When we were looking for places to live in Florida, Venice really checked off a lot of boxes for us. This is ultimately why we ended up moving to Venice. However, even though there are so many things that we love about living here, there are some negatives as well. As with any location, there are many pros and cons that each individual or family will have to weigh. And some of these things might be more important to some than others.
If you are considering a move to the Venice area, we’ve created this list of pros and cons from our own experience of living in Venice, Florida that we hope will help give you some clarity and make a decision that is best for you.
Pros to Living in Venice, Florida
Beautiful Weather & Sea Breezes
Those who are seeking sunshine, warm weather, and mild winters will enjoy living in Venice. Many people who want to escape harsh winters up in the north come down to Florida. However, Florida is a large state and some areas can still get pretty cold during the winter months (such as in the Florida panhandle). But the great thing about Venice is that it’s really below the frost line altogether. So while there are some long pants and sweater days in Venice during the winter, it’s overall not bad at all and you won’t have a freeze.
Also, keep in mind that summers can get brutally hot in Florida. This is especially true inland where the heat and humidity can be downright oppressive. The perk of being in Venice is that it’s on the coast, so you get a lovely breeze off the water that can help prevent the heat from being as bad as it would be inland.
Gulf Coast Beach Living
Beach life is something that many people dream about, and given that Venice is located on the Gulf Coast, residents enjoy some of the best of the beach lifestyle. And while the Atlantic Ocean tends to be more chilly, the Gulf of Mexico is quite warm during much of the year. Plus, the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico really make you feel like you are on a tropical island!
Best Access to Amazing Beaches With Less Crowds
Speaking of beaches, another perk to living in Venice is that there are so many beaches, more than five within just a few minutes of town! But not only that, those beaches are very easily accessible and have far less traffic and crowds than you will see at many other beaches around Florida.
This is not just because Venice is a small town, it’s because Venice is one of the few towns located directly on the Gulf without any barrier islands. While in some cities traffic must squeeze across narrow causeways or bridges to get to the barrier islands and beaches, Venice Beach is literally steps away from downtown!
(There’s even the South Venice Neighborhood which has its own beach with private ferry access!)
And lastly, because Venice is a smaller town and not so much a major tourist destination, many of the beaches are free of the insane crowds. Although major holidays can still be busy, most of the year you will find a minimal number of people on the beaches here and plenty of parking closeby.
This is a big difference from nearby Sarasota, where traffic can be backed up over the bridges to Siesta Key or Lido Key, and the parking lots are full of traffic and no spots available.
Honestly, while we LOVE Sarasota…the beach access in Venice is much much easier and more convenient! That’s really why we love it here.
The Only Dog Beach in the Area
On a related note to beaches, if you have a dog who loves the beach (like ours does), then Venice has the only off-leash dog beach in all of Sarasota County! This is a perk for us because we can drive to the dog beach from our house in just a couple minutes, versus having to travel long distances from elsewhere just to take our pup to play in the water. We regularly see people at the dog beach who drive down from Sarasota and other surrounding areas, so we feel really lucky to have it be so close to home!
Small Town Community Feel, but Close to Larger Cities
Venice is a small town by comparison, and it really feels like it! This is a town that has a true sense of community, and you can feel it quite easily even if you are popping in for a visit. Strolling the historic downtown Venice streets, you’ll see locals chit-chatting with each other, walking their dogs, and popping into the shops to grab some gifts or snacks.
The town regularly hosts events and festivals downtown and concerts in the local parks. This is a place where the high school has parades through the downtown and the weekly farmers market brings all the neighbors out to shop, stroll and chat.
But if you need a larger city to do some shopping or whatnot, then Sarasota is just a few minutes north. We actually enjoy the drive to Sarasota. They have some great malls up there (including an Apple Store and other major department stores). And if we ever really miss living in a big, urban city, then we head up to St. Petersburg (where we have friends) and is only barely one hour away from Venice.
READ MORE: Free Yoga on Venice Beach (even for beginners)
Charming Historic Town With a Ton of Local Events, Festivals and Activities
Venice has an interesting history. It was one of the first “master-planned” communities and has a unique Italian-inspired architecture in many of the historic parts of town. In fact, the original town plans are on the National Register of Historic Places!
