Last Updated on August 19, 2022 by Filip Poutintsev
If you are looking to reside in a spacious and rural area while still having convenient access to all of Florida’s top attractions, you might consider living in Ocala, FL.
Ocala is a small city located in Marion County in central Florida. While it is not on the coast, the closest beaches are just an hour’s drive away. Ocala’s approximately 60,000 residents enjoy a warm year-round climate, a reasonable cost of living, a friendly community, and spectacular nature right on the doorstep.
But Ocala’s lifestyle is not for everyone and doesn’t come without some downsides. In this article, we will dive deep into the pros and cons of living in Ocala, FL, to help you decide if it could be for you.
Pros and cons of living in Ocala, FL at a glance
- Downtown & community
- Access to Florida’s attractions
- Popular for retirees
- Cost of living
- Limited jobs
- Summer humidity & bugs
- Crime rates
The pros of living in Ocala, FL
So what are some of the main reasons Ocala’s residents love living there?
Like most of the state of Florida, Ocala enjoys a year-round warm, sunny climate. Temperatures generally range from 45°F to 90°F, allowing residents to make the most of nature and outdoor activities.
Ocala averages 233 sunny days per year, making it an excellent choice for sunshine and lifestyle lovers.
Great downtown & community
Although Ocala is only a small city, that does not mean there is nothing on offer. It has a quaint and bustling historic downtown area with plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife options.
With a lot packed into a few square blocks, you can dine in rustic farm restaurants, catch a live band, enjoy a craft beer at a micro-brewery, or do some shopping in a local boutique or thrift store. The central square is also a pleasant place to stroll and discover local attractions like the Tuscawilla Art Park.
The city also has a friendly, close-knit community. There is a thriving local scene for art vendors and markets. So you can enjoy finding local produce and artisanal culture on your doorstep.
Access to Florida’s attractions
Ocala’s North Central Florida location means that it is very conveniently located for the state’s many attractions. Whether you want to visit the theme parks, beaches, nature spots, zoos, or national parks, you will find none is too far from Ocala.
In Ocala, you are within a 2-hour drive of three big cities, just over an hour to Disney World, under two hours to stunning beaches, and an hour and a half from the Atlantic. You can visit many notable Florida landmarks without living with the overcrowding and congestion that the tourist spots attract.
A unique pro of Ocala is that it sits in an area with lots of space, unspoiled land, and natural beauty. The region is known as ‘horse country,’ making it a haven for equestrian and animal lovers.
Ocala’s national forest is a beautiful place to get outdoors, with freshwater springs and lakes. You are close to Silver Springs, a 350-acre natural area with stunning scenery.
Popular for retirees
If you are considering Ocala as a place to retire, join the club. The tranquil nature of the city and lifestyle make it a draw for the older population and have created a vast retirement community. This makes it an attractive choice for retirees as there will be plenty of like-minded folk and appealing activities.
Don’t let this put you off if you are not a retiree. There are still plenty of people from all age groups, and lot’s on offer for everyone.
Cost of living
The cost of living is another draw for residents of Ocala. It remains one of the places in Florida with reasonable house prices and an affordable cost of living.
According to Best Places, based on the U.S. average cost of living of 100, Ocala scores just 83.8. This number is also significantly lower than Florida’s average score of 102.8. The cost of a median home was estimated at $187,100, compared to the U.S. average of $291,700.
The cons of living in Ocala, FL
What about the downsides of living in Ocala, FL? We dig into them here.
A top complaint of living in Ocala, FL, is the limited opportunities for jobs. As the city is relatively small, there is not a very diverse range of careers to attract professionals. Many of the jobs you will find are in the service industry and have pretty low wage prospects.
With such a huge focus on the equestrian sector, many jobs are focused on this industry. Or alternatively, many businesses target retirees. Therefore, think carefully if you hope to find professional opportunities in Ocala.
Summer humidity & bugs
The heat isn’t for everyone. While winters are pleasant and mild, the summers in Ocala can become very hot and humid. Many people find this weather oppressive and find they need to stay inside blasting the aircon during summer. As the city is not on the coast, you can’t cool off by taking a dip or enjoying the ocean breeze either.
This weather can also bring a host of unwanted bugs and creepy crawlies. You might find you have to put up with mosquitoes, spiders, cockroaches, or ants when living here.
While the remote and rural surroundings appeal to some, it can also mean you are quite isolated. Therefore, it can be hard to make new connections and friends.
Some find there is not much to do, especially for younger people and teenagers. To access a wider variety of restaurants, shopping, and facilities, be prepared to hop in your car and drive further afield.
In the city of Ocala, crime rates are relatively high. Neighborhood Scout rates it as safer than only 9% of cities in the U.S.
The chances of being a victim of a violent crime in Florida are estimated at 1 in 258. However, the likliehood is much higher in Ocala at 1 in 154.
Things to consider for living in Ocala, FL
Before you take the plunge and move to Ocala, here are some other vital questions answered that you should know.
Is Ocala, Florida a good place to move to?
Ocala is a small city in a fairly rural part of Florida, making it a great place to move for nature lovers, families, and retirees. It has many of the amenities of a larger city and local arts scene, but prepare to go further afield for a more extensive range of facilities.
With its central Florida location, you are within easy access to many of Florida’s other cities, beaches, and attractions.
What is the best part of Ocala to live in?
There are many different areas you can live in and around Ocala, Florida. Some of the best are:
- Silver Springs
- Lake Weir
Is Ocala FL boring?
As Ocala is more rural than many of Florida’s other cities and further from the beaches, some people may consider Ocala as boring. As a big retiree town, younger people and teenagers may lack things to do.
Having said that, Ocala has a dynamic downtown area with dining, shopping, movie theatres, pubs, gyms, etc. There is also a vast array of outdoor activities on offer, such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, or playing sports in the local area.
What kind of people live in Ocala?
Ocala has a fairly diverse mix of people. According to World Population Review, Ocala’s racial makeup is 73.79% White, 20.25% Black or African American, 2.71% two or more races, and 2.18% Asian.
So does Ocala tick all your boxes? The rural horse-dotted location with sprawling land is unique compared with many of Florida’s crowded cities. The city is small but has a lot to offer, including great entertainment and facilities.
Lifestyle lovers will also enjoy the warm climate, spectacular nature spots, and outdoor activities. On the other hand, the slow lifestyle is not for everyone, and there may not be sufficient job opportunities to draw you in. What do you think of Ocala?