TALLAHASSEE

Information about living in Tallahassee, FL.

Welcome to Tallahassee, Florida

Intro to Tallahassee

The area around Tallahassee is often referred to as the Big Bend area of Florida. We are also sometimes kiddingly called the armpit of Florida or just simply, “Tally”.  When you visit us, you will understand why they call us the land of the pines.  So much so, that construction prices are rising in part due to the massive number of pines destroyed in 2019 by Hurricane Michael. 

Tallahassee itself votes blue, while the surrounding rural countryside votes red.  We do not have much of a night life to speak of, but there are many social groups to join and people in general are pretty accepting of alternative lifestyles – especially near the Universities.  We are in the Bible belt and you may find it a bit of culture shock that Southerners want to know where you pray on Sunday morning.

The high schools have been ranked as some of the best in the state by private websites designed for that stuff.  The weather is mostly mild, as are the people. There are tons of free things to do outside.  The parks have won awards for being some of the best in the country (and pet friendly!!). As a group, we have found the people of Tallahassee a mostly live and let live group (unless you plan to cut down any trees) and that appeals to us.  

Although we are the state’s capital, we are more like southern Georgia than south Florida.  There are hills here that do not extend into the rest of Florida and the people here speak with a slight southern drawl.  As you travel south in this state, it becomes sandier and flatter and the population becomes more ‘northern’ in attitude. In fact, if you are asked if you are from Miami, you are subtly being told “Bless your heart.”  One of the things people in Tallahassee are most proud of is that we are not Miami. If you are interested in some stats on Tallahassee, please click here.

Weather

Unlike most of Florida, Tallahassee has four distinct seasons.  There is a nine-month growing season and an average of 233 sunny days with an average yearly temperature of 68 degrees.  We average around 60 inches of rain a year and while July and August can be brutal, it is unusual for us to have temperatures in the 100s. The Tallahassee area holds both the records for being the hottest and coldest parts of the state. 

Spring Weather in Tallahassee:

In April, Tallahassee’s daily highs are in the upper 70s or lower 80s and by May, the furnace has definitely been turned on as the high temperatures start to climb along with the humidity. Most days are sunny and pleasant and an excellent time to live outside. March has an average of six inches of rain, while April and May only average three inches.   

Summer Weather in Tallahassee:

Tallahassee’s summers can be brutal with temperatures in the 90’s, humidity at 100% and the overnight temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees..  Leaving the air conditioning can feel like walking into a sauna when your glasses fog and condensation forms on your skin. You all from up north enjoy a break overnight from the heat and humidity, but not so much here this close to the Gulf waters. You will often find locals hibernating during these months.  July and August are the wettest months of the year with an average of about seven inches of rain.  The coastal wind from the Gulf (about 30 miles away) drops afternoon rain mostly daily in the summer (around 3pm).  Even though we can sometimes have daily rain, few locals carry umbrellas.  We know the rain will only last about ten minutes, and for locals, ten minutes is not late for an appointment.

Fall Weather in Tallahassee:

Tallahassee is college town.  With a college student population near 42,000 and several national championships, fall means football here.  Every Friday of a home game, there is the down-town get down just in time for the dropping temperatures to make it pleasant.  Night time temperatures drop to the mid-50s in October and November.  Average daytime temperatures start to slip below the 80s near the end of October.   Most days will not get colder than sweatshirt weather until the winter.  We do have hardwood trees that have leaves that change color – again making us unique in Florida.

Winter Weather in Tallahassee

The average high temperature in the winter is 64 degrees and even the shortest days of the year are sunny and clear.  The average rainfall in December is over 4 inches, and it rarely snows.  Locals often run their air conditioners all winter long to pull the water from the air (it helps preserve your drywall and reduce mildew and mold.).  It would be difficult to overstate the impact air conditioning has had on the economy of Florida.  Little known Florida history fact – each state has two statutes in the National Statutory Hall for Congress.  While many states selected politicians and philanthropists to represent their state, one of Florida’s statutes is of John Gorrie – the inventor of mechanical cooling.  Once you move here – this will make perfect sense.) 

