Tall palm trees and beach on sunny day in Boca

Essential Things to Know Before Moving to Boca Raton

Whether you’re relocating for work, moving closer to family, or dreaming of beautiful beaches, this article will help you understand the pros and cons of living in Boca Raton. We moved to South Florida a few years ago and think it’s a great place to call home. This is your best in-depth guide to the important things you should know about moving to Boca Raton.

I will share my insights and personal perspectives on the schools, activities, neighborhoods, and overall lifestyle.

First, let’s be clear about the obvious. Living in Boca, as with any area, has its share of pros and cons. Based on my years of experience here, there are enough positive aspects to tip the scales toward this being a great place to live. But I’m not trying to convince you to move here.

Rather, I aim to give you a comprehensive overview. I hope that after you read this article, you have a better understanding of what it’s like to live here. You can then make an informed decision about whether Boca Raton might be a good fit for you.

Become a Resident of Boca Raton

I have one item to mention about becoming a resident of Boca Raton. Some parts of Boca are not within the formal city limits. So even if you have a Boca Raton address, it may be part of “unincorporated” Palm Beach County.

If you live in the unincorporated area, you are outside of the Boca city limits. Public services such as police, trash pickup, and the library (among others) are provided by Palm Beach County. You will be considered a non-resident (and pay slightly higher fees) when applying for permits. Check the city map for boundaries.

Ok, let’s get started. Here are some of the main attractions of the area and why people are moving to Boca Raton. If, after reading this, you have any questions, drop them in the comments box below.

Girl in shallow surf at Boca Raton beach
Credit: Isabel O’Donnell/TREKKN

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Boca Raton

With a population of about 99,000, Boca Raton offers an exceptional lifestyle with a small town feel. One aspect of why Boca offers easy living is the sunny weather. It’s the main reason we can maintain an active outdoor lifestyle.

Cost of Living

Before I moved to Florida, I had the impression it was an inexpensive place to live. Maybe I put too much weight into Florida having no state income tax. It turns out that the cost of living varies significantly from one city to another throughout the state. Boca is not cheap by any measure.

Greater Incomes and a Higher Cost of Living

The median annual household income in Boca is $95,570. That concentration of wealth leads to a high cost of living that exceeds the national average.

The average cost of living in Boca Raton is nearly 20% higher than in the rest of the state. While the housing market is the key factor, you can also expect to pay a higher price for groceries, gas, and public transportation.

The median value of an owner-occupied home is $597,100. If you’re searching for lower cost areas, consider Hollywood, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, or Parkland.

Sample Monthly Expenses

If you want a real-life example of the cost of living, here are the prices we paid for a few select things this month.

  • Quarterly HOA fee (gated community): $2,897.00
  • New car tires, including installation: $1,240.83
  • Dinner for four at the restaurant within our community: $85.00
  • Private tennis lesson (outdoor on clay): $90.00
  • Group horseback riding lesson: $75.00
  • One gallon of milk: $5.69
  • Loaf of bread from Publix bakery: $4.99
  • One package of organic bone-in chicken breasts: $12.78

Neighborhoods and Housing

The housing market has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and other nearby cities remain in high demand. Real estate prices have increased significantly and the housing supply continues to grow.

New Home Builds in Boca

There is currently a lot of new home development in the area. Boca continues to expand. Delray Beach is booming. Houses are popping up everywhere. GL Homes is responsible for developing thousands of new single-family homes in Boca Raton and Delray Beach in recent years. If that wasn’t enough, the developer bought hundreds of acres in West Delray to continue the expansion. That will lead to even more traffic. Bummer.

Large developers (GL Homes and Toll Brothers being the most prominent in the area) continue expanding new housing developments. The latest development is Lotus Edge, which extends from Lyons Rd on the east to 441 on the west.

File for Homestead Exemption

If you purchase a home as your permanent residence, file for homestead exemption to receive an exemption related to property taxes.

The neighborhoods within East Boca and West Boca have distinct styles and their own advantages and disadvantages.

East Boca

To the East you will have neighborhoods and communities near the water and close to 95. If you love fishing and have a boat, look at houses along the Intracoastal waterway. The sunrise is stunning and you can find single family homes, condos, and rental units located near and along A1A.

This area offers a wide array of amenities and activities. Enjoy events at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, shop at Mizner Park or Boca Town Center, and stop by Farmer’s Table for lunch with your friends.

West Boca

Many young families choose West Boca for the schools as well as easy access to kids’ sports and other outdoor activities. West Boca is also home to large country club communities with many luxury services, including onsite private golf, tennis, spa, and restaurants.

You must be a resident or a guest to enter the community and access the amenities. For those of you interested in learning more about that lifestyle, take a look at St. Andrews, Woodfield Country Club, Boca West, and Polo Club.

