Are you thinking about moving to Fort Myers, Florida? Known as the “City of Palms,” Fort Myers is a mid-sized metropolitan community. It is situated on the Caloosahatchee River where history, commerce, and nature meet. The region began to boom at the start of the 20th century, and that growth continues on today.
The year-round outdoor recreational opportunities, scenic waterfront properties, and job opportunities are just a few of the reasons why Fort Myers has been ranked as one of the fastest-growing places in the U.S.
Our Fort Myers relocation guide will walk you through everything you need to know before moving to this relaxed, but prospering city in Lee County, FL.
Where is Fort Myers located?
Fort Myers is located about 126 miles South of Tampa, FL and approximately 158 miles Northwest of Miami on Florida’s Gulf Coast. From I-75, exit onto FL-82 W/Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and drive west towards the heart of downtown.
Getting to Fort Myers: Traffic and Transportation
During the summer and fall months of the year, Fort Myers area traffic is generally light. However, with an annual increase in seasonal residents, population numbers rise by as much as 22 percent during the winter months. This means allowing for extra travel time when on the roads from November through April.
Here’s the skinny on transportation in Fort Myers:
- US-41 S/Tamiami Trail is the primary route for local commuter traffic. I-75 provides major interstate highway access from the northern and southern parts of the state.
- Buses operated by LeeTran provide local transportation service throughout Fort Myers. There is also a Greyhound station off of Widman Way for bus service outside of the local area.
- For travelers arriving to or leaving from the Fort Myers area by air, Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is the primary airport, located southeast of the city.
- Private, corporate, charter, and recreational aviation needs are handled by Page Field Airport. Page Field is located three miles south of the city proper.
Living in Fort Myers, FL
Now that you know where it’s located and how to get to Fort Myers, what should you know about living in Fort Myers?
Cost of Living
Fort Myers is an affordable place to live, offering a range of apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes at reasonable prices.
- According to Payscale, the overall cost of living in Fort Myers, FL is 4% lower than the national average.
- The median home cost is $208,700.
- Fort Myers’s housing expenses are 15% lower than the national average. Utility prices are 12% lower than the national average, and healthcare costs are 4% lower than the national average.
- Even so, Fort Myers has grocery prices that are 5% higher than the national average. Transportation expenses like bus fares and gas prices are also 7% higher than the national average.
- One of the biggest benefits of living in Fort Myers is that Florida does not have a state income tax.
Why are People Moving to the Fort Myers Area?
“Fort Myers is one of the most desirable places on Florida’s Gulf Coast to live, work, and play,” says Tracey Tucker of Montgomery Real Estate. “The city has a relaxed atmosphere, offers a reasonable cost of living, and is characterized by a diverse range of college students, young families, and retirees.”
In Fort Myers, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for family-friendly outdoor recreation due to a year-round warm climate that averages 75.1°F. The area is generally geared toward laidback personalities who take advantage of Southwest Florida’s top rated beaches and golf courses. However, if you’re single and prefer the excitement of a big city, Fort Myers may not suit your lifestyle.
Fort Myers Neighborhoods
When you move to Fort Myers, you might notice that most residents are from other states. That’s simply a reflection of the area’s rapid growth. Based on statistics from the Bureau of Economics and Business Research, Lee County is projected to have a population of 1,024,700 by 2040.
Whether you decide to live close to downtown or in a nearby suburban community, here are a few neighborhoods that are among the best places to live in Fort Myers.
Fort Myers River District
The recently revitalized downtown historic river district appeals to the young professional crowd. It is characterized by cobblestone streets, renovated lofts, and riverfront townhomes. The River District has an eclectic vibe and is within walking distance to trendy restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and the Florida Repertory Theatre.
Located South of downtown Fort Myers, the Villas is a well-established neighborhood that consists primarily of single-family homes and apartments. It’s an area you may want to consider if you want convenient access to county parks and sporting events at Hammond Stadium.
This community gets its name from the small tributary of the Caloosahatchee River called Whiskey Creek, which borders its perimeter. The neighborhood has a suburban feel/. It is close to the area’s public schools as well as private preparatory schools, such as the Canterbury School.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly community that’s not far from downtown Fort Myers, look at Cypress Lake. This community has its own middle school and high school, plus it’s close to several local parks. There are plenty of apartment options for renters and quiet residential areas for young families.
Iona is a combination of retirement communities, single-family gated communities and waterfront mansions. With nearby access to the Sanibel Island Causeway, the area has a wide appeal. Residents’ income levels vary.
Jobs in Fort Myers
Fort Myers is recognized as being a business-friendly, innovative city that attracts and retains global corporations. Sales, office, and administrative support jobs account for nearly a third of the job market here. However, the construction industry is also coming back strong with renewed growth of the local economy.
