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Old 06-07-2011, 03:00 PM
 
2 posts, read 13,436 times
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My husband and I are looking to move to Fl within the next 18 months from the Chicago area. We have visited several places within Florida and have narrowed it down to the following areas: Lake Mary, Sarasota, the new Tampa area, and Jupiter/West Palm Beach area. We love family friendly areas, good schools (they don't have to be "THE BEST" schools, however safe and solid education). We also look for fun family entertainment, such as parks, community pools, main streets where there is shopping, restaurants etc. My husband is in the finance industry (has worked in financial advising and is currently in commodities). I am a RN who is currently a stay at home mom. We have a 2 1/2 year old and another child due this fall. We are currently ranking Jupiter #1 on our list but would love some feedback and comparisons with the other areas. We know there are good things and bad about all towns and we would love to hear about them from residents.
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Old 06-07-2011, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Palm Beach County
1,683 posts, read 3,676,555 times
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Were from Milwaukee and really enjoy living in Jupiter. The Abacoa area seems like a great fit for your situation.
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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I live in Sarasota and that also fits your needs. Any of these places can be a nice place to live, you need to visit and see hat suits you personally.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:04 PM
 
2 posts, read 13,436 times
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Can anyone give more specifics to the pros and cons of these areas? As I have stated before, we have visited these places, but until you have lived there or have spent a great amount of time there, you might be missing many things. We would like to purchase a 4 bedroom single family home for under $300,000 in a nice, clean area. We could push the price up a little more if we found the perfect home, but would prefer to keep it under 300k. Any suggestions on this budget? Abacoa looks great, however from what I have seen it looks to be a little out of the price range. Any ideas on Wellington?
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Palm Island and North Port
7,486 posts, read 19,871,694 times
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I'm a Sarasota FL native and have raised my three girls in Sarasota county so I think I can give a a little background on Sarasota county.

Siesta Key Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with it's power white sand, which is nearly 100% quartz. I know some people would disagree but I'd much rather have powder white sand in the winter than powder white snow. No matter where you are in Florida you're never more than 2 hours or so from the beach. It was just ranked America's best beach by Dr. Beach.

(http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Dr-Beach-Names-Siesta-Key-prnews-3044792932.html?x=0&.v=1 - broken link)I love all the sunshine, warmth and bright sunny days. You know that the local paper used to give out free papers if the sun didn't shine. They didn't have to give out too many.

Florida is full of tropical foliage and is a great place for gardeners, year round. People can also enjoy outdoor sports all year long-hiking, biking, walking, kayaking, golfing, etc We have the huge Legacy Trail for walking and biking.

In southern Sarasota county there's Warm Mineral Springs and Little Salt Spring. Warm Mineral Springs is one of the oldest tourist attractions in FL and people come from all over the world to visit.

This area has a wonderful art community with Towles Court Artist Colony, the many art galleries around, every town has a local art center, there are art festivals going on almost weekly, Ringling School of Art & Design and many resources for artists.

For all you sports enthusiast Sarasota has Ed Smith Stadium: Ed Smith Stadium - Baltimore Orioles Spring Training and Charlotte Sports Park: Charlotte Sports Park - Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training

There are many cultural activities, festivals and music events in the area. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theater, The Sarasota Opera, Concerts, Ringling Museum (which I believe is free on Monday's), Golden Apple Dinner Theater, Circus Sarasota, Sarasota Ballet are some of the many venues and events. Siesta Key and Nokomis Beach both have drum circles on various nights in the evening. Sarasota county has free summer concerts in the park.

Punta Gorda has the Florida Airshow where the Blue Angles fly. The Hibiscus Festival, The Redfish Fish Tournament many craft shows. Every city has their own farmer's market.

Punta Gorda Farmers Market: http://www.puntagordashopping.com/farmersmarket.html
Sarasota Farmers Market: http://www.sarasotafarmersmarket.org/
Siesta Key Farmers Market: http://www.siestafarmersmarket.com/
Venice Farmers Market: http://venicefloridafarmersmarket.com/

Boca Grande has the world's richest Tarpon Tournament every year. With so much water everywhere there are tons of activities related. There are lots of fishing guides, kayak tours, etc

