The 10 Best Places to Live in the Panhandle of Florida, Ranked in 2022

While most people think of the panhandle of Florida as a place to vacation, it is also a place to call home. The panhandle, which stretches from east of Tallahassee to Pensacola, has small cities and coastal towns that are rich in history and offer plenty of wonderful things to do.

Surf’s up! The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the sandy beaches, and the room to breathe in the residential communities make Florida’s Panhandle a popular place to live.

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The Panhandle is a popular destination for both tourists and residents looking for a coastal lifestyle. The mild winters and warm summers are ideal for enjoying all that this region has to offer.

Whether it’s kayaking the rivers or taking a walk on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, there is something here for everyone.

The area offers easy access to not only beautiful beaches but national forests as well such as Apalachicola National Forest and Ocala National Forest.


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10 Best Places to Live in Florida Panhandle

Where are the best places to live in Florida Panhandle? When considering your options, you should take into account important factors like crime rate, cost of living, and availability of jobs and education.

To help you find the best places to live in Florida Panhandle, we’ve put together this list of the 10 best places based on these criteria and more! Enjoy reading!

1. Destin

Population:  14,859
Cost of Living Index: 118.6
Median Home Value: $490,400
Crime Rate: 35% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4%

Destin, Florida, is a quintessential beach town located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s known for its beautiful white beaches and emerald green waters.

People visit Destin year-round but especially in the summer months because it’s one of the most popular places to vacation along Florida’s Panhandle.

Destin is also a great place to live. If you’re looking for a beachfront lifestyle or a laid-back Florida living experience that isn’t Orlando or Miami, Destin may be perfect for you!

With its many attractions, gorgeous beaches, and picturesque scenery, Destin is an amazing place to live, work, and play.

Rent prices in Destin are higher than the average across Florida but housing costs remain lower than the nationwide average. You also have access to some of the best schools in the Jacksonville metro area as well as nearby universities like the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College.

If you love small towns but still want all of the amenities that come with big cities, then check out Destin!


Related: The 10 Best Places To Live In Northern Florida


2. Lynn Haven

Population:  17,303
Cost of Living Index: 95.7
Median Home Value: $339,800
Crime Rate: 49% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%

Lynn Haven is a small city in the panhandle of Florida that has been ranked among the best places to live in Florida. It is a small town with a population of about 17,303 people.

The city has mild winters and hot summers, making it one of the best places to live for retirees. It offers affordable housing, good schools, and a vibrant economy.

Lynn Haven is located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and has many beaches for residents to enjoy and is close to Panama City Beach which offers many attractions for tourists and residents.

Lynn Haven has a crime rate that is well below the state average, making it one of the safest cities in Florida. The city’s schools are highly rated by parents and students alike.

3. Seaside

Population:  7,084
Cost of Living Index: 144.0
Median Home Value: $460,000
Crime Rate: 29% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4%

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Seaside is a great place to live if you enjoy the beach. The city is known for its white-sand beaches, striking blue water, and lush greenery.

This picturesque town is beloved for its colorful beachfront cottages and laid-back lifestyle. The community’s artistic and cultural vibe can be experienced through the town’s many art galleries and dance studios.

Seaside is a pedestrian-friendly city with plenty of bike trails, boardwalks, and parks. Residents can enjoy local shops and restaurants without ever having to get in their car.

In addition to an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, Seaside is also well-known for its upscale dining and shopping options.

While you will find plenty to do within the city limits of Seaside, it’s also easy to take day trips to other Florida panhandle cities when you live here.

This includes Destin, Panama City Beach, and Pensacola, all of which are located within a 50-mile radius.


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4. Panama City Beach

Population:  11,000
Cost of Living Index: 101.3
Median Home Value: $449,000
Crime Rate: 3% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%

One of the most popular cities on the Florida Panhandle, Panama City Beach is a resort community that draws in crowds with its sugar-white sand and clear waters.

It offers a good mix of affordable housing, plenty of employment opportunities, and some of the best beaches in the world. If you are looking for a quiet place to live with low crime rates and great people then Panama City Beach is your place.

The only downside is that it is not as close to the beach as some other cities in the panhandle like Pensacola or Tallahassee which makes it difficult for those who want to be closer to their families or friends.

Panama City Beach has some great neighborhoods in the area such as Panama City Marina and St Andrews Bay. These neighborhoods offer affordable housing options with low crime rates and good schools.

You will also find many restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and entertainment venues within walking distance of these neighborhoods.

5. Pensacola

Population:  53,989
Cost of Living Index:87.3
Median Home Value: $280,000
Crime Rate: 9% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

With its tranquil atmosphere, Pensacola, Florida is one of the best places to live in the Florida Panhandle. The city is lined with shopping areas and restaurants to satisfy your appetite.

