If you're thinking about moving to Southwest Florida, there's almost no better city than Fort Myers. Unlike other cities in Florida, Fort Myers is known for its relaxed atmosphere and slow pace of life. Nearly a quarter of the city's population is made up of retirees, but the already sizeable population of millennials is growing every single year, thanks to the area's ample economic opportunities. The Fort Myers metro area is home to 680,970 residents, and more and more people move to the city every year.
Fort Myers People and Lifestyle
Because much of the population is on the older side, Fort Myers tends to lean to the politically conservative side, but the city is also home to a fair amount of left-leaning people, particularly among the younger generation. The majority of people in Fort Myers identify as Catholic, but other major religious philosophies are well-represented in the city.
As you would expect from a city tucked along the Gulf Coast, life in Fort Myers is all about enjoying the outdoors. Gorgeous beaches can be found around virtually every corner, and the city's downtown area is filled with a variety of quaint shops and restaurants. Fort Myers also features numerous museums, art galleries, and amusement parks, so you'll always be able to find something to see or do.
The cost of living tends to be fairly affordable in Fort Myers, thanks in large part to the fact that residents don't have to pay state income taxes. While the average annual salary is a bit lower than the national average, average housing costs in the Fort Myers area are about $12,000 less than the national average, helping to even things out.
Top Fort Myers Neighborhoods
Before you move to Fort Myers, it's important to learn about some of the city's best neighborhoods. Whether you're interested in living near the water or you want a home in a more tranquil part of the city, there's a Fort Myers neighborhood that you're sure to love.
Fort Myers River District
If you prefer living in an urban area filled with shops, restaurants, and frequent activities, then you may want to find a home in the Fort Myers River District. The waterfront high-rises in this area are perfect for young professionals who want quick access to the city's best nightlife, and the nearby historic district features restored homes that are great for retirees.
Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach is the best area of the city to move to if you want to spend as much time in the sand and surf as possible. You can find many homes right on the water in this neighborhood, and it also offers several quieter residential areas that families will enjoy. The Fort Myers Beach area is very popular with tourists, so the neighborhood can feel pretty crowded during the summer months.
Captiva Island is just off the coast of Fort Myers, and it's a great neighborhood for those who want to live near the city but prefer being away from the hustle and bustle. Breathtaking ocean views are the biggest benefit of living in Captiva Island, but the area provides several other advantages. For example, because of its small size, Captiva Island is very walkable, so you can enjoy a sunset stroll whenever you wish. From Captiva Island, you can also take leisurely boat rides to other islands in the area.
Fort Myers Food Scene
While living in Fort Myers, you'll be able to grab a meal almost anytime you wish at some of the best restaurants in Florida. As you might expect from a city on the sea, freshness is the name of the game when it comes to local cuisine. Fort Myers residents are very discerning about their seafood, and restaurants that don't serve up fresh fish and lobster usually won't last too long in this city.
In addition to the fresh food that you can enjoy at one of the many excellent restaurants in Fort Myers, you can visit one of the area's popular farmers markets to purchase fresh, locally sourced goods so that you can whip up your own tasty meals at home. Some of the top fresh markets in the Fort Myers area include the Downtown Farmers Market, Southern Fresh Farms, and Health Park Farmers Market.
Fort Myers is also a great place to live if you enjoy relaxing with an adult beverage at the end of a long workday. Although there aren't really any vineyards in the immediate Fort Myers area, you'll find several excellent wineries that you can visit to purchase wine by the bottle or the glass. You'll also find several top-notch breweries in Fort Myers where you and your friends can sample hoppy craft beer and purchase your favorites so that you can enjoy a bottle at home whenever you want.
Here are some of the top restaurants in Fort Myers:
Cape Cod Fish Company: This seafood restaurant is known for its fresh lobster rolls that rival the rolls you can order at Boston's top restaurants.
El Gaucho Inca: At this steakhouse, you can chow down on succulent steaks and other house-made dishes with a Latin flair.
Bennett's Fresh Roast: You can stop by this doughnut shop every single morning for a fresh-made doughnut or a piping-hot cup of coffee.
What's the Weather Like in Fort Myers?
Plenty of sunshine is one of the top reasons that people move to Fort Myers. Sure, the city does get its fair share of rainfall — particularly in the summer and fall — but those few wetter months are offset by nearly nine months of sunshine, providing you ample opportunity to get out of your house and enjoy the Fort Myers scenery.
Thanks to its tropical climate, Fort Myers winters are very mild. Average temperatures for the winter months are 64.9 degrees, and when there is precipitation, it's in the form of rain, instead of the snow and ice that you might see in more northern states.
While you won't experience any white Christmases in Fort Myers, winter in this sunny state still brings quite a bit of festive fun. Take a drive around the city and you're likely to see lush palm trees decked out in colorful holiday lights, which is quite the site to behold — especially if you're a newcomer to the city.
