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Is Living in Gainesville FL Right for You? | 🏡 ULTIMATE Moving to Gainesville Guide

Serving as the county seat of Alachua County Florida, the City of Gainesville has something to offer everyone. It’s the largest city in North Central Florida, with plenty of jobs, an affordable cost of living, and a college-town vibe. Gainesville is perhaps most notably known as the home of the University of Florida, the flagship university for Florida State, and the 5th largest public university campus in the US. Gainesville has a vibrant nightlife, and the culture of Gainesville is known as being a transition between urban Florida and beach Florida. Gainesville is more than just a college town. The city is committed to preserving the natural beauty of Florida, and residents enjoy access to dozens of municipal parks and over 30 miles of hiking trails available to residents and visitors. It’s the perfect place to be for those who love the outdoors.

Gainesville has many nicknames, including Rainesville, Hogtown, The Tree City, and Gator Country, a nod to the University of Florida’s football team. It’s well known as the birthplace of Gatorade, which was created by a team of scientists at UF in 1965 and was originally called “Gator-Aid,” another reference to the college’s football team. Gainesville is also home to notable people, including musicians Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Gainesville Population & Demographics

Gainesville’s population is 130,790 residents, with a population growth rate of 1.8%. There are also hundreds of people who relocate to Gainesville every year on a seasonal basis. This is mainly because of college students at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, as well as an influx of young professionals. The city is dominated by young people. In fact, the median age in Gainesville is 27, and people between the ages of 18-34 make up about 45% of the total population. The younger population may be why Gainesville is a great place to be single – only 26% of residents are married! There are slightly more women (51%) in Gainesville than men.

Gainesville is a fairly diverse city, with a demographic breakdown of 57.2% white, 9.8% Hispanic, 22.2% Black or African American, 7.0% Asian, and 3.7% Mixed or Other races. About 11% of Gainesville residents are foreign-born, the majority of whom come from Asia and Latin America.

Gainesville Neighborhoods

House hunting is one of the most exciting and overwhelming parts of any relocation. Gainesville has dozens of subdivisions, so it might seem hard to choose. However, you can rest assured that every neighborhood in Gainesville has plenty of amenities, beautiful homes, and welcoming neighbors. Here are just a few of the popular neighborhoods in Gainesville that residents love.

Duckpond – Artsy, Diverse Neighborhood

Conveniently located close to Downtown, Duckpond is a cozy Gainesville neighborhood known for its historic charm and diversity. Walking the streets of Duckpond will take you back in time, with the historic architecture and pristinely kept Colonial-style homes serving to remind residents and tourists of how Gainesville looked before it was modernized. The Thomas Center, Gainesville’s cultural epicenter, is located in Duckpond, where residents can enjoy performances, historical exhibitions, and art galleries.

Sugarfoot – Family-Friendly Gainesville Community

If you’re looking for a quiet place to raise children, check out Sugarfoot. Situated away from the hustle and bustle of the University, Sugarfoot is considered one of the safest Gainesville suburbs. Residents love all the outdoor recreational opportunities Sugarfoot has to offer, as it’s home to Clear Lake Nature Park and John Mahon Nature Park. Though it’s tucked away from Downtown Gainesville, Sugarfoot is flanked by State Route 121 and Interstate 75, so it’s still convenient!

Westmoreland – Suburban Living with City Amenities

Just northeast of Sugarfoot is Westmoreland, one of Gainesville’s best neighborhoods. Westmoreland is a great option if you’re looking for a suburban feel but still want access to city amenities. Westmoreland has great restaurants and cafes, shopping opportunities, and is home to the Florida Museum of Natural History. There’s tons of recreation available too; residents love Clear Lake Nature Park, Cofrin Nature Park, and the Split Rock Conservation Area.

Hazel Heights – Affordable and Convenient

  • Population: 1,576
  • Median Home Cost: $174,900
  • Homes for sale in Suburban Heights

If affordability is at the top of your priority list, check out Hazel Heights. Sitting at the north end of Gainesville, Hazel Heights spans east to west from Springtree to NW13th street, and north to south from Rainbows End to Ridgeview. Not only will you find affordable real estate in Hazel Heights, but you’ll also have everything you need. There are great coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping opportunities throughout the neighborhood!

Cost of Living in Gainesville

Can you afford to live in Gainesville? Overall, the cost of living in Gainesville is 2% lower than the median for the United States. Housing costs here are 9% lower than the national average, which can mean a lot of savings depending on your current location. Healthcare in Gainesville is 1% lower than the national average. There are a few areas in which the cost of living in Gainesville is higher than in other places. Utilities cost about 19% more than the national average in Gainesville, and the average utility bill in Gainesville is $205.78. Groceries and transportation are about 4% higher in Gainesville as well.

