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Moving to Jacksonville

Located in Duval County, along the scenic banks of the St Johns River, the seaport city of Jacksonville is Florida’s most populous destination, and an attractive proposition for both travellers and those keen to make it their permanent home. 

Despite its size, Jax, as it is affectionately known, continues to draw large numbers of new residents each year. Young professionals pursuing career success, newly-wed couples looking to get a foot on the property ladder, families wanting to be close to good schools, and retirees who want to enjoy their twilight years in the famous Florida sun, all see value in relocating to Jacksonville.

Unlike many of the more well-known US expat destinations such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Jacksonville’s cost of living is incredibly affordable. There's also an abundant supply of accommodation and new arrivals will be able to take their pick from modern apartments, plush condos and humble family homes.

Jacksonville boasts a growing economy where job opportunities abound in a variety of different industries including finance, healthcare and logistics. Residents not only report enjoying job security, but Jacksonville employers in the city are known to emphasise the importance of a healthy work-life balance, which allows workers to capitalise on all the enticing lifestyle offerings available in the River City. 

New residents won’t ever be at a loss when it comes to leisure activities in the River City. Jacksonville is famous for its beaches, and the all-year-round good weather means that there are plenty of opportunities to top up that tan and enjoy time on the coast. Outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element as they hit up the hiking, biking and running trails of nearby Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve or Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. If history, arts and culture are of interest, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cummer Museum and the Museum of Science and History, are just a few of the attractions to be found in Jax.

Those moving to Jax with kids in tow will soon learn that this is a truly wonderful place to raise a family. Home to a number of good public and private schools, new arrivals can rest assured that their youngsters are in good hands when it comes to learning. Beyond its selection of schools, Jax is just generally a family-friendly city. Whether its a family day out at one of the city’s urban parks, a wildlife encounter at Jacksonville Zoo, or fun-filled afternoon at the beach, there's plenty for the kids to get stuck into.

As with life in any new city, there are also downsides to living in Jacksonville. One of the most noticeable is the limited nature of the city’s public transport infrastructure. While buses, trolleys and the Skyline suffice for commuting within the downtown area, in reality investing in a car is an expense that can’t be avoided here. It’s a vast city and getting around is infinitely easier with a set of wheels.

All in all, Jacksonville’s favourable Sunshine State location, the strength of its economy, and the terrific quality of life it offers its residents serve to attract newcomers from all over the USA and beyond. Regardless of one's age, or whether one is enticed by the city’s stunning coastline, eclectic entertainment options, or proximity to nature, Jax appeals to anyone looking to start a new chapter. 

Weather in Jacksonville

Located in Florida, aptly nicknamed the Sunshine State, Jacksonville unsurprisingly experiences a humid subtropical climate with distinct seasons.

Residents should expect mild winters (December to February) where temperatures range between 5°C (41°F) and 20°C (68°F).  Summers (June to August) are hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to 33°c (91°F). Thunderstorms, caused by high levels of humidity, bring heavy rainfall during the summer months. 

Despite Jacksonville’s location on the edge of a hurricane belt, the city manages to avoid the full force of these. Tropical storms are fairly common during hurricane season, between August and October.

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Jacksonville

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 the River City. 


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 Jax, 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 buy a weekly or monthly STAR card, which offers a further discount. 

Con: Driving is a necessity

Although public transport in Jax 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. Expats 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 Jax 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 Jax 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 Jax residents 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 as there are more diverse options 


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 Jax. Those that 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 Jax is great for a whole array of watersports including boating and fishing. Not forgetting that nearby Ponte Vedra is home to the PGA Tour, making Jax a golfer’s dream. 

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 Jax. 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. 

Working in Jacksonville

Prospective residents of Jacksonville may be surprised to learn that this Sunshine State city has plenty to offer in terms of exciting job prospects across a wide range of industries.

Jacksonville is one of America’s thriving "boomtowns" – cities where rapid growth has led to the creation of new jobs which in turn have served to attract new residents to the area. Large numbers of young professionals find themselves drawn to Jax for the mix of exciting job offerings teamed with a lifestyle that prioritises a healthy work-life balance.

While it is only home to a handful of Fortune 500 companies, Jacksonville has managed to attract a number of other notable companies thanks to its highly skilled workforce and lower operational costs. Prominent employers in Jacksonville include BOA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Florida Blue and Crowley Maritime.


