40 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Florida
The average commute for a Florida worker is 25 minutes, which is on par with the national average. But scattered around the Sunshine State we found 40 cities where residents enjoy much shorter commutes. In fact, the people who live in the cities listed below get to work 20 percent faster than the average full-time worker in America.
Whether they’re driving, taking the bus, or biking to work, many people don’t think about how their commute impacts their life. In addition to increasing stress and affecting overall health, those who endure longer commutes can also pay higher auto insurance premiums, which no one wants.
But those who have a short commute see numerous benefits, such as lower car insurance rates, and we feel the Florida cities that offer residents the shortest commutes deserve recognition.
To determine which cities have the shortest commute times, Obrella first looked at the 2013 Census Survey and found cities with populations of more than 10,000 residents. From there, we analyzed the traffic data of those cities, based on the most recent survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums
The more time you spend on the road commuting, the greater the chance you may be involved in an accident. When you’re a greater risk to an insurance company, you’ll typically pay a higher auto insurance premium. When you shop for auto insurance, be prepared to tell the insurance representative how far you travel to get to work and update your provider if you shorten or lengthen your commute.
When a job change or move to a new city increases your commute, your monthly insurance premium could increase by as much as $10. Contact your Florida car insurance company to find out how your commute affects your premium.
How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life
The time you spend commuting can affect your quality of life in several ways, from gaining weight to reducing your social connections and hurting your marriage. Here are some areas of your life that may be affected by how long you spend going to and from work.
- Workers who have longer commutes are more likely to feel tired, as well as experience greater worry and less enjoyment.
- According to research from the University of California, Los Angeles and California State University, Long Beach, the number of miles a person drives to work each day had a stronger correlation with obesity that any other factor analyzed.
- A study from Sweden discovered that when one partner in a marriage commutes longer than 45 minutes a day, the marriage is 40 percent more likely to end in divorce.
- Political Scientist Robert Putnam revealed that people who spend more time commuting are less “socially connected.” Putnam also reported that our “social connections” are decreased by 10 percent for every 10 minutes spent commuting.
- Those who commute longer than 90 minutes are at higher risk for neck problems and chronic back pain, according to a Gallup poll.
- Thomas James Christian of Brown University reports that every minute of a commute reduces time spent on healthy lifestyle activities, like preparing meals, resting, and exercising.
Now is the time to start thinking about how your commute could be negatively impacting your health, relationships and finances, and consider ways to minimize your time behind the wheel. From carpooling to working at home, take a few tips from these 40 cities in Florida where workers spend a nominal amount of time getting to the office.
The 40 Best Commuter Cities in Florida
#1 – Key West
The island city of Key West is a popular vacation destination, but it’s also a great place to call home if you’d rather be beachcombing than commuting.
Boasting a commute time that’s almost half the national and state average, Key West earns the top spot on our best commuter cities in Florida list. Key West also has the smallest percentage of workers who commute for more than an hour, just 1.32 percent.
Supporting its tourism-based economy, nearly one third of the jobs in Key West are in retail, accommodations, and food service. The government is also a significant employer, accounting for 12 percent of all jobs.
#2 – Naples
In the U.S., 4.3 percent of workers telecommute, but, in Naples, that figure is almost three times as much, meaning an impressive 12.62 percent of Naples residents have no commute at all. That’s 30 percent more than Punta Gorda, the city on our list with the second highest percentage of virtual workers.
Major job sectors in Naples include tourism, healthcare, and construction. Almost half of Naples residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. For those who do, nursing, accounting, and sales careers are most prevalent.
#3 – Vero Beach
In Vero Beach, the average time it takes to get to the office is just 18 minutes, and more than three quarters of workers enjoy a drive that’s 29 minutes or less.
Close proximity to the Vero Beach Municipal Airport and the St. Lucie International Airport make travelling out of town for work easy. A high rate of volunteerism, low crime, and idyllic waterfront location all help make Vero Beach one of Florida’s best kept secrets.
#4 – St. Augustine
Another Sunshine State tourist destination, St. Augustine, is not only recognized as the oldest European city in America, it also earns kudos for being commuter-friendly. Located along the state’s eastern seaboard, St. Augustine residents enjoy easy access to Interstate 95, which runs north and south along the coast.
Strong industries in St. Augustine include accommodations, food services, and construction. Five colleges and universities are located within driving distance of St. Augustine, and that may be why one in 10 female St. Augustine residents works in the education field.
