North Fort Myers – Gateway to the Gulf Coast
North Fort Myers is the largest unincorporated area in Lee County expanding 70 square miles. The area encompasses a very diverse community that is emerging from a quiet rural life style to a growing business community. Our demographics range from young professionals to retirees. North Fort Myers also has a large percentage of seasonal residents.
Neighborhoods include single-family homes, riverfront condos, retirement communities, manufactured homes, mobile home parks and gated communities. North Fort Myers offers a wide range of recreational activities such as golf, tennis, boating, fishing, including something for all nature lovers. Real estate taxes are lower here as no city taxes are included in your overall yearly tax bill.
North Fort Myers also hosts one of southwest Florida’s largest annual car shows at the Lee County Civic Center and there is hardly a day or weekend you can’t find a free car show to attend as they are everywhere here. Read More about North Fort Myers >>
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On the Northern shore of the Caloosahatchee, just over the river from Forth Myers, you’ll find one of Southwest Florida’s most welcoming communities. Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, North Fort Myers is as lush and inviting as any city on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Sun-drenched and bursting with promise, it is one of the many jewels in Florida’s famous sunbelt.
North Fort Myers’ Early History
North Fort Myers, like its neighbor to the South, was named in honor of Colonel Abraham C. Myers. When Fort Myers was built along the Caloosahatchee River it was one of the first operational bases established by the U.S. Army in the Southern reaches of Florida. The bases would prove instrumental in the Seminole Indian wars of the early 1800s, and again during the American Civil War.
At the time Fort Myers was the second largest town in Southwest Florida, and North Fort Myers was merely an adjunct to the army settlement. The lush vegetation, soaring pines, and year round hunting and fishing made the area a vital asset for the Union Army while it was stationed at Fort Myers. The same natural abundance also made it an attractive destination for trappers, adventurers, and the more robust settlers who would soon make their mark on the region.
North Fort Myers’ Earliest Settlers
By the close of the Civil War the area we now know as North Fort Myers was still largely a wild territory. Despite its proximity to Fort Myers, and its value to the army stationed there, few permanent settlers had laid claim to the area. But within a few years the roots of North Fort Myers would soon be planted.
In 1867 John Powell, his wife Penelope, and their three children struck out for the wilds of Southwest Florida. Making their way up the Caloosahatchee River they were struck by the area’s natural beauty, and Powell saw great opportunity in the undeveloped land. By 1872 the Powells had purchased 160 acres of land, close to where the Shell Factory is located today. They began to homestead the area, planting orange groves and founding Powell’s Settlement.
Over the next few years Powell’s Settlement continued to grow, and by 1884 the name was formally changed to New Prospect. In 1887 Lee County was established by an act of legislation and John Powell would be the first to sit on its commission. North Fort Myers, the Gateway to Lee County, was starting to take shape.
North Fort Myers Comes into its Own
By the early 1900s the population of North Fort Myers had grown to approximately 50 permanent residents. But industry was beginning to find its way to this sleepy Southern town, and with it came new settlers. The pine forests that made up so much of the area soon made North Fort Myers a lumber hub for much of Southwest Florida. In 1931, the construction of the first Edison Bridge would further open up the area to new residents and more commerce. The region was poised for a big boom.
Today, North Fort Myers is an ever growing assortment of communities nestled between Fort Myers to the South and Cape Coral to the West. While small in size North Ft. Myers offers all of the natural charms on associates with the rural South. Moss-draped pines line sun-dappled hiking trails, sub-tropical riverbanks wait for hopeful fishermen, and secluded horse farms entice eager part-time equestrians.
Of course, no discussion of North Fort Myers could be complete without at least a passing mention of one of the area’s most well known attractions. The Shell Factory, located at the heart of John Powell’s original settlement, is a world-renowned roadside attraction with an 80 plus year tradition. Visitors to the Shell Factory can enjoy a round or two of mini-golf, take a ride on the bumper boats, and spend some time with the animals in the on-site zoo. Throw in a showroom of Florida’s finest shells, a collection of shops and restaurants, and a Waltzing Waters light show and you have a slice of old-time Florida all in one place.