The town has an active and close-knit community and hosts a variety of events and festivals year-round. From the weekly farmers markets, to the holiday boat parade on the water! There’s also annual art festivals, shark tooth festivals, Italian Festivals, Chalk Festivals, and so many more!
But you’ll also find a number of regular occurring events in downtown and the nearby area. For example, there is yoga daily on the beach (morning and night), as well as laughter yoga sessions weekly in the downtown park (yes, laughter yoga…it’s quite fun, I’ve done it!). Local groups also get together for things such as dog-training classes around downtown, wine tastings and there are regular dining and shopping events in downtown too.
For more information and to view a calendar of events, visit Venice Main Street here.
Affordable Homes Close to or on the Water!
When you look at homes in Florida that are on the water or quite close to the water, the prices can be shocking! There is a lot of luxury real estate around Florida, and that’s what people tend to think about. However, one of the things that initially drew us to the Venice area is the affordability of homes near or on the water.
Now, this is relative of course. Some people might find homes on the water here in Venice expensive. But when you compare them to other coastal towns in the State, the homes here are much cheaper than you will find elsewhere.
** READ MORE: Best Neighborhoods in Venice, Florida
Home Prices Vary Widely for All Budgets
Another positive aspect to searching for homes in Venice is that there is a wide range of options available for people with different budgets, including affordable options. Whether you are looking for homes in the mid 200’s or up into the millions, Venice will have something to suit your needs.
Not only can you find single-family homes, but there are a number of condos available around town for those who want less maintenance, or “villas” which are attached homes that offer the feel of a home without the added costs or maintenance. Whether you are looking for a place on the beach, near the beach, or out in one of the new resort-style neighborhoods with luxury amenities that make you feel pampered like you are on vacation, Venice has plenty of options available.
A+ Sarasota School District
For those moving to Venice with kids, then there’s no need to worry because all the schools in Venice are within the Sarasota County school district. This is an A+ school district (always has been) with some of the top schools in the state. In fact, Pine View School (between Venice and Sarasota) is well-known as one of the top in the country and people move here just to get their kids into that school!
Further, Venice High School is one of the best and most popular in the state for sports. A lot of kids who live in Sarasota and other areas will actually choose to attend Venice High School over others in the area for these reasons.
Sunsets Over the Gulf are the Best!
Being on the west coast of Florida, we get the amazing colorful sunsets over the Gulf. This is one of our favorite things about living here because on any given night we stop what we are doing and head over to one of the many beaches to sit in a chair, or go for a walk while enjoying the most amazing colors and relaxing sounds of the ocean at sunset. It truly is special!!!
If you enjoy boating, then you’ll love all the many places to go boating in and around Venice. From the ocean itself to the many different bays and Intracoastal Waterways connecting them. From sail boats, jet boats, fishing boats, jet skis, kayaks and paddle boards.
There are many areas around town where you can put in your boat and marinas to store them. There are also boat clubs you can join if you don’t want the hassle of actually buying and maintaining a boat. And then there are places where you can rent boats for just a few hours or a day — whether it’s a pontoon boat or just a kayak to go explore the bays. There are also a number of charters and boat tours you can take to go find dolphins, watch the manatees, or go for a sunset sail.
So Much Great Golf & Golf Course Communities
Josh grew up playing golf and it’s one of his favorite pastimes. As you can imagine, Florida is really a golfer’s paradise because they say it’s home to more courses than anywhere else. And even as a small town, it’s AMAZING the number of incredible golf courses there are around here. From a handful of public courses, to a number of semi-private and private golf and country clubs. We’ve been lucky to have played most of them, but there are still a few we’ve been anxiously waiting to play.
And if you really love golf and want to live that golf cart resort-lifestyle, then there is no shortage of incredible golf course communities in Venice to choose from. From The Venice Golf & Country Club, Sarasota National, the Plantation Golf & Country Club, Venetian Golf and River Club and many others! Beautiful homes, amenities and activities, and scenic yet challenging golf courses – if you are a golfer, Venice truly is a great place to live the golf lifestyle you might be dreaming about!
Safe, Laid Back and Quiet
If you are concerned about safety, then you’ll be happy to know that Venice is very safe town. Even within Sarasota County itself (which is quite safe overall) the town of Venice is laid back, quiet, and very safe for people of all ages including kids and families. We regularly walk our dog in the early mornings and late evenings around our neighborhood, actively chatting with our neighbors who are out and about too (and we don’t live in a gated community).
