Best Places to Invest in Real Estate in Florida

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Best Places to Invest in Real Estate in Florida

Ah, Florida. The land of sand, snowbirds — and real estate speculation.

Ever since the 1920s, when the first real estate boom officially arrived at the doorstep of the Sunshine State, the idea that you too could own a sunny slice of Miami or Tampa has taken root within the American dream.

But, as with any investment, the risk of loss is real and timing is everything. Florida housing prices, which hit a peak in December 2006, are slowly recovering after the Great Recession nosedive — the state’s fall was among the harshest in the nation — but recently, the trend is positive, stoking renewed interest in real estate.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, considered one of the more reliable indicators of local real estate market trends, home prices in the Miami area have been on an uninterrupted march up since November 2011. Recently, in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a community just north of Fort Lauderdale, buyers camped out overnight for a chance to snap up new condos selling for $500,000 to $1 million.

Investors will find real estate prices vary widely across Florida. In NerdWallet’s study of 227 places, the cheapest average sale price was $37.36 per square foot in Kenneth City in Pinellas County. The most expensive was Key Biscayne at $546.77 per square foot, a difference of over $500.

So what area offers the best bang for your real estate investment buck? NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find out.

Key takeaways

Flip this. If your goal is to get in and get out with a profit, here are the top three communities when it comes to speed of sale: Hialeah Gardens, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Atlantis. Hialeah Gardens earned the highest mark, a 9.55, in our study on this metric — Zillow’s 2014 market health score. The quicker a house sells, the higher the score, with 10 as the highest.
Beachfront bonus. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area dominated our top 10 list — eight of our top 10 investments are located there.
Going long? Florida’s housing market seems to make the most sense overall for those looking to invest in the long term. Most of our top 20 places have low scores when it comes to real estate market health, a sign of the continued impact of the Great Recession.

NerdWallet’s analysis

Our calculations took into account several factors:

Market health. We looked at how quickly houses sold compared with other cities in the state, as well as the change in vacancy rate.
Price per square foot. Weighting for affordability, we measured the price per square foot of housing in a city, averaging all months of 2013 and 2014 to avoid seasonal fluctuations.
Population and home price growth. Averaging monthly price data since 2004, we examined the percentage of houses that increased in value over the past 10 years. We also looked at the increase in population since 2010.
Property taxes. Using state data, we calculated the city and county property tax for each city.

Best places to invest in real estate in Florida

1. Doral

Doral tops our list thanks to its relative affordability, low unemployment rate (4.4%, or over a full percentage point lower than the statewide rate) and strong population growth. This north-central Miami-Dade County city from 2010 to 2013 welcomed almost 6,000 new residents, a gain of more than 14%.

2. Bal Harbour

In tiny Bal Harbour, population 2,569, price could quickly become a factor — it’s the most expensive location in our top 20 with an average sales price of $340 per square foot. Still, there are plenty of buyers. On Zillow’s 0-10 scale for speed of sale, Bal Harbour scored a healthy 8.66.
» MORE: Best mortgage lenders in Florida

3. Homestead

The watchword in Homestead is growth. More than half — 56% — of its homes have increased in value over the past 10 years, yet housing remains relatively affordable in this city of 61,714 residents. Sale prices over the past two years averaged just $79.42 per square foot, among the most affordable in our study.

4. Miami Lakes

Miami Lakes may not boast oceanfront property, but a full 57% of its housing stock has increased in value over the past 10 years, and vacancies have dropped 3.6%. That’s a good sign for investors who may have to pay a premium for this suburban location just north of Miami. Here, buyers paid an average of $152 per square foot for a house.

5. Marianna

Bargains abound in Marianna, home of our top 20’s lowest price-per-square-foot sale price of $61. It’s also clearly attracting new residents, with a 28% increase in the population from 2010 to 2013.

6. Hialeah Gardens

Hialeah Gardens, population 22,136, had the highest overall market health score in our survey at 9.55. This means buyers who are looking for a quick turnaround on their investment will find many options to flip housing in Hialeah Gardens.

7. Aventura

This diverse and growing community in northeastern Miami-Dade County is known for its high concentration of transplants from the Northeast, and its many high-rise condos. Buyers will find an average sales price of $227 per square foot and options for Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean views. The city’s investment score also benefits from its 7.51% increase in population since 2010.

