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Cost to Buy vs Rent in 10 Florida Cities

How much is it to buy versus rent a home in Florida?

Buying a home in Florida is typically more expensive than renting, but could be well worth it considering continued housing price growth in the state.

We looked at costs of buying versus renting a single-family home assuming conservative homebuying criteria: five percent down and a full payment that includes estimated private mortgage insurance (PMI), property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. See our full methodology at the end of this article.

Adding to Florida’s homeownership cost is pricey homeowner’s insurance. In Miami, a homeowner can expect to pay $394 per month according to Policygenius.

But make no mistake: you pay this when you rent, too.

Overall, buying a home in The Sunshine State can pay dividends in the future despite the higher upfront cost compared to renting.

Monthly Cost to Buy vs Rent

1. Jacksonville +$493
2. Orlando +$903
3. Miami +$1,495
4. Tampa +$873
5. Tallahassee +$727
6. Lakeland +$616
7. Gainesville +$509
8. Port Saint Lucie +$769
9. Cape Coral +$881
10. Palm Bay +$310

1. Jacksonville

Home Price

$287,444

Full Payment

$2,441

Rent

$1,948

Cost Difference to Buy

+$493

Jacksonville is one of the more affordable cities on the list, and also the biggest city in Florida. Since renting a free-standing house costs nearly $2,000 per month, some should consider owning a home for about $500 per month more.

2. Orlando

Home Price

$402,345

Full Payment

$3,313

Rent

$2,411

Cost Difference to Buy

+$903

While home prices are up nearly 10% year-over-year according to Redfin, they could have more room grow. According to U.S. News & World Report, home prices are leveling off, meaning normal rather than extreme appreciation.

3. Miami

Home Price

$601,134

Full Payment

$4,936

Rent

$3,441

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,495

Florida’s most well-known city also comes with the highest price tag on our list. As in many major metros, it’s much cheaper to rent than buy. According to our estimates, it's about $1,500 per month less to rent than buy here.

4. Tampa

Home Price

$395,148

Full Payment

$3,219

Rent

$2,345

Cost Difference to Buy

+$873

Though you’ll pay an estimated $873-per-month premium over renting to buy a home in Tampa, it’s not stopping buyers and investors from purchasing homes. About 27% of sales are all cash, says Norada Real Estate Investments, and prices rose 3.8% year-over-year.

5. Tallahassee

Home Price

$290,169

Full Payment

$2,375

Rent

$1,648

Cost Difference to Buy

+$727

While Tallahassee home prices have trended down since summer according to Redfin, they are still up 1% compared to a year earlier. The number of days homes stay on the market is shrinking, indicating no let-up in demand for homes here.

6. Lakeland

Home Price

$320,158

Full Payment

$2,629

Rent

$2,013

Cost Difference to Buy

+$616

Lakeland is an affordable alternative to Tampa and Orlando, sitting right in the middle of those two metros on Interstate 4. While buying would cost $616 more per month than renting, home appreciation in the area could soon make up for this expense.

7. Gainesville

Home Price

$309,735

Full Payment

$2,536

Rent

$2,027

Cost Difference to Buy

+$509

Gainesville home prices are up 3.7% year-over-year according to Zillow, which is a steady, sustainable rate that could have staying power.

8. Port Saint Lucie

Home Price

$397,422

Full Payment

$3,325

Rent

$2,557

Cost Difference to Buy

+$769

There are nearly 3,000 homes for sale in Port Saint Lucie according to Realtor.com, giving buyers at least some selection here. Though renting costs much less in this city, it does not seem to be affecting demand: Redfin says homes are selling seven days faster than they did a year ago.

9. Cape Coral

Home Price

$404,264

Full Payment

$3,287

Rent

$2,406

Cost Difference to Buy

+$881

While home prices aren’t low, you might be able to find a deal in Cape Coral versus two years ago. Prices peaked in April 2022 according to Redfin, and are now slowly drifting downward.

10. Palm Bay

Home Price

$312,629

Full Payment

$2,521

Rent

$2,211

Cost Difference to Buy

+$310

Of any city on our list, the cost to buy is the most similar to renting. At just a $310 premium, those who can raise funds for a down payment and closing costs can own a home for nearly the same price as renting.

Get Pre-Approved for Your Florida Home

Homes in Florida are affordable compared to many areas of the U.S. See what home price you qualify for by requesting your pre-approval from a reputable lender.

Methodology

To compare the costs of buying versus renting in 10 Florida cities, we started with typical home prices as reported on the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) Single-Family Home Time Series for November 2023. We assumed a 5% down payment, the typical requirement for first-time buyers. We then calculated the monthly payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage using a 6.845% rate, the average rate at the time of data collection as published on Optimal Blue Mortgage Market Indices for a buyer with less than 20% down and a 700 FICO score. We added PMI costs per rates from mortgage insurance provider MGIC. Then we added annual homeowner’s insurance premiums as reported by Policygenius and property tax data from Roofstock. We assumed zero HOA dues. We compared this total housing payment with rent data from the Zillow Observed Rent Index (ZORI) Smoothed Single Family Residence Time Series. City selection was based on the highest population except where it made sense to bypass a suburb of a major city to highlight one in a different area.

About The Author:

Tim Lucas spent 11 years in the mortgage industry and now leverages that real-world knowledge to give consumers reliable, actionable advice. Tim has been featured in national publications such as Time, U.S. News, MSN, The Mortgage Reports, My Mortgage Insider, and more.

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