When moving to Jacksonville, you’re probably already thinking about what clothes to pack and what to donate before you enjoy all the city’s sunshine. You may also know that Florida doesn’t have a state income tax and are excited about that.
Here are nine more things to know about Jacksonville before your relocation here.
Land-wise, Jacksonville is actually the largest city in the state of Florida—and, in fact, the largest in the continental United States. At 874.3 square miles with a population of about 950,000, this means there’s a population density of slightly more than 1,300 people per square mile. We’ve listed this as the number one item to know because it’s not especially well known to some people who might plan to move to Jacksonville.
Located in northeast Florida, it’s the county seat of Duval County, resting on the banks of St. Johns River with beaches in the city along the Atlantic coast. If you’d like to travel to Georgia, its southern state line is about twenty-five miles away; when traveling south from Jacksonville, Miami is about 328 miles away.
Jacksonville is the center of a metropolitan area that has about 1.6 million people in residence. So, when moving to Jacksonville, in short, you’re moving to a big city.
Although the city is large, it contains wonderful neighborhoods if suburban living is more your style. Plus, there are even neighborhoods with amazing architecture from the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century.
For example, San Marco and Avondale will take you a bit back in time with uniquely designed homes. San Marco contains intriguing boutiques to shop in and art galleries to browse—along with in-demand restaurants, cocktail bars, breweries, and more.
Avondale, meanwhile, has lovely parks and recreation centers plus wonderful places to dine, socialize, shop, and more. Ortega Forest is an in-demand neighborhood with large homes along the waterfront and giant oaks providing beauty and shade. The area is peaceful, both family- and pet-friendly.
With more than 111,000 acres of green space, there are more than four hundred parks that are managed by the parks & recreation department. In fact, Jacksonville is considered the home of the country’s largest urban parks system. This includes three national parks and seven state parks, the city parks, an arboretum, and dozens of gardens. Because of the city’s climate, these areas can be enjoyed year-round.
Here are a couple of examples of Jacksonville parks. Riverwalk adds beauty to the downtown area alongside the St. Johns River, one of the few U.S. rivers that flows north. This picturesque location, with the Riverwalk on both sides of the bank, gives Jacksonville the nickname of “River City.” There’s even a water taxi if you want to visit both sides of the Riverwalk.
South of the Riverwalk is the Treaty Oak, a 250-year-old, huge Southern live oak with a diameter of 190 feet. At the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, you can discover plenty of history (more than 6,000 years’ worth) as you tour the preserved wetlands.
Fans love their Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL expansion team that arrived in 1995. The team has already captured a couple of division titles.
Plus, December 2022 sees the 78th annual Gator Bowl, a college extravaganza that serves as the country’s sixth oldest college football bowl game—the first to be televised nationally when Vanderbilt beat Auburn. It took a couple of years to catch on; in year one, a bit more than 7,000 fans saw Wake Forest beat South Carolina. Just a couple of years later, though, the football stadium was expanded and received the name of the Gator Bowl Stadium with plenty more fans in attendance. Since then, fans and teams around the country have eagerly awaited this competition.
By taking a look at item number eight (higher education), you’ll see that plenty of colleges are located in Jacksonville. This means there are also plenty of college sports teams to cheer for and enjoy.
Jacksonville is a thriving, bustling place to be. This can mean plenty of places to go—as well as lots of traffic. To get where you need to go, you can ride on the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s (JTA’s) public bus system or ferry service among other options. This JTA won the 2016 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award, and it also manages automated Skyway and paratransit services.
If you decide to drive instead, plan for the time in traffic. Jacksonville truly hustles and bustles. Three major interstates allow you to get places: I-10, 1-75, and 1-95. When you need to fly or someone is flying in to visit you, the Jacksonville International Airport is just about thirteen miles north of the downtown area, a civil-military airport owned and operated by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
Speaking of shopping and dining, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had in downtown Jacksonville and beyond.
Stroll along Art Walks, listen to lively music, attend festivals, and more in venues throughout the city. Jazz fans come from around the country and beyond to attend the Jacksonville Jazz Festival with jazz venues located around the city.
Because of the lovely climate, you can find festivals and other entertainment to enjoy around the calendar; you can even spend some of your wintertime on the water. The Jacksonville Light Boat Parade takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when families delight in boats floating on the St. Johns River that are decorated with holiday lighting. This can be the perfect way to usher in the newly arrived holiday season.
Less exciting than entertainment but definitely important: the city of Jacksonville has multiple major healthcare systems with facilities located throughout the town, including Mayo Clinic and the Baptist Health System. So, when you move to Jacksonville, you’ll have access to the physicians and specialists that people in your family need without having to leave.
Spotlighting UNF as an example, this nationally ranked university is located just minutes from the beach, a beautiful campus where professors and administrators truly care about student success.
Students receive individualized attention at UNF because of the school’s culture and small class sizes. They can enjoy an active student life, including through the school’s Division I athletic programs, and participate in real-world experiences in the surrounding community.
Jacksonville University began as the two-year Jacksonville Junior College, becoming a four-year university in 1958 when it began offering bachelor degree programs. This school is a member of the Independent Colleges and Universities in Florida, accredited regionally by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Jacksonville is also home to Edward Waters College. Founded in 1866, this is the state’s oldest historically black college, an affiliate of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This fully accredited higher education institution offers a range of in-demand bachelor’s degrees.
Florida State College, meanwhile, maintains an outstanding campus in Jacksonville with two- and four-year degrees available.
The city also has some of the best ranked public schools with a strong focus on education.
According to Salary.com, Jacksonville’s cost of living is 7.4 percent below the national average! So, you can benefit from a summery climate, no state income tax, entertainment, education, health care, and so much more at a lower cost of living than what’s typical. You can enjoy Southern graciousness in an urban environment with amenities you want and need close at hand.
If you live within fifty miles of Jacksonville, you’ll probably know about many of these benefits already. Perhaps you’ve already attended festivals and other sources of entertainment there and are ready to call Jacksonville “home.”
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