How Do I Choose the Jacksonville Condo Community For Me?

Great question! The best information about Jacksonville condo communities is right here! Choosing your new neighborhood should be a simple…and fun! The more you knowledge you have, the easier your decision will be. So let’s dive right in!


[Click the video above for an overview of how the city of Jacksonville is laid out.]

Let’s start with an introduction to the city of Jacksonville. The reason behind the vast range in prices is Jacksonville’s sheer size. It’s actually the largest city in the U.S. by area! So that old standby rule of real estate that everyone definitely applies here:

Location! Location! Location!

Now there’s a few things you need to understand about the way the city is laid out.

When searching for condos in Jacksonville, FL you may want to consider the surrounding cities and counties in your search! Local generally include these areas in what they call “the greater Jacksonville area” or simply “JAX” for short. (So don’t be surprised if you see lots of different names pop up in your Jacksonville condo search.) 

Your search includes more than the city of Jacksonville, Florida!

Jacksonville’s real estate market includes places like St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Ponte Vedra, Nocatee, Green Cove Springs, Middleburg, Mandarin, and Orange Park just to name a few. Jacksonville’s beaches are divided into Atlantic Beach (and the town of Mayport near the Naval Base), Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. The downtown areas along the St. Johns River also have historic distinction: Springfield (home of Jacksonville’s revitalization project), Avondale, and Riverside. About 30 miles outside of Jacksonville in Nassau County you’ll find Callahan, Yulee, Fernandina Beach, and Amelia Island. To locals, Jacksonville is commonly described in general terms: Westside, Northside, Southside, and the beaches.


Counties Surrounding Jacksonville, FL

condos for sale jacksonville fl by county


The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that you or your real estate agent will use to search for Jacksonville condos for sale will include even more designations. You can see them listed here by a numbered, color-coded system. It’s not as complicated as it looks, but with Jacksonville’s size and diversity you’ll definitely want to do your homework to make sure you purchase a condo in a location that’s right for you!


Jacksonville FL by MLS Areacondos for sale jacksonville fl southside

Although we also specialize in high-end oceanfront condos along Jacksonville and Fernandina Beaches, this condo site will focus primarily on condos for sale in the Southside area of Jacksonville FL. Jacksonville’s Southside has the largest selection of condos, and it’s an area that is growing every day with the construction of brand new condo buildings near the popular St. Johns Town Center and Gate Parkway.


Southside Condos for Sale in Jacksonville, FL

southside condos for sale jacksonville fl


If you wonder why we’ve selected the Southside area of Jacksonville as the best place to start your condo search, check out our “Start Here” page. It explains how you can avoid some of the most common mistakes buyers make. Not only is Jacksonville’s Southside a popular place for condo buyers to begin their search, but it eases our buyers’ decision-making process.

Why “Southside” Jacksonville Condos?


  • Centrally located between downtown and beaches
  • Easy access to major roadways (JTB, I-95, I-295 beltway)
  • Close to corporate headquarters, retail employers, and colleges


Now that we have discussed the greater Jacksonville area, given you an overview of the city, and explained why we’ve chosen to start your search for condos on Jacksonville’s southside, we’ll help you set some personal goals!

Three important factors you should consider when starting your Jacksonville condo community search:


  1. Budget
  2. Commute (to your most important places—work, family, medical care)
  3. Personal Goals


1. Budget for Your Jacksonville Condo

First, let’s discuss how your budget should influence your search. Make sure you’ve considered both initial and on-going costs, as well as your monthly cash flow. (Initial costs would include the purchase price plus closing fees, down payment, insurance reserves, property inspections, and prorated dues. Ongoing costs would include a mortgage payment, periodic condo dues, and utilities.)


After you’ve evaluated your costs (initial closing costs plus ongoing condo fees) you should have an idea of your price range.


Next select your price range from lowest to highest. The lowest figure would be your ideal price, what you could most easily afford and still have a comfortable budget and lifestyle. This number will also rule out neighborhoods you do not want to be in, and help you determine which neighborhoods are acceptable to you (even if they’re not your first choice).


condos for sale jacksonville fl cost


The number at the top of your price range should not exceed the amount on your pre-qualification letter if you are financing, or your bank statement if purchasing with cash. Cash buyers should be able to instantly provide proof of funds upon request, and at the time of offers, usually in the form of a dated and signed bank statement or letter from the branch. Believe me, you don’t want to be scrambling to get bank signatures or make transfers once the bidding begins!


suggested bid on condos for sale jacksonville fl

My other suggestion about the high end of your price range? Pick a number, now subtract a few thousand (maybe even $5,000.) It’s easy to overlook expenses, especially when calculating annual costs like taxes. You may also find that you want to do some minor repairs such as fresh paint or new furniture. Second, condo buyers often find the property they absolutely can’t live without, only to find that the other bidders are offering more than the listed price! Jacksonville condos are highly competitive and you’ll want to put yourself in the best bidding position possible. You’ll want to have some extra money to compete with.


