If you enjoy living a laid-back lifestyle, a tropical atmosphere, and all of the amenities that living in a coastal town includes, Cape Coral is the place for you. Living in Cape Coral gives residents the opportunity to enjoy the South Florida experience without all of the hustle and bustle of cities like Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
Cape Coral offers year-round warm weather, affordable waterfront living and has countless activities for both retirees and young people, alike. Those features and more make Cape Coral an ideal place to live, work and play.
Is Cape Coral, Florida a good place to live?
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico in Lee County, Florida, Cape Coral is a coastal paradise, offering year-round warm weather, white-sand beaches, and countless acres of waterfront living. Whether you want to live out your days cruising the canals or spend your time boutique shopping and dining on fresh, local seafood, living in Cape Coral offers something for everyone.
Cape Coral by the Numbers
Cape Coral has a population of just over 200,000, making it the 8th most populous city in Florida and the 120th most populous city in the United States. It’s also growing and attracting thousands of new people every year. Cape Coral grew from 154,731 people in 2010 to 204,549 in 2020, making it the 9th fastest growing city in America (Top 200 cities) over the last decade.
The job market has also been growing in Cape Coral. According to bestplaces.net, recent job growth has been positive and future job opportunities are expected to grow by 41-percent (compared to the national expectation of 33.5-percent). The unemployment rate of 4.6-percent is also lower than the national average of 6-percent.
What are the Pros and Cons of Living in Cape Coral, FL?
No matter where you go, every city is going to have its various charms and flaws. The key is knowing what they are so you’re not surprised. If you’re thinking about moving to Cape Coral, these are some pros and cons of the city that you should know.
PRO: Plenty of Sunshine
When you think of Florida, you probably think of sunny beaches. After all, it’s called The Sunshine State for a reason. Cape Coral is no different, getting an average of 265 days of sunshine a year. That’s higher than the U.S. average of 203 and even higher than the Florida average of 237.
PRO: Water Everywhere
While Venice gets all the notoriety for its vast network of canals and waterways, it’s actually Cape Coral, Florida, not Venice, Italy that has more miles of canals than any other city in the world. Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of waterways, making it an ideal boating community and a prime spot for waterfront living.
PRO: Tons of Things to Do
One of the best parts about Cape Coral is that you’ll never run out of things to do.
Cape Coral sits on the gulf coast and contains more than 400 miles of canals, meaning easy access to the water anytime you want. Go fishing, hit the beach, kayak through the mangrove forest, or get your boating license. If you’d rather stay inshore, the Sunsplash Water Park includes 14 acres of pools and waterslides and plenty of fun for the whole family.
If you’d rather stay dry, hit the links on one of Cape Corals golf courses, visit the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House, or explore the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. And if you’ve got some money to spend, check out the downtown strip or Cape Harbour for some great food, drinks and shopping.
Other things to do in Cape Coral include:
- Wicked Dolphin Distillery
- Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park
- Gator Mike's Family Fun Park
- Cape Coral Historical Museum
- Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library
- Four Freedoms Park
CON: High Housing Costs
According to Zillow, the average home price in Cape Coral has risen 29-percent over the last year and now sits at $319,000 (compared to the national average of $303,000). While this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Cape Coral waterfront access and tropical appeal, this is actually a relatively recent shift considering housing costs were in line with the national average of $227,000 just three years ago. Fortunately, Florida has no state income tax which keeps a little extra money in your pocket each year.
CON: Bad Traffic
Cape Coral is among the most car dependant city in Florida, and considering its population of more than 200,000, that means lots of traffic. Last year, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area ranked as the 7th worst for traffic congestion in the country. Additionally, the city was given a walk score of 17 (out of 100) and a bike score of 39.
CON: Extreme weather
Weather in Cape Coral is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you get 265 days of sun a year, but that also brings with it high humidity and sweltering heat. Because of the city’s location on the gulf coast, Hurricanes and coastal flooding are always a threat as well, particularly during the rainy summer months.
What is the Best Part of Cape Coral to Live In?
Despite Cape Coral’s identity as a gulf coast town, the city actually varies quite a bit in its layout and demographics.
Covering 120 square miles, Cape Coral is the third-largest city in Florida by area. As a result, only 45-percent of the city is actually developed, and the areas that are developed vary greatly between the upscale neighborhoods on the coast and the lower-income communities further inland.
Cape Coral is made up of 29 distinct neighborhoods, but for simplicity’s sake, the city can be divided into four quarters.
Southwest Cape Coral
The southwest quarter of Cape Coral is situated along the coast, bordering Matlacha Pass and Pine Island to the West, and the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and the southern tip of Fort Myers to the south.
The neighborhoods here are primarily upscale suburban and among the most expensive in the city, with the median home price reaching north of $550,000 in some neighborhoods. As you might imagine, this quarter also contains the highest income levels, the lowest crime rates, and some of the best schools in the city.