Renting in Boca

Individuals and small families who are seeking to lease a single-family home or apartment can expect an average monthly rental price in Boca Raton between $1,400 for a one-bedroom apartment and $5,000 or more for a four-bedroom house.

You will incur additional fees that may include utilities, pool maintenance, and use of the community clubhouse, depending on the unit and HOA rules. You should also be aware most home rentals within a gated community require an annual lease. Month-to-month options are rare.

Gated Communities

If you’re looking for higher security, then search for a gated community. There are different levels of gated communities, with the most expensive being a country club. These require new home owners to pay a member equity, which may cost you as much as $125,000 or more to move in.

On top of that, you generally have the quarterly HOA fee, which may include a minimum spend that helps subsidize an onsite restaurant. Country clubs attract people who enjoy onsite golf courses, high-quality restaurants, tennis and pickleball, activity clubs, and organized events.

By comparison, non-gated communities do not offer security check-in for guests. Housing prices per square foot and monthly HOA fees will be lower than what you find in a gated community.

Year-Round Beautiful Weather

The weather here is amazing. It’s that simple. The sun is almost always shining and the year-round warm weather offers an ideal place for an outdoor lifestyle.

For example, today (mid-March), is perfect. I heard the rain coming down around 5:30am before sunrise. By 11:00am when my daughter had her tennis lesson, the courts were dry and the temperature reached a mild 72⁰F. We enjoyed a nice breeze as we rode our bikes along the path to the courts. I checked the weather in Massachusetts and confirmed we’re not moving back.

Screenshot of current temperature in Florida and Massachusetts
Screen shot of the current temperatures in Boca Raton, FL and Peabody, MA

Average low temperatures are generally 75-80°F and high temperatures hover around 90°F. This is the reason our population has a lot of seasonal residents. Many people live here from October to May. Many of the people I know who fall into that “snow bird” category move back to New York, Massachusetts, or New Jersey during the summer.

While it’s not a surprise to experience rain daily, it typically does not rain all day. The sun will shine and you can step outside to look for beautiful rainbows.

Hurricane Season

That said, the average temperature in this tropical climate varies by season. Hurricane season typically lasts from June through November. That sounds like a long time. Most years it passes without issue.

But there are times when tropical storms persist and try to eliminate our state’s wonderful motto as the Sunshine State. While it’s not a surprise to experience rain daily during the season, it typically does not rain all day. The sun will shine midday and you can step out to look for beautiful rainbows.

In general, you simply need to stay diligent and pay attention to the forecast. For the most part, all we need to do during hurricane season is be prepared. Make sure the generator is in good working order, buy extra water, check flashlight batters, and move patio furniture into the garage.

By comparison, when living in the northeast through the tough season, you will be outside in subzero temperatures shoveling snow and trying to save your parking space with a rusty lawn chair. In Florida, you pretty much just go inside and turn on the A/C.


You can’t ignore the humidity in Florida. It’s real. And some people hate it. It’s not perfect, but the humidity doesn’t bother me. I even prefer it over the scorching dry desert heat of the southwest. But that’s a personal preference.

If you don’t feel comfortable in a humid climate, your backyard will likely feel like an uncomfortable sticky sauna for 11 months of the year. I typically notice the humidity more as the seasons change and the temperature shifts from the cooler months of winter back into the 80s.


One thing you should know about living in Florida is you will experience a lot of lightning. According to a recent study by Vaisala, nearby Miami-Fort Lauderdale takes the top spot for the most at-risk lightning-prone metropolitan area in the U.S.

While the total number of lightning events in Texas is greater, Florida experiences has a higher density (lightning events per square kilometer). If you’re considering a move to Boca, be diligent and pay attention to lightning alarms. If you know a thunderstorm is approaching, you hear a lightning alarm, or you see activity in the clouds, seek shelter.

Outdoor Activities

Florida is known as the Sunshine State for good reason. With the sun shining more than 230 days each year, you will have many opportunities to stay active outdoors. Let’s start with one of our favorite places to enjoy the sunny weather: Boca Raton beaches.

Pristine Beaches of Boca Raton

Boca has gorgeous beaches. New residents may be pleased to realize that the beaches in this area are some of the best in the entire State of Florida. That’s due in large part to proactive efforts taken by the city to maintain a clean, pristine beachfront.

Smoking, alcohol, skateboarding, and rollerblading are prohibited on the beach.  Dogs are also prohibited from the beach area, with the exception of Bark Park Dog Beach in Spanish River Park.

​There are two miles of white-sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, the city designed and developed the area to offer Boca Raton residents easy access to the beach. You must have an annual beach permit to park your vehicle in one of the city’s beach parking lots.

