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Old 01-30-2008, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
3,198 posts, read 12,669,447 times
Reputation: 2241

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Greetings -

Wondering if some Jacksonville locals with knowledge of other areas of the country could lend me some insight in terms of the fiscal aspects of living in JAX.

I have searched the JAX forums and have gotten real conflicting opinions as to the cost of living in Jacksonville. Some say it is some of the lowest in the nation (for a major city) and some say it is very expensive.

So what do you guys say - especially as it relates to housing costs.

Say, for a young family, a LOW-maintenance house (eg: NOT a fixer-upper), 1500+ square feet, 3+ BRs in a relatively nice, safe area where kids would be comfortable out playing. I don't need specifics of course, just a general ballpark range of what a house like this would go for in JAX. I have done some casual browsing over the 'net, however, it is hard to tell if houses are in safe areas or what condition they are in, etc.

My standard of comparison for this purpose is Albuquerque, NM. In Albuquerque, a house like that probably runs you in the range of $160 - $190K; property taxes are low.

Also, would you say that JAX is the most affordable major city in Florida in terms of housing / living?

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!!
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:34 AM
 
Location: St. Augustine FL
1,641 posts, read 5,008,500 times
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You can definitely find housing in that price range in safe areas. Jax is so big, however, that narrowing down the area is going to be the tough part of it.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Black Hammock Island
4,620 posts, read 14,914,985 times
Reputation: 4620
The following is soley my humble opinions.

I moved from PA last summer. We sold a 15-year-old 3000 sq ft house with 1+ acres in a rural neighborhood, and bought a 9-year-old 3000 sq ft house here with a postage-stamp yard in a planned community. Price difference, about $50,000 more for the FL house. Property taxes in PA ran a bit under $5000 all told (county, township, school). However, we had no fire nor police departments (volunteer fire dept and State Police patrols). Nor did we have any street lights on our street, but in winter our streets were plowed. We did pay an annual trash fee of $200. Property taxes on this house are over $7000, but that includes some fees that aren't paid by those who don't live in CDD communities (Community Development Districts). Those fees are about $2000, so that makes the comparison between FL and PA pretty even - except, here in FL we have a fire dept. and a police dept., so we're getting more for our tax dollar. For some folks who've been here a while, the "homestead exemption" makes a big difference in their taxes. We, as newcomers, won't feel the importance of it for a few years to come.

Sales tax in PA was 6%. I haven't quite figured out how FL sales tax works, but I think in Duval and Clay counties the sales tax is 7%. I believe the minimum tax is 6%, and counties can choose to tack onto that.

In PA we had the state income tax as well as a 1.5% local income tax. FL has no state income tax. One would think just that alone would make the cost of living here much less, but honestly, I don't feel a significant change in lifestyle at all. I'm not sure why that is. Insurance isn't cheap - car insurance for 3 run-of-the-mill vehicles is $4000 (includes an under-25 driver), and it was about the same in PA. For us, being inland, home insurance isn't that bad and is just a tad more than PA. Heat and electricity in PA was about $2000 - here, we're running about $3600/year (but AC has to be factored in - something we didn't have in PA).

Food prices I think are high, but that may be my fault because I don't shop around for the best values - um - I'm kind of lazy about that (I know, shame on me.) I think clothing prices are a bit cheaper though.

As for housing prices in the Jax area, well, right now they're all over the place and it matters on address. $200,000 in one place would get you a small home, but $200,000 in another might get you a larger home.

If one is used to paying through the nose in real estate taxes like in NJ or TX, or forks over a ton of cash each day for tolls on NYC's bridges and tunnels, then yes, I'd say the cost of living in Jacksonville is much cheaper. But comparing our fair city's cost of living to other places in the USA, one may find it's equal or a little more or a little less.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Chicago
459 posts, read 1,411,831 times
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plus, you get a bottomless cup of sweet tea everywhere you go in jax! you can't put a price on that!
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:12 PM
 
Location: JAX
227 posts, read 966,952 times
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One of the reasons that you find so much conflicting information on Jacksonville affordability is because several local news outlets skew their information in order to promote the goals of their advertisers. This makes it tough to evaluate what is happening economically in the area unless you have seen what is going on first hand. Example: Jacksonville Magazine recently published the median family income for the Jacksonville metro area at $59k. The actual number is around $47k. The Times Union also often cracks and packs statistical information then hand selects “local experts” who report one sided opinions as facts. This has been incredibly evident over the last few years when reporting the local housing market. Is Jacksonville’s cost of living the lowest in the nation? Not even close. Is it very expensive? It depends on where you are coming from. A person from San Diego would probably find JAX a cheap place to live while a person from the mid west would probably find it very expensive.

