7 Best Places to Live in Southwest Florida Right Now

Discovering The Best Cities, Towns, And Villages In Southwest Florida

If you are looking for the best places to live in Southwest Florida, then here are 7 suggestions for your consideration:

Best Places To Live In Southwest Florida

  • Bonita Springs
  • Cape Coral
  • Estero
  • Fort Myers
  • Naples
  • Sarasota
  • Venice

Shortly, we will cover each of these places in detail.

Then I have a few points and tips about Southwest Florida living. No matter where in this area you choose to settle down.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Finally, when you are done, but before you go. Be sure to check out all our…

Practical City and State Living Guides

Just in case Southwest Florida (SWFL) isn’t right for you. Otherwise, let’s get moving with today’s article…

Bonita Springs

Living in Bonita Springs represents sort of a middle ground. When it comes to this area.

So, it may end up being your best place to live in Southwest Florida. Here’s why…

First, it is located in the southernmost part of Lee County. Right in the middle of Fort Myers to the north and Naples to the south.

Although a smaller and less commercialized community, with a population of nearly 60,000. Its location allows for easy access to shopping and health care offered in the nearby cities.

Second, it is a middle ground for housing prices. With median home prices rising as you head toward Naples. And falling as you travel up the coast to Fort Myers.

Furthermore, much of the development west of Interstate 75 happened in the 1950s and 1960s. While newer development is ongoing east of the interstate. Yet, is still only 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.

You will also find the neighborhoods have an open feel. Having fewer gated communities. Versus some other area towns and cities.

For some fun, Bonita offers…

The highly-rated Barefoot Beach. It is located on the barrier island. Just off the mainland.

Also, the National Arts Festival and the Bonita Blues Festival. They are much anticipated annual happenings that attract many visitors.

Finally, hop in your car. And you can explore the oceanfront city of Miami. On Florida’s east coast. Being just 2 hours away.

Cape Coral

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First of all, Cape Coral is a planned community. Dating back to its initial development in the late 1950s.

Furthermore, this city of almost 200,000 residents was planned with housing in mind. Since nearly 90% of the development is dedicated to residential communities.

With a variety of housing options and styles to choose from. Especially for those seeking waterfront living.

Thus, you will not find many businesses, retail establishments, bars, or restaurants here. So, most residents head to nearby Fort Myers for shopping, dining, working, and entertainment.

On the other hand, the setting makes for a very peaceful living environment. Boasting the feel of a much smaller community.

And as compared to other coastal living options in the area. The Cape Coral, Florida cost of living is more reasonable here than you might expect.

Finally, if you like to be around water, living in the city of Cape Coral may be for you. Because it has the most manmade canals of any city in the world. Totaling nearly 400 miles.


Estero is the first place you will find as you travel north out of Bonita Springs. Furthermore, it is one of the smallest communities on today’s list of top places to live in Southwest Florida.

Specifically, Estero is known as a village. With a population of nearly 35,000 residents.

It has good schools. And is located near Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

The university provides more of a college town atmosphere. And an infusion of youthfulness that the other communities on today’s list do not possess.

Other noteworthy aspects of Estero living include…

Mostly gated communities.With a pricey real estate market. Second to Naples on today’s list.

There is plenty of shopping. Both the Miromar Outlet and Coconut Point Mall well-serve this requirement for residents.

Finally, to make the most of an active lifestyle you can enjoy…

Multiple state and local parks. Including Koreshan State Park, a popular place to visit.

Highly rated golfing for beginners and experts. At the Stoneybrook public golf club.

And easy access to Fort Myers Beach from the southern entrance.

Speaking of Estero’s neighbor to the north, we have…

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Fort Myers

A discussion about living in Fort Myers must start with its history. Dating back to its incorporation in the late 1800s.

The downtown area has a charm from the past. With brick-lined streets from the 1920s. And the greatest number of historic buildings in the area.

Better yet, Fort Myers has combined its history with modern amenities. Since the downtown has been transformed into an exciting commercial district.

There you will find government buildings, hotels, shopping, theatres, clubs, bars, fine restaurants, and sidewalk cafes.

Then, when it’s time to relax. After all the hustle and bustle of downtown. You can head over to Fort Myers beach. On nearby Estero Island.

To stick your toes in the sand. And catch the sunset across the Gulf of Mexico.

Then, when you just have to get away…

The convenience of Southwest Florida International Airport can’t be beaten. Located just 15 miles from downtown Fort Myers.


What is most striking about the Naples lifestyle to me? Well, it is access to outdoor activities.

First, the Naples area boasts some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world. Just picture the clean, white, soft sand. And the warm, aqua, clear blue water.

From the most popular, Naples Municipal Beach. Or, for a more intimate setting, Seagate Beach. Plus, many more to explore.

And if you just can’t get enough of the waterfront. A short drive from Naples will put you on amazing Marco Island.

It is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. That is linked to the mainland by a bridge.

And Marco Island is considered to have some of the top beaches in the world.

Next, Naples is also a golf lover’s paradise. Because there are nearly 100 18-hole golf courses to choose from in and around the area.

Boasting the most courses of any city in Florida. Earning this town, the title of “Golf Capital of the World”.

Finally, of all the places we are talking about today. Understand that Naples is not the most affordable place to live in Southwest Florida.

From from it. Let me just say, it is pricey.

Since real estate and property values here are quite inflated. Among the many gated communities.


For anyone that needs to feed their creative and artistic side. Living the Sarasota lifestyle may be just the ticket.

First of all, for art lovers, there is the Sarasota Art Museum. And the SARTQ, a local artist collective.

