Destin, located in Florida’s panhandle along the emerald-green waters of the Emerald Coast, is a sight to behold. Real estate here is among the most stunning you’ll find along the coast, thanks to its location between the historic districts of Pensacola and the spring break metropolis of Panama City Beach.
If you’re thinking of moving to Destin, you’re probably curious about what the city is like, so we’ve decided to cover both the good and the bad. Keep reading to find out 10 pros and cons of living in Destin, FL!
Pros of Living in Destin
1. The city has a diverse economy
Destin is unlike other beach communities, in that it does not rely heavily on tourism. Due to its closeness to the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the local economy benefits from diversification.
This military base, known as “The Cradle of Naval Aviation,” is where many of the Navy’s top pilots are trained and it is the home of the world-famous Blue Angels. Other significant employers in the Destin area include the public and private sectors of education, healthcare, and state and federal government.
2. The Emerald Coast beaches are right here
From Pensacola in the south to Port St. Joe in the north, there is a length of coastline in the Florida panhandle known as the Emerald Coast. The area’s magnificent white sand beaches (sometimes known as “Florida snow”) along the Gulf of Mexico inspired the name.
The number of annual visitors to the Emerald Coast region is estimated to reach 4.5 million. Although Pensacola and Panama City get more media attention, the city of Destin is the Emerald Coast’s most popular vacation spot.
There’s no denying that the beaches and water in Destin are a major draw for many who decide to make the area their permanent home. Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico offer residents a variety of water environments to engage in different water activities.
3. You get to enjoy amazing weather
There are 226 sunny days a year in the Destin area, but the area also receives 66 inches of rain annually, which is double the national average. The city receives just the right amount of sunshine and precipitation to ensure that it remains lush year-round. Summers can reach highs in the 90s with high humidity, but the winters are mild, with average highs in the 60s and low humidity.
4. If you love golf, you’ll love Destin
Destin, like the rest of the Sunshine State, has plenty of golf courses to choose from. Almost all of the 8 outstanding courses in the Destin region and the 17 courses within 20 miles of town are public and open to the public.
Golf Digest has ranked Kelly Plantation Golf Club as the best course in the Destin area, giving it 4.5 stars and placing it in the Top 5 in the state of Florida. Destin is undoubtedly a paradise for golf lovers.
5. There are plenty of great restaurants
More than 275 different restaurants, both chain and independent, can be found in and around the Destin area, as the region is a popular tourist destination. There are a wide variety of dining options to accommodate different tastes and wallet sizes. There is a lot of fresh, reasonably priced seafood available due to the commercial and sport fishing in the city.
Just by being in the vicinity of the Gulf Coast, you will be exposed to the local Cajun culture. You can enjoy some proper seafood at restaurants such as Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer, Louisiana Lagniappe, The Back Porch, Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House, and many others.
Cons of Living in Destin
1. There’s a high risk of hurricanes
The threat of hurricanes is an inevitable topic to bring up while discussing the Florida coast. Since the warm Gulf waters turbo-charge entering storms, the Gulf coast faces a greater chance of a catastrophic hurricane than the East coast.
Higher than any other Florida location, the Destin area has the 10th-highest risk of hurricanes in the country. Only other areas on the Gulf coast have a higher risk of a hurricane.
If a big hurricane were to make a direct landing on the Destin peninsula, the flood maps show that large areas may be affected by storm surges.
2. The city has a high cost of living
Destin is a popular tourist destination, so it’s no surprise that the cost of living there is 18 percent higher than the national average. This is due in large part to the city’s sky-high housing prices, with a median home price of $661,554, compared to the national average of $291,000.
The higher-than-average incomes in Destin compared to the rest of the country assist in partially offsetting the city’s higher prices. But many locals will still have to stretch to afford the high cost of homes in the area.
3. The city is crowded
There are just 14,000 permanent residents (those who qualify to be counted in a census). Destin’s population density is quite high with 1,800 persons per square mile, given that the city is only 8 square miles in size.
For starters, March ushers in the start of the annual spring break season. Until early November, Destin welcomes 3-4 million tourists, who are easily accommodated thanks to the numerous five-star hotels and vacation houses in the region.
However, this results in lengthy wait times at eateries. Also, Saturdays are crazy at the grocery store because of all the new people.
4. Traffic is a nightmare
Everybody has to get around town, and there’s just one thoroughfare that goes straight through Destin (Route 98). Aside from that, there are just two primary bridges to the mainland. During the summer, the population of Destin doubles to accommodate the 3 million tourists who flock there.
What a dense population to have on so few thoroughfares and bridges! In other words, the summer months see a great deal of foot and vehicle activity. Imagine being stuck in beach traffic full of visitors when you’re late for work or you need to pick up your kid from school. Not a pretty experience, we’re sure.
5. There are limited options for college
Northwest Florida State College is the only community college in the Destin area, and the rankings are significantly lower than the national average.
Pensacola’s University of West Florida, which is a 4-year institution with respectable national rankings, is worth the 1-hour travel if that’s what you’re after.
To Sum it All Up
Is Destin the right place for you? With year-long access to stunning bodies of water, amazing restaurants, and a vibrant economy, this city has many attractive features. However, if you’re one who detests overcrowding and traffic, or you’d rather have your kids attend college very close to you, Destin might not be the best option.