Thinking about starting the next chapter of your life in Jacksonville? With its low cost of living, year-round sunshine, and exploding job market, Florida’s “River City” is attracting more than its share of newcomers.
Fortunately, whether you’re into a condo on white-sand beaches with the roar of the surf in earshot, a comfortable single-family home in a kid-friendly subdivision, or an apartment off an urban main street stacked with shops and eateries, you’ll find it here in Jacksonville.
In fact, if you’re moving to Jacksonville, you’ll want to know that it’s the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States, so there are dozens of neighborhoods you can call home. Each offers its own style of charm, personality, and level of sophistication — along with its own set of urban or suburban, rural or city, country or metropolis-loving residents. But this is about you. What do you want in a home?
Before you start house-hunting, think about the types of activities and amenities that make most sense for you and your family. How close to shopping and schools do you need to be? How long of a commute would you prefer? What type of home is your ideal setting?
Now that you’ve got a good picture in your mind of what you’re looking for, you’re ready to start your research. But like we said, Jax is spread out. To help get you started, we’ve put together a selection of some of the best, most popular and well-known sections of Jacksonville.
Guide to the best Jacksonville Neighborhoods
Whether your style is urban, beachy, or suburban, you can quickly find some great neighborhoods to check out when you’re looking for the best places to live in Jacksonville.
Urban living close to downtown Jacksonville
Love walking to dining and coffee shops and taking in the big city lights? These are the top places to add to your list.
With its hip population and trendy bars and restaurants, Avondale is known for its million-dollar colonial revival riverfront mansions and upscale apartment buildings. A housing revitalization boom is evident in many sections like Springfield, where getting down and dirty with a home renovation project and making the area vibrant, safe, and beautiful have gone mainstream. Average apartment rents go for $895, while median home prices are a little loftier than in some Jacksonville neighborhoods, at $336,900.
Avondale is filled with vintage flavor and character-rich local merchants and residents. From up-and-coming bohemians to established families, Avondale may suit the upscale hipster who likes hitting up a craft brewery after their work is done for the day, heading to the farmer’s market for organic veggies on Saturday, or listening to live music on an outdoor eatery’s patio.
If wide tree-lined streets, large villa-style Mediterranean revival gems, and brownstones with 20th-century craftsman architecture is your jam, Riverside may be an attractive option. The St. Johns River winds its way through this urban section of the city, filled with neighborhood boutiques and restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream parlors. Walking is a way of life and there is no shortage of activities like popping into museums and gardens, antiquing, and bicycling across one of River City’s many bridges. Rents average $900, which is a bargain in this urban oasis. Median home prices in Riverside run upwards of $283,000.
Just south of downtown, you’ll find another artsy abode, modeled after the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. The Y-shaped shopping district is filled with the urban energy of mom-and-pop shops. Stroll along San Marco’s quaint tree-lined streets, some of the city’s safest, where you’ll also find many of Jacksonville’s historic homes. From fine dining and charming galleries to bookstores and bars, urbanites will find something to love in this cobblestoned section of the city. Average rents are around $1,150, while the median home value in San Marco is $249,000.
Watch and hear from two locals share why they love San Marco:
Florida-style living in East Jacksonville and The Beaches
In the eastern section of the city, suburbia mixes with urban development, offering old-fashioned charm and Florida-style living. Tucked into eastern Jax, bordering the southside with bridges connecting it to the beaches, Arlington is one of the city’s oldest settled areas. The Europeans came here in the 1500s. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Fort Caroline National Memorial and Park, Tree Hill Nature Center, and the Jacksonville Arboretum Gardens — some of Jacksonville’s best things to do.
Though some areas have higher crime rates, you’ll find retirees, families with children, and young professionals in and about Arlington neighborhoods like Fort Caroline and Regency. There’s plenty of mid-century modern architecture, which has had quite a revival, and quiet oak-lined streets. Arlington is best known for its Regency area business development, nearby restaurants, and shopping. It’s a diverse section of the city where you can rent apartments, homes or buy a single-family house with median home prices running an affordable $160,600 on average. Rentals can be found for a median of $710.
Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach
Want to feel the salty ocean spray and watch the dolphins swim? Across the ditch, as the locals say, lie Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach — collectively known as The Beaches. Living the “salt life” can be sweet, and everyone from seniors in beachfront condos and second homes to families with young kids enjoys the outdoor life at the beach.
Let’s take a look at Jacksonville’s beaches in this video:
Living along the Atlantic Ocean is a top priority for many of Jacksonville’s residents, where sand, surf, and riding your beach cruiser is the norm. Mayport Naval Station is home to sailors and their families, with the adjacent Kathryn Abby Hannah Park offering an ocean-front campground, miles of hiking and bike trails, and a premier fishing lake.
Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach all boast an eclectic array of restaurants, ice cream, coffee, boutiques, and businesses of every ilk. In addition to the beaches, plenty of other things like good schools, friendly people, nightlife, and lots of outdoor activities bring people to The Beaches. Shopping local and artisan support are ways of life here.There’s a green market, a beaches art walk, and year-round fishing, swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding and biking. Beaches residents don’t drive over the ditch (the Intracoastal Waterway) unless they have to. The cost of renting or buying can be pricier here, with median rents from $1,625, and median home prices at $442,300 for the various beach communities.
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Family-friendly Jacksonville suburbs
If you’re looking for more residential and family-oriented surroundings, and don’t mind driving a bit to get into the city, there are many Jacksonville suburbs to choose from. Here are some of our favorites.
One of many of Jax’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Bartram Park, with a prime location right off Interstate 95, is a hop, skip, and quick commute from downtown or the beaches. Filled with families who flock to this southside haven for the good schools, a nature preserve, and neighborhoods of wide sidewalks and abundant bike lanes, there are many housing options to be found here — and tons of brand new construction. One-bedroom apartments range from about $1,000 to $1,700 a month. Single-family homes range from $250,000 to $400,000, while townhomes and condominiums run from $110,000 to $260,000.
This established southside neighborhood is named for the mandarin oranges shipped from Jacksonville’s river port in the 1800s. Known for its large oak trees dripping in Spanish moss and good schools, Mandarin has a family-friendly residential reputation. This neighborhood sports good parks, stunning views along the river, and a convenient commute to downtown, the beaches, and loads of local shopping.
The area is also close to Julington Creek, a boater’s paradise. You’ll find rentals hard to come by here, as only 5% of households are renter-occupied, according to Zumper. Median home prices are $364,000. Whether you’re a retiree moving south or a family with kids, you’ll quickly see why Mandarin is considered one of the best places to live in Jacksonville.
With its many master planned communities and boating-friendly features, Julington Creek is another southside favorite known for its sparse suburban feel. About 20 minutes from downtown, Julington Creek has excellent schools and is popular among families and young professionals. There are miles of biking trails, as well as plentiful golf and shopping opportunities. Tucked tightly along the creek, many subdivisions may have small lots, and traffic can be quite congested coming in or out of the area. You also may not find much diversity here. Most residents own homes with median prices of $281,400. Rents trend upward of $1,500.
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Looking to spend more time in nature and have space to spread out? The northside provides spectacular views, an “old-Florida” feel, and some of the city’s most outdoor-oriented living. It’s a more rural area to call home. This former industrial area has taken Jax by storm, with its explosion of residential subdivisions and single-family riverfront homes. With 39% of the homes occupied by renters, you can find plenty of both single-family houses and apartments to rent. with median home prices slightly lower here, from the low 200,000s.
Living in neighborhoods like Oceanway or Yellow Bluff, you’re minutes from downtown, but the quiet northside feels sublimely relaxed and rural. Home to the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve, Jacksonville Zoo, and Huguenot Park, the northside includes an expanse of coastal wetlands for wildlife-spotting, kayaking, and birding. New neighborhoods have been popping up for the past two decades and new home builds and first-time home buyers can find good deals here. Drawbacks may include some areas of higher crime.
Less than an hour southwest of downtown just off Interstate 295, Orange Park combines a rural, relaxed feel with good shopping and area conveniences. This is a popular suburb for military families moving to Jacksonville, as it’s just a bit south of the gates of the Naval Air Station, where about 17,000 service members and civilians work.
Apartments and single-family homes are plentiful in every shape, size, and price point. With median apartment rent at $1,094 in areas like Woodlands and Admiral’s Walk and median home values listing at $231,330, Orange Park is a top consideration for people from all walks of life.
On the east side of Orange Park, the pricing is much more elevated, as that’s where you’ll find riverfront mansions and Tudor-style homes along the majestic St. Johns River.
Once you’ve explored the many neighborhoods of Jacksonville, you may find it hard to decide on the right one for you if you’re moving here. We think that’s a pretty good problem to have. Besides, no matter which Jacksonville neighborhood you choose, you can look forward to year-round sunshine and outdoor life, beautiful views, and friendly southern hospitality throughout all of the city.
Jennifer Nelson lives and plays in “The Beaches” neighborhood of Jacksonville. She also writes for Realtor.com, Houselogic, and HGTV when she’s not riding her beach cruiser.