Sarasota is located on the Gulf of Mexico in west central Florida, south of Tampa Bay and north of Fort Myers. It is the seat of Sarasota County, which includes the municipalities of Longboat Key, North Port and Venice. Besides being a hub for tourism, the area is a cultural center for Florida’s west coast, with noted venues for the visual and performing arts. Approximately 54,000 people live in Sarasota city; about 400,000 live in Sarasota County (2014 estimates).
The city’s name is the subject of much speculation. It appeared on maps in the 1700s as “Porte Sarasote.” Originally occupied by natives, Sarasota was a site of conflict between Europeans and Indians in the mid 1800s. Mr. William A. Whitaker was the first permanent white settler on Sarasota Bay; the town of Sarasota officially incorporated in 1902.
Sarasota is located in the humid subtropical climate zone. Winters are short and mild, while summers are long and hot. Average daily high temperatures range from 71°F in January to 90°F in July and August; average lows dip to 52°F in January and touch 75°F in July. In addition to sunscreen you’ll need an umbrella; Sarasota sees 53 inches of rain annually, and over half of it falls from June through September.
Sarasota roads and highways connect to I-75, a major north-south corridor. Air travel hubs include the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport just 15 minutes north of downtown Sarasota, and the Tampa International Airport an hour’s drive to the north. Sarasota Area Transportation Services (SCAT) operates regularly scheduled bus routes between Sarasota and Siesta Key. Commercial and industrial traffic also makes use of Port Manatee (35 minutes north on Tampa Bay) and Seminole Gulf Rail with connections to CSX Railroad.
Sarasota Cost of Living
The cost of living index for Sarasota is close the national average. However, per capita personal income is well above the state average. Florida does not assess a personal income tax, but you will pay a 7 percent sales tax. How far will your salary go in Sarasota?
The Sarasota School system operates K-5, 6-8, and high schools, as well as a variety of special, alternative, and charter schools. Sarasota also has a vibrant array of private schools, as well as higher education opportunities. Among post-secondary institutions are the world-renowned Ringling College of Art and Design and Eckerd College, a small, private liberal arts school.
An online search for hospitals finds nine hospitals within 20 miles of Sarasota, and 17 hospitals within 35 miles. Sarasota Memorial Health Hospital is a regional medical center with 800+ beds. Other large include Venice Regional Bayfront Health, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, and Englewood Community Hospital.
Sarasota Real Estate
According to the most recent census, the median value of owner-occupied housing units is about $158,000 in Sarasota City and $173,000 in Sarasota County. Monthly home ownership costs about $1450; renters pay from $920 to $1,000. An active rental market, the Sarasota area with its warm climate and white sand beaches is popular with tourists and snowbirds.
You have plenty of options for lodging in Sarasota, with a bevy of three-star properties, plus several luxury hotels. They are aggregated mostly along the coast and a few miles inland along the I-75 corridor. Several are convenient to the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and the SBI Convention Center, including the Residence Inn Sarasota Bradenton and Hilton Garden Inn Sarasota-Bradenton Airport.
The Gulf Coast is ideal for fresh seafood, and Sarasota’s chefs know how to serve it. Enjoy the catch of the day on the patio at Duval’s Fresh Local Seafood downtown. Or pair fresh coastal cuisine with crafted cocktails at Jack Dusty in the Ritz Carlton Resort on Sarasota Bay. For a continental dining experience, reserve a table at the Bijou Cafe in the heart of Sarasota’s Arts District. Bon Appetit.
Things To Do in Sarasota
Not only is Sarasota known for fabulous Gulf Coast beaches, it is a cultural center. You’ll find a symphony, ballet, and opera, as well as theaters, galleries, and the famous Ringling Museum of Art. Get up close to manatees at the South Florida Museum and Aquarium or view endangered species at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Play 18 holes at the Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes, then enjoy a fine dinner at Michael’s, a 1940s style supper club offering over 350 wines. Sarasota offers plenty of ways to keep boredom at bay.