Life in Jacksonville
Long beloved by its residents, Jacksonville is recognized nationally as one of the most desirable cities in which to live and work.
The metropolitan area is home to more than one million people who enjoy a cost of living that is lower than the national average and a warm, sunny climate that allows year-round outdoor activities.
Here, you’ll also take advantage of the city’s many cultural resources such as the Jacksonville Symphony, a vast array of eclectic and exciting dining experiences, and the scenic beauty of the Atlantic coastline and the St. Johns River.
Located in the northeastern part of the state on the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville’s weather is sunny and pleasant. We enjoy an average of 320 days of sunshine each year, yet have the coolest summers in the state. Known as the River City, Jacksonville is a major port city with numerous waterways, two Navy bases, several nature preserves, marshes, lakes, wetlands and miles of beaches. Flowing through Jacksonville is the 310-mile St. Johns River, which plays a major role in our work and play.
Jacksonville is the youngest-aged city in the state, making this the place for up-and-coming professionals as well as young families. With no state income tax and the cost of housing 15 percent lower than the national average, Jacksonville is an appealing place for many people. The total cost of living for the area is 9.3 percent below the national average and 4.7 percent below Florida’s average. We also pay less for healthcare, goods and services, housing and transportation compared to many other cities in the state.
Duval County’s public schools serve more than 129,000 children living in the 840 square miles that make up the county. The system includes 106 elementary schools, 25 middle schools, 17 high schools, eight special schools and seven charter schools.
A big draw for children and parents alike are the wide range of specialized educational programs available to elementary, middle and high school students through the Duval County Magnet Programs. While receiving instruction in traditional subject areas, students have an opportunity to explore and develop their interests and talents in such areas as math, science, the arts, language immersion, culinary arts, aviation, law/legal professions, technology and public service. Approximately 20,000 students participate in 30 different program areas offered at 71 schools.
In 2003, Stanton College Preparatory School and Paxon School for Advanced Studies, both magnet schools, earned two of the top spots in Newsweek magazine’s 100 Best High Schools in America list. Stanton, which was ranked first in the nation in the magazine’s 2000 survey, moved to the number two spot. Paxon improved its standing to number 3, from a previous slot at number 7.
High school seniors looking for local colleges or professionals wanting to enhance their careers know that Jacksonville has many choices for higher education that include:
- Florida State College at Jacksonville, which has five main campuses and five centers in Duval County and neighboring Nassau County, offering certificate programs and associate’s and bachelor’s degrees for more than 200 courses of study, including nursing, respiratory care and other health professions.
- University of North Florida, part of Florida’s state university system, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in arts and sciences, and a doctorate degree in education. UNF boasts a competitive nursing program, as well as physical therapy and public health departments.
- Jacksonville University, a private university that offers undergraduate and graduate programs ranging from business to nursing.
- Edward Waters College, Jacksonville’s oldest private university, founded in 1866 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. EWC offers degrees in biology, business administration, computer information sciences, health education and promotion, social work and more.
Recreation & Relaxation
From canoeing in Hanna Park, to playing on the beach, to exploring Spanish settlements, there’s no shortage of fun on Florida’s First Coast. There are more than 30 state parks in northeast Florida that offer trails for biking and hiking, lakes and rivers for boating and fishing, and beautiful old oak trees for climbing and relaxing. The city of Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the United States, with more than 337 locations on more than 8,000 acres.
This city has something for just about every athlete. Runner’s World magazine ranks Jacksonville as the fifth best running city in the country and the annual Gate River Run is rated one of the top road races in the United States. Close to Jacksonville is the headquarters of the PGA Tour, The Players Championship golf tournament, World Golf Village and the Association of Tennis Professionals. Our city is the site for the largest kingfish tournament in the country, attracting more than 6,000 anglers competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Baseball fans faithfully gather each season to watch the Class AA Jacksonville Suns play in their beautiful stadium, which opened in April 2003. And basketball fans follow the minor league Jacksonville Giants
We’re proud to be the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the most successful expansion franchise in the history of the National Football League. Since entering the league in 1995, the Jaguars have been to the playoffs four times and played in the American Football Conference championship game twice. Though a relatively new NFL city, Jacksonville was chosen to host Super Bowl XXXIX in Alltel Stadium on Feb. 6, 2005. One of the many things that makes this Super Bowl city unique is the variety of accommodations available to football fans—oceanfront hotels, historic bed and breakfasts, downtown high rises and even cruise ships.
Visitors will also discover that our city offers a lot for art lovers. Jacksonville has a museum for just about everyone, from history buffs, to modern art lovers, to stargazers. There’s the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens; Jacksonville Fire Museum; Jacksonville Maritime Museum; Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum; Museum of Science and History; and the Ritz Theatre & Lavilla Museum, to name a few. Just about any night of the week you can catch a great performance from several local dance groups and theater companies.
If it’s great music you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it. From homegrown bands to big name artists, we have it all. Jacksonville has made quite a name for itself in the jazz world. For four days each spring, internationally known jazz artists wow crowds at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, a free multi-genre event that takes place at various venues around town.
Photo: Jacksonville skyline by Craig ONeal, Flickr