Doral tops our list thanks to its relative affordability, low unemployment rate (4.4%, or over a full percentage point lower than the statewide rate) and strong population growth. This north-central Miami-Dade County city from 2010 to 2013 welcomed almost 6,000 new residents, a gain of more than 14%.
2. Bal Harbour
In tiny Bal Harbour, population 2,569, price could quickly become a factor — it’s the most expensive location in our top 20 with an average sales price of $340 per square foot. Still, there are plenty of buyers. On Zillow’s 0-10 scale for speed of sale, Bal Harbour scored a healthy 8.66.
The watchword in Homestead is growth. More than half — 56% — of its homes have increased in value over the past 10 years, yet housing remains relatively affordable in this city of 61,714 residents. Sale prices over the past two years averaged just $79.42 per square foot, among the most affordable in our study.
4. Miami Lakes
Miami Lakes may not boast oceanfront property, but a full 57% of its housing stock has increased in value over the past 10 years, and vacancies have dropped 3.6%. That’s a good sign for investors who may have to pay a premium for this suburban location just north of Miami. Here, buyers paid an average of $152 per square foot for a house.
Bargains abound in Marianna, home of our top 20’s lowest price-per-square-foot sale price of $61. It’s also clearly attracting new residents, with a 28% increase in the population from 2010 to 2013.
6. Hialeah Gardens
Hialeah Gardens, population 22,136, had the highest overall market health score in our survey at 9.55. This means buyers who are looking for a quick turnaround on their investment will find many options to flip housing in Hialeah Gardens.
This diverse and growing community in northeastern Miami-Dade County is known for its high concentration of transplants from the Northeast, and its many high-rise condos. Buyers will find an average sales price of $227 per square foot and options for Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean views. The city’s investment score also benefits from its 7.51% increase in population since 2010.
This small suburban village in Miami-Dade County is the second-most expensive in our top 10, with the price of $269 per square foot. Its population has grown a modest 1.54% in recent years, and village leaders are thinking about expanding. A common discussion involves annexing land west of U.S. Highway 1 to help build out the small village’s tax base.
9. Cape Coral
Cape Coral moves in many directions: It is the largest city in our top 10 at 158,415 residents, and it has an average sales price that is the third lowest in our top 10 at $96 per square foot. It’s the only city on our list located in Lee County, which is also home to Fort Myers. Cape Coral residents are thinking about development, which can have a major effect on real estate values. Recent news reports have focused on plans to develop Bimini Basin as a community gathering place — with some ideas calling for a mix of commercial and open space.
10. Winter Garden
The only place in our top 10 near Orlando, Winter Garden has a lot to offer those diving into the real estate market. Its vacancy rate declined while its population grew over 13%, suggesting strong demand for housing. Perhaps it’s the nearby Disney World effect, but Winter Garden enjoys a particularly strong job market, which supports a growing housing market. The unemployment rate in Winter Garden in December, the most-recent data available, was 3.8%. By comparison, the entire state of Florida was at 5.6% for the same month.
Check out this interactive map of NerdWallet’s top 10 cities for real estate investment in Florida. Click on an icon to see each place’s overall score.