Fort Myers, Florida is Welcoming New Residents!
A thriving city, rich in history and nature, Fort Myers serves as gateway to a stretch of islands including the Sanibel area, known for their white-sand beaches, famous shelling, bird life and recreational opportunities.
The city hugs the shores of the wide Caloosahatchee River. Professional theater, a sophisticated performing arts hall and two sports parks, which host the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins for spring training, provide entertainment in the Fort Myers area.
Downtown is evolving into a lively night scene where clubs, coffee houses, street performers and cafes draw a young, artsy crowd. For nature lovers, parks preserve fragile habitats while providing trails for hiking, biking and paddling. Manatee Park is home to a herd of endangered Florida manatees that come to winter in its warm waters every year. Visitors can kayak among them or listen to their singing through special hydrophones.
Roseate spoonbills, bald eagles, ospreys, manatees, dolphin, stingrays, tarpon and bob cats dwell in forests and waters of the area.
Fort Myers is one of the most popular destinations in Southwest Florida. For more than 130 years the city has welcomed tourists, retirees and young families as they escaped the harsh winters and the hustle and bustle of Northern urban life. That long history continues to this day, with Fort Myers remaining one of the fastest growing and most popular cities on the Florida Gulf Coast.
Whether you’re looking for a winter home-away-from-home, a retiree’s beach-combing paradise, or a place to put down permanent roots the City of Palms ticks all of the right boxes. Read More about Fort Myers, Florida >>
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From Fort Harvie to Fort Myers
The history of Fort Myers stretches back to the mid-1800s. The US Army built the original fort, Fort Harvie, in 1841 on what is now Historic Downtown Fort Myers. In 1850 Fort Harvie would be renamed Fort Myers, and for the next few years would remain an important outpost along the Gulf Coast of Florida.
By 1858 Fort Myers was largely abandoned. It would remain so until the start of the civil war, during which it would become a vital part of the Union Army’s presence in the South. With the end of the war the fort was once again abandoned, and it was then that settlers began to drift into the area and homestead.
The next few decades would see a slow migration of Southerners and Northerners into the area. But as the new century approached sleepy little Fort Myers was poised to hit the national stage.
A World Famous Resident puts Fort Myers on the National Map
By the 1880s Fort Myers’ population barely topped 300 permanent residents. But the little town had caught the attention of one of the most famous men in the country. In 1885 Thomas Edison was searching for the perfect place to build his winter home and workshop, and his sights were soon set on South Florida in general and Fort Myers in particular.
In 1885 Thomas Edison was searching for the prefect place to build a winter home and workshop. Somewhere warm that would allow him to escape the brutal New Jersey winters. He soon set his sights on Fort Myers, and by 1886 had built a home for his family, as well as a laboratory, workshop and botanical garden along what is now McGregor Boulevard. Edison’s home, workshop and gardens remain a beloved fixture of the city, drawing thousands of visitors every year.
(Fun Fact: Fort Myers gets its nickname – the City of Palms – from the palm trees Edison and his wife Mina planted along what is now McGregor Boulevard. Those trees are there to this day, acting as a tropical canopy for one of the oldest roads in the city.)
Edison’s interest in Southwest Florida raised the state’s profile throughout the country. Before long Fort Myers was welcoming new residents from around the country, including Edison’s friend and fellow inventor Henry Ford. The city was well on its way to becoming a cornerstone of Southwest Florida, and by the turn of the 19th century would become one of the most desirable relocation destinations in the state – a distinction the city holds to this day.
Fort Myers is one of 7 cities, townships and municipalities that make up Lee County, the largest county in the Sunshine State. It is the second most populous city in the county (80,000 – 85,000 approx.), and remains Lee County’s commercial center as well as its county seat. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, seeing a steady rise in population over the last several decades.
Ft. Myers is conveniently located on the Southern Gulf Coast of Florida, nestled snugly between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River. This gives local residents easy access to some of the state’s principal cities and major attractions. A short drive upstate will take you to Tampa and St. Petersburg, while a roughly 2-hour ride to the East will find you in Miami Beach. Perfect for day-trippers looking for a change of scenery or touch of upscale shopping and dining.