Palm trees, sandy beach and Atlantic Ocean in Boca Raton

Parks and Recreation

You will find a diverse range of public parks and green spaces to explore. From quaint playgrounds with views of the Atlantic Ocean to the nearly 850-acre South Country Regional Park, it’s easy to find a public outdoor area where you and your family can enjoy picnics, sports, or solitude for a relaxing afternoon.

There are public tennis and pickleball courts, where you can take lessons, join group clinics, or play on a men’s or women’s league throughout the year. There are soccer pitches, baseball fields, softball fields, and large fenced-in dog runs.

My kids play community sports at these parks and have enjoyed various birthday parties with their friends at Patch Reef Park. Other great local parks include Patch Reef Park, Sugar Sand Park, and Red Reef Park. Spanish River Park and South Beach Park are both located near the beach so you will need a resident permit to park.

Fairway at Osprey Golf Course in Boca Raton Florida
Osprey Golf Course in West Boca
Burt Aronson South County Regional Park

South County Regional Park, located in West Boca adjacent to the Everglades is a massive area perfect to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast. There are softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball, volleyball, multiple soccer and lacrosse fields, covered picnic areas, various playgrounds, and a large water park.

There is also a fenced-in area for dogs and a public lake that is often used for adventure water sports such as water skiing and jet skiing. The 27-hole public Osprey Point golf course is located at the south end of the park. The Don Law Golf Academy is top notch. My kids attended lessons and the summer camp. It’s a professional organization with exceptional instructors for all levels.

You can enjoy fishing, bike riding, and kayaking. If you want to enjoy a nice shaded walk, head over to the Daggerwing Nature Center. There is a 0.6 mile boardwalk from which you can enjoy views of the native trees of Florida and catch glimpses of wildlife. (There’s a small alligator that is always resting under the boardwalk near the entrance.)

Courtesy of Daggerwing Nature Center

Nature Centers

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is another good place for kids and adults alike. It’s a popular destination for school field trips. Students love exploring the butterfly garden and watching the fish and marine life in the outdoor aquarium. Gumbo Limbo is well-known for its efforts in sea turtle conservation.

You can also enjoy Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Green Cay Nature Center, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, all of which are located nearby in Delray Beach. These are some of the best places to experience the natural wilderness, observe wildlife, and learn more about the flora of southern Florida.

More than 50 birds settling onto a single tree for the night at a nature preserve in Florida.
Birds return to Green Cay to sleep at night (Credit: Isabel O’Donnell/TREKKN)

I recently spotted a yellow-crested night heron! An adolescent was also roosting in the same tree, but it wasn’t possible to get a clear picture with so many leaves and branches. These birds are mostly nocturnal so it was a treat to spot one during our walk at Green Cay.

Bird in tree at Green Cay wetlands nature center
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron at Green Cay (Credit: Isabel O’Donnell/TREKKN)

Related Reading: Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in the Florida Keys

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Youth Sports

There is no shortage of sports programs for kids. You can select from a long list of community athletic programs in the area.

Youth sports activities in Boca Raton include SABR Soccer, Boca Hoops Basketball, many various tennis programs, Boca Jets Football, Lacrosse, Boca Diamonds Softball, among many others. They can also skate at Tim Huxhold and take surfing lessons year round.

Related Reading: Top-Rated RV Parks in the Florida Keys


Boca is a dog-friendly city. There are many families with dogs. The most popular breed are poodle mixes. I see them everywhere in various sizes. As a resident, you can get a permit and take your dog to Bark Beach and Mizner Bark Park for off-leash exercise.

It’s important to understand that there is unique wildlife in the area. So if your dog is not contained within a fenced-in area, you need to walk him on a leash. If for no other reason than because dogs are eager to discover and explore the local wildlife. Bufo frogs (Cane Toads) secrete a toxin that is poisonous to dogs. This is real. Two dogs in our neighborhood died after biting Bufos.


You will be pleased to know that there are great schools in Florida. We still have one child in elementary school so I stay involved to know what’s currently going on in the school system.

Neighbors May Attend Different Schools

Because of the high number of private schools in the area, kids in your neighborhood may attend different schools. This changes the dynamic of the neighborhood compared with other areas in the US. Kids don’t always know each other and it’s rare that they simply walk down the cul-de-sac to play together.

Top School Rankings

The feedback I hear from parents with kids attending public schools is more positive than what I read on school rating sites such as Niche or Great Schools. The private schools seem to have more rigorous academic curricula and after-school electives compared to public schools. In addition, the larger private schools have onsite armed security.

If you’re comparing areas within the state of Florida, you will find that the schools in Boca Raton or Delray Beach are rated at the top. Per capita, Palm Beach County has highest ranking schools in the state.

