A low cost of living, beautiful weather and great quality of life are just a few of the things that serve to attract new arrivals to Jacksonville. But, as is the case with any new destination, there are both advantages and disadvantages that need to be weighed up before deciding to make the move.
Below are few of the broad pros and cons than come with living in Jacksonville.
Accommodation in Jacksonville
+ PRO: Lots of choices and diverse neighbourhoods
There really is something for everyone in Jacksonville, from young professionals looking to be close to the action of downtown Jacksonville, to families who need access to good public schools, and retirees looking for communal living options close to the sea. Regardless of whether prospective residents are looking for a spacious family home, a modern apartment or luxury condo, there is wide a range of housing options in Jacksonville.
- CON: It can get expensive
There is no doubt that there is a lot of investment potential when it comes to property in Jacksonville. While it is certainly possible to find affordable housing in the city, those who are looking to live in sought-after locations near downtown Jacksonville can expect to fork out for the privilege. Riverside living and ocean views don’t come cheap either.
Getting around in Jacksonville
+ PRO: Public transport is cheap
For those living close to the city centre, getting around doesn’t cost much at all. Anyone who uses public transport regularly can save money by buying a weekly or monthly STAR card, which offers a further discount.
- CON: Driving is a necessity
Although public transport in Jacksonville is affordable, the system in place isn’t really efficient for a city this size. Buses rarely run on time and services travelling outside central areas are downright slow. For anyone living a little further away from the downtown area, public transport just isn’t a viable option. Having a car makes life infinitely easier and gives residents the freedom to explore at their own pace.
- CON: Traffic is a nightmare
Jacksonville is home to over a million people, all of whom are trying to get somewhere. With a growing population, construction and roadworks are also a constant presence. This all means that traffic is a major headache for Jacksonvillians. Those looking to move to the city for work should try to negotiate for flexi-time work hours to avoid rush hours, or just get ready to sit tight as travelling always takes a while.
Working in Jacksonville
+ PRO: Jacksonville’s economy is on the up
Jacksonville is one of the USA’s ‘boomtowns’; and the city’s rapid expansion has led to the creation of new jobs. The fact that many established companies have seen value in the city has meant the economic prospects of the area are going from strength to strength. Unemployment is low and prospective residents with experience in finance, logistics and manufacturing should have no real difficulty finding a job.
- CON: Lower salaries
Although Jacksonville residents have job security, salaries are lower than those found in bigger economic hubs such as Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta. While it is a great place for those starting out in their career, experienced professionals with sought-after skills might find that employment packages here aren’t as lucrative. On balance, even though salaries are low, so is the general cost of living in Jacksonville, which means that people can still afford to live quite comfortably.
Cost of living in Jacksonville
+ PRO: One of the most affordable places to live in Florida
Each year the Sunshine State draws new residents from other parts of the US and beyond. The all-year-round good weather and the excellent lifestyle benefits are part of what draws people to Florida. Unlike other Floridian cities, the size of Jacksonville has meant it can accommodate all these newcomers without increasing prices. So everyone can enjoy all the best elements of the Floridian lifestyle without the hefty price tag.
- CON: There are some expenses that can’t be avoided
Having a car in Jacksonville is pretty much a necessity and most people living here end up buying their own vehicles. While cars themselves are reasonably priced, petrol (gas) prices in Jacksonville are some of the highest in the US and, when one considers the long distances people have to travel on a daily basis, this is an expense that can easily mount up.
Education and schools in Jacksonville
+ PRO: Good public schools
Jacksonville is home to some of America's best public schools. Be warned, though, admission (often area-based) won’t be easy so parents who want to take advantage of the quality of schools will need to make sure they live in close proximity to top-performing institutions.
+ PRO: Lots of alternative learning paths
The attitude towards education in Jacksonville is pretty progressive. Students who aren’t academically gifted in the traditional sense will find that there are systems in place to support them should they be more suited to an alternative path. Magnet schools nurture children that have shown an aptitude for sports, performing arts and music and the support in place for those with disabilities and learning difficulties is also excellent.
- CON: No international schools
The expat community in Jacksonville is relatively small so parents won’t find schools here that follow the curricula of foreign countries. That said, there are a number of public and private schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Foreign residents of Jacksonville may also want to explore options in wider Florida.
Lifestyle in Jacksonville
+ PRO: Lots of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors
It isn’t just Florida’s great weather and idyllic beaches that draw people to Jacksonville. Those who want to explore the city’s amazing surrounds can hit one of the many hiking and biking trails, and being based along the St John’s River means that Jacksonville is great for a whole array of water sports including boating and fishing.
+ PRO: Vibrant music scene
Jacksonville is said to be the birthplace of Southern rock. The city also has a strong jazz and blues tradition. Those who enjoy live music will love living in Jacksonville. From music festivals to classical concerts, the options are endless. The Jacksonville Jazz Fest is one of the USA’s largest music events and not to be missed.
►To learn more about leisure activities in the city, take a look at the Lifestyle in 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.
Expat Health Insurance
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