Sarasota Relocation Guide

Moving to Sarasota provides a high quality of life with top schools, urban amenities, world-class beaches and homes for all budgets.

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Introduction to Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota is a hidden gem on Florida’s southwest coast. Located south of Tampa and St. Pete and north of Naples and Fort Myers, Sarasota is a part of the Suncoast Region along the Gulf of Mexico.

The area is known for its pristine beaches and bright blue coastline, as well as being the heart of Florida’s arts and culture scene. The city and county of the same name are frequently named as top places to live and retire in the US due to the high quality of life here.

Thinking of relocating to Florida? Don’t forget to check out our Moving to Florida Checklist!

where is sarasota florida? map of the state with pin on sarasota south of tampa on the gulf coast
headshot of josh wilson realtor sharktooth realty real estate agent in venice and sarasota florida

Josh Wilson


License # SL3486473

Shark Tooth Realty

Let's Find Your Piece of Paradise

Ready to Live That Florida Life?

If you have any questions about real estate or homes for sale in Sarasota, feel free to reach out. As a licensed real estate agent with Shark Tooth Realty, I’m more than happy to do whatever I can to find you the perfect home in paradise.

Feel Free to Reach Out if You Have Any Questions!

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Relocation Guide for Moving to Sarasota

Jump to Any Topic in This Guide

Quality of Life

Find out why Sarasota tops so many lists of the best place to live

About Sarasota

Learn more about Sarasota's history and culture

City Data

Population, housing prices, demographics and more

Cost of Living

Compare the cost of living in Sarasota to Florida and the US

Climate & Weather

What's the weather like in Sarasota and general climate date

Things to Do

Discover all the fun things to do in Sarasota for those who live here


Major highways, interstates and airports in the area


Major hospitals in the Sarasota area, including some national ranking centers


Sarasota is home to one of the best school districts in Florida, and some of the top schools in the country!


Explore some of the most popular neighborhoods in Sarasota and check out what properties are for sale

Quality of Life in Sarasota

couple on the beach having fun

Sarasota frequently ranks as one of the top places to live in the United States and is one of the highest ranked cities in all of Florida. US World and News Report gives Sarasota an overall qualify of life score of 7.4. The city has also been ranked as one of the top places in the USA to retire.

As you can imagine, part of this is due to the lovely year-round weather and abundant outdoor activities available in the area. From amazing beaches, to world-class golf, and also fishing, boating, biking and more. There is also an abundance of shops and restaurants as well as a thriving cultural and arts scene.

Job Market and Schools

Sarasota has a sizable job market in the healthcare industry as well as tourism and other small businesses. Plus, with favorable taxes and some of the best schools in Florida, more and more companies are launching in the Sarasota area or moving here for the quality of life it provides employees and their families.

READ MORE: Living in Sarasota Pros & Cons

A Brief History of Sarasota, Florida

tipi, wigwam, native american

First Inhabitants

Some of the earliest inhabitants of the Florida Gulf Coast were Native tribes who lived, traveled, and fished in the Sarasota area. By the sixteenth century, European explorers such as Hernando de Soto, landed in various bays north and south of the city.


The sheltered bay around Sarasota eventually turned into some of the earliest settlements in the area consisting of Americans and Cubans who traded fish & marine life, such as turtles.

up close image of sea turtle swimming underwater diving deeper
sailing vessel, coast, sea

Zara Zote – Original Name

The Spanish named the area Zara Zote, which evolved into the name Sara Sota, and eventually Sarasota.


In 1840 Fort Armistead was established along the Sarasota Bay and soon after, pioneers moved in. Numerous families made their mark on Sarasota, including the Whitaker family and their cattle business, and A. B. Edwards who became the first mayor in 1914.

historic, log building, cabin
up close image of golf driver hitting a golf ball on a tee

The “Father of Sarasota” and Golf

In the 1880s a number of Scottish families settled in the Sarasota area. John Hamilton (J.H.) Gillespie assisted in clearing land for farms, roads, and established the first railroad service in the area. He is remembered as the “Father of Sarasota.” But J.H. Gillespie did more than just develop the land. The Scotsman is credited with introducing the game of golf to Florida in 1904.

