Thinking About Relocating to Sarasota, FL? Here are 9 Things You Need to Know

Thinking About Relocating to Sarasota, FL? Here are 9 Things You Need to Know

  • Melissa Gissinger
  • 08/15/22

Sarasota is a hidden gem located north of Fort Myers and Naples and south of St. Pete and Tampa. Known for its pristine beaches and blue waters, Sarasota boasts a vibrant art scene and a burgeoning food culture. Its unique culture calls to people who choose to call the metro area home. While previously known as a playground for retirees, Sarasota is also a social place for live young and middle-aged professionals looking to plant roots. Between the beautiful weather and relatively low cost of living, anyone would be proud to call Sarasota home. Whatever your reasons for relocating to Sarasota, FL, keep reading to see what this coastal region is all about.

World-class Beaches

The 35-mile stretch of Sarasota's surf and sand boasts stunning beaches, each with a distinctive vibe. Siesta Key is easily accessible via two bridges. It is home to Crescent Beach, Siesta Beach, and Turtle Beach. Siesta Beach has a playground for kids, tennis courts, and a park. Crescent Beach is famous among adventurers, many of whom enjoy climbing along the Point of Rocks.
Casey Key is a narrow island ticked between Sarasota and Venice. It is home to Nokomis Beach, the oldest public beach, and coveted real estate, as some celebrities live here. North Jetty Beach Park offers hiking, bird watching, and fishing. You can enjoy a picnic or perch on paved rocks to enjoy stunning sunsets.
Longboat Key is a 12-mile island that features resorts with seaside hotels and beach cottages, and established residential areas. If you are looking to have fun on a secluded beach, North Lido Beach is the place to be. South Lido Park offers stunning views of Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico.
The gorgeous Venice Beach sits on top of a 30 ft layer of fossilized shark teeth. The nearby Brohard Paw Park is heaven for pet owners.
If you’re in Manasota Key, try beach basketball and picnicking at Englewood Beach or hike the trails at Stump Pass Beach. There are also tons of lush mangroves and dunes to explore.

Great Neighborhoods

The Sarasota real estate market offers affordability to retirees and young families and some great communities for the younger crowd. However, some neighborhoods have a reputation for offering a higher quality of life.
Located in downtown Sarasota, Laurel Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is perfect for history buffs. Some houses date as far as the 1920s, but there are also modern apartments and duplexes. The tranquil neighborhood boasts various architectural styles, including Mediterranean Revival and Mission Revival. It's within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and entertainment spots in the downtown area.
Gillespie Park offers a mix of homes, including 1920s bungalows, 1950s ranch-style homes, newly built homes, and apartments. The sprawling Gillespie Park at the center of the neighborhood features a lake and a fountain.
Lakewood Ranch is a vast neighborhood made up of seven villages. Half of the area consists of recreational facilities, including hiking trails, playgrounds, and pools. The place is home to people from all walks of life, ranging from empty nesters to young professionals.
Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores is popular among students and professors due to its proximity to the New College of Florida and the Ringling College of Arts and Design. It has many historic homes and features modern mansions and moderately priced residential properties.
Siesta Key is the perfect neighborhood if you're looking for a laid-back feel. From bungalows to condos, the island offers a wide selection of housing options to suit different preferences. It's also home to various beaches, and the downtown area towards the northern end features various restaurants offering cold beers, fresh seafood, and relaxing music.

Outstanding Schools

Sarasota serves over 5,000 children who attend various primary schools. The school district offers great education options, clubs, and extracurricular activities. Some of the schools you'll be able to choose from include Sarasota Middle School, Southside Elementary School, Bay Haven Elementary, and Sarasota Middle School. The students at Cardinal Mooney High School and The Out-of-Door Academy consistently score high average ACT and SAT scores.
Sarasota also offers great opportunities for higher education. There are various colleges to choose from, including New College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and Ringling College of Arts and Design.

Incredible Food and Dining

The restaurant scene in Sarasota offers fantastic choices that range from fresh seafood and salads to steakhouses. Whether you are in Downtown Sarasota, St. Demands, or Siesta Key, there's always somewhere offering a treat for your taste buds.
Bijou Café is a classic diner located in the center of Saratoga's theater district. Some of their best American-Continental dishes include specialty crab cakes, roast duckling, and shrimp Piri Piri.
Owen's Fish Camp is a pleasure to visit for anyone who loves seafood. You'll want to try anything on the "Naked Fish" prepared with Hollandaise, brown butter, or lemon-caper butter.
Yoder's Restaurant & Amish Village keeps your taste bud's attention with everything from breakfast omelets and pies to fried chicken and steakhouse sandwiches.