8. Pinecrest

This small suburban village in Miami-Dade County is the second-most expensive in our top 10, with the price of $269 per square foot. Its population has grown a modest 1.54% in recent years, and village leaders are thinking about expanding. A common discussion involves annexing land west of U.S. Highway 1 to help build out the small village’s tax base.

9. Cape Coral

Cape Coral moves in many directions: It is the largest city in our top 10 at 158,415 residents, and it has an average sales price that is the third lowest in our top 10 at $96 per square foot. It’s the only city on our list located in Lee County, which is also home to Fort Myers. Cape Coral residents are thinking about development, which can have a major effect on real estate values. Recent news reports have focused on plans to develop Bimini Basin as a community gathering place — with some ideas calling for a mix of commercial and open space.

10. Winter Garden

The only place in our top 10 near Orlando, Winter Garden has a lot to offer those diving into the real estate market. Its vacancy rate declined while its population grew over 13%, suggesting strong demand for housing. Perhaps it’s the nearby Disney World effect, but Winter Garden enjoys a particularly strong job market, which supports a growing housing market. The unemployment rate in Winter Garden in December, the most-recent data available, was 3.8%. By comparison, the entire state of Florida was at 5.6% for the same month.

Best places to invest in real estate in Florida

Rank City 2013 population Market health score Percent change in vacancy rate Price per square foot Population growth since 2010 Percent of housing value increase in past 10 years Total tax rate (per $1,000 of value) Total score
1 Doral 47,076 3.44 0.9 $174 14.41% 62.06% $6.63 93.48
2 Bal Harbour 2,569 8.66 -4.4 $340 -2.87% 62.06% $6.62 88.38
3 Homestead 61,714 5.39 -2.2 $79 12.02% 56.16% $10.63 88.05
4 Miami Lakes 29,866 4.87 -3.6 $152 6.35% 57.99% $7.06 87.65
5 Marianna 7,939 0.18 -8 $61 28.63% 51.25% $9.94 86.84
6 Hialeah Gardens 22,136 9.55 1.7 $115 4.29% 56.09% $10.08 86.16
7 Aventura 36,307 4.60 2.5 $227 7.51% 60.39% $6.43 85.27
8 Pinecrest 18,619 6.81 1.5 $269 1.54% 60.99% $6.90 84.84
9 Cape Coral 158,415 7.41 1.7 $96 5.76% 56.15% $11.36 83.57
10 Winter Garden 35,750 3.55 -2.8 $101 13.56% 53.95% $8.68 83.38
11 Cooper City 30,717 6.08 0.8 $147 7.19% 56.76% $10.97 82.25
12 Callahan 1,175 0.39 -1.7 $79 31.14% 49.39% $9.00 81.26
13 Miramar 124,900 3.92 -1.1 $127 9.84% 55.97% $11.72 80.67
14 Key Biscayne 12,560 6.24 3.1 $547 4.82% 65.31% $7.70 80.60
15 Hialeah 228,943 5.90 -0.9 $109 2.08% 56.00% $11.01 80.24
16 Cutler Bay 41,434 1.26 -1.4 $111 7.88% 56.39% $7.27 80.10
17 Lauderdale-by-the-Sea 6,166 9.20 -2 $245 1.75% 54.47% $9.19 79.49
18 Surfside 5,839 5.07 3.4 $328 5.25% 61.55% $9.90 79.43