The Circus and the Ringlings

Sarasota is known for its circus heritage. The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus moved the headquarters from Connecticut to Sarasota in 1927. The Ringlings were among the nation’s most elite and wealthiest families and they had a winter home in Sarasota.

John Ringling’s dream was to turn Sarasota into a luxury winter resort and developed the chic shopping and dining area of St. Armand’s circle. In fact, it was Ringling’s circus elephants that helped haul the timbers to create the John Ringling Causeway which connects downtown Sarasota town to St. Armand’s and Lido Key.

view of ringling mansion in sarasota from the water in sarasota florida

Sarasota City Data

Below are some of the basic city data for Sarasota as of late 2020. The population is a good mix of older retirees as well as young families. The city is moderately-sized, so you won’t have the crowds and traffic as you do in large cities such as Miami. 

view from the sky of siesta key and sarasota florida
  • Population – 58,285
  • Average Age – 44.7
  • Average Home Price – $330,000
  • Home Value Projections – 8.6% +
  • Homeowner rate is 57.5%
  • Average Household Income – $79,614
  • Poverty Rate of 17.11%
  • Median House value is $239,600
  • Crime Rate – 39 per 1000
  • Area & Density – 24 square miles 4,023 people per square mile

Major Employers

The healthcare industry is a major employer in the Sarasota area, as is tourism and hospitality. Boar’s Head is another large employer as well as the aviation industry. 

Demographics & Education

Sarasota is a well-educated city in Florida. Over 90% of the population has at least a High School education, while over 35% have achieved at least bachelor degrees. 

For additional demographic data about Sarasota, check out the US Census Bureau for the following:

  • Population
  • Demographics (age, etc.)
  • Housing
  • Family & living arrangements
  • Computer and internet use
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Income & poverty
  • Economy
  • Business
family, sunset, beach

Cost of Living in Sarasota

Overall the cost of living in Sarasota is slightly higher than the average of the US and on par with the average Florida cost of living. The cost increase in Sarasota is primarily due to housing, followed by groceries. However, utilities and transportation costs are lower in Sarasota than in the rest of Florida and the US.

100 = USA Average Cost of Living

102.8 = Florida Cost of Living

102.7 = Sarasota Cost of Living

  Median Home Cost$264,500$237,100$231,200


Climate and Weather in Sarasota

the top of a row of skinny palm trees on a sunny day in florida with bright blue sky and clouds behind them

Sarasota has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, and warm, dry winters. It has a distinct rainy season from June through September and a distinct dry season from October through May.

  • Rainfall – Average of 56 inches per year vs. 38 rest of USA
  • Sunny Days – Average of 251 vs. 205 for the US
  • Hottest Month – August high of 91 degrees & average low of 73
  • Coldest Month – January high 72 and 51 degrees low
  • There are 1-2 below-freezing days in Sarasota each year
  • Most Comfortable Months: November, March, April
  • Most Uncomfortable Months: July and August
  • Check out the current 10-day Sarasota Weather Forecast Here

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is technically June through October, with the most active months being August and September.

Things To Do in Sarasota

Activities & the Arts 

Sarasota is home to many things to do for both tourists and locals alike. The downtown area is where you’ll find many charming shops, sidewalk cafes, and wonderful restaurants. St. Armands across the causeway is a high-end area for shopping and dining.

Sarasota has a thriving arts and culture scene. The city is home to the Van Wezel Performance Hall which hosts renowned artists, the Sarasota Opera House, as well as numerous other theaters and entertainment venues.

Festivals & Events

  • Lights in Bloom holiday festival
  • Thunder By The Bay Music & Motorcycle Festival
  • Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival
  • Downtown Sarasota Crafts Festival
  • Sarasota Highland Games and Celtic Festival
  • A Taste of Sarasota food festival in conjunction with restaurants all around town.

