Florida is the sunshine haven where families from the north fly south to visit each year and to escape the cold. The ocean waves, pools, beaches, cafes, and other attractions have a way of bringing people together from near and far. It is, however, St. Johns County, which draws in growing families headed by two parents or the single moms and dads out there, like myself, who are currently on the "neighborhood home hunting prowl." Parents looking to relocate to the Sunshine State are attracted to St. Johns County for the A-list rated school system and the communities surrounding them. Once the decision is made to move here, the search is on for the neighborhood that best meets our unique family dynamic.

Niche.com, a website that has collected federal and statewide data regarding neighborhoods and schools, listed the "best places to raise a family" in Florida and beyond. As mentioned, having my own interest in finding a new home and community for my family — three little boys and myself — I went on an excursion, visiting every Niche high-ranking location and surprisingly along the way, I discovered a few "under radar," top-notch "hidden treasure neighborhoods," as well.Listed below are my findings. Feel free to read through each kid-friendly neighborhood in its entirety or jump to the ones that are of particular interest.Voted "Best Places to Raise a Family" by Niche.com:After being "out in the field," checking out Niche's data one neighborhood at a time, my own vote is in with Niche's overlooked but awesome, "hidden treasure kid-friendly neighborhoods."

Nocatee— 32081

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Price Range:
  • Condos from mid $200,000.
  • Houses from $399,000, offering bigger space than some of the other communities.
Elementary Schools:
  • Julington Creek Elementary School
  • Hickory Creek Elementary School
  • Freedom Crossing Academy, K-8
  • Patriot Oaks Academy, K-8
  • Liberty Pines Academy, K-8
  • Cunningham Creek Elementary School
  • Durbin Creek Elementary School
Middle Schools:
  • Fruit Cove Middle School
  • Switzerland Point Middle School
High School:
  • Bartram Trail High School
  • Creekside High School

World Golf Village — 32095

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Lake view of  World Golf Village. 
Located in between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, lies the massive World Golf Village neighborhood. Drawing in golf enthusiast families and tourists, the neighborhood includes surrounding cafes and shops, along with numerous extracurricular activities nearby.
  • St. Johns County Convention Center
  • Golf courses -- golf clinics, camps, and leagues for kids
  • World Golf Village neighborhood park
Price range:
  • Houses from low $400,000.
Elementary Schools:
  • Palencia Elementary School
  • Pine Island Academy, K-7
  • Picolata Crossing Elementary School
  • Timberlin Creek Elementary School
  • Wards Creek Elementary School
  • Mill Creek Academy, K-8
Middle School:
  • Pacetti Bay Middle School
High School:
  • Tocoi Creek High School

St. Augustine Beach — 32080

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Sea Grove, a community in St. Augustine Beach. 
The ocean breezes are prevalent in the St. Augustine beaches area. While not a "master-planned" neighborhood, this ocean-side community offers an authentic, beachy lifestyle that has been "around the block." Rumor has it that the St. Augustine Beach residents are protective of their domain and are not too keen on new developments in their turf. With a more diverse range of older to newer condos, townhomes, and homes, the price point fluctuates between the low, middle, to higher end, which gives families who are relocating more options.Close to St. Augustine's historic downtown, and in the heart of a vacationer's oceanside version of paradise, residential homes are tucked away on side streets, off the main road full of cafes, miniature golf, restaurants, pubs, ice cream shops, and many other attractions such as the St. Johns County Ocean Pier. This vibrant municipality comes equipped with a beachfront park, playground, volleyball courts, and a splash zone.Price range:
  • Houses and condos from mid $200,000 and up.
Elementary Schools:
  • R. B. Hunt Elementary School
  • W. D. Hartley Elementary School
  • John A. Crookshank Elementary School
  • Ketterlinus Elementary School
  • Osceola Elementary School
  • The Webster School
Middle School:
  • Murray Middle School
  • Sebastian Middle School
High School:
  • St. Augustine High School
  • St. Johns Technical High School

Three Hidden Treasure Neighborhoods:

Now ... without further ado, below are the final three hidden treasure neighborhoods in St. Johns County — in which Niche.com has not gathered any data for but, along with Nocatee, were my favorite kid-friendly neighborhoods in the county.

