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Old 01-11-2010, 10:17 AM
 
228 posts, read 466,501 times
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Like anywhere, there are many pros and cons to living in Sarasota. Having lived there for 11 years and seeing many changes take place during that time, I would like to offer my opinion on the area in order to paint a more accurate picture for those who might be interested in moving or visiting there. I have lived and visited many areas throughout the country and feel like I can offer an un-biased view point. The following are just a few things to consider. I will leave out anything regarding jobs (which there is a serious lack of) and housing, because many other people have already touched on these issues throughout the forum.

Some of the positive things: 1. Great beaches. The sand at Siesta Key beach is like baby powder, and Siesta always ranks as a top beach in Florida and the nation. There are also some lesser known beaches such as Turtle on Siesta and others in the Venice areas, but many do not have the sand that Siesta does.

2. Wearing shorts and t-shirts pretty much year round. Of course you get one or two "cold" snaps, but after living in Minnesota I realized that 30 degrees at night is really nothing. I don't know why people freak out because they have to deal with the slightest bit of chillyness in January when many other areas of the country are well below zero.

3. Most of Sarasota is very clean. This includes the downtown area as well. I never see a lot of trash or general dirtiness throughout the town. I am sure that having mostly newer houses and buildings helps with this but I think that the city does a good job maintaining things.

4. Some really neat areas. Again, the downtown is nice and artsy with good restaurants, marina jack to catch a sunset, st. armands right over the bridge etc. Also, Siesta Key is probably my favorite area of town. The village has all sorts of restaurants and shops and many of the side streets there give you a very tropical/old florida feel.

5. There always seemed to be things going on, from Siesta Fiesta to A Taste of Sarasota, to wine tasting events, to theater events downtown etc. If you are really looking for something to do, Sarasota is big enough that you can probably find a decent event to attend.


Some of the negatives: 1. Remember those great beaches? Well they can be quite hard to enjoy when you are sharing them with literally thousands and thousands of other people on any given day. During tourist season the Siesta beach public parking is a zoo and you have to walk far away down the beach to get to anywhere even remotely quiet.

2. Having warm and sunny weather year-round, and green palm trees is great...until you experience the same thing year after year after year. Believe me, the monotonous weather can get old after a while. It was actually a relief the see the gorgeous colors of fall again and watch as big fluffy snowflakes gently float down to the the earth the signal the start of winter. Sure, in the north we have to deal with cold weather and shoveling driveways while Florida is enjoying 70 degree dry and sunny days, but while you guys are literally drenched in sweat and being oppressed by the deadly hot temperatures and jungle humidity of summer, the rest of the country is enjoying the most perfect summer weather (which feels even better after making it through the winter). Take your pick: Hop from heater to heater in the winter elsewhere (where you can at least put on a jacket and go outside), or hop from AC to AC in the summer in florida (where you will stick to the leather seats in your car and not be able to buckle your seatbelt because it is literally too hot to touch). At least if you are cold you can add another layer. When you are in Florida in the summer you will wish you could peel your own skin off. And it isn't just the 3 months of summer that can be opressively hot. My family told me they had the air conditioning on for Christmas eve, which is ridiculous in my opinion. There's a reason why the wealthy come down for the winter and flee for the summer.

3. While there are a few really neat areas like downtown and Siesta Key, for the most part the rest of Sarasota (and Florida for that matter) is one gross suburb. Most of the main streets are literally strip-mall after strip-mall, with characterless housing developments (where every house looks the same and are so close together that you can see what your neighbor is cooking for breakfast) being interspersed. The amount of development is not only un-necessary, but disgusting. I go back there every year to visit family and it seems to just get more and more developed. EVERY free space of land is cleared for some un-needed building. How many walgreens and eckards (which are always RIGHT across the street from each other) do we need? The area is starting to see the reprocussions of all of this needless construction as many business and former-restaurant buildings sit empty because of the economy.