19 Freeport 1,884 0.72 5.3 $112 41.65% 47.45% $8.29 79.35
20 Wellington 57,713 6.72 -0.9 $137 7.37% 51.73% $7.25 79.30
21 Weston 66,435 1.84 4.6 $178 5.88% 59.93% $7.26 79.00
22 Coral Gables 48,093 5.88 -0.6 $334 4.65% 59.34% $10.33 78.83
23 Palm Springs 20,248 7.56 -2.9 $60 8.46% 48.05% $8.68 78.46
24 Parkland 24,888 1.35 -1.1 $158 10.90% 56.24% $9.25 78.33
25 North Miami Beach 42,349 4.72 -1 $117 2.40% 55.89% $11.31 77.88
26 Miami Springs 14,061 4.96 -3.1 $184 2.25% 56.63% $12.37 77.44
27 Jupiter 56,219 6.63 -0.8 $169 6.37% 51.62% $7.30 76.99
28 Kissimmee 61,889 2.83 1 $78 4.30% 56.12% $11.33 76.58
29 Orlando 244,931 3.63 0.2 $98 4.80% 54.49% $10.08 76.11
30 Saint Cloud 37,905 2.82 1.2 $83 12.34% 53.33% $11.81 76.08
31 Belle Isle 6,145 5.95 3.4 $114 1.20% 54.56% $8.84 75.85
32 Lady Lake 14,047 7.02 0 $129 -0.19% 52.25% $8.01 75.16
33 Clermont 29,048 3.02 -0.9 $93 11.12% 50.86% $8.46 75.05
34 Atlantis 1,980 9.47 -2.5 $113 5.94% 47.87% $12.68 74.27
35 North Port 57,554 1.42 -2.3 $83 10.71% 50.38% $6.60 74.23
36 Bonita Springs 45,243 5.18 2.2 $157 4.36% 51.65% $4.47 74.06
37 Punta Gorda 16,796 7.31 -2.1 $98 1.36% 49.77% $9.48 73.98
38 Windermere 2,910 0.52 2.5 $137 9.36% 55.43% $8.22 73.82
39 Port Saint Lucie 166,641 3.23 -0.5 $78 7.51% 50.50% $7.33 73.78
40 Palm Beach Gardens 49,273 5.56 -1.3 $156 5.48% 51.81% $10.52 73.52
41 Hollywood 143,273 5.19 2.6 $135 1.43% 55.66% $12.71 73.48
42 South Miami 11,839 3.00 3.3 $240 3.61% 58.05% $9.07 73.41
43 Miami Beach 89,412 4.69 1.8 $366 2.09% 59.80% $10.57 73.07
44 Coral Springs 123,476 2.89 -1.1 $128 1.95% 54.38% $9.83 72.95
45 Groveland 9,012 3.77 0.8 $76 13.57% 49.03% $10.20 72.85
46 Davie 93,842 3.13 2.4 $134 3.52% 54.60% $10.34 71.63
47 Miami Shores 10,529 2.21 0.6 $236 0.15% 59.31% $12.70 71.51
48 Ocoee 37,084 2.77 1.5 $85 8.64% 51.18% $10.22 71.06
49 Wilton Manors 11,868 4.71 -0.6 $193 -0.08% 54.67% $11.47 70.98
50 Pembroke Pines 157,324 5.20 0.5 $258 3.25% 54.73% $10.89 70.98
51 Miami Gardens 109,150 0.63 1.2 $89 3.32% 55.55% $11.64 70.74
52 Coconut Creek 54,213 2.67 1.1 $93 5.19% 52.93% $11.58 70.68
53 North Lauderdale 41,778 3.53 1.2 $81 2.34% 53.42% $12.87 70.57
54 Apopka 43,137 1.60 2.6 $86 9.26% 51.08% $7.91 70.35
55 Milton 9,008 2.55 -10 $75 3.55% 47.42% $9.33 70.26
56 Melbourne Beach 3,118 5.76 -10.6 $157 -2.53% 48.05% $8.91 70.20
57 Royal Palm Beach 34,699 3.74 0.6 $102 7.73% 48.40% $6.70 69.95
58 Venice 20,893 3.16 -2.2 $120 1.00% 50.44% $6.25 69.94
59 Sunrise 86,834 4.33 2.3 $118 2.07% 52.89% $11.31 69.75
60 Miami 407,526 2.39 1.6 $283 4.10% 57.90% $12.32 69.57
61 Fruitland Park 4,159 6.31 1.2 $76 2.39% 48.21% $9.47 68.99
62 Fort Myers Beach 6,457 8.05 2.1 $276 -1.21% 50.60% $4.40 68.93
63 Maitland 16,057 1.61 0.7 $130 2.00% 53.28% $8.31 68.91
64 South Pasadena 4,983 6.39 7.1 $136 -1.13% 51.88% $6.71 68.86
65 Plantation 86,999 2.17 1.7 $126 2.24% 54.05% $10.87 68.81