From my experience with close friends living in Albuquerque, the cost of living is a great deal higher in Jacksonville than in Albuquerque, NM. But, with that said, the housing market in Jacksonville is terrible right now. There is a greater than two year supply of existing homes on the market, the foreclosure rate is one of the highest in the country (was the highest for a while last year), and local existing single family home prices have fallen 16% since their peak in summer of 2006. The local RE market is in free fall mode and people are just starting to figure it out. So, you may be able to come in and really pick up a good deal on the home you want.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:55 PM
 
Location: Jax
8,200 posts, read 35,335,304 times
Reputation: 3441
I added my 2 cents inside your quote below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EnjoyEP View Post

Say, for a young family, a LOW-maintenance house (eg: NOT a fixer-upper), 1500+ square feet, 3+ BRs in a relatively nice, safe area where kids would be comfortable out playing. I don't need specifics of course, just a general ballpark range of what a house like this would go for in JAX. I have done some casual browsing over the 'net, however, it is hard to tell if houses are in safe areas or what condition they are in, etc.

My standard of comparison for this purpose is Albuquerque, NM. In Albuquerque, a house like that probably runs you in the range of $160 - $190K; property taxes are low.

I think you'd spend a little more here, more like $200k and up if you did not want a fixer-upper

Also, would you say that JAX is the most affordable major city in Florida in terms of housing / living?

I'd agree with that. Tampa and Orlando are slightly more expensive, and Miami is much more expensive.

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!!

I find food is not cheaper here, it might even be higher than Albuquerque. Car insurance might be about the same, but with Jacksonville being so big and spread out, you can spend a lot on gas driving around (watch the commute ). Attire is casual here, so you might spend less on your clothing budget - most jobs here only require business casual. Entertainment can be very inexpensive here - there's tons to do, and plenty of it is free or low cost. Hope that helps.
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Old 01-31-2008, 11:45 AM
 
Location: www.JaxTalx.com
81 posts, read 323,101 times
Reputation: 34
It's cheap to live here, but you likely won't make as high a salary either. Kinda compensates for the low cost of living.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:27 PM
 
Location: JAX
227 posts, read 966,952 times
Reputation: 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Since 1972 View Post
It's cheap to live here, but you likely won't make as high a salary either. Kinda compensates for the low cost of living.
I guess this is what the OP is talking about. Why do you think it's cheap to live here? Other than the Times Union saying that it is, why is it? I think it's fairly expensive compared to most parts of the country. I know my wife and I were both shocked at the high cost of living when we moved here and she grew up in Southern California.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:44 PM
 
859 posts, read 3,604,408 times
Reputation: 288
There are certainly not much cheap eats around here.
Gas price is avg, but long commutes drives up the costs.
Sales tax is 7%, no tax on grocery.
JAX really doesn't feel like a 'cheap' down. But compared to a lot of big cities, it probably is cheaper for certain lifestyles.

Affordable? Certainly with the proper income and means of living.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Atlantic Highlands NJ/Ponte Vedra FL/NYC
2,689 posts, read 3,935,050 times
Reputation: 328
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelingfood View Post
There are certainly not much cheap eats around here.
Gas price is avg, but long commutes drives up the costs.
Sales tax is 7%, no tax on grocery.
JAX really doesn't feel like a 'cheap' down. But compared to a lot of big cities, it probably is cheaper for certain lifestyles.
it's cheap in the sense that you can buy a decent house for 300k, and the property tax on that house is reasonable, home insurance is insane!, food is expensive and going out can be expensive, gas is expensive, .30 a gallon more than NJ, clothing can be cheaper because it's more casual here.
All in all Jax is just a typical place to live, and it has the beaches and good weather.
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