While it might not be as huge as Panama City or Destin, it has a handful of shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities. The city is also known for its mild climate throughout the year. It has a low cost of living, with housing being quite affordable.

Pensacola is a nice place to live as there are many affordable housing options. The cost of living in this region is quite low, especially if you compare it with most beach towns in Florida.

Thanks to its location and history, Pensacola has become a major military town. The Navy has been using this area for many years and continues to do so.

If you like history, Pensacola can be the best place for you as there are lots of great museums here. Some of them include National Naval Aviation Museum, T.T Wentworth Jr Florida State Museum, and Historic Pensacola Village.


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6. Tallahassee

Population:  199,711
Cost of Living Index: 93.8
Median Home Value: $239,783
Crime Rate: 7% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 5%

Tallahassee is yet another great place to live in the Florida panhandle. A large city with a small-town feel, Tallahassee offers all the amenities of a big city but without the high cost of living.

Tallahassee offers plenty of art and entertainment with museums like the Museum of Florida History and the Tallahassee Museum.

There are also many restaurants, nightclubs, and live music venues in Tallahassee. The weather is mild year-round, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.

With a median home value of $239,783, Tallahassee is one of the most affordable cities in the Florida Panhandle. However, many residents have had their homes damaged by hurricanes in recent years, leading some to wonder about the safety of living there.

Despite this, Tallahassee has a lot to offer those who want to live near the beach, including shopping, dining, and entertainment options as well as many parks and other outdoor attractions.

7. Carrabelle

Population:  3,780
Cost of Living Index: 87.9
Median Home Value: $399,900
Crime Rate: 15% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4.2%

Carrabelle is a small coastal city in Franklin County, and one of the best places to live in the Florida panhandle. Carrabelle has a population of fewer than 3,880 people and is located on the Gulf Coast. This small town is a great place for families and young professionals to live.

As a coastal city, Carrabelle has many beautiful beaches and parks that provide residents with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities. One of the most popular places to go in Carrabelle is Gulf Specimen Aquarium, where visitors can see rescued sea turtles up close.

Carrabelle also offers an affordable cost of living compared to other cities in Florida. The median home price for Carrabelle is $399,900 and the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,000 per month.

The average household income for Carrabelle is $38,194, which is lower than the national average and makes living here very affordable even for low-income families.

Carrabelle also boasts a strong economy with several large employers based within its city limits or nearby towns like Panama City Beach and Southport (Panama City).


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8. Mexico Beach

Population: 1,386
Cost of Living Index: 107.6
Median Home Value: $320,100
Crime Rate: 19% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 2%

This will make you feel like you’re on a Caribbean island. Mexico Beach is the true hidden gem of the Florida panhandle.

It’s the place where you can enjoy white sand beaches and emerald green water, but still be less than an hour away from Panama City.

Mexico Beach is home to St. Joe Peninsula State Park which has been voted one of the best beaches in America.

The tiny community of 1,386 people is a little quieter than most other places on this list, but it’s still close enough to the big city if you want to get a taste of that small-town charm without giving up your modern conveniences.

9. Cedar Key

Population:  25,758
Cost of Living Index: 101.3
Median Home Value: $320,100
Crime Rate: 37% lower than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%

Cedar Key is a small island town on the Gulf Coast of Florida in Levy County. Cedar Key has a population of about 800 people, and it is one of the best places to live in Florida because it is quiet, there are lots of things to do outdoors, and there is a low cost of living.

For anyone looking for a quiet place to live that has good weather and is near the beach, Cedar Key is perfect. The population is just small enough that everyone knows each other but big enough that you can find all of the amenities you need.

Because it is so small and quiet, Cedar Key also has very little crime, so you can feel safe living there.

Cedar Key has many outdoor activities to choose from including fishing, hiking, and exploring nature preserves. At low tide, you can walk out on sand bars that are full of sea life.

You can also rent a boat or kayak to explore the creeks and islands around Cedar Key.

The cost of living in Cedar Key is much lower than in most towns due to its small size and remote location. The housing prices are especially low compared to the rest of Florida.

The median home value in Cedar Key is about $150K which is about half the state average for Florida.


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10. Navarre

Population: 37,362
Cost of Living Index: 105.7
Median Home Value: $370,000
Crime Rate: 64% higher than the national average
Unemployment Rate: 4%

Navarre Beach is located on a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound. The beach is known for its white sand and emerald waters, as well as its a fishing pier that’s over 1,500 feet long.

If you’re looking for a peaceful, quiet place to relax and enjoy nature, this is the perfect spot in Florida.

In the summer the beach is a favorite place to relax, but there are plenty of other activities available year-round. The area offers fishing, boating, horseback riding, and golfing.

Those who love culture can enjoy a live theater or a concert by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. Trains pass through Navarre regularly, making it possible to take a day trip to New Orleans or Atlanta on Amtrak from this town of 18,000 people.

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