The bustling university town of Gainesville, FL is a great place for recent grads and young families looking to move into their first home, as well as more established households looking to set up house somewhere warm and friendly. In 2007, Gainesville was ranked the best place to live in the United States by two separate publications. It is the hub of entertainment and culture in central Florida, and also provides plenty of access to outdoor areas and wetlands, including the nearby Paynes Prairie State Reserve National Park.
Since the 1990s, Gainesville urban planners have made efforts to create more affordable housing in the center of the city to mitigate suburban sprawl. However, there are still plenty of charming houses in the suburbs or in towns just outside the city limits for those not looking to live in Gainesville proper. The west side of Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the eighth largest campus in the United States. That means there are plenty of young people around, as well as the majority of the nightlife and things to do in the evening. Since the 1960s, considerable efforts have also been made to preserve the city’s historic buildings, including the Victorian-style government buildings of the downtown area and the Queen Anne style residences that remain from Gainesville’s heyday as a major agricultural center. These buildings, most of which are left over from the late 19th century, can be found throughout the northeast and southeast residential districts, and are gathered especially in the Pleasant Street Historic District.
Gainesville has a reputation as a major supporter of the visual arts. Two major art festivals are held in the city each year, and the monthly art walk downtown persists year round due to the generally favorable weather. Gainesville is also home to several playhouses, and has a thriving community theater, which is the oldest in the state of Florida. In 2003, Gainesville was awarded the "Gold Well City" award by the Wellness Councils of America. It was the only city to perceive this award, earning it the title of Healthiest Community in America. Due to the presence of the University of Florida, the population of Gainesville tends to skew low, and there is a healthy turnover of residents each year. However, those who plan to stay a while may find that the presence of so many students ensures that rents and home prices stay low.