Overall, Venice is not a town that we are concerned about being out and about – even at night or if I’m by myself. Of course, this is the real world and things happen. So you do need to keep your wits about you and pay attention wherever you are. And there is some petty crime out there so be sure to lock your car doors and take care to secure things. But overall and especially compared to other major cities where we’ve lived, Venice is very much a safe place to live.
Fantastic Restaurants for a Small Town
We actually moved to Venice from a large city, and we’ve lived in large cities most of our lives. So we were a little bit concerned about food options in Venice. But because Venice is such a popular destination for snowbirds and other vacationers, there is an incredible amount of fine dining and amazing restaurants to choose from. Especially for a small town, even we were a bit surprised at all the great restaurants in Venice!
From the many delicious Italian restaurants in downtown (all of them are ridiculously good – I can’t even name a favorite over another) to the seafood restaurants overlooking the water. We really love Dockside, personally. There are also great romantic places for “date night” such as the Crows Nest or Fins, which is perched on the second floor above the famous Sharky’s on the Pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Honestly, there are SO many great restaurants around here that we made a massive blog post all about it and grouped them into sections based on your interests. This is a great resource to bookmark for the future too, as we plan to update it and add to it as we are always checking out new places!
Cons of Living in Venice, Florida
As with anywhere you live, nothing is perfect. These are always some things that get a bit annoying or could be improved. And some things are just a tradeoff that you come to accept in order to enjoy the positive things. Below are a list of some of the cons of living in Venice that we have discovered.
It Can Get Hot & Humid in the Summer
There’s no way around this, it’s Florida! But when you think about it, it gets hot everywhere in the summer! Even up in the north you can get temperatures well into the 90’s and higher! And even the humidity can get bad elsewhere too. The good thing is that Venice is on the coast, so it’s not as bad as inland Florida and we can get some lovely breezes to help knock down the heat and humidity.
Hurricanes Are a Real Possibility
Anywhere you live in Florida, you need to be prepared for hurricanes. This is especially true if you live on the coast, which is where Venice is located. Now I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes (10+) over the years (and I did not grow up in Florida). If you don’t live directly on the coast and it’s a small storm then you just need to be prepared for some wind and rain. You should not panic or worry too much.
However, if you do live on the water or if the storm is a big one then you definitely 100% should take the warnings seriously. Be prepared with emergency kits, hunker down, and evacuate if they tell you to.
Luckily, science and weather forecasting gives us a great heads up for dealing with hurricanes as opposed to other natural disasters.
Venice is Not a Big City, If That’s What You Prefer
If you prefer having a big city with access to more entertainment options, dining, bars, nightlife, museums and sports teams, then you could find Venice a little boring. It is a small town, not a big city. Luckily Sarasota is not too far away. For us, Sarasota has most of what we need but other people might still enjoy the benefits of living in a large urban area such as St. Pete or Tampa – especially if you are young.
Which brings me to my next point…
Younger People & Singles May Not Find as Many Options for “Going Out”
Venice is not only a small town, but it’s predominantly a retirement town. There are plenty of younger people and families who live here, but the median age is quite high (like 60+). So it’s not a young and vibrant city like you would find up in St. Petersburg or even Orlando where there are a ton of younger people moving for work.
This can make it challenging for those who are just out of college or even singles who are new to the area because there’s not a lot of nightlife and things to do when it comes to going out and meeting others. There are a few bars and restaurants with some nightlife, but very few. You can go to Sarasota and find a lot more options.
Affordability is Relative (and it’s Getting More Expensive)
In the pros section above we mentioned that Venice is a relatively affordable place to live in Florida, especially if you want to be near the water. However, the key word is relative. Because what’s cheap for some is not cheap for others. No, you are not going to find a single-family home here in the low 100’s. Nor will you find a beautiful home on the beach for $200,000.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Venice is more of a resort area and is considered more expensive than some of the other areas nearby town, including places such as North Port, Port Charlotte or Englewood. These towns will offer more even affordable options, if that’s what you are looking for. Also, remember that this whole area is continuing to grow and prices are continuing to rise. This is great for those who own homes and have equity, not so good if you are looking to buy-in.