66 Oviedo 34,595 2.67 0.4 $112 6.65% 50.50% $9.74 68.61
67 Fort Myers 64,488 4.61 3.9 $106 3.41% 52.24% $12.43 68.46
68 Margate 54,281 2.12 -1.4 $79 1.27% 52.57% $12.59 68.34
69 Pompano Beach 101,749 2.68 1.1 $123 1.33% 52.92% $10.13 68.26
70 Davenport 2,941 2.05 -4.4 $87 4.85% 50.92% $14.62 67.86
71 Tampa 343,768 3.60 -0.8 $119 3.13% 50.76% $11.47 67.65
72 West Melbourne 18,776 2.01 0 $89 9.35% 47.66% $7.20 67.53
73 Lauderhill 68,216 1.93 1.2 $56 1.62% 52.58% $12.63 67.35
74 Saint Pete Beach 9,394 7.11 0.5 $212 -1.05% 49.88% $7.87 67.35
75 Oakland Park 42,217 2.63 0.2 $120 1.16% 52.68% $11.66 67.24
76 Lauderdale Lakes 33,259 1.50 0.8 $52 2.19% 53.23% $14.76 66.97
77 Vero Beach 15,475 5.54 -1 $91 -2.46% 46.80% $5.12 66.67
78 Redington Shores 1,804 4.11 -5.5 $284 1.35% 50.10% $7.01 66.35
79 North Miami 59,952 1.04 1.9 $139 1.94% 54.90% $12.64 66.28
80 Sanibel 6,655 7.48 1.9 $372 0.50% 51.68% $5.74 66.24
81 Lynn Haven 18,743 3.74 -0.1 $103 5.82% 46.59% $6.74 66.18
82 Tamarac 61,586 3.91 2.9 $84 2.99% 50.79% $12.55 66.13
83 Indian Shores 1,423 5.42 2 $252 -2.00% 51.36% $5.01 66.10
84 Sarasota 52,588 4.44 -1.2 $184 -0.55% 49.23% $6.33 65.73
85 Haines City 20,844 3.90 1.8 $71 5.30% 49.92% $14.66 65.71
86 Greenacres 37,940 5.21 4.1 $71 4.63% 47.86% $10.21 65.70
87 Deerfield Beach 76,330 2.62 2.3 $92 1.40% 51.74% $11.49 65.60
88 Saint Augustine Beach 6,323 0.74 -5.9 $171 5.47% 48.78% $7.79 65.41
89 Naples 19,990 7.01 0.2 $333 -2.03% 50.24% $4.74 64.98
90 Winter Park 28,497 1.19 1.6 $180 1.01% 53.20% $8.53 64.82
91 Boca Raton 86,671 2.71 -1.4 $142 1.87% 49.17% $8.20 64.76
92 Palm Coast 76,455 2.76 2.5 $83 7.81% 48.46% $11.35 64.53
93 Live Oak 6,918 2.98 -3.4 $64 1.72% 49.30% $15.18 64.52
94 Winter Springs 33,438 3.45 5.6 $108 0.47% 50.42% $7.31 64.38
95 Lake Worth 35,401 7.01 2.1 $91 -0.02% 46.71% $10.28 64.35
96 Altamonte Springs 41,795 2.91 6.8 $82 -0.80% 51.44% $7.77 64.33
97 Oldsmar 13,663 3.93 0.4 $104 2.30% 47.74% $9.06 64.18
98 Fort Lauderdale 168,603 1.25 0.9 $215 0.79% 53.71% $9.38 64.09
99 Green Cove Springs 6,957 0.88 2 $98 2.70% 50.44% $7.95 64.07
100 Temple Terrace 24,889 2.31 1 $81 2.71% 50.17% $12.17 64.07
101 Seminole 17,291 4.69 4.1 $103 -0.02% 48.51% $7.49 63.94
102 Ormond Beach 38,345 6.78 3.5 $94 -0.78% 47.35% $10.00 63.70
103 West Palm Beach 100,778 5.39 1.3 $125 3.05% 48.43% $13.13 63.61
104 Stuart 15,741 4.99 -1.4 $75 0.98% 46.10% $10.50 63.59
105 Dania Beach 30,076 1.53 1.1 $124 2.27% 51.40% $11.26 63.58
106 Gulfport 12,079 3.84 0 $111 -0.65% 48.51% $9.05 63.55
107 Belleair 3,889 4.92 -3.6 $151 -0.84% 47.91% $11.04 63.52
108 Treasure Island 6,741 6.67 3.3 $212 -1.55% 49.53% $8.35 63.49
109 Wildwood 6,601 2.06 1 $114 5.03% 49.16% $10.45 63.38
110 Delray Beach 61,875 3.89 1.1 $131 1.29% 49.80% $11.94 63.24
111 Safety Harbor 16,937 4.29 2.4 $133 0.02% 49.02% $8.74 63.24
