The Comprehensive Guide to Moving to Marion County, Florida

Encompassed by sweeping vistas, compelling employment opportunities, diverse housing options, robust educational institutions and vibrant lifestyle amenities, Marion County in Florida presents an intriguing blend of opportunities and challenges. Known for its demographic diversity, remarkable geographies, and a dynamic economy, Marion County also offers a unique lifestyle that appeals to both individual residents and families alike. As you delve into the enchanting charm of this region, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate every aspect of life here – from housing and real estate, the employment scene, the education system, to the lifestyle and amenities available.

Overview of Marion County

Overview of Marion County

Marion County, located in beautiful North Central Florida, is home to around 365,000 residents as of 2021. The county is known for its sprawling landscapes, which include Ocala National Forest, Rainbow Springs State Park, and Silver Springs. The county spans 1,663 square miles, with inland waters occupying about 8% of this area.


The population of Marion County is diverse and growing, with an annual growth rate of about 1.26%. As for age distribution, 30.9% are 65 and older, 18.4% are under 18, and the remaining 50.6% are between the ages of 18 and 64. The gender distribution is fairly even, with 49.5% male and 50.5% female residents.


When it comes to the economy, Marion County has a mix of industries contributing to its economic growth. Healthcare is a major player, employing over 18,000 workers in the county. Retail trade, manufacturing, and accommodation & food services also make up a significant portion of employment opportunities. The average income in Marion County is lower than the national average, but cost of living is also lower, making it an affordable place to live. The job growth rate has been steadily rising, with a 1.6% increase in 2020.


Marion County, located in Florida, presents a unique blend of urban and rural lifestyles that would appeal to a diverse demographic. The county’s capital, Ocala, offers numerous amenities such as shopping centers, dining options, and cultural attractions including the renowned Appleton Museum of Art. Marion County is the ideal destination for horse enthusiasts as it’s dubbed the “Horse Capital of the World,” and littered with horse farms. With over 600 lakes and rivers scattered across the county, residents are spoilt for choice with an abundance of outdoor activities, from fishing and boating to hiking and camping.

Marion County prioritizes education, boasting top-notch schools in both the public and private sectors. There are nine colleges and universities within the county, presenting excellent opportunities for higher education. Another advantage of residing in Marion County is its healthcare system which comprises two major hospitals, namely Advent Health Ocala and Ocala Regional Medical Center.

Unfortunately, like all places, Marion County does come with its fair share of challenges. The crime rate, particularly property-related crime, is higher than the national average, and public transportation is somewhat limited.

Geographically characterized by a subtropical climate, the region endures hot, humid summers and relatively mild winters. Hurricanes and tropical storms occur periodically, but Marion County’s inland position does provide some natural protection.

In summary, Marion County offers an affordable lifestyle, rich cultural heritage, burgeoning local economy, and is a marvel of natural beauty. For those interested in a rural-urban blended environment or those seeking for a more serene pace of life while retaining access to urban amenities, Marion County could be an appealing relocation option. Nontheless, contemplating on certain factors such as crime rate and local weather patterns is essential prior to making a decision.

Housing and Real Estate

Housing and Real Estate Overview in Marion County, Florida

Aside from the lifestyle, Marion County also provides great diversity in housing options to cater for its community. The real estate market is robust, offering everything from single-story suburban houses to high-rise luxury apartments. For those looking for variety, Marion County provides an array of options – from condos and townhouses to mobile homes – making it a dynamic housing market that can adapt to the needs of potential buyers or renters.

Average Housing Prices

The average price for a single-family home in Marion County as of July 2021 was around $245,000. This indicates a significant increase from the previous year, with prices currently rising by about 13-15% annually. This trend mirrors the real estate market nationwide, where housing prices have grown considerably over the past year. However, Marion County houses are generally more affordable than the national average, making the county an excellent option for first-time homebuyers or those looking to relocate within Florida.

Types of Houses Available

Marion County offers an array of housing types to suit various tastes and budgets. One can find single-family homes in suburban neighborhoods, luxury apartments with amenities galore, quaint townhouses located near city centers, and a good selection of mobile homes that offer flexibility and affordability. The architectural styles also vary significantly from traditional Floridian bungalows to modern, contemporary designs.

