When you think of the words ‘tropical paradise’, you always imagine a beach vacation, lazing around on fine sands, working on your tan and hearing the lapping of the pristine water on the shore. Now imagine living in a place where you get to call all of this home. That, for you, is Sarasota. Located in Florida, Sarasota’s year-round sunshine only betters your experience when you live here. And beaches aren’t the only thing it offers; Sarasota has long been a seat of cultural festivals and celebrations, from visual arts to theater and music.

Today, Sarasota is a living example of ‘old meets new’, as several of the old historic houses and buildings are met with the dynamism of shopping centers, top notch restaurants, hotels and a range of other bustling businesses. Take a stroll down the beach or in one of its botanical gardens, hop into a bar for some nightlife and music, attend the Sarasota Film Festival or simply browse around the many happening events. Perfect for retirees, young families and working professionals alike, here’s the 101 on moving to Sarasota.

What Should I Know Before Moving To Sarasota?

Wondering how many other people call this slice of paradise home? Sarasota’s latest estimated population is 59,218, making it the 54th largest city in the Sunshine State. This city is growing at an annual rate of 1.7%; proof that more and more people are heading here. It spans over 24 miles, and has a population density of 4,023 people per square mile.

Sarasota is located on the west coast of Florida and boasts some of the best beaches in the United States, namely Siesta Key Beach. It is also known to be a center for arts and cultural performances. Not only that, it is also home to a number of theaters, museums, and performance festivals. With plays, musical performances, dramas and other events, the cultural scene in Sarasota is thriving at an ever-increasing pace.

Sarasota is also ideal for those who like to explore the outdoors; its overall good weather would be wasted if not for all its outdoorsy activities. The beaches here offer a range of water activities like kayaking, boating, fishing and swimming. Moreover, there’s a number of parks in downtown Sarasota to take a stroll in. Those looking for something bigger and more challenging can head to the Myakka River State Park, and the several golf courses will keep all the golfers happy.

Sarasota also has the distinction of being named Florida’s “Cultural City”. Interestingly, it is also famous for its connections to the Ringling family, a family of circus-performers who went on to form the Ringling circus. This bond was formed in the early 1920s, and has physically manifested itself in the form of the family’s Ca’ d’Zan Estate Home and Ringling Museum of Art. Both of these are attractions for visitors to step into and marvel at. Proof of the family’s influence on the city lies on the several streets and places in Sarasota that bear the Ringling name.

Crime Rate in Sarasota

In terms of safety, Sarasota ranks like any other regular urban city. Its violent crime comparisons per 1,000 residents is 5.87, only marginally higher than the national median which is 4. Property crimes like vehicle theft and burglaries have a higher rate of 32.89 per 1,000 residents, again slightly higher than the national median which is 24.

Sarasota Weather

Sarasota experiences fairly comfortable and bearable weather throughout the year. Summers are hot and humid, so make sure you keep hydrating and slapping on some sunscreen. Average temperatures range between 80 to 90°F, and the heat lasts from the month of May to October. Unfortunately, the months of June to September also see high levels of precipitation, so be prepared for those rainy showers to pour down. Due to its coastal location, it could experience a few hurricanes. Expect strong winds and heavy rainfall when they come around, and always heed security warnings.

Autumn soon merges into winter, which lasts from December to March. Temperatures can drop to as low as 50°F, so make sure you have some jackets hanging around. The autumnal months are pleasant, though you might face a brief shower of rain. Winter has few to no showers, but temperatures can drop at night, making the chill palpable. The best time to move around depends entirely on your personal preference, as treks and hikes are best enjoyed in the cooler months. On the other hand, water sports are that much more appreciated in the hot months. The best part? There is no bad time to move around, except of course, when there’s a hurricane expected. But this is not a frequent occurrence.

How Expensive is It To Live in Sarasota?

So, is a month in Sarasota as expensive as shelling out cash for a week-long beach holiday? Whatever it is, your cost of living margins will improve slightly, since Florida has no state income tax. Thanks to all the tourism that the beaches attract, you get saved that hassle! Read on about everything that goes into determining how expensive it is to live in Sarasota.

Cost of Living In Sarasota

A family of four would have to spend approximately $3,748 a month on all their expenses when living in Sarasota. Consequently, the monthly budget for a single person in Sarasota will be approximately $1,040. Overall, the cost of living in Sarasota is 9% higher than the national average. While this may seem steep, keep in mind that living in Sarasota comes with a load of benefits, giving you an almost picture-perfect hometown. These rates are calculated without including the rent, so read on for an idea of what the rent rates look like in Sarasota.

Your cost of living can’t be very accurately estimated, as it also depends on the type of job you have, and the lifestyle you live. However, understanding your expenses will help you figure it out for yourself. For instance, a loaf of bread in Sarasota is $3.98, while a gallon of milk is $2.32 and a carton of eggs is $2.16. You better not have a monkey for a pet, because at $4.02, a bunch of bananas is the most pricey of the lot. With a doctor’s visit costing $129 and an optometrist visit costing $121, healthcare costs put themselves at 17% higher than the national average. If you have a four-legged or a feathered family member, be prepared to shell out $58.52 every time you visit a veterinarian.

Buying A House

After a 7.4% rise over the past year, Zillow puts the typical home value of houses in Sarasota at $291,374, and predicts a 8.6% rise over the next year. It goes to show that despite the expenses, people want to call Sarasota home. The median home price of a house in Sarasota is $354,981.

Renting A House

The average monthly rent for a house in Sarasota that is approximately 937 square feet is $1,446. 55%. If you consider houses in Sarasota that are rented for anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500 a month, about 8% (the cream of the crop) of them are rented for over $2,000. If you’ve been worried about whether Sarasota is a good place to rent a home, simply follow the data: 51% of the households in Sarasota are renter-occupied.