Hurricanes:

Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 30 every year.  Fortunately for Tallahassee, being in the Big Bend and 30 miles from the coast has protected us from direct strikes of hurricane force winds.  We have had several tropical storms in the past decade. Some hurricanes became tropical storms before they moved over us. The closest we came to a direct strike by a strong hurricane in Tallahassee was Hurricane Michael.  It came ashore near Mexico Beach on October 9, 2018. If you are curious about the damage Hurricane Michael (2018) brought to our area, NASA has some photos from space that are fascinating.  Check them out here:  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92868/florida-slammed-by-hurricane-michael

Government

To be honest, the overlap of government oversight can be confusing.  Be sure to call before you go so you know you have the right office – or better yet, many services are now available online.  The city of Tallahassee has offered as many services as possible online for years – including traffic cams, city utilities, city commission, pet adoption, public transportation information, etc.  Check their webpage here:  https://talgov.com/Main/Home.aspx

They even have a crime map here (I check this all the time when showing houses – only good in Tallahassee):  https://www.talgov.com/gis/tops/  

Tallahassee is in Leon County.  While Tallahassee is the biggest city, it is not the only city in Leon County.  Woodville is the other city in the county – it sits to the south and east, just above the coastal county – Wakulla. There are some communities within the Tallahassee city limits that are annexed (meaning they are not part of the city) and therefore governed by the county.  Here is the county’s webpage:  https://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/. Tallahassee is the capital of Florida, and many of the state offices are located within city limits.  That also comes with many state jobs.  The website for the state of Floridahttp://www.myflorida.com/ is beautiful and to the point.  It’s a great starting location for searching for state agencies, Florida statutes and representatives, etc.  If you are looking for a job with the state, check out this site:  https://jobs.myflorida.com/

Traffic

Like most cities now there are plenty of Uber and Lyft drivers to help you get around without a vehicle of your own in the city.  During game days there may be a longer wait near the university. 

If you are near the capitol near lunch time, there are FREE trolley rides each with a 20-minute tour that stops near some really great restaurants.  One runs from the capitol north to Midtown and the other runs west down towards the college and back Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 to 2:50. There is also a dinner one that runs from 4:30pm to 1am.  Check out their routes and interactive map here:  https://www.talgov.com/starmetro/trolley.aspx

Tallahassee does have a metro bus system – called the Star Metro.  The routes and rates can be found here: https://www.talgov.com/starmetro/starmetroHome.aspx. There is even an electric bus that has wireless available for passengers. One more word about traffic in Tallahassee.  The city is in the shape of a tire with the capitol at the center and the spokes are major traffic arteries heading to local towns.  So, no matter where you go in Tallahassee, you generally are half an hour from even the furthest location.  Unless you are on Capital Circle at rush hour, then you sit and watch the bicyclist make it home before you.  Ya – doesn’t every city have one of those roads?

Sports

If you are looking for a place to toss the football around, we have lots of parks with open spaces and pets on leashes are welcome!  If you are interested in intramural sports, there are lots of options between the city leagues, private groups, and the universities. There are public board posted in each park featuring groups looking for new participants.  We recently checked out the frisbee golf course at Tom Brown Park.  Tallahassee also has beautiful golf courses open to the public. The people of Tallahassee love to live outdoors and there is plenty to do if you are stir crazy from being indoors! You can bring your leashed companions to most public areas outdoors.  Many restaurants have outdoor seating under roof which allow pets as well.  Check back often for more information and pictures of our ever-growing list of favorite local spots.

County’s webpage for open spaces and areas for sports:

http://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/Home/Departments/Office-of-Resource-Stewardship/Parks-and-Recreation/Sports-Facilities?page23367=1&size23367=50

Hikinghttps://www.trailahassee.com/

City leagues:  https://www.talgov.com/parks/sports.aspx

FSU Campus and off-campus recreation sportshttps://campusrec.fsu.edu/

Taxes

Florida does not have any state income tax, so it relies on sales tax to fund the government jobs and services throughout the state.  However, if you live in Florida and work in Georgia, as some of my neighbors do, you will pay Georgia income tax. 

The sales tax for Florida is 6%.  In Leon County the sales tax is 1.5%, making it a total of 7.5% for sales in Tallahassee.  Tallahassee does not have a city sales tax but does have a gas tax and a 10% utility tax on water and electricity. 

The property tax for every homeowner is collected by the county each year.  If you purchased a home you will be responsible for paying the entire year but will be given credit at closing from the seller for their pro-rated tax responsibility.  There are many exemptions available to help lower that tax burden – including homestead.  With all their available exemptions, two customers of mine who bought homes at $250,000 this year both have tax burden around $2,000. If you live in your Florida home, you can claim a homestead exemption up to $50,000 (though only $25,000 of that is an exemption for non-school taxes).  There are also exemptions for blind persons, those totally and permanently disabled, widow(ers), those over 65, and veterans and their families.  I heard tax officials say that it never hurts to ask to have your property tax assessment reviewed.  Check out their webpage for more explanation: https://www.leonpa.org/_dnn/General-Info/FAQ.

Housing

I have worked with many people moving to, in and around Tallahassee. Tallahassee is set up as a wheel with the capitol in the center and the spokes are the major roadways out of town.  Tallahassee is split east/west by Meridian Road that runs along the meridian line for a time in town.  It is roughly split north/south by Apalachee Parkway or Rt 20.  Southwood (in the southeast) is constantly expanding and very popular for families with young children. We have a lower inventory of sales, but have sold more of them than we have in previous years.  Fewer homes expire without a sale, and days on market has dropped in 2020 for sellers.  Even during the pandemic (or perhaps because of it) we still have many people moving to our mild climate and awesome city from around the country. 

