Living in St Augustine vs Fernandina Beach Florida

Are you looking to move to Florida but aren’t interested in those well known cities like Miami or Ft Lauderdale. Maybe you want something more laid back, a place that feels like old Florida. Well today I’m going to compare two of these laid back coastal towns; Living in St Augustine vs Fernandina Beach Florida.

When choosing where to relocate to, the first thing I always recommend is visiting the area to start, but there are other factors that will help you determine if it’s the right place for you and I’m hoping I can help with that.

So, today I am going to compare two coastal cities in northeast Florida, the city of Fernandina Beach vs the city of St Augustine. These two towns are both historic and have a lot to offer someone looking to feel like they are on vacation year round, but of course there are some differences between them. but I do want to mention this is a comparison of these two city districts for it’s walkability and in town type of living.

Living in Fernandina Beach Florida

Population

Let’s start with the city of Fernandina Beach which is located on the northern most eastern tip of Florida, basically on the Florida/Georgia border stretching over about 12.62 miles and is situated on Amelia Island, with a population of around 12,622 residents. It was voted #1 in Best Places to Live in Nassau County according to Niche.com.

An hour and ½ south is the city of St Augustine and is comparable in size to Fernandina Beach, stretching over 12.74 miles but has a slightly higher population of 15,065 residents.

One difference is that the city of Fernandina Beach includes the sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, where the City of St Augustine doesn’t quite make it to the Atlantic waters but it does come close within Anastasia State Park and of course even though the beach is not part of the city district it is super close.

Walkable Towns

When it comes to things to do in St Augustine and Fernandina Beach both have a lot to offer, both have a cute downtown area with great walkability to shops and restaurants. Both of these cities are surrounded by water and are ideal for boating with easy access to ocean, rivers, and creeks. So if you love to fish, boat, or kayak, either location will do but if you require a marina slip for your boat, 

St Augustine definitely offers more options than Fernandina Beach with it’s large mooring field, municipal, docks as well as 4 other marinas. They also have a few places you can haul your boat as well as a boat ramp.

Boating in Northeast Florida

Fernandina does have a couple of marinas, such as Fernandina Harbor with all new docks and Tiger Point which offers a lift to haul your boat. There are a few moorings in the harbor as well and both cities offer ample room for anchoring but they also have some major currents so if you are boater you will want to take that into considerations.

And of course the most important thing to mention is both cities have an inlet to the ocean. Which is really important for those Sport fish boats that like to go offshore.

Marinas in St Augustine

Now if you are looking to retire to one of these cities, either will offer you an active and fun lifestyle. The median age in Fernandina beach is 55 vs the City of St Augustine where the median age is 48.

 I would say there is more going on in St Augustine than Fernandina in regards to entertainment.

Living in St Augustine Florida

St Augustine is known for its vast history and architecture having a Spanish and European influence and being the oldest city in the country but both of these cities are historic. As a matter of fact both of these coastal cities have a historic Fort. 

Fernandina Beach’s Fort Clinch, is situated right on the St Marys inlet with sweeping views of the ocean and north of Cumberland Island. This area is filled with history. You can take a tour of the fort and see some re-enactments as well as bike or walk the trails within the park or spend the day on the inlet beach. I’ve done it and it’s absolutely worth it.

St Augustine’s Fort, San Marcos de Castillo, is located right downtown on the bay front with beautiful views of the Matanzas river. You can take a tour of the fort where you can immerse yourself in a virtual experience, watch the firing off cannons over the bay front or bring a picnic lunch to the grounds. This fort is a must see as well, but for me Fort Clinch is more my style. I think because it sits on the Atlantic and is surrounded by trails and a natural hammock of oaks. Although San Marcos de Castillo in St Augustine is right downtown, so you are only a hop, skip and a jump away to drinks, lunch, or another attraction.

Living in St Augustine FL

Downtown St Augustine

Living in a historic city is wonderful, it’s walkable so you have easy access to shops, and restaurants, but you will need to deal with tourism most of the year.

Fernandina Beach and St Augustine Homes

If you are looking to purchase in either of these cities, you will find homes varying in style from victorian to mid century to newer home styles.

