It’s the first place Europeans discovered and settled on America’s eastern seaboard. The region is dominated by the city of Jacksonville and comprises the counties of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns, which largely corresponds to the greater Jacksonville metropolitan area. It also includes the historic city of St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the continental U.S.

The First Coast is nestled in the Northeast corner of the state, hard against the Georgia state line. Enterprise Florida, one of the state’s preeminent economic development agencies, identifies that Northeast Florida corner as one of eight of the state’s economic regions.

And the state’s economy is in a heckuva great state too! Enterprise Florida says the Sunshine State boasts the 4th largest economy in the country, and the 18th largest in the world. Its 20+ million residents (3rd in the U.S.) reap $840 billion in annual income (#1 in Southeast), all the while hosting nearly 100 million tourists every year and overseeing an $830 billion state GDP. In case you’re counting, that’s fourth largest in the U.S. and more than the countries of Switzerland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Add 0% personal income tax and an unparalleled business-friendly climate and it’s clear the state will steadily continue apace.

Here Cherry Moving provides a snapshot of just what makes The First Coast such an attractive place for families as well as businesses. And why more and more of both have decided The First Coast is just the place for them to live their best possible lives.

The Thrill of  Jacksonville

Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The city sits on the banks of the St. John’s River, which meanders 340 miles and houses a series of watersheds that serve as home to some 3.5 million people. The St. John’s and the Nile are the only two rivers in the world which flow north. And while it’s unclear whether or not the Nile is the longest river in the world (Brazil insists it’s the Amazon), the St John’s is unquestionably the longest river in Florida.

It’s also unquestionably essential. In fact, much of Jacksonville’s economy depends heavily upon the St. John’s. Every year, 18,000,000 short tons (16,000,000 t) of goods are shipped in and out of the city. Its major exports include paper, phosphate, fertilizers and citrus; while major imports include oil, coffee, limestone, cars and lumber. All in all, the Port of Jacksonville produces a reported $1.38 billion in the local economy and supports over 10,000 jobs.

That river engine has helped propel the city to a best-in-state growth rate. In fact, Real Worth Network has found Jacksonville has grown a full 14% over the last decade. Its population is increasing a healthy 2% a year, and its workforce is expanding at twice the national average. Real Wealth attributes Jacksonville’s steady rise to a world-class health care system that includes 20 hospitals, as well as an ever-growing bioscience community. They also cite that fact that the city is home to operations of 13 of Forbes’ Global 500.

According to the Jax Daily Record, Jacksonville’s largest employers include Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Mayo Clinic, Florida Blue, Citibank and CSX. Throw in the two naval bases (which employ a combined 35,000) and the city and school administration systems (another 25,000) and you’ve a certifiably robust market.

Folks seeking further proof of Jacksonville’s rise, as well as its promise, should turn to Forbes, who’ve ranked the city #8 in Fastest Growing Economy#7 for Future Job Growth#5 of America’s Fastest Growing and the #1 Hottest Real Estate Market in America.

Cherry  Moving has had a great feeling about Jacksonville for the last five years or so. That’s when we began receiving more and more calls from Americans looking to relocate to the city. That influx has risen every year since. And we’re incredibly honored to be able to help both families and businesses make the move!

Jacksonville’s Beaches

The Jacksonville Beaches, known locally as “The Beaches”, are a group of towns and communities on the northern half of the barrier island nicknamed San Pablo Island. The Beaches’ main communities are MayportAtlantic BeachNeptune BeachJacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach, which make up approximately 90,000 of the Jacksonville Metro Area’s 1.5 million residents.

This stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline is separated from the city of Jacksonville by the Intracoastal Waterway, and while it’s served as a resort for well over a century, many of the city’s well-heeled also choose to call the picturesque oceanfront home.

As you might suspect, home prices are up and inventory is down, especially in Jacksonville Beach itself. In fact, Movoto found median home sale prices in the town had risen to $629,000, while resale inventories had decreased a full 53%.  Zillow had similar findings in neighboring Neptune Beach, where median home values are up 7% (to $467,964), which is nearly twice higher than the Jacksonville Metro area average.

Of The Beaches’ top hotels and resorts, US News cites Atlantic Beach’s One Ocean Resort and Spa, as well as Ponte Vedra Beach’s Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa. The publication also make much mention of nearby Amelia Island, whose Fernandina Beach boasts The Ritz-Carlton, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort and The Villas of Amelia Island Plantation.

Whether or not one actually resides in one of The Beaches’ charming communities, San Pablo Island adds an attractive dimension to an already alluring oceanfront. And while we at Cherry Moving are ready, willing and eager to help you and your family move to The First Coast, we’ll leave it up to you to decide just which beautiful community is best!