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8 Things to Know Before Moving to Milton, FL

Written by Leigh Cooper

Nestled in the panhandle of Florida, Milton is a charming small city with historic roots and natural beauty. Surrounded by the stunning natural backdrop of the Blackwater River, this charming Santa Rosa County community offers a peaceful, neighborly way of life. 

Just a short drive from the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Milton provides easy access to outdoor recreation and the amenities of larger Pensacola, while retaining its own unique small-town identity. With roots as a frontier logging settlement that dates back to the 1800s, today Milton is best known for its family-friendly atmosphere, lively arts scene, and wealth of outdoor destinations for fishing, hiking, paddling, and more. If you’re considering making Milton your new home, there is plenty to discover about this hidden gem along Florida’s Panhandle. Let’s check out eight things to know before moving to Milton, FL.

1. Milton has a small-town vibe 

With a population of around 11,000, Milton has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with Mom-and-Pop shops, local eateries, and a lively arts scene. The compact downtown filled with antique stores and boutiques has an old-fashioned Americana vibe. 

Locals gather for summer concerts in the park or the Friday night street fair. Milton is one of those places where neighbors know each other and newcomers are welcomed into the community.

2. Explore the Blackwater River State Park and Forest

One of Milton’s biggest draws is its abundant natural surroundings. It’s located on the Blackwater River, known for excellent fishing, paddling, and camping opportunities. Blackwater River State Park and Forest offers hiking and horse trails, picnic areas, and campsites.  

Nearby Bagdad Mill Site has walking paths and mountain bike trails through its longleaf pine forests. The Emerald Coast’s beautiful public beaches are also just a short drive away in neighboring Pensacola and Navarre.

3. The University of West Florida is 20 minutes away

Milton is served by the Santa County School District, which has an overall B rating from the state. Milton High School offers Advanced Placement courses, career technical programs, performing arts, and athletics. 

Charter and private school options are also available in the broader Pensacola metro area. The University of West Florida is conveniently located just 20 minutes away for higher education.

4. Summers are quite hot while winters are mild

Milton’s climate is humid subtropical, with hot, muggy summers and mild winters. From June through September, average highs are in the 90s. The record high temperature reached 105°F in 1998. However, afternoon thunderstorms periodically provide some heat relief. 

The city gets 67 inches of rainfall on average yearly and 0 inches of snow. 

5. Living expenses are 10% lower than the national average

Milton’s cost of living comes in at 20% under the national average. Groceries, utilities, transportation, and housing are all quite affordable compared to most U.S. cities. 

Housing in Milton is quite affordable compared to many parts of the U.S. The median home value is around $273,000, while rents average $850-1000 for a nice 2-bedroom apartment. Just be prepared for limited choices – the housing stock is predominantly single-family homes.

Lower taxes and living expenses make Milton an attractive place for retirees and young families alike.  Overall, the city provides an opportunity to stretch your dollars further no matter your income level.

6. You’ll need a car to get around

Milton is designed for driving rather than walking or cycling. Residential neighborhoods sprawl outward from the compact downtown, and just 5% of residents commute via public transportation. Sidewalks are limited in areas besides downtown. 

Drivers should be extra cautious on roads that used to be railroad lines. These roads have a lot of railroad crossings that don’t have gates or flashing lights, and over 100 railroad crossings can make driving tricky.

7. Job opportunities are limited

Healthcare, retail, education, and construction are the major local employers in Milton. The 5% unemployment rate is higher than the national rate, and job growth projections are slower than average over the next decade. 

Nearby Pensacola offers more robust job opportunities in skilled trades, tech, defense, and other sectors within a short commute. Remote work is another option for anyone finding work in Milton. The point is, prepare for a potentially challenging job search depending on your field.

8. Milton has a high property crime rate

When compared to other American cities, Milton is quite safe in terms of violent crime. Compared to the rest of the United States, Milton has a far lower violent crime rate of 16.3. However, Milton has a property crime rate of 38.9, which is higher than the average of 35.4 in the United States. 

This means that residents should be on the lookout and take appropriate measures to safeguard their property.

In Summary

Milton offers a small-town atmosphere, ample outdoor recreation, and a relatively low cost of living for those considering a move. However, limited housing options, hot summers, car dependence, and an uneven job market present challenges that prospective residents will need to carefully weigh. 

Doing thorough research and preparing accordingly for Milton’s pros and cons will allow you to make the most informed decision for your needs. While not ideal for everyone, this city can potentially provide a rewarding lifestyle for people seeking a peaceful, affordable Florida Panhandle community. 

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