In Fernandina Beach the median sales price in mid 2022 for a single family home is $643k, and oceanfront condos are $724k. When it comes to condos you will find more luxurious options on the beach with ocean views while in the City of St Augustine there aren’t as many condo complexes, but there is one downtown right on the river so some of the condos do offer a beautiful view. There are some new townhomes right on the Salt Run with some nice views and some older condos just north and west but mainly you have more single family home options where the median sale price is 677k and $430k for a condo.

Both areas are great spots for a vacation rental but short term rental property owners will need to get permits and will be required to pay bed taxes.

The city of St Augustine has a restriction of 1 rental per 7 day period in zones RS 1 and RS 2. In Fernandina Beach to own what they call a Resort Rental your property has to be in zone RS 3, unless you were grandfathered in prior to the restriction going into effect. Permits for vacation rentals need to be renewed on an annual basis and for more information, reach out and I’ll get you all the info you need to get started. 

One thing that is worth mentioning is that Fernandina Beach has a paper plant on the Intracoastal waterway so depending how the wind is blowing you will smell it, but I think the people who live in this wonderful city gets used to it eventually. If this is something you know you wouldn’t get used to then Fernandina Beach may not work for you.

Things to do in St. Augustine Florida and Fernandina Beach

With that being said let’s dive into Food. Where are my foodies out there?

Either of these towns have a lot of great options. Fernandina beach has something for everyone, ranging from Seafood, Asian, Mediterranean, Italian and some nice brunch options. A must try is España Restaurant & Tapas which offers full meals and small plates perfect for sharing. I was there for my birthday last year and it was fantastic.

St Augustine has some great options as well, and has everything, ranging from, Italian, South American, Seafood, Sushi,  You name it, they have it.  We have a lot of food truck options as well.  A few of my favorite sit down and dine restaurants are St Augustine Fish camp and River and Fort.  If you are looking for a delicious healthy option, Crave is a local favorite and has everything from green smoothies to vegan options.

What about shopping?

Fernandina Beach offers many specialty shops. A few of my favorites are Trailer Park Treasures with old, new and handmade items from furniture to jewelry and Twisted Sisters but there are plenty of other boutique type shops to enjoy as well as art galleries.

The city of St Augustine, is chock full of unique shops and boutiques that are bound to fit every type of person from jewelry to clothing and soap to olive oils. The Coconut Barrel is one of my favorites and offers one of a kind products made by local artists, designers and crafters.

When it comes to big box stores, like Home Depot or Target you need to drive outside either of these city districts 10 to 15 minutes to find what you need.

Healthcare in St Augustine and Fernandina

When it comes to healthcare, Baptist Medical Center Nassau, In Fernandina Beach, is a highly advanced, and an extremely well-equipped community hospital that provides a full spectrum of in- and outpatient services and 24-hour emergency care. Based on the leapfrog group standards, this hospital scored 120.00 out of 120.00 possible points, making it the highest ranked hospital in the area.

When considering healthcare in the St Augustine area, Flagler Hospital is the highest ranked hospital in St Augustine. It has been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals in 2020 by Health Grades. They are considered a total healthcare enterprise and is a one stop shop for all your medical needs. There is also plans for a Baptist health to build a new complex on State Rd 207 close to 95 for outpatient services.

Schools in St Augustine Florida

Lastly, let’s talk about school districts. The city of St Augustine and the city of Fernandina Beach schools rank A- so either is a good option. Be sure to check the schools rankings if this is an important factor for you.

So which one sounds like a better fit for you? Fernandina or St. Augustine?

I know it can be difficult to relocate to a new area, so visiting is step 1 but I do have a relocation guide which could be a helpful way to start your research and you’ll find a link here for instant access. RELOCATION GUIDE

I love connecting with people and helping them navigate a new place so don’t hesitate to reach out or comment below with your questions. If you found this information helpful, make sure you hit like and that subscribe button to keep up to date on my latest videos! Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you on the next one.

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About the Author
Kim Devlin is Your St Augustine Realtor. A Relocation Specialist serving St Johns County and the surrounding areas. She enjoys sharing real estate tips and local insight on communities and living in St Augustine Florida. Tune in weekly and be sure to subscribe to her monthly newsletter.