Job market in Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s favourable location on the Atlantic Coast and along the St John’s River has been a key factor in the growth of the city’s economy. Historically, much of Jacksonville’s economic activity has centered around its large deepwater port, which has been instrumental in the USA’s automobile import industry. Jaxport is also the leading transportation and distribution hub for the state of Florida. 

Over time, Jacksonville’s economy has undergone a lot of diversification. Once famous for its agriculture and dairy production industry, Jacksonville’s economic landscape is far more dynamic nowadays. Financial services, biomedical technology, consumer goods, information services and manufacturing all play significant roles in generating income in Jacksonville.

Prospective Jacksonville residents with a background in finance, logistics, manufacturing or aviation will find plenty of job openings in Jacksonville. As the job market is somewhat less competitive than those in more well-established economic hubs, Jacksonville is also a great place when it comes to opportunities for career progression. 

Salaries in Jacksonville may not be as enticing as those found elsewhere but, with a low cost of living, most people can afford to live well. Also, the fact that Jacksonville has managed to attract so many robust national and global companies has meant that people report having a high level of job security. 


Finding a job in Jacksonville

For those who aren’t moving to Jacksonville with a job offer in hand, the best place to start the search would be online. Most companies will list their job openings on their own website or on local job portals. 

Recruitment agents are also a good option. These professionals have unique insights into their specific industry and are well placed to link up qualified candidates with employers. 

Networking is another viable way to make business connections and get some insider tips on local industries and the job market in Jacksonville. This is also a great way for new arrivals to make friends and establish themselves in their new community. 


Work culture in Jacksonville

Generally speaking, the pace of life in Jacksonville is relatively relaxed in comparison to major US cities such as New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles. While success in the workplace is taken seriously in Jacksonville, this isn’t the sole focus. 

On the whole, new arrivals will find the workplace in Jacksonville to be less competitive than elsewhere. Many companies encourage their workers to have a healthy work-life balance and employ measures to ensure that people are happy at work. Depending on an individual company as well as the industry in question, flexible working hours and remote working are common features in Jacksonville. 

Cost of Living in Jacksonville

Before taking the leap and making the commitment to move to a new place, it's important for prospective residents to consider the cost of living and compare this to their earning potential and the lifestyle benefits that their new home offers. Those with Jacksonville in their sights will be pleased to learn that the River City's cost of living is one of the lowest in Florida. It also consistently falls below the national average for the USA as a whole. Naturally, an individual’s personal living expenses come into play where budgeting is concerned which makes things a little more complicated.

Those weighing up a move to Jax should bear in mind a number of different factors when drawing up a budget. These include the cost of accommodation, transport options, healthcare expenses, lifestyle choices and if they have children, the price of schooling. This should all be compared alongside one's earning potential as well as the expenses of physically relocating, which in itself can be costly exercise. 

Below is a broad breakdown of the expenses new arrivals should expect to incur when living in Jacksonville.


Cost of accommodation in Jacksonville

Most people relocating to Jacksonville will start by renting property till they find their feet and decide whether they want to settle down in the Sunshine State. The fact that the rental market in Jax is so robust also increases investment potential when it comes to buying a place. In general, housing prices are just slightly lower in Jacksonville than both the American national and Florida state averages. Across the board, the standard of accommodation in Jax is high so new arrivals are bound to get good value for money. 

Naturally, prices vary according to where a person lives. Modern apartments close to downtown Jax, Riverside condos or anything with an ocean view is likely to cost top dollar. Of course, exploring options further afield in suburbs like Orange Park, Westside or Springfield will allow new residents to more spacious and affordable housing. Master-planned communities, like Nocatee, Tamaya or Sawgrass that are still in development may also offer new arrivals a few budget-friendly options. 


Cost of education in Jacksonville

The cost of education in Jax varies considerably depending on an individual child's schooling path. Jacksonville is home to many public and private schools, so parents will have much to ponder.

The cost of attending a public school is next to nothing whereas private schools set their own fees, which are generally high and only increase as the child progresses through the grades. Parents who opt to sent their child to a private school should also budget for additional expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular activities and field trips. There are some private schools which even expect students to have their own laptop. 

Parents of students that require additional support from a private tutor, to either bring them up to speed on difficult subjects or to give them an added edge when it comes to university admission tests, will need to consider the cost of this. Most tutoring companies offer various options including one-to-one sessions, group classes and online tutorials. So there should be something to suit every budget. 


