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North vs. South Florida Living

  • Corey
  • Sep 7, 2016

Seminoles vs. Gators. Jaguars vs. Dolphins. Southern values vs. cosmopolitan lifestyle. The divide between the north and south of this great state is stark, whether it be the price of housing or the unique quality of life they each provide. Miami has its beautiful sandy beaches and world-class nightlife, while Jacksonville offers a taste of the old south with great barbecue and residents with a hint of ‘twang’ in their voice. Despite the differences, both cities are a great place to raise a family with quality schools and universities, however the economies are quite different.

Every stretch of the Sunshine State offers a lifestyle that is more fitting of a vacation destination; that’s why it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the world. If you’re looking to move to Florida, or already living in the state and looking for a change of scenery, then take note of the analysis below.

Real Estate

Both the Jacksonville and Miami real estate markets have their advantages in terms of walkability, value and location. However, Miami is known as one the richest city in the U.S., which is great for real estate agents, but home prices are surprisingly affordable.

The average home value in Miami is $293,000 and have gone up by 5.5 percent since last year and are expected to rise by 0.2 percent in the next year. However, the median price of homes is $450,000. Miami is one of the most densely populated cities in the country, therefore the size of homes or condos will vary by neighborhood, with Downtown Miami experiencing the fastest growth. The volume of available homes fell dramatically in July at 20.8 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

The lack of affordable housing in the city is due to foreign investors driving up prices beyond what locals can pay and could lead to a housing recession or even a depression. However, the possibility of a bursting of the housing bubble is unlikely because qualifying for a mortgage is much more strenuous than it was 10 years ago. The lack of foreclosure inventory due to investors jumping on low-priced homes to be rented out is only adding to the market’s cooling. There is also little land left to build new homes, making the property search even more difficult. However, the price of luxury homes is falling, which seems to the be the only positive in the market.

“It’s very difficult to sustain growing sales volumes when there simply aren’t many homes for sale,” Svenja Gudell, chief economist for real estate website Zillow, told the Miami Herald. “What’s more, those homes that are for sale are increasingly unaffordable for first-time and entry-level home buyers.”

The situation is much better in Jacksonville where there is a steady price increase of 6 percent per year since 2010 and homes are regaining the value they lost due to the 2008 recession. The median sale price for a home is $160,000, which pays an impressive $100 per square foot. Miami may be the richest, but Jacksonville is the biggest city in Florida in terms of population thanks to the amalgamation of surrounding suburbs, therefore the problems such as crime and pollution do not personify the entire city.

Quality of Life

Florida is stereotyped as one big paradise, but locals have a much different take. Crime is a problem across the state, with 11 of the nation’s top 100 most dangerous cities located in Florida in 2014, according to Huffington Post. Miami and neighboring Miami Beach have some of the highest crime rates, however Duval County, home to Jacksonville has the highest murder rate in the state that same year. This is largely because the population of both cities experiences a split reality; those with money live a reasonably safe suburban life, while those in the inner city are ravaged by gun violence, largely fueled by the drug trade that has grown exponentially because of the large ports in both cities. Both cities are aggressively trying to lower their cities’ crime rates with extra police patrols for high-crime hot spots and increased monitoring by specialized units for high-risk repeat offenders, among other initiatives.  Ultimately, crime cannot be prevented in Jacksonville and Miami unless there is continued investment into the prevention of the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the state.

Despite Jacksonville’s crime rate, the city offers lucrative employment opportunities. In 2014, Jacksonville was named the 10th fastest growing city in America, as well as the no. 1 U.S. city where Hispanics are doing the best economically, according to Forbes. The Port of Jacksonville, the U.S. Navy, and it’s ever-growing I.T. sector is propelling the city’s rise with the added incentive of having some of the lowest housing prices in the Sunshine State. Jacksonville also boasts more than 80,000 acres of green space, which is a park system that is four times the size of Manhattan as well as featuring 22 miles of uncrowded beaches.

Miami is a major center of commerce, finance and international business, which has led to the city having a Gross Metropolitan Product of $257 billion in 2011. Companies like Carnival Cruise Lines, Burger King, Bacardi, Benihana, U.S. Century Bank and many more, call the city home. Miami is also considered the “Capital of Latin America” and host the headquarters of multinational corporations such as Disney, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, FedEx and Wal-Mart, for their operations in Central and South America.

Latin music is synonymous with Miami and has contributed to a vibrant cultural scene that encompasses performing arts, nightlife and a world-class restaurant scene. The city is extremely multicultural with a mosaic of Cuban, Haitian, Caribbean and Latin coming together to create one of the most unique cities in America. Do I even need to mention the world-famous beaches?

Florida offers a lifestyle that has made it one of the third most populated state in the nation because of its subtropical weather, culture, job opportunities and entertainment. However, if you are looking to move to Jacksonville in the north or Miami in the south, crime will be a factor that you will require prospective home buyers to balance both cities’ pro’s and con’s to determine what’s best for you and your family.

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