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Moving To Sarasota

Derived from the Spanish term for “a place for dancing,” and the home of the former world-renowned, Ringling Brothers, Sarasota is an apt name for this Florida Gulf Coast city just south of the Tampa Bay area. With a lively arts scene, gorgeous white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, a growing metropolis-like business center, a nationally ranked college-preparatory school system, and affordable taxes (no estate, inheritance, or income tax), Sarasota, Florida is surely a relocation destination for all. If you’re currently residing in Florida, and considering a move to Sarasota, or if you’re a resident of another state, want to invest, or come to rest and retire here, read on to learn what Sarasota can offer you!


U.S. News
Beautiful beaches, warm weather, and enviable recreational and cultural amenities earn Sarasota a spot on “best of” lists almost every year. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report honored the city as the best place to live in the U.S. for retirees, naming superb restaurants and shopping among its many attractions. And Sarasota appeals to plenty of other age groups, to be sure. The city came in second only to Naples as the best place to live for all ages in the Sunshine State.

People are paying attention: Based on PODS Moving and Storage customer moves for 2020, Sarasota had the highest growth rate in Florida and the fifth-highest growth in the U.S.


While the entire Gulf Coast is abundant with award-winning beaches, Sarasota’s 35-mile stretch of sand and surf boasts some particularly stunning gems. Six keys (barrier islands) hug the coastline, all with gleaming-white, sugar-soft sand and glorious sunsets, but each with its own distinctive vibe. And like many Florida beach towns, Sarasota’s keys quiet down quite a bit in late spring when the snowbirds head north for the summer.

Here’s a look at a few faves:

Lido KeyLido Key: Easily accessible from downtown Sarasota, Lido Key offers three main beach areas. North Lido Beach is somewhat secluded, with limited parking and no amenities. Lido Beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals looking for a relaxed but lively setting, with restrooms, concessions, and a public pool. And at the tip of Lido Key, South Lido Park offers views of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico, plus a picnic area and a nature trail.

Longboat KeyLongboat Key: This 12-mile island features resorts, beach cottages, and seaside hotels, plus established residential areas with lovely homes alongside the intracoastal canals that lead out to the open Gulf. A quaint downtown district bustles with restaurants, shops, and beach bars.

Siesta Key: Two bridges from the mainland lead to 8-mile-long Siesta Key, where you’ll find a bustling area of shops and cafes in the village area, and three beautiful beaches consistently rated as among the best in the U.S. and the world. Siesta Beach has a park and tennis courts, along with a playground for the kids. At Crescent Beach, adventurers enjoy climbing along with the Point of Rocks surrounding the tidal pools and coral reefs. And at Turtle Beach, boat docks and picnic areas make it a family favorite.

Casey Key: Tucked between Sarasota and Venice, Casey Key is a narrow island that’s home to Sarasota County’s oldest public beach, Nokomis Beach, and the area’s most coveted real estate. The exclusive island is home to many celebs. Head to the North Jetty Beach Park for bird watching, fishing, hiking, and picnic spots — and stay for a spectacular sunset from your perch on paved rocks stretching out into the gulf.

Siesta KeyManasota Key: This 11-mile barrier island is the very definition of a hidden gem. Four beaches attract visitors with lush mangroves and dunes. Go for a hike along the trails of Stump Pass Beach, a state park. At Englewood Beach, picnicking and beach volleyball are among the main attractions.


Preparatory SchoolsServing more than 43,000 students, Sarasota County Schools consistently earn high ratings, coming in at a respectable seventh-place among districts in the state according to SchoolDigger. Several individual schools have earned a 10 out of 10 reviews from GreatSchools and impressive marks from the prestigious “US News and World Report Best Schools in America.”
Here are a few Sarasota standouts:

  • Pine View High School is ranked by US News as second-best overall in Florida, No. 24 in America, and No. 1 in Sarasota County.

  • Sarasota Middle School, with 1,200 students, takes top marks in the county from SchoolDigger, thanks to consistent placement in the highest achievement bracket — the upper 10% of middle schools.

  • Southside Elementary School and Bay Haven Elementary are the two historic schools built during Sarasota’s earliest days — and they’re both still kicking. Today Bay Haven is called Bay Haven School of Basics Plus, and it’s recognized as a National School of Merit and an “A” school by the Florida Department of Education. At Southside, the Panthers’ motto is “to learn, to dream, to laugh, to love every child every day — whatever it takes!”


Sarasota Culture & SportsBesides the spectacular weather, one reason so many people are making their way to Sarasota is its vibrant arts scene. From the elegance of the Sarasota Opera House, the Sarasota Ballet, and the Asolo Repertory Theatre to Sarasota Contemporary Dance, the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, the Circus Arts Conservatory, and the world-renowned Sarasota Film Festival — to name a few! — creativity thrives here.

And it’s not just about highbrow events. One of the most intriguing neighborhoods in Sarasota is the Towles Court Artist Colony, a downtown district of bungalows on brick-lined streets, founded in the ‘90s as a live-work haven for artists. Today the colony is vibrant with galleries and studios, salons, cafes, art therapists, teachers, and more. Visitors are welcome, but the best time for newbies to check out the neighborhood is during art walks on the third Friday of every month, from 5 to 9 p.m.


Ringling BrothersThe Ringling name is synonymous with Sarasota. For starters, the Ringling College of Art and Design, opened in 1931, earns the highest accolades, with a renowned program in animation complementing its art and liberal arts curriculum. The school was founded by John Ringling, who, with his four brothers, started the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

On their annual trips to Europe to scout circus acts, John and his wife Mable toured art houses and built a tremendous collection of baroque masterpieces now on display at The Ringling, the State Art Museum of Florida.

Adjacent to the museum, Ca’ d’Zan, the couple’s five-story, 41-room Venetian Gothic manor, presides over Sarasota Bay. The name means “House of John” in Venetian dialect, but the home might have more suitably been named after Mable, who was obsessed with all things Italian and wanted her Florida manse to reflect the beauty she’d witnessed on many trips to Italy. Completed in 1926, the home cost $1.65 million, which included a $35,000 Napoleon-style bedroom suite.

MuseumThe home eventually fell into disrepair but was renovated beginning in 2002. The $15 million facelifts restored the opulent beauty of the home, now open for tours and special events as part of the Ringling Museum.


When the temperature and humidity reach higher levels in the summer months, locals look for less weather-dependent activities. Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorite attractions:

  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

  • Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

  • St. Armands Circle

  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens

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