13 Pros and Cons of Living in Jacksonville, FL

Updated On October 9, 2023
Jacksonville, Florida

The most challenging part of describing the pros and cons of living in Jacksonville, Florida, lies in how to distill such a wide variety of things to do, people to learn about, and history to examine.

For example, Jacksonville’s early history as a Timucua cattle crossing named Wacca Pilatka gave it its less dignified original name: Cowford.

Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida

Pros of Living in Jacksonville, FL

1. Saint John’s River

In addition to being Florida’s longest river — 310 miles — it flows from south to north.

Although not as unusual as once believed — 245 rivers worldwide flow south to north — the middle basin of the river shelters up to a third of Florida’s manatees during the winter.

From its headwaters in Blue Cypress Lake, the river flows slowly, with no distinct channel.

It reaches two miles wide in the lower basin before it bends east to empty into the Atlantic ocean.

2. Manatees

The Florida manatee population dropped significantly enough by 1967 to consider them endangered.

A census conducted in 1970 near what is now Blue Spring State Park only found 14 sea cows. 

As of 2022, the park shelters 724.

Every November, Floridians observe Manatee Awareness Month.

The observance reminds boaters to idle their engines near the shorelines and estuaries where manatees congregate in search of grasses and other vegetation.

3. The Florida Panther

From a near-extinct low of only ten panthers, and thanks to the introduction of eight female panthers from Texas to help combat genetic disorders, the Florida panther population has rebounded to around 200 of these big cats.

However, uncontrolled development blocked panther retreat pathways from floodwaters and increased deaths from being struck by automobiles to over 10 percent annually.

Creating panther corridors from their southern range to a more northern destination requires panther overpasses and underpasses, box culverts, drainage pipes, and ledges under bridges.

4. Famous People of Jacksonville: Abraham Lincoln Lewis

Abraham Lincoln Lewis created a legacy that has continued into the 21st century.

He left school in sixth grade to become Florida’s first black millionaire.

In 1901, he and six fellow African-American investors founded the Afro-American Life Insurance Company.

The company thrived, providing the necessary funds to found the Lincoln Golf and Country Club in 1926 and later to purchase oceanside property on Amelia Island, naming it American Beach.

Never segregated, the beach catered mainly to the black community because they were not welcome at other beaches around the U.S.

His famous great-granddaughters, Johnetta Betsch Cole and MaVynee Oshun Betsch would expand his legacy to include educational excellence and environmental protection.

5. Famous People of Jacksonville: Johnetta Betsch Cole

As Abraham Lincoln Lewis’ great-granddaughter, then 15-year-old Johnetta took a different educational path: attending Fisk University through early admission before transferring to Oberlin College and graduating with her first degree in 1957.

Earning her master’s and a doctorate in anthropology at Northwestern University, Johnetta eventually became the first Black female president of the prestigious Spelman College, serving until 1997.

She chaired the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute and became the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art director in 2009, serving through 2017.

Named the Onyx Woman of the Year in 2022, she currently serves as the National Chair of the National Council of Negro Women and is a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Links, Inc. member.

In addition to her early degrees, Dr. Cole has earned 68 honorary degrees and authored numerous books.

6. Famous People of Jacksonville: MaVynee Oshun Betsch: The Beach Lady

Dr. Johnetta Cole is not A.L. Lewis’ only distinguished great-granddaughter.

Marvynee Oshun Betsch, the Beach Lady, followed a more colorful path.

She worked to preserve American Beach’s highest point — NaNa Dune — against developers determined to gentrify and obliterate this historically-significant piece of African-American history.

Fortunately, an eventual Act of Congress transferred NaNa Dune to the National Park Service.

Marvynee (pronounced Maveen), born Marvyne Elisabeth Betsch, changed her name, dropping the “r” to protest President Ronald Reagan’s dismal environmental record and adding an extra “e” for her love and protection of Florida’s ecological riches.

Jazz percussionist John Betsch, Mavynee and Johnetta’s brother, lives in Paris.

Other illustrious Jacksonville people include James Weldon Johnson, Taylor Hardwick, John Michael Phillips, Augusta Savage, David Johnson, Mildred Thompson, John Archibald Wheeler, Philip Don Estridge, Pat Boone, and Rick Dees.

7. Weather

Mild enough to bring manatees to the Saint John River Middle Basin, Jacksonville enjoys average daytime winter highs in the upper 60s and no recorded snowfall.

So wear shorts and sandals or swimsuits and flip-flops all year! 

Do not let the lack of snow deter you if you love skiing and snowboarding, though.

The Jacksonville Ski Club welcomes members of all ability levels.

Meet at Ginnie Springs 7300 NE Ginnie Springs Road, in High Springs, Florida, or at Maggiano’s Little Italy, 10367 Midtown Pkwy, in the St Johns Town Center.

8. Cost of Living

Although groceries cost 10 percent higher than elsewhere in the United States, expenses run six percent lower overall.

In addition, housing costs 13 percent less, utilities are three percent lower, and transportation costs 16 percent fewer dollars, making Jacksonville more affordable than other cities of similar size and population.

