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Report: 4 Gulf Coast cities rank in top 50 places to live in US

Naples, Florida
Naples, Florida
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Four cities on Florida’s Gulf Coast were ranked in the top 50 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live list for 2024, despite the high cost of living in some of the higher-ranked spots.

To compile its list, U.S. News looked at value, desirability, job market and quality of life. One Gulf Coast city attributes its quality of life with attracting not just residents but also business and workforce growth.

Topping the list at No. 1 was Naples, described as a “tropical playground for the powerful and wealthy.” The median age is 53, U.S. News reports.

In Naples, the median household income is $98,120, according to U.S. News, which reports the median home price is $577,796. 

Both are well above the national trends; the median household income is $74,580, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while the median home price is $393,500, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Hospitality, retail and construction are the main sources of jobs in Naples, according to U.S. News, which reports a medical device manufacturer, hospitals and the school district also provide jobs.

Next on the Gulf Coast was Sarasota, coming in at the No. 11 best place to live.

“We are excited for the Sarasota community on receiving this national recognition from US News & World Report,” Sarasota Economic Development Corp. Vice President Joshua Ewen says in an email to Business Observer. “We know that site selection consultants, business decision makers and entrepreneurs from across the country are looking for locations that fit the high quality of life and pro-business environment that is found in Sarasota.”

Celebrated for its “vibrant arts scene” and “burgeoning food culture,” Sarasota has a median household income of $80,922, according to U.S. News, which reports the area’s median home price is $430,652. The publication says Sarasota “is not a cheap place to live” for a city of its size, and people are getting priced out due to rising popularity since both retirees and the under-65 population want to live there. The median age is 52.

Residents are not the only ones flocking to Sarasota.

“In the past three years, Sarasota County has added 5,200 new businesses, and [we] have seen our workforce grow by 13,000 workers,” Ewen says. “That business and workforce growth is absolutely tied to the high quality of life and available opportunities found here.”

Hospitality and service, health care and manufacturing provide jobs for those in Sarasota, according to U.S. News.

Tampa ranked No. 35 on the list, which includes 150 cities. Skewing much younger, Tampa reports a median age of 37. The median household income is slightly above average at $81,303, while the median home price is $358,489. The cost of living in Tampa is “on par with, or slightly higher than, the national average,” according to U.S. News.

Publix, health care, educational institutions and MacDill Air Force Base are among major sources of employment in Tampa, U.S. News reports.

Ranking No. 37 on the Best Places to Live list is Fort Myers. The median age is 45. The median household income is $71,154, and the median home price is $273,214. While houses may cost less in Fort Myers than in other Gulf Coast cities, the property taxes are higher, according to U.S. News.

Government, health care and hospitality provide the bulk of employers in Fort Myers, as well as companies like Hertz and Chico's, which are headquartered there, and Walmart and Publix, U.S. News reports.



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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