Fort Myers, Florida
Note: In late September, 2022, Hurricane Ian brought catastrophic damage to Fort Myers.
Tucked Beside the Caloosahatchee River on the Southwestern Florida Coast, Lively Fort Myers is Known for its Nearby Beaches, Trendy River District and Historic Estates
Cost of Living: Below the National Average
Situated along the Caloosahatchee River on Florida's southern Gulf Coast, lively Fort Myers is known for its beautiful beaches, tree-lined lanes, stately estates, fun, touristy downtown and dozens of verdant golf courses. The city got its start in the middle of the 19th century as a military fort, and today it is a popular vacation and retirement destination with miles of freshwater and saltwater channels for fishing and boating.
Population, Median Age, Crime Rate, Cost of Living, Etc.
Today, about 92,000 people call this coastal town home. The median age is 39, and 27% of locals hold at least a four year college degree. Politics are split down the middle. The crime rate is above the national average (location matters). The cost of living is 2% below the national average.
The median home price is about $410,000, and real estate includes everything from modest ranch ramblers and attractive Mediterraneans to tall waterside condominiums with breathtaking views of the Calhoosahatchee River. Neighborhoods are leafy, peppered with palm trees, fruit trees and flowering gardens, and they are generally well-tended.
People come to Fort Myers for many reasons, but the primary one is probably the beach. This is true even though Fort Myers does not actually sit along the Gulf of Mexico and does not actually have its own beach. Instead, people tend to think that the beach in Fort Myers Beach, an oceanfront beach dotted with colorful eateries and bars to the south of town, is a beach in Fort Myers. It isn't. Not that it matters. It is a gorgeous beach no matter what city it is in.
Other nearby beaches include Bunche Beach, a sparkling strip of sand where shelling is an art, thanks to the King's Crown (Conch) shells all around. Swimming and sunning are also popular.
Lovers Key State Park also has a lovely beach, perfect for spending a long day lounging in the sand and soaking up rays.
Bowditch Point Park's unspoiled strip of sand is worth a visit, too. It is at the northern tip of Fort Myers Beach and is the spot for building sandcastles and engaging in a little beach hiking.
Things to Do Other Than the Beach
Fort Myers is home to several elegant historic estates, including the magnificent Edison and Ford Winter Estates. These are the residences of inventor Thomas Edison and automobile pioneer Henry Ford. The two were good friends who built their winter homes next to each other. Both are definitely worth a visit.
Another must see is the equisite Burroughs Home and Gardens. This property was built in 1901 and is an example of Georgian Revival architecture. Once host to Fort Myers' elite, it is now a popular wedding venue and offers tours.
Fort Myers also has two dozen golf courses and numerous museums, including the IMAG History and Science Center, the Sidney and Bernie Davis Art Center and the Railroad Museum of South Florida. The Southwest Florida Symphony is always a treat, as are the numerous theater groups throughout the city.
The city boasts several farmers' markets, too, offering a bounty of fresh vegetables, meats, fruits, jams and more. The downtown market is held in Centennial Park and is actually more of a flea market.
Fort Myers, Florida
The trendy River District is a particular Fort Myers' highlight and known for its brick streets lined with eateries, pubs, craft breweries, theaters, cabarets and more. Events are many and include art walks, music walks, poetry nights, a wine and paint event, dueling piano happenings and much more. It is the heart and soul of Fort Myers and is especially lively during the weekend.
Festivals and Events
Festivals and events are in good supply. ArtFest happens every February and takes place overlooking the waterfront. Nearly 200 artists display their works, all of which are for sale. Attendees enjoy fun entertainment, lots of good food and interactive art experiences.
Yappy Hour happens every second Friday of the month and is the time to partake in music, food and drinks with your four legged canine buddy. Proceeds benefit the Gulf Coast Humane Society.
The annual Edison Festival of Light celebrates the man behind the electric lightbulb with holiday lights, an inventors' fair, parades, food, music and much more.
Lee Memorial Hospital is the primary medical facility with nearly 420 beds and offers cancer care, cardiac care, orthopedics care and more. It serves 50,000 patients every year. The emergency room is open 24/7.
Local public transportation is provided by LeeTran, which offers service throughout the city. It also offers a paratransit service.
This being Florida, the area receives 54 inches of rain on average each year. Summer temperatures are typically in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
The only real drawback to a Fort Myers retirement is the higher than average crime rate. Bad areas can be avoided, and on the whole, most residents say they feel safe. Locals do, though, complain about overcrowding, bad drivers and too many tourists.
Is Fort Myers a Good Place to Live and Retire?
Although the crime rate is a concern, Fort Myers has a lot to offer, from beautiful beaches and the trendy River District to fun festivals and somewhat reasonable housing costs, making it a good place to consider for retirement.
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