Best places to buy a house in Florida in 2022

We looked at typical home value, home value appreciation, and the vitality of the rental market to find out where to buy homes in Florida for real estate investment.

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Blake Callahan

Logan SachonDerek Silva

By 

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, Research

Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of research at Policygenius, where she oversees our insurance and financial data studies and surveys. Previously, she co-founded The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials named one of TIME's 25 best blogs of the year.

 & Derek Silva

Derek Silva

Senior Editor & Personal Finance Expert

Derek is a former senior editor and personal finance expert at Policygenius, where he specialized in financial data, taxes, estate planning, and investing. Previously, he was a staff writer at SmartAsset.

Published February 22, 2022

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There are many reasons you may want to buy a Florida home: to be closer to family, to invest in a beach town vacation home, to be close to a job, to be close to Disney World, or to pay below-average property taxes. 

Whether you are looking for a rental property or want to buy an investment property in Florida, this list is for you.

For this study of the best places to buy a house in Florida, we looked at the state’s 53 largest cities, comparing them across three broad factors: the cost it takes to enter the real estate market (represented by typical home price and taxes), real estate appreciation values, and the state of the rental market (represented by the rent-to-home value ratio, the rental vacancy rate, and the rent-to-income ratio). 

For the 53 cities in Florida in our study, these are the averages for the metrics we measured (for more on these metrics and how we calculated them, including our data sources, see Methodology below): 

  • Typical home value: $315,321.79

  • Home value appreciation:  52.4%

  • Effective property tax rate: 0.9%

  • Rent-to-home value ratio (presented as a percentage of typical home values): 5.1%

  • Rent-to-income ratio (presented as a percentage of average incomes): 44.4%

  • Rental vacancy rate: 7.9%

The top 15 places to buy a house in Florida in 2022

1. Spring Hill 

Spring Hill, in Hernando County on the central west coast of Florida, is the best place to buy a home in Florida, based on our analysis. The typical home value is $243,145, which is 22.9% below the average home prices for the cities in our study. Home real estate value appreciation over the last five years is 85.4%, much higher than the average 52.4%. Owners seeking to rent out their homes will not be in want of renters: The rental vacancy rate is just 3.1%, versus the average of the cities in our study of 7.9%. Rent as a percentage of average income, an indicator of the ability of renters to  afford the rent, is below average at 30.5%, which is good. And rent as a percentage of typical home value, a measure of your ability to pay off your mortgage with market rent, is above average at 5.3%, also good. The effective property tax rate is below average at 0.8%. 

2. Lehigh Acres

Lehigh Acres in Lee County is number two on our list of best places to purchase real estate in Florida. Typical home prices for this Southwest Florida suburb of Fort Myers are $236,569, 25% below the average of the cities in our study. Home value appreciation is above average at 65.7%. Rental vacancy rate is below average at 3.5%, and rent compared to typical home value is above average at 5.6%. Rent as a ratio of income is below average at 38.6%. The effective property tax rate is 0.8%, which is below average.

3. Palm Bay

Typical home value in central Florida’s Palm Bay, third on our list of the best cities in Florida for real estate investment, is $242,535, 23.1% below the average for the cities in our study. The city, in Brevard County, has a home value appreciation over the last five years that is above average at 63.9%. Rental vacancy (4%) and rent as a percentage of income (33%) are both below average, which means it will be easier to find renters who can afford the rent. Rent as a percentage of income is just above average at 5.2%. 

4. Pine Hills

With a typical home value of $222,782, 29.3% below the average of the cities in our study, Orange County’s Pine Hills is fourth on our list of the best places to buy a house in  Florida. The suburban city, which is west of Orlando, has seen residential real estate appreciate 97.2% in the last five years, above the average 52.4%. Rental vacancy is below average at 4.1%. Rent as a percentage of typical home value, an indicator of how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage with market rent, is above average at 5.6%. 

5. Poinciana 

Fifth on our list of best places in Florida is Poinciana, which straddles Osceola County and Polk County and has a typical home value of $242,747, 23% below average. The rental vacancy rate is very low at 1.3%, and rent as a percentage of typical home value, an indicator of how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage with market rent, is above average at 6.2%. Rent as a percentage of income is very high, but Poinciana’s history as a retirement destination with many residents who do not earn income may put that into perspective.