Here are some of the many festivals in the area:
JAN Southwest Florida Heritage Festival
JAN Sullivan Street Craft Festival
JAN Sarasota Native American Festival
JAN Manatee County Fair
JAN-FEB Sarasota Jazz Festival
FEB Kids Art Festival at Woodmere Park, Venice
FEB Annual Sarasota Festival of the Arts
FEB Annual Wine & Jazz Festival in Punta Gorda
FEB Bradenton Beer Festival
MAR Sarasota Fair
MAR Sarasota Folk Festival in Osprey
MAR Sarasota Shamrock Festival
MAR Peace River Celtic Festival
MAR Spring Fine Arts Festival in Englewood
MAR Peace River Seafood Festival and Redfish Tournament
MAR Englewood Music Festival
MAR Englewood Fine Arts Festival
MAR Manatee Heritage Days
MAR Florida International Air Show
MAR & DEC Anna Maria Islands Art League Winterfest & Springfest
APR Sarasota Film Festival (http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com/2010/ - broken link)
APR Annual Siesta Fiesta
APR Charlotte Harbor Kayak & Wildlife Festival
APR Venice Shark Tooth Festival
APR Charlotte County Nautical Flea Market and Seafood Festival
APR DeSoto Heritage Festival Seafood Fest in Bradenton
APR Florida Heritage Festival and Riverfest in Bradenton
APR The Kayak and Outdoor Festival
APR-MAY Sarasota Wine Festival
MAY Giving Hunger the Blues in Southside Village
JUNE International Theater Festival In Venice
JUNE Hibiscus Festival In Punta Gorda
JUNE Boca Grande Tarpon Tournament
JUNE-JULY Sarasota Offshore Grand Prix
JULY Fourth of July Freedom Swim in Festival in Punta Gorda
JULY Wildlife Awareness Festival
SEPT Englewood Pioneer Days
OCT Sarasota Blues Festival
OCT Sarasota Chalk Festival
OCT Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival
NOV Sarasota Medieval Fair
NOV Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival
NOV Festival Of Trees in Punta Gorda
NOV Family Music Fest in Osprey
Annual St. Armand's Art Festival Something nearly every month

There are many other festivals and fairs just a short drive away.

Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey has canoing, camping, hiking, birding, swimming. Myakkahatchee State Park in North Port has trails where you can bring your horses, you can hike along the trails. Myakka River State Park in Sarasota has tons of great FL wildlife, the Myakka Canopy Walk, which is a bridge that is suspended 25 feet off the ground. It extends 85 feet through the canopy and Myakka also has 38 miles of hiking trails. Manatee County has Little Manatee River State Park which runs right along the river. It has camping, hiking, canoing, etc. Don Pedro State Park you can only get to by boat and is like a private beach. I happened to have the great pleasure of living right beside it as a kid. Venice has Brohard Park (http://www.venicegov.com/Park_links/brohard.htm - broken link), one of the only dog friendly beaches around. Venice is also home to Woodmere Park a 36 acre park where you can let your pooch run and play under the big oak trees. These areas are a haven for photographers, bird watching and outdoor enthusiasts. Sarasota county has more than 200 parks, 109 athletic fields and 16 recreation and community centers.

Sarasota Parks: Parks and Recreation
Manatee County Parks: Manatee County Parks and Recreation - Manatee Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte County Parks: Community Services

Also for all the photographers and gardens, Selby Gardens is a must see. It has over 20,000 plants and displays and was named one of America's Top Ten Botanical Gardens.

The Sarasota area is also very kid friendly. We have GWIZ a science museum that caters to kids. The Children's Garden, a whimsical outdoor play area for children. Then there's Jungle Gardens, which is one of the oldest attractions in FL and has flamingo feeding, bird shows, alligators and many other various animals. Spanish Point is a historical site where they have Indian mounds, early pioneer homes and a lots of summer activities for kids. There are YMCA's in every city from Bradenton to Port Charlotte. Sarasota has Mote Marine Aquarium, which gives a wonderful look at the native sea life. They also to a great job with rehabilitating injured animals and returning them back to the gulf. Bradenton has the South FL Museum, Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Aquarium. Stop by and say "hi" to SW FL's very own manatee, Snooty. The Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota is a wonderful place to visit and see the amazing job Rosaire's do with the animals.

Many restaurants offer waterfront dining all the way down the coast. Speaking of restaurants, this area has lots and lots of wonderful, restaurants for any taste. Many mom and pop restaurants. You could spend a whole day out on St Armand's Circle shopping, browsing and stopping in at Kilwin's for some great ice cream. St Armand's has more than 130 shops, restaurants and galleries.

Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in the area:
Pho Cali
Euphemia Haye
Ophelia's on the Bay
Capt Brian's
Two Senoritas
Columbia
Crab & Fin
Yoder's
Casey Key Fish House
Bijou Café
Joto's Japanese Steakhouse
Blasé Café
Pacific Rim
Mar Vista
Sign of the Mermaid
El Toro Bravo
Lazy Lobster
Ceviche
Mattison's

And I have to add Sweet Tomatoes (for the kids) and Ophelia's (http://local.yahoo.com/info-14608433-ophelia-s-pasta-house-nokomis - broken link) (special doggie dining on the porch).

