Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options. House styles and sizes, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, and the convenience of location are all things to consider. It can be quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve researched the best neighborhoods in Jacksonville for you, so you don’t have to (oh, and by way of introduction, we’re Bellhop —Jacksonville movers and throughout the country). Want a great city to live in around Jacksonville? Check out St. Augustine!

This list is a more in-depth guide examining what it’s like living in each of these areas. We include links to popular destinations along with available houses for sale and apartments for rent.

The Best Neighborhoods in Jacksonville

A Little About Jacksonville and its Neighborhoods

Jacksonville’s neighborhoods offer a lot of variety. Whether you’re into beach living, urban living, or settling down in the suburbs, Jacksonville has an area of town that’s going to fit your needs. Need a neighborhood that’s family-friendly? Jacksonville has you covered. Are you a young professional looking for the cool area of town with others who share the same interest? Jacksonville has several neighborhoods right down your alley. Or, are you an active adult who’s looking for a quiet place to settle down to enjoy retirement? This city has something for you as well. If you’re moving to Jacksonville and you want to know the best of what the city has to offer, keep reading for our guide to the best places to live in Jacksonville.



Covering the crescent-shaped upper area of the city north of I-295 is Northside, just 14 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. This neighborhood was once an industrial area, but it’s since become a desired place for riverfront living for families with kids, retired folks, and first-time homebuyers. If you’re a frequent traveler, this is an ideal neighborhood for you since all three of Jacksonville’s main travel hubs – the Jacksonville International Airport, the Amtrack station, and the Jaxport Cruise Terminal – are located in this area. It’s also close enough to downtown to enjoy all the entertainment, shopping, and restaurant options but far enough away to enjoy a slower pace of living.

What’s Happening in Northside

If you’ve got kids, the Jacksonville Zoo is nearby and is a great place to take them on regular visits. Also close by is Huguenot Park, which offers fishing, a playground, and basketball courts. The River City Marketplace is a great place to go shopping in an open-air environment. Talbot Island State Parks, the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve and Kingsley Plantation are 20 miles northeast of the city, these parks provide adventure right next door.

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Grab lunch at Clara’s Tidbits, an old-school sandwich shop. For dinner, try bb’s restaurant and bar, where they source vegetables from their own rooftop garden.

Schools in Northside

The Bolles School, which serves students in grades K-12, plus PreK, is ranked as one of the best private schools in the Jacksonville area. Lighthouse Christian School, from grades 3-12, is another private school in the area. S.A. Hull Elementary School is a public school for grades PreK and K-5.

Homes in Northside

Lot sizes tend to be upward of an acre, with new home developments ranging from ranch-style homes to Mediterranean villas. Home prices average around $319,000. Rentals for loft apartments are under $1,000, with homes renting for up to $2,000 a month. 

Ortega Forest

Part of the larger Ortega neighborhood, Ortega Forest is considered one of the most beautiful residential areas of Northeast Florida. It is about 16 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. It’s filled with giant oaks and huge waterfront mansions. This peninsula on the river is convenient to private schools, area houses of worship and small parks along the river. The Florida Yacht Club and Timiquana Country Club are also nearby. Though Ortega Forest offers different styles and sizes of houses, if you haven’t guessed, this is a neighborhood for wealthy folks. So, if money is no issue for you, this area is a good fit. If money isn’t flowing for you like Jacksonville’s St. Johns River, then you might want to look at other neighborhoods. We’ve got three more on our list!

What’s Happening in Ortega Forest

If you don’t feel like cooking, pick up baked goods, desserts or cafe-style meals at The French Pantry.. There’s also a great Thai restaurant called Tuptim Thai and Sushi Restaurant that a lot of locals love. Venetia Village is nearby for shopping, and there’s a gym there as well. And downtown is a 15-minute drive, so you’re close to all of the dining, shopping, and attractions that the area has to offer.

Schools in Ortega Forest

Ortega Forest has a number of school options in the area, including John Stockton Elementary School, a highly rated magnet school, Ortega Elementary School, which boasts a diverse student body, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School, a private school for grades 6-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1.

Homes in Ortega Forest

There are a variety of different styles of homes in Ortega Forest. Many residents own their homes with prices averaging $452,000. Apartments and rental homes are available for around $1,137 per month.