View the calendar of Sarasota Events & Festivals here

beach, sand, ocean
St. Armands Circle looking up at a restaurant balcony with a perfect blue sky and palm trees
maria bayo, orchesta, singer

Recreation & the Outdoors in Sarasota

boats in a marina sarasota florida with tiki bar thatched roof behind on sunny blue sky day

Outdoor Fun Year-Round

Water sports are popular in Sarasota with the Gulf, bays, rivers and lakes in the area. From simply relaxing at the beaches to boating, fishing, kayaking and even diving offshore. You can frequently spot manatees and dolphins in the water and birdwatchers will be in heaven with all the variety of species that can be admired here.

There are numerous State Parks nearby, including Myakka State Park, if you enjoy camping and getting out in nature. If you enjoy biking, running, or roller-blading, then you’ll love the Legacy Trail, a paved path which stretches from Sarasota to Venice.

Sarasota has a wonderful parks program with events and activities year-round at the 100+ public parks in the area. Plus, popular theme parks such as Busch Gardens, Disney and Universal are only a short drive away. With so much to do, it’s impossible to be bored!



Beaches in Sarasota (and Nearby Area)

Sarasota is famous for its beaches. In fact, Siesta Key Beach is regularly voted as the #1 beach in the USA! However, there are many other beaches besides Siesta. Below is a short list of the major beaches in the area. 

  • Turtle Beach (on Siesta Key)
  • Crescent Beach (on Siesta Key)
  • Lido Beach (closest to downtown)
  • Longboat Key (various beaches)
  • Coquina & Bradenton Beach (north)
  • Nokomis Beach (south)
  • Venice Beach (south)
up close image of golf driver hitting a golf ball on a tee

50+ Golf Courses in the Sarasota Area

Sarasota is home to a number of challenging and iconic golf courses. There are many public courses around town, as well as private and semi-private country clubs and some outstanding golf-course communities. Below are just a few of the most popular golf courses in Sarasota:

Transportation in Sarasota

As a smaller city compared to Tampa, Miami or Orlando, Sarasota has less congestion and traffic overall. Sarasota lies west of Interstate 75, which is the only interstate in the area and goes north to Tampa and Georgia and south to Naples. The other major highway is 41 also known as Tamiami Trail – which goes north to Tampa and south to Naples and onto Miami. There is public bus transportation in Sarasota. However, most people rely on personal vehicles to get around.

airplane flying into sunset sky

Airports in / Near Sarasota

Sarasota has multiple airports nearby to choose from.

Sarasota International Airport (SRQ) – this is a fairly small airport but is growing and has carriers such as Delta, Air Canada, American Airlines, United, Jet Blue.

St. Pete – Clearwater Airport (PIE) – is growing with more options for leisure travelers recently.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) – 65 miles north of Sarasota and has even more airlines with more chances of a direct flight.

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) – 90 miles south of Sarasota in Fort Myers, recently this airport has really expanded with more flights and airlines.

Hospitals in Sarasota

Healthcare is a top industry in Sarasota. In fact, the city is nationally ranked with one of the top hospitals in the country. There are 3 major hospitals in the Sarasota area; however, Tampa and St. Petersburg just to the north offer additional options for quality medical care and specialized treatment.

front entrance sign to Sarasota Memorial Hospital in sarasota - one of the top hospitals in the area

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

One of the top hospitals in Florida and was also ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top 10 safest large hospitals in the US. It is the area's leading healthcare provider.

elderly, corridor, doctor

Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota

This 5-star rated hospital (one of only 5 in the State of Florida) by the CMS federal agency is a full-service and emergency care facility. It's a popular choice for locals due to shorter waiting times.

doctor, medical, medicine

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center

A convenient option that specializes in acute care.

A+ Schools in Sarasota

The Sarasota school system is known as being one of the top school systems in Florida. In fact, it’s one of only 2 school districts in Florida to have ALWAYS received an A-rating since ratings began back in 2004 and more than 60% of the teachers hold masters degrees or higher.

Elementary Schools
Middle Schools
High Schools
Combination Schools
Alternative School
Technical School
Charter Schools
Virtual School

Popular Neighborhoods in Sarasota

There are many wonderful neighborhoods around Sarasota perfect for every budget and type of family.