Cost of healthcare in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is home to a number of excellent hospitals and healthcare facilities. While the cost of healthcare in the River City is slightly lower than the national average, it is still expensive – this will be especially noticeable to those relocating from countries with free or heavily subsidised public healthcare systems. 

Foreigners and newcomers relocating from elsewhere in the USA should invest time researching health insurance schemes. There are plenty of competitive packages available but it’ll be up to the individual to find a policy that not only meets their own health needs and those of their family members, but also realistically fits into their monthly budget. 

Anyone moving to Jacksonville for a job should try to negotiate a health insurance contribution into their employment contract as this will allow for significant saving on these expenses.


Cost of transportation in Jacksonville

As the largest city in the continental US, Jacksonville is huge. Public transport in Jacksonville is cheap, especially if commuters opt to purchase a weekly or monthly STAR Card. That said, Jax’s public transport network doesn’t sufficiently cover areas beyond the city centre.  For this reason, the vast majority of long-term Jax residents will opt to drive. 

As is the case throughout Florida, cars are reasonably priced. In fact, used vehicles in the Sunshine State cost around 10 percent less than the national average. This is partly due to the fact that Florida has an ageing population, many of whom are giving up their cars, along with large numbers of wealthy people who upgrade their vehicles on a regular basis. These factors make for an ideal buyers market. 

On the flipside, maintaining a car won’t come cheap in Jax. Petrol (gas) prices are some of the highest in the USA. When one considers the long distances Jacksonvillians drive daily, it makes sense that these expenses can add up. Similarly, car insurance premiums  in Jacksonville are also above average. 


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Jacksonville

Lifestyle expenses really do depend on an individual's taste, preferences and priorities. Jacksonville residents can spend as much or as little as they like when it comes to keeping themselves entertained. On one hand, Jax has its fair share of fine dining restaurants, fancy wine bars and exclusive cocktail lounges for those who are looking to splash some cash and have a good time. On the other hand, there is plenty to see and do in Jax without breaking the bank.

The first low-budget activity that comes to mind is spending a day with family and friends on one of Jacksonville’s many famous beaches. After all, holidaymakers travel from all over to get a bit of the Florida sun, while Jax residents have it on their doorstep. The year-round good weather presents opportunities to get outdoors by hiking and biking along various trails or exploring one of the River City’s many parks and gardens. While entrance to most of Jax’s museums and galleries is reasonable, come November each year, children access the majority of attractions for free, making this the best time to explore the city as a family. 


Cost of living in Jacksonville chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Jacksonville in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,200

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,740

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,340

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.40

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.90

Rice (1kg)

USD 4

Loaf of bread

USD 3

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 9

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 6.75

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.75

Cappuccino

USD 4

Bottle of local beer

USD 4

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 50

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.08

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 72

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 140

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.10

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.60

Accommodation in Jacksonville

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.

Apartments

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

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. 

Houses

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.

Leases

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. 

Utilities

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.

Deposits

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.
 

Areas and Suburbs in Jacksonville

The best places to live in Jacksonville

One of the most challenging elements of relocating to a new city is finding a neighbourhood where a person and their family will feel at home. Finding the perfect area or suburb in Jacksonville will be heavily dependent on the newcomer's lifestyle, their budget and their priorities. Young professionals and those with a sizeable income tend to live close to downtown Jax, where they have access to the best amenities. New arrivals with families, or those retirees moving to Florida for a slower pace of life, may prefer to find a home in the suburbs. 

Here is a breakdown of some of Jacksonville’s prominent neighbourhoods.


City living in Jacksonville

Those who prioritise location over space will find a number of areas close to downtown Jax that fit the bill. Although rents are higher than the average in Jacksonville, residents who live around downtown benefit from an easy commute to work and having the best amenities in Jax on their doorstep. 

Downtown Jacksonville

San Marco

Tree-lined San Marco, just south of the city centre, is a historic district of Jacksonville that dates back to the 1920s. Residents benefit from the short commute downtown as well as vibrant entertainment offerings. Eclectic boutiques and a distinctive arts scene are also major draws for the area. Accommodation here mainly comes in the form of apartments and condos, none of which come particularly cheap. A lot of single professionals and creative types call San Marco home.

Riverside and Avondale

Historic Riverside and Avondale present a unique mix of culture, charm and modern design. Home to the world-class Cummer Museum of Arts and the fabulous dining options of the Five Points district, vibey bars and quirky thrifts shops on every corner, the area has plenty for residents to see and do. The neighbourhood's population is predominantly younger people with the disposable income to take full advantage of the neighbourhood’s amenities and attractions. While luxury waterfront homes and upscale apartment buildings are the norm here, there is still a strong sense of community and urban charm about the place. 

