Are you considering a move to Jacksonville, FL? Known as the largest city in the Sunshine State (and largest city in the continental U.S.), JAX, as the city is known by the locals, boasts over 850 square miles of stunning beaches, thrilling attractions and natural beauty. The city’s distinct neighborhoods provide the perfect destination for young professionals, families and retirees.
Whether you’re seeking beautiful coastlines, top-notch restaurants or unique, cultural communities, it’s time to experience all that Jax has to offer. We put together eight reasons why relocating to Jacksonville could be the right move for you.
1. Jacksonville is a world-class arts destination.
If you’re moving to Jacksonville, FL, it won’t take you long to discover that music and art are everywhere. It’s the birthplace of Southern rock and home to a strong tradition of jazz and blues.
From music festivals to classical shows, your entertainment options are endless on this side of the Sunshine State.
See why Jacksonville lives among the top 25 arts destinations in the U.S:
Jacksonville Jazz Festival
Held every Memorial Day weekend, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is one of the largest festivals in the country. Spanning 15 blocks downtown, the festival features live jazz, local food and a vibrant street atmosphere. The best part? It’s free!
Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
Jacksonville’s MOSH features Northeast Florida’s cultural history, interactive exhibits and the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium–the largest single-lens planetarium in the world. Visitors can attend a cosmic concert, a guided tour along the St. Johns River or host their own parties.
Jacksonville Art Walk
If you’re big on shopping local, you don’t want to miss Jacksonville’s Art Walk. Here you’ll find a free tour through downtown Jacksonville, featuring pop-up galleries, marketplaces, food trucks and music. Art Walk takes place on the first Wednesday of every month (except January) from 5-9 p.m.
Visiting downtown Jacksonville for Art Walk is a great way to immerse yourself in the Jacksonville art scene. Downtown Vision, Inc., the event producer, reports that more than 5,000 art enthusiasts attend monthly to see the work of over 100 artists.
“Attending Art Walk is a great way to be part of the arts scene here in Jacksonville,” notes previous event manager Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa. “Each month we see more than 60 venues, 250 artists and 800 attendees. We encourage residents to come meet people, buy some artwork and be a part of the experience, and we look forward to seeing those numbers grow!”
Alhambra Theatre & Dining
With a thriving live performance scene, you can’t miss Jacksonville’s theater entertainment. Alhambra Theatre & Dining is the nation’s oldest operating professional dinner theatre–not to mention the only professional theater between Atlanta and Miami. Enjoy themed, delicious dinners with each entertaining show.
Riverside Arts Market
Enjoy Jacksonville’s arts, food and music scenes as they merge every Saturday from March through November. Browse artist’s handmade creations and local food vendors as you enjoy loads of live music. There’s even a weekly kids’ activity for the little ones!
2. It’s always beach season in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville, FL, operates the largest urban park system in the entire country — with 337 locations on more than 80,000 acres. In addition to municipal parks, you’ll find national facilities, ten state parks and several gardens and arboretums in the area.
Between its abundant waterways, stunning beaches and access to hundreds of piers, Jacksonville is a water lover’s dream. Whether you prefer romantic sunset cruises or adventurous surfing and diving trips, it won’t take long to fall in love with Jacksonville’s sun and sand.
Soak in the sun and sand.
Minutes from downtown Jax, you’ll find 22 miles of uncrowded, white sandy beaches. Jacksonville offers three beach areas: Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. Soak in the sun, catch some waves or check out the happening Jacksonville nightlife. Nearby, you’ll also find the historic village of Mayport. Explore casino boats, freshly caught seafood and Kathryn Abbey Park—offering Jacksonville’s best camping, hiking and biking spots around. For just $1, locals can hop a ride on the Beaches Trolley to explore the nearby neighborhoods and attractions.
Drop a line.
In every lake, river, pond and creek, you’ll find top-notch fishing spots that few other regions get to experience. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy Jacksonville’s convenient water access (including deep fishing waters just 30 minutes from downtown), wide variety of fresh and saltwater species, and world-class angling. Drop a line on Jacksonville’s shorelines, head to the pier or charter a boat for some deep-sea, offshore fishing. If you’re into serious fishing, consider entering the Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament in July.
Put your boat in.
With more shoreline than any other city in Florida, Jacksonville has plenty of opportunities to explore the waterways. Spend time on the St. Johns River, cruise through the Intracoastal Waterway or hang out offshore in coastal waters. Locals will tell you that the best view of Jacksonville is from the water, so bring your own boat to the marina or check out the canoe and kayak launches.
Explore under the sea.
For those on the more adventurous side, we have some good news for you: Jacksonville’s extensive reef system offers one of the best diving spots on Florida’s east coast. You’ll find over 30 offshore and two inshore reefs attracting a wide variety of colorful marine life. Plan a diving expedition or a scuba session to explore the corals, sponges and pristine reefs.
3. Jacksonville offers tons of family fun.
If your family enjoys sightseeing and entertainment, you’re moving to the right place. Families love the “River City by the Sea” because of its relaxed, fun and affordable atmosphere. You’ll find fun things to do in Jacksonville for kids of all ages.
