You can use all kinds of places rated or real estate websites to determine a cost of living for a given city, but there are always unexpected costs that you might not see. Now that I've lived in Jacksonville, FL, for two full years, I can tell you what those costs really are. The guide I wrote after six months of living here (link) is pretty accurate, but some more incidents have happened that might be added to the list. Therefore, read that list as well as this one to get a clear picture of the hidden costs of living in Florida.
This one totally sucks. I got some kind of disease that started killing my lawn. I tried fungicide, insecticide, fertilizer, and water. Then I tried it all again. By spring, which is February, my lawn was mostly dead, so the HOA got on my back. The HOA said I had to plug the lawn, which I did. Then I got another notice telling me the lawn was still in violation, so I went and bought some sod. It still looks bad, since some other form of grass filled in where the St. Augustine had died (and where I did not sod). And since water is expensive when you water all the time trying to save or replant a lawn, add that to the cost. Probably $500, and it will probably still need more sod.
My grill had its grates rust out right after we moved here. Now the piece of metal that connects the wheel to the grill is crumbling, so I have it propped up on some yard bricks. And it's not just items that sit out: I have rust on the inside of my bathroom lightbulbs. Our fire pit that came with a cover is rusted after one year. I see some people store their lawnmowers outside, and I figure they must replace them every three years or so.
I lost money to some clown who hit my car. I lost out when I was sold bad tires for the same car, too. I lost money when I got hired for a job that was rescinded. I know a lot of people lose money daily with all the property crime. It's a big city, but a lot of the crime is very spread out. My friend says a big part of it is that the subsidized housing can be anywhere, which means you've got people getting free rent right across the street from a subdivision with $300,000 houses. That's too much temptation. I grew up in Milwaukee, so I know that there's always crime. It just feels like it's more any person at any time here in Jacksonville. A lot of the scammers and schemers are college-educated and working high-profile jobs, too. Everyone seems to be in on it.
We pay more in homeowner's and driver's insurance than in other places we've lived. On top of that, when something does go wrong, there's a good chance the scammers will move in for the kill. I also just got another revision of the homeowner's insurance that seems to say it covers almost nothing, and that will probably keep happening each year, and then I'll have to buy all the features I've lost over the years to make sure I have adequate coverage. Health insurance sucks everywhere, but in Florida, you're also guaranteed overcharging, double-charging, extra fees, and lots of doctor cancellations.
Other than that (and the other list), it's not too bad in Florida.