Jacksonville is the largest deepwater port in the south and the second largest on the US east coast. At least 50,000 jobs in the Jacksonville area rely on the port and it’s also a major cruise ship stop. The city has one of the largest military presences in the country—especially the US Navy. There is more to Jacksonville than military bases and the port, however. It is a transportation hub on land as well.
Jacksonville is the largest city in the US when it comes to area, and the largest by area and population in the state of Florida at 767 square miles (over 874 square miles if you include water). If you are moving to Jacksonville, you should keep some things in mind.
Unless you have absolutely no choice, do not move to Jacksonville during June, July or August. The average temperatures during these three months top 90 degrees, and on any given day temperatures can be even hotter. Even September temperatures average near over 86 degrees. Moving to Jacksonville in the winter is wise.
Main thoroughfares in Jacksonville can be crowded during rush hours. Avoid these hours if you can, and if not, try to map your move route off the main highways.
Change your address with the United States Postal service online. Your mail will be arriving at your new address when you move in and you will receive coupons from companies in your new town after the change.
Jacksonville is a large city and moving to one area will differ from another. Find out about the traffic, events and anything else that could make moving difficult in your new neighborhood. Festivals and sporting events can make a move problematic.
Jacksonville has over 500 diverse neighborhoods. In this large city, you can choose to settle in an almost rural environment, the heart of the city or even near or on the beach.
Costs for homes and rental properties vary but overall Jacksonville has good value when it comes to residential property.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Jacksonville is slightly below the national average with an index of 95 (compared to 100). Healthcare and housing in Jacksonville are well below the national average while transportation is slightly above at 107. The elevation in this cost is due to public transportation being less developed than in many other large cities. In the absence of an extensive public transportation system, residents must use cars, a more expensive alternate.
Public transportation in Jacksonville is not as well developed as in other large cities. There is no light rail in the area; Jacksonville public transportation is mostly by bus, although there are trolleys downtown.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority runs the system of buses, downtown trolleys and shuttles. There is a short people mover, the JTA Skyway, which travels two and a half miles from King Street’s parking garage to the Convention Center. It isn’t something that is of use to most commuters (nor was it intended to be), but it works well for parking and riding. Those moving to Jacksonville are likely to spend time in their car.
There isn’t currently regional rail in the Jacksonville area but there are plans. A feasibility study has been completed, and rails along existing commercial lines are being explored. The idea is similar to the West Palm Beach to Miami-Dade Tri-Rail. Since the feasibility study was just completed, it will be years before any of this is running.
The three major interstates in Jacksonville are I-10, I-95 and I-295. I-10 runs from Jacksonville west along the Gulf Coast, through the southwest to Los Angeles. I-95 runs from Miami through Jacksonville, through eastern Florida and up to Maine. Both of these interstates have websites (I-10 and I-95) where you can check on news, traffic and weather.
Jacksonville International Airport serves not only Northeast Florida, but Southeastern Georgia as well. People moving to Jacksonville who travel will find the airport has been recently renovated and is a fairly pleasant experience as far as big city airports go.
Jacksonville has had fairly high unemployment rates in recent years but it has begun to tick downward. Jobs in Jacksonville can be found in a number of industries. The biggest employer in the area is the US Military—particularly the Navy. The military is not the only employer in the area, however. Companies that have a major presence in Jacksonville include large retailers like Winn Dixie and Publix. Financial companies like Bank of America and Wachovia are also big employers. CSX, a large railroad, provides many jobs, as Jacksonville has a long history as a rail hub.
If you’re moving to Jacksonville and want to know where to get information on local news stories and community events, check out the following list of regularly published newspapers, city guides, and TV stations.
The Florida Times-Union
Originally started in 1864 under the name The Florida Union, The Florida Times-Union is the oldest newspaper in the state of Florida and reaches a daily circulation of over 155,000 readers. On Sunday, that readership jumps up over 210,000.
Serving northern Florida and southern Georgia, the newspaper is considered to have a conservative-leaning bias in political reporting. Daily editions of the newspaper include news, sports, business, arts and entertainment, and careers sections.
The Jacksonville Free Press
The largest newspaper in Jacksonville catering to the African-American community, The Jacksonville Free Press is released once a week and can be found free of charge on newsstands throughout greater Jacksonville. The newspaper reports on a variety of topics important to Jacksonville’s African-American community, including local and national news, business and finance, employment opportunities, arts and entertainment, restaurant reviews, sports and community events.