What to do in Jacksonville, FL
A high-tech alternative to a golf course, Top Golf boasts over 65,000 square feet of space surrounded by their 165-foot tall fence. Kids and professionals will enjoy driving microchipped golf balls from their more than 100 climate-controlled bays toward targets on the field. Averaging about $6 per person, depending on the time you visit, the full-service restaurant, has over 200 HDTVs, arcade games and more.
Autobahn Indoor Speedway
Do you have the need for speed? The Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Jacksonville offers high-speed pro-karts that can reach up to 50 MPH. The indoor, fully air-conditioned 80,000 square foot facility is perfect for a rainy day or a hot summer day. Bring the whole family or a group of friends for a day of fun karting, or try your hand at ax throwing.
St. Johns River Taxi
Looking to explore Jacksonville with the kids? Hop on a water taxi! You can ride across the St. Johns River to the Northbank for only $5 (and $4 for kids). Hop off at the Jacksonville Landing to explore downtown or ride it for the entire loop to enjoy breathtaking sunsets and live music.
If you need to let the kids run wild, take them to Adventure Landing! Play in the arcade, race go-karts around the track or hit up a round of mini-golf. Adventure Landing is also home to Shipwreck Island Waterpark, featuring four major water slides, rides and endless fun for kids who want to test their adventurous side.
Tucked in the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is Kingsley Plantation—Florida’s oldest plantation house. Take a step back in time to learn the story of freedom and enslavement, tour the plantation house and sign up for a ranger-led tour around the grounds. Kingsley plantation is open seven days a week and admission is free.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
This is one of the top things to do in Jacksonville, FL. Sitting at the mouth of Trout River, The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens consistently ranks as a top animal attraction. The zoo occupies over 100 acres with over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants in its collection. Ride the train, feed the giraffes or get up close and personal with tigers in the zoo’s wide open spaces!
With great year-round weather and tons of teams to root for, sports will be a way of life if you’re moving to Jacksonville, FL. The area is home to eight pro sports teams, four college teams and tons of year-round events. Cheer on the Jacksonville Jaguars, take a swing on one of the 70 golf courses around or test your luck at any of Jacksonville’s water sports.
4. There are great places to live in Jacksonville.
Living in Jacksonville, FL, comes with endless perks. From miles of natural beauty to thrilling attractions, Jax offers an array of neighborhoods for young professionals, couples and families. Not to mention, the median age in Jacksonville is 35—younger than any other city in Florida.
Here are some of the best places to live in Jacksonville:
San Marco was built in the 1920s to resemble the Piazza San Marco in Italy. Here you’ll find an eclectic arts and shopping district with trendy bistros, distinctive boutiques and a diverse population.
Location: South of downtown and north of Mandarin.
The neighbors: Single professionals, creatives and artists.
Once a heavy industrial area, the Northside has turned into a residential area with several acre lots and new home developments. It’s also close to the airport, shopping and several state parks and nature preserves. While downtown Jax is only minutes away, the Northside remains somewhat rural and peaceful.
The location: 20 minutes northeast of the city.
The neighbors: Families, retirees and first-time homebuyers.
Did somebody say Salt Life? The Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville Beach areas host some of the priciest and desirable neighborhoods in Jacksonville. The median home price in the area is around $335,000, which comes with close access to the water and outdoor life.
Location: East of Jacksonville along the coast.
The neighbors: Families and retirees.
Southside and Mandarin are loaded with history and boast some of the most stunning river views in all of Jacksonville. The residential area has a low crime rate, great schools and an extensive network of parks and recreation development. It was even described as a “tropical paradise” by author Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Location: South of San Marco along the St. Johns River.
The neighbors: Families with young children and young couples buying their first home.
If you love the water and prefer living in a rural setting, the Westside and Orange Park are for you. The Westside area features full-service marinas, boating facilities and the Naval Air Station Jacksonville. This neighborhood offers reasonable house prices, several-acre lots and a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle downtown.
Location: Just south of Jacksonville and west of the St. Johns River.
The neighbors: Navy families, horse lovers and people who desire land.
5. Jacksonville is for food lovers.
If you’re relocating to Jacksonville, you’re in for some full-fledged flavor of the coast. No other Florida city offers Jacksonville’s unique flavors, thriving culinary scene and internationally renowned chefs. The area even made it to Forbes list of five surprising foodie cities to visit—for good reason!
From kid-friendly restaurants and sandwich shops to locally sourced seafood and upscale bistros, you’ll find it all. Here are some Jacksonville food joints you won’t be able to pass up.
For those with a hankering for sandwiches and burgers, the options are endless. French Pantry has the freshest bread and longest line, for good reason. At Maple Street Biscuit Company you can satisfy your brunch cravings with a delicious chicken biscuit. Or head to The Mini Bar for a creative selection of doughnuts. Don’t forget to check out Poe’s Tavern, Kickbacks and Goozlepipe & Guttyworks, some of the best Gastro-pubs Jax has to offer!
