The city of Jacksonville, Florida, began to grow as a community in the late 18th century thanks to the settling of British colonists in the area. Growing under the name of Cow Ford, it would become a significant winter vacation destination for families coming down from the Midwest and the North. After suffering the Great Fire of 1901, the development of the city took a significant delay, altered by the land bust in the 20s, the economic woes in the 60s and 70s, and other financial setbacks.
It would not be until 2003 when Jacksonville would begin to experience steady and consistent growth. The city has also been a significant port for the United States Navy since 1940, provides a home to 1 million citizens, and offers a unique city and county government structure that is consolidated into one convenient oversight setup. It also as the largest land area of any city in the contiguous United States.
All areas of Duval Country are considered to be part of Jacksonville except for the independent municipalities of Atlantic Beach, Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach. Even with this separation, the residents of these towns still vote in city elections and can receive services provided by the community.
List of the Pros of Living in Jacksonville
1. Jacksonville doesn’t experience the same weather events as the rest of Florida.
One of the disadvantages that occurs when you decide to live in Florida is the need to watch for hurricanes every season. That does not apply to a home in Jacksonville. This city is one of the few along the eastern coach that have been largely spared from the damage that hurricanes cause up and down the seaboard. The only storm in recorded history to affect the city with winds that reach hurricane force struck in September 1999 when Hurricane Floyd went over the Bahamas. Even then, the city only experienced minor damage.
The most significant problem that the weather has ever caused in Jacksonville was the record flooding that occurred in September 2017 when Hurricane Irma impacted the Southern states.
2. You will receive a lot of warm weather when living in Jacksonville.
The climate of Jacksonville fits into the category of being tropical and warm. The winters in the city are exceptionally mild, with real snow not following since 1989. When you experience the temperatures of January here, then it feels like the autumn season everywhere else in the country. Although you will need to put up with the hot and humid summers when living here, and those can be overwhelming at times, the unique location in the northeast corner of the state allows this community to enjoy many of the climate advantages without many disadvantages.
3. There is always a beach close by when you are living in Jacksonville.
It really doesn’t matter where are you choose to live when making your way to Jacksonville. There seems to be a beach around every corner once you start heading south, allowing you to enjoy some sand and sunshine whenever there is a little free time. Most of the residence in the city can reach a beach in less than an hour, depending on the traffic at the time.
If you want to have closer access to the coast, then you will want to live further south off of the panhandle in a city like Tampa Bay or Miami. When you don’t mind a short commute that can save you a bit off of your living expenses, then Jacksonville is the perfect place to be.
4. You will have access to plenty of parks in Jacksonville.
The city of Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the United States. There are over 80,000 acres under management right now in 262 designated parks. Each one brings its own unique charm and personality, allowing you to have the perfect experience with your family on a peaceful weekend afternoon. Whether you choose the rich history that is available at Hemming Plaza, which was the city’s first part, or you head over to Riverside for some quiet space, there is a place here that matches your personality.
5. There are lots of outdoor adventures awaiting you in the city.
If you enjoy fishing or hunting, then you are going to love living in Jacksonville. This city, compared to others of a similar size, offers numerous outdoor activities for those who love a sporting adventure. The St. John’s River is the unofficial symbol of the city with this advantage, which residents use often for boating, fishing, and water skiing.
When golf is more of your outdoor sport, then you can take advantage of the presence of the PGA Tour in nearby Ponte Vedra. There are championship courses here that will challenge even the most experienced golfers without making a significant impact on the cash that’s in your wallet. If you want to enjoy a day out in the sun, Jacksonville has you covered.
6. You can experience professional football in Jacksonville.
The NFL has a presence in Jacksonville with the Jaguars playing their home games there. Although the team isn’t as popular as some across the country, there are ample opportunities to get tickets to the eight home games that the team hosts annually. That means you have an opportunity to see your favorite team if you move to the city, or you can decide to switch allegiances to cheer for the hometown boys.
There are also minor league teams that play in the city so that you can catch some soccer, baseball, or basketball when you want. How can you deny the fun in watching a team called the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp?
7. Jacksonville has one of the lowest cost-of-living standards in Florida.
The city of Jacksonville almost always makes the list of the major cities in the United States with the lowest cost of living. Housing is the most affordable option in this category compared to what you will experience anywhere on the East Coast. Not only is it lower than the statewide average, this city is also more affordable than the national average. That means you can enjoy many of the benefits of living in a warmer climate without the cost disadvantages that you can find in other cities.
