Tallahassee, Florida, is one of the most popular college towns in the country! Home to both Florida State University and Florida A & M, the city is young, vibrant, and just the right size for people who want a balance between urban and suburban lifestyles. Additionally, as the capital of Florida and as a trading hub for the state’s Big Bend region, Tallahassee’s economy is great for those in education or government careers.
Tallahassee residents love the short commutes, outdoor activities, college sports, and Florida sunshine. As with most other cities along the Gulf coast, gas and oil prices are low, and there are a diverse range of industries within easy commuting distance from the city itself. Tallahassee offers fun college-town life mixed with some great suburban neighborhoods and a fantastic sense of community.
Living In Tallahassee, FL: What to Know Before Moving to Tallahassee
Life in the Florida capital can be just as amazing as the Sunshine State’s nickname promises. From the overall quality of life and activities to schools, taxes, and employment opportunities, read everything you need to know about living in Tallahassee below:
Pros and Cons
As mentioned above, Tallahassee is the quintessential college town, and there are some highlights and drawbacks to living there. The list below should help break down both the good and bad of life in Tallahassee:
- Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine! Florida is a warm and sunny state, and there’s a reason everybody’s grandma wants to retire there (though Tallahassee is not a pensioner’s town).
- A vibrant, young community. With the inundation of thousands of college students each fall, the community surrounding downtown Tallahassee is full of things for young people to do. From a great nightlife scene, outdoor activities, and sporting events, there’s something around every corner.
- Short commute times. The average commute from the suburbs into downtown Tallahassee is around 20 minutes, so you’ll spend less of your life in gridlock.
- Beautiful natural scenery. With an abundance of parks inside the city, and some wonderful state parks and forests right outside, Tallahassee has some of the best green scenery Florida has to offer.
- Lack of job market diversity. The two primary industries in Tallahassee are education and government. If you’re into working for private corporations, you won’t find too many headquartered here. Most of the other jobs are in service industries.
- Owning a car is necessary. Though there are many walkable and bikeable areas of Tallahassee, the city itself is pretty spread out, and public transportation options are limited.
- Higher than average crime rate. Compared with other cities of its size in both Florida and nationwide, Tallahassee has a higher-than-average crime rate.
Quality of Life
Tallahassee is not a “big” city. With less than half a million residents in the metro area, and just under 200,000 in the city proper (according to 2010 census data), Forbes reports that still, those numbers haven’t changed much. Between its Goldilocks size (not too big, not too small), its position as the state capital, and the hub of agricultural and other trade within the panhandle region, there are a lot of great reasons to move to Tallahassee. However, Forbes ranks it lower than some other cities in the area in its list of Best Places for Business and Careers.
Located in the center of the panhandle and within easy driving distance to many natural, cultural, and historical attractions, Tallahassee offers plenty of recreational activities. Whether you have a passion for hunting and fishing or sunning and surfing, there are opportunities for all of it nearby.
Leon County is home to two of Florida’s most prominent Universities – Florida State University and Florida A & M. Tallahassee, therefore, is a college town, and it has all of the incredible buzz of one of the best college towns in the country.
Not only is living in Florida sunny and wonderful, but it’s also state-income-tax-free! Of course, that means that you may pay slightly higher property or sales taxes, but even so, Florida’s taxes aren’t comparatively bad. Statewide, the sales tax rate is 6%. Leon County adds an extra 1.5%, making the total Tallahassee sales tax rate relatively modest 7.5%. In cities like Dallas and Seattle, the sales tax rate is well above 8%.
However, what you don’t pay in sales or personal income tax, you may make up for in property taxes. Leon County has a higher than average median property tax rate. The average tax bill hits around $1750 per year, while the median home value is just under $200,000.
As mentioned above, the median home value in the Tallahassee metro area is $197,000. According to Trulia, the average home value has increased by around 4% in the last year. Of course, one nice thing about the housing market in Tallahassee is the fact that it’s a college town. Speaking of rent, the average rent in Tallahassee is $1150 per month. The median square footage for a rental unit is just over 1000 square feet, but depending on the size of the space you’re looking for, the rent can vary quite a bit. Look for smaller studios and one-bedroom units if you want to stay in the $700-$800 range (depending on the neighborhood).
