Where in FL is best?

My husband and I moved to North FL (between St. Augustine and Jax) in August 2019. While we love it down here, I’ve had significant difficulty finding affordable boarding for my gelding. Everyone in this area knows that it’s very expensive due to hay costs and the low number of boarding facilities. It is really difficult to locate a GOOD boarding barn that is affordable. Currently, I am paying $930/mo for 4 flakes of hay per day, no covered arena, some trails, jump ring, outdoor arena…he is turned out at night. I paid as much as $1000/mo for board before they raised it to $1150/mo, which is why I Ieft and went to a new barn. I am considering looking for a home for my guy back up north (only with a friend or friend of a friend, not selling him to a stranger. He would be more comfortable temperature-wise, and I will not be completely stressed out over money…this was not an issue in Maryland where NICE, AFFORDABLE boarding barns were a dime a dozen compared to down here. I had a colic-scare today at the barn. He’s ok, but new barn is hot, compared to other places. I didn’t know this when I moved there. So between temperatures, money, and few barns to choose from, I’m completely frustrated. I know heat will be an issue no matter where I go in FL. But again, it’s lack of choice and price that I’m tired of dealing with.

So here’s my question…where else in Florida on the east coast, within 30-45 min of a beach, would be a better choice to live and board horses. I know nothing about other areas and researching is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I want to know from people who actually live there that boarding is between X price - Y price, and there are many OR not a lot of boarding barns. This way, I can determine what area hubby and I might look into. He is pretty open moving elsewhere. If I can find possible options, I may consider keeping my horse with me…if I can afford it.

PLEASE help me out…I really need it. Thank you!!!

Anyone?? Anyone? please…

I’m not terribly familiar with East coast FL.

I’m in Pensacola, boarding is cheaper than what you describe but it’s getting harder to find. Good board here runs 550-750 ish. We do have a nice beach though.

The biggest problem for what you want is 30-45 minutes from a beach. Land close to the beach is expensive, therefore board is expensive.

Ocala is a top choice, at least as far as horses. Hay is a million dollars, of course, but you can get great board anywhere from $400/pasture board $500/stall board, on up. Ormond Beach is the closest beach I think, 1.25 hours away. It’s not a bad drive, I’ve done it a few times.

I have heard from many that Jacksonville is impossible to find board. Orlando and Tampa have more options, but I don’t have any personal experience in those locations.


Thank you! Yes, you are correct about being near the beach and $$$$. Good, glad to know I’m not crazy with my thoughts on boarding in Jax. Appreciate the info!

I should have written that I could be within an hour of the coast, living roughly 30 min from beach and board approximately 30 min west of where I would live.

For that kind of board, would it be out of the question to look for a small property and board at home? Ocala and south FL there are more opportunities but I don’t know if it will be any cheaper.

Out towards Gainesville is better. Alachua has some really nice places. It’s a drive for you, though. St. Johns and Duval are growing fast. Land prices are high and lots of boarding barns have closed down. I think that’s what you’re running into. Maybe you could try finding a small barn with just a few people, or renting a barn. Vets and farriers are good sources of that kind of info.

No place. You’re going to have to be farther away from the beach to get what you want.

I lived near Gainesville for many years. When we started allowing some people to work from home, I had the thought that maybe I could move closer to the beach. I looked into horsekeeping all the way from Amelia Island down to Flagler Beach and was sufficiently discouraged to scrap the whole idea.

I agree with all of the above. Close to the beach is the issue - even within an hour. Perhaps look east of Ocala - Eustis, Weirsdale, places like that. Grand Oaks and Rocking Horse facility are out there, IDK if they board. And I should add that Ocala is just over an hour from the east coast beaches.

Plant City, Florida might fit your bill. West central Florida … about an hour to the beach.

We are looking at properties in Ocala and a few people we’ve talked to go to Crystal River on weekends to swim and boat. I think it’s about 40 minutes away on the Gulf of Mexico

The closer you are to Jacksonville the more expensive board will be (in that area), but I know there are a few more affordable options just a bit further south in the Palm Coast/Hastings/Elkton area. If you join some of the local horse communities on facebook there are people advertising boarding opportunities all the time.

I agree with others about loosening your “requirement” in terms of distance to a beach. If you’re in Central Florida you will find more affordable boarding options and you will have “higher and dryer” land for pastures/turnout. There is a FB group “Horse Boarding - Central Florida” that you should join. LOTS of posts advertising boarding – full range of self-care to full care and different disciplines (trail riding, HJ, dressage). As others have mentioned the Ocala area has lots of options and is still fairly rural. You can also look in Northern Lake County — Eustis area up to the Ocala National Forest. I’m in Altoona – can get to New Smyrna in a little less than an hour and half for a day at the beach.