#5 – Sebring
Sebring, located in the middle of Central Florida, has one of Florida’s top three downtown districts and small business is a central part of Sebring’s economy. Whether employed by a small business or by a chain, nearly one in four Sebring residents carpool to the office, which is more than twice the national average.
#6 – Panama City
Near Florida’s Gulf Coast, half way between Tallahassee and Pensacola, you’ll find Panama City. A pleasant climate, diverse housing, and abundant recreational opportunities are a few of the reasons this city of approximately 35,000 is so popular. The fact that almost 85 percent of residents can get to the office in 29 minutes or less only adds to this seaside city’s appeal.
Situated near Tyndall Air Force Base, Naval Support Activity-Panama City, Bay Medical Center, and Gulf Coast Medical Center, it’s no surprise that a number of Panama City residents are employed in military or health care fields.
#7 – Gainesville
On average, less than one percent of the workers who live in Florida’s best commuter cities use a form of mass transportation to get to and from work. But in Gainesville, that figure is 3.07 percent, which is more than any other city on our list, expect Daytona Beach. Gainesville’s Regional Transit Systems (RTS) provides affordable bus service throughout the city, often serving more than one million people per month.
More people using the bus means there are fewer cars on the road, and that’s one reason why Gainesville’s residents spend an average of a mere 19.9 minutes behind the wheel. That’s especially impressive considering Gainesville has more than 100,000 residents, making it the second most populated city on our list.
#8 – Lake City
Conveniently located at the intersection of Interstates 10 and 75, and only an hour from the Gainesville Regional Airport and the Jacksonville International Airport, living in Lake City makes travelling out of town for work less stressful. Lake City is a relatively small community, so it doesn’t have a mass transit system, but that doesn’t stop workers from getting to the office five minutes faster than the average American.
#9 – Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach boasts almost 30 miles of coastline, first-class restaurants, and crowd-drawing events. It’s no wonder people who visit the Gulf Coast city often decide to call it home. When they do, they’re rewarded with an average commute of 20 minutes, and there’s only a six percent chance they’ll drive longer than 45 minutes to get to work.
Panama City Beach is located in Bay County, where seven out of the top ten employers are military related, including Tyndall Air Force Base and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
#10 – West Melbourne
As a whole, West Melbourne residents have achieved a higher level of education than most Americans. Slightly more than 40 percent of residents have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and that could be why many West Melbourne workers are in professional fields. Administrative support, sales, and healthcare account for 38 percent of all jobs in the area.
#11 – Lynn Haven
Established more than a century ago, Lynn Haven is historic and charming. The waterfront community is also perfectly positioned for workers to commute to Tyndall Air Force Base or to jobs in Panama City.
Lynn Haven’s average commute time of 20.5 minutes is commendable, but we’re more impressed that only one percent of Lynn Haven workers commute from 45 to 59 minutes and just two percent endure a commute longer than 60 minutes.
#12 – Leesburg
Bordered by lakes on three sides, Leesburg offers a wealth of beautiful water views, but it’s also rather isolated. That could be why many residents work locally. The healthcare, retail, and construction industries are a few of the largest employers in Leesburg.
More than half of Leesburg workers enjoy a commute of less than 15 minutes, which is the third best on our list. We were impressed to discover 18 percent of workers carpool. That’s 40 percent more than the average city on best commuter cities of Florida list.
#13 – Ocala
From the Ocala National Forest to the Ocala Regional Sportsplex, there are plenty of things to keep families busy in Ocala. Thanks to an average commute time of 20 minutes, moms and dads can spend less time behind the wheel and more time with their kids. Only 16 percent of Ocala locals commute for 30 minutes or more and Interstate 75 offers quick access to the capital of Tallahassee.
#14 – Tallahassee
With about 172,000 residents, Tallahassee is by far the most populated city on our best commuter cities in Florida list. It tied with Niceville for having the third smallest percentage of workers who commute for more than 60 minutes. StarMetro, the city’s mass transit system, underwent a major overhaul two years ago and, as a result, it won a prestigious award from the American Planning Association.
The State of Florida is the largest employer in Tallahassee, followed by Florida State University and Leon County Schools.
#15 – Fort Walton Beach
Billed as “the treasure of the emerald coast,” Fort Walton Beach is a seaside community that offers families nationally top-ranked schools and an abundance of recreational opportunities. And residents will appreciate that getting to work doesn’t take long. In fact, 8 out of 10 workers commute for 29 minutes or less.
The Okaloosa County Transit bus services provides mass transportation in and around the city and three major highway cross though Fort Walton Beach, making it easy for commuters to get to the downtown, midtown, and uptown areas of the city. The Northwest Florida Regional Airport is close by for those who travel out of town for work.