112 Niceville 13,217 3.64 -3.2 $129 3.19% 45.21% $6.99 63.03
113 Tavares 14,133 3.65 2.3 $82 3.30% 48.17% $11.18 63.01
114 Auburndale 13,814 2.65 3.8 $75 3.16% 49.58% $11.13 62.99
115 Lake Wales 14,480 4.08 -1 $66 4.29% 47.47% $15.45 62.80
116 Anna Maria 1,556 1.21 -3.6 $329 5.49% 51.61% $8.35 62.71
117 Fort Pierce 42,395 4.23 -2.6 $64 -0.20% 45.53% $9.53 62.68
118 Newberry 5,083 0.76 -3.5 $105 5.28% 48.60% $12.41 62.50
119 Destin 12,623 4.77 -1.2 $175 2.57% 44.94% $4.79 62.44
120 Lake Mary 14,188 1.63 5.8 $118 4.69% 50.28% $8.46 62.42
121 Ponce Inlet 3,045 3.33 1.7 $146 1.26% 50.57% $12.38 62.28
122 Callaway 14,491 5.63 7.2 $74 -0.42% 46.66% $5.90 62.28
123 Perry 7,046 0.20 2.3 $61 -0.52% 51.87% $11.51 62.03
124 Key West 24,934 3.91 2 $356 2.13% 51.67% $5.92 61.96
125 Juno Beach 3,233 4.38 4.9 $215 -0.31% 50.71% $7.58 61.93
126 Mount Dora 12,514 3.72 3.1 $91 1.19% 48.40% $10.40 61.92
127 Jacksonville Beach 21,562 4.96 -1.6 $173 0.60% 49.08% $14.13 61.88
128 Dunedin 35,421 2.16 0.6 $102 0.04% 48.69% $8.75 61.77
129 Indian River Shores 3,938 4.86 -0.4 $242 1.60% 46.53% $4.56 61.69
130 Port Orange 56,585 2.73 2.1 $98 1.96% 48.65% $10.58 61.52
131 New Smyrna Beach 22,775 3.15 1.1 $123 1.04% 48.25% $9.46 61.50
132 Sebastian 22,154 1.78 -0.5 $84 4.31% 45.62% $6.81 61.49
133 Bartow 17,570 1.47 0.8 $62 1.97% 48.26% $10.86 60.96
134 Satellite Beach 10,241 5.13 2.8 $128 -3.23% 50.09% $13.23 60.94
135 Tequesta 5,697 1.82 0.7 $166 0.97% 50.65% $10.83 60.92
136 Panama City 36,205 3.63 1.1 $77 -1.60% 46.36% $7.52 60.76
137 Rockledge 25,202 1.85 -1.8 $99 2.85% 47.43% $11.27 60.76
138 Boynton Beach 69,257 4.04 1.5 $106 2.48% 47.66% $12.68 60.75
139 Lakeland 98,970 2.92 3 $80 2.43% 48.21% $11.53 60.73
140 Ocean Ridge 1,761 2.22 -3.6 $233 2.92% 48.90% $10.13 60.67
141 Hillsboro Beach 1,588 5.78 1.4 $231 -6.92% 50.35% $8.65 60.52
142 Marco Island 16,702 5.87 -0.6 $269 0.71% 46.17% $5.52 60.49
143 Southwest Ranches 7,495 1.03 3.7 $176 2.64% 51.19% $9.20 60.35
144 Leesburg 20,627 4.59 5.9 $65 2.43% 46.10% $9.05 60.30
145 Lighthouse Point 10,550 0.11 0.7 $190 0.88% 51.58% $8.85 60.28
146 Saint Augustine 13,271 1.96 -1 $104 2.88% 48.07% $12.89 60.03
147 Debary 19,284 1.25 1.1 $88 1.13% 48.06% $8.93 59.97
148 North Palm Beach 12,165 2.80 -0.9 $153 0.10% 48.87% $11.65 59.96
149 Cocoa Beach 11,299 8.00 3 $150 -3.25% 45.89% $9.89 59.93
150 Largo 77,898 4.37 1.4 $82 1.02% 45.62% $10.22 59.84
151 Deltona 85,415 3.02 2.5 $65 1.48% 48.37% $13.87 59.80
152 Clearwater 108,551 2.00 -0.1 $100 0.47% 47.78% $10.17 59.74
153 Longboat Key 6,658 6.02 0.9 $326 -3.45% 48.81% $5.23 59.59
154 Holmes Beach 3,941 5.48 3.3 $308 -4.71% 51.58% $8.05 59.58
155 Belleview 4,546 1.19 -2 $91 0.66% 46.05% $7.18 59.57
156 North Weeki Wachee 8,537 3.47 0.5 $65 1.66% 44.61% $8.68 59.54
157 Orange City 10,823 3.29 3.2 $65 4.91% 46.74% $13.47 59.36
158 Fernandina Beach 11,681 2.11 -1.1 $146 2.06% 48.23% $11.85 59.22
