Florida is not the cheapest place in the USA, but it is one of the most liberal states. However, if you’re seeking the lowest cost of living and unlocking the perfect living equation, welcome to my blog.
I’ll surely help you to find the balance between the dynamic dance of the allure of Florida’s amenities and a cost-effective lifestyle without breaking your savings.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay any extra penny, but I’ll get a small commission that encourages me to deliver more helpful content for you.
Because when you’re choosing the cheapest places to live in Florida, you cannot cut corners; it’s about finding a spot where affordability and accessibility intertwine.
Hence, the balance between cost and convenience can come only when you choose the location keeping in mind your budget. And, I want to help you.
Let’s face the fact that your budget is not similar to mine or any other. A place ideal for my budget might be housebreaking for you and vice versa.
So, this blog not only informs you about the economic places in Florida but also the importance of finding one with a comparative study with the national average.
I want your moving to Florida story to be remarkable and full of fun, boating, fishing, lying down on beaches, enjoying the sunshine, and having amazing coastal food! There are so many budget-friendly romantic spots in Florida for you to explore!
For now, let’s know where you can find a home in the big expensive Sunshine State.
You can also explore Georgia, another southeastern gem of the United States. However, before making your choice, read about the pros and cons of both Florida and Georgia. This blog is specifically about Florida.
Table of Contents
Importance of Finding an Affordable Place to Live in Florida
Just imagine – you are moving to a new place, a new neighborhood, a new house, with all your belongings, where you’ll be staying, sleeping, laughing, crying, and even dancing – something you’re considering for at least a year.
A place, a home, is not only about sheltering you but also about granting you peace, nurturing your physical and mental well-being, and feeling safety all around.
Will rent a luxury property in Florida, where 60% of your income goes towards rent, truly bring peace to your mind?
Increased stress levels generally do not improve your quality of life. However, it may depend on your income. If you earn millions, sure, you can afford one!
On the other hand, a safe place with affordable housing prices in Florida will surely offer you financial stability, security, better health, and strong community ties. You can get married, have a baby, and have a happy life! Also, FL is home to great babymoon spots you’ll want to see!
For me, low-cost housing allows me to allocate more resources from my tight budget towards essential needs like healthcare, healthy food, water fun, and more fun!
Overview of Florida’s Appeal as a Living Destination
When my grandparents, Karl Garreet and Marlee Garrett, decided to move to a new place to retire in the year 2021, they considered Florida among other options.
Warm weather, a peaceful location, a sense of safety, and affordability were their top criteria for choosing a place. And, as my grandpa says – “Florida is the winner! “ I’ve written a separate blog on Florida’s pros and cons from a retiree’s viewpoint, I’m sure you’ll love to read it!
They shifted to an active adult community in Daytona Beach, after buying their new home. And, to this day, they always say that it was the best decision of their life.
My grandma loves the sunshine; however, during severe weather conditions, we experience stress. On the other hand, my grandpa enjoys the water and playing softball on weekends.
The long coastline, with over 825 miles of pristine and accessible beaches, makes it a great place and a top choice to visit and relocate for tourists and residents.
Despite, rising housing costs and changing trends since then, Florida remains the prime location for the LGBTQ population, and retirees, and enhances racial and ethnic diversity.
There are things to remember, Florida does not impose income tax on their residents. However, you need to take care of sales tax, property taxes, and other levies.
However, 6% of state sales tax with additional taxes adds up to overall rates. In the Tax Foundation’s ranking of effective tax rates paid by residents, Florida holds the 11 position.
As per a Wall Street Journal analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data, during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic (2020), the state experienced an influx of new movers collectively bringing $23.7 billion in adjusted gross income.
You are a single adult with no children or spouse to take care of, as per MIT’s living wage calculator, you need to earn a minimum of $36,848 to make ends meet here.
If you’re the one searching for an affordable place to retire in Florida, you can go and read my other blog!
Factors Influencing Affordability in Florida
1. Cost of housing depending on its location
As people flock to the Sunshine State, home prices have been rising high since 2010. The affordability depends on the location and size of the house.
Finding budget-friendly towns in Florida is only possible in towns that are not yet considered the fastest-growing cities of Florida.
For example, in Miami, Orlando, Palm Coast, Port Saint Lucie, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and St. Petersburg house prices are skyrocketing.
The median home value in these places may start from $438,000 to $1.2 million. Whereas affordable suburbs house in Florida ranges from $319,000 – $268,000.