San Marco

The historic neighborhood of San Marco is about 10 minutes from downtown. It’s filled with distinctive boutiques, art galleries and a dining district full of delicious options, like the Italian restaurant Taverna or the German-inspired European Street Cafe.. While there is plenty to do within the neighborhood, residents can always go downtown for more options.

What’s Happening in San Marco

Go see a movie at Theatre Jacksonville. There’s also Stellers Gallery which features artwork on display and for purchase from local and regional artists. Grab a pint at one of the area’s breweries or craft cocktail bars, or catch one of the best views of the city at Riverfront Park. Dining hot spot Taverna along with the French-inspired Bistro Aix are popular. San Marco Square is home to trendy boutiques to consignment shops and a quaint independent bookstore.

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Schools in San Marco

Schools in the area include the private school for grades K-5, Academie de Montessori, the Julia Landon College Preparatory & Leadership Development School, which ranks as one of the best public schools in the county, , and Spring Park Elementary.

Homes in San Marco

Homes in San Marco range from historic to new. The median home price is $491,000, with larger or newer homes selling in the millions. The average cost to rent a home in the area is $1,532.

The Best Neighborhoods in Jacksonville


With 17 different places to choose from to live and more than 120 restaurants and bars, it’s no wonder more than 8,000 people live in the downtown area of Jacksonville. Not only are there plenty of attractions, but downtown also has a variety of schools, businesses, and shopping, making it a convenient place to live, work and play.

What’s Happening in Downtown

The Museum of Science and History is a great place to explore over and over again, with revolving exhibits and tons of special events. The Ritz Theatre and Museum is a museum celebrating the rich African American contributions to the city but is also a venue with concerts and a variety of plays and musicals. There’s a variety of shopping and dining options downtown as well, including the trendy spot Indochine Downtownor Spliffs Gastropub for bar food and craft beer.

Schools in Downtown

There are several schools in proximity to downtown.  Cathedral School & Early Learning Center is a private preschool in the Cathedral district. LaVilla School for the Arts is a public school for grades 6-8 with a focus on the arts. Bishop Kenny High School is a private college-prep Catholic school for grades 9-12 that is ranked on of the best Catholic high schools in the area.

Homes in Downtown

A variety of townhomes, condos, apartments, and single-family homes are in the downtown area, from historical to modern. Homes, which are mostly apartments and townhomes, sell for around $292,450. Rentals average around $1,540 a month.

Riverside and Avondale

Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Riverside and Avondale have a unique mix of history, culture, charm and modern design. Riverside is a 10-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville, while Avondale is about 15 minutes. There are plenty of dining, shopping and restaurant options in this area of town. With a mix of million-dollar waterfront homes and upscale apartments, Riverside and Avondale appeal to many young professionals who are into urban living and a sense of close-knit community.

What’s Happening in Riverside and Avondale

If you can’t find anything to do in Riverside and Avondale, we believe you’re actively trying not to leave your home. Riverdale and Avondale are full of tons of dining, shopping, and bars your heart desires. From the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens to the exciting 5 Points area, with cool stops like Glass Goods, Violet, Wolfgang, and Edge City. The popular River & Post serves steaks and seafood with a rooftop bar that offers plenty of views. Black Sheep Restaurant is another local favorite for Southern-style food made with local ingredients.  

Schools in Riverside and Avondale

A number of schools are nearby, including the private Calvary Christian Academy, Harbordale Elementary and Virginia Shuman Young Montessori.

Homes in Riverside and Avondale

Upscale apartments and million-dollar waterfront homes are the norm in this area. There’s plenty of unique architecture ranging from Tudor to Prairie-style bungalows to Spanish Colonial mansions. There are even condos houses in a former high school. Rental homes in Avondale average $1,430 a month, while rent prices are closer to $1,650 in Riverside.

There you have it: the best places to live in Jacksonville

Neighborhoods are about location and lifestyle, to be sure. But they are also about the people who live in them. These neighborhoods offer a variety of lifestyles to meet almost anyone’s needs.

Need to move to Jacksonville fast? Don’t forget we offer last minute moving services!

Interested in learning more about Jacksonville? Check out our other guides to Jacksonville

Harrison Stevens