Retiring in Cape Coral Florida

If you’re thinking of retiring in Cape Coral there are things you should know that the Chamber of Commerce and your real estate agent may not mention. That doesn’t mean retiring in Cape Coral is a bad idea, for many it’s paradise, but for others, it’s not.

When most people think of Southwest Florida, they think of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, or Naples. However, just across the bridge from Fort Myers is the peaceful community of Cape Coral, which is an ideal retirement destination for many baby boomers. Cape Coral is a top destination for anything water-related, with over 400 miles of canals and an especially impressive number of outstanding golf courses.

The Good

There are lots of reasons to retire in Florida and particularly retiring in Cape Coral. The cost of living is low and there is no state income tax. Homes are inexpensive and there are plenty of things to do and places to go that are geared towards seniors, including the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Excellent medical care is available at the Lee County VA Medical Center and Lee Memorial. But what clinches it for many retirees is how much fun they can have, especially if they enjoy the water.

The Water

Cape Coral has 400 miles of navigable waterways which is more than any other city, not just in the U.S., but in the world. Most of these waterways are canals. Many of which lead to the Gulf of Mexico, or, if you have the time, through Lake Okeechobee and out into the Atlantic on the east side of Florida. It’s common for retirees to buy a reasonably priced house on a salt water canal. Imagine sitting in your backyard fishing and catching game fish like snook or excellent eating fish like mangrove snapper and sheepshead.

However there are some facts you should be aware of. Retiring in Cape Coral doesn’t mean you’re going to live on a cape, nor is there any coral. You won’t be surrounded with crystal clear water like they have in Hawaii or the Keys. There are things you should check before settling in on any canal. Some of the canals aren’t salt water and they lead nowhere. Some are salt, but you have to putter along for a long time before you can go on plane or put up your sails. In parts of many canals a sail boat will never reach open water because they’d have to go under a bridge that’s too low for the mast. Getting out of your canal may mean going through a lock, or passing over water that is so silted in it’s too shallow on some tides. The best thing to do before signing a contract is to make the trip from your prospective home by boat. Doing so may save you a lot of frustration.

Many so called saltwater canals are connected to the Caloosahatchee. It’s a tidal river, and on some government documents, a drainage ditch. Sometimes runoff and heavy releases from Lake Okeechobee turn it into a polluted fresh water river. A lot of people are trying to change this, but so far with little success.

The Bad

It gets hot and humid in summer. The average high for the four hottest months is 92 degrees. That may not sound so bad, but the humidity makes it feel much worse. For a few residents a fan is enough. For others the air conditioning will be on day and night. Factor that into your budget. It gets bad enough that twenty percent of the Cape’s residents leave during the hot months.

Public transportation is limited, but at least it’s cheap. One trip on LeeTran will cost you $0.75. Seniors get a 12 trip pass for $6.50 and a 31 day pass for $23.00.

You may be surprised by the lack of sidewalks. If it’s upscale infrastructure you want, check out Venice or the barrier Islands like Sanibel. Also some newcomers wonder why there are so few fenced yards and so many pool cages. The screened in pools make them fear bugs and mosquitoes, but those aren’t really a problem. Mosquito control does a good job.

Hurricanes are something else you need to be aware of, as well as how it effects your insurance. It’s possible that in the future a home on low ground will be impossible to insure or exorbitantly expensive. Buying or building a raised home may cost a little more now, but save a lot later.

From July 1, 2018 thru July 1, 2019, Cape Coral was the sixth fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. The population increased 2.7% during that time, and reached a total of 679,513. Clearly a lot of people like living in “The Cape”. Still everywhere has its positives and negatives. Most seniors retiring in Cape Coral are happy with their choice, but it’s not for everyone.

Update: 6/8/2021
Today rated Cape Coral as the 8th best place to retire in the U.S. Among other things they mentioned that the crime rate is well below the National average.

Update 8/29/2021
WalletHub has put out their new list of the best and worst cities to retire in. Cape Coral was the fourth best. CBS News reported on the list and we’re happy to say they provided their readers with a link to this article.

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