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The Best Neighborhoods in Pensacola, FL as per Rhys Rinke

The Best Parts About Pensacola

Pensacola is Full of Incredible People

Pensacola’s unique for many reasons, but I’ll just name a few. We have incredible people. So first and foremost, the Southern hospitality. People are well-meaning. They give more than people who aren’t from here. This is a thing. Truly, you can have the most spectacular view of the world here. People are nice, and they’ll treat you well. It’s not worth wait.

The History is Rich

We have incredible people and we have an incredible history here. We’re the first settlement in the continental United States. So there’s an incredible, rich history. And then, on top of that, because of that territory, we have this historic downtown right on the waterfront. Luckily, it didn’t get demolished.

There were times economically when Pensacola was thriving as it is today. And for whatever reason, they protected and have revitalized those buildings.

So now, the top downtown Palafox Street wins tons of awards. And we win architectural awards and awards for the level of quaintness. It’s kind of like New Orleans or Charleston, but very clean, low crime, and very user-friendly, very walkable.

White Beaches Span Every Inch of the Coastline

We have some of the world’s whitest beaches. The makeup of these beaches comes from quartz. And so you’re walking through the sand, and it’s literally squeaking because it’s so fine-grained. It looks like you’re walking on snow. And then, it leads right out into really shallow sand bars with crystal clear water. It’s got a kind of emerald look to it – that’s why people have nicknamed it the Emerald Coast.

So you’ve got incredible beaches with very low density, very easy to use. Unlike many places in the country where you have to fight for parking and a small slip beach, we have miles and miles of natural reserve areas throughout Pensacola where you go get your own slice of heaven and not pay to park.

Pensacola Has a Beautiful Series of Rivers

So you combine the people, a historic downtown, and the rich history with the incredible unpopulated low-density beaches of Pensacola. And then, you add these other elements, which are incredible too.

We have a series of rivers that flow down into our bay – the largest protected natural bay on the Gulf Coast, which is why we became the port city. These rivers are incredibly pristine. Tons of people float down them on kayaks, canoes, and tubes. And the beautiful white sand beaches are around everything. It’s a very nice way to cool off.

There Are a Plethora of Engaging Activities

On top of that, within the same day, you can go hunting in the north of the county and fishing in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico with some of the best fish in the country. So there’s a huge contingent of people in Pensacola that fish and hunt.

There’s a huge contingent of people that sail. An America’s Cup team selected Pensacola because they said it’s the best place in the country to sail. They love it so much they’re building a headquarters. This is their only full-time location training center for the entire United States.

“We Don’t Have Everything, but….”

We don’t have everything. We don’t have skiing. We don’t have mountain biking. We don’t have certain activities. But the beautiful thing about Pensacola is, we’re still one of the most affordable waterfront communities in the entire country.

Rediscovery of Pensacola With Zoom and Remote Working

Pensacola has been discovered because of the huge migration in the country. People, especially post-COVID, are saying, “Life is short.” And because of the advent of things like Zoom and the ability to work remotely, people move to where they want to live and figure out how to work.

Pensacola is thriving because one of the things that always held us back was jobs. Many businesses are attracted to Pensacola because there’s no state income tax. So it’s very business from the state. So the population has absolutely exploded percentage-wise over the last three to five years. And all the economists we talked to don’t predict that slowing down, if anything ramping up.

Explore the Best Neighborhoods in Pensacola on the Basis of Safety, Family-friendly, Convenience & Views

Let’s talk neighborhoods. Let’s see if we can nail down the best neighborhoods in Pensacola. And I understand that “the best” is a bit of a subjective phrase. So let’s break this down into some different categories. We could call them safety, family-friendly, convenience/amenities, views / beauty.

Remember that a fine neighborhood has more micro markets, essentially sections of the town. So there are probably 50,000 neighborhoods and there are probably 40 to 50 micro markets. So I’m going to start with a micro market that’s a little bit larger picture than neighborhood.

What Would a Few of the Safest Neighborhoods in Pensacola Be?

As for its safety, Pensacola is a very safe town, especially in certain sectors of the area. So people gravitate to look for safety, family-friendly. There are a few communities that stand out. Anywhere in the city of Gulf Breeze or just Gulf Breeze in general, Navarre – super safe. You’ve got Pace, Florida. An incredibly safe area. And you’ve got the Perdido area. Bulla is also incredibly safe. Bulla and Cantonment area.

Would You Also Say That While They’re Safe, They Are Also Very Family-friendly?

Correct. When it comes to families, people want great school systems and they really want safety. And because there are a lot of people with families, there are really three factors that play into this. First and foremost, safety. Secondly, they have to be able to afford it. So affordability comes into play because a lot of these are young families that are starting out. So you’ve got to have that ability. And third would be the school systems. So it’s got to be a safe area. They have to be able to afford it. And then, with those two accomplished, they want the best school system that they can get into.

Do Those Areas Just Naturally Have Good School Systems?

Correct, every place that I mentioned – Navarre, Gulf Breeze, Pace, Milton, the Perdido area, Bulla, and Cantonment. Pace and Milton are very close in proximity. Both are safe. Both have great schools. So those are the areas people gravitate toward when they’re looking for those factors.

Which Micro Markets Would You Say Have the Best Amenities or Would Be the Most Convenient to Live in?

It really depends on the lifestyle you want. That’s what’s so important about having strong realtors that know the Pensacola market well, that can ask the right questions, listen to what you’re trying to accomplish, and point you in the right direction.

