Attracting retirees, young professionals, and families alike, the City of Palms has year-round outdoor recreational opportunities, scenic waterfront views, and diverse culture, which makes it one of the fastest-growing places in the U.S. Here are 13 pros and cons of living in Fort Myers!
Pros of Living in Fort Myers
With white sandy beaches, great schools, a healthy job market, and a thriving restaurant scene, there are many reasons to consider living in Fort Myers. Here are some pros to consider when moving to the City of Palms.
Pro: Affordable Cost of living
What sets Fort Myers apart from more populous cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale is its affordability! The cost of living in Fort Myers is lower than in both cities—which are 14% higher and 17% higher than the national average, respectively—which, as it’s only 1% higher than the Florida average and equal to the national average, makes Fort Myers an affordable place to live. Housing in Fort Myers is also less expensive, with the average being 8% lower than the state and 12% lower than the nation at large. To top it all off, Florida has no income taxes, so Fort Myers residents can stretch their dollar far.
Pro: Healthy, Growing Job Market
With a fast-growing job market and low unemployment rate, soon-to-be residents will find ample job opportunities in Fort Myers! Fort Myers is home to some of the area’s biggest employers like clothing retailer Chico’s, Publix, and Fox Electronics. In fact, the City of Palms is also home to some of the top employers in Southwest Florida, including the School District of Lee County, Lee Memorial Health System, and the Lee County Government, which employs more than 9,000 people!
Pro: Retiree Paradise
If you’re looking to enjoy the sun and relax during your golden years, Fort Myers is a strong choice, given its spot among the best places to retire in Florida! With a large population of residents aged 55 and up, Fort Myers is a community tailored toward the needs of retirees. The Lee Health system is the largest healthcare provider in the area, and great hospitals like Lee Memorial Hospital and Gulf Coast Medical Center are among the best hospitals in Florida. There is also a wide range of Fort Myers senior living communities to consider, including the highly ranked Amavida Senior Living and The Palms of Fort Myers. Aging residents of Fort Myers also have city-wide access to resources like the independent lives with programs like The Elder Helpline, health and wellness workshops, respite care, and more through the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. Beyond the beaches, boardwalks, and countless other entertainment options, Fort Myers is also a golfer’s dream with some of the best golf courses in the area including Cypress Lake Golf Club and Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club.
Pro: Strong Education System
There are several quality schools in Fort Myers, making it a fantastic place for families with school-age children and college students. The School District of Lee County is the primary district serving the City of Palms. Families can enroll their children in top schools like Three Oaks Elementary School, Cypress Lake Middle School, and Fort Myers High School. Additionally, those seeking higher education will be happy to know that there are also great colleges in Fort Myers! Explore degrees like psychology, business administration, human services, and more at Florida Gulf Coast University. Or pursue a career in nursing, criminal justice, computer programming, or one of many other programs offered at Florida SouthWestern State College.
Pro: Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts
With easy access to fantastic beaches like Bowditch Point Park, Yacht Club Beach, and more, residents enjoy the pristine shorelines, turquoise waters, and warmth of the Sunshine State. But the beach isn’t all there is to Fort Myers’ outdoor activities! The city is located right on the Caloosahatchee River, and residents can take in stunning riverside views at green spaces like Centennial Park while strolling the boardwalks. Numerous lush preserves and parks are close enough to spend a day’s trip exploring. Six Mile Slough Preserve, less than a 30-minute drive away, offers guided tours and wildlife walks through the ferns and cypresses and programs like photo contests and Full Moon Walks. The Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail contains around 200 miles of kayak and canoe trails that wind through the waters of Lee County. If you’re not interested in navigating the trails yourself, GAEA Guides provides tours, where you can cruise through mangroves, see manatees and other wildlife, and take in the gorgeous views. Or take a day trip to go hiking, biking, boating, and more through the verdant Estero Bay Preserve State Park.
Pro: Family-Friendly Events
Anyone can find something to suit their tastes when it comes to fun things to do in Fort Myers! Sports enthusiasts can experience the excitement of the crowd at Hammond Stadium as they cheer on the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (MiLB), or they can catch the Boston Red Sox (MLB) in training at JetBlue Park. Bring the whole family out for a fun-filled day of rides and slides at Sun Splash Family Water Park. The Fort Myers River District is a popular destination where residents can enjoy shopping, dining out with riverfront views, spas, and community events like art and music walks, which bring locals out to support vendors and artists. Use the gym and fitness center to stay active, and enjoy skimming across the ice at the Fort Myers Skatium. Dive in to Fort Myer’s spooky side with the Haunted History Tour, or explore the origins and evolution of the city itself with the River District History Tour. Or get up close to manatees, one of Florida’s most iconic creatures, during the peak season between December and March with kayak tours offered at Manatee Park.
Pro: Wide Variety of Museums
There is plenty to learn and discover through Fort Myers’ museums! Bring the family to feed stingrays, build a whole playground, interact with the Google Earth Wall, and much more at IMAG History & Science Center. Tour the winter homes of famous inventors and innovators, stroll through the famous garden with more than 1,700 plant species, visit the Botanic Research Laboratory, and more at historic Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Sit back and watch shows like The Women Who Mapped the Stars, go on a night hike to see the stars and native wildlife, or visit birds of prey and other animals at Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. Visit historic buildings like the Williams Academy Museum, the first government-funded school for Black students, and attend community events like the Juneteenth Community Festival hosted by The Lee County Black History Society.
