Gainesville, Florida is the home of the University of Florida and the birthplace of Gatorade and Tom Petty. It is also no stranger to big helpings of Southern charm, including beautiful, big oak trees covered in windswept moss and the sweet Southern drawl of friendly local residents. The limestone rock bed beneath the ground is bubbling with natural spring water, providing both residents and tourists alike with some pretty amazing places to get in touch with nature while they lounge, swim, and canoe in the crystal clear spring waters.
These are just a few of the reasons Gainesville has been voted one of the best places to live in Florida – year after year. This booming college town not only has tons of trendy shopping areas, but also some pretty spectacular restaurants, rocking nightclubs, scenic walking trails, and that radiating sunshine, of course.
The city’s major economic forces are tourism, education, and transportation. And, when residents need good medical care they go to one of these hospitals – UF Health (formerly known as Shands) and North Florida Regional Medical Center.
So, with food, entertainment, good housing, and even better people, what’s not to love about this awesome Florida city? Yeah, I can’t think of anything either. So, if you are considering taking that BIG move to Florida, you are in luck, because this trusty article will provide you with the ins and outs (and everything in-between) of moving to Gainesville!
What is It Most Known For?
Gainesville is most known as the home of the University of Florida, Florida’s Flagship University, and the Florida Gators. But honestly, it is more than just a bustling college town – the truth is this sunshine city is known for many things – some you may know and some you probably don’t.
Listed below are some of the things Gainesville is known for:
- Gainesville is home to a multitude of public parks and lengthy hiking trails (accessible to both visitors and natives)
- Gainesville is also home to Gatorade. University of Florida (UF) scientists name the sports drink after the college’s football team in the 1960s. The original name was “Gator-Raid.”
- UF’s Florida Museum boasts one of the most beautiful indoor butterfly rainforest exhibits in the US, where visitors can see hundreds of flying butterflies and birds any day of the week.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician and songwriter Tom Petty was born in Gainesville. You may know of his band Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, but did you know that this Gainesville High School alumnus started his first band, the Sundowners, with his friends at Howard Bishop Middle School?
Who Lives Here?
Gainesville is home to a diverse population. This city is home to approximately 134,000 individuals. This city has a large college population, mainly because it is the home of the University of Florida (UF), University of Central Florida, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and Santa Fe College.
However, it is also popular with young professionals, young couples, and young families. As a result, the majority of people, who live in this city, are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. This comprises over 34% of the total population – although plenty of people in their late 40s, 50s, and older also call this city “home.”
On the political spectrum – most Gainesville natives consider themselves “moderately liberal.” It also boasts a healthy population of religious and non-religious residents. Approximately, 24% of the residents identify as “African-American,” while 65% of the population identify as “Caucasian.”
Ten-percent of the population identifies as “Hispanic,” while 7% identifies as “Asian.” Less than 1% identify as “Native American,” “Biracial,” or “Multiracial.” And, with almost 41% of its population consisting of one or two parents with children, Gainesville is also an excellent place for families.
A top consideration for retirees moving to Florida, Gainesville’s hospital and healthcare facilities rank amongst the nation’s best and continue to earn awards nationally and at home.
UF Health (formerly known as UF Shands Healthcare) boasts locations in both Gainesville and Jacksonville and remains one of the most recognized and comprehensive health systems in the Southeast.
“According to UF Health, Shands Children’s Hospital was recently ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals in six medical specialties by U.S. News & World Report, including its pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, cancer, neonatology, and neurology and neurosurgery programs.” – Livability.com
Gainesville is also home to North Florida Regional Medical Center, owned & operated by HCA Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of for-profit healthcare services.
With a focus on exceptional healthcare and university research, Gainesville has been leading the way in the latest technologically advanced healthcare treatments as well.
For example, UF Health Proton Therapy was one of the first proton therapy facilities in the nation to be accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) – out of 23 centers in the United States, it is one of only three to earn this accreditation. (Proton therapy uses a uses a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue, such as cancer cells.)
University of Florida’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (UF CRM) continues to stay at the cutting edge of the latest stem cell and gene-based therapies and beyond.
Meanwhile, Gainesville’s Select Specialty Hospital promotes recovery from the most critical and complex medical and surgical conditions, including pulmonary, cardiac, wound care, renal, neurological, post-trauma, and other acute conditions.
