Jacksonville Vs. St.Augustine

Jacksonville Vs. St.Augustine

Trying to Decide on Where to Relocate To? Here’s an insider look at the differences between Jacksonville and St. Augustine!

Jacksonville vs. St. Augustine

Lifestyle plays a prominent role in choosing a new neighborhood in which to live.  Perhaps you have narrowed your search down to Jacksonville or St. Augustine, however, you remain unsure as to which area is best suited to your needs and the lifestyle you hope to have.  Please enjoy this brief overview as you might find the detailed descriptions of both cities helpful in further narrowing your home search.  

JACKSONVILLE is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River in the First Coast region of northeast Florida, about 25 miles south of Georgia and 328 miles north of Miami. Known for being the twelfth largest city in the country at a population of over 911,000, “Jax”, as locals call it, is renowned for its steamy, hot summers, twenty-two miles of sandy shoreline, and bustling city life.  Jax spans 840 square miles, 757 square miles of which is land and 116.7 square miles of glorious, sparkling Atlantic water. Jacksonville is unique in that it boasts the most shoreline of all cities in the U.S., 80,000 acres of green space, AND is home to the largest urban park system in the country.  Some of the best beaches are featured in Jacksonville:

  • Jacksonville Beach: Perfect for surfing, sandy beach strolls, a visit to the  quarter-mile-long Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, or dining at one of many waterfront restaurants. 
  • Neptune Beach: A suburban area with a relaxing vibe and epic sunsets.
  • Ponte Vedra: A hotspot for beachcombers and golfers and known for enormous dunes and impressive golf courses.
  • Atlantic Beach: Just north of Neptune Beach, residents and vacationers enjoy biking, surfing, swimming and sunbathing beneath the Florida rays.  
  • Little Talbot Island State Park: A great getaway for a non-touristy vibe, this barrier island is nothing short of idyllic.  Enjoy birdwatching while sunning from the white sand beaches or gazing at Boneyard Beach driftwood sculptures.  This is a great spot for hiking and camping.  

Regardless of where you choose to live, Jacksonville does not disappoint as the city boasts some of the best neighborhoods in the state:

  • Orange Park is only a 40-minute drive south of downtown Jax and is the place to go for rural living while maintaining a reasonable distance from the city bustle.  The Naval Air Station is located in Orange Park, which also boasts more property with the average home, wooded areas and the ideal family life. 
  • San Marco is an artsy, Venetian town full of Italian bistros and is home to the Three Lions Fountain.  
  • Southside offers tons of excellent educational opportunities and is more of a residential area consisting of recent developments, entertainment, two malls and a plethora of dining establishments.  

Additional notable neighborhoods include Northside, Riverside, Ortega Forest, Sandalwood, Oceanway, Deercreek, Isle of Palms, Cobblestone, Secret Cove, and the Beaches community. 

Jacksonville exudes more of a southern vibe than most lower Floridian cities as accents and ambiance are very much of the southern persuasion.  In fact, residents would liken Jax to living in Georgia as evidenced by the dreamy, sunshine weather and long, hot summers.  Jacksonville hasn’t experienced snowfall since 1989 and cooler months range from 40-60 degrees.  

The sprawling city is full of things to do and see: The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, The Museum of Science and History, MOCA Jacksonville, University of North Florida’s downtown art museum, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Little Talbot Island State Park, Fort Clinch State Park, TIAA Bank Field (home of the Jacksonville Jaguars), Riverside Arts Market, The Ritz Theatre & Museum and The Jax Ale Trail.  

ST. AUGUSTINE, founded on September 8, 1565, is the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement in the U.S.  Comprised of old-world cobblestone streets, some of the best beaches in the country, and rich in history, St. Augustine is also the oldest masonry fort in the nation.  This storybook seaside city is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay, Castillo de San Marcos, otherwise referred to by the locals as “The Fort”.  Featuring Treasure Street, the narrowest street in the country at only seven feet in width, St. Augustine has a total area of 10.7 square miles, 8.4 square miles are comprised of land while 2.4 square miles is water.  With a population of just over 15,000 residents, St. Augustine is currently growing at a rate of 1.67% annually and its population has increased by 16.16% since 2010.  