Scrutinize the criteria a bit more if comparing the options in and near Boca to out-of-state schools. In many respects, even the best schools in Florida do not compare to the academic rigor of top schools in Massachusetts, Texas, New York, or California. You will see a few private schools in this area in the top 20 listings on Niche.

In the end, school selection is personal and subjective. The main I want to get across is that if you’re moving to beautiful Boca Raton, you can find great public and private schools.

Schools are Getting Crowded

One personal observation is that with the growing number of people moving to Boca, the schools have become overcrowded. The classrooms have become very noisy and packed with desks and kids. My friends agree.

One mom told me the student-to-teacher ratio at her son’s private school has nearly doubled over the past four years. His classroom is so crowded he trips over backpacks and has trouble hearing the teacher’s lesson. There’s no one-on-one time with the teacher. They are planning to move back to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Higher Education

If you have school-aged children, research the Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan, which guarantees the cost of tuition at a state university. It’s a great way to mitigate the cost of inflation.

Florida Atlantic University, a public institution, is known for its academic excellence in business, engineering, and medical studies. It also offers a high school program with college-level courses for students interested in accelerating their studies.

Private institutions, including Lynn University and Everglades University, are also great options within Boca Raton. Palm Beach State College (Lake Worth), University of Miami (Miami), and Florida International University (Miami) extend your options for a great education in the area.


Boca is situated along the borders of Palm Beach and Broward counties. That puts you right in the middle of two great airports. Fort Lauderdale (FLL) is about 30 minutes south and West Palm Beach (PBI) is about 45 minutes north. For ease of access, my preference is PBI.

If you have a private plane, you can access the local Boca Raton Airport.

For international flights as well as more options for airlines and routes, use Miami International Airport. Depending on the duration of our travel, we often drive to Miami and take advantage of the large parking lot. Alternatively, it’s convenient to book a private limo service, Uber, or Lyft. The drive time to Miami airport is about one hour, depending on the time of day.

Roads and Traffic

Some say the traffic is just like any city. It’s not. The traffic is bad. Because the drivers you encounter consist of those who drive 10 mph under the limit and those who drive 40 mph over the limit. No matter how you slice it, traffic is a significant downside of living in Boca.


Don’t buy into anyone claiming to know a shortcut. You can reduce drive time when it’s not rush hour, but there are no meaningful ways to cut the distance you drive between points. The reason is that you must circumnavigate gated communities.

The best advice I have is to check Waze or another GPS for road construction, accidents, or other potential road hazard issues causing a delay. Give yourself enough time to get to your destination and the traffic is less stressful.


Another unique part of driving in Boca is the frequent need to make a U-turn. If you’re leaving the Publix via Clint Moore, but need to get to 441N, you need to exit right, drive east, move into the left lane, make a U-turn at a designated spot, and then drive west toward 441. It’s easy to get accustomed to making these turns, but it is an unusual aspect of life.

Shopping & Dining Out


I generally prefer outdoor recreation to shopping. So I had to rely on observation and feedback from a few friends for their opinion on this topic. The consensus is that you can find world class, designer duds. There are outdoor malls, smaller local boutiques, and consignment shops. You can also shop at the large Boca Town Center mall, where you will find all the top brands, including Breitling, Cartier, Arhaus, Lululemon, Sephora, Boss, and many more.

Boca has both the higher end designer shops as well as the discount and outlet stores such as Saks Off Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom Rack. If you enjoy shopping, a must-visit area is Mizner Park for unique boutiques, great restaurants, holiday festivals, and live music.

Dining Out

There is a broad and diverse selection of local restaurants. Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t compare to New York, but for the most part, there are plenty of great places to enjoy a night out with friends or family.

Enjoy everything from fresh seafood and steakhouses to Cuban and Greek fare. There are plenty of great coffee shops to start your day and tasty pizza restaurants or Chinese food for quick take out orders.

Fountain and shops at Mizner Park in Boca Raton
Shopping and restaurants at Mizner Park in Boca Raton

Are You Ready to Make a Decision About Moving to Boca Raton?

I hope I covered enough about what it’s like to live in South Florida for you to have a good idea of whether it will be a good fit for you and your family.

Top Pros and Cons of Living in Boca Raton

Let me wrap up with a short list of some of my personal top pros and cons things about living in Boca Raton.

Top Pros About Life in Boca Raton

  • Year-round beautiful weather
  • Outdoor sports and other activities
  • Beaches and parks
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Nearby convenient airports
  • No state income tax
  • Driving distance to Miami, Orlando, and the Florida Keys

The Cons of Living in Boca Raton

  • Hurricane season can bring a lot of rain and lightning
  • Summers are hot and humid
  • There are no road shortcuts and driving anywhere takes a lot of time
  • Cost of living is high
  • Reptiles, lizards, and frogs are everywhere

Let me know if you have any questions about what it’s like to live in South Florida!

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