Formerly known as Entertaining U and originally launched in 1976 under the name The Southeast Entertainer, EU Jacksonville is a free newspaper that focuses on the local arts scene including theater, music, movies and fine arts events. Published once per month, EU Jacksonville is the longest-running entertainment publication in northern Florida.
Jacksonville Business Journal
Jacksonville residents seeking out local business news can find a variety of information in the Jacksonville Business Journal, a weekly newspaper that’s been in business since 1985 serving northern Florida and southern Georgia. The Jacksonville Business Journal regularly features articles on the local economy, newsmakers in the Jacksonville business community, and publishes a frequently updated calendar of business events.
Jax Air News
Serving the military men and women of Jacksonville’s Naval Air Station, the Jax Air News reaches a weekly circulation of over 12,000. Focusing specifically on issues that impact the lives of military personnel and their families, the Jax Air News is published once weekly and regularly runs news stories covering local base news, world news as it impacts the U.S. military, and community events.
Local TV News Channels
To find information on local breaking headlines and to stay in the loop on national news, tune to the following local TV channels:
Jacksonville has mild winters. The flip side of that, however, is a brutal summer. June, July and August have an average high temperature above 90 degrees. Even September average highs are above 86 degrees. The humidity in the area is also usually high during these months. The record high is 104 degrees Fahrenheit and record low is 7—although the low temperature is a rarity. Residents comment that temperatures vary wildly. A morning that starts off cold can wind up warm.
Those moving to Jacksonville will find that winters are usually nice. Average high temperatures are in the 60s and average lows are in the 40s. Temperatures below freezing happen but are not common. Winter, spring and fall all are fairly pleasant with regard to temperature. Jacksonville gets significant rainfall, usually over 50 inches yearly. The wettest part of the year is the late spring through the end of the summer. There can be a good deal of rain but this is a sub-tropical climate.
With the historical hurricane targets of the Carolinas to the north and the Florida Keys to the south, you might assume Jacksonville is also in the path of the massive storms. However, in the past 130 years Jacksonville has been directly hit only once. Of course, the past doesn’t indemnify the area from a future hit. Anyplace on the ocean can be susceptible to severe hurricane damage, either directly or in passing. Jacksonville has experienced weather close to hurricane conditions dozens of times without recording a direct hit; whenever there is a hurricane watch or warning, take note.
Jacksonville schools are run by the Duval County Public Schools. As of 2010, over 123,000 students were enrolled in the system which consists of 173 schools. The city is home to several nationally recognized primary and secondary schools; use the following lists of Jacksonville schools to find your children a quality educational facility.
Notable Jacksonville Elementary Schools:
- Bartram Springs Elementary School
- Chet’s Creek Elementary School
- John Stockton Elementary School
- J.Allen Axson Elementary School
- Loretto Elementary School
- Hendricks Avenue Elementary School
- Mandarin Oaks Elementary School
Notable Jacksonville Middle Schools:
- Darnell Cookman Middle/High School
- Julia Landon Preparatory and Leadership Development School
- James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School
- Lavilla School of the Arts
- Kirby-Smith Middle School
Notable Jacksonville High Schools:
- Stanton College Preparatory School
- Paxon School for Advanced Studies
- Mandarin High School
- Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
- River City Science Academy
Jacksonville is also home to a number of colleges including Florida State College at Jacksonville, University of North Florida and Jacksonville University. Those moving to Jacksonville should also know that the University of Florida, the state’s largest public university, is only an hour and a half away in Gainesville, Florida.
Jacksonville and Florida have a number of online resources that will be useful to anyone moving to the city. These include:
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs: Educate yourself on business regulations and practice standards that may affect your consumer spending habits.
- Duval County Public Schools: Those moving to Jacksonville with kids will find information on Jacksonville elementary, middle and high schools.
- Jacksonville Public Library: You can find out about Jacksonville libraries and get started with your own library card.
- Florida Department of State: New residents can register to vote online.
- The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville: Find out more about cultural events in Jacksonville.
- The City of Jacksonville: The city’s official website is a one-stop shop for information on living in Jacksonville—everything from pet ownership resources to news on cultural events.
- Jacksonville Transportation Authority: For all you need to know about public transportation in Jacksonville.
- The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce: Whether you’re looking for a business or trying to start your own, you’ll find the information you need here.
- The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Have driving questions? Get answers about safety, licensing, fees and more here.