2. Cost of living
According to RentData, a typical rent price in Miami and Orlando for a two-bedroom unit ranges around $1,038. Always know that the place that offers you fortune and amenities will always be expensive.
The average public transportation cost in Miami is around $217 per month. The healthcare costs will be around $585 per month.
United States Department of Agriculture released a report stating that the lowest-income household family in Florida spends a minimum of $4.099 on food.
Keep in mind, the cost of living varies widely on the area you choose. You can choose an affordable real estate agent in Florida to find you the best spot that fits your criteria.
3. Job market and income levels
Students and graduates consider their dream job location influences the cost of living, commutes, and other price tag.
When I was living in Miami, my average income was around $80,458 per year. This was enough for me to cover all my basic expenses and additional costs.
However, during the same time, my brother was earning $40,679 per year making it impossible for him to take care of all the expenses in Miami.
So, he used to stay with me. For me, the rule of thumb, if you’re earning $55,000 per year you can take care of your own expenses in Miami.
Cheapest Places to Live in Florida
1. Haines City
- Population: 33,364
- Cost of Living Index: 92.5 (US average of 100)
- Crime Rate: 16.03 (per 1,000 residents)
Haines City, fondly nicknamed the Heart of Florida, offers the perfect balance of easy access to Orlando and Tampa while providing a tranquil escape from bustling city life. Its proximity to I-4 allows residents to hop on the road as quickly as possible.
Nestled east of Winter Haven and bordered by the serene banks of Lake Marion, this suburban gem is a haven of relaxation and charm. The city’s economy thrives primarily on tourism, contributing to its appeal and prosperity.
Haines City has consistently held the title of the safest place to live in Florida for three consecutive years, starting in 2020. According to Neighborhoodscount, it is ranked 30% safer than the average U.S. neighborhood.
If you’re a family looking for affordable cities in Florida, consider this city in Polk County. The cost of living of a single adult is on average $34,206 a year – less than the national figure of $ 38,433. A median home value is around $124, 200.
For a family to live, every popular spot like schools, parks, grocery stores, and entertainment options is nearby. The Legoland Florida, Fantasy of Flight, and vintage museums are major attractions to visit.
- Population: 65,100
- Cost of Living Index: 84 (US average of 100)
- Crime Rate: 6.62 (per 1,000 residents)
Ocala is a family-friendly small town with the best affordable neighborhoods in Central Florida, gorgeous scenery, sports events, and other entertainment options. Once you settle here, you’ll feel the community spirit among the people very strong.
The crime rate is low with only 2,300 crimes recorded over a year. Also, it has been ranked in the top 20 places to retire and among the 10 safest places to live in Florida. One of the funny facts about Ocala is, it is home to many horses and ponies.
A lot of economic development projects have been initiated making it one of the third largest growth cities since 2019. I’m sure you’ve heard of the state-of-the-art World Equestrian Centre and brand-new Hilton Garden Inn downtown projects.
According to 247wallst, the median home value in Ocala is around $128,600, less than the national median home value of $204,900. A typical renter spends nearly $863 per month on housing. You’ll love to explore the natural springs and the golf community.
Again, its proximity to HCS Florida Ocala Hospital, HCA Florida West Marion Hospital, and UF Health Shands Hospital has good records of offering healthcare facilities. However, the high possibility of destructive weather events is sure a concern.
3. Cape Coral
- Population: 221,997
- Cost of Living Index: 104.2 (US average of 100)
- Crime Rate: 11.85 (per 1,000 residents)
Cape Coral is a charming Venice-style city in Southwestern Florida, renowned for its nature preserves, canals, beaches, and waterpark. The extensive network of 400 miles of canals has opened up an array of outdoor recreation possibilities attracting a lot of water sports enthusiasts.
According to RentCafe, housing expenses are 18% higher than the national average whereas renting is much more affordable. The job market is flourishing and it has witnessed increases of 1.9%. The economy is driven by tourism, hospitality, and educational sector.
Cape Coral is not very cheap but is comparatively one of the most affordable coastal towns in Florida. However, there’s not much nightlife fun to experience but you’ll love the silent and relaxed atmosphere.
Areavibes.com has recorded a crime rate 49% lower than the national average with only 2,423 crimes recorded in a year. Cape Coral received notable accolades, with WalletHub ranking it as the 24th best city to retire in 2021. RetirementLiving took a step further to rank it as 4th best destination for retirees in 2022.
