A lot depends on where you were raised or what you like as to what part of Florida would be the best for you. I’ve lived in 3 regions of Florida, the urban South Florida, Orlando and Tallahassee. I am extremely familiar with all parts of Florida and have been to all 67 counties.
A good rule of thumb is this:
South Florida (from Vero Beach south on the Atlantic Coast) settled by and very much like the Northeast
I-4 Corridor (Daytona to Tampa) and Southwest Florida: Very midwestern like because most folks that settle there are from the Midwestern Rust Belt States. Although Orlando is getting quite a few South Florida transplants as is Naples.
North Florida (From Ocala up to Jax and over to Tally) South Georgia with exceptions of small pockets of liberals/tree huggers living in the University towns of Gainesville and Tallahassee.
Northwest Florida (the Panhandle from Apalachicola River to Pensacola) South Alabama with military being a HUGE influence and employer in this area. Only part of Florida in the Central Time Zone
So, if you like fast times and fast somewhat pushy people with year round warm winters with people of all cultures…South Florida is the place for you.
If you still like big cities but at a slower pace and not such a dense population as South Florida then try Tampa and Orlando.
If you like Live Oak trees with spanish moss, crystal clear springs and rolling hills, the Northern part is for you.
If you love a very conservative and small town type way of life with the most goregous beaches you’ll ever find…the Panhandle is it! Although development is surging in that area with the big gorilla known as St. Joe, the largest land holder and developer in the state.
Public schools ain’t all that great in Florida, but you’ll find the best ones in the big university counties like Alachua and Leon and in the affleunt counties like Sarasota and Palm Beach.
Personally I find Orlando the most annoying metropolitan area in the USA. 24/7/365 days a year of tacky tourist. An ungodly amount of traffic with poor freeways and a very blue collar/service industry dominated economy. Orlando reminds me of the kid in school that always wanted the teacher’s attention. While I find Tampa Bay to be way more beautiful than Orlando with it’s bay and gulf vistas and the people seem to be nicer and more laid back even though the metro area is twice the size of Orlando’s.
I love going back to South Florida, but after being pushed around for a week or so, I’m ready to head back to sweet quiet slow north. Yeah it gets cold here in the winter, yeah we have rednecks glalore, but the simple life with empty beaches and nature all around you is the life for me.
YMMV and I’m sure for many of you it does!
Your being from CT, I’d think you’d like South Florida the best. The housing is cheaper in the north areas of South Florida like St. Lucie county as opposed to Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Oh yeah and I think the hippest place to live in Florida hands down is South Beach, but you better be extremely handsome and pretty to live there…otherwise you’re gonna feel like a ogre.