New arrivals looking to settle down in the River City will be pleased to know that Jacksonville offers a huge range of housing for just about every budget. Most newcomers tend to rent initially while they find their feet and get a feel for the city and its neighbourhoods, before settling on a more permanent situation. The renting process is fairly standard and in line with what one would expect in most major US cities.
Those who do decide to buy property in Jacksonville further down the line will find that Jax has great investment potential. Not only is the city's property market robust but the city continues to attract more and more people each year, which in turn increases the demand for housing.
Types of accommodation
Prospective residents will find that the standard of accommodation in Jacksonville is generally quite good. Most buildings are well-maintained and property sizes are more generous than in more densely populated US cities. New arrivals searching for their new home will have a range of options to choose from, including apartments, condos and larger houses.
These are modern self-contained units within a larger building, and can be found all over Jacksonville. They tend to be one of the most affordable options, and are a particularly popular choice within the downtown area where space is limited.
Condos are a happy medium between houses and apartments. New arrivals will find this option allows them to have a little extra space along with the benefits of communal living. Condos are self-contained units within a bigger complex where residents share a range of amenities including communal swimming pools, gyms, gardens and laundry facilities.
Newcomers looking for a house in Jacksonville will find a huge variety, particularly towards the outskirts of town. From classic and colonial style mansions filled with character, to minimalist modern designs, there is something to suit everyone's tastes. Most of the newer housing will be found in outlying suburbs.
Finding accommodation in Jacksonville
The best place to begin the hunt for a home in Jacksonville will be online. Consulting reputable property portals is a good way for prospective residents of Jacksonville to get a feel for the different types of property available in each neighbourhood, and how much to budget.
Real estate agents with knowledge of Jacksonville are also a really useful source of information and can help new arrivals familiarise themselves with different parts of the city in their search for the perfect home.
Important things to consider when looking for a home in Jacksonville include proximity to places of work, amenities, shopping hubs and access to major roads. Lifestyle considerations will also come into play. Those moving to Jacksonville with children should also consider the proximity to good public schools and space requirements when searching for a home.
Renting accommodation in Jacksonville
Though Jacksonville’s economy is on the up and more people are seeing the potential lifestyle benefits of moving to the River City, the demand for property is relatively stable and new arrivals won’t find it too difficult to secure a rental contract.
Making an application
Once prospective tenants have found a property to their liking, they’ll need to express their interest either to the agent or the landlord directly. Credit and reference checks will then need to be carried out. Once these have been verified, the tenant and landlord can go ahead and sign the lease. For those moving to Jacksonville from outside the USA, it's best to try and open a US bank account and have a social security number set up before applying for a rental property.
Rental contracts in Jacksonville are most commonly valid for a year, but tenants will have the option to renew at the end of the initial term. At the discretion of the landlord, it may be possible to request a shorter lease. For tenants who are wanting to negotiate any aspect of their lease it is better to do so outside peak holiday season when there isn't as much demand for holiday rentals.
Renters need to pore over the terms of their lease agreements to determine which utilities are included. In most cases, the landlord covers standard utilities such as water and electricity. Optional extras such as internet, cable TV and landline telephone services are usually for the tenant's personal account.
Prospective tenants will be required to put down a security deposit to secure the lease on a property. These rental deposits are fully refundable once the lease terminates, provided that the property is left in an acceptable state. For this reason, it is important to carry out a detailed inventory at both the beginning and end of the rental term, as damages will be deducted from the deposit. Although Florida state law places no limit on how much a landlord can ask for a security deposit, most ask for the equivalent of one month's rent. The law does, however, state that the deposit minus any legitimate deductions is returned to the tenant within a month of them moving out.
Buying Property in Jacksonville
The vast majority of Jacksonville residents own their home. Those who are considering a long-term relocation to the River City will find that it is a great place to purchase property. A recent PwC report ranked Jacksonville as one of the 12 best markets in the USA for future home-building prospects and among the top 25 metro areas for real estate prospects. The Jacksonville property market, and the city’s economy as a whole, are making impressive strides, and investors are bound to reap the rewards in years to come.
►For some useful insights into the best neighbourhoods for new arrivals take a look at the Areas and Suburbs of Jacksonville page
Are you an expat living in Jacksonville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jacksonville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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