Quality of Life in Fort Myers
Fort Myers, nicknamed “City of Palms,” is located along the scenic shoreline of the Caloosahatchee River, is the commercial center of Lee County, and is the county seat. It is a gateway to southwest Florida and is a major tourist destination as well as a well-loved place to live, work, retire, and play. Founded on February 21, 1866, after the Civil War by Captain Manuel A. Gonzalez, it was named for Colonel Abraham Myers, who was the quartermaster general of the Confederate States Army.
U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas and ranked Fort Myers:
- #1 in Fastest-Growing Places
- #1 in Best Places to Retire
- #3 in Best Places to Live in Florida
- #35 in Best Places to Live
The population as of the official 2010 census was 62,298, and it grew to an estimate in 2019 of 87,103. It anchors with the more residential Cape Coral to form the metropolitan statistical area comprising Lee County and had a population of 770,577 in 2019.
Local Real Estate Market
The city’s total area is 49.04 square miles, which is 39.84 square miles of land and 9.20 square miles of water. According to Zillow, the median home value is $214,500 and appreciated through 2019 by 2.2%. There is a slightly higher percentage of renters at 51% than homeowners at 49%.
The households include residents with a median age of 44 and 21.7% with one or more children that are under the age of 18, which is fewer than the national median of 30%. There are 67 charming neighborhoods with a laid-back and small-town lifestyle. The climate and proximity to beaches bring many visitors, some of which relocate or purchase a vacation home.
Cost Of Living
It is 4% lower than the national average and 2% higher than the Florida average. Residents can walk to two restaurants, coffee shops, and bars in five minutes. There are about 257 restaurants, 435 grocery stores, bars, coffee shops, and shopping centers nearby.
The county’s strongest economic sectors include retail, construction, leisure, and hospitality, and leisure. The largest employers are Lee Memorial Health System with 10,900 employees, Lee County School District with 10,600 employees, and Publix Supermarkets with 5,007 employees.
Education and Sports
There are 10 colleges in Lee County including Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), a public university that belongs to the 12-campus State University System of Florida and competes in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Sun Conference. Also, JetBlue Park is where the Boston Red Sox have their spring training.
US News reported that the metropolitan area’s property and violent crime rates were lower than the national rate with a Crime Index Score of 6.8 /10.
National Register of Historic Places
There are 57 properties and districts in the county that are listed on the National Register. Two of them are the following, which are also major attractions:
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had adjacent homes here near the Downtown District, and tours are available including a historical museum and 21-acre botanical garden. In 1885, Thomas Edison, on his first visit to Southwest Florida, purchased the property to build his vacation home. In 1914, Henry and Clara Ford with their son Edsel, at the invitation of Thomas Edison, visited and enjoyed the visit so much that, two years later, the Fords purchased the two-story riverfront Craftsman home next door to the Edison estate.
Sidney and Berne Davis Art Museum
Sidney and Berne Davis Art Museum in downtown is a gorgeous and very unusual and eye-catching historic building. The 23,000-square-foot building is Neoclassical Revival with amazing architecture that was built in 1933 where there had been an old fort. The front columns are Florida Keys limestone, and sea shells and coral embed the walls. The enormous luminaries light up at night with cut-out words.
The building was eventually abandoned but has now gone through wonderful renovations due mostly to Berne Davis pledging $1 million in 2007 for a restoration. The renovations were finally completed in 2014. The building’s name was changed as a way of honoring that family’s contribution. Now it is featured as an event center as well as having art exhibits. On First Mondays, you can see a series of short films where the onlookers get to participate in conversations after each film.