- Population: 35,793
- Cost of Living Index: 106.4 (US average of 100)
- Crime Rate: 11.46 (per 1,000 residents)
Dunedin is the most quaint, comfortable, outdoorsy community where residents love sailing and boating. Its location on the intercostal waterway in Pinellas County makes it the best place to live in Florida.
The median home value in Dunedin is around $181,700, which is less than the national median home value of $204,900. With single adult annual expenses totaling around $35,508 per year, it stands out as one of the best and most inexpensive cities to raise a family in Florida.
The town celebrates some great festivals like the Honeymoon Island Bluegrass Festival, Dunedin International Film Festival, Annual Downtown Dunedin Art Festival, and Dunedin Craft Festival which you cannot miss out on!
Also, the low crime rate around the neighborhood keeps a sense of security among the residents keeping them feeling at peace. The transportation and utility expenses are pretty affordable and also below average.
Low-Cost Retirement Communities in Florida
An economical retirement community in Florida means an affordable residential housing neighborhood where mature residents can breathe a sense of peace.
The community is about independent older adults who can thrive, share stories, passions, and dreams, and enjoy the thrill of companionship.
Like my grandparents, other seniors also love to choose affordable waterfront communities in Florida because it offers limitless opportunities for relaxation.
Beaches, golf courses, dog parks, theme parks, family-friendly attractions, and the best health care service are why they want to retire here.
So, here I’m listing some low-cost retirement communities in Florida that guarantee scenic trails and a sense of great security.
1. Carillon Lake, Lakeland
- Location: West of Weber Road on Renwick Road in Crest Hill, IL
- Cost ranges: $300 – $ 400
Carillon Lake has over 1,000 homes ranging in size from 1,400 to 3,000 square feet of living space with two to four bedrooms and an attached garage.
This gated community has no age restriction and allows time to enjoy the clubhouse, 3-hole golf courses, indoor & outdoor pool, fishing lakes, basketball court, pickleball, fitness centers, and so more.
2. Century Village East, Deerfield Beach
- Location: South of Boca Raton and just north of Pompano Beach
- Cost ranges: $100 – $300
Century Village East is an inexpensive area in South Florida for the active adult community just close to Miami and other South Florida hotspots.
You’ll have options of more than 8, 500 condos with different floor plans, sizes, and elevators. There are eight models ranging from 650 – 1,100 square feet.
Pros: Century Village provides 24*7 security, in-house bus transportation, medical facilities, shopping centers, local malls, playing courts, a theatre, a library and so more.
3. Solivita, Kissimmee
- Location: Just outside Orlando, Central Florida
- Cost ranges: $200 – $700
Solivita is a +55 gated community with 1,000 – 3,000 square feet of each home, floor plans, and bedroom options that combine – “sun and life”.
Exclusive amenities like on-house Dog Park, restaurants, billiards, art and ceramic studios, and more are its biggest draw among Floridians.
4. Hollybrook Golf and Tennis Club, Pembroke Pines
- Location: Half an hour north of Miami
- Cost ranges: $100 – $300
If you want to learn golf, there is no other place than Hollybrook Golf and Tennis Club in South Florida. They offer U.S.G.A.-approved courses.
This is a 55+ community that ranges from 800 to 1,573 square feet of each room with screened patios, balconies, fitness centers, a clubhouse, close to water, and other entertainment options.
Affordable Neighborhoods in Each Major Cities of Florida
1. Kendall, Miami
- Population: 78,007
- Cost of living: 112 (US average of 100)
Welcome to Kendall, an affordable suburb near Miami. This is inarguably one of the hidden gems between the coastal Pinecrest neighborhood and South Miami. Also, this is the cheapest and safest place to live in Florida with 58% lower crime rates than the national average.
In the heart of the vibrant city of Miami, where neon lights and towering skyscrapers paint the skyline, this suburban oasis is home to young professionals of Miami and wisdom residents in quiet peace.
Charming streets and colorful houses with swaying palm trees make the place very rhythmic. According to 247wallst, a single adult’s yearly expense is $ 37,287, with a median home value ranging from $356,500.
Kendall is free from the hordes of tourists and resort madness and is about local living and simple life. The top-rated public and private schools attract families who want to enjoy the duality of residential living and coastal air.