Rich in both American and French history, St. Augustine is a hotspot for tourism and serves as an impressive backdrop for one of the world’s most amazing displays of approximately two million twinkling holiday lights in its historic district.  

St. Augustine noted for being one of the most haunted cities in America, has been called “home” by Ray Charles, Zora Neale Hurston, and Stetson Kennedy.  

St. Augustine boasts many well-to-do older neighborhoods with excellent dining establishments with a taste of beach life nearby.  The city continues to experience a growth at an impressively steady pace.

ECONOMY:

Jacksonville is famous for affording residents higher education. With a myriad of options to choose from, Jacksonville is home to private four-year colleges, community colleges, state institutions, Florida State College, and The University of North Florida. In addition, Jax houses St. Johns River State College, Jacksonville University, and First Coast Technical College. Located in Deval County, Jacksonville residents enjoy the benefits of the Duval County Public School District, which boasts an enrollment of over 129,000 students, making it the 21st largest school district in the U.S. and 6th largest school district in Florida. The district’s 196 schools are comprised of traditional neighborhood and magnet schools, charter schools, and alternative schools, all of which serve students of various needs.  DCPS has achieved an overall ranking of “B,” according to the Florida Department of Education’s school grade system, which is based on the New Florida Standards and Florida Standard Assessments (FSA) test results. Duval County schools offer at least one choice program, special program, or acceleration program to students. Sixty-four schools offer magnet programs: dedicated magnets, which do not have set boundaries, and non-dedicated magnets, which are neighborhood schools that also have magnet programs.  Duval also contains thirty-four charter schools within its boundaries, 89% of which scored an A, B, or C grade. Most of the charter schools are on a waitlist lottery system due to high demand. In 2015, Duval’s Stanton College Preparatory school and Paxon School for Advanced Studies were named among the top 25 most challenging high schools in the U.S.

St. Augustine has an unemployment rate of 2.9%, almost a full percentage rate below that of the nation’s average.  The job market has increased by 2.8% over the past year and future job growth is projected to be 50.1% over the next ten years, higher than the national average of 33.5%. The median income for a household is $36,424, and the median income for a family is $56,055. The per capita income for the city is $23,485. About 7.6% of families and 21.1% of the population are below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 24.4% of those age 65 or over.  Hospitality is St. Augustine’s primary industry, closely followed by retail, education, entertainment, and healthcare.  

EDUCATION:

St. Augustine is home to the prestigious Flagler College, founded in 1968. This four-year liberal arts institution is housed in the 1888 Ponce De Leon Hotel.  As St. Augustine is the seat of St. Johns County, it enjoys the perks of the St. Johns County Public School System.  Pupils enjoy ratios of 14 students per teacher, 523 students per librarian, and 527 students per counselor.  Students benefit from an advantage of participating in Florida’s top-performing school district according to Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores.  The district received Energy Star’s Top Performer and Leader from the EPA award in 2011 and boasts an impressive special education department geared toward assisting students who are on the spectrum as well as those diagnosed with cerebral palsy and cognitive disabilities.  In addition, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind is funded and operated by the state. St. Johns County schools received a state government grade of “A” for their work with the students and FCAT grading from 2004 to 2014.

Jacksonville is famous for affording residents higher education. With a myriad of options to choose from, Jacksonville is home to private four-year colleges, community colleges, state institutions, Florida State College, and The University of North Florida. In addition, Jax houses St. Johns River State College, Jacksonville University, and First Coast Technical College. Located in Deval County, Jacksonville residents enjoy the benefits of the Duval County Public School District, which boasts an enrollment of over 129,000 students, making it the 21st largest school district in the U.S. and 6th largest school district in Florida. The district’s 196 schools are comprised of traditional neighborhood and magnet schools, charter schools, and alternative schools, all of which serve students of various needs.  DCPS has achieved an overall ranking of “B,” according to the Florida Department of Education’s school grade system, which is based on the New Florida Standards and Florida Standard Assessments (FSA) test results. Duval County schools offer at least one choice program, special program, or acceleration program to students. Sixty-four schools offer magnet programs: dedicated magnets, which do not have set boundaries, and non-dedicated magnets, which are neighborhood schools that also have magnet programs.  Duval also contains thirty-four charter schools within its boundaries, 89% of which scored an A, B, or C grade. Most of the charter schools are on a waitlist lottery system due to high demand. In 2015, Duval’s Stanton College Preparatory school and Paxon School for Advanced Studies were named among the top 25 most challenging high schools in the U.S. 