All of this innovation and excellence in healthcare also paves the way for thriving business partnerships and bolsters Gainesville’s growing entrepreneurial community.
One example, the Gainesville-based company Exactech helps surgeons worldwide make patients more mobile by producing innovative implants, instruments and technologies for joint replacement and was honored as Florida’s 2017 Large Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturer’s Association of Florida.
Bustling Business & Entrepreneurial Community
Gainesville has a thriving business and entrepreneurial community, nurtured in part by a very active Chamber of Commerce and a unique business incubator called “The Hub,” a part of UF Innovate. Success stories from Gainesville entrepreneurs abound!
- Gainesville resident, Byron Young, made his first bean bag in his garage on 39th Avenue back when he was in college. Years later, CordaRoy’s bean bag chairs, already a well-known fixture in the Gainesville community, exploded into the national spotlight with an appearance on the hit television show Shark Tank. The not-your-average-bean-bag business continues to grow and evolve and continues to inspire others as one of Gainesville greatest entrepreneurial success stories.
- Fracture is a unique Gainesville-based startup that specializes in printing photos on glass. Founded by two UF grads in 2009, the company started raising funding from outside investors and filled more than 100,000 orders by 2015.
- BBQ fanatics will be interested to learn that Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille, opened their first “Sonny’s BBQ” restaurant location on Waldo Road in Gainesville in 1968. Now, Sonny’s BBQ is a popular franchise with locations all across the US!
With all the innovation happening at UF Innovate’s The Hub, you never know which Gainesville-based business will be making headlines next!
What is the Weather Like?
Well, honestly, Gainesville has some of the best weather on the planet! One of the perks of living in this sector of Florida is the pleasant climate. In fact, the average temps usually hang out around 75 degrees (60-80 degrees throughout the year). Once you move to this sunshine city, you’ll never need a snow plow again!
In fact, you’ll probably never see snow again – at least not in this city. Gainesville is known for its beautiful weather, sunny days, and nearby beaches, of course. And, because there so much sunshine and awesome temps, you have plenty of time to enjoy everything Gainesville has to offer.
Another plus? You are protected from the most devastating side effects of hurricanes! Although hurricanes are the “norm” in many parts of Florida, Gainesville is located smack dab in the middle of the northern part of the state and is far enough inland to avoid the more catastrophic damage done by hurricanes in more coastal areas.
Is it Affordable?
Are you wondering if living in Gainesville, Florida is affordable? The answer is…Yes! In fact, the cost of living in this sunshiny Florida city is five-percent less than the average cost of living for most US cities. For instance, the average cost of a house in Gainesville is approximately $181,000 – less than both the state and national averages. The monthly rent is $1,300, per month, for a thousand square-feet apartment, which is lower than the national average of $1400, per month, for a thousand square-feet apartment. This is a good thing because approximately 64% of the population is renters.
Thanks in part to the booming tourism industry, there is no personal income tax in the state of Florida. Sales tax in Florida is 6%.
Note: Be prepared for a higher-than-average homeowner’s insurance rates and electricity bills, among the only down sides to all of that gorgeous and sometimes tumultuous tropical weather.
How is the Job Market Doing?
The job market in Gainesville, Florida is booming! And, guess what? Because, the employment continues to increase, the economy is also thriving. The average household income in Gainesville is approximately $58,000, per year – almost a 12% increase from 2016 and 2017.
Who are the major employers in the area? Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UF Health (formerly known as Shands), City of Gainesville, North Florida Regional Medical Center, University of Florida, Santa Fe Community College, School Board of Alachua County, Nationwide Insurance, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Regeneration Technologies, Inc., Environmental Consulting & Technology, and Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. Prosperous industries include healthcare, technology (equipment and devices), computer programming, distribution, logistics, and biotechnology.
I Have Kids…What About the Schools?
You have kids? Great! Gainesville is a great place to raise a family! It has top-notch primary and secondary schools, and colleges. This means your children will receive an exemplary education. Most underage children, who live in the area, attend schools in the Alachua County Public Education System, which includes 46 schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) throughout the district. Moreover, “College Success Award” winners – P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and F. W. Buchholz High School have been rated two of the best schools in the nation.
What Do You Do for Fun?
