You’re the proud owner of a crisp new diploma. You want to settle down in a city with a strong job market and good blend of Northerners and Southerners. You don’t want to deal with too many tourists or snowbirds but you aren’t willing to give up Florida’s beaches and spring-like winters.
You should definitely think about moving to Jacksonville.
Nestled snugly on the St. John’s River, Jacksonville is also a short drive from the Atlantic Ocean (be sure to pack your surfboard). In fact, Jacksonville is so appealing, it was #2 on Realtor.com’s list of Cities Gaining the Most Residents.
Read on to see why “The Bold New City of the South” could be your new hometown.
New graduates, rejoice! WalletHub rated Jacksonville as Florida’s 4th best job market in 2016. More interested in the suburbs? Nearby Fleming Island was rated #3 for Florida’s Highest Median Annual Income and #1 for most affordable housing.
The area’s leading job industries are transportation and defense, and this shows up in the region’s top employers: Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Duval County Public Schools, Bank of America, and Baptist Health.
Defense and transportation not your thing? Jacksonville has plenty of openings available…and plenty of company headquarters. CSX Transportation, Firehouse Subs, Florida Blue, Jacksonville Jaguars (of course) are all headquartered in Jacksonville and the PGA Tour headquarters are in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach.
You’ll be putting your degree to good use in no time!
Jacksonville isn’t that much farther north than Orlando (just a couple hours’ drive), but the temperature difference is significant. Jacksonville has an average summer high temperature of 89 degrees, and the lows in winter rarely go below 48 degrees. If you can’t decide whether you hate snow or sweating more, perhaps moving to Jacksonville is the perfect next step.
Jacksonville sees the same number of summer thunderstorms as Central or Southern Florida, but the area occasionally sees a few snow flurries, too. (It’s no White Christmas, but the real thing sure beats the fake Disney stuff.)
NYC may be the country’s most populated city, but the largest city by area (in the lower 48) is Jacksonville. Taking up the entirety of Duval County, both Jacksonville and the surrounding areas have plenty of great neighborhoods to choose from.
Avondale/Riverside: Technically two neighborhoods, this area first started booming after the Great Fire of 1901, when the city’s wealthy started building stately homes along the river. Today, Riverside/Avondale is a great place for hip, young trendsetters and medical professionals (St. Vincent’s Medical Center is nearby). The American Planning Association even included it in their 2010 list of Great Neighborhoods in America.
Orange Park: Looking for a more rural, “Old Florida” lifestyle? Orange Park is a 45-minute drive from Downtown, so you’ll be far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Homes are affordable (median home value is $163k), and the area is close to the Navy Station and filled with marinas. Whether you’re a horse lover, boat fanatic, or serving your country, Orange Park is the place to be.
San Marco: Located across the river from Avondale/Riverside, San Marco is a welcoming neighborhood for artists and creative types. Featuring plenty of 1920’s-era Mediterranean Revival architecture, San Marco Square was inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. Whether you’re looking for a place to check out some community theater or just a relaxing place to grab a craft brew, San Marco is a great choice.
The Beaches: This area might be called “The Beaches,” but it actually encompasses four different neighborhoods: Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and historic Mayport. Roughly a 30-minute drive from Downtown, The Beaches offer plenty of fun, sun, sand, and surf in the perfect location: not too far from the city, not too close.
Cost of Living
That entry-level salary won’t have you rolling in dough, so it’s good to find ways to stretch your paycheck. But Jacksonville’s got your back. On average, Jacksonville is 4% cheaper than Orlando, meaning a $50,000 salary could decrease to $47,000.
Housing prices are where you’ll see the biggest difference. The median home price in Jacksonville is only $148k vs. $164k in Orlando; Jacksonville’s average rent is $1053/month vs. Orlando’s $1326/month.
Between the St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville is definitely a water town. If you love fishing, boating, surfing, or any other aquatic activities, you’ll fit right in. Dry land more your thing? Jacksonville has the largest urban parks system in the country.
If you and your family love going out on the town, check out the latest events at Jacksonville Landing. Whether you’re into food trucks or festivals, you’ll find plenty to do.
If you’re a football fan, you might be tempted to change your new favorite team to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fans in this city are diehard, and the stadium reflects the city’s commitment to the sport. EverBank Field, the team’s home stadium, was recently renovated to include larger video screens, updated club areas, and swimming pools!
No matter how much you love living in Jacksonville, you may need a getaway. Luckily, you won’t have to go far. Carnival and American cruise ships disembark from the local port.
With affordable housing, plenty of jobs, and more than enough to entertain you, moving to Jacksonville might be the first great life decision you make after graduation.
But—as with any decision—it’s important to do plenty of research before you commit to a new plan. Take a look at some of our other posts to see what other cities sound right for you. And call us for a free moving quote once you’ve made your decision. Our crew has moved people to every state in the country (except Alaska). We can help you, too!