Crime

Tallahassee has a bad rap when it comes to crime, some of it is not deserved.  Until 2019, Tallahassee had the highest crime rate in Florida for five years.  It made local news in 2020, that we had lost our place at the top of that ignominious list and had a 12+% drop in crime.  Part of that is because Tallahassee is not a large town. But, the influx of 30 – 40,000 students is a large percentage of our census population.  Those students, while not counted in our census numbers, are committing a higher rate of the crimes here.  On top of that, we have seven law enforcement agencies in Tallahassee.  That many officers in a training ground is likely to lead to more traffic tickets, DUI stops, drunken assaults, and searches incidental to arrests. 

Like many cities, we have areas that are ‘rougher’ than others.  If you decide to buy a home here, hire a professional Realtor that knows the town.  There are some areas that are in transition and unless your Realtor has been paying attention to the trends, they may not see the warning signs of potential investment loss.  That being said, most neighborhoods in Tallahassee are safe from crime and investment loss. 

Tallahassee does put its police activity online.  This is only for Tallahassee, outlying areas are not included on this page. You can see some crime history here as well when you type in your address: https://www.talgov.com/gis/tops/

If you are wondering whether police have ever been called to your home, most government documents in Florida are public record.  You can travel to the Tallahassee Police Department and/or the Leon County Sheriff’s office (depending on the location of your potential home) and ask for any records that come up with your address.  When I did that public records search for the first home I bought in Tallahassee, I found out that the previous owner had committed suicide in the backyard. In Florida, Realtors are not required to tell you whether there has ever been a murder or death in the home.  Many probably wouldn’t even know how to find out even if they were asked. 

Hospitals

There are two large hospitals in the Tallahassee area.  Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is located near mid-town on Miccosukee Road.  The hospital was founded in 1948 and is a private, not-for-profit facility run by a board of directors.  Whenever I have had to have surgery I have found TMH to be professional and caring. Check them out here: https://www.tmh.org/

Capital Regional Medical Center is located near Capital Circle off Miccosukee.  The CRMC hospital is part of HCA network and is operated for-profit.  Their website does have a cool ER wait time timer (also used in billboards and other advertising) to let you know how long the wait might be if you do go.  If you have more questions, check them out here:  https://capitalregionalmedicalcenter.com/.

Schools

One of the highest rated high schools (on both greatschools.com and schooldigger.com) is the Florida Virtual School.  One of the comments made by a poster who claimed to have recently graduated from FVS is that there was a lot of choice and as a student he felt that he had a voice.  Perhaps if you have a motivated student, the virtual school is an option, and apparently a highly rated one.  If you do not feel tied to a school zone, there are bargains to be had in real estate – even in a seller’s market. 

Many parents want to know about the schools they are zoned for and on this page you can plug in any address and see the school zone.  https://www.leonschools.net/domain/101.

If your child has special needs or excels in a particular area or you want them to attend a school near their family caretaker, you can request that your child be moved to an alternate school.  There are some schools with very long waiting lists and you can choose up to three schools on the form.  You can find more information about school choice here: https://www.leonschools.net/site/Default.aspx?PageID=2665.

Tallahassee is home to the Florida State Seminoles and their three championships and that giant castle they call a stadium.  That whole area of town is mostly avoided by the locals.  FSU has been a top party college for decades. 

Tallahassee is also home to the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), one of the largest historically black universities in the country.   The campus is located on the highest hill (of the seven hills) in Tallahassee.  

To Do in Tallahassee

Tourism websites

We are not the only ones who love Tallahassee.  If you just can’t get enough of our darling little city, check out these pages too!

https://visittallahassee.com/

https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

Looking for something to do?  Check out these Tallahassee Event pages! From the 850 Business Magazine here are some business related upcoming events: https://www.850businessmagazine.com/things-to-do/.

History

Tallahassee Parks & Museum

We have traveled up and down the east coast and most of the I-70 corridor between Florida and Ohio and have seen many national, state and local parks, but Tallahassee’s parks stand out as some of the best!  We make it a point to be nosy about how other areas run their park systems.  Besides allowing pets on leashes, it is entirely possible to be within a dozen miles of the capitol building and not see or hear another human being for hours.  Some Tallahassee parks could let you imagine being the first human to lay eyes on the pristine, wild and beckoning landscapes. 