It should also be noted that sales tax in Gainesville is 7%. Florida sales tax is 6%, while 1% goes to Alachua County. There is no state income tax in Gainesville. Property taxes in Gainesville vary widely due to the many home exemptions you can apply for. Your property tax rate will be the appraised value of your home, minus any exemptions, multiplied by the Gainesville millage rate (which is 23.89), divided by 1,000.

Typical Living Expenses in Gainesville

  • Gas: $2.37/gallon
  • Internet: $66.43/month
  • Utilities: $205.78/month
  • Full-time preschool: $425.00/month
  • Transportation (one-way): $1.50
  • Monthly Transportation pass: $35.00
  • Fitness club: $33.83/month
  • Milk: $3.34/gallon
  • Bread: $2.29/loaf
  • Eggs: $1.93/dozen
  • Fast food meal: $8.00
  • Restaurant meal: $15.00

Crime in Gainesville

It’s always important to look at a city’s crime rates when you’re planning a move. When discussing crime rates, experts look at total crime, violent crime, and property crime. Gainesville’s crime rate statistics from the FBI. Here’s a look at Gainesville’s overall crime rate:

  • Gainesville total crime rate: 68% higher than the national average
  • Gainesville total crime rate: 4,416 per 100,000 people
  • Chance of becoming a victim in Gainesville: 1 in 24

Violent Crime in Gainesville

Violent crime rates account for the murder, rape, and robberies in a community. In Gainesville, the violent crime rate is 81% higher than the national average.

  • Gainesville Murder Rate: 1.5 per 100,000 people
  • Gainesville violent crime rate: 687 per 100,000 people
  • Chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Gainesville: 1 in 146

Property Crime in Gainesville

Property crime rates include burglary, theft, and vehicle theft. In Gainesville, the property crime rate is 65% higher than the national average.

  • Burglaries in Gainesville: 501 per 100,000 people
  • Thefts in Gainesville: 3,803 per 100,000 people
  • Vehicle thefts in Gainesville: 408 per 100,000 people
  • Chance of becoming a victim of a property crime in Gainesville: 1 in 24

Weather in Gainesville

 

Woman reading a book in a park on a sunny day.

Gainesville has amazing weather! Gainesville’s climate is humid subtropical, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. Throughout the year, the average highs in Gainesville range from 66.2°F in January to 90.9°F in July. During the summers, you can expect high humidity and frequent thunderstorms in the afternoons. Over the course of a year, Gainesville receives about 23.78” of rain over 150.7 days. Winters are mild, and if you relocate to Gainesville, you can retire your snow shovel, because snow is extremely rare here. Gainesville’s location in northern central Florida shields the city from the hurricanes that are problematic in other areas of Florida. Like much of the state, Gainesville has tons of sunny days as well, giving you plenty of time to explore the city.

Things to do in Gainesville

There’s always something fun to do in Gainesville, whether you’re looking for a night out on the town or a family-friendly excursion. We couldn’t possibly list all of Gainesville’s attractions in one place, but here are a few of our must-sees.

Top Attractions

  • Florida Museum of Natural History: Get up close and personal with nature when you visit the Museum of Natural History. This is also where you’ll find Gainesville’s famous butterfly rainforest.
  • Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation: Spend a day at Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation, home to over 100 animals from 30 rare and endangered species.
  • Kanapaha Botanical Gardens: Explore almost 70 acres of beautiful gardens, including Florida’s largest bamboo display, and the largest herb garden in the southeastern United States.
  • Harn Museum of Art: With over 110,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is the largest university art museum in the south.

Art, Entertainment, & Museums

  • The Thomas Center: Once a private residence, The Historic Thomas Center is Gainesville’s cultural epicenter. Whether you love art, history, or performance art, there’s something here for you!
  • Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention: The perfect outing for a day with the kids! Explore interactive exhibits and learn about the science behind Gatorade. Camp and educational programs offer even more fun.
  • Kika Silva Pla Planetarium: Enjoy a live or interactive show at Santa Fe College’s planetarium. There’s always something fascinating to learn!

Parks & Outdoor Activities

  • Ichetucknee Springs State Park: Explore more than 2,500 acres or take a dip in one of the park’s eight crystalline springs. You can also paddle and tube down the river!
  • Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park: Descend 120 feet down the winding stairs and boardwalks to explore a rainforest you won’t believe!
  • Ichetucknee Springs State Park: There is so much to do at Ichetucknee Springs State Park! Whether you want to go tubing, kayaking, or just observe wildlife, this park and its crystal clear springs will be a great experience.