Eglin Air Force Base is less than 10 miles from Fort Walton Beach, and it’s a major employer in the area. Almost 10,000 active military, 4,000 civilians, and 3,000 contractors report there for work on a daily basis.
#16 – Palatka
Palatka is situated along the St. John River, approximately an hour south of Jacksonville. Given its somewhat secluded location, half the people who live in Palatka also work there. During the work week, the city’s population nearly doubles as workers enter Palatka from surrounding communities.
Palatka deserves recognition for its high percentage of carpoolers. Nearly one quarter of Palatka workers share a ride to work, which is more than double the national average. This great environmental feat is also the second highest percentage on our list.
#17 – Daytona Beach
The citizens of Daytona Beach earn our respect for using mass transit more than any other of Florida’s best commuter cities. Many commuters use Votran, the award winning public transportation agency in Dayton Beach. When it comes to commuting, almost four percent of workers take advantage of public transportation. Not only is that good for the environment, but it also reduces the number of cars on the road, helping other commuters get to work faster.
#18 – Sarasota
Sarasota is situated on Florida’s west coast, an hour south of Tampa. Interstate 75 and State Route 19 run north and south through the city, providing commuters with access to a number of nearby cities. In Sarasota, 12 percent of workers carpool and the average commute is 21 minutes. White-collar jobs are prevalent in Sarasota, and more than one in four workers are employed in a sales, office, or administrative job.
#19 – South Daytona
South Daytona is bordered by Daytona Beach to the north and the Halifax River to the east. The two largest employers are Volusia County Schools and Halifax Health. In fact, education and healthcare together account for 20 percent of all jobs in the county. Jobs in the leisure and hospitably industry are also numerous, representing 15 percent of the workforce. Nine percent of South Daytona residents use mass transit to make their commute.
Call South Daytona home and there’s an 80 percent chance you’ll get to work in less than 29 minutes, and a 30 percent chance the trip won’t take more than 15 minutes.
#20 – Pensacola
From beautiful beaches to a bustling downtown district, Pensacola has a lot to offer. And thanks to short commutes, residents have more time to enjoy this popular panhandle city.
Interstate 10 and the Pensacola International Airport serve residents who travel out of town for work, and those who stay local can use the Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) system. Serving more than 100,000 riders per month, ECAT provides commuters with bus service to every part of the city. The bus also provides service to the Pensacola Naval Air Station, one of the city’s significant employers.
#21 – Destin
Destin is located in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Those who settle in Destin will enjoy stunning beaches, plenty of shopping and dining choices, and a commute that’s 15 percent faster than the state and national average. An impressive 40 percent of Destin locals get to the office in 15 minutes or less.
Okaloosa County Transit helps ease traffic congestion and relieve workers from having to get behind the wheel. There are more than 22,000 businesses in Destin that have fewer than 10 employees, so many Dentin workers are employed locally.
#22 – Bartow
Bartow is located in the center of Florida, but several highways help Bartow commuters get to jobs in nearby towns without fighting too much traffic. State Route 60 travels through Bartow and gives residents access to Tampa, as well as many Gulf and Atlantic coast cities. State Route 98 allows commuters to get to work in the much larger city of Lakeland in about 22 minutes by car, or 60 minutes by bus.
Residents who work within city limits are likely to be employed by one of the city’s two largest employers, the Polk County School District or Mosaic, a phosphate and potash supplier. We were happy to see that more than 15 percent of Bartow residents carpool to work, wherever it may be.
#23 – Seminole
Situated in Pinellas County, Seminole is bordered by Lake Seminole to the east and Gulf coast communities to the west. Seminole boasts the second lowest percentage of workers (2.36 percent) who commute longer than 60 minutes.
In Seminole, almost 30 percent more commuters use public transportation to get to work than the average city on our list. Seminole’s popular mass transit system, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), offers bus and trolley service throughout Pinellas County. Recently, PSTA reported that for the first quarter of 2015 ridership increased more than four percent over the same period last year, which represented the highest ridership the agency ever recorded.
#24 – Venice
Dissected by State Route 40 and just a short drive from Interstate 75, Venice sits on the Gulf of Mexico. The average commute time for a Venice local is 22.3 minutes. That’s three minutes faster than the typical Floridian gets to work, and 45 percent of workers make it to the office in less than 15 minutes. A short trip to work and back means Venice residents have more time to explore the 14 miles of beach in the city.