Spring is a very pleasant time of the year in Fort Myers. Temperatures average around 73 degrees, and rainy days are few and far between, so you'll have no trouble getting outside and walking through the blooming flowers and enjoying a little fresh air.
The spring season is a particularly good time to visit one of the pristine local beaches. Since the summer tourist season won't yet have started, the warm sands will be much less crowded; and, while it still may be a little too cool for a swim, the weather is perfect for dipping your toes in the surf or picnicking with friends.
Muggy is the best word to describe the summertime in Fort Myers. While the temperatures are pretty comfortable, with averages of 82.5 degrees, summer months see much more rain than other months. Locals are used to the humid weather, however, and you soon will be, too.
Although a few summer days may be a little too hot for some, this season brings a variety of exciting events that you won't want to miss out on. For instance, the vibrant River District area routinely hosts music performances where you can do a little dancing in the warm Florida sunshine.
Fall is a very comfortable time of year in Fort Myers, and it's much more like the spring than what most people would imagine autumn to be like. Balmy temperatures around 76.9 degrees are the average, and fall is the second wettest time of year behind the summer months.
Like every season, fall in Fort Myers offers a lot of opportunity for fun and excitement. If you're a beer fan, for example, you'll want to pay a visit to the Cape Coral Annual Oktoberfest, a fun-filled event that attracts hundreds of visitors every year.
How to Have Fun in Fort Myers
Big-time fun is the reason that so many Floridians are proud to call Fort Myers home. Whether you want to spend as much time as you can in the sunshine or you're looking for exciting family-friendly activities, there's almost no limit to what you can see and do in the Fort Myers area.
Southwest Florida is home to over 600 miles of breathtaking shorelines, meaning you can stretch out on the warm sands or enjoy a swim in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico almost anytime you want. Fort Myers offers a wide variety of beaches, some of which are perfect for a relaxing getaway and others that are ideal for a day playing on the sand. If you prefer sunning away from the crowds, for instance, you'll want to head over to one of the serene beaches on the nearby Captiva Islands.
If you're in the mood to spend some time on the water, you may want to head over to the great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. This nearly 200-mile trail is one of the most popular canoeing and kayaking spots in the Fort Myers area and is perfect for both expert and beginner paddlers. While you're sluicing through the glittering coastal waters, you'll see unforgettable sights, including shore birds hopping through the water and verdant plant life.
Sometimes, it's just too hot to spend much time outdoors in Fort Myers. Fortunately, the city is filled with exciting indoor activities where you can have a great time while beating the heat. For example, if you're the type of person who enjoys dinner and a show, you'll want to book a table at Broadway Palm, the premier dinner theater in Southwest Florida. Not only will you be able to enjoy a delectable meal, you'll also enjoy a Broadway-style show put on by some of the top performers in the country.
Going on a shopping spree is another way that you can have big indoor fun in Fort Myers. If you're always looking for a great deal, then you'll want to spend a day at either the Sanibel Outlets or Miromar Outlets, two of the top outlet malls in the Fort Myers area. You can also take a trip to Periwinkle Place, a nearby shopping mall that's filled with some of the top brands in the world, as well as snack shops and restaurants.
Whether you're trying to escape the heat or get away from the rain, rolling a few frames at Beach Bowl is one of the best indoor activities in Fort Myers. Located right off of Fort Myers Beach, Beach Bowl is one of the top bowling alleys in the city and is a great place to spend a day with your friends or family when outdoor fun just isn't possible.
Fun With Your Kids
Finding something to do with your kids can sometimes be difficult, but not when your family lives in Fort Myers. The city is filled with can't-miss family activities, from parks ideal for a game of touch football to amusement parks where you and your kids can spend a day playing games and riding rides.
Zoomers Amusement Park is by far the top family-friendly attraction in Fort Myers. In the outdoor portion of the park, you'll find a variety of rides suitable for all ages, as well as a go-kart track that you and your older children will enjoy. Head inside to find an arcade filled with your favorite games. You can challenge your kids to a game of air hockey, see who has the best basketball shot, or try your hand at one of the many new and classic video games.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark is another great Fort Myers spot to visit with your kids, particularly during the sweltering summer months. Spanning 14 acres, this seasonal water park offers several different ways to have fun, including exhilarating waterslides and cool splash pools. Wading pools are available for younger children, and the park has a lazy river where you can spend hours floating on the water.
Fort Myers Cultural Institutions
Fort Myers also offers numerous cultural spots where you can learn something new and expand your mind. If you're a history buff, for instance, there's no better spot than the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the historic winter homes of two of America's most notable figures: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
Art aficionados will love the Fort Myers Beach Art Association and Gallery. At this popular cultural institution, you can see masterpiece paintings from local artists, and if you would like to try your hand at being an artist, you can enroll in one of the Association's regular workshops.
