North Florida vs South Florida: 16 Differences

Florida is famous for its warm beaches, exciting attractions, and beautiful weather. There is so much to explore and experience, but where do you start?

Florida is a large state that can be broken up into different regions, including the North, South, and Central. Each has its own distinctions, but this article will focus on the difference between North Florida and South Florida.

If you are planning to visit Florida, live there, or are just curious about it, you may be wondering how different the regions are. Both North and South Florida have big cities and small towns, as well as rich histories and distinct attractions that can be perfect for visiting or living in.

What makes North Florida different from South Florida?

North and South Florida differ in many ways, including geography, culture, and weather. The North is more conservative, has colder winters, and has a more diverse economy. South Florida has more tourism, with many popular beaches, warmer summers, and lively nightlife.

This article isn’t about which is better between the two but highlights what makes South or North Florida unique from the other. Read on to know more about Florida’s two divisions in culture, weather, traffic, and lifestyle, including puns on common phrases.

Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

North Florida vs South Florida

As two of Florida’s ‘directional’ regions (the third in Central Florida), South and North Florida tips aren’t only 447 miles apart. They also have distinct characteristics that are undeniably ‘southern’ or ‘northern.’ Below are the most prominent ones.

1. History

North Florida was earlier settled by people from Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia in the late 1800s to early 1900s, making it partly American South.

South Florida only became settled when Henry Flagler ran his railroad to the Keys. Initial residents were retirees and Cuban refugees who came to the US after the 1969 revolution.

2. Geography

South and North Florida’s topographies are almost opposites.

North Florida has more pronounced terrains like Ocala and Tallahassee, while South Florida is mainly flat with many high-rise structures. Here’s an in-depth geographical distinction.

North Florida

The area starts from Ocala to the Alabama and Georgia borders. The center of population is in Jacksonville, and Tallahassee (Florida’s capital) has more in common with Georgia than the rest of Florida. Likewise, other panhandle cities resonate with Alabama.

South Florida

The Palm Beaches southward through the Keys (along the Atlantic Coast) make up South Florida. If you’d look at either North or South Florida population, Broward Counties and Miami-Dade are highly populated areas. The southern part of Broward has more in common with the Caribbean than Florida and is more tropical. Many Haitians, Columbians, and Cubans are in South Florida, earning it the name ‘New York South.’

3. Weather

Between the South or North Florida weather, North Florida is more temperate with colder winters, about 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in South Florida.

The South has warmer summers, though. South Florida is also often visited by hurricanes (uncommon in the North); sinkholes are common, too.

4. Culture

The North and South Florida cultures are like night and day.

Nightlife is alive in South Florida, both for the young and the young-at-heart. Culture is also quite diverse, particularly in Miami, where people speak in distinct accents (mainly Spanish). Likewise, Miami is considered the gateway to Central America, giving South Florida an international image.

North Florida tends to be more rural, with everyday life at a slower pace (except in Tallahassee and Jacksonville). The southern culture of courtesy (Yes, Ma’am) is also more pronounced because of its proximity to Southern USA.

5. Attractions

Daytona Beach, Florida

With its economy relying heavily on tourism, South Florida is home to famous destinations like the Bahamas, Everglades, and the Biscayne Bay. There’s the Naples Botanical Gardens for nature enthusiasts, where you’d find over a thousand plant species.

Another nature-inspired not-to-miss destination in South Florida is the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Meyers. Its Butterfly and Audubon Aviaries feature birds of prey like eagles and hawks.

North Florida’s economy is more diverse, with many agricultural and rural areas. It has tourist spots like Daytona and Emerald Coasts, but it focuses on education more. Prime examples are the Tallahassee Museum in Florida’s capital and the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

Between the North and South Florida attractions, you’d probably escape the usual crowd in North Florida. You could explore the Suwanee Wilderness River Trail in White Springs or swim at the Madison Blue Springs, a 20-minute drive from Suwannee River State Park.

6. Traffic

Which has better – or worse – traffic, North or South Florida?

Traffic is often inconducive in South Florida. For example, a Friday trip to Fort Lauderdale (about 9 miles) would take you nearly 2 hours. Another heavy-traffic area is West Palm Beach.

If you’re doing some shopping at Miami’s Costco, parking may also be a struggle.

While traffic is lighter in North Florida, there aren’t many taxis or Uber rides. Gas stations are usually 10 miles apart, and a Walmart store is about 30 miles away.

7. People

Comparing the South and North Florida people interactions, those who experienced living in towns like Gainesville, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville give the impression that people in North Florida are friendlier. The neighborhood also is less crowded, with usually large yards.

What makes South Florida’s people stand out is its diversity. The South is a rich mix of Europeans, Africans, Asians, Latinos, and a few more in between.

8. Cost of Living

What is the cost to live in North or South Florida? The cost of living in North Florida is 4% lower than the US average, making it somewhat affordable. Factors contributing to this lower-than-country average are utilities (3% lower), transportation (2%), and healthcare (2%).

Living in South Florida, say Miami, pegs at 147 compared to the US’ average of 100. Factors affecting this rate are groceries (111), housing (221), and transportation (141).

9. Housing

Wondering what your housing options are in South or North Florida? A 1,800-square-foot home in South Florida would cost about $350k. In North Florida, not only is the cost lesser by 40%, it may even come with a wider yard.

10. Vegetation

The lush green surrounding you would differ when you’re in either South or North Florida.

You’d see palmetto palms in North Florida, while South Florida has coconut palms. Likewise, you could plant tropicals in the South, but artichokes could fare better in the North. Fruit-bearing trees like mangos and lychees may not thrive in North Florida due to its colder winters.

11. Architecture

South Florida exudes a tropical appeal mixed with Mediterranean style (barrel tile roofs).

In North Florida, residences and high rises leverage an architectural style that uses more brick and earthy materials (shingle roofs).

12. Politics

Regarding political inclination between South and North Florida, the South is more liberal than the North, which is more conservative.

Less than 10% of people in North and Central Florida claim a liberal inclination, while more than a third of South Floridians openly claim to be liberal. Other political inclinations in the South are 38% conservative and 26% moderate.

North Florida has long been very conservative owing to its widely rural geography. Quoting the famous Floridian saying, ‘The further north you get, the more south you get,’ the panhandle is an extension of Alabama, a heavily Republican deep south state.

Bayside Marina, Miami, Florida

13. Religion

The common religion in South Florida is Catholicism, while North Florida is dominantly Protestant.

14. Lifestyle

Residents of North Florida are more conservative and enjoy country music and pickup trucks.

People in South Florida often frequent the beaches and live in condominiums.

15. Snowfall

North Florida experiences snow almost every winter, while South Florida only had one snow dusting for the past 100 years.

16. Word Meanings

Going to the beach in South Florida means running into tourists; In North Florida, you’d bump into preparatory high school classmates.

If you say ‘downtown’ in the South, think about big cities with beaches. If you’re in the North, it would be about the new Starbucks shop just around the corner.

‘Football’ in South Florida is NFL all day; it’s college football for the North.

Conclusion: North Florida vs South Florida: 16 Differences

It’s an ‘ongoing battle’ if North Florida and South Florida should be referenced as separate states, whether it’s a political move or a simple desire to be recognized separately. The differences listed in this article show why some people favor one region over the other.

However, differences aside, North and South Florida would always be desired travel destinations due to their sunny weather, delectable food, and tourist attractions.

Kris Peter

A positive individual enjoying the journey, and always searching for adventure. I created Sunlight Living to help my parents (and eventually myself) prepare for retirement. About Kris

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