Sarasota is one of the Best Places to Live in America
Original Article Resource: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/florida/sarasota
What’s it like to live in Sarasota, FL?
Sarasota has a distinct vibe that’s different from Florida’s relative coastal cities, with its own vibrant arts scene,beachy atmosphereand burgeoning food culture.People who choose Sarasota as their home are generally called by its unique charm.This metro area of just over 800,000 people has a renowned opera house, a number of rooftop barsand the popular beach of Siesta Key. What makes the region special is its duality –downtown Sarasota boasts resorts and fine dining,but strolling Siesta Key Village or St. Armands Circle offers a more intimate, seaside ambience.
There was once a time when Sarasota was dismissed as a playground for retirees, but that reputation is slowly changing as more young professionals begin to make it their own. One of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods is the Rosemary District, where eclectic murals decorate store fronts and modern condominiums and hotels sit near casual breakfast cafes.
Sarasota, FL, Quick Stats
What is there to do in Sarasota, FL?
Beaches line the Gulf Coast of Florida, so there’s no shortage of outdoor activities for residents. Sarasota has multiple popular outposts, including Lido Key Beach and Siesta Key Beach,which is known for its soft, white sand.
The region has a number of formal art opportunities, like the Sarasota Orchestra, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Sarasota Opera House and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The region attracts classic live music acts – think the remaining Beach Boys – but has a harder time attracting younger, more current performers.
The museum culture in Sarasota continues to build. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art offers modern art as well as an eclectic collection of work from Baroque artists like Peter Paul Rubens. There’s also a circus museumand Ca’ d’Zan, John Ringling’s lush, Mediterranean-style home.
Downtown Sarasota’s bayfront is a popular spot to walk and admire the extensive view without spending a day on the sand. The region also has a number of tiki bars and seaside restaurants for those looking to kick back and enjoy the Old Florida lifestyle – O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill and New Pass Grill and Bait Shop are local favorites.
What’s the cost of living in Sarasota, FL?
Sarasota’s popularity with both the over-65 and under-65 sets means rising home prices, and many people who want to live here are priced out.
For a metro area of its size, Sarasota is not a cheap place to live. In fact, average rental prices for an apartment are even slightly higher in Sarasota than in nearby metropolitan areas like St. Petersburg and Tampa.
In Sarasota, residents pay a combination of local property taxes from the county, city and school districts. Florida is one of a few states that do not have a state income tax, but many residents say that is offset by the state’s high property taxes. With the state’s homestead exemption, however, if property owners can prove that their Florida home is their primary residence, the assessed value of their home will only go up by a maximum of 3% each year. That grandfathers in a number of property owners who are paying low property taxes relative to the overall current value of their home.
What’s the weather like in Sarasota, FL?
The blessing and the curse of Sarasota’s weather is that it’s warm almost all the time. In the winter months, that’s a welcome reprieve from much of the country’s climate. But in the summer months, it can feel unbearably hot and humid, and people often describe the air here as sticky and wet. But there is one thing you can practically guarantee in Sarasota: snowfall is extremely unlikely.
Florida is known for its rainy and wet summer season, which ushers in hurricane season from June 1 to Nov. 30. The statistical peak day for hurricanes is Sept. 10, and some of the state’s worst hurricanes have occurred in September and October.
What’s the best way to get around Sarasota, FL?
For decades, most people flew into Tampa International Airport and drove an hour to Sarasota. But as Sarasota has grown, so has its airport. Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is known for its small size and accessibility for travelers to and from Sarasota, but its flight options are more limited than those offered at larger airports like Tampa. Even so, Sarasota’s airport has nonstop flights to destinations including Denver, Kansas City, Baltimore, Houston, Chicago and Atlanta.
The area’s infrastructure has not kept up with its population growth. It’s not an easy location to get around using public transit, although Sarasota County Area Transit does operate bus routes throughout the region. A car is an absolute must here.
Most people drive to get around Sarasota, and that traffic can certainly differ between tourist season and the off season. Crossing the John Ringling Causeway – the bridge that leads to Bird Key, Lido Key and Lido Beach –can take five minutes or 30 minutes, depending on the time of year. Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular as a form of transportation here as well, though most people bike as a leisure activity rather than to get from point A to point B.
Sarasota is by no means a walkable city, though parts of the area are more accessible by foot than others. Downtown Sarasota and nearby Rosemary District are easily strolled through, but a car or bus is necessary to get from there to one of the popular beaches.
One benefit of being in a small-to-midsize city is that parking is less of a nightmare in Sarasota than in most major cities. Downtown is covered in paid street parking and parking garages.Beach parking, on the other hand, can be a bit of a doozy.During peak tourist season, generally between November and March, it’s best to get to a public beach lot early if you want a parking space close to the sand.
Many Sarasota residents are retired and have no need to engage in the daily rat race. For those who do, commutes are generally short – the average commute time is around 25 minutes, which is shorter than the national average. But as developments like Lakewood Ranch by University Parkway and I-75 continue to attract residents, Sarasota’s radius grows bigger and the time it takes to navigate it by car grows longer.
Who lives in Sarasota, FL?
Sarasota is still dominated by a retiree population – the median age here is roughly 53. But as Americans in the workforce seek cities for the quality of life and not just job opportunities, Sarasota is becoming increasingly popular.
Sarasota has a number of local colleges –Ringling College of Art and Design, New College of Florida andthe University of South Florida–Sarasota-Manatee –but they are all concentrated away from the downtown area. This creates a divide between the population of young college students and older retirees.
The public school system attracts a number of parents who want to raise their children in the area, and about 18% of the Sarasota population is under 20 years old.