Here are some of the major employers in Fort Myers:
- Chico’s FAS
- Lee County School District
- Lee Memorial Health System
- Robb & Stucky Furniture
- Publix Super Market
- Florida Gulf Coast University
The public schools in the Fort Myers area belong to the School District of Lee County. Lee County operates several elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as multiple special education centers and private schools. Local elementary schools include Villas Elementary School, Treeline Elementary School, and Tanglewood Elementary School. Some of the high schools in the Fort Myers area include Fort Myers High School, Dunbar High School, Cypress Lake High School, and Coronado High School.
In addition to elementary, middle, and high schools, Fort Myers also has a number of colleges and trade schools.
The higher education network in the Fort Myers area consists of regionally and nationally recognized institutions. Here’s a summary of the area’s best colleges and technical schools.
- Florida Gulf Coast University – Attracting students to Master Degrees in healthcare administration, environmental science, criminal justice, and public administration, FGCU’s enrollment continues to grow year-after-year.
- Florida SouthWestern State College – Florida SouthWestern offers associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and certificate programs with an emphasis on healthcare, business, technology, and education.
- Nova Southeastern – Known for education, nursing, psychology, and recreational therapy programs, Nova Southeastern’s regional campus in Fort Myers offers smaller classes for students who prefer more personalized attention.
- Southern Technical College – Southern Technical College is an accredited private institution that applies both traditional and innovative teaching techniques in the areas of allied health, business, design, nursing, and technical trades.
Things to Do Here
Whether you’re moving to Fort Myers with your family or on your own, you will never be at a loss for things to do. From exploring the downtown historic district, visiting the local farmer’s markets, hiking through the county parks, recreational boating, or beach combing, there will always be new adventures that await you.
Here are some great things to do in the Fort Myers, FL area.
Soak in the history.
- Visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates off of McGregor Boulevard to learn about what life was like in the late 1800s/early 1900s when Thomas Edison and Henry Ford lived on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.
- Take a tour of the Burroughs Home. Dating back to 1901, this Georgian Revival style mansion was the venue of social events that hosted famous guests like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone.
- Explore a State Park. Koreshan State Park, Lovers Key State Park, and Estero Bay Preserve State Park are all within a 45-minute drive from downtown Fort Myers.
- Take a Hike. Explore the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve to take in wildlife viewing opportunities, the butterfly garden, and to stroll on a beautiful boardwalk trail through the wetlands.
- Attend a Spring Training Game. Both the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins hold Spring Training in Fort Myers to prepare for baseball season. The Red Sox play at JetBlue Park and the Twins at Hammond Stadium.
- Go Fishing. Whether you have your own boat or opt to rent one, there are public boat ramps, kayak launches, and charter boats that can get you out on the water for a relaxing day spent casting out a line. Pine Island Sound, the Caloosahatchee River, and Estero Bay all offer great inshore fishing for species like snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout.
Dine al fresco.
The winter and spring months are ideal for al fresco dining in Fort Myers. A number of reputable restaurants in the area have outdoor patio or courtyard dining options that you can take advantage of.
- The Veranda, located in downtown Fort Myers, offers outdoor courtyard seating, Southern Regional Cuisine, and an extensive wine list. It’s one of the most unique dining experiences in Southwest Florida.
- Head farther south on the Tamiami Trail, and you’ll come across Harold’s Restaurant in a nondescript shopping plaza. Just don’t let the modest façade fool you — Chef Harold Balink’s restaurant features locally sourced meats, fish, produce, an extensive wine list, and a few cleverly placed bistro tables just outside the front door.
- Cristoff’s on McGregor serves American and Southern cuisine in a restored vintage home that has plenty of indoor-outdoor dining.
Shop at an outdoor mall.
There are several outdoors malls within an hour’s drive from downtown Fort Myers. From high-end clothing boutiques to home furnishings, you can find it in the Fort Myers area.
- Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers is an open-air mall that is known for being a premier dining and fashion destination for the Fort Myers-Cape Coral market.
- Coconut Point in Estero is an outdoor mall featuring 127 shops, residential condominiums, restaurants, and a movie theater. Coconut Point also hosts live music and annual festivals.
- Waterside Shops in Naples is the place to go when you want to treat yourself. This upscale, luxury shopping mall has more than 60 specialty stores.
Moving Tips for New Fort Myers Residents
Last, but certainly not least, once you’ve decided to move to Fort Myers, there are a few additional pieces of information that will help you get settled.
- Make online payments for utilities, research laws and ordinances, and get maps and rental information by visiting the website for the City of Fort Myers.
- For driver’s licenses, boat registration, and property taxes, check with the nearest Lee County Tax Collector’s office.
- Be sure to register to vote with the Lee County Supervisor of Elections if you are eligible. You can utilize the online voter registration system or fill out a form and return it by mail.
Hopefully, this moving guide for Fort Myers, Florida has proven helpful as you weigh your decision to relocate. The city is growing at a rapid pace, and there are plenty of career opportunities for those who want to live in Southwest Florida.