skyline of Jacksonville, Florida looking from the Atlantic Ocean

12 Things to Know About Living in Jacksonville

Thinking of moving to Jacksonville? Florida’s biggest city has fantastic year-round weather, affordable housing, a thriving restaurant scene, and incredible outdoor recreation near the Atlantic Ocean. Check out these 12 things to know about living in Jacksonville!

Affordable Living with Plenty of Job Opportunities

skyline of downtown jacksonville, FL from across the river
Photo via @zed_roph

You’ll be happy to learn that Jacksonville’s cost of living is 9% lower than the Florida average, making it a more affordable place to live than Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. In fact, the cost of housing in Jacksonville is 17% lower than the national average, with a median home price around $140,000 and median monthly rent around $955. On top of that, Jacksonville has a 3% unemployment rate, and the city’s job market has seen consistent growth, particularly among industries like health care, finance, railroad, and education. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to live on the East Coast with great employment opportunities, Jacksonville may just be the city for you!

Earn Your Degree at a Top-Rated University

campus photo from the University of North Florida photo by Instagram user @uofnorthflorida
Photo via @uofnorthflorida

Interested in pursuing higher education in Jacksonville? This Florida city offers a wide array of colleges and universities, giving you multiple options for earning your degree! Attend Florida State College at Jacksonville and choose from over 150 programs ranging from aviation, information technology, and business. Get the full experience of attending a beachfront school with the beautiful waterfront campus at Jacksonville University, which has been named one of the best regional universities in the South! Or apply to University of North Florida to get your degree in coastal biology, nursing, education, or health administration. Whatever path you’re looking to take for your future, you’ll be able to find incredible opportunities at any of these Jacksonville schools!

Travel Around Town with Public Transportation

Jacksonville Transportation Authority JTA Ferry with cars on it photo by Instagram user @jtafla
Photo via @jtafla

Getting around Jacksonville is simple, thanks to the many public trolleys, water taxis, ferries, and buses with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA). Easily get from Mayport Village to Ft George Island with the help of the JTA Ferry. Make your way around Southbank to Downtown without a car by using the Jacksonville River Taxi, which offers stops along the banks of Downtown Jacksonville using the St. John’s River. If you’re looking to go a bit farther into South Florida, leave your car at home and take advantage of Jacksonville’s Amtrak train service to get to other large cities like Orlando and Miami!

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Experience the Great Outdoors

view of the ocean from Hanna Park in Jacksonville, FL photo by Instagram user @photobywendy11
Photo via @photobywendy11

One of the best things to do in Jacksonville is to get outside and explore the city’s incredible parks. Stroll through Fort Caroline National Memorial Park for a breathtaking view of the St. Johns River or to hike the park’s extended trail. Go for a swim, bike through some of the 46,000 acres of wetlands, or visit one of the cultural heritage sites on the grounds at the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve. Take the whole family to Hanna Park, where you can surf at The Poles, kayak and fish in the lake, or let kids cool off at the splash park. Spend a night under the stars while camping or go bird watching at Huguenot Memorial Park. Or immerse yourself in nature, try your hand at paddle boarding, or go horseback riding along the trail at Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park!

Visit Jacksonville’s Beaches

Jacksonville Beach Pier at golden hour with people on the beach photo by Instagram user @slashsmash_
Photo via @slashsmash_

Jacksonville is home to four main beaches that all offer unique things to do near the water! Residents can choose from Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Mayport Beach, and Atlantic Beach, each located about 30 minutes outside of Downtown Jacksonville. Head to Jacksonville Beach to fish from the pier, play beach volleyball, or have a picnic with friends. Make your way down to the Atlantic Beach, where you can spend an afternoon surfing the waves. Go for a bike ride or grab a beer with your furry friend in tow at BrewHound at Neptune Beach. Or plan a trip to Mayport Beach—one of the best beaches in Jacksonville—which is known for its fresh seafood restaurants and delicious Mayport shrimp!

Root for the Local Teams

Jacksonville Jaguar defensive players celebrating a turnover photo by Instagram user @jaguars
Photo via @jaguars

Love pro sports? Jacksonville has plenty of teams for you to check out! Get ready to yell “DUUUVAAAL” as you cheer on the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) every fall at TIAA Bank Field. Take yourself out to the ballgame to see the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (MiLB) play at Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. If hockey is more your speed, watch the Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL) hit the ice at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Prefer the college sports scene to the pro scene? Catch the Jacksonville University Dolphins and UNF Osprey men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, golf, football, or volleyball teams compete all year long!

An Art Scene That Can’t Be Missed

Image of a sculpture in front of the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens in Jacksonville, FL photo by Instagram user @cummermuseum
Photo via @cummermuseum

Jacksonville’s thrilling art scene is filled with museums and art installations sprinkled throughout the city. Stroll down to the The Cummer Museum, which features more than 5,000 pieces of art ranging from European paintings to Ancient Egyptian pottery. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to view modern paintings, prints, and sculptures. Make your way to the Downtown Art Walk, where you can take a walk through galleries, grab a bite from food trucks, and listen to live music on the first Wednesday of the month. Drop by the Cork Arts District—a popular warehouse space that features artist studios and galleries—to see what local artists are imagining. Spend an evening at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts events from Broadway shows like Hamilton and Aladdin to symphony orchestra performances. Or take the little ones to an after-school young actors’ workshop at Theatre Jacksonville so they can show off their unique skills in an educational environment!