Cost of Living
Living in Tallahassee will cost you 4% less on average than the rest of the country. When it comes to housing and utilities, the savings over nationwide averages are 9% and 14%, respectively. However, you’ll pay an average of around 10% more for groceries than the rest of the country.
The median household income in Tallahassee is around $50,000, and, though entertainment and grocery costs for the family might be a bit higher, the savings in housing, energy, and healthcare make up for the other expenses. Though many of Tallahassee’s residents are single, a family of four earning the median household income should be able to make ends meet.
Climate and Weather
They don’t call it “The Sunshine State” for nothing. Tallahassee residents enjoy, on average, 231 days of sunshine a year. With just over 100 days of precipitation, the area’s total annual rainfall is 59”. Of course, being in the panhandle, Tallahassee isn’t privy to the year-round warmth of Miami or Daytona Beach. Still, even in the depths of winter, high temperatures average above 60 degrees, and lows average in the forties. The tradeoff is the humidity and hurricanes. Humidity and hurricanes are both facts of life along the Gulf Coast. New residents should be prepared for high heat and humidity throughout the summer and routine severe storms during the height of the hurricane season, June 1 to November 30.
Economy and Job Prospects
Even with its reputation as a college town, Tallahassee has seen job market growth of 2% over the past year. Unemployment in Tallahassee is lower than the national average at just 3.6%. The future for Tallahassee looks bright. Over the next ten years, the number of jobs is expected to grow by 37.9% — over 4% more than the nationwide projection of 33.5%. Not surprisingly, the lion’s share of employment in Tallahassee is in the education and public administration sectors. The two largest employers are the State of Florida and Florida State University, but Capital City Bank Group also employs over 500 people in the city. Most of the other jobs are in the service industries.
Traffic and Transportation
Nestled near the apex of Florida’s “Big Bend” region, Tallahassee sits right in between Pensacola and Jacksonville on the I-10 corridor. The interstate highway crosses the Florida Panhandle and continues to Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, and beyond. US-90 divides the city along the east/west axis and borders the north end of the FSU campus. The central north/south arterial downtown is Monroe St, which connects to several other highways leading out of town.
As for the city itself, Tallahassee is pretty wide open, so you’ll probably need to have a car. There’s StarMetro, the city’s bus system, and plenty of pedicabs downtown, but getting from one side of town to the other will be easiest with a car of your own. Overall, traffic in Tallahassee fluctuates with the ebb and flow of college life in the city, especially during FSU football season. Typically, the traffic is heavier during the spring and fall.
When it comes to air travel, your options in Tallahassee itself are relatively limited. Delta, American, and Silver are the only airlines operating out of the Tallahassee International Airport. Each airline only flies to a handful of other regional cities such as Charlotte, Orlando, and Dallas. The farthest one-stop destination you can fly to from the Tallahassee airport is Washington, D.C.
What to Do
As a college town, activities abound! It’s also surrounded by some of the most primo southern wilderness in America. Here are some of the favorite activities locals enjoy in Tallahassee:
Tallahassee Nightlife and Activities
With most of Tallahassee’s nightlife activity centered in the downtown area and university districts, you won’t have to look far to find the perfect place for some nighttime fun. From treasured college dive-bars like Bullwinkle’s Saloon and Poor Paul’s Poorhouse to night clubs and music venues, downtown Tallahassee can be electric when school is in session. The diverse and relatively young population of Tallahassee also guarantees something for all tastes and interests.
The landscape surrounding Tallahassee is home to some of the most beautiful wetlands anywhere in the country. Favorite activities often include canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and other water sports. Apalachicola National Forest, the largest forest in Florida, is just outside the city and features a full range of outdoor activities. Closer to the heart of Tallahassee, you’ll find Apalachee Regional Park. The park was specifically designed to host cross-country events and features a beautiful multi-surface running trail system. The park also has four multi-purpose sports fields used for everything from football to lacrosse.
If you type “Tallahassee professional sports teams” into Google, the first two images you’ll see after hitting enter are the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida A&M Rattlers. Now, of course, those aren’t pro teams, but with the level of excitement generated by each school — regardless of the sport — they might as well be. In terms of football, FSU is almost always a contender for division-one national championships. Florida A & M’s basketball program enjoys a healthy fanbase as well.