9. Family Fun

Jacksonville has many fun family activities and events, including fishing, camping, and boating. In addition, numerous summer camps, aquatics programs, and youth sports abound!

For example, you could catch a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp minor league baseball game at 121 Financial Ballpark. 

Or maybe you would rather MOSH?

Visit the Jacksonville, Florida Museum of Science and History at 1025 Museum Circle on Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday to 6:00 PM, and Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM.

Become a member for $175 per year for seven people or $75 per year for an individual.

Does your family prefer something more active?

Grab your roller skates and head to Skate Station Funworks on 3461 Kori Road. 

Climb the rock wall or spend two hours in Wally’s Playground.

The skatery opens Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Wednesday from 1 PM to 5 PM AND 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, Thursday from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Friday from 1:00 PM to 10:30 PM, and Saturday from 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM.

Do you prefer festivals?

Then get ready for the Main Event Summer Block Party season to begin.

This free event includes the STEAM-based Play Academy, an hour of free play, and a 50 percent discount on bowling.

Pick a fun design and let the face artist transform you into tigers, fairies, and other awesome designs.

Watch the balloon artist produce animals, floral bouquets, and other fun items.

Just hit 10370 Phillips Highway from 10:00 AM to midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, or try 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM on Friday or 9:00 AM to 2:00 AM on Saturday.

Classic car lovers have plenty of cruise-ins to attend: drive to the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge in Yulee for the Nassau Moose Rider’s Dreams Come True, or hit Caffeine and Octane at The Avenues.

Cons of Living in Jacksonville, FL

1. Flooding

Jacksonville rarely suffers significant wind damage from hurricanes, partly due to the barrier island of Amelia.

It has had flooding, however, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Although the water rose just 5.57 feet, the flooding occurred during high tide.

The city has since conducted a survey and hired a Chief Resiliency Officer to implement its findings in the prevention of future flood-related tragedies.

2. Public Transit

As recently as October 2021, riders called out the Jackson Transportation Authority for late buses and long walks to reach bus routes.

As a result, several daily travelers have resorted to taking cabs to get to work on time, and others complained that route changes resulted in walking more than a mile to the nearest bus stop.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, however, the mean travel time to work in Jacksonville typically remains under 25 minutes, including wait time. 

3. Violent Crime

If the trend continues through the end of June 2022, Jacksonville will finish the year with 160 homicides.

Ninety-one percent of those deaths involved firearms.

However, considering the size of Jacksonville’s total population, there is just one homicide for every 5,966 people.

4. School Quality

Years of underfunding Duval County Schools’ infrastructure and directing existing funding away from the public school system to private corporations have left students in dilapidated buildings with severe structural flaws.

In addition, the increased spending on charter schools has failed to produce the promised academic results. 

Consequently, it is time to put that money back into the district to repair and replace unsafe buildings.

Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida

Pros and Cons of Living in Jacksonville, FL – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Jacksonville, FLCons of Living in Jacksonville, FL
1. Saint John's River1. Flooding
2. Manatees2. Public Transit
3. The Florida Panther3. Violent Crime
4. Famous People of Jacksonville: Abraham Lincoln Lewis4. School Quality
5. Famous People of Jacksonville: Johnetta Betsch Cole
6. Famous People of Jacksonville: MaVynee Oshun Betsch: The Beach Lady
7. Weather
8. Cost of Living
9. Family Fun

Jacksonville Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Jacksonville Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can families get an hour of free game play and half-price bowling?

Attend the Main Event Summer Block Party.

What geographic and historical landmark did Mavynee Betsh fight to protect?

NaNa dune, the highest point in Jacksonville, had been part of American Beach, but developers bought it.

It took an Act of Congress, but the developers finally transferred ownership to the National Park Service in honor of Beach Lady Mavynee Betsch.

How old was Johnetta Cole when she started her college career at Fisk University?

Johnetta was only 15 at the time.

What contributions did Abraham Lincoln Lewis make?

He was Jacksonville’s first black millionaire and founded the Afro-American Insurance Company and the Lincoln Golf and Country Club.

Next, he joined fellow investors in purchasing American Beach so African-Americans could enjoy swimming, finding shells, and the outdoors.

Is Jacksonville a safe city?

Although the town expects 160 homicides by year’s end, the chance of violent crime in Jacksonville is one in 5,966 people.

What turned the Florida panther population around?

Ten female panthers from Texas expanded the panther gene pool and helped eliminate genetic disorders.

How many manatees shelter in Blue Spring State Park in the winter?

At the last count, park employees and volunteers found 724 sea cows hanging out in the park.

How long is Saint John's River?

The river runs 310 miles from north to south and widens to two miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean east of Jacksonville.

How long can you skate on Saturdays at Skate Station Funworks?

Spend 11 and a half hours roller skating, climbing the rock wall, or hanging out at Wally’s Playground.

Who are the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp?

Jacksonville has its own minor league baseball team.

1 Comment on 13 Pros and Cons of Living in Jacksonville, FL

  1. Jacksonville, FL offers a diverse range of activities and historical significance, but it faces challenges such as flooding, public transit issues, high crime rates, and underfunded schools.

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