Additionally, this is where you can find Cape Harbour, Cape Coral’s premier location for dining, shopping and entertainment. Some of the top places in Cape Harbour to try include:
- Fathoms Restaurant & Bar
- Cape Harbour Oyster Bar & Grill
- The Nauti Mermaid Dockside Bar & Grill
If you’ve got the money for it, properties along the coast in this quarter are among the best places to live in the city.
Southeast Cape Coral
Like the southwest quarter, the coastal neighborhoods to the southeast are among the most affluent in Cape Coral.
Bordering the Caloosahatchee River and Fort Myers, the median home prices in Bayshore and other nearby neighborhoods come in just shy of $550,000. These neighborhoods continue down around the coast and upward to the Midpoint Bridge. A few exceptions in this area, however, are the City Center and the areas to the west of the downtown strip where median real estate prices are among the lowest in the city, down to $230,000.
However, as you stray further from the coastal neighborhoods, northward toward the inland part of the city and west of Del Prado, the crime rate increases dramatically, particularly in those lower-income areas. Despite that, this quarter, along with the southwest region, has some of the city’s best elementary, middle and high schools.
If you want to hit the beach, this is also where you’ll find Four Freedoms Park and the Yacht Club Community Park. The community park is one of Cape Coral’s original landmarks and offers access to a public beach, a pier and The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill restaurant.
Northwest Cape Coral
The further north you go, the more open and less developed Cape Coral becomes. But because this quarter still contains some coastline, it creates a wide divide in cost of living, crime rates and schools.
The coastal neighborhoods of Matlacha Shores and Burnt Store include median home prices above $430,000. The further east you go, however, the less expensive real estate becomes. In some areas, the housing prices are 72-percent cheaper than the average Florida neighborhood, coming in at a median home price of $170,000.
This area also has fewer schools, but other than Christa McAuliffe Charter Elementary - which is one of the top schools in Cape Coral - they are considered among the lowest-scoring schools in the city.
The northern portion of this area is largely undeveloped and contains the Yucca Pens Unit Wildlife Management Area.
Northeast Cape Coral
Like the northwest quadrant, the northeast contains a lot of developing land and lower than average home prices. However, these neighborhoods also have some of the highest levels of crime, the lowest income levels and among the most below-average schools in the city.
Medium home prices in this area sit around $230,000 and get cheaper the further north you go. These neighborhoods include the areas north of Pine Island Road and to the west of the North Fort Myers area.
While we hope this gives you a broad overview of Cape Coral, every part of the city is different and each area contains a wide variety of options. If you’re planning on making a move to Cape Coral, make sure to do some research on your own to determine what neighborhoods best suit your needs.
Does Cape Coral Have a Downtown?
Cape Coral’s downtown may be small, but there’s still plenty to eat, drink and do there. Extending only a few blocks, downtown Cape Coral begins once you cross the Cape Coral Bridge and ends at Palm Tree Boulevard. It’s bounded to the North and South by SE 44th Street and Miramar Street, respectively.
Some of the most popular local restaurants in downtown Cape Coral include:
- Fishtale Grill
- Nice Guys Pizza
- Nevermind Awesome Bar and The Hop
- Cork Soakers Deck and Wine Bar
- Slate’s Restaurant
- Iguana Mia of Cape Coral
- The Dek Bar
- Annie’s Restaurant
- South Cape Diner and Breakfast Restaurant
- Lehne Burger Cape Coral
There are obviously dozens of other options to choose from so our advice is to get out there and try them all for yourself!
Is Cape Coral a Good Place to Retire?
Congrats on your retirement! Now it’s time to pick where you want to live during the best years of your life. When you consider the city’s warm weather, plentiful waterfronts and laid-back lifestyle, there aren’t too many better places to choose to retire to than Cape Coral.
While Cape Coral has been affectionately nicknamed the “Waterfront Wonderland,” it still isn’t quite well known as some of its neighboring cities like Fort Myers or Sanibel Island. As a result, you can get the same gulf coast city experience, but in a quieter, more easygoing town.
Cape Coral also offers more affordable waterfront living than the average city. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report named Cape Coral one of the Top 10 most affordable places to retire on the water. According to their rankings, the median mortgage for retirees in Cape Coral is $1,416 a month, while the median rent is $1,093.
If you do decide to retire in Cape Coral, know that you won’t feel too out of place. The median age in Cape Coral is 46, but a quarter of the city’s population is age 65 or older.
Find Your Cape Coral Dream Home
With Royal Shell, you can find a home in Cape Coral no matter what you’re looking for. Whether you plan to buy or rent, our real estate agents will work tirelessly to help you check off all of the boxes on your wishlist and make the entire process easy. Contact us today to get started finding your next Cape Coral dream home.