Rent Costs

The rental market in Marion County is similarly diverse. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $823 per month, making it significantly more affordable than other Florida counties such as Miami-Dade or Broward. A two-bedroom apartment rents for approximately $1000 per month on average. Again, these rates may vary depending on the location and size of the rental property.

Property Taxes

Property taxes in Marion County are somewhat lower than the Florida average. The median annual property tax payment in Marion County is around $1,200 for homeowners, which is lower than the state median of $1,773. This can make Marion County an attractive option for retirees and others on a fixed income.

Favored Residential Areas within the County

Marion County includes several favored residential areas. Ocala, the county seat, is known for its horse farms and natural beauty. Its historic downtown district has attractive homes and retail establishments. Belleview and Silver Springs Shores are other popular areas, both offering a mix of residential styles and close proximity to recreational facilities. Dunnellon, on the west side of the county, is known for its riverfront homes and small-town charm, while the retirement community of The Villages in the southeast corner of the county provides a lively and amenity-rich lifestyle for seniors.

When it comes to relocating within Florida, Marion County stands as an exceptional choice for numerous individuals and families. It boasts a unique combination of affordable and diversified housing alternatives. The property tax rates here are comparably lower, adding to the cost-effective lifestyle of residents.

Employment Opportunities

Work and Living in Marion County, Florida

Those considering a move to Marion County, Florida will find a region rich in diverse job opportunities across a variety of sectors. Encompassing the city of Ocala, Marion County is renowned for its booming equine industry and horse farms, which provide a thriving agricultural sector full of employment options. With an unemployment rate that remains relatively low compared to other counties in Florida, it’s clear that Marion County presents a dynamic job market accommodating a range of expertise and work experiences.

Additional key employment sectors within the region include healthcare and education. A network of hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities in the county provides plentiful positions for professionals in the healthcare industry. Education too is a major employer, with Ocala’s school district and vocational training institutes offering numerous roles for the county’s inhabitants.

Exemplifying the diversity of Marion’s industry, noteworthy manufacturing firms also call the county home. With major employers such as E-One, a fire truck manufacturer, and ClosetMaid, a producer of home organization products, the local economy is stimulated through job creation, making Marion County an attractive place to live and work.

In 2019, Marion County reported a median household income of around $44,484, which although slightly below the national average, should be considered within the context of the county’s low cost of living. Compared to the national average, the cost of living in Marion is about 13% less, making everyday living substantially more affordable.

This affordability extends to the housing market with median home values in Marion County sitting significantly less than the national average. Lower living costs, coupled with reasonably priced housing, bolsters quality of life making the move to Marion County smoother for individuals and families alike.

While the average income may be marginally lower, the expanded employment sectors, attractive cost of living, and low unemployment rates make Marion County, Florida a desirable place for individuals in search of work and a high-quality lifestyle.

Please note, the above data and statistics are subject to change over time. For the most accurate and current information, prospective residents should refer to official census sources or local government websites.

Education and Schools

Academic Opportunities in Marion County, Florida

Quality education is a vital consideration when deciding where to relocate, and Marion County doesn’t disappoint. The Marion County School District is comprehensive, providing quality instruction from kindergarten through 12th grade. This education system goes beyond the basics, focusing on academic success and developing the skills necessary for students to compete in a global future.

Quality of Schools

The quality of schools in Marion County, Florida, is commendable. The district is comprised of over 50 schools, including elementary, middle, and high schools. These schools offer various academic programs and extracurricular activities. Additionally, according to GreatSchools, many schools in Marion county have been rated above average, with ratings of 7 or higher on a scale of 10, based upon a variety of academic and equity criteria.

School Districts in Marion County

Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) district is the fifth largest school district in Florida that serves over 42,000 students annually. This summer, the district has opened nine new schools to accommodate the rapidly growing population. Beyond the traditional classroom structure, the district also offers magnet schools focusing on specific areas of study such as arts, technology, and STEM, charter schools with specific educational approaches, and online school options for flexible learning.

