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Tampa vs Jacksonville, Florida: Living Comparison [2024]

Having set your sights on living in Florida, you may find it difficult to decide where to call home in the Sunshine State.

Sure, Tampa and Jacksonville are two popular options. But, do you dive head-first into the vibrancy of west-central Florida in Tampa City? Or do you resign to the chill vibes of northeastern Florida in Jacksonville?

Well, one thing is certain—you can’t make the Tampa vs. Jacksonville choice without a detailed comparison to help you make an informed decision. 

Let’s help you weigh both options. As you read on, you will get a comprehensive guide through the key aspects of each city to help you pick your perfect Floridian fit.

Cost of Living: Affordable or Expensive?

One of the first things to consider when organizing local movers to assist with moving to any new city is the cost of living. 

Both Tampa and Jacksonville offer relatively affordable living compared to other major cities in the U.S. But there are differences worth noting.

In Tampa, the cost of living is 16.3% higher than in Jacksonville without rent. With rent, this figure soars to a staggering 19.1%. 

Even more, in the Jacksonville vs. Tampa cost of living debate, groceries, healthcare, and transportation tend to be a bit more expensive in Tampa.

However, both cities offer a range of options that can fit different budgets. For instance, dining out in Tampa might cost a tad more (about 11.9% higher than in Jacksonville), but the city offers diverse culinary experiences worth every penny.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, is often praised for its affordability. Utilities and everyday expenses are generally lower, making it an attractive option for those looking to save a bit more without compromising on quality of life.

Compared to National AverageTampa Cost of LivingJacksonville Cost of Living
Housing 3% lower10% lower
Utilities2% lower
Food0%2%
Healthcare8% lower14% lower
Transportation1% lower13% lower

Navigating the Housing Market

The housing market is another crucial factor. 

Tampa’s real estate has been booming, with home prices and rental rates on the rise. This surge is partly due to the city’s growth and development. 

A quick note: you can expect a competitive market if you want to buy.

Jacksonville offers a more relaxed housing market. While prices have increased over the years, they are more affordable compared to Tampa. 

If buying a house is on the horizon, Jacksonville offers more affordable options. Renting in Jacksonville also tends to be less expensive.

TampaJacksonville
Average Rent$1,920$1,499
Median Home Sales Price$401,000$306,500

Let’s Talk Taxes

No one enjoys taxes, and Florida has some tax-friendly policies. 

A part of the Tampa vs. Jacksonville living is that either city comes with no state income tax as the biggest tax perk. 

Even though some local differences, such as city and county sales tax rates, factor in, the combined sales tax rates are the same for both cities. 

For property taxes, the 0.80% average tax rate cuts across the state of Florida, but it can be higher in Tampa due to the higher property values.

  • Tampa Sales Tax Rate: 7.5%
  • Jacksonville Sales Tax Rate: 7.5%

Money Matters: Insights into the Economy

When it comes to economic opportunities, both cities shine in their own ways. 

Tampa boasts a diversified economy with strengths in finance, healthcare, retail, and technical services, making it a hotbed for career growth. 

Since the city abuts the north shore of Tampa Bay and the east shore of Old Tampa Bay, right on the Gulf Coast of Florida, port activities here boost commerce and the economy.

Meanwhile, like Tampa, Jacksonville has a booming healthcare, retail, and finance industry. With its strategic location and large port that offers cargo services to 140 ports worldwide, the city excels in logistics and the military. 

Moreover, Jacksonville’s economy presents many job opportunities, which has led to a decline in the overall unemployment rate. 

TampaJacksonville
Population403,364985,843
Median Household Income$66,802$64,138
Unemployment Rate3.4%3.4%
Poverty Rate16.8%14.8%

Discovering Fun Activities

Life isn’t all about work and bills—fun is essential! 

Both cities deliver when it comes to kicking back and soaking up the sunshine. Tampa is famous for its vibrant cultural scene, including the historic Ybor City. 

Other top attractions in Tampa include:

  • Busch Gardens Theme Park
  • The Florida Aquarium 
  • The beautiful Tampa Riverwalk 

If you are a sports fan, you can catch a hockey game at the Amalie Arena or challenge yourself at the Bayshore Boulevard hiking trails. But if you are a plant-lover with a knack for history, a visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum will provide you with plenty to do.

Jacksonville is no slouch when it comes to entertainment, either. The city offers stunning natural beauty like the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. Other activities you can engage in include:

  • Brushing up on your knowledge of the wildlife at the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Stretching out at the Cimarrone Golf Club
  • The Museum of Science & History or the Museum of Contemporary Art has works and exhibits that both excite and educate.

When considering Tampa vs. Jacksonville debate on fun activities and top attractions, it’s important to remember that both cities have a strong arts and culture scene to explore. 

However, Tampa is more renowned for its art and cultural scene.

Crime Rates: What the Numbers Tell

Safety is a top priority for any potential mover. 

Tampa has a lower crime rate compared to Jacksonville. While Tampa’s violent crime rate is higher than the national average, it pales in comparison to Jacksonville’s. 

The chance of being the victim of property crime in Tampa is 1 in 52, while Jacksonville’s sits at 1 in 19. 

These figures make Tampa safer than 16% of U.S. cities, while Jacksonville records an abysmal 1% safety compared to all U.S. cities.

Jacksonville, while having higher overall crime rates, has some safe neighborhoods. Some of the safer neighborhoods in both cities include:

Some of the safest cities in Tampa:

  • Bellair
  • Oldsmar
  • Safety Harbor

Some of the safest cities in Jacksonville include:

  • Deerwood
  • Avondale
Per 1,000 Residents TampaJacksonvilleNational Median
Violent Crime4.92 12.434.0
Property Crime14.37 51.5620.0

Your Guide to Education

Families with children will want to consider educational opportunities. 

Tampa has a larger university presence. It is home to several top-rated schools and universities, including the University of South Florida, which is a major draw. 

The city’s commitment to education is evident in its well-funded schools and its Hillsborough School District quality ranking better than 57.3% of all U.S. school districts.

Jacksonville does not fare poorly as its Duval School District School quality is better than 47% of all U.S. school districts. The University of North Florida, located in Jacksonville, is also a major lure for many coming here.

Bottom Line—the best pick from Tampa vs. Jacksonville

In the Tampa vs. Jacksonville debate, the truth is, Tampa offers a bustling urban environment, but at a higher cost of living. 

If you love theme parks, a city vibe, and diverse career options, Tampa might be your perfect fit. You also get the unique advantage of a better education quality.

On second thought, if affordability, a relaxed atmosphere, and natural beauty are your priorities, Jacksonville could be your sunshine state haven. 

However, it’s not so much of a haven when it comes to safety unless you plan your move to the safer Jacksonville neighborhoods like Deerwood and Avondale.

The best tip is to plan based on safety, pocket size, and what you want from a city.

Good luck!

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