No discussion of the Emerald Coast is complete without its crown jewel—Destin. Tourists from far and wide are drawn to the calm Gulf waters, white powdery sand beaches, resorts, and nightlife of this Panhandle beach town. Life in Destin revolves around water-sports and beach activities. Leisure activities are plentiful and suit all activity levels from standup paddle boarding to sport-fishing, beach volleyball to golf. Restaurants cater to vacationers, and some even have beach playgrounds for the kiddos. If you’re looking for the area’s best shopping and nightlife—you’ll find it here.

Choosing to live in this picturesque locale comes with the perks of beach-life, but also comes with its drawbacks. Over three million visitors descend on Destin each year and traffic on Highway 98 can be gruesome during the summer months. While the “off-season” commute (winter months) to Eglin AFB is only 20 minutes, adding summer congestion to that can more than double your time in the car. Hurlburt Field is just west of Fort Walton Beach down Highway 98, and it takes roughly 30 minutes to commute from Destin to this airfield, without traffic. Commuting to Duke Field also entails toll roads costing between $6 and $12 per day.


Beach bums and social butterflies flock to Destin. Though it becomes denser with tourists as you approach the water, there are some local enclaves filled with retirees and empty-nesters. Military residents are less plentiful, but single service members and young couples enjoy living in the condos near the water with proximity to the area’s nightlife.

Neighborhood Feel

Destin neighborhoods vary in style from luxe waterfront mansions and quaint beach bungalows to high rise condos. DIY-ers can score an “affordable” home under foreclosure and renovate it into a valuable income property, but otherwise the average military family will look to other communities for larger homes and more desirable schools.

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Neighborhood Location

Duke Field – Duke Field Exit off I-85
Eglin AFB – West Gate
Hurlburt Field – Main Gate
Drive Time to Gate
30 to 45* minutes
25 to 40* minutes
25 to 30* minutes
By Transit

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Neighborhood Info

Destin - Eglin AFB & Hurlburt Field, FL -

Points of Interest

Morgan Sports Complex

HarborWalk Village

Crab Island

Destin Commons

Silver Sands Outlets

Crystal Beach

Big Plus

In Destin, everything you need is right at your fingertips: shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen.

There are multiple condo and apartment housing options to choose from in Destin. Pair Destin’s vibrant nightlife with a plethora of outdoor activities, and you’ll find that singles and young couples love it here.

The Spence Parkway (Toll Road 293) makes it possible to commute north to Duke Field via the Mid Bay Bridge, though with the added cost of using the toll roads.  

Things to Consider

Consider flood zones and exposure to a direct hit from a hurricane when deciding to live near the coast. Though rare, natural disasters are certainly something to factor into your insurance premiums.

Traffic picks up considerably during the summer tourist season. Beachgoers, spring breakers, and snowbirds can clog up the sole artery leading to Eglin AFB (Highway 98). Plan on crawling past all the beaches during your afternoon commute. Driving to Duke Field will cost extra time and money as there are tolls on both the Mid-Bay Bridge and Spence Parkway.  

Living in paradise comes with a hefty price tag. Homes here are much more expensive than in some of the nearby beach communities. Don’t expect to get too chummy with your neighbors either. Vacation rentals are everywhere and the year-round occupants are few and far between, especially close to the water.

How’s the Market?

The median home value for a single family home in Destin is $394,000 according to the Zillow Home Value Index. Home Values are forecasted to increase by 7.9% in the coming year.

According to Zillow’s Rental Index, the median rental rate for single-family in Destin is $2,110.

School Scoop

Public schools in Destin are in the Okaloosa County School District (OCSD), which has an overall rating of 7, according to One of the best schools is Destin Elementary School, which has a rating of 10.

OCSD offers two charter school options. Liza Jackson Preparatory School (in Fort Walton Beach) is an intermediate charter school serving kindergarten through eighth grade. Collegiate High School at NWFSC (in Niceville) serves students in grades nine through 12 and offers dual enrollment at Northwest Florida State College to all graduates. Students are not only equipped with a high school diploma but also an Associate’s Degree (tuition-free!). Out of zone admission is available pending space and approval.

Special programs to note in OCSD schools include STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medical) clubs, Odyssey of the Mind for gifted students, middle school band and chorus, competitive middle school and high school athletics, foreign language electives, and high school leadership opportunities.

OSCD schools offer programs for military families and are staffed with Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC) who are trained to help military kids navigate the challenges that come with the military lifestyle.

Highlighted Areas

Calusa Bay

Indian Bayou

Kelly Plantation

Regatta Bay