TRAVEL

It is likely you will have friends and family who will want to visit once you decide where to live.  You and your visitors can choose from:

St Augustine Airport offers domestic flights and is roughly 47 miles from Jacksonville.  

Jacksonville International Airport, owned and operated by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, is a civil-military public airport, located 45 miles north of St Augustine and roughly 27 miles northwest of Jacksonville Beach.  Home to a Delta Sky Hub and the Jacksonville Air National Guard Base in the southwest quadrant of the airport, JAX is a major hub for United, Delta, American, and Southwest airlines.  Whether you are commuting or receiving visitors, Jacksonville International offers ease of flights at varying costs and many itinerary choices. 

Dining

Jacksonville only recently began to blossom in regards to dining options over the past few years.  Some of the finer eateries are headed by James Beard-nominated chefs while others rival some of Miami’s finest restaurants.  Jacksonville foodies enjoy local dishes such as fresh sashimi, roasted cauliflower tacos, and gooey cinnamon buns which can be found at: 

  1. Town Hall: Farm-to-Table dining serving traditional dishes with local ingredients and unique twists.
  2. Matthew’s Restaurant: A French and Mediterranean establishment, Matthew’s boasts a classy vibe is a favorite for locals.  
  3. Kazu Japanese Restaurant: Japanese eatery and sushi bar. 
  4. The Bearded Pig: Known for the mac and cheese and brisket, this establishment offers consumers a casual southern vibe while enjoying some of the city’s most delicious barbeque.
  5. Orsay: Southern-influenced French cuisine to die for.
  6. Flying Iguana Taqueria:  Tex-Mex on steroids and margaritas to boot!
  7. Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen: Excellent Ethiopian cuisine enjoyed with fresh, warm flatbread.

St. Augustine is full of local culinary experts who are masters at creating any dish the stomach craves.  Local chefs pride themselves on using the freshest local ingredients at sidewalk cafes, bars, pubs, eateries, coffee shops, and more.  A robust assortment of dining experiences awaits eager taste buds and the locals know exactly where to find the best options.  For example, The Blue Hen Café is the place to go for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. 

Nothing comes from a box or can and the establishment is known for southern sausage biscuits and corned beef hash.  Meanwhile, Balefire Brasserie offers an impressive menu including braised pork tacos, blistered Fresno pepper, and Balefire’s own in-house sausage.  Balefire is a historic-themed eatery.  Locals also enjoy Michael’s Tasting Room known for Spanish tapas and a phenomenal wine list.  St. Augustine does not disappoint with its plethora of dining options.

Healthcare

Flagler Hospital, located in St. Augustine is a full-service, not-for-profit facility.  Established in 1889, this organization offers “Centers of Excellence” in bariatrics, heart, cancer, maternity, orthopedics, and sinus.  The hospital has a 14-bed nursing home unit that was rated above average on October 5, 2010, from CMS of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Bailey Family Center for Caring was established on January 8, 2011, as a 12-bed, 11,700-square-foot inpatient facility.

As of September of 2019, St. Augustine-based Flagler Health+ announced plans to build a medical facility in Palm Coast (perched between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach) with a goal of becoming the most essential health partner for the communities they serve.  This new “health village” will include family practice medicine along with behavioral health services, women’s care, urgent care, orthopedics, imaging and laboratory services, as well as lifestyle programmings such as arts activities and events. The facility is expected to open sometime in 2021 and will offer more than seventy job openings while making efforts to attract the life sciences industry.  In addition, this facility is anticipated to include an impressive $25-million hospital-based emergency department as well as a medical office building complex which will be constructed by AdventHealth Palm Coast. The complex will include a 12-bed free-standing emergency department.  Advent Health has serviced Flagler County for nearly twenty years and boasts the region’s most robust and advanced integrated care delivery network.