Arlington

Arlington, located on the east side of Jacksonville, is home to the famous Fort Caroline Memorial. Despite being quite close to downtown Jax, Arlington retains a typically suburban sense. That said, arrivals will quickly learn that there is much to discover in this historic district, including a solid range of dining options, busy bars and evening entertainment offerings. Residents are also just a stone's throw away from the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve – a magical setting for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits. Arlington residents tend to be young couples, families and people who generally enjoy spending time outdoors.


Suburban life in Jacksonville

Whether it's newcomers moving to Jax with children, retirees who want to make the most of life in the Sunshine State or those who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors and a more relaxed pace of life, there is bound to be a suitable suburb in Jax to meet any of those needs. Each area comes with its own character and unique lifestyle offerings, but on the whole, suburban properties will be more spacious and provide better value for money. 

Jacksonville Beach

Westside and Orange Park

Just a 25-minute drive from downtown Jax, one will find the family-friendly suburbs of Westside and Orange Park. The area is rather well known for its good schools, and it's these – plus the fact that there are parks dotted throughout – that usually attract families to the area. It's also pretty popular among retirees, who are drawn to the area for its leisurely and laid-back pace of daily life. Waterfront mansions, Tudor style-family homes and humble wooden framed buildings are just some of the housing options available. Bear in mind though, that property in the area doesn’t come cheap thanks to the neighbourhoods prime riverside location and stunning city views. 

Springfield

Often said to be Jacksonville’s ‘comeback neighbourhood’ for the way it managed to rebuild itself after the Great Fire of 1901, modern Springfield has grown to be one of the city's most attractive suburbs. In terms of housing, Springfield is famous for its Queen Anne- and Prairie-Style homes. Stunning architecture, well-maintained streets and walkability are major drawcards for the area. Home to a number of good public schools, Springfield is another popular choice for families. All in all, an up-and-coming community with a good range of eateries, coffee shops and entertainment options.

Nocatee

Nocatee is an example of the master-planned communities that are abundant throughout Florida. It is home to a diverse demographic, from young couples and families to retirees. Those with children can access schools with both St John’s and Duval Counties relatively nearby. As a relatively new community, there are plans to build new schools with the goal of having a school within walking distance of all Nocatee homes. From luxury condos to humble abodes for first-time-buyers, there are accommodation options galore in Nocatee.

The Beachfront

If one's main motivation for moving to Florida is to indulge in beach life, the oceanfront suburbs of Jax will be a dream. Jacksonville’s seafront is made up of the areas close to Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beaches. An array of properties can be found here from beach-side cottages to modern townhouses and luxury condos. Whichever option a prospective resident has in mind, one thing's for sure: they can expect to pay top dollar for the privilege of an ocean view. Beachfront property is highly desirable and prices are among the highest in Jacksonville. Beyond the beaches themselves, residents will have plenty of amenities close by, from restaurants and bars to parks and community events. The demographic make-up of these areas is fairly mixed, from young professionals to retirees.

Healthcare in Jacksonville

New arrivals can rest-assured that their healthcare needs will be well taken care of in Jacksonville. The city is home to some excellent hospitals. The standard of medical facilities in Jax is exceptional and city continues to attract high-caliber medical professionals thanks to the abundance of career opportunities in the health sector. 


Newcomers to Jacksonville won’t struggle to find a pharmacy. They are readily available throughout the city and many are open 24/7. Pharmacies in Jacksonville tend to be well-stocked and staff are on hand to give patrons advice, where possible. 


The cost of healthcare in Jacksonville isn’t cheap, so new arrivals and expats need to have comprehensive private health insurance in place. 


List of hospitals

Baptist Medical Centre

www.baptistjax.com
Address: 800 Prudential Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32207


Mayo Clinic Jacksonville

www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/florida
Address: 4500 San Pablo Rd S, Jacksonville, FL 32224


Memorials Hospital

www.memorialhospitaljax.com
Address: 3625 University Blvd S, Jacksonville, FL 32216


St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside

www.healthcare.ascension.org/Locations/Florida/FLJAC/Jacksonville-Ascension-St-Vincents-Riverside 

Address: 1 Shircliff Way, Jacksonville, FL 32204

Education and Schools in Jacksonville

In line with the US standard, the schooling system in Jacksonville is split between three levels:

  • Elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8
  • High school – Grade 9 to 12

Anyone planning a move to the River City with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions on whereabouts they’d like to live. The Duval County Schools District is one of the largest in the USA and with over a hundred schools to choose from, making a decision can be difficult.

