If you're looking for more diversity, lots of people, amazing food and lots of attractions, Orlando is probably the best thing for you. If you like the idea of a thriving metropolis, but you appreciate southern hospitality and coastal life, Jacksonville is likely to float your ship. Jacksonville is by far the most populous city of the two, with more than 900,000 people living there. However, Jacksonville is scattered, making it seem less crowded than many denser cities.
Orlando, while still a major city, has a population of more than 300,000 people. When we compare the travel costs of real travelers between Jacksonville and Orlando, we can see that Orlando is more expensive. And not only is Jacksonville much less expensive, but it's actually a significantly cheaper destination. Therefore, traveling to Jacksonville will allow you to spend less money overall.
Or, you might decide to spend more money in Jacksonville and be able to afford a more luxurious style of travel by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Orlando would naturally cost you a lot more money, so you'll probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Orlando than in Jacksonville. Jacksonville also has plenty of places to shop, whether you want to look for some vintage finds or the latest in retail sales. Well, I live in Jacksonville (although I'm 40 years old, so I'm a little out of your demographic), but I find a lot to enjoy here.
You may think that the city where Mickey Mouse lives is going to have one of the best real estate markets, but in reality, it is Jacksonville that stands out. If you want to spend some time outdoors away from busy beaches, Jacksonville is close to several state parks and nature reserves. I don't know much about Orlando, but I get the impression that the traffic there is much worse than that in Jacksonville. The overall cost of living in Jacksonville is 5% lower than the national average, and the cost of housing is 11% lower than the national average, according to Payscale.
While Orlando seems to be the center of theme parks and has a large tourist industry, Jacksonville is known for being a place to settle down, has a thriving college scene and offers affordability, a strong job market, and great neighbors. There are many more family homes in Jacksonville and more single adults without children living in Orlando. Jacksonville is further north than Orlando, so winter days are somewhat colder with temperatures ranging between 40 and 60 degrees. Jacksonville is known for its relaxation, eating by the water, taking out your boat for a day of fishing and hitting the beach after a day at the office.
However, the most important factor for me is the fact that Jacksonville has beaches and Orlando is about an hour from the coast. Sweetwater of Jacksonville is a Del Webb active adult community not far from downtown and the airport. Orlando has a combined state and county tax of 6.5 percent, while Jacksonville has a sales tax of 7.5 percent, according to the Sales Tax Manual.