North Fort Myers is a Booming Community
The two bridges connecting North Fort Myers with Fort Myers have been played an important part in the growth and development of the region. The Edison Bridge is a set of twin one-way bridges that connect downtown Fort Myers with North Fort Myers. The new bridge, completed in the 1990s, replaces the original two-lane bridge that was built in the 1930s and connects the oldest business districts.
The Caloosahatchee Bridge, built in the 1960s, connects central Fort Myers and the Cleveland Avenue/U.S. 41 business district with North Fort Myer’s newest and fastest growing commercial area. Here you’ll find an abundance of shopping opportunities including restaurants, bars, and general retail establishments.
While North Fort Myers is one of the fastest growing communities in Southwest Florida it still remains an affordable alternative to neighboring Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Residents of the area enjoy access to all of the same services and infrastructural necessities of their larger neighbors but without the higher cost of living. Moreover, because North Ft. Myers remains an unincorporated area residents have no city tax liabilities, and are only responsible for paying county taxes. This makes the area a perfect match for both blue and white collar families, as well as retirees looking to save money.
Getting to Know the Neighborhoods
Despite the area’s relatively small size North Fort Myers is home to a fairly diverse group of neighborhoods. A quick overview of these neighborhoods will better show the wide appeal of North Fort Myers to anyone looking to relocate to the Gulf Coast region of South Florida.
- Herons Glen – Herons Glen is a mid-sized planned community of single-family homes set amidst manicured lawns and a world-class golf course. Launched in 2001 Herons Glen was completed in 2011 and is one of the newer communities in the North Fort Myers area. Nearby schools include Tropical Isles Elementary and Mariner High School.
- Sabal Springs – Built in the late 1980s Sabal Springs is one of the most enduring communities in North Fort Myers. The community itself caters to residents 55 and over, and is part of the greater Sabal Springs Golf & Racquet Club. 770 homes are nestled around an 18-hole golf course, tennis facilities, and residents only clubhouse.
- Palm Island – Palm Island is a gated community located a short drive from downtown Fort Myers. The development has just over 200 homes, half of which are on canals. Easy access to the Caloosahatchee river makes Palm Island a favorite for boating enthusiasts.
- Moody River Estates – Moody River Estates is a private, gated community that offers its residents quiet living with a riverfront view. This exclusive community is rich in natural beauty. Residents can enjoy the local nature preserves and walking trails. The community’s centerpiece is a 100+ year old Banyan Tree, around which are nestled a select group single-family homes, condos, and town houses.
- Waterway Estates – Waterway Estates is a waterfront community located close to Cape Coral’s city limits. It is one of the oldest planned communities in North Fort Myers with a majority of homes having been built in the 1960 and 1970s. Waterway Estates offers easy access to both Cape Coral and Fort Myers, as well as sailboat access to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a family friendly community located close to two fo the areas larger public schools, Tropic Isles Elementary and North Fort Myer High.
- Lochmoor Estates – Adjacently located to Waterway Estates, Lochmoor Estates is one of the most popular planned communities in North Fort Myers. Classified as an unincorporated census-designated-place Lochmoor Estates is a town unto itself, with its own selection of local businesses and restaurants. The community largely consists of single-family homes, town houses and low-rise condominiums.
Running the Numbers
Since the 1930s and 40s North Fort Myers has been steadily attracting new residents to its shores. Its close proximity to Fort Myers and Cape Coral offers an abundance of employment opportunities, as well as access to major business and entertainment districts. Though still unincorporated North Fort Myers greatly benefits from Lee County’s infrastructure, making it an ideal relocation destination for both retirees and young families.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is take a look at some of the area’s vital statistics:
- North Fort Myers is one of the most affordable places to live in Southwest Florida
- The Cost of Living in North Fort Myers is 11 points lower than state and national averages
- The median age of residents in North Ft. Myers is 62 years
- The median income per household is $38,598
- The average cost of a single-family home is $174,000 (below the national and state average)
- The unemployment rate is 4.6% (below the national average but on par with neighboring cities)
- North Fort Myers residents have no state or city tax liabilities
Southern Living at an Affordable Price
With a local population of roughly 41,000 North Fort Myers still has a lot of room for growth. It’s one of the many reasons the area has become so attractive to people looking to take advantage of all that South Florida has to offer. When you combine South Florida’s natural beauty with affordability and a bevy of new business and construction opportunities you have a relocation destination that is hard to beat.