Factors to consider when picking a school in Jax include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of tuition fees, extra-curricular activities and proximity.


Public schools in Jacksonville

The Duval County School Board (DCSB), one of the largest school districts in the state of Florida, is the authority that oversees public schools in Jacksonville. Residents of Jacksonville can have their children attend a public school at little to no cost. That said, public school admission does depend somewhat on catchment areas which is something worth bearing in mind when deciding on where in the city to put down roots. 

As is the case in most US cities, the standard of public schools varies quite dramatically. Some public schools are excellent and provide a standard of education that falls in line with those at fee-paying private schools. On the other hand, there are also failing schools that suffer from underfunding and staff shortages. In general, though, the standard of public school education is Jacksonville is fairly good and the River City boasts some of the USA’s top-performing public education institutions.

Charter schools 

Jax is also home to a number of charter schools. These are a sub-set of public schools that are overseen by outside bodies. Although they do have more freedom in terms of teaching methodology and admissions, these schools remain accountable to Duval County. 

Each of these institutions will have a charter which details the school's operations, programme, goals and methods of assessment. Some charter schools serve particular populations or students that are struggling in a traditional learning environment whereas others follow a particular instructional theme. 

While charter schools tend to be more flexible when it comes to catchment areas, those that choose to pursue this option should still factor in proximity when deciding where to live as Jax is a huge city and long daily commutes have the potential to hamper a student's learning experience. 

Magnet schools 

Jacksonville also boasts over 50 magnet schools. Like charter schools these are state-funded to a great extent, but because they do receive an element of external funding, magnet schools have more autonomy when it comes to shaping their curriculum. The advantage of these schools is that they allow students to pursue a more vocational pathway in accordance with individual strengths. 

Magnet schools generally focus on a particular area like the performing arts, languages, sports or the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).


Private schools in Jacksonville

There are a fair few private schools in Jacksonville, many of which have a religious affiliation, mostly with Roman Catholic or Christian faiths. Generally speaking, these schools offer a higher standard of teaching and better facilities than the average public school. They also offer more advanced placement and honours programmes for academically-gifted students as well as sports, music and arts programmes for children that show an aptitude in those areas. 

The downside to private education is the cost. Parents who choose to send their kids to a private school in Jax should be prepared to fork out a small fortune in terms of tuition fees. On top of that, they’ll need to factor in other expenses such as the cost of uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular pursuits and field trips. For those that don’t live close to the private school of their choice, many of these institutions also offer boarding options at an additional fee.


International schools in Jacksonville

Unfortunately for foreigners moving to Jacksonville, there are no schools in the city that follow the national curricula of other countries. Those who are intent on having their child continue studying the curriculum of their home country in order to maintain a degree of stability can explore options in wider Florida where there are a small number of international schools that do provide boarding facilities for their students

Another option that internationally-minded families might want to look into are the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes offered at a small number of Jacksonville public and private schools.


Special needs education in Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s education system is well equipped to provide for students with learning- and developmental disabilities. There are multiple federal and state laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost. 

Both public and private schools in Jax have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. In cases where a person’s disability is too severe for them to benefit from mainstream education, there are also several special education facilities that are able to offer students with special needs a programme tailored to meet their specific requirements.


Tutors in Jacksonville

Whether a child has fallen behind in maths class or is in need of additional support to excel in their college entrance exams, there are plenty of private tutors on hand to help in Jacksonville. 

It’s wise to start by asking the child’s school or other parents in the area for a recommendation. Alternatively, one could utilise the services of established tutoring services. These companies offer an array of packages from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-to-one home tuition and small group sessions. 

Enlisting the services of a private tutor is an excellent opportunity for students to address any gaps in their knowledge, excel at a certain subject, or simply build confidence in their own abilities.

Lifestyle in Jacksonville

A huge part of what draws people to Jacksonville is the lifestyle the city offers. As is the case throughout much of the Sunshine State, the pace of life in Jax is somewhat slower than elsewhere in the USA. Jacksonvillians ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’ and it's very normal to see families out spending quality time together of a weekend. 

