The sprawling northeastern Florida city of Jacksonville is the largest in the contiguous U.S. by area – it covers a whopping 885 square miles. So if you're looking for apartments in Jacksonville, you have a lot of ground to cover. Here are some tips for making the most of your search:

The basics
Jacksonville has the highest vacancy rate in the country, at more than 8 percent. It also has one of the lowest employment growth rates in the country, so if you're lucky enough to snag a job here, the city is your oyster – it's a renters' market, for sure. Average rent is around $800 per month here. A one-bedroom apartments averages $670 per month and a two-bedroom averages around $825. The cost of living in Jacksonville is slightly lower than the national average, but you'll definitely need a car if you live here. It can get very humid in the summer here as well, so moving in the winter, when temperatures have cooled down, is a good option.

The neighborhoods
Jacksonville has too many neighborhoods to count! The costs vary by location, as do the landscapes: You can live in a rural area, in the heart of the city, near the beach or in a more suburban setting – you'll find it all in Jacksonville. Here are some of the neighborhoods that are most appealing to young professionals, most of them near the city's center:

  • Downtown Jacksonville: This is the business part of town, but you'll still find some nice apartments and lofts right on St. John's River.
  • Eastside: This lively area is where the Jaguars play, and there are many bars, sporting events, fairs and festivals here.
  • Riverside/Avondale: These adjacent neighborhoods are southwest of downtown and right on the river. The area is slightly pricey, but it hosts a lively art scene and historic buildings, small shops, music venues, bars and restaurants galore.
  • San Marco: This neighborhood is just across the river from downtown and provides the best of both worlds. Rentals are fairly inexpensive here, but Miramar, just to the south, has some pricey options.

Insider tips
When most people think of Florida, they think of palm trees. But Jacksonville is in the northeastern part of the state, so you'll mostly see pretty oaks and pines. Also, you can snag some good deals at flea markets year-round here, so you'll be able to easily furnish your apartment on the cheap!