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Moving to Fort Walton Beach: A Complete Guide to Your New Home

Moving to Fort Walton Beach: A Complete Guide to Your New Home

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Are you considering a move to Fort Walton Beach, Florida? Nestled along the beautiful Florida Panhandle, Fort Walton Beach offers more than just pristine beaches and a tourist-friendly atmosphere. With a vibrant community, diverse employment opportunities, affordable cost of living, and an abundance of recreational amenities, Fort Walton Beach is an ideal place to call home.

Discovering Fort Walton Beach

Location and Geography

Located in Okaloosa County, Fort Walton Beach is situated along the eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle. It is bordered by Crestview to the north, Navarre to the west, and Niceville and Destin to the east. This prime location provides residents with easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and its stunning coastline.

A Vibrant Community

Fort Walton Beach is known for its friendly and welcoming community. With a nickname like "The Camellia City," you can expect a warm and inviting atmosphere. The city has a rich history of attracting newcomers, including military families and snowbirds, who often find themselves falling in love with the area and deciding to stay for the long term.

Employment Opportunities

Fort Walton Beach offers a diverse range of employment opportunities. With two major Air Force bases in the vicinity, Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, the military presence is a significant contributor to the local job market. In addition to the military, advanced manufacturing companies like Boeing, InDyne, and Precision Measurement Inc. play a crucial role in the area's economy.

A Foodie's Paradise

If you're a food enthusiast, Fort Walton Beach won't disappoint. The city is renowned for its exceptional seafood, with some of the best dishes served at top-rated restaurants. From baked grouper to calamari, conch chowder to mahi-mahi, and oysters to shrimp po' boys, you'll find a wide variety of delectable options to satisfy your taste buds.

Settling in Fort Walton Beach

Cost of Living

One of the appealing aspects of Fort Walton Beach is its affordable cost of living. Compared to its neighboring tourist hotspot, Destin, Fort Walton Beach offers a more budget-friendly lifestyle. Rental and housing options in the area are generally below state and national averages, making it an excellent place for both long-term living and vacation rental investments. The median home price here is $447k. 

Demographics and Diversity

Fort Walton Beach is a diverse community that prides itself on its inclusivity and acceptance. The locals describe the area as kind, neighborly, and supportive. With a significant military presence and a sister city relationship with Quezon City, Philippines, the ethnic makeup of the area is rapidly changing. 

Education and Schools

For families considering a move to Fort Walton Beach, the city offers excellent schooling options. The Okaloosa County School District, Northwest Florida State College, University of West Florida, and Troy University are among the educational institutions in the area. Additionally, there are specialty schools such as Liza Jackson Preparatory School, Okaloosa STEM Center, and Northwest Florida Ballet Academie, providing a well-rounded education for students of all ages.

Enjoying Life in Fort Walton Beach

Weather and Outdoor Activities

Fort Walton Beach boasts a mild tropical climate, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The weather rarely dips below 45°F or rises above 90°F, providing comfortable conditions year-round. The frequent rains clean the air and keep the locals cool, while the general humidity contributes to glowing and refreshed skin. Whether you're strolling along the beach, exploring the city's parks, or enjoying water sports in the Gulf of Mexico, there's always something to do outdoors in Fort Walton Beach.

Recreation and Entertainment

Fort Walton Beach offers a plethora of recreational and entertainment options for residents and visitors alike. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Indian Temple Mound Museum, Air Force Armament Museum, and Emerald Coast Science Center are just a few of the attractions that showcase the area's rich history and culture. Additionally, the Uptown Station shopping district is home to 60 stores and restaurants, providing ample opportunities for shopping and dining.

Nightlife and Events

When the sun sets, Fort Walton Beach comes alive with its vibrant nightlife and community events. The city is filled with great restaurants and bars where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks. Local favorites like GI Jade Tiki Bar and Bistro, Tapworks, and Salty Duck offer a variety of dining experiences, from casual hangouts to lively sports bars. The community also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including holiday parties, dances, foodie gatherings, charities, and networking events.

Getting Around Fort Walton Beach

Walkability and Transportation

Fort Walton Beach is primarily a car-dependent city, with a walkability score of 39 and a bikeability score of 47. While the city is not highly conducive to walking or biking, it does offer public transportation options. The city operates five routes that connect various destinations, including retail, medical, educational, and recreational areas. Additionally, private transportation services like rideshares and the EC Rider bus system provide further mobility options for residents and visitors.

State Road Access

Fort Walton Beach benefits from its proximity to major state roads. US Route 98 runs east to west throughout Florida, providing access to the entire Florida Panhandle. State Roads 189 and 85 also pass through Fort Walton Beach, offering convenient routes to destinations such as Eglin Air Force Base and the Florida-Alabama state line.

Embracing the Fort Walton Beach Lifestyle

Safety and Security

Fort Walton Beach maintains an average safety score compared to national crime and safety statistics. Families, as well as single individuals and seniors, feel safe and free to live their lives without worry. The city's low crime rates contribute to a sense of security, allowing residents to enjoy their surroundings and engage in community activities without hesitation.

Public Amenities and Services

Fort Walton Beach is committed to providing its residents with a range of public amenities and services. The city offers various community outreach programs, crisis centers, senior care facilities, and volunteer opportunities. Whether you're seeking assistance or looking to give back to the community, Fort Walton Beach has resources available to support and uplift its residents.

Your Journey Begins in Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach is more than just a beach destination; it's a place where a close-knit community thrives. The city's natural beauty, friendly atmosphere, and abundance of amenities make it an ideal location to settle down and create a fulfilling life. Whether you're considering a visit or a permanent move, Fort Walton Beach welcomes you with open arms. Discover the charm and opportunities that await you in this vibrant coastal city.

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