Jacksonville has a wide range of options when it comes to making good use of one’s spare time. Sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts, and culture vultures alike are bound to find plenty to keep them busy in Jacksonville.


Sports and outdoor activities in Jacksonville

Sports enthusiasts will be in their element in Jacksonville. The River City is something of a sports hub and residents will find a local team to support no matter which game they choose to follow. Football fans can take their picks of the Florida Gators, the Seminoles, or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those that follow baseball can get behind the Jacksonville Suns. Not forgetting the fact that the River City is golfer's dream with the PGA Tour being a highlight on Jacksonville’s sporting calendar. 

For those who are looking to participate in sporting activities, rather than just cheering from the bleachers, living in Jacksonville provides endless opportunities for residents to get active in nature’s playground. Jacksonville proudly boasts the USA’s largest urban park system where visitors hike, bike, or take a jog along miles of dedicated trails. Spend an evening under the stars by camping at one of the beautiful national parks. With pleasant weather all year round, a day at one of Jacksonville’s many beaches is always a great option. Whether its surfing, swimming, fishing, boating or simply catching some rays on the beach, Jacksonville really does have it all.


Arts and culture in Jacksonville

Perhaps culture isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Florida but don’t be fooled, Jacksonville is a real treasure trove when it comes to arts and culture. From the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Science History to the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival, live performances at the Everbank Stadium, or catching a show at the historic Ritz theatre, there’s never a dull moment in the River City. 

Prospective residents planning a move to Jax with the kids in tow will be pleased to learn that most of the city’s attractions have a child-friendly element to them. Come November kids are spoilt rotten as Jacksonville’s museums and galleries put on special events with families in mind, most of which are free for children under 12. 


Nightlife in Jacksonville

For night owls looking to let their hair down, Jax’s diverse nightlife options won’t disappoint. Head to ‘The Elbow’, a cluster of bars and clubs in downtown Jacksonville, for a fun night on the town where revellers can indulge in local beers and craft cocktails while enjoying live music. 

As one might expect, Jacksonville has a long-standing tradition on vibey beach bars when once can take in a view of the ocean while sipping a tropical cocktail. At Beaches Town Centre visitors will find a range of nightlife venues from upscale champagne bars to historic waterholes. 

For something more low-key, head to Times Union Center or the Florida Theatre which both host a wide range of shows from classical music performances, dance ensembles, and poetry readings. 


Eating out in Jacksonville

A melting pot of cultures and tastes, foodies won’t be disappointed with Jacksonville’s culinary offerings. The food scene in Jax is eclectic; from a wide range of international fare to classic Southern soul food, Jacksonville residents will always find something to satisfy a craving. 

Expats and new arrivals are also sure to find an eatery for every occasion and budget. From sophisticated bistros to rustic local fish camps on the rocks, Jax offers a real range of dining experiences.

The ‘farm to table’ movements is taken seriously in Jacksonville with local chefs are showing a real commitment to sustainable practices and regularly make use of local seasonal produce. 

Newcomers should be sure to test the Jacksonville staple, Mayport Shrimp - a dish made up of the four types of shrimp found off the Jacksonville coast. Whether its paired with date pepper in ceviche, served over grits or deep-fried on a po'boy, seafood lovers are sure to be in for a treat.
 

See and Do in Jacksonville

New arrivals and expats in Jacksonville will find a wide-ranging mix of attractions that appeal to all kinds of tastes and interests. Exploring the city like a tourist is a wonderful way to get acquainted with one’s new home. 

Many of the activities on offer in Jacksonville, lovingly referred to simply as "Jax" by locals, centre around the city’s famous beaches and the St John’s River. That said, there is also plenty to do when it comes to art, history and culture. 

Newcomers moving to Jacksonville with children will be happy to learn that this is a family-friendly city and most attractions have elements that accommodate kids. 

Here is a list of just some of the noteworthy attractions and activities in Jacksonville. 


Attractions in Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s beaches

The city’s best known attraction – the beach – draws thousands of holidaymakers to Jacksonville each summer, while Jax residents are lucky enough to enjoy the Atlantic coast all year round. Fishing along Jacksonville Beach’s 1000-foot pier is a popular pastime, while Neptune- and Atlantic Beach are also beautiful spots for a day by the sea.

Museum of Science and History (MOSH)

Formerly known as the Jacksonville Children’s Museum, MOSH is home to the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium and seven permanent exhibits, which cover themes spanning various aspects of nature and science. Much of the museum has been curated with kids in mind, but there is no doubt that the grown-ups will find the displays fascinating too. A guaranteed fun day out for the whole family.