Theater, Arts, and Culture
If you’re looking for some culture, Leon County doesn’t disappoint. First, Tallahassee is home to FSU’s Museum of Fine Art. The museum features seasonal exhibitions from artists worldwide, as well as several dedicated galleries. Next, fans of music — from jazz to musical theater to opera — can enjoy over 500 concerts every year on the FSU campus. Off-campus, Tallahassee boasts the Council on Culture and Arts, which sponsors events ranging from public art walks to historical lectures and theater events.
Schools and Universities
In addition to Tallahassee’s two major universities, it’s also home to some pretty great K-12 schools. According to Niche, only a few schools rate below a B+, and many received an A rating. Leon County Schools, the city’s primary school district, boasts that 95% of its schools earned an A, B, or C grade when compared nationally.
And, of course, there are colleges. Florida State University and Florida A & M are the heavy hitters, but Tallahassee offers a top-notch community college system as well. Both FSU and A & M are full-scale research universities. FSU does a lot of great environmental research around the gulf habitat, while A & M focuses on agricultural research.
Neighborhood Scout ranks Tallahassee worse than the US average in terms of both violent and property crimes. The issue of Tallahassee crime was a major point of contention in the last Florida governor’s race. However, while Tallahassee’s crime statistics are higher in both violent and property crime metrics, the trends are going down. The violent crime rate fell by nearly 25% from 2015 to 2017, while the property crime rate dropped almost 16% from 2016 to 2017. The safest neighborhoods are Midway, Havana, and Attapulgus.
Knowing that you’ll have working lights, water, and other utilities when you move in can take a lot of the stress out of moving. Below is a list of Tallahassee’s major utility providers, so be sure to contact them to turn on your services before you move.
Electricity, Gas, Water, and Garbage:
Tallahassee’s municipal government operates the city’s principal utilities. Plans and pricing are available through the city’s website. Be sure to check out the solar options when looking into electric utility plans. Taking advantage of the Sunshine State’s most abundant commodity could save you big on your electric bill.
Internet and Cable:
The major telecom and internet providers servicing the Tallahassee area are DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, and Mediacom. You can compare pricing and sign up here.
Best Neighborhoods in Tallahassee, Florida
Several factors come into play when choosing Tallahassee’s best neighborhoods. You should consider population, family-friendliness, housing costs, school quality, safety, and available activities. Along with several other metrics, we’ve compiled a list of the top eight Tallahassee neighborhoods.
The northeast side of Tallahassee is much quieter than the bustling center of the capital or the universities across town. The district is home to several smaller affluent neighborhoods and communities. Families or young couples looking to start a family will find great natural attractions in areas such as Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park and the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway. As for crime, Northeast Tallahassee is home to four of the five safest parts of the city. The public schools in the northeastern part of Tallahassee are some of the best in the city.
Of course, the quiet life, safety, and great schools all come with a price. Northeast Tallahassee has a significantly higher median home value than the rest of Leon County at just over $260,000. Most Northeast Tallahassee communities have easy access to I-10, and downtown is only about twenty minutes away. If you’re moving to Tallahassee for work and don’t necessarily want the bustle, crime, and activity that come with living in a college town, Northeast Tallahassee is your best bet.
Only minutes from downtown, the universities, or the suburbs, Levy Park is in a fabulous location. Both Ruediger Elementary School and Raa Middle School are highly rated, though the crime rate is higher than most of the other areas we feature here. The median home value in the neighborhood is $185,000, and there are plenty of places to rent, as well.
Levy Park is nestled neatly into a great part of northern Tallahassee. It runs east-west from N. Monroe St. to Gibbs Drive and north-south from W. Tharpe St. to W. 4th Ave. Residents of this neighborhood are incredibly proud of their diverse and tightly-knit community. It’s close to Lake Ella and the activities of midtown. Levy Park residents also maintain a community garden and enjoy a variety of pets as diverse as its residents — from chickens to lizards. Butterfly and rain gardening, along with community potlucks and a village mentality make Levy park a fantastic neighborhood.
If you’re into lush green scenery and a conservation-minded community, then Southwood may be just the place for you. Southwood, population 20,866, sits in Tallahassee’s southeastern corner and is only about a seven-minute drive from downtown. The neighborhood is also right next door to the top-rated public high school in the city, Florida State University School, and several prestigious private schools as well.