159 Lake Park 8,251 1.60 -5.2 $105 0.52% 47.38% $13.59 59.19
160 Pinellas Park 49,443 2.33 0.9 $80 1.37% 46.93% $10.60 59.18
161 Indialantic 2,737 1.03 -2.9 $133 -2.84% 49.72% $11.49 59.05
162 Winter Haven 34,561 1.98 2.5 $69 4.33% 47.43% $12.66 59.03
163 Ocala 56,828 1.37 1.1 $61 1.39% 46.85% $9.44 59.01
164 Lantana 10,669 3.86 5.9 $108 3.10% 46.28% $8.02 58.96
165 Dunnellon 1,599 2.37 -2.7 $64 3.09% 43.97% $10.33 58.61
166 Palm Bay 103,602 2.88 1.1 $64 2.94% 46.53% $13.54 58.58
167 Sanford 54,170 1.32 8.4 $85 5.29% 49.72% $11.70 58.45
168 Saint Petersburg 246,642 1.97 0.1 $112 0.38% 48.05% $11.78 58.27
169 Casselberry 26,376 1.21 3.1 $88 0.52% 48.50% $10.33 57.88
170 Daytona Beach Shores 4,272 3.48 1.5 $160 -1.48% 48.90% $12.16 57.84
171 Riviera Beach 32,814 3.21 2.1 $163 1.01% 49.27% $13.78 57.81
172 Eustis 18,820 2.51 2.9 $78 0.70% 47.64% $12.31 57.66
173 Port Saint Joe 3,445 4.51 3.9 $141 -3.23% 47.70% $9.33 57.58
174 Longwood 13,753 2.23 2.7 $105 -2.04% 48.46% $10.38 57.46
175 Deland 27,399 2.13 1.3 $76 3.61% 46.42% $13.12 57.35
176 Frostproof 3,020 1.62 1 $52 -1.76% 48.97% $14.93 57.32
177 Gulf Breeze 5,924 1.27 2.5 $117 1.13% 47.20% $8.07 57.15
178 Kenneth City 4,968 3.32 6.3 $37 0.26% 45.99% $9.77 57.06
179 Bradenton 50,329 2.13 2.1 $109 -0.40% 48.28% $12.20 56.86
180 Palm Beach 8,523 7.69 1.1 $367 -1.75% 47.02% $8.03 56.42
181 Neptune Beach 6,702 5.79 7.1 $164 -4.94% 50.04% $13.41 56.37
182 Cape Canaveral 9,934 0.61 -1 $113 0.30% 46.32% $8.82 56.09
183 Arcadia 7,616 2.54 1.5 $61 1.59% 46.72% $15.57 55.85
184 Plant City 35,398 2.41 0.2 $78 3.45% 43.73% $10.45 55.83
185 Indian Harbour Beach 8,253 3.26 6.8 $113 -1.32% 48.19% $10.71 55.69
186 Pensacola 52,268 1.40 -0.2 $76 -1.20% 46.39% $11.27 55.63
187 Indian Rocks Beach 4,147 1.37 0.2 $251 -0.65% 48.55% $7.01 55.58
188 Tarpon Springs 23,564 0.87 2.2 $100 2.14% 46.61% $10.46 55.21
189 Orange Park 8,491 0.37 1.9 $87 -2.59% 48.71% $11.24 55.19
190 Marathon 8,405 3.09 2.4 $250 -1.09% 46.98% $5.42 55.13
191 Valparaiso 5,119 1.49 -2.1 $114 -4.25% 45.68% $7.81 55.12
192 Crestview 21,659 0.69 0.4 $82 7.36% 43.03% $9.14 55.03
193 Lake City 12,111 0.65 4.1 $66 -1.61% 48.70% $12.00 54.95
194 Melbourne 76,768 1.97 1.4 $81 0.06% 46.04% $12.22 54.70
195 Atlantic Beach 12,783 1.96 0.9 $177 -1.42% 49.12% $13.36 54.69
196 Alachua 9,165 1.69 4.1 $88 5.25% 46.47% $14.10 54.57
197 High Springs 5,422 1.71 7.4 $84 4.49% 48.02% $14.75 54.15
198 Mary Esther 3,968 0.60 0.6 $100 0.38% 44.15% $5.93 54.06
199 Edgewater 20,799 3.49 4.2 $79 -0.32% 45.65% $12.75 53.98
200 Daytona Beach 61,622 0.54 0.4 $76 -2.04% 47.20% $13.11 53.32
201 Tallahassee 183,638 0.35 0.4 $105 3.84% 45.31% $12.01 53.10
202 Brooksville 7,728 4.42 2.3 $68 -1.98% 43.53% $12.65 52.70
203 Avon Park 8,862 0.96 5.2 $51 -1.15% 44.90% $7.40 52.63
204 Okeechobee 5,613 3.51 -5 $62 -1.68% 42.60% $16.29 52.42