MOCA Jacksonville

Located near the historic Hemming Plaza in downtown Jacksonville, the Museum of Contemporary Art – or MOCA – is home to an extensive collection of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present. The ArtExplorium Loft is a space for the kids to get artistic, while parents can enjoy lunch at the museum’s famous fusion restaurant, Nola Moca. 

The Jax Ale Trail

Jacksonville is one of Florida’s premier beer destinations and home to a bevy of breweries including Engine 15, Veterans United and Bold City Brewing. Craft beer enthusiasts are in for a real treat as they head off on a self-guided tour with the Jax Ale Trail Passport. Get it stamped at each of the breweries and be in line to win one of the many beer-themed prizes. 

Ritz Theatre and Museum

The Ritz Theatre was once an important meeting place for Jacksonville’s African American community. Based in the La Villa district of downtown Jax, the modern reconstruction is a 400-seater theatre which is now used for shows and private events. The attached La Villa Museum provides an insight into the African-American history of the city through collections of photographs and artefacts from the past. 

Fort Caroline National Memorial

Established in 1564, Fort Caroline was the first French Colony in the USA. This replica fort transports visitors back to the past. Climb to the top level for breathtaking views of the St John’s River. Real history buffs will enjoy perusing the museum which documents 6,000 years of human history. 

Jacksonville Zoo

With over 2,000 exotic animal species and 1,000 varieties of plants, visitors to Jacksonville Zoo will have plenty to keep them entertained. Highlights include giraffe feeding at the African Overlook, and watching the otters at play in the Wild Florida exhibit. The zoo’s stunning riverfront location adds to its charm.

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

Head to the historic Jax neighbourhood of Arlington to discover one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Visitors can explore the hiking trails, spot local wildlife or get lost in thought at the peaceful lily pond. The gardens are pet-friendly too so this is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny day out with the whole family.

Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

This 15-mile trail meanders along an old railroad corridor and through forests of imposing tall oaks. Whether it’s for horse riding, cycling or hiking this is a popular route among Jax residents and tourists alike.

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Atlantic Beach’s stunning oceanfront city park is an adventurer's delight. Miles of scenic hiking trails and off-road biking routes provide plenty of scope for exploration. With dedicated camping areas, a lake for fishing and kayaking and miles of white sand beaches, there is something that caters for visitors of all fitness levels.
 

What's on in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is home to an assortment of excellent attractions so new arrivals certainly won’t struggle to have fun. The River City has a full calendar of exciting events for residents of all ages and persuasions. Whether it's live music, sport or family-focused fun, there is sure to be something to tickle a newcomer's fancy. 

Here are some of the best annual events in Jax:


Annual Events in Jacksonville

Jax Boat Show (January)

Seafarers from across Florida and beyond head to Jacksonville for the Marine Association’s annual boat show. This three-day event showcases a slew of sea craft and all the latest maritime technology. Held at the Prime Osborn Convention Centre, this is a must for all boating enthusiasts. 

Gate River Run (February)

The largest 15K race in the USA takes place in Jacksonville every February. The route takes runners through key parts of downtown Jacksonville and across many famous bridges. Those who aren’t keen on cardio can join the mass of Jax residents who come out in droves to support the runners and cheer them on to the finish line. 

The Players Championship (February)

Jacksonville is famous for its golf courses, and every February sees the best golfers head to Ponte Vedra for this annual tournament. Watching pros contend with the world-famous 17th hole is most certainly a highlight. 

Jacksonville Jazz Festival (May)

Each May, over the Memorial Day weekend, Jacksonville hosts one of America's largest free jazz events. Attracting over 100,000 jazz fans, the whole of downtown Jacksonville shakes, rattles and rolls to life during this three-day music extravaganza.

Jacksonville Fourth of July Celebrations (July)

Jacksonville goes all out for Independence Day so be sure to catch one of the spectacular firework displays at the riverfront or at Jacksonville Beach. At both spots, revellers will enjoy live music and culinary treats from local food vendors.

NFL Season Kick-Off (August)

In August each year, Jacksonville is engulfed by football fever as the city comes out in force to support the Jacksonville Jaguars. Newcomers should be sure to catch a Jags game at the EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville. 