6. Jacksonville 

The typical home value in Jacksonville, the Northeast Florida city that is the most populous in the state, is $249,048, 21% below the average for cities in our study, helping to put it at six on our list of best places for houses in Florida. Home value appreciation is above average at 60.9%. The rental market for landlords is good, with a below average rental vacancy rate at 7.5% and rent as a percentage of income very low at 3.8%. Rent as a percentage of typical home value is average at 5.1%. 

7. Hialeah

Hialeah, seven on our list of best places in Florida for real estate, is part of the Miami metropolitan area and the only South Florida city on our list. Just 33 minutes to Miami Beach, it has the highest typical home value of the cities on our list at $349,587, 10.9% above the average for the cities in our study. Home value appreciation is below average at 46.4%. But the effective property tax rate is (along with Palm Bay) the lowest of the cities on our list at 0.7%. The rental market also looks good for landlords, with the rental vacancy rate among the lowest on our list at 2.1% and rent as a percentage of income below average at 18.8%, indicating a lot of renters who can afford to pay market rent. Rent as a percentage of typical home value is below average at 4%, meaning that it might take a bit longer to pay off your mortgage with market rent than other cities on our list.

8. Deltona

Typical home value in Deltona, a largely suburban commuter town for Orlando and Daytona Beach, is $249,756, 20.8% below the average for the cities in our study and helping put it at eight on our list of best places in Florida for real estate shoppers. Home value appreciation for the last five years is 81.5%, well above the average. Rent as a percentage of home value is above average for the cities in this study at 5.6%, and rental vacancy is below average at 46.4%. 

9. Tampa

Tampa is one of two cities on our list of best places in Florida for houses with above average typical home values: $331,551, 5.1% above the average for the cities in the study. Home value appreciation is above average at 72.3%. The rental vacancy rate is below average at 6.1%, and rent as a percentage of income is very low at 8.9%, both indicators that a homeowner will find renters to pay the required rent. 

10. Daytona Beach

Typical home value in Atlantic beach city Daytona Beach is $209,971, 33.4% below average and lowest of any city on our list of best places in Florida. Over the last five years, home values have gone up 61.7%. The rental vacancy rate is below average at 6.2%. Rent as a percentage of typical home value, an indicator of how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage with market rent, is above average at 5.3%, and rent as a percentage of income, an indicator of local renters’ ability to pay market rent, is below average at 38.3%. 

11. St. Petersburg 

St. Petersburg’s typical home value is $297,715, 5.6% below the average of the cities on our list. Though the rental vacancy rate in the central west Florida city is above average at 8.8%, rent as a percentage of income, an indicator of the ability of renters to bear market rent, is well below average at 12.3%. Rent as a percentage of typical home value is below average at 4.5% meaning that it might take a bit longer to pay off your mortgage with market rent than other cities on our list.

12. Palm Coast 

Northeast Florida’s Palm Coast has a typical home value of $300,674, 4.6% below average. Home value appreciation over the last five years is 50.7%, below average for the cities on this list. But rental vacancy rate is extremely low at 1.4,%, indicating homeowners will not lack for interested renters. And rent as a percentage of typical home value is just above average at 5.2%, meaning you may be able to pay off your mortgage slightly faster using market rent than other cities on our list. 

13. Deerfield Beach 

Deerfield Beach, which along with Fort Lauderdale is in Broward County on the Atlantic coast, has a typical home value of $230,722, 26.8% below average. Home values have appreciated 52.9% in the past five years, about average for the cities in this study. Rent as a percentage of home value, which indicates how quickly a homeowner would be able to pay off their mortgage with market rent, is above average and highest of the cities on our list at 6.9%. The rental vacancy rate is also below average at 4.5%. 

14. Clearwater

Clearwater, which occupies a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico in the Tampa Bay area, has a typical home value of $291,647, 7.5% below the average of the cities in our study. Home value appreciation is above average at 70.9%. The rental vacancy rate is below average at 6.6% and so is rent as a percentage of income, an indicator of renters’ ability to pay market rent, at 27.5%. 

15. Lakeland

Typical home value in Lakeland, located in the Tampa Bay area’s Polk County,  is $232,792, 26.2% below average. Home value appreciation is above average at 65.5%. Rent as a percentage of home value, an indicator of how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage with market rent,  is above average at 5.2%, and rent as a percentage of income, an indicator of renters’ ability to pay market rent, is below average at 29%. Unfortunately, the rental vacancy rate is above average at 9.2%.


