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Retire in North Port, Florida?
Overview: Originally established by the land development business General Development Company in the late-1950s, North Port straddles the Myakka River in southwestern Florida. It is about an hour north of Fort Myers and an hour and a half south of Tampa.
North Port is a fast growing place, having more than doubled in size during the last 10 to 15 years. Some of this growth has come through annexation of neighboring towns. The city is suburban and leafy, nearly covered with meandering streets and planned residential neighborhoods that have a mix of young families and retirees. Homes are primarily ranch ramblers, although newer neighborhoods have other styles. The part of town not covered by homes is to the southwest and across the river. Here the land gives way to the Myakka State Forest. Dense and lush, the forest is open for bicycling, bird watching, horseback riding, camping, fishing and hiking.
The city has an active parks and recreation department, too, and it hosts Newcomer Welcome Day for people who have just relocated here or who are considering making the move. The City Hall is attractive, but there is no real downtown. Merchants include grocery stores, bicycle repair shops, donut shops, a Saturday farmers' market and the like, but most services and shopping venues are in neighboring Charlotte.
Cultural opportunities are in good supply, though. The North Port Chorale has been entertaining residents since 1980. The North Port Symphony and the volunteer North Port Concert Band both feature a robust schedule. The North Port Art Center sponsors classes for all ages.
Population: 63,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 45%
Cost of Living: 1% below the national average
Median Home Price: $175,000
Climate: This area has a humid subtropical climate, meaning two seasons a year. Summer and early fall are hot and humid. Late fall and winter are less humid and cooler.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Fawcett Memorial Hospital, nine miles away in Port Charlotte, accepts Medicare patients.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Fawcett Memorial Hospital, nine miles away in Charlotte, is accredited.
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The tornado risk is 74% higher than the national average.
Notes: Warm Mineral Springs, located in North Port, is a naturally occuring, water-filled sink hole that over the years has drawn people hoping they will be healed by its mineral-rich waters.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
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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