Shopping is not a concern as you’ll find small to big varied shopping places and also relaxing playgrounds like Skate Park and Snapper Creek Park. Living on this outer edge of Miami is like putting your feet in a tropical haven with no chaos around.
2. New Port Richey, Tampa
- Population: 17, 536
- Cost of living: 93.9 (US average of 100)
You enjoy the pros of buying low-cost housing in Florida at New Port Richey starting from $76,900, less than the national median home value of $204,900. The major population here is retirees and the senior population.
The place is a blend of beaches, nature, modern amenities, events, and activities all year round giving you to cherish the small town feel. Your grandparents can also check out – Orchid Lake RV Resor, a 55+ community resort. I guarantee you’ll love this small beach town in Florida.
Living here can never be boring. You can enjoy unique celebrations like the Fourth of July Main Street Blast, 11 days Chasco Fiesta, the Cotee River Seafood Festival, and events happening at Richey Suncoast Theater.
The stunning beachfront views with the city’s economy mostly depended on tourism with nearby attractions like the Cotee River, Gulf of Mexico, and historic downtown make the atmosphere lively and coastal among residents and tourists.
Pasco Hernando State College is also a major draw for young professionals who want to have a good academic profile and stay close to Tampa. I’ve seen a lot of students choosing Riverside Village as their home as students find many low-cost options to live.
3. Sandalwood, Jacksonville
- Population: 5, 562
- Cost of living: 96 (US average of 100)
Do you want to reside in a place with a charming touch, where winding, palm-lined streets lead the way to the most inviting neighborhood of Jacksonville? Originally comprising only 500 homes, the Sandalwood community has now expanded significantly.
Welcome to Sandalwood, six miles away from the beach, the place that features a cozy community vibe, sidewalk path, mature trees, parks, and excellent schools. Tranquil streets and quiet neighborhoods make the place very desirable.
As per Zerodown, on average a median individual income is around $32,448 with a $1,186 median rent. For affordable housing options in Florida, the median home in Sandalwood is valued at around $330,051. Here, you can buy spacious homes at affordable prices.
Residents mostly own cafes, shops, and restaurants where you’ll love to hang out in the evening or head towards Huffman Boulevard Park. The schools in the area also have great sports programs giving the children the opportunity to grow in all the sectors.
4. Rosemont, Orlando
- Population: 3,215
- Cost of living: 108 (US average of 100)
At the northwest edges of Lake Orlando sits Rosemont, where you can find the most affordable rentals in Florida starting from $1,328 per month including all the amenities. The median home value in Rosemont is around $209,256.
In the evening, you can go for a walk along Lake Fairview and Lake Orlando enjoying the fresh air, or indulge in outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and other adventures. It feels like Rosemont is designed for children to enjoy their days!
Well-maintained yards, family-friendly people, and secluded streets are ideal for people who looking for a place free from the hustle and bustle of Orlando mainland. The local grills and tropical tiki bars are local favorite spots for dinner.
Tips for Finding Cheap Housing in Florida
Florida is often romanticized for its gorgeous beaches and high-rent-price condos. But this blog informs about the affordable cities of Florida with tips to find one.
- Choose a home at outskirt locations. I always recommend staying outside the city center or nearby famous towns
- Study your past expenses, savings, and current income in your present city, then compare them with Florida’s expenses.
- Use your social media account to learn about hoses available for rent and information about the place. There are relevant Facebook groups where you can send messages. However, be aware of the scams.
- Use rental housing websites like Zillow, and Rent.com to know about the exact numbers of expenses and costs. You can know the price of bread, eggs, food, and so more
- Renting a house is a much more affordable option compared to buying a house in a foreign land initially. You don’t have to incur repair or maintenance charges or take care of real estate taxes.
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My blog on the cheapest places to live in Florida is the ultimate guide for you to know all you need. You can also browse YouTube to have a visual image of the places I’ve mentioned in the blog.
FAQ: Cheapest Places to Live in Florida
1. What factors make certain areas in Florida more budget-friendly?
A. The suburban vibe, downtown city center, distance from the beach, amenities, safety, crime rates, educational institutes, and proximity to hospitals are the certain factors that determine the budget of a place.
2. How does the cost of living in Florida compare to other states?
A. The state income tax in Florida is below the national average and you need to pay property tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and inheritance tax. The cost of living significantly varies throughout the state.
3. Are there any government assistance programs for affordable housing in Florida?
A. Affordable housing is made possible through Government programs like the Housing Credit program, administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) programs.