SARTQ is designed to promote a network of regional artists. Through the creation of unique art experiences, events, and educational offerings.

Furthermore, music buffs will not be disappointed. Because there is the classical music festival held annually in June. Plus the Sarasota Opera House and city orchestra.

Finally, for all of you who enjoy theatre and film. There is the Asolo Repertory Theatre. And the Sarasota Fim Festival is held each year in June.

Just for good measure, I must throw in a mention for Siesta Key Beach. Recently, TripAdvisor named it the number 1 beach in the United States.

And when you get hungry, there are hundreds of dining options in Sarasota. From food trucks, and casual dining, to numerous 5-star restaurants.

Best of all, most of the eateries here are locally owned. Thus, you won’t find many fast-food franchises and restaurant chains.

Finally, if and when you need bigger city amenities. Tampa or St. Petersburg, Florida are not far away.


By traveling down the coast from Sarasota, just a few miles south on Route 41. You will find yourself in the popular beach town of Venice.

Not far from the cluster of towns around the Charlotte Harbor made up of…

…also some good places to live in Southwest Florida. They just didn’t make my cut for the top 7.

The city is recognized for Venice Beach. Plus, it’s Italian-style architecture and canals. Similar to its namesake in Italy.

While Venice is the smallest city on today’s list, based on population. It has a vibrant suburban feel about it.

For outdoor enthusiasts, you will enjoy dozens of parks, nearly 20 golf courses, and all the water sports you can think of.

For a little culture, there is the Venice Theatre. One of the largest community theaters in the United States.

Plus, there is the Venice Art Center. Offering classes, art exhibitions, a gift shop, concerts, an art library, and an on-site café.

Okay. That completes our review of the 7 finest places to live in Southwest Florida.

But, I’m not quite done with you yet…

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Things To Know About All Of The Best Places in Southwest Florida

Now that you have a little background on each of these great cities, towns, and villages. Specifically, what makes them unique.

Allow me to point out a few things that each of them has in common.

Starting with geography…

The Boundaries Of Southwest Florida

Similar to many inner state regions, the boundaries of Southwest Florida vary depending on who you ask.

For our purposes today, SWFLs northernmost point is where the St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay metro area ends.

Then, traveling south from there. Along the Gulf of Mexico coast to where the Everglades begin. You will have traversed the entire north to south run of what is known as SWFL.

Although, looking at a map and applying some common sense may indicate the inclusion of the Florida Keys. Specifically, Key West.

But, the Keys are not considered part of SWFL. Since the Keys are considered a unique region of their very own within the state.

Next, a few advantages and disadvantages that all of these supreme Southwest Florida places have in common. Then I will wrap up.

The Pros And Cons of Living In Southwest Florida

First, anywhere you choose to live in Southwest Florida, you are going to enjoy some positive things. While encountering some negatives too.

So, let’s examine the pros and cons of Florida living. Specifically, near the Gulf of Mexico coastline south of Tampa-St. Pete…

The Pros Of Living In Southwest Florida

Pristine beaches. With stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.

There is no shortage of beach towns and beautiful places here. For sticking your toes in the warm, silky, white sand.

Sunny and warm winter weather. No snow to shovel. With temperatures routinely rising into the 70s and 80s.

No state income taxes. Since Florida is one of only a handful of states that does not have one.

Federal income taxes still apply. But, depending on where you are moving from. And how much money you make. The state tax savings can be significant.

Helping you balance your budget after your move. Along with living costs that are not far off the national average.

Furthermore, to manage your spending, budget, and investments all in one place. I recommend the free online tool from Empower.

An abundance of outdoor places to visit and activities to enjoy. Including parks, nature preserves, watersports, and golf.

Low crime rates. Since both violent crime and property crime in this area is quite modest. When compared to the entire state of Florida, or other states as a whole.

As a result, you can feel safe in Southwest Florida.

Now, a few not-so-good things about living in this region…

The Cons Of Living In Southwest Florida

Summer heat and humidity. June through September can be unbearably hot and uncomfortable. Leading many people to exit the area during this time.

Risk of hurricanes. These violent storms are a fact of life in Southwest Florida. Bringing with them wind, rain, flooding, and massive property destruction for any area that takes a direct hit.

Tourists and snowbirds. From November through April, lots of people descend on the area. To enjoy all the great things it offers.

But they add to the crowds and congestion in and around all the best places. While driving up prices for just about everything.

Popularity has a price too. Because the secrets out. So, the area has drawn the attention of those looking to move to a better place.

On the other hand, by locating further inland. You may be able to find your slice of heaven. As the land turns less crowded and more remote.

Thus, you may want to consider investing in farmland. To diversify your assets. And for finding a less congested place to live in Southwest Florida. While still enjoying its many benefits.

Bugs and critters galore. We humans aren’t the only ones that enjoy living here.

Because the warm, wet, tropical weather is attractive for mosquitos and other biting insects too. Furthermore, don’t forget about the alligators that were here first. And call the area their home too.

Okay. That’s all for today.

So, allow me to wrap up…

Best Places To Live in Southwest Florida

Here’s our list of the best places to retire in Southwest Florida. Or just good places to move when you are looking for a fresh start in life:

  • Bonita Springs
  • Cape Coral
  • Estero
  • Fort Myers
  • Naples
  • Sarasota
  • Venice

But just in case one of these places isn’t right for you…

Beyond The Best Places In Southwest Florida

Be sure to check out all of our…

City and State Guides For The Best Living

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Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

Best Places To Live In Southwest Florida Explored and Explained