With a median home price of $226,000 and a median rent of $1475, Southwood is a bit pricier than most other Tallahassee neighborhoods. However, the cleanliness, natural beauty, and amenities make the neighborhood very attractive for those looking for a quiet, eco-friendly, and green place to live. The town center is conveniently located and features many restaurants, a church, a health club, and several other businesses. There are many outdoor activities, from tennis to swimming to biking. Southwood caters to those who want an active life enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine!
Betton Hills, a lovely section just outside of Midtown, prides itself as a “canopy neighborhood.” Surrounded by live oak and tall pine trees, Betton Hills is a nature lover’s paradise — and it’s still only minutes from downtown. The neighborhood, population 22,561, occupies a strip from Thomasville Rd on the northwest side to Centerville Rd on the southeast side. The northeast boundary runs along Woodgate Way, and the southwest boundary is Mitchell Ave and E. 7th Ave.
With access to some of Leon County’s finest public schools, and a community-wide passion for all things arboreal, Betton Hills is a great neighborhood for young families. There are plenty of annual community activities, such as Arbor Day celebrations, a community Easter egg hunt, and, in the spring, a neighborhood-wide garage sale. As Northeast Tallahassee neighborhoods go, Betton Hills tends to be a little less pricey, too. The median home price is just over $218,000. Its proximity to downtown, however, means it has a slightly higher crime rate than other neighborhoods in Northeast Tallahassee.
The heart of the north side of Tallahassee, Midtown boasts great walkability, lots of restaurants, shops, and nightlife. If you’re looking for more “college town” than “quiet suburbia,” then you should definitely give Midtown some thought. Midtown, population 2,891, borders both Betton Hills and Levy Park. It’s close to many outdoor recreational activities as well, with easy north/south highway access, and close proximity to I-10.
The median home value in Midtown is significantly lower than its northeastern neighbors at $145,000. Midtown’s schools are — as are all Leon County schools — highly rated. Add these two factors together and they make Midtown an attractive option for both young professionals and young families. Another great benefit of living in Midtown is that it’s a hotbed of arts and culture. With many museums, the Governor’s Mansion, and other historical landmarks, Midtown is perfect for those looking for some culture near their homes.
Just nine miles south of Tallahassee is the town of Woodville. If college-town life is not necessarily for you, Woodville just might be the Tallahassee neighborhood you’ve been looking for. The median house price in Woodville is just $113,600, making it an attractive option for first-time homebuyers looking for a suburban feel. The town is home to just under 2800 people and tends to lean liberal politically.
Woodville boasts a lot of great seafood restaurants, as well as Cascades Park, an outdoor amphitheater and music venue. There are many unique shops in the heart of Woodville, and, of course, you’re only a few minutes away from the buzz of downtown Tallahassee.
The Buck Lake area, also referred to as Bucklake Woods, makes up most of the eastern suburbs of Tallahassee. Residents describe the area as quiet, safe, and beautiful. Surrounded by waterways, greenways, and parks, the Buck Lake area is a nature lover’s paradise. With easy access to I-10, you can be in downtown Tallahassee in under 20 minutes, and back home amidst the beautiful scenery of Buck Lake Woods just as quickly.
The median home value in Buck Lake is more in line with Northeast Tallahassee than it is with Midtown at nearly $273,000. Buck Lake Elementary School gets a rating of 9 out of 10, according to Zillow, and the crime rate is much lower than Midtown or Levy Park.
Let’s face it, most people moving to Tallahassee are going to be connected to Florida State University or Florida A & M in some way or another. Whether you have a family and are headed to grad school at FSU, or you’re a freshman moving in from out of state to play basketball for A & M, being close to the universities is a huge bonus. Students appreciate the walkability of downtown, and the atmosphere of the Tallahassee streets after an FSU football win can be electric.
If you’re not moving for education, then you’re possibly moving to work for the State of Florida, and you’ll want to be close to the downtown government centers. Downtown is also the cultural hotbed of the county, with many of Tallahassee’s best museums, theaters, and galleries located right in the heart of the city. Housing values are currently low at just around $110,000 on the west side of downtown. However, they’re forecast to rise by 4.6% in the next year.
While most people describe Tallahassee as a “college town,” it’s important to remember that it’s also the seat of Florida’s state government. Tallahassee’s population is diverse in terms of ethnicity, age, gender, and virtually every other metric. You can find fun, energetic nightlife, quiet suburbia, or a natural paradise in just about every area of Tallahassee. Whichever neighborhood is right for you, be sure to use our “Moving to Tallahassee Checklist” to help you plan your move and take the stress and worry out of the process.