4. I really like to hike and get out into a real natural setting as much as possible, but the only decent sized true park in that area is Myakka State Park, which is roughly a 30-40 minute drive from the western parts of town, and like the beaches, can be flooded with people during the season. Sure there are other places like Oscar Scherer and small city parks, but they are absolutely tiny in comparisson to the gorgeous parks Sarasota could have all over town if they hadn't felt it necessary to build a gas station and furniture store on every corner. It truly pains me to see an area that could be gorgeous and pristine (while still having plenty of options for housing, restaurants and shopping), turned into a gross sprawling mess. I only lived there for just over a decade and saw unbelievable changes take place, I can't imagine how depressing it must be for people who have lived there for 40 or 50 years to see their beautiful area overun with development.

5. All of the usual negatives that one hears about Florida are for the most part true and can be applied to Sarasota as well. This includes but is not limited to: High crime that is interspersed throughout the entire town, where it is not clear which areas should be avoided (with the exception of newtown), not pedestrian friendly due to some seriously bad drivers (this is no joke and doesn't just apply to old people, move to many other areas of the country and see the difference for yourself), a lot of rude, fake, and plasticky people, and some truly weird people doing weird things (Put it this way: if I was forced to hitchhike, I would rather do it in baghdad than any part of Florida). Anytime you hear about some sick news story like people throwing their own kids off of balconies, it always seems to take place in Florida.


Overall feelings: Even after living in Minnesota (among other places), which is the last place many of you would ever want to live, I can say that I would never move back to Sarasota or any other part of Florida for the long-term. I love coming down there to visit in the winter, and I could see myself living there for short periods of time (1 or 2 months out of the year), but for me I just got sick of Florida after living there cotinuously for so many years. I have realized that there are plenty of other places in the U.S. where I feel safer, the people are friendlier, and the towns have true character. If I ever did have to move down to Sarasota, the only place I would be interested in would be a nice quiet side street on Siesta Key. Ideally I would live there for the winter and elsewhere for the summer.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Memphis, TN
20 posts, read 68,313 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks for the honest info!
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Northern NJ
453 posts, read 1,666,307 times
Reputation: 231
Thanks very much for taking the time to post this.

As an infrequent northern visitor getting close to retirement and thinking about winter escapes, I've wondered how I would like it, and pretty much concluded I could only stay for short periods of time. We decided against buying a place for future use (or rental income) for many of the reasons you mentioned, as well as the distance.

Aside from hurricane worries, what are your thoughts about the other barrier islands north of Siesta Key as places to rent for a few months? Specifically, the towns on Anna Maria Island, which are rarely discussed on this forum in much detail. Just wondering if it's as nice for two or three months as it was for our five-day visit a while back.

Rhys

Last edited by RhysNJ; 01-11-2010 at 01:07 PM..
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,850 posts, read 13,468,727 times
Reputation: 2256
Quote:
Originally Posted by RhysNJ View Post
Thanks very much for taking the time to post this.

As an infrequent northern visitor getting close to retirement and thinking about winter escapes, I've wondered how I would like it, and pretty much concluded I could only stay for short periods of time. We decided against buying a place for future use (or rental income) for many of the reasons you mentioned, as well as the distance.

Aside from hurricane worries, what are your thoughts about the other barrier islands north of Siesta Key as places to rent for a few months? Specifically, the towns on Anna Maria Island, which are rarely discussed on this forum in much detail. Just wondering if it's as nice for two or three months as it was for our five-day visit a while back.