Palencia— 32095

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Palencia shopping center. 
Palencia is a charming, Mediterranean-style community with character. This tight-knit "master planned" neighborhood is along the west bank of the Intracoastal Waterway and Tolomato River. With a clubhouse overlooking a golf course, pool, and waterslide with local stores lining brick streets, the community offers homes and condos that are both cozy and quaint.Amenities include:
  • Market Street - unique local shops
  • Palencia Street Festival - vendors with clothing, jewelry, art, food and bands
  • Palencia tennis club
Price range:
  • Condos from mid $300,000.
  • Houses from mid $400,000.
Elementary School:
  • Palencia Elementary School
Middle School:
  • Pacetti Bay Middle School
High School:
  • Tocoi Creek High School

Beachwalk — 32259

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Crystal Lagoon in Beachwalk. 
Beachwalk, a new northern St. Johns County development with some completed homes and many more to build, is a prime location to raise a family. As construction continues to grow, the primary attractions include:
  • Beachwalk Club's Crystal Lagoon
  • Clubhouse - kayaking, paddle boarding, water slides, and swim-up lagoon bar
Price range:
  • Houses from $500,000.
  • Condos from mid $300,000.
Elementary Schools:
  • Ocean Palms Elementary
  • Liberty Pines Academy, k-8 - (opening in 2023)
Middle School:
  • Alice B. Landrum Middle School
  • Note that in 2023, some of the subdivisions in the Beachwalk community will be changing zones and students at Ocean Palms Elementary and Landrum Middle will be attending the new school, Liberty Pines Academy.
High School:
  • Beachside High School - Opening its doors in August, 2022, communities in Beachwalk who were attending Nease High School, will now be transferring to the latest newly developed school—Beachside.

Beacon Lake — 32095

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Beacon Lake community clubhouse. 
Directly across the street from Beachwalk is a delightful community called Beacon Lake. Relatively new, it is definitely kid friendly with a clubhouse and amenities that have a Cape Cod vibe.Amenities include:
  • Tennis courts
  • Basketball courts
  • Pool
  • Waterslide
  • Paddle lake
Price range:
  • Houses from $400,000.
Elementary School:
  • Ocean Palms Elementary
Middle School:
  • Alice B. Landrum Middle School
High School
  • Allen D. Nease High School

SilverLeaf — 32092

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Silver Leaf clubhouse. 
As I write this, in 2022-2023, the current housing market is on a wild and bumpy ride, and some families have put a halt on buying a home until things level out again. Those not yet in a position to move will want to keep an eye on a master-planned community called SilverLeaf. This will be one of the biggest developments in St. Johns County with a completion date set for 2047. Creating a whole new "town," if you will, your family's new home may soon be on the horizon.

SilverLeaf Waterford Lakes

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SilverLeaf Waterford Lakes Townhomes. 
In comparison to some of the other kid-friendly communities, SilverLeaf Waterford Lakes is slightly more affordable with two to three bedroom townhomes and no CDD fees.Amenities include the following:
  • Fitness center
  • Pool
  • Splash pad
  • Cabana
This location is the newest of the group of kid-friendly communities and hasn't fully evolved, building is ongoing, and residents are already living there.

SilverLeaf & Hartford Village

Comprising new homes currently in development, plans for the community revolve around families, offering kid-friendly amenities. Included in the "amenity grand plan" are:
  • Swimming pools
  • Spray parks
  • Tot lot
  • Tennis courts
  • Playgrounds
  • Dog parks
  • Clubhouse - yoga rooms
Families, as mentioned, have begun to relocate to Silverleaf, and with an approval of 16,300 residential units, there will be many more to come.Price range
  • Townhomes from low $300,000.
  • Homes from mid $400,000.
There are no CDD fees and the HOA fees are relatively low per year.Elementary School:
  • Wards Creek Elementary School
Middle School:
  • Pacetti Bay Middle School
High School:
  • Allen D. Nease High School

Kid-Friendly Living

St. Johns County offers a wide array of choices to families of all shapes and sizes. Regardless of which community is the right fit for you - affordability, amenities, new developments or older neighborhoods, at the end of the day, happiness, first and foremost, comes from inside our homes. Therefore, no matter which option you choose, your family will thrive as they swim in a pool, or jump in the waves at the beach, explore the shops nearby, and take lessons at the club, or hike a trail. The doors remain wide open to a slew of possibilities and St. Johns County welcomes all of you.