Downtown Sarasota is another all day event with the many eclectic shops and quaint restaurants. There are also some great consignment & antique shops if you make your way downtown. If you're looking to snag a bargain you can try the Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton, The Sun Flea Market in Port Charlotte or The Dome in Englewood.

Sarasota and Charlotte counties have some of the best schools in the state and also have Pine View School for the gifted, which is one of the top in the nation.

In closing, I think Sarasota county is an excellent place to live and rise your kids
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:52 PM
 
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I grew up in Jupiter and live in Tampa now.

I didn't realize growing up in Jupiter how lucky I was...it was really an innocent place to be raised. That's changed now, as it's gotten bigger. When I was a kid, it was mostly dirt roads and had maybe 2-3 stoplights in the whole area. That said, it's an excellent place to raise a family, IMO.

OTOH, if you live in the right area, so is Tampa, and it affords you all the benefits of a large city that Jupiter is an hour and a half away from. I'm raising a family in Tampa right now and I'm very happy with it.

I don't think you can go wrong in either place. Small town vs. big city.

I will say this...Jupiter can be very insular.
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Old 06-11-2011, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Palm Beach County
1,683 posts, read 3,676,555 times
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Wellington would afford you a lot more home in your price range.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:51 PM
 
Location: Foley AL
29 posts, read 49,551 times
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Forget Tampa, I have lived in Clearwater just west of Tampa. Live in Sarasota. Much better than Tampa. Like to go to Tampa for business, but would not want to live there.

You didn't mention jobs. Our unemployment is pretty high here. If you have your own business that is the way to go here. This area is still reeling from the real estate downturn, as a big chunk of our economy depended on that.
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Old 06-17-2011, 11:49 PM
 
Location: Groveland, Florida
126 posts, read 614,205 times
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Lake Mary has a close proximity to Orlando and all it has to offer, which includes but is not limited to: the theme parks (Disney's many parks and water parks, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Seaworld, Aquatica, Wet n Wild, Gatorland Zoo), International Drive, all the downtown clubs, the malls. Very nice and suburban. Very safe. More of an old south look, live oak trees draped in Spanish moss etc. Lots of lakes in the area as with most of central Florida. Close proximity to Florida's crystal clear springs, which are basically natural swimming pools. Close to Daytona & Cocoa Beaches.

Sarasota has an older population, but is very classy, nice and upscale, and pretty safe. More of a tropical climate than the other cities. Very artsy. Very well manicured, beautiful landscaping. The Sarasota area has what I would consider the best beaches in the state (and country) with crystal clear aquamarine water and powder white sand. One of the area's beaches, Siesta Key, was again voted the #1 beach in America this year. Sarasota is close enough to Tampa/St Pete to get the city fix on the weekend. Sarasota's downtown area is on the water and is fascinating and beautiful.

Tampa is a great. People here tend to be friendlier, more down home and "country". Can be pretty redneck. Despite the waterfront location, Tampa is not beachy. No tiki huts or the like. That's Clearwater & St Pete. Lots of entertainment here, not as much as Orlando, but a more well rounded selection. Sports fans will love this city; pro hockey, pro football, pro baseball. Busch Gardens is an awesome theme park and zoo. Adventure Island is a decent water park. There's also the Florida Aquarium and Lowry Park Zoo. Lots of big names play concerts in Tampa. The area has a good mix of bars and clubs. Clearwater Beach is close and always draws a big crowd and is always entertaining. St Pete Beach is less rowdy, but just as nice.

Jupiter - Very nice and safe. Surrounded by nice, safe towns. Beautiful Atlantic beaches. Not as nice as the gulf though, IMO. The sand will burn your feet on the hottest days. More of a tropical climate like Sarasota that FL is known for. West Palm Beach is about 15 miles alway, which is not one of Florida's best cities. Some people consider it unsafe, but it can be nice. Not as much for kids there as Tampa or Sarasota either. I believe this area would be one of the 2 most expensive, but I could be wrong. Fort Lauderdale, which is much more entertaining than West Palm Beach is about 60 miles away. Miami is about 90.

Being a nurse, you will find work all over Florida. Tampa has the most medical centers of the places you've listed, as it's the biggest city. Orlando has a lot too. Finding a job might be a tad more difficult in Jupiter, Lake Mary, and Sarasota. Living in Jupiter I'd expect a commute to West Palm Beach, Lake Mary would most definitely be an Orlando commute, and a commute from Sarasota to St Pete, while doable, would be a pain, and from Sarasota to Tampa, I'd forget about it.

For more information on all schools in Florida; follow this link: Florida Schools - Florida State School Ratings - Public and Private
You'll find a lot of info about students/teachers etc. All of these areas you've listed are fabulous in their own unique ways and you will not be disappointed in any of them. Good luck and happy moving!
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I lived in Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton (near Sarasota). Safe, lots of families, good schools, nice Main Street area.
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