Rhys
IMO, anywhere is nice when you're on vaction; many people don't get the "life is not a beach everyday reality" when they move here and they become the locals while watching the tourists frolic.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Nokomis, FL
66 posts, read 178,642 times
Reputation: 35
Quote:
3. While there are a few really neat areas like downtown and Siesta Key, for the most part the rest of Sarasota (and Florida for that matter) is one gross suburb. Most of the main streets are literally strip-mall after strip-mall, with characterless housing developments (where every house looks the same and are so close together that you can see what your neighbor is cooking for breakfast) being interspersed. The amount of development is not only un-necessary, but disgusting. I go back there every year to visit family and it seems to just get more and more developed. EVERY free space of land is cleared for some un-needed building. How many walgreens and eckards (which are always RIGHT across the street from each other) do we need? The area is starting to see the reprocussions of all of this needless construction as many business and former-restaurant buildings sit empty because of the economy.
This has always been my biggest complaint about the area....all the needless developments and fake "communities" (in subdivisions) that are marketed to people. Agreed about the strip malls as well. Even the Tampa/St. Pete area is like one big suburb.....
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,850 posts, read 13,468,727 times
Reputation: 2256
Quote:
Originally Posted by inspironmini View Post
Like anywhere, there are many pros and cons to living in Sarasota. Having lived there for 11 years and seeing many changes take place during that time, I would like to offer my opinion on the area in order to paint a more accurate picture for those who might be interested in moving or visiting there. I have lived and visited many areas throughout the country and feel like I can offer an un-biased view point. The following are just a few things to consider. I will leave out anything regarding jobs (which there is a serious lack of) and housing, because many other people have already touched on these issues throughout the forum.

Some of the positive things: 1. Great beaches. The sand at Siesta Key beach is like baby powder, and Siesta always ranks as a top beach in Florida and the nation. There are also some lesser known beaches such as Turtle on Siesta and others in the Venice areas, but many do not have the sand that Siesta does.

2. Wearing shorts and t-shirts pretty much year round. Of course you get one or two "cold" snaps, but after living in Minnesota I realized that 30 degrees at night is really nothing. I don't know why people freak out because they have to deal with the slightest bit of chillyness in January when many other areas of the country are well below zero.

3. Most of Sarasota is very clean. This includes the downtown area as well. I never see a lot of trash or general dirtiness throughout the town. I am sure that having mostly newer houses and buildings helps with this but I think that the city does a good job maintaining things.

4. Some really neat areas. Again, the downtown is nice and artsy with good restaurants, marina jack to catch a sunset, st. armands right over the bridge etc. Also, Siesta Key is probably my favorite area of town. The village has all sorts of restaurants and shops and many of the side streets there give you a very tropical/old florida feel.

5. There always seemed to be things going on, from Siesta Fiesta to A Taste of Sarasota, to wine tasting events, to theater events downtown etc. If you are really looking for something to do, Sarasota is big enough that you can probably find a decent event to attend.


Some of the negatives: 1. Remember those great beaches? Well they can be quite hard to enjoy when you are sharing them with literally thousands and thousands of other people on any given day. During tourist season the Siesta beach public parking is a zoo and you have to walk far away down the beach to get to anywhere even remotely quiet.

2. Having warm and sunny weather year-round, and green palm trees is great...until you experience the same thing year after year after year. Believe me, the monotonous weather can get old after a while. It was actually a relief the see the gorgeous colors of fall again and watch as big fluffy snowflakes gently float down to the the earth the signal the start of winter. Sure, in the north we have to deal with cold weather and shoveling driveways while Florida is enjoying 70 degree dry and sunny days, but while you guys are literally drenched in sweat and being oppressed by the deadly hot temperatures and jungle humidity of summer, the rest of the country is enjoying the most perfect summer weather (which feels even better after making it through the winter). Take your pick: Hop from heater to heater in the winter elsewhere (where you can at least put on a jacket and go outside), or hop from AC to AC in the summer in florida (where you will stick to the leather seats in your car and not be able to buckle your seatbelt because it is literally too hot to touch). At least if you are cold you can add another layer. When you are in Florida in the summer you will wish you could peel your own skin off. And it isn't just the 3 months of summer that can be opressively hot. My family told me they had the air conditioning on for Christmas eve, which is ridiculous in my opinion. There's a reason why the wealthy come down for the winter and flee for the summer.

3. While there are a few really neat areas like downtown and Siesta Key, for the most part the rest of Sarasota (and Florida for that matter) is one gross suburb. Most of the main streets are literally strip-mall after strip-mall, with characterless housing developments (where every house looks the same and are so close together that you can see what your neighbor is cooking for breakfast) being interspersed. The amount of development is not only un-necessary, but disgusting. I go back there every year to visit family and it seems to just get more and more developed. EVERY free space of land is cleared for some un-needed building. How many walgreens and eckards (which are always RIGHT across the street from each other) do we need? The area is starting to see the reprocussions of all of this needless construction as many business and former-restaurant buildings sit empty because of the economy.