From charming and vibrant historic areas of downtown, award-winning master-planned communities such as Lakewood Ranch, affordable family-oriented neighborhoods, golf course communities, city high-rise condos, and luxurious waterfront estates.

We’ve broken down some of the most popular neighborhoods in Sarasota to live and relocate and what makes them so appealing.


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Click on the Map Below to Explore Sarasota’s Top Neighborhoods

Learn More About Popular Sarasota Neighborhoods Below

entrance sign to lakewood ranch development in sarasota bradenton florida

Lakewood Ranch

The #1 master-planned community in the US. Lakewood Ranch is like a city within itself. At over 50 square miles with multiple town centers, onsite shopping and dining, 4 golf courses, parks, 150 miles of trails, hotels and even a hospital.

entrance sign to palmer ranch neighborhood in sarasota florida

Palmer Ranch

This 10,000 acres master-planned community consists of more than 90 subdivisions. Palmer Ranch is great if you love outdoor recreation. The Legacy Trail goes right through the area, and Potter Park is a 37 acre park within the community that includes the local YMCA and has many activities.

home in the meadows community in sarasota is a great family and golf neighborhood centrally located

The Meadows

Centrally located in Sarasota and convenient to the interstate and downtown, The Meadows is a fantastic relaxed family neighborhood with a top rated golf course and country club with fantastic family-friendly amenities.

Entrance sign to The Landings neighborhood in sarasota florida

The Landings

Located between the 2 Siesta Key bridges along the bay, The Landings Racquet Club has some of the best tennis facilities in the area, as well as pickle ball, fitness facilities, and a pool and spa.

Arlington Park

One of the hottest urban up-and-coming locations just south of downtown and East of Tamiami trail. Within the neighborhood is the actual Arlington Park, a beloved city park with lap pool, basketball and tennis courts, indoor gym, and dog park.

Entrance sign to Laurel Park historical neighborhood in downtown sarasota florida

Laurel Park

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Sarasota, this historic area is walking distance to downtown cafes, shopping, arts and entertainment.

front view of house in golden gate estates sarasota on a sunny blue sky day

Gulf Gate Estates

Gulf Gate Estates offers an affordable location that's just a few minutes from the beaches of Siesta Key! Shopping, dining, and downtown Sarasota are also just minutes away.

historic remodeled craftsman house in gillespie park trendy sarasota neighborhood

Gillespie Park

This charming urban neighborhood located just northeast of downtown Sarasota has homes dating back to the 1920's, and even cottages that are on Sarasota's historic registry.

Entrance sign to Indian Beach Sapphire Shores historic neighborhood in sarasota florida

Indian Beach / Sapphire Shores

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Sarasota located north of downtown between Tamiami Trail and the along the Bay. A mix of beautiful historic and modern homes.

Skye Ranch

One of the newest lifestyle community developments. Amenities include a 25,000 square foot clubhouse, 2 full-sized indoor basketball courts, fitness center, cafe, social spaces, a resort-style swimming pool and even a rock-climbing wall!

Golden Gate Pointe

This 22-acre peninsula has some of the best waterviews in town. Be in the heart of Sarasota's art scene as well as shops, dining. Boating enthusiasts will love the close proximity to the marina and nearby yacht club.

Old Forest Lakes

Wome of the largest lots in Sarasota , Homes in this area are nestled among large oak trees and many have lake views. It's a serene area that has a quiet neighborhood feel, yet is conveniently located.

Rosemary District

The Rosemary District is a trendy neighborhood in Sarasota that's walking distance to downtown. This area has a number of newer condos and townhomes and some higher-rise buildings may have views of the bay!

Bent Tree Village

Bent Tree Village is known for having affordable housing options along a lovely natural Golf Course setting. With homes dating back to the 70's and has continued to develop with modern homes as well.

headshot of josh wilson realtor sharktooth realty real estate agent in venice and sarasota florida

Josh Wilson


License # SL3486473

Shark Tooth Realty

Let's Make Your Real Estate Dreams Come True in Sarasota!

Start Your Home Search Here

For Sale / All Types