Florida is home to sunshine, Mickey Mouse and more than 600 miles of picturesque beaches. In this paradise, there’s never a shortage of things to do, and the state’s carefree approach to life makes each day a bit more cheerful. If you're thinking of moving to Florida (and aren't we all?), check out our rundown of everything you need to know before you go — from job prospects to weather to cost of living.
When you think of Florida, you probably think "constant sunshine," and while there's a lot of truth to that, the state is large and the weather in Florida is a bit more complicated than its nickname implies. Most of Florida has a sub-tropical climate. The majority of the state experiences mild weather throughout the winter, though some northern communities do experience short, mild cold snaps. Summers are hot, sunny and humid. Regular rainstorms are a hallmark of Florida summers, but the storms here rarely last longer than 45 minutes.
Cities in Florida
Florida has countless beautiful beachside towns to choose from, but it also offers a slice of city life, and central Florida features a taste of quieter country living. City lovers can find a fast-paced, cosmopolitan lifestyle in Miami or a growing creative culture in St. Petersburg.
Sarasota, one of our Top 100 Best Places To Live, offers outdoor activities like fishing and kayaking, and is home to a great culinary and cultural scene. Gainesville, another city with a spot on the list, is home to the University of Florida and provides a fun and youthful college town atmosphere.
Florida’s northeast coast provides a flashback to “Old Florida,” with mid-century architecture and history dating back to the 1500s. The state’s panhandle and western gulf coast are home to some of the most pristine, postcard-perfect beaches in the country, while the Florida Keys feel like a 24/7 vacation.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of Florida’s biggest employers is Walt Disney World. Another major Florida employer is the local public school system, as well as the health care industry. Publix supermarkets, the beloved Florida-based chain that provides everyday employees with a major stake in the company, also tops the list.
As one of the country’s top tourist destinations, Florida employs over a million people in the hospitality and tourism industry. Florida is home to some of the most popular water parks, amusement parks and hotels in North America, and they all need large numbers of staff members to thrive. Many Floridians also work in the agriculture industry, as Florida has a longer growing season than most states. Some of the most popular Florida agricultural products include oranges, dairy, sugarcane and tomatoes. Florida is also home to top aviation companies and a thriving export industry, and it serves as a biomedical research hub.
Things to Do in Florida
In Florida, you'll never run out of wilderness and outdoor areas to explore. Sure, the state is known for its beautiful beaches, but it also has crystal-clear springs, rivers, lakes and jungle-like parks. Paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, golf and swimming are always in season. Of course, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are always great options for fun as well. Universal’s Harry Potter World has become a bucket list item for fans of the book series, and the Magic Kingdom is a fantastic way to spend a day.
Cost of Living
Florida’s median home value is $206,476, which is slightly higher than the national average of $188,900. The cost of living in the state varies from community to community. Some coastal communities are more expensive than the rest of the state, while some beachfront towns are surprisingly affordable. Florida’s residents are from all walks of life. Some are lifelong natives, while others stopped here for a quick vacation and loved it so much they decided to stay. From snowbirds to surfers to artists to students to hardworking families, the Sunshine State is full of friendly locals who move at their own pace and are more than happy to welcome new neighbors.
How to Get Around
You’ll need a car to get around the majority of Florida. Major highways like 75 and 95 criss-cross the state, but striking bridges like the Sunshine Skyway, the Seven-Mile Bridge, and the Bridge of Lions will keep you captivated if you’re stuck in traffic. One the more scenic drives is A1A, a road that runs along the east coast of the state all the way to Key West and crosses through countless beautiful beach towns (not to mention Daytona!). On A1A, you’ll find ocean views outside your car window for most of the drive. It's one of the best — and most underrated — road trip routes in the country.
Florida Colleges & Universities
Some of Florida’s largest universities include the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida State University in Tallahassee, University of Central Florida in Orlando, and the University of Miami. The sunny climate makes for a vibrant college experience, and Florida’s appealing in-state tuition options for public school attendees help attract great students. Students at UF and FSU love football, and each fall thousands of fans descend on the campuses to tailgate and cheer on their home team. Ready to join them?