How to Move to Tallahassee: Interstate Moving Checklist
Proper planning takes most of the worry and stress out of the moving process. Use this helpful relocation checklist to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered before you move to Tallahassee:
Schedule Your Move First
We recommend scheduling your move for at least six weeks out. This will give you plenty of time to handle any hangups that may arise. If you can work with two months or even three, that would be ideal, but on a six-week timeline, you should be able to pull off a worry-free move.
The right time to find the best moving company is now. Click on our “Get Quote” button. We’ll gather some information about your move, then send you affordable moving estimates from our licensed interstate moving specialists. You’ll be able to compare rates quickly and easily among our trusted Tallahassee movers.
Get Your Packing In Order and Start Right Away
Organize and pack your goods by room, and use multiple box sizes for every room. When you have a general idea of what you need for each room and are ready to start, follow these tips:
- Keep all of the items for each room together. For example, do not put that mixing bowl in the living room box, no matter how neatly it will fit. Following this rule will make unpacking a lot easier.
- Label makers and Sharpies are your friends. For every box, label the room and the contents clearly. Remember to label boxes FRAGILE if they contain delicate, breakable items. And speaking of fragile, if you’re wrapping fine China or crystal, don’t use newspaper. The print can rub off and stain those often priceless heirlooms.
- Use actual moving boxes instead of cheaper supermarket or food boxes. Produce boxes are usually weaker material and will often rip or break during transit. Moving boxes are designed to handle heavy loads.
- Take the drawers out of your dressers and other applicable furniture. Take the feet off of your couch, tables, and chairs if applicable. Wrap the loose parts, like nuts and bolts, in a plastic bag label them, then keep them with the furniture or piece they were removed from.
- Don’t procrastinate. The sooner you start packing the less stress you’re going to experience overall. You should start as soon as your move is scheduled.
Take Care of Financial and Other Affairs
Packing isn’t the only major chore involved in a move. There are many other tasks to look after, including finances and other affairs. Finances should come first. Switch your bank accounts if you need to, make sure all of your bills are paid to date, and that any other financial loose ends are tied up. Special care items such as livestock, pets, guns and ammunition, or flammable items should be arranged next. Ensure you’ve got proper permits and transportation is handled. Arrange for the transfer of any homeowners or renters insurance policies. Finally, if you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire a cleaning service to ensure you’re leaving the new owners a clean home.
The Week of the Move
During the week leading up to your move, you should have most of your packing done, your financial affairs in order, and transportation arranged for any special care items. After those things are checked off the list, then you’ll need to focus on the following:
- For the safety of all involved, make sure you have child or pet care arranged on moving day.
- Transfer your prescription medications to a pharmacy close to your new Tallahassee home.
- Arrange for cancellation of subscription services like cable, magazines, internet, etc. and set up installation for your new Tallahassee address.
- Remove any hazardous substances from your property. Drain lawnmowers, weed eaters, and other yard tools of oil and fuel prior to your move.
- Put together a kit for your car on moving day. Pack a first aid kit, emergency provisions such as blankets, extra water, child and pet care essentials, laptops and tablets, wallets, and anything else you might need on the drive.
One Day Before Moving Day
Defrost your refrigerator and freezer by unplugging them. Once defrosted, clean them with baking soda to disinfect them and keep them fresh. Unplug all cables from your large electronics and keep them in a labeled plastic bag with the appliance. Finally, make sure you label anything that isn’t going on the truck so that the movers don’t cart it off by mistake.
While the movers are working, keep children and pets in a safe part of the house or out of the way for everyone’s safety. Disassemble beds and keep the hardware in a plastic bag taped to the frame. Be on site and available to answer questions the movers may have. Once the movers have finished and the last bits of cleaning are done, you can get moving!
Plan in advance where you want your things to go in your new home. Use room numbering, color coding, or any other system you can to make things run more smoothly. Again, make sure you’re there to answer any questions the movers have and help direct things. When they’ve done their job, you can get started turning Tallahassee into your home!
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Contact Great Guys Moving to get started on your move to Tallahassee. Our quotes are free, and we only feature the best insured and licensed Tallahassee movers. We make sure you get safe, trustworthy movers capable of handling a relocation from anywhere in the country. Get started by clicking the “Get Quote” button now.