Staff Report

There is sun and sand are everywhere in Florida, but it doesn’t take a waterfront view to entice young families to put down roots in the Sunshine State.

Even though over 75 percent of Florida’s population lives on the state’s coasts, when NerdWallet, a data analysis company, crunched the numbers to find the best areas for young families, six of the top 10 communities turned out to be inland. These growing areas stood out as places where affordability and school quality meet. Three factors were looked at that drive one of life’s biggest decisions: Where do I raise my family?: Public school excellence, home affordability, and growth and prosperity.

NerdWallet’s analysis revealed certain trends: Parts of Florida are booming. Take Valrico, for example, where income has grown an extraordinary 91.1 percent over the past decade. Kurt Heubusch recently moved to Valrico with his family.

“Our family moved to Valrico because of the quieter atmosphere. There is less traffic and congestion and we wanted to experience more of a country living setting,” he said.

Redevelopment is on the rise. Now that the recession is a few years past, many of these places have been able to focus on main streets to accommodate more traffic and business.

Six of the top 10 areas aren’t near a coast, but they still are places with vibrant communities and affordable homes.

A half-hour drive from Tampa, Valrico recently joined with its neighbor FishHawk to create a combined chamber of commerce, which celebrated its 100th member in May. In addition to welcoming military families, the Hillsborough County public schools invest in educational technology with the gift of Microsoft Office programs for their students.

Valrico began as a region of cotton plantations known as Long Pond. With the arrival of the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad in 1890, many new immigrants arrived from the north. William G. Tousey, a philosophy professor from Tufts College, gave the community its current name, which is derived from a Spanish phrase meaning “valley of gold.” There is no other place named Valrico in the United States.

The other areas to make the top 10 are: Pace, Oviedo, Aventura, Merritt Island, Winter Springs, Sunny Isles Beach, Wesley Chapel, Jacksonville Beach and Jupiter.

NerdWallet compiled the data for 120 places in Florida. Only places with over 20,000 residents were analyzed. To see the full data set, visit www.nerdwallet.com/blog/cities/economics/best-places-for-young-families-in-florida/#table.