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Living in Ocala FL Guide | What to Know Before Moving to Ocala Florida!

Last Updated on: 13th June 2023, 11:56 am

Are you thinking about moving to Ocala? Known as the Horse Capital of the World, Ocala is famous for more than 400 thoroughbred farms, training centers, and facilities with world-class events and races held throughout the year. It’s also known for its many outdoor attractions, including the Ocala National Forest and nearby Silver Springs State Park.

Living in Ocala FL offers an affordable cost of living, diverse economy, and great schools. It’s often ranked one of the best places to live in Florida and one of the top retirement destinations! Here’s what you can look forward to ahead of your move.

Where Is Ocala Florida?

Ocala is in Marion County in northern Florida about 37 miles south of Gainesville and 80 miles northwest of Orlando. It’s surrounded by many unincorporated communities like York, Zuber, Silver Springs, Huntington, and Fellowship. To the northeast is the 4,466-acre Indian Lake State Forest,

Ocala Population & Demographics

The Ocala FL population is 63,591 according to the 2020 census, up 12.9% from 56,315 in 2010. The city has a population density of 1,346 people per square mile. The Ocala metro area has a population of 375,908 and covers all of Marion County.

The population of Ocala has grown by at least double digits almost every census since its 1880 population of just 800. By 1950, Ocala was home to more than 11,000 people with its population more than tripling by 1980.

Ocala is a diverse city. The racial and ethnic composition is 68.5% white (58.4% non-Hispanic), 20.2% Black or African American, 15.9% Hispanic, 2.7% Asian, and 7.0% two or more races. The Hispanic population of Ocala has almost tripled from 5.7% in 2010.

Additional Ocala demographics:

  • Median household income: $46,841 (Florida: $61,777)
  • Median age: 38.3 years (Florida: 42.3 years)
  • Sex ratio: 51% female to 49% male over 18
  • Homeownership rate: 49% (Florida: 66%)
  • Educational attainment: 28% bachelor’s degree or higher (Florida: 31.5%)
  • Foreign-born population: 9.6% (Florida: 21%)
  • Veteran population: 9.2% (Florida: 8.2%)

Ocala FL Crime Rate

Is Ocala FL safe? The Ocala crime rate is 3,693 total crimes per 100,000 people. That includes 3,044 property crimes and 649 violent crimes per 100,000. This is more than 56% higher than the national crime rate of 2,357 total crimes and 399 violent crimes per 100,000. The Ocala murder rate in 2020 was 4.7 homicides per 100,000 people, below the national average of 6.5 murders per 100,000.

Ocala recently made the list of the top 20 most dangerous Florida cities. However, that means it’s still safer than Miami (#1), Orlando (#2), Jacksonville (#3), Tampa (#4), Fort Lauderdale (#8), and Gainesville (#9). Despite the high crime rate, many Ocala neighborhoods are very safe!

Cost of Living in Ocala FL

The Ocala FL cost of living index is 84.0. Ocala is a very affordable place to live, with a cost of living 16% below the national average! By comparison, the Florida cost of living index is 103. Groceries and healthcare are slightly below average, and utilities are slightly above average for the U.S. Transportation and housing are both very affordable.

Planning to buy a house? The median price of homes for sale in Ocala FL is $277,750, up almost 16% year-over-year. Homes sell in an average of 35 days on market and receive an average of two offers. You’ll pay an average of $163 per square foot.

If you’re going to rent while living in Ocala FL, you’ll pay average rent of $1,533 per month, according to Rentcafe. That’s almost $400 below the national average and more affordable than Gainesville ($1,662) and Orlando ($1,933).

Best Neighborhoods in Ocala FL

Ready to find the best place to live in Ocala FL ahead of your relocation? There are tons of great Ocala communities for families, young professionals, retirees, and millennials. Here are just some of the gems in this city that may be perfect for you.

Fore Ranch – Affordable Single-Family Homes & Townhomes with Great Amenities

Fore Ranch is an HOA community offering affordable townhouses and homes. While the lots are smaller than many neighborhoods, the community is packed with amenities like a fitness center, swimming pools, splash pad, tennis and basketball courts, and walking trails.

Ocala Historic District – Beautiful Queen Anne and Victorian Homes

This Ocala neighborhood is known for its historic Queen Anne and Victorian-style homes with the earliest examples along Fort King St. Developed in the 1880s, the Historic District is one of the most beautiful places to live in Ocala with mature oak trees and Spanish moss. You’ll find homes starting in the high $300s with the largest estates priced at $1 million or more.

Silver Springs Shores – Affordable Neighborhood Outside the City Limits

Looking for affordable living and plenty of space? Just outside the city limits is the Silver Springs Shores community. Homes here are very affordable with larger lots and typically qualify for USDA loans. You’ll be close to downtown Ocala and enjoy nearby shopping with new development in the area.

Quail Hollow – One of the Best Places to Live in Ocala FL for Families

The picturesque Quail Hollow subdivision has it all: an ideal location near Silver Springs State Park and downtown, landscaped grounds, and quiet residential streets. Homes were built in the mid-1990s with three-bedroom homes usually priced in the $400s.

Ocala Weather & Climate

The Ocala climate is humid subtropical (Cfa) which brings hot, humid summers with dry, mild winters. During the summer, you’ll have average high temperatures in the 80s to low 90s with high humidity, while the average winter temperature in Ocala is in the 40s to 60s. About 108 days per year have an average high temperature over 90°. It doesn’t snow in Ocala, but you’ll get lots of rain! Average annual rainfall is 52”, well above the U.S. average of 38”.

The best time to visit Ocala is March to April or November for pleasant, warm weather without oppressive heat and humidity.

