Moving to Sarasota | 2020 Cost of Living and Relocation Tips
The sunny state of Florida is always going to be a popular pick for singles, couples and families of all ages on the move.
Sarasota, FL, is fast becoming one of the hot move-to hubs in the state. Described by many as a “gateway” to some of the state’s prettiest beaches, with mild weather year-round and a small-town feel with big city culture, it is no wonder the population count is on the rise.
If you are considering a move to Sarasota or your relocation is already in the works, this article will give you a great foundation for what to expect when you arrive!
As of time of publication, the city of Sarasota’s population numbered just under 57,000 people. The city itself is ranked as number 18 on U.S. News and World Report’s “best cities to live” list. It is ranked as number two on the “best places to retire” list for the same.
In fact, Sarasota is part resort, part city in how it is set up. Location-wise, it is only a short hop away from the diverse and artsy hipster mecca of St. Petersburg, which makes for a great day trip.
Once known as “Zarazote,” today’s Sarasota began its life as a township back in 1902. Over the decades, Sarasota welcomed many wealthy, well-connected socialites who invested in land, developed the cultural community and whose presence can still be felt today.
Perhaps the area’s most famous investors, developers and landowners have been The Ringling Brothers, later to become well known for the circus by the same name.
After weathering some difficult economic times in the 70’s, Sarasota began to rebound in the 90’s and today the city boasts a wealth of culture, especially given its relatively small size.
Sarasota Weather and Climate
Sarasota, FL, boasts a tropical, temperate climate year-round. The average high is a balmy 81F and the average low is just 64F, with a historical range of 91F high and 51F low. The humidity index can be seasonally high because of the city’s coastal location.
Typically, July is the hottest month and January is the coldest month in Sarasota.
With a whopping 251 sunny days per year on average, Sarasota has the national average of 205 days beat by a mile.
Perhaps best of all for shivering northerners moving south, Sarasota posts zero snow days per year.
One thing to watch for is hurricane season, which begins in June and lasts until early November. This is a major contributor to the seasonal rainfall pattern, which is nearly double the rainfall (56 inches) compared to the national average (38 inches).
Sarasota can have extremely changeable weather during hurricane season, which means if you don’t like the current weather just wait about 10 minutes and it is likely to change again.
Winters on average are mild and pleasant, with a lot less rain and some chilly evening weather.
Sarasota is located along the western coastline of Florida and borders Sarasota Bay. The city proper includes nearly 26 miles divided fairly evenly between land (14 miles) and water (11 miles).
61 miles to the north is Tampa, which is a major airport hub for the state.
Closer in, you will find a lovely group of near-shore islands. The two most famous are Lido Key and Siesta Key, each of which have fabulous beaches.
Sarasota Relocation Tips
Relocating to Sarasota is relatively easy given that it sits in the crosshairs of four major airports and three major thruways.
However, competition for available housing means it is smart to plan ahead and start your real estate search early.
Sarasota’s small size hides a surprising diversity of neighborhoods that cater to the diverse populations who lives here. It can be helpful to visit in person to get a sense of this diversity and make an informed choice about your new community.
Singles and young professionals often enjoy living nearer Sarasota’s thriving downtown area. Retirees tend to gravitate towards surfside condos and beachfront or golf course properties. Young families look for neighborhoods near one of the 86 excellent public and private schools.
There is also a large Amish and Mennonite community that congregates at Pinecraft, a local cultural hub that attracts families from all walks of life on weekends.
Sarasota has high quality public transportation, including SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) and its connection to MCAT (Manatee County Area Transit).
There is also an Amtrak line you can access at Sarasota Station that takes you all the way into Tampa.
The major north-south highway is I-75, which connects you to Tampa to the north and Miami to the south. Another option is U.S. Route 301. East-west transportation is served by U.S. Route 41.
In addition to the international airport hub in Tampa, you can use the nearer Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
Moving and Shipping Costs
Your cost to move your belongings to Sarasota will depend on the size of your move, how quickly you need to coordinate your move and whether any items need special handling or insurance.
On average, expect to pay around $100 per hour to move locally (from within the state). Out of state movers may cost slightly more. If possible and if you have flexible dates, you may be able to add on a smaller move to fill up a larger truck and get a discount on your moving expenses.
Cost of Living in Sarasota FL
Sarasota, with its beach-side address and history of wealthy investors, developers and landowners, has a median home cost that ranges slightly above the national average. It is a smaller community with big city amenities and as such attracts people who are willing to pay a premium for housing and living in the area.
Overall, the cost of living in Sarasota sits nearly three percentage points above the national average.
The low unemployment rate, which historically hovers just above three percent, is another draw for newcomers to the area. At just around $1,100 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, rents are reasonable as well and sit below the national average.
The city’s ten-year job growth forecast also makes Sarasota an extremely desirable area for long-term residents who are still in the workforce now but are maintaining an eye towards where they want to live during retirement.
The state of Florida does not assess state income tax, making Florida one of the more affordable states in the nation to live.
At 7.0 percent, Sarasota also posts a lower sales tax than the 7.3 percent national average. This eases the sting of the higher overall cost of living somewhat.
Moving to Sarasota Alone
Sarasota’s award-winning downtown cultural center and thriving nightlife has attracted a sizable and growing singles population to the area.
One notable thing about living in Sarasota is that young professionals are not the only large singles group. Singles in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are also attracted to the area’s many amenities.
For singles seeking love, the city also offers a number of Sarasota-specific matchmaking, meetup and mingle groups and services.
Moving to Sarasota with Family
Sarasota is a healthy and balanced city in which to raise a family. It is easy to keep kids active and engaged in life with the plentiful array of beautiful beaches and natural areas to get out, explore, play and exercise.
The city hosts several local festivals each year, including a fun and fabulous holiday parade, a county fair, the Shark’s Tooth Festival in nearby Venice, FL, an annual jazz festival, the Sarasota Film Festival and much more. Family friendly activities abound, especially during the summer tourist season.
Sarasota also offers numerous indoor activities for busy families. Historical museums, science and learning centers, beautiful botanical gardens, the mega-playground Urfer Park, The Ringling world headquarters, pools and waterparks, fruit picking, wildlife preserves and so much more.
Is Sarasota the Right New Home for You?
Sarasota has a ton to recommend it for newcomers of all ages. Virtually every age group is amply represented and the range of activities can accommodate a wide variety of tastes year-round.
But perhaps the single biggest draw that continually pulls people towards Sarasota is simply its stunning natural beauty and proximity to some of the state’s most famous and picturesque beaches.
Apart from the seasonal tourist traffic, Sarasota has a largely peaceable, tranquil vibe that endears it to tourists and year-round residents alike. During the warmer summers you can enjoy the outdoors daily. In winters, you can still look forward to an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
If you fancy living in a place that also feels like you are always on a part-time vacation, you may find Sarasota, Fl, to be the perfect new home destination for you.