The best cities to invest in real estate in Florida, summed up

RankCityHome valueHome value appreciationTax rate (effective property tax rate)Rent/home value ratioRental vacancy rateRent/income ratio
1Spring Hill, FL$243,14585.40%0.82%5.28%3.10%30.50%
2Lehigh Acres, FL$236,56965.70%0.75%5.55%3.50%38.60%
3Palm Bay, FL$242,53563.90%0.71%5.24%4.00%33.00%
4Pine Hills, FL$222,78297.20%0.78%5.59%4.10%54.60%
5Poinciana, FL$242,74759.20%0.83%6.16%1.30%78.80%
6Jacksonville, FL$249,04860.90%0.93%5.13%7.50%3.80%
7Hialeah, FL$349,58746.40%0.71%4.02%2.10%18.80%
8Deltona, FL$249,75681.50%0.86%5.64%4.70%46.40%
9Tampa, FL$331,55172.30%0.82%4.09%6.10%8.90%
10Daytona Beach, FL$209,97161.70%0.80%5.34%6.20%38.30%
11St. Petersburg, FL$297,71584.50%0.79%4.50%8.80%12.30%
12Palm Coast, FL$300,67450.70%0.86%5.18%1.40%49.20%
13Deerfield Beach, FL$230,72252.90%0.91%6.90%4.50%49.60%
14Clearwater, FL$291,64770.90%0.87%4.49%6.60%27.50%
15Lakeland, FL$232,79265.50%0.81%5.15%9.20%29.00%

Insurance tips for homebuyers in Florida from Policygenius experts

Prepare for sticker shock

The Florida real estate market is hot —  and so is its insurance market. The average annual cost of homeowners insurance in Florida is $1,960 —  56% higher than the national average of $1,249. "Homeowners insurance is usually more expensive in coastal areas with high extreme weather risk" says Policygenius senior editor and licensed home insurance expert Pat Howard. "Residential communities make up a lot of the Florida coastline, so it's no surprise that the state's homeowners insurance rates tend to skew higher.

Prepare for storms

Homeowners need to prepare for hurricane season in Florida, and that means understanding what your homeowners insurance policy covers, and what it doesn’t. Standard homeowners insurance policies cover flood damage, and in Florida, they do not cover wind damage, either: You’ll likely need separate policies for both. Florida, like many Atlantic states, also allows insurance companies to charge a separate hurricane deductible, so it may make sense to have that amount on hand in case you need it.

Protect your liability

If you’re buying a house in Florida for rental income, either short or long term, you’ll want to look into landlord insurance, also called buy-to-let insurance, which provides extra liability protection for property owners. You’ll also want to consider requiring your tenants to have their own renters insurance. “Renters insurance is first and foremost to protect the renter, but it also has unintended benefits for landlords,” says Howard. “When you rent out property, you’re taking on a good amount of liability risk. One way you can help mitigate that risk is by requiring your tenants to have renters insurance, which provides another layer of liability protection.”


Methodology

To find and rank the best cities in Florida to for home purchases, we looked at the 53 largest cities in Florida over six data points, weighing each equally:

  • Typical home value: Typical house value from Aug. 2021, from Zillow. [1] Value takes average and median home price into account, in addition to other data. Cities with lower home values ranked higher.

  • Home value appreciation: Percentage increase in home value in the last five years, Aug. 2016 to Aug. 2021, from Zillow. Cities with higher home value appreciation ranked higher. 

  • Effective property tax rate: Median annual property taxes divided by median annual home value, from the U.S. Census [2] . Cities with lower taxes ranked higher.

  • Rent-to-home value ratio: Presented as a percentage of typical home value. Median annual rent divided by home value, from Zillow [3] and the U.S.. Census. Cities with a higher rent-to-home value ratio ranked higher, since you’ll be able to charge higher rents relative to your home’s value. 

  • Rental vacancy rate: Percentage of the city’s rental inventory that is vacant for rent, from the U.S. Census.  Cities with lower rental vacancy rates ranked higher. 

  • Rent-to-income ratio: Presented as a percentage of median household income. Median annual rent divided by median household income, from the U.S. Census. Cities with lower rent-to-income ratios ranked higher, since it’s better to have tenants who can afford rent. 

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