The Bad Things First:
There are not the amenities many like to see in more upscale areas -- no Trader Joe's, no Whole Foods, no good clothing stores. There are many chain restaurants, and, surprisingly, there are no really good seafood restaurants in the area. You have to drive to Ormond Beach or Port Orange for better choices. The Volusia Mall is a disappointment. The choices in even well-known stores like Macy's are less than desirable.
Aside from the crime problem, the county has one of the highest gas taxes in the state, thereby boosting gas prices. It's very annoying to drive one county over and see the gas prices .20 per gallon cheaper. The county also had one of the higher foreclosure rates in the state, which was itself among the top in the country.
The high school graduation rate is in the high 60's, not in the 80's as reported here. Sadly, if you spend time here, you will see this is fairly evident. People belch loudly in restaurants. I have had to hose spit from my car windows after parking in shopping center parking lots. There is a high homeless population.
The work ethic in the area is, generally, pretty bad and service tends to be disappointing. Professionalism is not something that people seem to care about around here and can be a real jolt to people moving here from other places.
It's a shame that salaries are so low in this area when so many costs are so high, such as water and trash pick up and gasoline. If there is a sprinkler system in your yard, the City of Daytona bills you monthly at least $15 even if you do not use the system! Lots of problematic things like this. Residents need a break.
The Good Things:
The weather in the fall and generally throughout the winter is very good. Spring isn't bad, either.
If you travel beyond the usual tourist spots, you will find incredible nature. There are so many wooded areas and springs that are pretty much untouched. The birds are amazing. I highly recommend Canaveral National Seashore (south of Daytona), Ponce Inlet, Blue Springs State Park, Deleon Springs, Tomoka State Park, "The Loop," and beyond. St. Augustine is only one hour north of Daytona.
I don't know where you might find prettier beaches.
Daytona Beach is a very nice place to visit. Having lived in the Ohio area for most of my life, I am glad I took the time out to visit this city. I was amazed by the beach and the water. I have never witnessed such a beautiful beach. The weather was great in Daytona Beach as well. It was a welcome break from the dreary fall weather of Ohio.
The night life in Daytona Beach is excellent. There always seemed to be a party going on and it seemed like people just wanted to have a good time. Daytona Beach is a city that can make you forget that you have any troubles in the world. After a day of relaxing on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, you can have the party of your life at night. How many cities can offer that mix? Not many can do it the way this city does.
If you have a chance to visit, get there. If you don't have the time, make the time. You will not regret spending time in Daytona Beach.