Fernandina Beach : Florida


What It Is Like to Retire in Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach is an old town at top of Florida's eastern coast. Amelia Island is just below it, a 13.5 mile long barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean and the northernmost point of eastern Florida. While Amelia Island Plantation is a private community and resort, Fernandina Beach is the biggest town on the island (11,000 people with an average age of about 46).  Fernandina Beach has a charming downtown with an artsy feel and many quiet neighborhoods featuring Victorian homes. There are cute shops and many interesting restaurants. There is significant contrast - while Fernandina Beach is old Florida, the Amelia Island Plantation is new Florida at its best. The public beaches and nature preserves to the south are some of the finest in the world.

Watch this short Youtube video prepared by VisitUSA:

Here is the Photo of marsh courtesy of Wikipedia and Razvan Orendovici.


Where to Retire in Fernandina Beach and Home Prices

Amelia Island Plantation has luxury hotels (a Ritz-Carlton), condos, and beautiful private homes.  You can live on the water, beside a golf course, or have a home set in the live oak-studded dunes just off the beach.  There are other communities near Fernandina including American Beach, a historic district founded in 1935 to give blacks access to the beach in the then segregated South.
The owners of Amelia Island Plantation went into foreclosure or bankruptcy in 2010, which has since been resolved. Home prices vary depending on location - in the Plantation will generally be much more expensive than in Fernandina or other communities. Whereas prices on the Plantation had started at over $500,000 and went to almost $5 million, the financial troubles have brought those down sharply. The median home value was $561,133, in early 2022, according to Zillow. Prices on Amelia Island Plantation were undoubtedly higher.


What Is Special about Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach is an old coastal town on the way back up; it's downtown is charming with many interesting shops, restaurants - a  50 block area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; nearby Amelia Island Plantation has all the luxury and amenities to complement Fernandina; some people have likened Amelia Plantation to summer camp for rich adults; Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival; Fernandina Beach is a very walkable community.


What Is Not Special about Fernandina Beach

The bankruptcy of Amelia Island Plantation was a problem. While Fernandina can be a bit funky, Amelia can strike some people as being stuffy.  Amelia is expensive.  If your plans are to find a warm place for January and February, It will occasionally get too chilly for golf and other activities.  One of our visitors complained about "the stinky paper mills".

Who Will Like Retirement in Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach attracts people who like restored small towns. Amelia attracts wealthier people who are looking for a vacation home or active adult community.

Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism and retirement.

Climate and Physical Environment

Fernandina Beach is the northernmost community in eastern Florida. It is located on a 13.5 mile barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Jacksonville.  It can occasionally get chilly in the winter, but usually warms up during the day.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

You won't move to Fernandina or Amelia for culture. Fernandina has a nice bookstore and many interesting restaurants. Jacksonville, about 45 minutes to 1 hour away, will be your cultural outlet.


The crime rate in Fernandina is almost exactly at the U.S. average. Inside the Plantation it is very low.

Medical Facilities

Baptist Medical Center is on the island. Jacksonville is the closest big city with larger hospitals.


Jacksonville International Airport is the nearest airport, about 40 minutes away. There is a general aviation field in Fernandina with runways of 5,000 to 5,300 feet. Fernandina Beach is above average in walkability when compared to other communities.


Valuable Links

City of Fernandina Beach

Florida retirement guide


What people are saying about Fernandina Beach

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