So, what do people do for fun there?! Well, the good news is there are always fun things to do in Gainesville! Looking for an exciting night on the town? Check! Looking for a relaxing day close to a beach? Check! Looking to get a little rowdy at a football game? Check! Looking for something fun for kids? Check!
The truth is there’s no way to list every awesome activity in Gainesville, but here are some of our favorites:
- Devil’s Millhopper State Park The best thing about this park is that everyone can enjoy it! It’s great for afternoon or evening strolls and/or exploring its infamous sinkhole. It is also known for its cascading waterfalls and massive oak trees (to shield you from the death rays shooting from the sun). So, regardless of whether you visit it to watch your dog catch Frisbees, have a picnic with your loved ones, get a little exercise, or examine all that nature has to offer, this park is a must-do for Gainesville residents.
- Florida Museum of Natural History Another great place to go, once you get situated in Gainesville, is the Florida Museum of Natural History. This is a great way to commune with nature or just learn something new about the world around you. It is known for its magical butterfly rainforest, which is a delight to both children and adults alike.
- Florida Gators If you and/or your family are avid sports fans, then you simply have to check out some Florida Gators games! Seriously. Cheering for the Florida Gators is a local past time that unites the whole city for big games. And if you think the Florida Gators are just about winning National Championships in football (1996, 2006, 2008) and basketball (2005–06, and 2006–07), think again! Gator Nation also boasts national champions in men’s baseball, golf, track & field and swimming & diving, as well as women’s golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, tennis and swimming & diving.If you’re considering moving to Gainesville, rest assured that you will have no problem finding a sports team to rally around and support!
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park Another park? Absolutely! But, this isn’t any old state park…No, it’s a gorgeous 2,500-acre park. A gigantic park that boasts of 8 crystalline springs – springs that are waiting for you to jump into! And, guess what? You and your family can rent paddle boards and tubes and splash around in the water! Now, that sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?!
- Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention Wait…but what is there to do for kids? Well, I’m glad you asked because I have the answer – the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. This museum is perfect for an all-day outing for kids of all ages – and adults too! Kids get to partake in cool interactive exhibits, while also learning about the origin of Gatorade and about the world around them – i.e. space, technology, colors, and nature! But, if your kids simply can’t get enough of the museum, there are camps and educational programs designed just for them during the summer. Sounds like a good deal to me!
- The Hippodrome Theater Gainesville’s professional theater operates in a historic post office and courthouse building downtown, originally built in 1911. The Hippodrome is the hub of Gainesville’s creative community, hosting professional theatrical productions throughout the Mainstage Season as well as other fun activities throughout the week such as a Monday night live Jazz series, swing dancing nights, movie nights, and more.
- Culinary & Food Scene Gainesville has a growing culinary scene with more than 25 Zagat-rated restaurants and cafes where you can get your foodie fix! Try brunch at The Top or Leonardo’s 706, sushi at Dragonfly, hand-crafted coffee at Volta, pizza at Satchel’s, or experience fine dining at Paramount Grill.
Other Nearby Attractions
Say hello to Mickey and Minnie Mouse! Gainesville is less than a 2-hour drive from Walt Disney World, the happiest place on earth! Of course Orlando also has countless other fun and family-friendly attractions and theme parks such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Legoland, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and more! Most theme parks, including Walt Disney World, offer deep discounts and year-round passes for Florida Residents.
Other fun day trips less than 2 hours away include visiting the gorgeous white sandy beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida as well as the surfing the bigger waves on the Atlantic Ocean side. Cedar Key is a quaint little fishing village nearby on the Gulf Coast. In the winter months, many people enjoy seeing and swimming with the manatees at Crystal River.
There is so much to do in Gainesville, so if you are moving to this beautiful city, you are a lucky person! There is so much to see and do, you’ll never get bored. And, the people are just Darlin’! So, gather your things and head on over to Gainesville, home of Gatorade, and get ready to root on your favorite sports team!
- Gainesville, Florida. (2019). Welcome to Gainesville, Florida. Retrieved from http://www.cityofgainesville.org/
- org. (2019). About greatschools’s ratings. Retrieved from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/ratings/
- 2 College Brothers. (2019). Moving to Gainesville, FL. Retrieved from https://2collegebrothers.com/blog/moving-to-living-in-gainesville-fl/