We also have parks that are gathering areas for the locals where you will find lots of like minded people soaking up the rays and walking in nature.  The only downside to our Tallahassee Parks is that they are controlled by different organizations and there is no single source to find all the great locations. If you have other questions that is not answered here, please contact us.  Below are the links for all the parks systems we have overlapping Tallahassee:
City Parkshttps://www.talgov.com/parks/ParksHome.aspx

Leon County Parkshttps://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/Home/Departments/Office-of-Resource-Stewardship/Parks-and-Recreation

State of Florida Parkshttps://www.floridastateparks.org/

If the Civil War interests you, you may want to check out the historical trail designated by the state.  More information can be found on their webpage (along with a 56 page book that can be downloaded – for free!) that included background information as well as maps.  https://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/heritage-trails/civil-war-heritage-trail/

Florida also maintains several other heritage trails and individual markers throughout the state.  Check this link for other heritage trails: https://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/heritage-trails/

Check this link to a map search of the historical markers. They are everywhere! http://apps.flheritage.com/markers/map/

Museums

If there is an area about Tallahassee that disappoints us the most, it would be the lack of museums.  We may be spoiled by the trips to the Smithsonian and Cleveland Art growing up, but we feel we could use a lot more museums in Tallahassee.  Many of the museums are closed or have restricted hours due to COVID.  Please check before you go.

If you hear the locals talk about the Tallahassee (or Junior) Museum, they are actually referring to a zoo-like habitat for local wildlife, and a living history village from 1800s.  The  Tallahassee Museum also has a tree-to-tree adventure that is a ton of fun!  My young teen daughter had a blast and could make it across even the most advanced obstacles.  The zipline at the end across the swamp was so incredible, I wished I could have taken more pictures!  When the kids were young, we got a lot of use out of the family passes.  Here’s the link:  https://tallahasseemuseum.org/market-days/

Have you ever seen the Bat-Mobile?  If not, you can see it at the Tallahassee Car Museum along with so many others.  Great way to spend a rainy day and the collection is always growing and changing!  Check them out here:  https://tacm.com/

Many of our museums are downtown near the Capitol building.  You might be able to see them all in a day if you hurry, but if you are hurrying, you are not from around here.  Let us start with the historic Capitol building located right in front of the current Capitol (and tallest building in Tallahassee).  They have so many small things to look at that we were there for hours!  Most probably will not spend that much time, but it is worth a tour!  http://www.flhistoriccapitol.gov/   

While you are there, travel to the top of the current Capitol building and see the sights.  It is amazing how green Tallahassee is from above!  https://www.floridacapitol.myflorida.com/

The Museum of Florida History

Downtown near the capitol, you will also find the Museum of Florida History.  The exhibit will take about half a day and give a great overview of the history of our state.  https://www.museumoffloridahistory.com/

The Museum of Florida History is connected the Knott House as well that is just down the hill from the Capitol.  The house was constructed in 1843, probably by a free black builder from the area by the name of George Proctor.  You will see the Proctor name a lot locally. https://www.museumoffloridahistory.com/about/the-knott-house-museum/learn-more/     

The Goodwood Plantation and Museum

The Goodwood Plantation and Museum has hosted many local students through its grounds and hosted many prominent weddings as well.  The grounds include the original house that was part of the Goodwood Plantation spreading from Tom Brown Park to past Betton Road Park.  Now the, much smaller, the grounds are well kept and the used for many local events.  https://www.goodwoodmuseum.org/ 

Mission San Luis:

Mission San Luis was built on the second highest hill in Tallahassee in 1656 and later the catholic church added a friary and kitchen to the location.  This is a great place to spend several hours touring the grounds and gardens and listening to the re-enactors tell their stories.  Most of the tours are outside, so plan accordingly.  They have events most weekends and even a free pet blessing ceremony in November. The entrance is located west of FSU’s campus on Tennessee Street.  Admission is $5 per adult, but the mission is closed now due to COVID19.  There are several online tour options available for free now.  Check it out here:  https://www.missionsanluis.org/learn/httpsmissionsanluisorglearnvirtual-resources/.

Lake Jackson:

Tallahassee is also home to the disappearing lake – Lake Jackson.  The lake has an average depth of only six-seven feet except over the two sinkholes (Porter Sink and Lime Hole) that randomly drain the lake into the aquifer.  https://visittallahassee.com/partners/lake-jackson/.

Near the lake there is a state park preserving six 800-year-old earthen mounds built by Native Americans.  You can take the stairs to the top of the mounds and bask in the sun or check out the views of the park.  The hiking trail through the woods brings you within site of a grist mill from the 1800s. https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/lake-jackson-mounds-archaeological-state-park.

This park does have two private residences tucked nearby (in) the park.  I wonder what it would be like to have a home near ancient (burial?) mounds.  Seems like there would be a story there.

Check out some of our posts about what is happening in Tallahassee