The Imaginarium, also known as IMAG, is another world-class museum in the Fort Myers area. At IMAG, you'll find a variety of captivating scientific exhibits that can help you learn more about Fort Myers and the world as a whole. Animal lovers will have an excellent time touring the IMAG aquarium, which features exotic species such as sea turtles.
Fort Myers Sports
While Fort Myers doesn't have the professional sports scene that you'll find in other Florida cities, you'll still be able to spend a day at the ballpark or watching a back-and-forth basketball game. For example, every year, the Boston Red Sox travel to JetBlue Park, known to locals as Fenway South, for spring training. So, every spring, you can grab a seat on the replica Green Monster and watch some of the best baseball players in the world get ready for the upcoming season.
If you're a basketball fan, you can cheer on the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Basketball team. During the 2012-2013 season, the Eagles pulled off one of the most memorable upsets in NCAA tournament history by beating Georgetown University, which was a No. 2 seed. The Eagles' magical run ended in the Sweet Sixteen, but their high-flying style of play earned them the nickname “Dunk City.”
Although you might not expect it out of a warm-weather city, Fort Myers even has a semi-professional hockey team. During the hockey season, you can visit Hertz Arena to watch the Florida Everblades squad fly up and down the ice as they try to outscore the competition.
Top Landmarks and Attractions Near Fort Myers
Just outside of Fort Myers, you'll find a variety of attractions, including several of the best national parks in Florida. Here are a few of the many things that you can enjoy if you venture a little bit outside of the city.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a 3,500-acre nature preserve where you can immerse yourself in both upland and wetland ecology. In addition to the sloughs, which are narrow wetland areas with slow freshwater flows, you can see gorgeous cypress trees and a variety of bird and animal species.
Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
The Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most popular national parks in the Fort Myers area. The refuge sprawls across 40 acres, and its shorelines are dotted by mangroves that help to support the native wildlife. Keep an eye out when you're touring the refuge, because you may just see a manatee or two slowly swimming through the waters.
Powell Creek Preserve
Powell Creek Preserve is a 77-acre waterside preserve that provides plenty of opportunity for Fort Myers residents to enjoy the outdoors. The preserve is filled with hiking and biking trails that will allow you to get some exercise among the fauna and flora for which this area of Florida is well-known.
Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve
The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve is a great place to visit near Fort Myers if you're interested in seeing exotic marine animals and other creatures. You can regularly see sea turtles swimming through the bay, as well as brightly colored birds flocking in the air.
Schools in Fort Myers
Fort Myers is served by the Lee County school system, which currently operates 120 schools and educates 93,167 students ranging from pre-K to high school. On the convenient Fast Facts page provided by the school system, you can learn a little more about the school system, including the annual budget and what type of special services are offered to students. Schools in the Lee County system include:
- Elementary Schools: 45.
- Kindergarten through 8th Grade Schools: 4.
- Middle Schools: 16.
- High Schools: 14.
According to GreatSchools, the Fort Myers area has several highly rated schools at every educational level. Some of the top schools that your children can attend in Fort Myers include:
- Three Oaks Elementary School (Public).
- Cypress Lake Middle School (Public).
- Florida SouthWestern Collegiate High School (Charter).
If you've been thinking about pursuing a graduate degree to improve your access to the best jobs in the Fort Myers area, you should be happy to learn that you can choose from a variety of area colleges and universities. Some of these Fort Myers institutions include:
- Southwest Florida College (887 students).
- Edison State College (15,731 students).
- Florida Gulf Coast University (14,965 students).
- Fort Myers Job Outlook
Fort Myers features a very robust job market and an unemployment rate of just 4 percent, making this city a great place to move for anyone seeking a rewarding career. Most of the Fort Myers jobs are in the administrative support, office, or sales sectors, although the construction industry is also on the rise, thanks to several major projects, such as the relocation of Hertz corporate headquarters to the area.
According to the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance, Algenol Biofuels is one of the key employers in the area. The company was founded in Fort Myers in 2006 and is primarily focused on creating biofuels using algae. Several technology and electronics companies also operate out of Fort Myers, including Fox Electronics and Gartner Inc.
The School District of Lee County is the area's largest employer, with 13,723 employees as of 2017. Lee Health, which operates several of the top hospitals in Fort Myers and surrounding communities, was a close second, with 13,595 employees in 2017. Other top employers in the Fort Myers area include the Lee County local government, Publix supermarket, and NCH Healthcare System.
As reported by U.S. News, the annual average salary in Fort Myers is $40,420, which is below the national average of $49,630. Although the average salary in Fort Myers is less than the national average, the lack of an income tax in Florida still makes this city an enticing employment destination.