8. There are plenty of cultural events to enjoy when living in the city.
You will find that there are several cultural events held in Jacksonville each year when you start living in the city. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is always well attended, providing a series of concerts throughout the year which cover a variety of genres. The FSCJ Artist Series routinely brings national tours of shows that are on Broadway or recently completed their run for residents to enjoy. There are also several art festivals to attend throughout the year, along with the usual shows that every city provides.
9. The city offers a small-town vibe despite its overall size.
Even though Duval County is the largest in the United States and Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental 48, the structure feels more like a small-town community then it does a large urban center. You typically have smaller villages with interconnected infrastructures that make it feel like you’re going from town to town instead of staying in one large city. Some of those villages can experience high crime rates, so you will want to pick and choose where you visit carefully. This advantage also means that until you live in the city for a while, you always have the chance to feel like a tourist.
10. You can reach Orlando and the rest of Florida in 3 hours or less.
One of the best reasons to live in Jacksonville is the fact that you can go exploring almost anywhere if you’re willing to put in a short drive. You can make it to Orlando in less than three hours if the traffic is good, which means you can take advantage of all of the theme parks and entertainment options present in the city. You can also head north into Georgia on I-95 to reach Savannah or take the state roads to visit Amelia Island, Jekyll Island, and similar locations if you’re trying to get out of the city.
Highway 1 is another great option to consider, allowing you to drive down the coast to Daytona Beach without the same traffic issues that you would find on the interstate.
List of the Cons of Living in Jacksonville
1. Public transportation is a weak point for the city of Jacksonville.
One of the advantages that Jacksonville brings to its residents is its overall size. If you own a vehicle, then you don’t really think about the amount of time that is necessary to reach each destination. You will notice this problem immediately if you must take public transportation to get to where you need to go. This city has a week or public transportation infrastructure than others of a similar population size in the south. Even Atlanta has a better system. With planning and forethought, you can make it work for you, but it isn’t going to be an easy process.
2. There is plenty of urban sprawl to manage when living in Jacksonville.
Urban sprawl has been an issue for the Jacksonville community for over 50 years. The sheer size of the city is on a scale that you don’t think about until you actually experience it personally. Think about it this way: the size of Jacksonville is larger than Los Angeles since it feels more like a collection of small towns rather than one large urban center. Unless you find yourself in the downtown area, in San Marco, Riverside, or Avondale, it is not a very walkable city. Biking is not really an option here either.
3. The jobs market in Jacksonville is not very strong.
The economy of Jacksonville has always struggled to find its footing throughout the history of the city. There has never really been a lot of strength to its overall economic presence. Even with the slow and steady growth that began in 2003, the financial recession in 2008 was something that impacted the community hard. Even more than a decade later, the unemployment rates in the city are higher than they are comparatively to the rest of Florida at 10%. There are only three Fortune 500 companies present in the community as well.
The banking sector has been working to make Jacksonville a hub for industry employment, but there is not much else to find when considering a high-the skill position. Tech companies are few and far between. You’re more likely to find a job at a call center than you are in the field in which you hold a degree.
4. Crime is an issue in Jacksonville that you will want to consider.
The crime rate in Jacksonville is improving, but it is far too high when compared to other cities throughout the state. Until Miami took the crown for having the most murders in the state in 2011, this city held that title for 11 consecutive years. You will find that there are safe neighborhoods with relatively low rates that are perfect for raising a family, but the entire community as a whole could drive some people away.
One of the reasons why Jacksonville struggles in this area is because of the ongoing racial tension that occurs in the city. Even though residence elected their first African-American mayor in 2011, the history of segregation and profiling is still prominent. During the 1960s, Hemming Plaza was home to the Axe Handle Saturday events where black protestors were attacked by white residents.
5. The educational system in Jacksonville could use an upgrade.
Duval County schools regularly rank at or near the bottom in virtually every significant measurement of educational achievement. Test scores are much lower here than they are in other parts of the state. The grade schools are somewhat immune to this disadvantage, but you will definitely see problems in the upper grades. Many families opt to send their children to private or religious schools as a way to counter this issue, and even then, it is not always successful. Before deciding on where to move, you will want to take a look at the grades given for each school.
The pros and cons of living in Jacksonville, FL, show that it is far from a perfect city. Even those who have happily lived here their entire lives will admit that some improvements could be made to make life better. For many people, the positive aspects of living here outweigh whatever negatives they might experience, which is why there are such high levels of happiness to experience.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.