Guest Post by Heather Vargas
Sanibel Island has a magic all of its own, and inevitably, anyone who visits wants to put down permanent roots!
In this guide to moving to Sanibel Island, we’ll give you some helpful information on moving to this island paradise, so you can spend less time stressing and more time enjoying its beautiful beaches, abundant marine wildlife, and small-town charm.
Cost of Living on Sanibel
The overall cost of living on Sanibel Island is nearly 69% higher than the rest of the state, primarily because the average price of a Sanibel Island home is over three times the state average!
It should be noted that rental apartments and homes are few and far between. On average, the nearest one-bedroom apartment to Sanibel will run you about $1110, while the state average comes in at $945.
But ask anyone who lives there, and they’ll tell you it’s money well spent. Its secluded location 20 miles from Fort Myers (with a three-mile causeway as the only way onto the island) and strict building codes make it one of the most beautiful communities in the state of Florida, if not the whole country.
You’ll also pay a little more for groceries, healthcare, and an evening out to dinner, but the cost of utilities and transportation is slightly lower than the state average by about 4% and 9%, respectively.
Tips for Moving to Sanibel Island
There are a few things to consider when moving to Sanibel Island, some of which are common to moving anywhere. However, some are unique to the circumstances of moving to an island community.
What’s your budget?
As we mentioned above, whether you’re buying or renting in Sanibel Island, you should be prepared to shell out a little extra dough to live there.
Fortunately, once you’ve settled in, you can expect much lower taxes than the US average. In fact, income tax on the island is 0%! Sales tax runs a little under 1% less than the US average, too.
What are your lifestyle preferences?
The locals are welcoming but protective of their little slice of paradise, so be ready to take good care of your new home! City ordinances around cosmetic details, parking restrictions, and noise levels are all strictly enforced.
A slower pace is definitely the order of the day when it comes to living on Sanibel Island (which is part of why so many retirees choose to make it their year-round residence), so be ready to live on “island time.”
If you’re looking for a place to disappear, you won’t find it in this small, local-centric community where everybody knows your name. The slower, small-town vibe often translates to getting friendly with the neighbors!
Will you need to commute to the mainland for work?
Ingress and egress options off the island by car are limited to the toll bridge that connects to the mainland. It can become a bit backed up during “rush hour,” so you may need to summon some patience when getting to work. (It’s worth to note that a one-way commute to or from this island is still about 10 minutes less than the national average.)
Other than that, the island itself is pretty walkable. It’s also home to many bike trails that make it easy to navigate farther destinations. There’s always Island Taxi close by if you need to get from one end of the island to the other in a hurry.
Neighborhoods in Sanibel Island
Even though the island is only about 12 miles end-to-end, it has three distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality.
The East End is the first neighborhood travelers will hit after crossing the Sanibel Bridge. It’s the most residential of the island’s neighborhoods, with plenty of homes along the canal with direct access to the Gulf. Many who live in the East End commute to work and send their kids to school off-island.
Home to plenty of beachfront condos and communities with single-family homes, Mid-Island is teeming with activity from locals and tourists alike.
If you’d like to ditch the car and walk to the local restaurants, markets, and shops, this is the place to live. Most of Sanibel’s local businesses are located here.
The West End community is the quietest of the three spots and is surrounded by the protected Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll find great shelling along its beaches and abundant wildlife right outside your door.
No Matter Where You Choose, Play it Safe When Rental Hunting
While looking for your dream place is fun, it’s essential to find out as much as possible about a rental property and its owner before committing to a lease.
Most properties are legit, and the landlords are honest. But many would-be residents relying on the internet to hunt for rentals are vulnerable to rental scams.
Here are a few things you can do to spot a rental scam and avoid becoming a victim:
- Use a rental search website featuring verified listings only.
- Conduct a reverse Google search on the property. If the address and landlord details are consistent across different websites, chances are, you’re looking at a legit property.
- Any reputable landlord should ask for a credit/background check and review the rental terms with you before asking for any deposits or fees. Get all documentation in writing and never send money upfront!
- If possible, view the property in person and meet the landlord face to face before committing.
Some Final Thoughts on Living on Sanibel Island
Sunny days, Gulf breezes, and amazing sunsets are only a few of the many things you’ll enjoy when moving to Sanibel. You can also look forward to a laid-back atmosphere, quaint, locally-owned businesses, and some of the best seafood in the country.
It won’t take long to become one of the locals, so prepare to fall in love with Sanibel Island!
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Need more information on relocating to the Islands, request our Relocation Guide HERE