Pensacola: A Crummy Place to Live
Want an exciting career in retail or the food service industry? Want to "wow" your friends with a part time job that pays $11 an hour with no benefits? Pensacola is for you!
Sarcasm aside, after 20+ years living here, I finally figured out I was going nowhere. I worked retail for several years and never got ahead. None of my friends or co-workers got ahead in this town, either. All those who have been successful in their careers left the city. I decided to go to the University of West Florida and graduated before I hit 30. Now I'm leaving this place forever and I don't have any regrets about doing so.
Pensacola's job market is crap. Good paying jobs are near impossible to find, even with a college degree. Those "good paying" jobs you do find are well below market average. After graduation, I received two job offers: One here, and one in Texas. The salary difference was almost $30,000. Naturally, I took the job in Texas; while it's a bit higher cost of living, it's definitely not anywhere close to $30k a year more.
The public school system is heavily segregated, or it was when I was in school. Being a "white boy" in a primarily low income black school was pretty tough. The quality of teachers were probably okay, but they were clearly frustrated. The schools are probably hit or miss overall; I can only speak for my experience. If you're stuck moving here with kids, look at the demographics before you pick a home. Regardless of your race, you probably don't want your kids stuck in the kind of high school I was in.
Overall, I can't say that there's anything in Pensacola that I like, but it's not all terrible.
The downtown area is really nice. It's heavily influenced by New Orleans architecture and it can be quite pleasant to walk the sidewalk on a nice day or night. Living in that area is very expensive, though it would be a fun place to live.
I'm not a beach person, but I can't deny it's gorgeous. White sands, lots of restaurants, and a lot to do. The Quietwater Beach side has a great boardwalk with lots of shopping and restaurants. The water is also calm, hence the name. On the opposite side, you half the Gulf of Mexico, and it's got nice white sandy beaches. It's easy to find a spot in the crowd or a private spot if you want. Unfortunately, with the wages I made here, I could never afford to frequent the beach. It's a hot tourist attraction though.
In short: Visit Pensacola Beach. Don't live in Pensacola.
Chris | Dallas, TX