Utility Bills

Utility fares in Sarasota follow suit with the other categories of being higher than the national average; thankfully, it is only 6% higher. Your energy bill for a month can be between $170 and $180, while a month’s phone bill is around $185 to $190. Gas is $2.39 a gallon. Your water bill can be approximately $12 per month.

Getting Around Sarasota

Air passengers headed to Sarasota will land at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, the area’s main airport since 1941. But Sarasota itself isn’t very big, and is equipped with a transportation system that adequately serves its residents. Though Amtrak doesn’t service the city, there is an Amtrak bus service that runs from Sarasota Station to the nearest station in Tampa.

Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT)

Sarasota is well connected by the Sarasota County Area Transit bus service, that serves over 6,000 people on a daily basis. The buses have fixed schedules, and run from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m on all days. Buses don’t operate on certain major holidays, the days being New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There are also very few buses that operate on Sundays, so don’t rely too heavily on them if you have a busy day around town.

All the buses here are accessible for disabled people, and they all have bike racks. It costs $1.25 for a regular ticket, $4 for a day pass, $20 for an unlimited 7 day pass and $40 for an unlimited 30 day pass.

Siesta Key Breeze Trolley

The SCAT also has the Siesta Key Breeze Trolley service, which runs all the way from Siesta Village to Turtle Beach Park in the south. There’s no fares or tickets, since the trolley is free, and anyone can use its services and hop on board. The trolley runs from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sundays to Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The trolley runs everyday, including major holidays, and makes for an easy way to get around that stretch of Sarasota. You can track the trolley in real time using their app.

Road Travel

There are several cab operators in Sarasota, and while you can always easily hail cabs, you will have to pay a $3 drop charge on all rides. That’s on top of a per-mile rate of around $4. You can also make use of cab-booking services like Uber and Lyft. Though Sarasota doesn’t offer free public-sharing bikes, you can just as easily rent a bike and go cycling down its streets. There is a plan in the works of making Sarasota more bike friendly; the plans are currently up on Sarasota Government’s official website. Sarasota is also around 5 miles away from I-75, the major highway connecting Sarasota to Tampa and Miami.

Sarasota Economy And Employment Opportunities

More and more people are moving to Sarasota, which in turn is driving the real estate and the economy to perform better and better. Healthcare is one of the leading industries in Sarasota, employing around 15% of its workforce. Sarasota was declared to be the #1 place to live in for retirees by US News, so it comes as no surprise that healthcare is one of its top industries. Collectively, healthcare along with accommodation and food services, retail trade, and social assistance employ over 40% of Sarasota’s working population. The Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of the largest and best paying employers for people in healthcare. And of course, with millions visiting Sarasota as tourists each year, tourism is one of the biggest contributors to employment in Sarasota.

Education

Sarasota county has some of the best schools in Florida, and in high concentration as well. There are over 40k students enrolled in the Sarasota County School District, with 61 schools and a ratio of 15 students per class. There’s an 89% 4-year graduation rate, while 59% of the students in this school district are making more academic progress than their peers at other schools in the state.

Some of the top public schools in Sarasota are Southside Elementary School, Pine View School, Suncoast Polytechnical High School, Ashton Elementary School, and Lakeview Elementary School. There’s also a range of high quality middle and high schools to pick from, like Suncoast Polytechnical High School, Riverview High School, Sarasota School Of Arts/Sciences and Imagine School at Palmer Ranch. Finally, Sarasota has a range of universities as well, most notably The University of South Florida.

Best Neighborhoods In Sarasota

1. Laurel Park

Designated a National Register of Historic Places District in 2008, some of the houses in Laurel Park date back to the 1920s. The old historical homes bear different architectural styles, and make a pleasant contrast to its boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Downtown Sarasota is but a stone’s throw away, and the community here is made up of people of different ages and backgrounds. The average house value here is $649,913.

2. Lakewood Ranch

Top class dining and restaurants, parks and outdoor activities, nature and recreation, shopping and arts, great schools and medical facilities. Oh, and villages with the perfect house to call home, just for you. All of this is set into 50 square miles as Lakewood Ranch, a planned community designed to have a little something for everyone. It is one of the country’s best-selling communities, and homes are priced anywhere between $300,000 to $900,000.

3. Harbor Acres

With top notch amenities, fine schools to choose from, excellent employment prospects and a crime rate that is 68% lower than Sarasota’s average, Harbor Acres is an excellent neighborhood to move into. Naturally, all of these fantastic boons come at a price: the typical home value of houses in Harbor Acres is $2,451,329. You can stroll for five minutes and reach Downtown, turn the opposite direction and you reach a hospital. It is perfectly located, with stellar views and charming peacefulness.

Is Sarasota A Good Place To Live?

Sarasota truly is a self-sufficient slice of paradise, with so much to do and see. It is, however, a tourist destination, and a famous one at that. Residents may find their streets congested with traffic during peak tourist season, exacerbated by the fact that there’s no rail system within the city. While the roads connect the city well, those without their own vehicles may find it a challenge. Though Sarasota does have job opportunities, keep in mind that you need to be earning enough to keep up with the above-average cost of living. Relatively, it is easier moving here with a job relocation package than otherwise.


Conclusion

Overall, Sarasota does lie on the slightly higher end of the price spectrum, as even the utility bills are above the national average. However, it has a range of pleasant neighborhoods that provide charming shelter from the hustle and bustle of tourists, with even more secluded neighborhoods for those who seek out the quiet suburban life, while being within arm’s reach of Sarasota’s many amenities. All things aside, Sarasota is indeed a pretty nice place to live, and makes for easy living, whether you’re reaching the curve of retirement or just starting out with family life.

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