Things to Do in Ocala Florida

One of the perks of living in Ocala? There’s always something fun to do! Ocala is paradise for nature lovers, horse lovers, and thrill seekers. There are more than 400 thoroughbred horse farms and training centers with tours and equestrian events. You’ll find some of the best state and national parks in Florida right here with everything from snorkeling and kayaking to swimming and camping. There’s also great shopping in Ocala at Shady Oaks Shopping Center, Ocala West, and Paddock Mall.

Here are just some of the things to do in Ocala FL once you’re a resident!

Ocala National Forest

This sprawling 673-square-mile forest is one of the top things to do in Ocala Florida for nature lovers. Explore hundreds of lakes, ponds, and springs like Lake George and miles of trails, including the Yearling Trail going past 19th century homesteads and a sinkhole. It’s a popular destination for diving, snorkeling, swimming, and camping!

Ocala National Forest, FL-40, Silver Springs, FL 34488 (352) 625-2520

Silver Springs State Park

If you’re looking for things to do with your family in Ocala, Silver Springs State Park is one of the top choices! This picturesque landscape has a river, nature trails, picnic spots, and more. It’s one of the best places for kayaking near Ocala. Don’t miss doing one of the most unique things to do near Ocala, FL: the famous glass bottom boats at Silver Springs!

Silver Springs State Park, 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488 (352) 261-5840

Sholom Park

One of the most beautiful parks in Ocala, this picturesque space has a pavilion, paved paths, a pond, and gorgeous landscaped gardens.

Sholom Park, 7110 SW 80th Ave, Ocala, FL 34481 (352) 873-0848

World Equestrian Center

The largest equestrian complex in America, the World Equestrian Center is in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World with 15 outdoor rings and five climate-controlled arenas. Visit for regular equestrian events and shows plus dog shows.

World Equestrian Center, 1750 NW 80th Ave, Ocala, FL 34482 (352) 414-7900

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

This museum has all the racing cars you could dream of from vintage drag racing cars to modern-day beauties! It’s one of the many fun things to do in Ocala with kids.

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, 13700 SW 16th Ave, Ocala, FL 34473 (352) 245-8661

 

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Additional Ocala attractions:

Ocala Restaurants

From seafood restaurants and family-friendly eateries to hip breweries and lounges, there’s something for everyone with a great food scene in the city. Here are some of the best restaurants in Ocala for foodies!

Ivy on the Square

Enjoy Southern cuisine at this elegant restaurant in an iconic 1890 building at the Downtown Ocala Square. Their cocktail bar is also a fun destination for nightlife!

Ivy on the Square, 53 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 622-5550

 

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Gator’s Dockside Ocala

This family-friendly sports bar offers American pub food. They’re known for their grilled chicken wings!

Gator’s Dockside Ocala, 3920 SW 42nd St #101, Ocala, FL 34474 (352) 433-2441

Brooklyn’s Backyard

Restaurants in Ocala are a dime a dozen, but Brooklyn’s Backyard is a true gem. With the craft beers, pub-style burgers, and over 1,000 positive reviews, you can count on good food!

Brooklyn’s Backyard, 2019 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, FL 34470 (352) 304-6292

Amrit Palace

 

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For tongue-buzzing Indian food you won’t be able to forget, check out Amrit Palace. This top-rated Ocala restaurant is known for delicious samosas and curries.

Amrit Palace, 3415 SW College Rd, Ocala, FL 34474 (352) 873-8500

Jobs in Ocala FL

The Ocala economy is diverse with many major sectors. The thoroughbred horse industry is one of the city’s top sectors with 75% of horse farms and training facilities in Florida located in Ocala and Marion County. Tourism, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and government are also important sectors.

The average salary in Ocala is $16.83/hour or $60,000 according to Payscale. The average wage in the Ocala metro area is $47,430 or $22.80/hour according to the BLS.

Major employers in Ocala include:

  • Marion County Public Schools (jobs)
  • AdventHealth Ocala
  • State of Florida
  • Ocala Regional Medical Center
  • Marion County Board of Commissioners
  • Lockheed Martin
  • City of Ocala (jobs)
  • Wal-Mart
  • AT&T

With many Ocala jobs available in the city and nearby towns, you’ll enjoy diverse employment opportunities and a short commute. The average commute for residents is just 19.5 minutes, well below average for Florida workers, who spend 28 minutes on average commuting to work.

You can explore jobs in Ocala FL on Indeed before moving to the area to get an idea of the opportunities available.

Ocala Schools – Public & Private Schools in Ocala

While living in Ocala, you’ll be served by the Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) district. The district has 22 elementary, six middle, and six high schools, including a number of magnet schools. The two highest rated public high schools in Ocala are West Port High and Forest High with AP participation rates of 59% and 36% respectively.

There are several private schools to choose from too. Most private schools in Marion County are non-secular Christian schools. Popular options include Ocala Christian Academy, Grace Christian School, Crossroads Academy, St. John Lutheran School, and Meadowbrook Academy.

If you’re planning to pursue a degree after moving to Ocala, you don’t need to go far. The College of Central Florida (CF) is a major public college ranked one of the top 150 nationally for quality and top 20 for affordability.

Ocala Statistics & Information

  • Ocala county: Marion
  • Area: 47.26 square feet
  • Ocala zip codes: 34470 to 34483
  • Area code: 352
  • Elevation: 104 feet
  • Time zone: UTC-5 (Eastern)
  • Closest airport: Ocala International Airport (OCF)

Ocala Florida Map

Ready to make living in Ocala, FL a reality? Give the 5-star Ocala movers at 2 College Brothers a call today to get started with a free, personalized estimate. We look forward to making moving day as easy as possible!

 

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