For example, if you’re approved for a loan and bidding on condo that cash investors are also interested in, you may have to work extra hard to make your offer more appealing to the seller. Cash offers can close as quickly as two weeks, while lender-financed offers require as much as 30, 45, or 60 days to close. Buyers with loans typically have more closing costs and are accustomed to asking the seller to assistance with the extra costs. (This is called “seller concessions” or “closing cost assistance.”) While cash buyers have fewer costs (no loan fees) and usually just pay their own costs, not requiring any help from the seller.


decide to purchase condo for sale in jacksonville fl


Buyers who finance also have to be cautious of the appraised value of the property they’re bidding on. A lender will not let a buyer purchase a condo for more than its current appraised value. You may have won the bid, but you could still lose the deal. If the appraisal comes in lower than your agreed-upon purchase price, you could be stuck paying the difference in cash or losing the deal.


A word of advice if you plan to finance your Jacksonville condo purchase: take a good look at your offer from the seller’s perspective. How does it stack up against a cash investor’s offer that is perhaps above list price, isn’t asking for concessions like closing costs assistance, and can close in two weeks? Ask yourself what you can do to make your offer more appealing. Also ask your real estate agent about properties (like Fannie Mae foreclosures) that restrict investor offers until second week of bidding. These incentives are in place to give preference to “owner-occupant” bidders, or buyers who intend to live in the condo themselves and make it their primary residence.

offers on condos for sale jacksonville fl


2. Plan the Commute to Your Jacksonville Condo!

When we refer to commute, we’re talking about your most important or most visited places. What do you need to be close to? Perhaps there are a few locations that are central to your life, either because you travel their frequently or because you need to get there quickly.


What are your most visited Jacksonville places?


  • Grocery & drug stores (need to be able to walk there? Or stop by on way home from work?)
  • Family & friends (does someone need your care on short notice?)
  • Health & Medical facilities like physician offices, health spas, gyms, and hospitals.
  • Entertainment! (Will you walk to the movies, dine-out often or spend all your free time at the beach? Do you hang out at coffee shops or like to walk your dog in the evenings?)
  • Schools (families with children or college students venturing out on their own)
  • Your job (make sure you practice the commute during work traffic! Maps can be deceiving. A two-mile commute on a congested area with traffic lights can actually take longer than a 15-mile commute on the interstate.)


It’s wise to plot the top 3 most important places on a map and draw a circle or radius within a certain number of miles around those points. Starting your condo search within that radius will ensure your happiness with your new neighborhood after the sale, and could prevent a lot of future headaches!


 Did you know that we can do a radius search for you with our MLS tools?


map of condos jacksonville fl


You’ve also got to decide if the appeal of your community is worth the tradeoff of the commute. Some people don’t mind spending the extra time in the car in order to get to a far-away retreat that they call home. Others don’t want to lose valuable family time in the evenings because of a long drive home. It’s important to really understand your own personal values and goals before you start looking in places that might sway you from the neighborhoods that make the most sense.


3. Consider Your Goals for the Jacksonville FL Condo


Are you an investor, just looking to add to your portfolio? If so, the questions above—the three most popular points on your map—might be their proximity to you as the owner or to your property manager. If proximity is not an issue, then your primary concerns will include resale value, rental demand, and carrying costs.

single purpose for condo for sale


It’s wise to determine a SINGLE purpose for your purchase. Are you shopping for a residence, or for an investment property? Buyers who can’t answer definitively often get caught in between and fail to make the best use of their money. Let me show you what I mean.


Suppose you want to help your college-aged daughter, Michelle, purchase a condo to live in while she attends school. Your plan is to rent it out after she graduates. Because it’s her first home, Michelle is eager to find condos that match her tastes. She’s agreed to a less expensive unit, a one-bedroom, because she is a single college student. She wants to be close to her friends, and she also has a dog. Michelle chooses a neighborhood where her friends live, that allows pets, and has all the amenities!


However, you see her choice in a completely different light. Michelle loves the brand new buildings much better than the ones built in the 1980s, but the annual costs of the association dues plus taxes are much higher than other communities. In fact, this neighborhood even has CDD fees to boot.  Also, getting a one-bedroom unit is cheaper initially, but you’ve found that there is practically no rental demand for one-bedroom units. While Michelle might be closer to her friends, she is 30 minutes away from the college. You’ve learned that the most popular rental units are within a mile of the campus. My point is to treat it as an investment from the get-go, and you’ll enjoy a better outcome in a few short years.


On the other hand, if you are not an investor, don’t be afraid to make a condo your long-term home! We know many buyers, even those with families, who want to live closer to work or who don’t have time for yard maintenance. Many are downsizing to a place they can pay cash for, after recovering from the effects of a previous foreclosure on their credit history. We’ve seen buyers purchase and renovate a condo to their liking—knocking down walls, redecorating, or enlarging closets. Of course, any alterations have to be approved by the associations, but it’s worth a shot if you’re going to live there long-term! Many Jacksonville condos are as spacious as a traditional family home! Plus they have great community amenities without the hassle. Some have multiple heated pools and hot tubs, fitness centers, outdoor grilling areas, garages, storage units and elevators! It’s easy to have more fun, when everything you need is within close reach!


Hey, Florida condo lifestyle is not just for retirees!

young family in jacksonville fl condo


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