“Coastal Living” magazine named Venice one of the top 10 of “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns” for 2015. And those who want to bike to work will be glad to learn Venice is designated as a silver “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists.
#25 – Holly Hill
Holly Hill residents can brag that, compared to the other cities in our list, their hometown has one of the lowest percent of workers who commute alone. Sharing rides could be one reason why 7 in 10 workers get to their place of employment in less than 29 minutes and 4 in 10 get to the job in less than 15 minutes. Holly Hill residents enjoy easy access to Interstate 95, which means they can commute to the nearby cities of Ormond Beach and Daytona. Florida Health Care Plans and Metra Electronics Corporation are two of the area’s larger employers.
#26 – Boca Raton
Boasting four miles of public beach, 44 miles of bike lanes, and 31 miles of bike trails, Boca Raton lives up to its tag line “A Quality Place to Live, A Great Place to Work, An Outstanding Place to Play!” Recently, Boca Raton was honored as the best place to live Florida, and the 11th best city to live in nationally.
More than six percent of Baca Raton locals don’t have to commute to work, as they telecommute from home. That’s the third highest percentage of telecommuters on our list. Among those who commute to their job, 7 out of 10 get there in 29 minutes or less.
#27 – Pinellas Park
Less than 20 miles from Tampa, and 10 miles from St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Pinellas Park’s location offers workers a number of choices with regard to employment. Whether they stay close to home or head to a nearby city to punch the clock, the typical Pinellas Park resident enjoys a commute that’s roughly three minutes shorter than most Americans.
When compared to the national average, nearly 25 percent more people carpool in Pinellas Park. Call this century old city home and you can even drive your golf cart to the office!
#28 – Melbourne
Melbourne is located on Florida’s Space Coast, about 60 minutes from the Kennedy Space Center. It’s fitting that some of the city’s major employers, such as Northrop-Grumman, are in high-tech industries, but education related jobs are also prevalent. The Brevard County School Board, Brevard Community College, and Florida Institute of Technology are sizable employers in the area.
Melbourne earns praise for involving its citizens in transportation planning. Currently, it’s seeking volunteers to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the multijurisdictional Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization.
#29 – Ormond Beach
If a short commute and coastal living appeal to you, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Ormond Beach. Lengthy rush hour commutes don’t seem to be a problem here and officials want to keep it that way. We were impressed to learn Ormond Beach has a number of projects underway to improve traffic flow.
Nearly four percent of Ormond Beach residents work from home, and those who commute get to work in just over 22 minutes. That’s three minutes faster than the average American worker. A lower than average cost of living and nominal crime rate add to this beach community’s appeal.
#30 – Sarasota Springs
The small community of Sarasota Springs is part of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice metro area, which received kudos as a great place to live and work. Many Sarasota Spring residents work locally, in healthcare, construction, and education related jobs. Whether they drive alone, carpool, or take mass transit, those who venture outside of Sarasota Springs for employment can make use of Interstate 75 to get them there.
Move to Sarasota Springs and there’s more than an 80 percent chance your commute will be 29 minutes or less. That’s one of the highest percentages out of all our best commuter cities.
#31 – North Palm Beach
North Palm Beach residents enjoy waterfront views, and an average commute of just 22 minutes. Flanked by Interstate 95 and Route 1, it’s not a problem for North Palm Beach locals to make the drive to the cities of Palm Beach Gardens or West Palm Beach for work.
Palm Tran, Palm Beach County’s Public Transportation System, provides extensive bus service throughout the coastal region and to the Palm Beach International Airport. All Aboard Florida, the proposed new high speed rail system, may further reduce commute times.
#32 – Niceville
Niceville is a Panhandle city situated roughly 60 miles east of Pensacola along the state’s Miracle Strip. It’s tied with Tallahassee for the third lowest percentage of workers who commute for more than 60 minutes, and more than three quarters of Niceville’s workers get to the office in 29 minutes or less.
Eglin Air Force Base is 10 miles southwest of Niceville and it’s the county’s largest employer. But Niceville’s technology based industry is also sizable and steadily growing. Offering innovative, top-notch schools and a number of opportunities for continuing education, Niceville is an outstanding place for families to put down roots.
#33 – Stuart
Surrounded by the St. Lucie River and dissected by Route 1, the relatively small city of Stuart is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast. At 16.41 percent, the percent of carpoolers in Stuart is the third highest on our list, and 60 percent higher than the national average.
Billed as “the sailfish capital of the world,” Stuart is a waterfront community that offers abundant recreation and a popular community center that is a focal point of the city. Stuart’s 10th Street Community Center offers a range of programs, including several afterschool activities for kids of working moms and dads.