Jacksonville boasts almost 100 food trucks. Whether you’re on-the-go, hungry during your shopping outing or just in the mood to try something new, Jax food trucks offer creative options for every craving. Be sure to get a taste of some of the top favorites: Salty Dog, The Butt Hutt Smokehouse, Fusion Food Truck, The Happy Grilled Cheese Food Truck and Mother Truckin’ Pizza. Check out the full list of vendors here.
Farm to Table
For those with an appreciation for eating local, Jax has over 20 locally owned, farm-to-table restaurants. You’ll also find over 30 restaurants with vegan menus and gluten-free options. Restaurant Orsay, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails and Black Sheep Restaurant all offer elegant, locally sourced cuisine. Kitchen on San Marco also consistently ranks as the top farm-to-table restaurant in Jacksonville.
When you feel like mixing up the menu, there are plenty of ethnic options in Jacksonville. Green Erth Bistro offers Middle Eastern cuisine and vegan fare. Nile Ethiopian Restaurant has fresh Ethiopian cuisine and great customer service. For a taste of Lebanese food, visit Mandaloun Mediterranean Cuisine located near Deerwood Village. If it’s craft ramen you’re craving, check out the Asian fusion menu at Domu in the St. Johns Town Center.
Seafood is a must in Jacksonville. Visit Clark’s Fish Camp in Mandarin or Whitey’s Fish Camp in Fleming Island for the down-home fish camp experience. If you’re looking for local seafood but want to head somewhere classy, check out North Beach Fish Camp, Palm Valley Fish Camp or Bistro AIX. Wherever you go, don’t forget to request the culinary staple, the Mayport Shrimp!
6. It’s close to other major cities.
One of the best parts of moving to Jacksonville, FL, is its convenient proximity to other major cities. Located in northeastern Florida where the St. Johns River meets the Atlantic, Jax isn’t far from Atlanta, Georgia, Alabama and other major cities in Florida. Whether you’re moving to the Sunshine State for the first time or just relocating a short drive away, you’re going to love Jacksonville’s convenient location to the following cities:
Atlanta. If you’re looking to get a taste of Atlanta’s heritage and Southern hospitality, you’re in luck. The drive from Atlanta to Jacksonville is around 4 hours and 50 minutes by car without stops.
Miami. When it comes to cities in Florida, Miami is the life of the party. Each year, the city expects 14 million visitors. If you plan to check out its beaches and exciting nightlife, the drive from Miami to Jacksonville should take around 5 hours and 25 minutes by car.
Naples. Known for its high-end shopping, sophisticated dining and world-class golf courses, Naples, FL, is an affordable family destination for beach enthusiasts. You can travel from Jacksonville to Naples in about 5 hours and 30 minutes by car.
Orlando. So, how far is Jacksonville from Orlando? Get this: the Jacksonville to Orlando drive time is only a little over two hours. You can pack up the car, head to the most-visited destination in the U.S. and get there in no time.
7. There are plenty of jobs in Jacksonville, FL.
The cost of living in Jacksonville remains lower than the national average. Although the average home price is low, you’ll find Jacksonville to be a seller’s market due to the low inventory and high demand for residential property.
The good news: the unemployment rate in Florida is around 3.5%, and Jacksonville is also second in job growth for the state, right behind the Orlando metro area.
Jax is home to several Fortune 1,000 and Fortune 500 company headquarters. The area presents attractive markets in finance, logistics and hospitality due to its growing epicenter for restaurants, retail and commercial buildings.
If you’re moving to Jacksonville, FL, and job searching, you won’t find a shortage of job opportunities. Here are some of the top companies in Jacksonville:
- Fidelity National Financial
- Fidelity National Information Services Inc.
- Landstar System
With NAS Jacksonville nearby, Jax also has the third-largest military presence in the country. The city was originally named after General Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of Florida. Today, the military employs over 17,000 active-duty personnel and civilians in the Jacksonville area.
8. Jacksonville has comprehensive schooling opportunities.
Jacksonville has more than 300 schools; 60% of them are public and the remaining are private. The city hosts many higher education options with various fields to study. Some of the institutions include the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, The Art Institute of Jacksonville and Florida Coastal School of Law.
Moving to Jacksonville, FL?
If you and your family have an appreciation for an exciting nightlife, world-class attractions and life on the water, it’s time to experience a new side of the Sunshine State. Moving to Jacksonville, FL might just be your best move yet.
You won’t find too many garages in Jacksonville due to the high water table. And, depending on the area you move to, you may or may not have a garage to make up for that missing storage. Relying on a hot and humid unfinished attic to store your valued possessions may not be the best option. If you’re lacking space, explore our storage facilities in Jacksonville for secure, climate-controlled storage units.
Whether you’re relocating across the state or hauling your things across the country, don’t forget that Life Storage can help store your belongings. Find self storage in Jacksonville to make your move as stress-free as possible.
Update: This post was originally published on September 15, 2017, and was revised on December 26, 2019, with new information from Jacksonville expert, Meaghan Alvarado.