Pro: Arts & Culture Hub
More than just a beach town, Fort Myers has a variety of art galleries and theatre venues for residents to enjoy. Attend live music performances like the Dueling Pianos, explore art exhibitions like Street Walking Artist, and attend fun events such as Wine and Charcuterie at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Buy tickets to live theatrical performances like Misery, Save Hamlet, She Kills Monsters, and more at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Experience dinner and a show with live theatre performances such as Elvis: A Musical Revolution, The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy, and Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. See unique art exhibits like On the Road Again: The Hubcap as Art, watch live music performances like Bee Gees Gold: The Tribute or attend informative seminars like Lilly Pulitzer to discuss the fashion innovator’s lasting impact at the Tribby Arts Center. Experience live concerts like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing, the Blue Train: Music of John Coltrane, and the Beaux Art Trio at Gulf Coast Symphony. And wander beautiful and thought-provoking visual art exhibits like It Makes Me Wonder and We Contain Multitudes, or see live theatrical performances like Sanctuary City at Alliance for the Arts.
Pro: Diverse Festivals
If you plan to relocate here, you’re in for a good time with all the Fort Myers festivals that bring the community together. Head to Downtown Fort Myers to see the city come alive as residents enjoy live music performances from local artists at the Music Walk. Commemorate an iconic inventor’s lifetime of achievement with a variety of illuminating events like the STEMtastic Day of Discovery, Edison Garden Festival, and the Grand Parade of Light during the Edison Festival of Light. Don your colors and turn up at the Caloosa Sound Amphitheater for a New Year’s celebration featuring Irish and Scottish food, music, and artisan crafts at the Celtic Festival. Join more than 5,000 attendees to enjoy live music and other family-friendly activities, all while sampling flavors from local restaurants and food vendors during the Taste of Lee Food Festival. Travel just across the Caloosahatchee River to take part in celebrating the LGBTQ+ community where attendees can support local vendors and performers and attend a vibrant parade at Pride Cape Coral.
Pro: Incredible Food Scene
With casual eateries, upscale dining experiences, and farmers markets, there are many diverse options when it comes to restaurants in Fort Myers! Stop in for a delicious brunch by ordering the Triple Berry Brioche French Toast, White Truffle Chicken Mac, or Chicken and Donuts at 10 Twenty Five. Dig in to South American and Italian cuisines with Picante De Camarones, Fileta lo Macho, and Arroz Chaufa Shrimp at El Gaucho Inca. Sample the Gator Bites, Hot Lobster Roll, or the Coconut & Macadamia Crusted Triple Tail at Izzy’s Fish & Oyster. Chow down Southern-comfort foods like the Country Fried Pork Chops, Southern Fried Fish, or Smoked BBQ Ribs at Farmers Market Restaurant. Make a reservation and take in the gorgeous riverside views while enjoying the Grilled Mahi Sandwich, Roasted Chicken, or the Petite Filet Mignon from Oxbow Bar & Grill. Or munch on flavorful kitchen items like the Bang Bang Shrimp or Dynamite Burger while sipping beers on tap like the Solen’ya Pickle Beer or Clever Girl IPA at Millennial Brewing Company.
Cons of Living in Fort Myers
Though the City of Palms offers plenty of perks, there are a few things to seriously consider before moving to Fort Myers.
Con: Fort Myers Experiences Hurricane Season
You’ll want to research these severe weather patterns before moving since Florida is one most likely states for hurricanes to strike. Hurricane season runs between June and November, which is quite a large window for potential nasty weather. The Lee County government does have extensive guides on how to prepare for hurricanes to help keep people safe, including tools to help you find your evacuation zones, details about the kinds of hazards that hurricanes pose, and tips for insuring properties. But don’t let the prospect of hurricanes scare you off! Residents have been dealing with these weather patterns for a long time, so be sure to connect with your neighbors and community for pointers during hurricane season.
Con: Humid Summers
Fantastic weather is a large part of what draws snowbirds to Florida each year, though the year-round climate is important to factor into your decision to relocate here. Spring, fall, and winter are typically balmy and wet, but summers can get hot and muggy. The average annual high temperature in Fort Myers is around 90 degrees. Due to its position between the Caloosahatchee River and the vast expanse of the Everglades, newcomers may underestimate how humid it can get. However, long-term residents get used to the humidity and stay hydrated or find fun things to do indoors on particularly hot days—like visiting the River District to see unique and awesome goods and art from local vendors and artists at the Fort Myers Art Walk.
Con: Crowded Tourist Season
Fort Myers’ popularity does invite a crowded tourist season. The sheer volume of tourists can cause the area to become congested and increase traffic on major roadways like I-75 and US-41 as well as the bridges connecting Fort Myers to nearby islands. Peak tourist season is typically from March to May, but the milder winter months can also draw visitors and snowbirds from colder climates, so prepare for an upswing in the local population during those times. Being home to world-class nature preserves, entertainment options, and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder that Fort Myers is a hot spot for tourism!
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This post was originally published 08/19/2020, and last revised on 02/16/2024 with updated information.