More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.
Quality of Life
Neighborhoods feature Victorian-style homes. [Photo: Stephen Floethe]
Outdoor lifestyle: The county’s signature springs, rivers and lakes make it a popular destination for kayaking and canoeing, as well as freshwater fishing. Largemouth bass are a common catch in Lake Weir and the Ocklawaha River. Equestrian, biking and hiking trails can be found along the Cross Florida Greenway and Florida Trail, including the popular Santos bike trail and landmark bridge over Interstate 75.
The arts: All those horses and all that water inspire local talent, nurtured by Gallery East Artists Cooperative, the Brick City Center for the Arts and other groups. The Appleton Museum of Art boasts impressive permanent collections from America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Islamic world, as well as visiting exhibits like the current 19th century “American Masters.” The Ocala Civic Theatre, celebrating its 60th anniversary, stages a dozen professional plays a year and offers year-round classes for kids ages 4 through 18.
Appleton Museum of Art [Photo: Ocala-Marion County, FL VBC]
The Ocala Symphony Orchestra averages a dozen concerts throughout the year in front of nearly ten thousand area citizens. Its mission is to play the highest caliber music under the dynamic leadership of 27-year-old music director Matthew Wardell. The symphony has performed Messiah, Beethoven's Ninth, Symphony Under the Stars (Mothers Day,) Symphony Under the Lights (December.) They also perform a series in conjunction with the Appleton Museum of Art, host a Young Artist Competition, and have a youth outreach to local schools. More info: www.ocalasymphony.com.
Fly-in: George Steinbrenner and John Travolta are among the jet-set with homes in Marion County’s pastoral hills. Steinbrenner has a horse farm, Kinsman Stud Farm, on 850 acres. Travolta and his family live in “Jumbolair,” a 550-acre development where each home has its own taxiway.
Affordability: Marion County residents pay median real estate taxes of $1,200 on a $159,600 home. They pay 20% less than the statewide average on housing and about 10% less overall. The county ranks 43 among Florida’s 67 counties in total taxes levied per capita.
Crime: According to figures from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Marion County — 16th in population —?ranks 48 among the state’s counties in crimes per 100,000 population.
Health: Children in the district comprising Marion and Alachua counties are among the most likely in the state to have health insurance, according to a 2008 report, Child Health and Healthcare Quality in Florida. Only 6.2% of children under 19 in the two counties are uninsured.