Shopping

  • The Oaks Mall: You’ll surely find everything you need at Gainesville’s premier shopping destination, The Oaks Mall. It’s the largest in Central Florida, with over 900,000 square feet of retail space!
  • Celebration Pointe: If you’re looking for open-air shopping and dining, head to Celebration Pointe. Some Gainesville residents love Celebration Pointe so much, they call it home in the nearby townhomes and apartments!

Gainesville, FL Restaurants

There are plenty of great restaurants in Gainesville! Here are a few of the most popular Gainesville restaurants: 

The Top

When you want some modern American fare, your next stop should be The Top Restaurant in Downtown Gainesville. There’s a fantastic Sunday Brunch that will keep you coming back for more!

30 N Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601, (352) 337-1188

Reggae Shack Cafe

For quick eats with a Jamaican flair, there’s no place better than the Reggae Shack Cafe. In addition to spicy jerk chicken, favorites include the coconut shrimp, the fried sweet plantains and the mango swirl cheesecake.

619 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601, (352) 377-5464

Embers

If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience in Gainesville, check out Embers. This top-rated steakhouse is the place to go for amazing surf ‘n turf and great wine.

3545 SW 34th St A, Gainesville, FL 32608, (352) 380-0901

Real Estate in Gainesville

The housing market in Gainesville is considered very competitive. Homes often sell in less than two weeks for 2%-3% above the asking price. The median sale price for a home in Gainesville is $530,000, or $176 per square foot. Real estate prices are going up in Gainesville – current home prices are up 8.2% since last year. Because they’re on the rise, it’s best to buy one of the many Gainesville, FL homes for sale as soon as you find one you like!

If you’re not looking to buy a home, renting in Gainesville is a great option. In fact, 64% of residents in Gainesville are renters. The average rent in Gainesville is $1,317, and the average apartment is about 1,000 square feet. If you’re on a tight budget, look towards Hidden Lake, Duval, or Ridgeview for the most affordable Gainesville rentals. The most expensive neighborhoods in Gainesville are Duckpond, Stephen Foster, and Springhill.

Gainesville Schools

View of the University of Florida on a sunny day.

There are tons of great schools in the Gainesville area. The city is served by Alachua County Public Schools, which operates 75 institutions. Some of the top schools in Gainesville include Hidden Oak Elementary School, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and F. W. Buchholz High School, both of which have received a College Success Award from Greatschools.org.

If you’re looking for great college education institutions in Gainesville, you won’t be disappointed. The University of Florida Gainesville and Santa Fe College are both within the city limits and are known for their great education.

Gainesville’s Job Market

The median household income in Gainesville is $39,201. Household income is increasing by about 7% a year, and the job market is growing by 3% a year. The most common jobs in Gainesville are education instruction and library occupations and management positions. Educational services is the most popular industry in Gainesville, and it accounts for 21.9% of the city’s workforce.

According to Glassdoor, the top employers in Gainesville are the University of Florida, UF Health, and Publix. Check out some current openings in Gainesville on Indeed.com. Would you like to work for the City of Gainesville? They’re hiring! Click here for current opportunities.

Transportation in Gainesville

Gainesville provides access to an extensive road system, and the city is laid out in an easily navigable grid. Most people in Gainesville rely on personal cars to get around, and the majority of Gainesville households have two cars. Commuters enjoy a fairly quick drive to work with the average being less than 18 minutes. 

Public transportation is definitely an option in Gainesville! The city is served by Amtrak’s Thruway Motorcoaches, as well as Amtrak trains. The Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) is the city’s extensive bus system and the fourth largest mass transit system in Florida. If you’re looking for a flight out of the city, Gainesville is served by Gainesville Regional Airport.

Gainesville Sports

If you’re into college football, Gainesville is the place to be! The University of Florida’s Gators competes in the Southern Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The teams are revered by the city’s residents, who have cheered UF to 40 national team championships across football, men’s basketball, men’s golf, and women’s tennis. If cars are more your speed, you’ll love living near the Gainesville Raceway, a dragstrip that holds the Gatornationals every year.

Pros and Cons of Living in Gainesville

  • Very competitive real estate market
  • Higher cost of living than national average
  • Beautiful weather all year round
  • Tons of schools to choose from
  • Growing job market

Whether work, school, or retirement is bringing you to the area, living in Gainesville is something you won’t regret. If a move to Gainesville is in your future, make sure you hire the best professional movers to help with your relocation. 2 College Brothers is the Gainesville moving company you can trust for a stress-free transition. Give us a call today to get started!