Cultural Center

Photo courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art
Besides its glorious weather, the art scene is one of the reasons people flock to Sarasota. The city is home to art galleries, museums, and performing art venues. It's also a haven for aspiring artists and travelers with an eye for art.
The Ringling Museum of Art, also known as the State Art Museum of Florida, is the legacy of John Ringling and his wife, Mable. It houses a vast collection of world-class artworks, decorative arts, medieval objects, and sculptures.
Sarasota Opera House is a venue for an extensive range of musical productions. The most notable one was the 28-year run of the complete works of Verdi. Other productions hosted here include Puccini's Mason Lescaut, Carmen, and Norma.
Palm Avenue is a great choice for anyone who enjoys art and live music. It's filled with artisans who contribute everything from paintings and carvings to hand-blown glass. The First Friday Artwalk, an event that occurs here every first Friday of the month, draws people from all over the area who come to enjoy exhibits, live entertainment, and snacks.
Selva Grill at Main Street offers Latin fusion dishes with a focus on Asian and Peruvian dishes. The menu is rich with devices, seafood, meat dishes, and salsas accented with exotic herbs and vegetables. Head to the lounge for custom cocktails, late-night food, and a live DJ on the weekends.

Seasonal Festivals

There is always something going on in Sarasota. Whether it's a hugely populated holiday parade or a small flea market, the extensive lineup of events offered by the city provides endless social and entertainment opportunities for the residents.
Some of the most anticipated events include the Sarasota County Fair, which started more than 80 years ago. The 10-day festival occurs in March at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. It attracts more than 130,000 attendees every year. Highlights include agricultural and animal exhibits, live music, circus acts, pie-eating contests, and more.
In April, the Sharks Tooth Festival attracts fossil collectors to sell shark teeth and fossil collections. More than 100 artists offer live performances, original artworks, and food.
Sarasota Jazz Festival is held in March every year at the Hyatt Regency. It features performances by accomplished national and international jazz musicians. You can also expect performances from high school jazz bands as well as film and theatrical presentations. Don't miss the 10-Stop Jazz Trolley Pub Crawl, which takes you through some of the city's best nightspots.
The Sarasota Holiday Parade kicks off the holiday season each year. It focuses on a different theme each year and features colorful floats, circus wagons, marching bands, and drill teams. There are also entries from businesses, schools, and community organizations. The event ends with the arrival of Santa Claus. Traditionally, the parade runs along Main Street and starts at the intersection with Gulfstream Avenue.
Other festivals and events in Sarasota include A Taste of Sarasota, Lights in Bloom Holiday Festival, Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival, and Downtown Sarasota Crafts Festival.

Healthcare in Sarasota

Healthcare is a top industry in Sarasota, and some of its hospitals are ranked among the best in the country. Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the leading healthcare provider in the city. US News and World Report ranked it as one of the top 10 safest hospitals in the country.
Doctors Hospital of Sarasota is one of only five hospitals in the State of Florida with a 5-Star rating from the CMS Federal Agency. It is a full-service and emergency care facility that's popular for its shorter waiting times.
Lakewood Ranch Medical Center specializes in acute care.

Cost of Living

As a supplement to all the previous benefits of living in Sarasota, residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living bolstered by a lack of state income taxes. If you live in Sarasota, you don’t pay state taxes on pensions, IRAs, or 401(k)s. You also wouldn’t have to pay inheritance taxes or estate taxes.
The cost of living in Sarasota is 2.7% above the national average. Of all expenses incurred by Sarasota residents, housing is the highest at about 14% above the national average. If you’re also considering a California beach life, beware the cost of living in places like Calabasas, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, and San Diego. In all these cities, the median home cost is greater than $1 million, and the overall cost of living is much higher than in Sarasota.
Meanwhile, the cost of living in Los Angeles is more than 70% above the national average with extremely high transportation and housing costs. The median home cost in Los Angeles is below $1 million but still more than twice the cost of homes in Sarasota. Los Angeles residents regularly get dinged by high grocery and utilities costs.

Transportation in Sarasota

Because it is a smaller city compared to Orlando, Tampa, and Miami, Sarasota enjoys less traffic congestion. It lies north of Interstate 75 and has close proximity to Highway 41. While public bus transportation is available, most people use personal vehicles to get around.
There are also multiple airports in the area to choose from, including Sarasota International Airport, St. Pete –– Clearwater Airport, Tampa International Airport, and Southwest Florida International Airport.

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