Of course, Florida’s most famous attraction (aside from the sunshine and beaches) is Walt Disney World. The good news is Orlando’s theme parks (Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios, and more) are barely a 3-hour drive from Fort Myers. The bad news is…Oh who am I kidding, there is no bad news in ‘the Happiest Place on Earth.
Sun and Sand and World Class Beaches
Fort Myers’ climate is technically classified as ‘Tropical Savanna’. That means plenty of sunshine throughout the year, moderate rainfall, and overall warm temperatures. In fact, it is rare for the temperature to fall below the mid-60s – even in winter. Of course, it heats up during the summer but thermometers rarely hit 100 degrees even in the hottest months.
Like much of South Florida Fort Myers sees a fair amount of rainfall, the majority of which falls during the so-called ‘rainy season’ (June to September). It averages out to about 55 inches per year, leaving plenty of sunshiny days for the beach and other outdoor activities.
Speaking of beach-life, Ft. Myers residents have access to 50 miles of world-class white sand beaches. In addition to Fort Myers Beach (ranked in the top 15 beaches in the US), there are the beaches along the Sanibel and Captiva Islands just to the north of the city. These more exclusive beaches are ideal for shelling and bird watching and offer visitors a taste of true island living.
Exploring Fort Myers’ Six Largest Neighborhoods
Ft. Myers can be broken down into roughly six different neighborhoods. A quick overview of these areas will give you a fairly good idea of the residential profile of the city.
- Fort Myers’ River District – The cobblestone streets, trendy lofts and riverfront homes of the recently revitalized downtown district appeals mostly to young professionals. Early 20th century Mediterranean architecture combines with modern high-rises to for an eclectic and vibrant residential and commercial hub for the city.
- The Villas – Located to the South of historic Downtown Fort Myers the Villas largely consist of single-family homes and apartments. The area provides convenient access to local parks, businesses and schools.
- Whiskey Creek – This area gets its name from a nearby tributary of the Caloosahatchee River. Primarily suburban in its make-up, Whiskey Creek is a family friendly neighborhood with convenient access to schools and business districts.
- Cypress Lake – Cypress Lake is perhaps the most family friendly residential area in Fort Myers proper. The community has its own middle school and high school, and is close to public parks and entertainment districts. A mix of apartments and single-family homes makes this area ideal for young families and single couples.
- Iona – Close to the Sanibel Island Causeway, Iona is largely devoted to single-family gated and retirement communities as well as a variety of riverfront mansions. Iona is a one of the more exclusive communities in Lee County.
- Gateway – Perhaps the largest of Fort Myers’ distinct neighborhoods, Gateway consists of a number of different subdivisions including Cypress Links, Daniels Preserve, Magnolia Links and Timber Ridge. More than just a collection of residential subdivisions, Gateway includes more than 40 businesses, an array of public parks, and four top-rated schools.
Fort Myers is an Affordable, Family-Friendly Place to Live and Work
Ft. Myers has a lot to offer new residents – especially when it comes to climate, culture, and natural beauty. But how does it stack up when we look at the cold unbiased numbers? The short answer is, “very well indeed”.
- Fort Myers is one of the five most affordable places to live in Florida
- The cost of living in Fort Myers is 4% below the national average
- The median age for residents in Ft. Myers is 40.6 years
- The median income per household is $46,400
- The average cost of a single-family home is $227,000 (on par with the national average)
- The local unemployment rate is 5.3% (well below the national average)
- Fort Myers has a strong local economy the job market predicted to grow by 44% over the next decade
- According to WalletHub Fort Myers is one of the 10 best cities in the US to start a business
- Fort Myers’ residents have no state tax liabilities
Fort Myers, Florida Welcomes You with Open Arms
Fort Myers is one of the most attractive, and welcoming, cities along the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida. The area has had a long history of being a prime retirement destination. But that dynamic is shifting quickly as more Millennials move into the area to start families and build new businesses. This influx of new blood has helped to give the city a unique mix of small town aesthetic and metropolitan swagger, a combination that rewards residents of all ages.
Whether you’re looking for a winter home away from home, a sun-drenched retirement destination, or a vibrant growing city to start a business and raise a family Fort Myers, Florida ticks all the right boxes.