4. I really like to hike and get out into a real natural setting as much as possible, but the only decent sized true park in that area is Myakka State Park, which is roughly a 30-40 minute drive from the western parts of town, and like the beaches, can be flooded with people during the season. Sure there are other places like Oscar Scherer and small city parks, but they are absolutely tiny in comparisson to the gorgeous parks Sarasota could have all over town if they hadn't felt it necessary to build a gas station and furniture store on every corner. It truly pains me to see an area that could be gorgeous and pristine (while still having plenty of options for housing, restaurants and shopping), turned into a gross sprawling mess. I only lived there for just over a decade and saw unbelievable changes take place, I can't imagine how depressing it must be for people who have lived there for 40 or 50 years to see their beautiful area overun with development.

5. All of the usual negatives that one hears about Florida are for the most part true and can be applied to Sarasota as well. This includes but is not limited to: High crime that is interspersed throughout the entire town, where it is not clear which areas should be avoided (with the exception of newtown), not pedestrian friendly due to some seriously bad drivers (this is no joke and doesn't just apply to old people, move to many other areas of the country and see the difference for yourself), a lot of rude, fake, and plasticky people, and some truly weird people doing weird things (Put it this way: if I was forced to hitchhike, I would rather do it in baghdad than any part of Florida). Anytime you hear about some sick news story like people throwing their own kids off of balconies, it always seems to take place in Florida.


Overall feelings: Even after living in Minnesota (among other places), which is the last place many of you would ever want to live, I can say that I would never move back to Sarasota or any other part of Florida for the long-term. I love coming down there to visit in the winter, and I could see myself living there for short periods of time (1 or 2 months out of the year), but for me I just got sick of Florida after living there cotinuously for so many years. I have realized that there are plenty of other places in the U.S. where I feel safer, the people are friendlier, and the towns have true character. If I ever did have to move down to Sarasota, the only place I would be interested in would be a nice quiet side street on Siesta Key. Ideally I would live there for the winter and elsewhere for the summer.
Great pros & cons!
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Nokomis Fl
1,008 posts, read 2,482,858 times
Reputation: 468
For the reasons so well recited above we plan as soon as we can to leave Sarasota and move to St Augustine.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Punta Gorda and Maryland
6,103 posts, read 14,311,387 times
Reputation: 1245
I have lived in many great areas of the country. All over the North east, West, South West, and travelled to many areas of the country, and although the post is well written, and expressed honestly. I feel that, everyone is never going to be fully satisfied where ever they live, the North East is too cold, taxes are too great, and jobs are not keeping up with different facets of life that made life tough. The South West has the mountain, but a lot of pollution, orange/skys and brown surroundings. The West has pollution and traffic, and other issues. Everyone can think about different things that they like or don't like. It happens everywhere. Jobs are tough everywhere, people struggle to make a decent living everywhere. I guess that in Southwest Florida, the weather can be predictable, Sunny, warm, and monotenous at times. "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence" makes moving to the other side of the fence appealing - don'tcha think. I think making change is a good thing! It is a wonderful part of the fabric that will make up your life. Most of us have all moved a few times in our life. Would you honestly have given up any of those experiences. Live life, and enjoy it - everyone doesn't have to repeat the same experiences you have, or walked in your foot steps. It can be great walking off the path and discovering things on your own.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Bernanke's Financial Laboratory
513 posts, read 1,158,316 times
Reputation: 225
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter the Brit View Post
For the reasons so well recited above we plan as soon as we can to leave Sarasota and move to St Augustine.
What do you find more attractive about the St. Augustine area that would be a big enough improvement to justify moving?
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:52 AM
 
Location: Venice, Fl
1,498 posts, read 3,322,320 times
Reputation: 1424
Good post, but i do have 1 arguement for the OP. If you love to hike and looked no further than Myakka state park, you were not trying hard enough
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