205 Zephyrhills 13,693 2.65 6.1 $65 2.84% 44.65% $13.00 51.94
206 Mulberry 3,838 1.90 8.9 $73 1.48% 47.82% $15.27 51.33
207 Titusville 43,902 2.40 2.6 $64 -0.22% 43.87% $12.51 51.19
208 Palmetto 12,769 1.68 3.9 $96 -0.65% 45.70% $12.02 51.09
209 Fort Walton Beach 19,962 1.25 4 $92 -0.12% 44.52% $9.06 51.03
210 Hypoluxo 2,610 0.83 2.2 $121 4.11% 43.09% $8.68 50.95
211 Gainesville 125,845 1.14 3.6 $92 1.27% 45.56% $13.17 50.67
212 Cocoa 17,196 2.17 4 $73 -1.46% 43.92% $10.89 50.07
213 South Daytona 12,277 2.51 5.7 $69 -3.87% 45.95% $13.28 49.76
214 Sebring 10,399 1.12 0 $59 -1.52% 43.12% $12.09 49.42
215 Inverness 7,230 1.29 -2 $59 -1.23% 41.54% $11.68 48.90
216 Flagler Beach 4,576 3.86 7.5 $138 -4.59% 46.30% $12.42 48.75
217 Port Richey 2,685 1.09 0.7 $47 -4.69% 43.89% $12.30 48.57
218 New Port Richey 14,985 3.19 5.5 $77 -3.66% 45.68% $16.44 47.95
219 Palatka 10,532 1.24 4.8 $58 -1.24% 46.48% $17.75 47.92
220 Holly Hill 11,665 0.13 8.1 $57 -2.76% 47.37% $13.41 47.76
221 Lake Clarke Shores 3,427 0.36 8.5 $130 0.15% 45.87% $11.06 45.98
222 Highland Beach 3,582 2.18 3.9 $271 -1.24% 44.04% $8.73 44.32
223 Shalimar 717 0.45 -0.5 $109 -16.72% 43.83% $5.29 43.82
224 Crystal River 3,095 0.99 7.2 $70 -5.47% 41.45% $8.99 41.00
225 Bradenton Beach 1,138 2.40 5.3 $261 -21.63% 47.94% $8.63 38.36
226 South Palm Beach 975 0.07 -0.8 $138 -24.36% 44.09% $9.10 35.23
227 Lake Placid 2,228 0.47 11.3 $63 -17.36% 44.51% $10.75 34.22

Methodology

The score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. Market health score. This score is an average of Zillow’s 2014 market health score for each city, along with U.S. Census Bureau figures on changes in vacancy rates. Zillow’s Market Health Index uses a combination of 10 variables, including housing value recovery and median days on the market, to measure the health of a city’s housing market relative to others in the state. The quicker a house sells, the higher the score — a 10 is the highest. This is 30% of our score.
  2. Affordability. Using data from Zillow, we negatively indexed a house’s cost per square foot in each city to find how much a buyer could get for their dollar. The higher the score, the lower the cost per square foot. To avoid seasonal fluctuation, we averaged data from the 24 months of 2013 and 2014. This is 20% of our score.
  3. Growth score. Using data from Zillow and the 2013 American Community Survey, we averaged the percentage of houses that increased in value over the past 10 years, along with growth in population since 2010. This is 40% of our score.
  4. Tax rate. Using data from the Florida Department of Revenue, we calculated the combined city and county property tax rate for each place. All tax rates are per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This is 10% of our score.

Aventura, Florida, image via iStock.