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It’s no wonder that Fort Myers, with its plentiful outdoor activities, beautiful views and tropical temperatures, developed largely as a resort city for wealthy snowbirds. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford summered here! Living in Fort Myers will put you close to both river recreation and ocean enjoyment. Not bad, huh?
Downtown Fort Myers straddles the Caloosahatchee River. This area, like many metropolitan areas has undergone a series of large-scale urban renewal projects to draw in urban residents. In addition to the shopping, restaurants and nightlife recently installed in the historic downtown, the waterfront area provides even more outdoor recreation with walks and parks along the scenic river.
You can’t talk about Fort Myers without talking about the weather. You’ll pay for your pleasantly warm and mild winters with extremely hot and humid summers, when afternoon thunderstorms happen almost daily. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about hurricane season.
Fort Myers is a decently large city, and the metropolitan area is even larger. With a large population and dense urban area, come higher crime rates. But, the dangerous areas in Fort Myers are well defined and pretty easy to avoid.
Let’s start downtown. As previously mentioned, there’s been a lot of redevelopment in the downtown area, and you can find a lot of great apartments and condos here. The downtown Fort Myers and Tamiami Trail area is also where you’ll find the best nightlife and restaurants in town (try the Wisteria Tea Room for a sublime afternoon experience). A little market even opened up here, so you’ll be able to go grocery shopping. However, downtown Fort Myers is surrounded by areas that are generally not well regarded. If you’re dead set on living a downtown lifestyle, stay in new construction, particularly on and around First Street, and avoid the less developed areas surrounding your apartment. Two bedrooms here generally range from $1000-1150.
North & South
So, you don’t want to live downtown. I hear you! The hustle and bustle and the proximity to some shady areas is not for you. And generally, you’ll get more bang for your buck away from the waterfront.
Now, let’s talk about north versus south. Not only are north and south Fort Myers characteristically different from each other, they are also separated by the broad expanse of the Caloosahatchee River. In general, North Fort Myers, the area across the river from downtown, is not as well-regarded overall as the rest of the city. However, you can find some safe and desirable neighborhoods in the north, you’ll just have to look harder. Two bedrooms here generally range from $600-750.
Fort Myers, south of the Tamiami Trail, also has some mixed reviews in terms of neighborhoods. Outside of downtown, the most desirable neighborhoods tend to be on the southwest waterfront area, particularly anything south of Colonial Boulevard, in the McGregor and Whiskey Creek neighborhoods. Two bedrooms here generally range from $800-950.
Avoid the areas north of Colonial Boulevard and west of Interstate 75 as much as possible, as these areas are considered some of the more dangerous parts of town. However, just east of Interstate 75 there are some great and safe neighborhoods with rentals. The far southeast portions of Fort Myers have a lot in the way of new development, which means better-maintained rentals. Two bedrooms here generally go for $750-900.
Even though Fort Myers developed as a winter retreat, the installation of industry has given it a homey, residential feel. That means there are plenty of rentals available for long-term or future long-term residents.
However, just to be safe, try to start your apartment search in the off-season, during the late spring and early summer. During this time, the dearth of vacation renters drives prices down, and there will be more options available, particularly if you’re looking for waterfront property.
Flexible lease options are pretty common in the city, but many management companies will give you move-in specials and lower rental rates if you commit for the long-term. Background check and credit fees generally range from $25-50.
The rush hour commute in Fort Myers will be a big part of your new southeast Florida lifestyle. Because Fort Myers is so close to other metropolitan areas, there will be a lot of traffic in and out of downtown. Additionally, traffic over the bridges into North Fort Myers and Cape Coral can be a major headache. Most Fort Myers residents recommend living on the same side of the river as your employer, but if this is impossible, allow extra time for traveling, particularly from 6:30 to 9:00 in the morning and 4:30 to 7:00 in the evening.
LeeTran operates several fixed route bus lines and a beach trolley throughout Fort Myers and surrounding Lee County towns. Buses operate from 5:00 in the morning to 10:00 in the evening, with reduced service on weekends and holidays.
The Boston Red Sox make their Spring Home in Fort Meyers. This is a blessing for Sawx fans, and for local business. For traffic, accessibility, and general calm, not so much.