If you ask any foreigner about America, you will find that they likely know of at least three states: New York, California, and Florida. Obviously, New York is the Big Apple and California has the company Apple, so why is Florida so famous?
The great weather and Disney, of course. You can also spend an afternoon exploring the Everglades and a night in one of Miami’s top clubs. Who wouldn’t want to live in the Sunshine State– a place where summer reigns supreme and you have a theme park where magic is alive year-round. Everything reminds you of those summer vacation days back in grade school.
No wonder Florida is known as a retirement state. Everyone knows that Florida has something special so why not spend your retirement someplace beautiful. But Florida doesn’t just have the weather, the beaches, and Disney going for it. It also has one massive asset, which is its affordability. Florida is cheap. This southern state has got it all and it won’t leave you penniless.
So where are the most affordable places in Florida? Will you be able to live near the beach without paying massive amounts in rent? Will you end up living in swamps? The answer: no. Curious which cities made the cut — read on.
What is the cheapest place to live in Florida? Fort Meade has done it again, placing first in the top 10 cheapest cities to live in Florida. A great place to live in the Sunshine State if you like paddling over lakes.
If you want to live near Georgia, but not in it, then you’ve got Fort Meade, Live Oak, and Macclenny. If you are looking for that beachside oasis, check out Perry, Florida. No matter where you end up with these top 10, you know you will have one thing: a bank that isn’t broke.
Want to learn how we created this top 10 list? Read on to learn more about our methodology and how these cities are so cheap.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Florida and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Florida For 2019
Located in Central Florida just East of Tampa, Fort Meade is the Sunshine State’s most affordable city for 2019.
This little city in Polk County crushed our HomeSnack’s snackabiliy scale by earning an 8.5/10 for affordability. This first place could not have been accomplished without their blue ribbon for most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio. And it couldn’t have happened without great jobs and a strong economy.
Word on the street is Fort Meade is popular with kayakers, canoers, and people who love legos.
We think those activities are a great way to wind down after a long day of working to pay for Fort Meade’s low cost of living.
The median income in Fort Meade comes in at $41,263 and the median home value is $63,100 for 2019.
Where Alligator HWY 90 meets Alligator HWY 129 is our second most affordable city in Florida for 2019, Live Oak.
Located in northern Florida, agriculture, timber, and technology have been keeping the economy in this little Suwannee County city moving in right direction.
The median income, here, is close to $44,000 with average home prices up around $87,000. So it’s no surprise that Live Oak scored off our charts in terms of snackability. They are the 6th most affordable city when we looked at home price to income ratio.
Affordability = happiness. We get why your city’s motto is “A Caring Community”.
The median income in Live Oak comes in at $38,380 and the median home value is $82,300 for 2019.
If you head South from Live Oak and take a left, you will run into our third most affordable city in Florida for 2019, Starke.
This little inland Florida gem is also 3rd when it comes to home price to income ratio. We are not surprised considering their economy is supported by jobs in healthcare, education, and tech.
Not only is the job market strong in Starke, they apparently have a knack for acting.
Starke has been the location of several Hollywood Films: G.I. Jane and Basic to name a few.
We think if you’re looking to do a little moonlighting in Starke, an extra in a movie could be in your future.
The median income in Starke comes in at $43,974 and the median home value is $87,000 for 2019.
Macclenny, Florida is an ideal destination when you’re trying find that affordable big town feel. This is definitely one of the reasons it is our third most affordable city in Florida for 2019.
Nicknamed the ‘Babymaker,’ this city must be affordable, right? #WinkWink
All baby making aside, this little city in Baker County is great place to live. And while you’re deciding what home to buy, Macclenny has great deals when it comes to renting. They are the ninth cheapest place to rent based on income to rent ratio.
So pack up the fam Cam and get-a-movin’, cuz Macclenny’s great deals won’t last long.
The median income in Macclenny comes in at $59,116 and the median home value is $120,000 for 2019.
Bartown is located a stone’s throw from Lake Hancock, just East of Tampa. The “City of Oaks and Azaleas” is our fifth most affordable in citrus-land.
Bartow’s overall snackability score was strong enough to keep them in the top five for 2019. Not surprising considering they are ninth most affordable in terms of home price to income. They scored an overall 8/10 for affordability.
Bartow must be something right in terms of affordability. The city is projected to double by 2030.
The median income in Bartow comes in at $46,938 and the median home value is $102,400 for 2019.
Slightly northwest of Disney World, in central Florida, is our sixth most affordable city, Mascotte.
This little city in Lakeland County had one of the highest jobs snackability scores on our list: an 8.5/10.
Mascotte’s jobs in healthcare, juice making, and education are keeping the real estate agents, here, very happy. The median home price is close to $107,000
Now, if those jobs don’t sound like they’re going to work, we hear Disney’s hiring.
The median income in Mascotte comes in at $48,922 and the median home value is $106,100 for 2019.
For a city to be truly hip, it needs to be affordable.
Once a tobacco manufacturing hub, Quincy scored a 7/10 for affordability and a 9/10 for diversity. We think that makes Quincy truly hip; and thus, affordable. More importantly, this little city in Gadsden County is our seventh most affordable city in Florida for 2019.
Coca Cola also made a lot of Quincy residents wealthy. Do we think that has something to do with why the city is so great and so affordable? Probably.
Either way, Quincy, you are ‘The Heart of Florida’s Future.’
The median income in Quincy comes in at $36,000 and the median home value is $94,300 for 2019.
Perry, Florida’s gateway to the North, is our eighth most affordable city in the Sunshine State for 2019.
This city in Taylor County is the 25th most affordable city in terms of home to income ratio. They are only 58th in terms of cheapest rent to income ratio.
We think it’s because the good people of Perry want you to buy instead of rent. They want YOU to call Perry home.
Perry is pretty popular for its cool bicycle trails to and from the local state parks. So, while saving for your first home in Perry, might we suggest bicycle mechanic as a lucrative side hustle.
The median income in Perry comes in at $31,603 and the median home value is $85,000 for 2019.
You don’t have to live on ramen noodles and the McDonald’s dollar menu to live in our ninth most affordable city in Florida for 2019: Newberry.
This city in Alachua County is our 14th most affordable city in terms of home prices in line with median income.
Once an old phosphate mining city, Newberry has since turned to commodity based agriculture to support their economy.
So if your looking to dump your job to run off and start a watermelon farm in the Florida sticks, Newberry is the spot.
The median income in Newberry comes in at $65,486 and the median home value is $154,100 for 2019.
The only affordable southern Florida city that made our top ten list is Okeechobee. This little city in Okeechobee County rounds out our list as the tenth most affordable city in Florida for 2019.
Okeechobee crushed our job snackability scale. This city has great job opportunities with manufacturing positions, healthcare work, and agricultural positions up for grabs right now. Heck, something has to keep that household median income up around $40,000/year.
And if your looking to pad your wallet with a little extra cheddar, we suggest gator trainer. Biologist have counted close to 1,000 gators in Lake Okeechobee alone. #Yikes
The median income in Okeechobee comes in at $38,810 and the median home value is $110,500 for 2019.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Sunshine State For 2019
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Florida to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 214 places in Florida that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Florida according to the data is Fort Meade.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Florida Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Florida, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in florida for 2019.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Florida according to the data:
- Southwest Ranches
- Key West
For more Florida reading, check out: