Best Places to Live

Gainesville, FL

Population: 127,559
Courtesy of Allen Forrest under a CC 4.0 license.

Gainesville may rank among the most moderate cities now (and actually ranked on this list before in 2014), but that certainly wasn’t always the case. In fact, in the 1960s, Gainesville became known as “The Berkeley of the South,” after it became a center of college activism. Activism spiked again in the ‘80s, when the University of Florida (UF) became a focal point for anti-apartheid activism in the state. Since then, there has been a more conservative shift in values, leading to a much more moderate lean in the town (although still often with a somewhat liberal lean).


Gainesville: One of the 6 Most Affordable Cities in Florida


The city itself is divided into more liberal and more conservative areas, with the eastern side of the city (represented in Congress by Democrat Corrine Brown) as more liberal, and the north and western sides (represented in Congress by moderate Republican Ted Yoho) as more conservative. Regardless of affiliation, though, both of the representatives tend to lean to a more centrist side.

Why else should you consider Gainesville? For starters, it has a low cost of living (thanks to no state income tax), and many restaurants near the University of Florida are inexpensive. Gainesville is also a leader in solar power; it comes in fifth place in the world for solar installations per capita. And the University of Florida itself can’t be overlooked—not only is it where Gatorade was invented, but it contributes around $9 million to the Floridian economy and is responsible for more than 100,000 jobs. UF is also the reason why Gainesville has thrice been named one of the 10 Best College Towns in America

Residents here are likely to…

  • Eat at Cracker Barrel.

  • Shop at Hobby Lobby.

  • Drive a GMC.

  • Read Maxim.

  • Watch ABC Family.