Higher Education Institutions

Marion County, Florida, is also home to outstanding higher education establishments. The College of Central Florida, Marion Technical College and Rasmussen College offer associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees in a wide range of fields. The College of Central Florida provides affordable tuition and high-quality education, allowing residents to further their education and enhance their career prospects without needing to leave the county.

Educational Opportunities

In Marion County, several programs enhance the quality of education for both students and community members. Students have an opportunity to participate in advanced placement programs, adult and community education classes, career and technical education programs, and even dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to earn college credits.

The Marion County Public School district even offers a “community technical & adult education” program that provides post-secondary education in a variety of technical careers and workforce training.


Marion County, Florida is a destination to consider for those seeking rich educational opportunities. Whether for families with school-aged children, individuals pursuing higher education, or adults aiming to further their careers with additional learning, the county’s extensive and well-rounded education system is a key feature.

Lifestyle and amenities

Marion County Lifestyle

The lifestyle in Marion County combines the calm and pleasing rhythm of city life with the stirring beauty of the natural environment. Its citizens appreciate a balance between urban conveniences and nature’s untouched beauty, creating a harmonious atmosphere. Affectionately known as ‘Horse Capital of the World,’ Marion County’s warm climate and serene surroundings support an intriguing confluence of outdoor activities, relaxed living, widespread dining and shopping experiences, alongside its enriched ranching past and alluring equestrian culture sparkling with many horse farms and racehorse facilities.

Amenities in Marion County, Florida

The county offers a wide array of supermarkets, shopping centres, and local convenience stores for your day-to-day needs. For an elevated selection, residents can visit Paddock Mall, Market Street at Heathbrook, and many other shopping destinations that offer department stores, clothing boutiques, home goods stores, and more.

As far as dining is concerned, Marion County offers a delightful mix of restaurants featuring international cuisines, nationally acclaimed eateries, and local favourites that serve Southern comfort food at its finest. For entertainment, Marion Theatre and the Reilly Arts Center host a variety of shows, from indie films to Broadway productions.

Parks and Recreational Facilities

Marion County boasts a number of parks and recreational facilities for outdoor enthusiasts. For example, the expansive Silver Springs State Park offers glass-bottom boat tours and opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and camping. The Ocala National Forest, the southernmost forest in the continental U.S., is another gem that provides endless recreational opportunities from hiking, fishing, camping, and bird watching, to off-roading, and hunting.

Sense of Community in Marion County

Marion County is known for its welcoming and friendly communities. Events, festivals, and community gatherings abound in the area, fostering a spirit of togetherness. The county celebrates Spring and Fall Art Walks, music festivals, the Ocala’s God and Country Day, a classic 4th of July celebration with a fireworks presentation, and more. First Friday Art Walks downtown Ocala is a hit among the locals and fosters a spirit of community and creativity in the area.

Culture in Marion County

Culturally, Marion County is diverse and rich. The region hosts a number of cultural festivals that celebrate the diversity of its population, while art festivals, galleries and theatre productions also shine a spotlight on the community’s commitment to the arts. The Appleton Museum of Art, home to a variety of exhibitions from classical to contemporary, and the Silver River Museum, where visitors can learn about Florida’s natural history and cultural heritage, are prominent cultural attractions in the region.


Marion County offers a balanced lifestyle option, with city comforts on hand, while still maintaining a rustic charm and a slower pace of life. It could be the right choice for those looking for a friendly community, plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, a horse-loving environment, and a cost of living lower than the state and national average.

Overall, Marion County, Florida, with its eclectic mix of amenities, educational opportunities, diverse job market, and housing options caters to a wide array of individual preferences and budgets. While the unique demographics and geographies provide an intriguing living environment, the evolving economy ensures continued growth and development. With a vivid lifestyle, boasting of various entertainment venues, shopping centres, restaurants, and recreational facilities, coupled with a remarkably warm sense of community, Marion County emerges as a promising option worth considering for relocation. A comprehensive understanding of all these aspects will enable you to make a well-informed and wise decision about moving to Marion County, Florida.

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