Snowbird Season Changes the Town
Another thing to remember is that Venice is a major snowbird town! Snowbirds are those (mostly retirees) who flee the cold northern states in search of warm sunny weather during the winter. A lot of them rent homes or condos in Venice and the surrounding area and stay for months at a time. Others actually own second homes here in Venice and just come down for a few months out of the year.
This means that the town practically doubles in population during the winter months!
Beginning in October and peaking around the holidays or just after, the town is abuzz. There is a lot more traffic and congestion (and more accidents), restaurants and shops become real busy, and the beaches become a lot more full. Locals are not a big fan of snowbird season because it’s less enjoyable to be here. We count down until the snowbirds leave, and when we can have our quiet relaxed little town back again (and way less traffic).
Shops and Restaurants Close Early, on Sundays, and Certain Times of the Year
Being a smaller town, we have found that a number of shops and restaurants close pretty early…and are not open on Sunday! This can be a real inconvenience for us sometimes, and it’s a bummer when we want to go downtown on Sunday to wander around and discover many of the shops aren’t open. Again, a big difference from our lives in larger cities!
Another thing to remember is that due to snowbird season being in the winter, a lot of establishments will have limited hours during the off-season (when the snowbirds are not in town) and may even close down for weeks or months on end! Yeah – we know many places down here who close for vacation during the summer and others with signs on the window in July saying they will “see you in October” as they have all gone too!
There Are Only 3 Draw-bridges On and Off the Island
Venice Island really is an island! It was carved out years ago when they built the Intracoastal Waterway system. However, this means that there are only 3 bridges on and off the island…and they are drawbridges because of the boats that go by! This means that there can be congestion when the draw bridge is up as traffic backs up waiting for the boat to go by. This can be a pain, especially if you are in a hurry to get somewhere (as is usually the case when you get caught by the drawbridge!).
Less Dining Options Than a City, Especially Quick Service
Even though we mentioned that we’ve been quite surprised at the number of fine dining and higher-end restaurants, I will say that we often get bummed when it comes to finding great quick service or faster forms of food. We really don’t eat much of any fast food (even though there aren’t many of these either), sometimes we just don’t feel up to going to a nice, expensive restaurant. We just want something a little quicker, cheaper…but not gross and greasy.
This has been probably one of our biggest challenges here, and where we miss the variety of a bigger city most. Luckily, this is improving as there are a few new restaurants going in around town that will help give us more options. But still, this might be our biggest gripe.
You’ll Need to Drive to a Major Airport
Even though Venice does have an airport, it’s more of a small municipal airport that is made up of a flight school for enthusiasts and private jets. So if you are flying commercial airlines you’ll need to travel elsewhere. The other challenge is that the nearest airport in Sarasota is still fairly small and doesn’t offer a ton of options or all airlines. And it’s not really a large international airport if you are going far.
Luckily, there are many airports within an hour or so of Venice that you can choose from. Whether it’s Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, or even Tampa and St. Petersburg airports. Tampa and St. Pete will have the largest selection of flights, including international options. But you’ll need to drive a bit further to get there. Depending on how much you fly, this could be an inconvenience.
Is Venice Florida a Good Place to Live?
At the end of the day, every individual and every family is different. Everyone will have different needs, wants and priorities. And YOUR pros and cons list might look different from ours. Perhaps you don’t care about having such easy access to beaches, or maybe you really must be closer to the airports!
Still for us, overall when we look at this pros and cons list of living in Venice, we really feel that Venice is a great place to live. There are some cons that we have learned to deal with because the pros outweigh the cons for us. We really love the small-town feel in Venice with the local community vibe, but we also have just a short drive to Sarasota if we are wanting more big-city shopping and restaurants.
We also prefer having amazing access to so many gorgeous beaches and a more affordable lifestyle on the Gulf of Mexico that we might not be able to afford elsewhere. And even though it is a small town, we love that if feels super safe and quiet compared to other big cities that we’ve lived in before.
So for us, Venice is totally worth it and we love living here! And we know so many others who feel the same.
Thinking of Moving to Venice? Our Team is Here to Help Make it Easy!
If you are considering a move to Venice and looking for properties for sale, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our knowledgeable and friendly team is here to help. Josh is a licensed real estate agent here in Venice with Shark Tooth Realty and I (Liz) am here to help you navigate the different neighborhoods and provide you with a wealth of information to help you get settled and kick off your dream lifestyle here in paradise.
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