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Pensacola, FL


SoCal to Pensacola - better place to raise kids - 1/28/2016
Just my $0.02 as I relocated a ton growing up, and just came here from Huntington Beach 2 years ago - some of these reviews seem a little jaded.
Pensacola could be considered a small town. I think the City population is about 60K, but tie in outlying areas and it has a sizeable population that supports a lot of commerce and jobs. The downtown is awesome and I was very surprised with I came for the interview. I was expecting more of a run-down, small town feel but a lot of money has moved into the downtown area recently and renovated just about everything. It has a nice pedestrian strip with lots of restaurants/bars, art galleries, and theatres mixed in with the municipal buildings.
I think the schools in Pensacola, or Escambia County overall may be questionable. I spent time in grade school in FL as a kid and the desegregation attempts cause some weird things like bussing kids back and forth to meet quotas. We chose to live in Gulf Breeze which is in neighboring Santa Rosa County. Homes are slightly more, but the schools are rated 10/10 on all online rankings I could find. I drive across the 3 Mile bridge into work everyday and it is nothing compared to a SoCal commute. 15-25 minutes max.
If you have kids, seriously think about Gulf Breeze or Milton/Pace. If not then there are nice places downtown or in historic East Hill where you can get a mansion for very little.
Not sure why some people mention so much crime here. Again I don't see it and none of my research before coming here revealed anything. PPD and Escambia Sheriffs are very active, and there are a ton of very active charities here as well. Mardi Gras is big time here, and several other cool holidays and parades.
The beach is spectacular. Destin is probably the only beach in FL that is nicer but that place has gone full tourist mode. Locals still enjoy the beach here, though if you want to live on the beach or Gulf Breeze know that high summer season will have increased weekend beach traffic.
There are military bases in the area. I was in the military and if you are coming for that then you probably know what comes with living near military bases. If you need the convenience of NAS then check out the West side of town - otherwise the East or Gulf Breeze is ideal.
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