearly $330,000!2 Meanwhile, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was barely more than 2% higher than the national median of $1,200.3

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With prices like those, you might be wondering why you haven’t hit the beach sooner! Well, keep in mind that not all of Florida costs the same. When you consider total housing cost factors, Florida ranges all the way from 26% lower than the national average in Daytona Beach to 58% higher in Fort Lauderdale!4

To find the Florida city that fits your budget, check out the cost differences between these cities:

 

City in Florida  

Average Home Price

Average Apartment Rent

Miami

$454,502

$2,155

Pensacola

$312,284

$1,027

Jacksonville

$282,646

$1,249 

Orlando

$278,500

$1,155

Tampa

$255,976

$1,1295

 

How to Handle Housing Costs in Florida

Whether you decide to rent or buy in your new city, first make sure you can afford it. Cross off any cities from your list that don’t allow you to keep your monthly housing payment to no more than a fourth of your take-home pay.

For home buyers who are getting a mortgage, that 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance (PMI)—and don’t forget to take homeowners association (HOA) fees into consideration. Use our mortgage calculator to enter your down payment amount and try out different home prices within your budget.

If you want a smart mortgage you can pay off fast, talk to Churchill Mortgage about getting a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Any other type of mortgage will drown you in interest and fees and keep you in debt for decades.

To feel confident about finding an affordable home you love in Florida, work with the top real estate agents in the market. We make it quick and easy for you to find the best-performing agents. It’s their mission to help you find a home that allows you to keep all your other financial goals in balance.

Utilities

Utility costs like energy and phone use in Florida range from 14% lower than the national average in Tampa, to 18% higher in Palm Coast.6 Miami is somewhere in the middle range among Florida cities for utility costs at 2% higher than the national average. Trust us, you’re going to want to crank up the AC. They’re not called the Miami Heat for nothing.

 

Groceries

Grab your grocery cart, we’re headed to Publix! This popular Southeastern supermarket chain was founded and is headquartered in Florida, so there’s a chance you’ll buy some oranges and key lime pies there if you move to the sunny state. Groceries in Florida range from 4% lower than the national average in Daytona Beach, to 11% higher in Miami.7

Meanwhile, Tampa sits somewhere in the middle price range among Florida cities. In Tampa, you can purchase a picnic worth of fried chicken, bread, lettuce, chips and coke for a little more than $12—which is 8% more than the national average.8 But hey, a picnic on the beach is probably worth an extra buck.

 

Transportation

Rev up your engines! Florida transportation costs range from 14% lower than the national average in Jacksonville, to 13% higher in Sarasota.9

Speaking of transportation, Daytona Beach—home of all things motorsports, including NASCAR’s headquarters and the Daytona 500—drifts into the middle range for transportation costs among most Florida cities, which is nearly on par with the national average.10

Since Florida is mostly a driving state, you’ll want to keep transportation costs low by getting the right coverage. Try bundling your auto insurance for a discount by talking to one of the independent insurance agents we recommend.

 

Health Care

Florida health care costs range from 16% lower than the national average in Jacksonville, to 11% higher in Vero Beach. Meanwhile, Pensacola, on the northwestern panhandle, sits in the middle range among Florida cities, with health care costs nearly 3% lower than the national average—not too shabby.11

Here’s a breakdown of how Pensacola health care costs compare to the average city in the country:

Health Care Type

Pensacola, FL Cost

Average U.S. City Cost

Cost Difference

General doctor

 $83

$115

28%

Dentist

$111

$98

14%

Eye doctor

$79

$106

26%

Advil

$11

$9

20%

Prescription drug

$482

$469

3%12

Taxes

Can you guess how much income tax Florida charges? Zilch, zip, nada, nothing!13 That’s right, folks, the Sunshine State doesn’t take any of the hard-earned money out of your paycheck or retirement income—one of the many perks that makes Florida such a popular place to retire.

Keep in mind, Florida still has a state sales tax rate of 6%—or 7.05% if you include its average local tax rate. That’s not too bad, though, considering the percentage only ranks Florida as the 23rd highest in the country for total sales tax.14

But the downside is that Florida has one of the highest taxes in the country on cellphone use and gas—along with some other special taxes.15 If all this tax talk makes you feel dizzy, don’t worry. You can find out exactly how moving to Florida will impact your taxes by connecting with one of our trusted tax advisors.

Miscellaneous Goods and Services

Miscellaneous costs refer to a wide range of goods and services including things like common restaurant foods, clothing, entertainment, activities and personal care. In Florida, these costs range from 9% lower than the national average in Palm Coast, to 7% higher in Fort Myers.16

Tallahassee represents most Florida cities for miscellaneous costs, which is almost equal to the national average. In Tallahassee, the typical “Florida Man” can order a pizza for $11, get a haircut for $16, and buy a new shirt for $31. For reference, those prices are $10, $17 and $32 for the average U.S. city.17

 

Compare the Cost of Living in Florida With Your Current City

Now you know the cost of living in Florida—but can you afford it? If you want to be sure, try our free Cost of Living Calculator to determine how much more or less expensive it would be for you to live in the Florida city that’s calling your name.

If Florida has a higher cost of living than you can currently afford, not all hope is lost. Try one of these ideas:

  • Adjust your standard of living
  • Try to bump up your salary when you find a new job
  • Move to an affordable zip code that’s within range of your desired city

Ready to Move to Florida?

If you’re able to afford living in Florida, congrats! The next step on your relocation journey is to handle your housing. For a quick and easy way to find real estate agents in Florida and your current city, try our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We only recommend the best-performing agents who are on a mission to help you crush your relocation goals.

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Where Did We Get Our Data?

The data that drives most of these numbers and our Cost of Living Calculator comes from the Cost of Living Index published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). Since the cost of living in any area is constantly changing, you can always check our calculator to find the most recent data. If you want to learn more about C2ER, get the scoop here.