Fort Myers Transportation
Fort Myers is a city built with commuters in mind, and most people tend to get around town using a personal automobile. That's not to say, however, that you won't have access to a robust public transportation system after moving to Fort Myers.
Fort Myers and surrounding communities, such as Pine island and Cape Coral, are all serviced by the LeeTran bus and trolley service. LeeTran offers 24 bus routes that travel around the city and Lehigh County, meaning you don't necessarily need a car to fully enjoy the sights and amenities of Fort Myers. If you want to enjoy the city's exciting nightlife, you likely will need personal transportation, since LeeTran only runs until 9:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8:55 p.m. on Sundays.
Major roads, like Interstate 75, connect Fort Myers to surrounding communities, such as Punta Gorda. As you'd expect from a commuter city, traffic can get heavy during the morning and evening rush hours. The average commute, according to U.S. News, takes about 27 minutes, although this can be more or less depending on the time of day and traffic congestion.
One of the biggest benefits of living in Fort Myers is that you'll have quick access to a major international airport, making it easy to live the jet-setting lifestyle that so many people dream of. Southwest Florida International Airport is just a few miles outside of the city and is serviced by some of the country's most popular airlines. Best of all, LeeTran runs regular routes to and from the airport, so you won't have any issue catching a flight whenever you want or need.
Annual Fort Myers Events
The beautiful year-round weather in Fort Myers means that there is always something going on around town. After moving to exciting Fort Myers, you'll be able to attend some of the most exciting annual events in Southwest Florida, from art festivals, to music shows, to parties on the beach.
River District Holidays: During December, the Fort Myers River District lights up with festive cheer. You can stroll down the streets of this neighborhood to check out the decorations and then do a little Christmas shopping.
Fort Myers Seafood & Music Festival: One of the newest annual events in the city, the Fort Myers Seafood & Music Festival is a fun festival where you can chow down on fresh seafood while listening to world-class music.
Edison Festival of Lights: Every February, Fort Myers citizens celebrate Thomas Edison and his gift of electricity to the city.
Shrimp Festival Parade: Sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club, the annual Shrimp Festival features arts and craft vendors, live music, and mouthwatering shrimp dishes.
Fort Myers Beach St. Patrick's Day Parade: During the Fort Meyers St. Patrick's Day Parade, you can visit Estero Boulevard to take part in a celebration of Irish culture.
Fort Myers Beach Film Festival: The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival has been running since 2007 and is a great place to experience engaging films from all over the world.
Fort Myers Art Walk: On the first Friday and following Saturday of every month, you can take a self-guided tour of some of the top art galleries in Fort Myers.
Fort Myers Music Walk: On the third Friday of every month, the River District is filled with the sounds of live music that will have you dancing the night away.
4th of July Fireworks: Every 4th of July, Fort Myers celebrates Independence Day with a parade through the center of the city and a colorful fireworks display that lights up the sky.
Car Cruise-In: Every fourth Sunday from October to May, the streets of downtown Fort Myers are lined with cool classic cars.
Southern Fresh Farms Fall Festival: In October, you can attend the Southern Fresh Farms Fall Festival, which features exciting activities such as a petting zoo and hay rides, as well as stick-to-your-ribs southern cuisine.
American Sand Sculpting Championship: The annual American Sand Sculpting Championship starts in November and features some of the world's best sculptors creating intricate works of art using only their imagination and the sands of Fort Myers beaches.
Interesting Facts About Fort Myers
If you're thinking about relocating to Fort Myers, it helps to learn as much as you can about this Florida city. Here are some interesting Fort Myers facts that may make you want to move to this gorgeous community sooner rather than later.
Fort Myers is one of the sunniest cities in the state of Florida. When you live in Fort Myers, you'll see 266 days of sunshine, which is the most of any city in the Sunshine State.
Fort Myers was the winter home of world-famous inventor Thomas Edison. In 1898, Edison brought electric lights to the city for the very first time. Although the locals would eventually come to embrace the gift of electricity, there was some resistance at first because Fort Myers was once primarily a farming community, and the bright lights prevented cows from going to sleep.
The city received its name as an engagement present. General David Twiggs decided to name the town Fort Myers in honor of his future son-in-law, Abraham C. Myers. Although Myers and his wife, Marion, eventually moved to Germany, the name Fort Myers stuck, and the city has grown over the years into one of Florida's most vibrant communities.
Fort Myers is one of the top cities in Florida, and whether you're looking for somewhere to spend your retirement years or a locale where your young family can grow and thrive, this Southwest Florida community is an excellent choice. Not only does Fort Myers offer gorgeous scenery, exciting activities, and a world-class food scene, the city also offers plenty of employment opportunities, making it an increasingly popular destination for young professionals looking for career success. Start planning your move to Fort Myers today!