So for instance, there’s a couple that is looking to really be in an urban area where there’s a lot going on: music venues, jazz bars, all that kind of stuff. Those people are looking for a different lifestyle than somebody who’s raising kids with two dogs, looking to go to PV football. That’s a whole different lifestyle. So first and foremost, you try and ask questions to find out what matters.

Access to Amenities

The beautiful thing about Pensacola is, it has open access to major amenities, which is why everybody in the entire community gets to really enjoy them. I live on Pensacola Beach.

In the summer when it’s hot, I will drive on Saturday morning with my girls in Wolf Creek – a sandbank on the Coldwater Creek up in Milton. And we’ll utilize that amenity. And then, on Sunday day the next day, we’ll go to a farmer’s market downtown, see local vendors, and take local honey from East Hill Honey and different things like that. And then, the next weekend, we may enjoy the beach. So you really enjoy everything Pensacola has to offer.

North of the County

If you live above Nine Mile Road, the amenities that you enjoy the most are rivers and bayous. There’s tons of farmland and hunting and acreage. You get to enjoy dirt biking and different things like that. There’s great football up there, high school sports. There’s a huge equestrian lifestyle up there, tons of horses, tons of horse property. So generally speaking, that’s more of your day-to-day lifestyle. But then, 45 minutes’ drive, you’re back to downtown. 50 minutes’ drive, you get to the beaches. So you get to experience all of that.

South of the County

If you live south of Nine Mile, you’re probably taking more advantage of beaches, the bay, the downtown, the different restaurants and music venues that come with it.

That Kind of Points Us in the Direction of Views and Beauty. Could You Break Down a Little Bit of What Kind of Scenery You Might Be Seeing?

For sure. So really, Pensacola has a lot of openness, meaning it’s not a super high-density city. So it’s not wall-to-wall. There’s a lot of open green space. And anytime you have open green space, the expanse is in between, tree lines, different things like that. You start to open up views. So, all of these waterfront communities have got unobstructed views. That’s incredible as far as the natural view points.

In the Molino, in different areas, we’ve got some rolling hills and big expanses in bricks and trees. We have incredible ranch-like views as the sunset’s going down. Then, we have waterfront properties on the different bayous and in the different creeks. So anytime you go to the rural communities, you have these open expanses of trees, you have incredible sunsets and sunrises and light coming through trees. And those are areas that are spectacular at the right time of day. And then, anytime you get on the water whether it be a river, a creek, or the open water in the coastal area, those views are just spectacular.

Are There Particular Areas Where You’re Going to Get a Better Deal, a Little Bit More Value for Your Money?

Up and Coming Areas

For sure, in any area, which is up and coming and hasn’t quite hit its stride, you’ll be able to get a little bit more bang for your buck.

So there are particular areas in Pensacola that are hidden gems but they’re really not hidden. They’re actually on their way to really breaking out.

All the beach communities and downtown communities have been hot for some time. They’re still extremely affordable compared to the rest of the country. However, if you’re looking for affordability compared to just the Pensacola market, there are areas like Milton, there are areas like Navarre, there are areas on the west side of town that are just primed and ready to take off and explode.

Milton

Milton

Milton, for example, is on the Blackwater River. And the Blackwater River leads out to Escambia Bay, which is where the sailing and fishing and all of that takes place a lot. You have downtown there that has a really rich history in and of itself. It’s called Milton because it’s Milltown.

Timber Past

There are three things Pensacola’s known for: the military (this is back in the 1800s), timber, and fishing. So if you’ve got red fish, red snapper in the country, at one point in time, it came from Pensacola. We have the largest natural stretch of longleaf pines in the entire country.

So timber became an incredible resource for the people here. We were shipping our timber all across the world, even in Europe from the tall ships that we had in the bay. And then, we’d float that timber from Milton (Milltown) down the Blackwater River into Escambia Bay and load them on tall ships.

Historic Town

So there’s a whole community and a whole set of buildings that are historic. And just like downtown Pensacola, Milton didn’t demolish them. It just takes capital, somebody coming in and investing in those properties to really take the bones of these buildings to the next level.

Future of Milton

Milton just needs a little bit of investment, and it’s starting to happen. But as far as primed and ready to go, that is a community that should be exploding over the next five to 10 years.

Would You Change Where You Live at All?

Hawaii Vs. Pensacola

I would not. I don’t know if this goes in the story, but we do get over to Hawaii occasionally. My dad loves Hawaii, but he won’t change where he lives. You could tell him today, “Hey, would you pick Hawaii full-time or Pensacola?” And he would pick Pensacola. It’s hard to understand that because Hawaii now is closer to heaven than I’ve ever been just from a natural beauty perspective. But there’s something intangible, at least for us.

Why Pensacola?

You’ve got a really special culture here in Pensacola. It’s a mid-sized town with a small-town feel. And like I said, the hospitality. When you walk into this place, people are giving you hugs. You’re seeing people that you went to high school with. So it is a really, really incredible lifestyle from that perspective.

Big Factor in Favor of Pensacola

Even if you could replace all that in Hawaii and you probably can if you grew up there, what you can’t replace is affordability. It costs five times more to live in Hawaii. So most people can’t afford the Hawaii lifestyle. The food, the gas, the utility bills, the cost of the house – everything is super expensive. So with the ability to have 70%-80% of the Hawaii’s natural assets and pay 1/5 of the cost, Pensacola opens up an incredible way to live for far more people.

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