pros and cons of living in the florida panhandle

The Florida Panhandle is a charming place to live, especially for those who love southern hospitality and culture. More than 1,407,925 of its residents enjoy a great climate, world-class beaches, and booming coastal cities.

The Florida Panhandle is definitely worth considering if you are looking for affordable real estate near some of the world’s best beaches.

In this article, we explore the advantages of living in the Florida Panhandle. We also share the downfalls of being a resident in the Sunshine State.

Pros and cons of living in the Florida Panhandle summarized


  • Great climate
  • Affordable real estate
  • Top-quality education
  • Low crime rate
  • Lifestyle and nature


  • Distant to major cities
  • Hurricane risk
  • Summer bugs
  • Too many tourists
  • High poverty rate

The pros of living in the Florida Panhandle

Are you thinking the Florida Panhandle might just be the place for you?

Great climate

The residents of the Florida Panhandle experience a subtropical climate with summer all year-round and unexpected bursts of rainfall. It is the coolest region of Florida.
Even during the driest season, there is plenty of rain.

Always carry an umbrella to avoid getting drenched in fast rain showers. During the summer, it is hot, humid and rainy. The Florida Panhandle reaches maximum temperatures in the 90s and cooler temperatures in the 30s during winter.

Affordable real estate

Real estate across the Florida Panhandle is generally affordable. Of course, this does depend on which town you plan on living in.

For example, in Pensacola, housing costs are 27% cheaper than the national average. Whereas in a tourist hotspot like Destin, the cost of living is 20% higher than anywhere else in the United States.

The real estate and cost of living in towns that attract tourists will be more expensive than in quieter towns.

Top-quality education

Florida is committed to education, so it’s no surprise that the schools in the Florida Panhandle are rated five stars. The World Report ranked Florida as the number one state for higher education.

Below are some of the five-star schools in the Florida Panhandle:

  • Deer Point Elementary School
  • West Navarre Primary School
  • Gulf Breeze Middle School
  • Niceville High School

Low crime rate

The crime rate varies across the different towns in the Florida Panhandle. Statistics show that smaller towns tend to have the highest crime rates.

Tallahassee is the safest town, followed by Destin, Lynn Haven, Seaside, and Port St. Joe. Marianna, on the other hand, had a high crime rate compared to other areas.

Florida experienced a 14.1% drop in overall crime and a 17% decline in property crimes. Property crimes include burglary, vehicle theft, and arson.

Lifestyle and nature

Some of the best qualities of living in the Florida Panhandle include its mesmerizing white sand beaches, wilderness, coastal dune lakes, good career opportunities, and affordable lifestyle. It is the best place to lead a comfortable life.

Local, state, and federal authorities are serious about protecting sea turtles and their nests on beaches. Be aware of the laws surrounding sea turtles, or else you will have to pay a large fine.
In the Florida Panhandle, forestland is home to black bears, which can be spotted in the Smoky Mountains.

There are also thousands of gators in the lakes, swamps, and waterways of the Panhandle. But don’t worry, sightings of them are rare, and they aren’t considered to be nuisance animals.

The cons of living in the Florida Panhandle

Now let’s dive into the details of the cons of living in the Florida Panhandle.

Distant to major cities

The biggest downside to living in the Florida Panhandle is that everything is so far apart. It is the Deep South, and it feels like forever getting from point A to point B.

You must travel along long stretches of highway before arriving at a beach. Road mirages are common, so be prepared.

Hurricane risk

The Panhandle is prone to hurricanes. It has lower temperatures than the rest of the state, which strengthens hurricanes by providing the air pressure level that hurricanes require.

The Florida Panhandle has seen a total of 64 hurricanes. This surpasses every other state in America.

The good news is that you will receive plenty of warnings in advance to evacuate before the hurricane hits.

Summer bugs

During the summer months, Florida Panhandle residents experience plenty of irritating flying insects.

These include mosquitoes, June bugs, no-see ums, palmetto bugs, gnats, and a variety of other unknown bugs.

If you are considering staying in the Panhandle, bring along flyswatters, bug sprays, citronella candles, and natural home remedies.

Too many tourists

You may find more tourists and part-time residents than permanent homeowners in the Florida Panhandle.

Throughout the year, tourists flock to the beautiful beach towns to enjoy the sun. But apart from this, there are also a lot of festivals that attract them.

Every January, you can expect to see some of the best songwriters in town for the 30A Songwriters Festival. This festival draws large tourist crowds every year, without a doubt.

During Spring Break in March, Panama City is flooded with college students gone wild. The traffic is unreal, and local police actually resort to mobile jails. It’s so hectic that there are even reality shows based on it.

Then again, in October, is the Florida Seafood Festival, Florida’s oldest maritime event, which attracts over 25,000 tourists to the town of Apalachicola. This town is famous for its oysters, which is what the festival is all about.

High poverty rate

More than half of the Florida Panhandle population lives below the federal poverty line. This could possibly be because of Hurricane Michael and COVID-19.

Hurricane Michael hit Florida in 2019 and then came COVID-19 in 2020. When the pandemic started, almost 2.6 million Florida households were on the verge of a financial crisis.

Things to consider for living in the Florida Panhandle

After taking a look at the pros and cons of living in the Florida Panhandle, let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions.

Is the Florida Panhandle a good place to live?

Yes. The Florida Panhandle is considered to be one of the best locations to live because of its beautiful beaches, low cost of living, and fantastic career opportunities.
It is ideal for a family to live a comfortable life.

What is life like in the Florida Panhandle?

There is a sweet, southern vibe and lots of beaches and wilderness around. The summers can get hot and humid and the winters are cold, but this doesn’t last too long.

Is the Panhandle a good place to retire?

Yes. The Florida Panhandle may be the next big retirement destination. The World Report ranked the Florida Panhandle 37th in its annual “best places to live”.

Retirees can enjoy low-cost housing, a walkable downtown, and calm and clean beaches. There are many things to do in Panhandle, from golf, to fine dining, entertainment, and outdoor activities like pine forest trails full of wildlife.

What are the best places to live in the Panhandle?

The Florida Panhandle is home to several beach towns and tourist destinations. Here are some of the best family-friendly neighborhoods:

  • Destin
  • Navarre
  • Panama City Beach
  • Seaside
  • Tallahassee

What is the most affordable place to live in the Florida Panhandle?

Fort Walton Beach is the cheapest place to live in the Panhandle, and it’s located right on the beach.

This small coastal town offers the same services and facilities as Florida’s larger towns, but at an affordable rate.

In summary

The Florida Panhandle may be the place for you if you are seeking a great climate, the best schools, wilderness, and breathtaking beaches. There are plenty of family-friendly, safe and affordable towns within the Panhandle.

If you can overlook the cons like the high hurricane risk, poor connectivity, and low poverty, we believe the Florida Panhandle is a great place to build a home.

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Filip Poutintsev, the Chief Editor of Honest Pros and Cons, is a long term business writer, who has been featured in various online publications such as Forbes, CoinTelegraph and HackerNoon. Now he writes exclusively for Honest Pros and Cons.