#34 – Punta Gorda
In Punta Gorda, 4 out of 10 workers spend less than 15 minutes commuting, and 9.76 percent have no commute at all, as they work from home. That’s twice the national average, and more than every city on our list, with the exception of Naples. Three highways run through Punta Gorda including Interstate 75, which helps workers get to work in Fort Myers.
In Punta Gorda, 38.25 percent of those 18 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, and roughly 88 percent of Punta Gorda’s workforce is employed in white-collar jobs. Management, sales, and administrative support positions make up about half of all jobs in this waterfront community.
#35 – Lakeland
An hour southwest of Orlando and 30 minutes east of Tampa, you’ll find Lakeland. “Money Magazine” named this city one of the “Best Place to Live in America” and “Forbes” listed the Lakeland metropolitan statistical area (MSA) as having the best job outlook in the nation for 2012.
On average, Lakeland workers spend 23.4 minutes getting from home to the office, but more than a third make the trip in less than 29 minutes. The Citrus Connection, Lakeland’s public transit system, and Polk Parkway, a beltway around the city, help keep traffic flowing smoothly.
Lakeland’s education and health services industries have nearly doubled over the last two decades, and today 1 in 3 of Lakeland’s female workers are employed in these industries. Overall, Publix Supermarkets and the Lakeland Regional Medical Center are the city’s largest employers.
# 36 – Palm Beach Gardens
Positioned near Florida’s southeast coast, Palm Beach Gardens provides its citizens with a first-class quality of life. The city boasts an award-winning Parks and Recreation Department, and over 30 percent of the city’s land is dedicated to green space. The fact that one third of workers can get from home to the office in less than 15 minutes is another perk of living in this Signature City.
#37 – Winter Haven
The commute friendly city of Winter Haven is located in the center of the state. Named “The Chain of Lakes City,” Winter Haven has 50 lakes within its borders. Not only can this city boast that it has a unique geography, but it can also claim that 71 percent of workers get to their place of employment in less than a half hour.
Thanks to its central location, stellar infrastructure and business-friendly environment, economic development is in full swing in Winter Haven. Legoland Florida and the CSX Integrated Logistics Center are two newcomers the region, and have brought hundreds on new jobs. Last year, The Central Florida Intermodal Terminal Facility opened and, when fully built out, it is expected to create 8,000 new jobs.
#38 – Lady Lake
Lady Lake is a sunny, friendly hometown community. It’s located in Central Florida, an hour northwest of Orlando and 30 minutes south of Ocala. About 18 percent of Lady Lake residents work in food service, and roughly 30 percent work in administrative support or sales jobs. With close proximity to both Interstate 75 and Highway 441, commuting to a nearby city for work is relatively easy. Almost 40 percent of Lady Lake residents get to work in less than 15 minutes. That’s a higher percentage than 35 of the cities on our list.
#39 – Winter Park
Less than 10 miles from Orlando and a mere hour to Florida’s east coast beaches, Winter Park is a small town with a lot to offer. For starters, only 3.08 percent of Winter Park workers travel over an hour to get to work, which is one of the lowest percentages of all the cities on our list.
Winter Park commuters also enjoy SunRail, a state-of-the-art train that offers comfortable seats, power outlets, and Wi-Fi. SunRail is a great option for commuters who want to work in the bustling city of Orlando, but don’t want to give up the small town vibe of Winter Park. Winter Park’s innovative Merchant Employee Parking Program helps provide convenient all-day parking for downtown employees, while opening up spaces for customers to use.
# 40 – Delray Beach
Delray Beach has a higher than average rate of mass transit users as well as one of the highest percentages of telecommuters on our list. That could be due to the fact that Delray Beach is located along South Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s Tri-Rail system, which runs north and south near Interstate 95. We were happy to discover that veterans with disabilities can ride Tri-Rail for free.
The largest employers in the coastal community are Delray Medical, Palm Beach County School System and Publix Supermarkets.
40 Worst Commuter Cities in Florida
The average American will spend nearly an hour per day, 20 hours per month, and the equivalent of 10 days every year getting to and from the office. If you’re moving to one of 40 worst commuter cities in Florida, you might want to consider carpooling or using mass transit to help minimize the time and stress associated with your daily commute.
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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Florida cities whose population exceeded 10,000 at the time of this report. Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report. If you are ready to hear how you can save on car insurance in Florida, call and speak with an agent at[mapi-phone-link /].
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