Jacksonville is home to Baptist Health which specializes in serving families via high-quality, comprehensive care for every stage of life.  Currently ranked as the “most preferred” health care provider in the Jacksonville area, Baptist Health is home to Jacksonville’s only children’s hospital.  Baptist has more than 200 primary care and specialty physician practices, children’s specialty clinics, home health care, behavioral health, occupational health, rehabilitation services, and urgent care.  The organization operates on four key pillars: faith-based, mission-driven, community-focused, and locally governed.  In addition, Baptist Health is known for promoting community and individual health and serving those in need, responsible action and charitable service advocacy, respect for those served while exercising dignity, compassion, and integrity, and fostering an inclusive culture celebratory of diversity.  Baptist Health is known for exceeding quality of care and exemplary service and offers cost-effective, compassionate top-notch healthcare in responsible resource management.  

Cost of Living / Retirement

Jacksonville is an impressive 10% below the national average cost of living and is 8.2% less expensive on average than St. Augustine. Jacksonville housing costs run approximately 29.5% less than St. Augustine and health care expenditures run residents roughly 1.3% higher in Jacksonville in comparison to St. Augustine.  The cost of housing is 17% below the national average.  As a result, more than half of locals own homes. Even though it’s one of the state’s most bustling metro areas, you can easily find three bedrooms and a yard within a short distance of the beach.

St. Augustine is filled with retirement communities. Del Webb Nocatee, for example, is a new 55+ gated community located only minutes away from St. Augustine and four miles from pristine beaches.  In addition, the Canopy Club offers grand amenities to complement luxury living.  Accessible via a short golf cart drive, Canopy Club offers residents a zero-entry pool, exercise studio, pickleball courts, and a tavern & grill which offers personal wine lockers.  The single-family homes and villas start from the upper $200k’s.  St. Augustine’s housing expenses are 19% higher than the national average and the utility prices are 8% lower than the national average. Transportation expenses like bus fares and gas prices are 3% lower than the national average.

Jacksonville Beach Vs. St. Augustine Summary

Jacksonville is full of history and boasts a hefty cultural heritage.  It is a bustling city full of business and employment opportunities, yet well-stocked with laid-back eateries, a myriad of outdoor activities and attractions, and gorgeous shoreline.  Jacksonville continues to experience spikes in population and is the largest city by land in the country. Jax is perfect for history buffs, foodies, business owners and entrepreneurs, those looking for a small-town feel via outlying villages and beach towns, and transient residents who appreciate fine arts and museums.  Jacksonville is a premium pick for families who are reliant upon a strong public education system and the airport is close by for friends who will undoubtedly enjoy a visit to the beach while spending time with you.  With premium healthcare nearby and a 10% lower cost of living than that of the nation’s average, Jacksonville can offer anything and everything for residents of all ages and backgrounds.  The city’s diversity affords amazing cultural experiences and education paired with an attitude of welcoming inclusivity.  

St. Augustine is also a prime place for history buffs. It turns out that the oldest city in the country is a hybrid of modern marvels, amenities, and rich in history.  Filled with culture, premium shopping, great local eateries, and two reputable retirement communities, the Nation’s Oldest City is a great option for all ages and an affordable place in which to retire.  In addition, the “smallness” of the city is attractive and feels manageable to tourists and residents alike.  Small flourishing businesses, local flavor, and plentiful farmer’s markets, festivals, and art shows keep locals busy and socialized as they give back to the city’s economy.  The multicultural history is reflected in its local cuisine and various festivals and the city boasts world-class art galleries, theater, and live music along with 42 miles of pristine beach.  More than six million visitors are attracted to St. Augustine annually. 

JACKSONVILLE, ST.AUGUSTINE, REALESTATE, NORTHFLORIDAREALESTATE, #904JAX, PHILHASTHEBUYERS, REALTORSINJAX

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Phil Aitken, Owner/Broker
Phil Aitken is the Owner/Broker with Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty - Phil Aitken Home Team and has over 13 years of Real Estate experience. Phil’s faith and desire for his family’s continued security fuel his business growth and leadership. The Phil Aitken Home Team continues to profoundly impact the people of Jacksonville via supporting several faith-based organizations. Phil gives back a portion of every real estate transaction to The Tim Tebow Foundation and Rethreaded. Find Phil's full story here.