One thing on almost everyone's mind when they move to Florida is what the cost of living is like here.
While the cost of living should not be the only thing you think about when deciding where to live, it can play an important role in that decision.
For this article, I've examined the cost of living in 20 of Florida's most popular cities, closely mirroring my list of the Best Places to Retire in Florida.
Read on to see what I discovered, or you can jump to a specific section:
- Least Expensive Places to Live in Florida
- Most Expensive Places to Live in Florida
- Other Popular Cities (Lowest to Highest)
- Key Findings
- Final Thoughts
Most sources express the cost of living for different cities as an index (cost of living index they call it) with the average cost of living in the United States being expressed as a baseline of 100.
So, if for example a place has a cost of living index of 105, its cost of living is considered to be 5% more expensive than the national average.
If a place has a cost of living index of 95, its cost of living is considered to be 5% less expensive than the national average.
Florida as a state comes in with a cost of living index of 102.8.
The data below comes from BestPlaces.net. They get their data from a long list of government and private organizations.
Costs included in the index include housing prices for renters or homeowners, utilities (electric, natural gas, oil), healthcare costs (premiums and common surgeries), entertainment costs, transportation expenses (vehicle insurance and registration fees, gas prices and commuting costs, vehicle depreciation), food prices (meat, dairy, ready-to-eat, and more), child care (for both infants and toddlers, at home and away from home), and taxes (income, property, sales, motor vehicle).
Obviously some of those costs may not apply to you, so at the end of the day, you'll want to crunch your own numbers. But this should serve as a great starting point for you.
On to the results!
Least Expensive Places to Live in Florida
Here are some of the least expensive places I found. Keep in mind that I'm using cities and places that appear on my best places to retire list. There might be cheaper places in Florida in which to live, but they might not necessarily be that appealing for retirement.
Ocala – 87 (Cost of Living Index)
Citrus Hills – 87.8
Not a big surprise here, as Citrus Hills is only about 45 minutes from Ocala. Citrus Hills is of course home to the Villages of Citrus Hills.
Babcock Ranch – 93.7
Babcock Ranch is a little too new and too small to be included in the BestPlaces data, so I went with the cost of living for Punta Gorda which is right next door, and a lot of the homes in Babcock Ranch actually have a Punta Gorda address.
Daytona Beach – 94.9
Residents of Latitude Margaritaville Daytona rejoice! You're living in one of the least expensive places to live in the state. That means more money left over for Landshark Lager and Daytona 500 tickets.
Melbourne – 95.6
Melbourne is a popular spot along Florida's Space (East) Coast, and is home to the master-planned community of Viera, which year after year is always one of the best selling communities in Florida.
Most Expensive Places to Live in Florida
By contrast, here are some of the most expensive places I found. With the exception of the first one, I don't feel like the other ones are too terribly cost prohibitive.
Key West – 148.2
If you're thinking about retirement in the Florida Keys, I hope you don't think you're going to do it on a tight budget. In addition to Key West, I tried but could not find much cost of living relief in other popular places like Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo.
Delray Beach – 114.1
No surprise to see Delray here. Palm Beach County is one of the highest-price parts of the state, and you'll find similar cost of living in other nearby cities like Boca Raton and Boynton Beach.
Naples – 113
Based on reputation, I honestly thought Naples would be more expensive than it is. It still makes the “most expensive” part of our list, but it doesn't seem too terrible to me.
St. Augustine – 110.9
I'm kind of surprised that St. Augustine made it to this part of the list because, at least in the way of home prices, the 55+ communities in the area are some of the most affordable.
Winter Garden – 106
Winter Garden is not terribly expensive, but just a tad bit over the average for Florida. A lot of the higher costs are due to its proximity to the Orlando area theme parks and high-priced cities like Windermere.
Other Popular Cities (Lowest to Highest)
Here's a look at how some other cities that are either on or have been on our best places list stack up with one another:
|Cost of Living Index
|Port St. Lucie
As I examined the data, it didn't take long to figure out that the main factor in whether a particular place had a low, moderate, or high cost of living was housing costs – what is costs to buy or rent in each location.
The cost of a gallon of milk or a kilowatt of electricity simply doesn't vary that much across the state and doesn't tip the scales much in either direction.
Also, here's a complete breakdown of what it costs to live in The Villages, Florida's most popular retirement location.
With the exception of the Florida Keys, I feel like overall the majority of the places I looked at had a reasonable cost of living. Which makes sense really, remembering that Florida overall comes in at just 2.8% higher than the national average.
While no cost of living analysis will ever be perfect, in part because everyone's spending levels and thoughts on what qualifies as cheap or expensive will vary, I hope this article provides a great starting place for your own thinking and research.
Feel free to drop any questions you have in the comments section down below.