Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Reader Requested Short Review of Naples, Florida
With palm trees swaying, pastel colored buildings glistening and sea air wafting, beautiful Naples (population 22,000) is an affluent, sun-drenched seaside town with a "beachy" resort ambiance. It is on Florida's southwestern coast and is a noted vacation destination, attracting a stylish, well-heeled tourist crowd. Shopping, dining, plenty of golf and all kinds of water recreation are the reasons why. The city is home to many part-time vacation home owners, many of whom are well known (football coach Mike Ditka, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, among others).
Naples is also a popular retirement destination, with 72% of its residents age 45 or better. More than half of locals have a college degree. The cost of living is 21% above the national average, and the crime rate is below the national average. Racial diverity is minimal. The city has grown by 1% within the last decade or two.
The median home price is $335,000, and neighborhoods tend to be populated by one of two demographics, either part-time homeowners or year-round homeowners. Neighborhoods with part-time owners are generally gated, more expensive and dotted with amenities (a golf course, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.). Year-round locals generally live in less expensive areas with fewer amenities.
Downtown Naples is beautiful, with brick streets lined by high-end boutiques and galleries. 5th Avenue South and 3rd Street South are particularly fashionable. Gallery Row appeals to upscale antique hunters, while several open-air shopping districts along Naples Bay are perfect for fine dining, shopping, strolling and people watching. Wal-Mart also has six stores here.
This region is a golfers' haven, with nearly 100 courses within 30 miles of downtown. Many of these are located in country clubs. Naples calls itself the "Golf Capital of the World," and it claims to have more holes per capita than anywhere else in the country.
Naples' beach, roughly 10 miles long, is clean, sugar white and usually crowded. It has been voted one of America's best beaches and has several named stretches of sand, including Vanderbilt Beach and North Gulfshore Boulevard Beach. Most of these beaches are lined by tall condominiums, but pretty Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Recreation Area, located on a barrier island, is relatively free of commercial development and is one of the most popular parks in southwestern Florida. Snorkeling, swimming, sailing, jet skiing and fishing (especially along Naples Fishing Pier) are all popular year-round activities.
Several large land preserves, including Everglades National Park and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, are right next door. Everglades Excursions and Cool Beans Cruises cater to tourists but welcome locals, too.
Naples has a bit of a cultural scene as well. The Philharmonic Center for the Arts presents a Best of Broadway series, dance recitals, classical music and much more. Theater buffs are well served by TheatreZone, a professional equity group, and by the Naples Players, a community theater group.
For library aficionados, the Collier County Public Library has downloadable audio books, free wi-fi, genealogy department and even books. A zoo, a botanic gardens, Christmas boat parades and beachside concerts further ensure that there is always something to do.
Collier Area Transit (CAT) provides local public buses. The regular fare is $1.50 fare, but people age 65 or better ride for $.75. A para-transit service for the disabled and economically disadvantaged is available, too. Naples Municipal Airport is served by regional carriers. The nearest international airport is Southwest Florida Airport in Ft. Myers, 28 miles away.
NCH Healthcare System has two hospitals in Naples. Both campuses are accredited by the Joint Commission and are award-winning year after year. The cardiac care program has been ranked among the top 5% cardiac programs in the nation. For military veterans, the nearest VA medical center is in Miami, 94 mile south east, but Naples has a VA outpatient clinic.
Friendship Centers is an established non-profit network of centers that serves the needs of people age 50 or better in southwestern Florida. Services include health clinics, fitness classes, lifelong learning classes, congregate meals and much more. In Naples, the Friendship Health Clinic provides health care to low income individuals. Collier County operates the Senior Citizens Nutrition and Activity Program, and at Naples' two centers, it offers congregate meals, nutrition education classes and a variety of trips and events.
Summer high temperatures usually top out in the mid-90s. Winter temperature highs are in the 60s and 70s with lows in the 50s. Average rainfall is 50 inches per year with the usual summertime afternoon showers.
It is worth noting that tourist traffic is heavy from November through April. The city has a somewhat snobby reputation, and hurricanes are always a possibility. In fact, Hurricane Irma caused damage in the fall of 2017. Naples Pier was particularly hard hit and was closed for the winter.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Florida Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Tourist crowds and the hurricane threat are downsides, but Naples' fun downtown, beautiful beaches, good hospitals, low crime rate, excellent restaurants and top-notch shopping venues make it a place to consider for retirement.
Sticking out into Hurricane Alley, Florida was a land no nation seemed to want. Ruled successively by Spain, France, England, and the Confederate States of America, the state had a backwater reputation. Other than St. Augustine and Pensacola, there were few cities. The area was rural and populated by frontier farmers.
In the late-1800s, changes came when railroads began chugging down both coasts. Industrialist Henry Flagler's Florida Easy Coast Railway even made it all the way to Key West. The Great Florida Land Boom, the build-up to World War II, and the space industry also helped turn Florida into one of the nation's most populous states. In 1900, there were about 500,000 residents. Today, there are more than 20 million, almost 351 people per square mile.
Why do people keep coming? Tourism marketing is one reason. Annually, millions visit Orlando's theme parks and the state's 663 miles of white sand beaches. Taxes generated by the billion dollar vacation industry allow Florida to prosper without a personal income tax. Budget-sensitive retirees have flocked to its cities and shorelines.
If you can ignore the hurricanes, the state's climate is relatively mild. Only five other states are sunnier. Florida's system of state universities and community colleges is sizable, and its big cities are meccas for culture and the arts. Sarasota is a good example. Its Ringling Museum Complex contains internationally known art museum, a circus museum, an historic theater, and a 66-acre garden. Museums near Orlando range from a Zora Neale Hurston gallery to a Madame Tussauds.
Population - 20,612,439
Persons 65 years old and over - 20%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 87%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 24%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $47,525
Median home value - $159,900
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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