Fun Activities for the Whole Family

jaguar at the Jacksonville Zoo photo by Instagram user @jacksonvillezoo
Photo via @jacksonvillezoo

Parents and kids alike will love the many family-friendly attractions Jacksonville has to offer! Make your way through Stingray Bay, the African Forest, and the Asia Loop exhibits while seeing exotic animals at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. Take the kids to a candy-making class—where eating what you make is encouraged—at Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop in Downtown Jacksonville. Experience the thrill of indoor skydiving at iFly, where you can get an adrenaline rush without ever having to jump out of a plane. Plan a fun activity inside Adventure Landing, a theme park where you can play laser tag, miniature golf, and arcade games. Looking for something to do that’s a little out of the ordinary? Get out with other comic book and pop culture fans at WasabiCon, the city’s top gaming and pop culture convention every October. Get to know more about dinosaurs, take part in the interactive Move exhibit, and visit the planetarium at the Museum of Science & History (MOSH). Or take in the beautiful scenery at night down at the Friendship Fountain, which lights up Downtown Jacksonville with its colored lights.

A Prime Spot for Shopping

store fronts including Louis Vuitton at the St Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, FL photo by Instagram user @stjohnstownctr
Photo via @stjohnstownctr

Looking for retail therapy in Jacksonville? The city has a wide range of high-end fashion stores, popular retailers, antique stores, and gift and speciality shops. Head to upscale shopping district St. John’s Town Center, where you can peruse stores like Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, and Pottery Barn. Visit The Avenues to explore retail stores, be pampered at the full-service nail salon, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many casual dining options. Make your way to Regency Square Mall, an indoor shopping center with stores like JCPenney, Bath & Body Works, and Champs. Or pop into Avonlea Antiques & Interiors to find a variety of antique furniture, home decor, gifts, and one-of-a-kind collectibles.

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Take Part in Community Events

Bloody Mary with all the fixings from the Jacksonville Brunch & Bloody Mary Festival photo by Instagram user @jaxbrunchfest
Photo via @jaxbrunchfest

When you live in Jacksonville, you’ll find tons of exciting community events to attend! Check out the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival, where you can listen to live music from jazz artists all Memorial Weekend long. Make your way to the Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, a July tradition where over 300 boats make their way out to the water to fish and compete for prizes. Take part in a pancake-eating contest and sip from a mimosa bar at the Jacksonville Brunch & Bloody Mary Festival. Head to the Florida BBQ Challenge to see a cooking competition with live entertainment and vendors. Take part in the Gate River Run 15K that’s perfect for runners or walkers of all levels. Or enjoy the Springing the Blues three-day music festival, featuring live music from blues legends and up-and-coming artists.

Enjoy a Taste of Jacksonville

fried chicken from the Beach Road Fish House & Chicken Dinners photo by Instagram user @natedoesfood
Photo via @natedoesfood

One of the best things about living in Jacksonville is the variety of food you can experience day after day. Start off your morning at Olio with Challah French Toast or Yogurt and Fruit. Pop into Black Sheep Restaurant for a Cuban Sandwich or Steak Salad. Make a dinner reservation at Marker 32, where you can try dishes like Shrimp Fettuccine or Seared Scallops. Stop by The Fish Company for Crab Cakes or Fried Oysters. Get your dessert fix with Triple Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet Cheesecake, and German Chocolate Cake from Biscotti’s. Dive into the “Seafood Kitchen” Combination or a Whole Fried Snapper from Beach Road Fish House & Chicken Dinners. Make your way to Metro’s Diner for Fish and Chips or Chicken Parmesan. Check out one of Downtown Jacksonville’s best restaurants, Bellwether, where you can order Vegan Green Curry or a Classic BLT. Or stop into River & Post and sit on the rooftop lounge where you can sample Broiled Market Oysters, Seared Sea Scallops, or Grilled Salmon Almondine.

Head Out for a Night On the Town

two beers from Bold City Brewing in Jacksonville, FL photo by Instagram user @boldcitybrewery
Photo via @boldcitybrewery

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Jacksonville after the sun goes down, you’ll find plenty of options available! Stop by Lemon Bar to listen to live music on a patio offering a seaside view. Head over to the Comedy Zone, a premier comedy club that offers live entertainment each night from comedians like Greg Morton, DC Curry, and Bill Bellamy. Chill out at Casa Marina Rooftop inside the Casa Marina Hotel and order a signature cocktail like a Raspberry Lemonade Martini from the happy hour menu. Take a trip to Bold City Brewery for a huge selection of craft beers like the 1901 Roasted Red Ale, Big John’s Apricot Wheat, Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale, and the Wobbly Water Hard Seltzer. Interested in poker? Play the game at bestbet Jacksonville, one of the largest gambling venues in Florida with over 88 game tables. Or take a trip to LeaderBoard Arcade Bar to play games like Guitar Hero and Pac Man.

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Considering living in Jacksonville? Florida's largest city has incredible weather, pro sports teams, incredible food, and more. Check out these 12 things to know about Jax! via @extraspace