Kids Free November (November)

The month of November in Jacksonville is all about family-friendly fun. All the city’s main attractions put on special events focused on kids. What's more, children under 12 get to access all of these events for free. 

Veterans Day Parade (November)

In honour of the country's war veterans as well as those on active military duty, Jacksonvillians take to the streets in a patriotic parade featuring various military groups as well as school groups and marching bands. A vibrant display of colour and sound that celebrates American heroes, this is an event not to be missed. 

New Year’s Eve Celebrations (December)

See the year out in style at Jacksonville’s riverfront, which is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Join Jacksonvillians for live music, food stalls, a festive fireworks display and some festive cheer as they welcome in a new year. 

Getting Around in Jacksonville

Newcomers relocating to Jacksonville from prominent US cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles with their sophisticated public transportation resources may find that getting around requires a bit more effort than they are accustomed to.

Jacksonville is a sprawling city and getting about without a car may prove difficult. The city’s public transport networks are fairly limited and really only serve the downtown area sufficiently. 

E-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are well-established in Jacksonville and provide an excellent alternative for those that don’t drive.


Public transport in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is the body that oversees the city’s public transport network. The system consists of a fairly extensive bus network, a monorail system, known as the Skyway, and a couple of trolley routes. 

Rosa Parks Transit Station is the city’s main transport hub where commuters can transfer between bus routes or join the Skyway system.

Buses

Although Jacksonville’s bus service connects much of this massive city, the system has severe limitations. Buses in Jacksonville rarely run on time and commuters can expect to wait between 30 minutes to an hour between services, which can be incredibly frustrating.

While operating hours are occasionally extended to accommodate special events, generally speaking, buses in Jacksonville stop running at around 8pm or 9pm, depending on the particular route. 

Bus fares are cheap and those that are planning on using buses as their primary mode of transport should consider investing in a STAR Card, which offers daily and weekly passes at discounted rates.

Skyway

The Skyway is Jacksonville’s free elevated monorail service that connects particular points of interest in the city centre. There are eight stations located throughout the Northbank, Southbank and Lavilla districts. 

The Skyway only operates during the week from 6am to 9pm. From time to time, additional weekend services will be made available if there is a special event taking place.

While the Skyway provides a great way to get around Jacksonville’s city centre, it is generally something that is used by visitors rather than long-term residents.

Trolleys

There are also two trolley routes that operate in Jacksonville. One route services the area from downtown Jacksonville up to the Riverside district. The other route runs between Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. 

Trolley fares in Jacksonville are minimal. Be aware that trolley services only operate during selected hours which are subject to change so always be sure to check the schedule before planning a journey. 

As with the Jacksonville Skyway, trolley services aren’t regularly used by Jacksonville residents and are geared more towards holidaymakers. 


Taxis in Jacksonville

A number of traditional taxi services operate in Jacksonville but fares can quickly add up considering the size of the city and distance between places.

Taxis are readily available in the city centre, especially close to tourist hotspots. New residents may find it is difficult to access taxi services in the suburbs, though, as most people opt to use their own cars to get about. It's therefore best to have a number on hand and book ahead of time when travelling from the suburbs.


E-hailing services in Jacksonville

E-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have an established presence in Jacksonville. Rates are also more reasonable than one would pay for the equivalent taxi ride. 

These services are a great alternative for occasions when one doesn’t want to drive. Users simply need to download the relevant app onto their smartphone and register for an account using their credit card. 


Cycling in Jacksonville 

In recent years, cycling has become a popular pastime in Jacksonville. Cycling isn't really the most efficient way of commuting in a city as large as Jacksonville, but having a bike is useful when it comes to getting around central neighbourhoods such as Riverside, Avondale and Murray Hill.  

Cycling is not just a great way to stay active, but it provides an excellent opportunity to explore parts of Jacksonville that aren’t always accessible by car.


Walking in Jacksonville

While commuting on foot isn't practical, new arrivals will find that many of Jacksonville's suburbs are incredibly walkable and safe. 

Once in the city centre, taking a walk is a nice way to explore the hidden corners of Jacksonville at a leisurely pace. Popular neighbourhoods for walkers include Riverside, San Marco, Fairfax, Avondale and Murray Hill. 


Driving in Jacksonville

Given the size of the city, driving is the most practical way of getting around. Having a car makes life infinitely easier and gives people the freedom to explore Jacksonville and its surrounds at leisure. 

Most Jacksonville residents own a car and investing in a vehicle will certainly help newcomers get acquainted with the city faster.