Keller Williams Realty Fort Myers & The Islands - Chelsea Robinson

SW Florida City Spotlight

Alva & Buckingham

The inland communities of Alva and Buckingham are both still known for their more rural landscape. These two cities are a glimpse into the rugged and historic Florida. Horse farms, Cattle ranches, Nurseries, Orange Groves, and other types of food production can be found in these communities, so if space to garden or ranch is more your thing, these are great places to turn to.

As cities such as Fort Myers begin to expand, they expand out into the Buckingham and Alva countryside. As such, many new construction communities are building in that area. Notably, Riverhall, Verandah, and Portico are all bigger scaled communities that are being developed. Verandah is particularly noteworthy as an ultra-luxury option with two 18 hole championship golf courses - one designed by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Bob Cupp.

For air buffs not looking for championship golf, Buckingham also is home to Buckingham Airpark - a unique cluster of 50 homes with their own shared private airfield.

Bonita Springs & Estero

Heading down the coast are Estero and Bonita Springs. Its location sandwiched between Fort Myers and Naples gives Bonita Springs easy access to many local amenities in both metro areas.

Estero is home to Hertz Arena, several shopping districts like the Miromar Outlets and Coconut Point Mall, and Florida Gulf Coast University. Bonita Springs is known for its beautiful outdoor lifestyle. There are 19 golf courses found in Bonita Springs, miles of beaches, and with the latest influx of development, it’s growing into its own hub of restaurants, upscale boutiques, and resorts

Overall, both areas are known for being ‘bedroom communities’. Bonita Springs has been developed relatively more recently in comparison to other older established cities and as such features more planned HOA-style communities than other areas may have. This means that gated communities make up the bulk of the available housing in Estero and Bonita Springs.

Cape Coral

Founded in 1957, Cape Coral was developed as a planned community. According to Forbes and Census statistics, Cape Coral is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Known for its miles and miles of canals, Cape Coral offers over 400 miles of navigable waterways, more than any other city in the world.

Sometimes referred to as the Burrowing Owls Capital, they are a protected species in Cape Coral. Just a hop, skip, and jump across the Caloosahatchee River to get to Fort Myers, Cape Coral has its own destinations to visit, such as the Sun Splash Family Waterpark. However, life in Cape Coral often centers around their parks and boating, of which both are plentiful.

Offering many waterfront properties, including direct access to the Gulf and fresh water canals. As the largest city between Tampa and Miami in both population and area, Cape Coral still has room to grow. With many empty lots, and continuing construction, Cape Coral is a great option to buy vacant land and build a custom home.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands

One of the great things about living in Southwest Florida are all the islands to live on and explore. Two world class options are Sanibel and its smaller sister island Captiva, which consistently rank some of the best beaches in the world. US News Ranks them as the top 10 for a variety of vacationing categories.

During the warmer months you may find yourself swimming with the manatees. Many times as you look out over the horizon you can find dolphins. These two islands are known for their shabby chic vibe and casual lifestyle, excellent shelling, fishing, boating, and other outdoor recreations.

Despite Hurricane Ian, Sanibel and Captiva are still home to some of the most expensive real estate in the region, thanks to those who will always gravitate towards beachfront living. After Hurricane Ian, the islands are in rebuild mode and will be reshaped with new building restrictions and developers moving in to find land. According to the Sanibel Mayor, recovery estimates are up to 5-7 years.

Fort Myers

Taking its name from a former fort during the Seminole Wars, Fort Myers is the historical, cultural and commercial center for all of Southwest Florida. Considered the gateway to Southwest Florida, Fort Myers is a large tourist destination in Florida. Home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s Winter Estates, the now historic site attracts thousands of visitors every year.

As a hub of SWFL culture, Fort Myers is home to spring training, a local hockey team, a plethora of theatres, and museums. Following the building of the Edison Bridge, connecting Downtown Fort Myers with North Fort Myers, the city saw a real estate boom.

You’ll find these older stately homes, in the neighborhoods surrounding the Edison and Ford Estates, and up and down McGregor Boulevard. As Fort Myers is an older city, it is harder to find new construction and vacant land to build. Instead, the city is home to many established neighborhoods, gated HOA communities, and a lively Downtown River District.

Fort Myers Beach

Vacationers have flocked to Fort Myers Beach for generations. Until Hurricane Ian came through, Fort Myers Beach was the touristy place to be for nightlife, restaurants, and little shops. After Hurricane Ian swept through, FMB (as locals call it) has begun to change, and its future is still being reshaped. The seven-mile island with sugary sand beaches is still a mecca for vacationers and snowbirds and many hotels have reopened.

Many newer construction homes fared well through the storm, and you can still find some of the finest homes in all of Southwest Florida can still be found here, as well as many condo options that are walking distance to the Gulf or Estero Bay. Many businesses are rebuilding and opening up as well. Currently FMB is a great opportunity for investors who want waterfront property and don’t mind hiking up their sleeves and getting to work.

Lehigh Acres

The history of Lehigh Acres has been a fascinating one. Taking a cue from Cape Coral Development and other neighboring developments, Lee Ratner - the owner of most of what is now Lehigh Acres - decided to plat and parcel his land into individual lots to sell during the 1950s. However, development was slow as utilities were essentially non-existent for a very long period of time. Until recent years, Lehigh had been a small outlying town - but with recent construction boons, Lehigh Acres has taken off in part due to its affordability.

This makes Lehigh a unique blend. Some of the neighborhoods are individual new construction homes, some are platted-out developments, and some are agricultural-style land. Since the land is still part of the unincorporated county, there is an appeal for those who want less governmental regulation and less taxation.

North Fort Myers

North Fort Myers is the gateway of Lee County, as it’s the northernmost point of entry from both I-75 and US-41. While often misconstrued as a part of Fort Myers, North Fort Myers is its own separate and eclectic city. It’s also worth noting that North Fort Myers is considered unincorporated, and as such features lower taxes than the incorporated counterparts of Cape Coral and Fort Myers - as well as less government red tape.

Because of its unique dynamics, there is a wide range in the variety of types of homes in the area. There are homes for boaters, homes for golfers, homes for the 55+ crowd, homes for those who want a farm, older homes, newer homes, manufactured homes... pretty much any type of home that can be thought of can be found in North Fort Myers.

Pine Island & Matlacha

The largest island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pine Island, offers a small-town feel with lush greenery and a great fishing community. Surrounded by mangroves and three aquatic preserves, the Island is made from the same coral rock as the mainland and therefore does not have any large beaches. While it may not have beaches, it is fantastic for fishing. Pine Island is also home to many agricultural farms. Nurseries and ranches can be found lining its streets.

Connecting the Cape Coral mainland and Pine Island sits the quaint island of Matlacha. Matlacha had an “Old Florida” feel, known for their fishing, brightly colored buildings, art galleries, shopping boutiques, seafood restaurants and traditional Florida cottages. Much of Matlacha was destroyed in Hurricane Ian, but many restaurants have reopened and the town is rebuilding.

Pine Island has higher ground so not all of it went under during Ian. Due to its more remote nature, real estate on Pine Island tends to be more cost effective.

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