Florida, America’s Sunshine State, consists of the peninsular of Florida and the Florida Panhandle as part of the mainland.
At the southern end lie the Florida Keys, a chain of islands linked to each other by 42 bridges. Key West, at the southernmost end of the island chain, is only 140 kilometres from Cuba and is the southernmost point of the USA.
Celebrities and well-to-do retirees from the USA and all corners of the globe are tempted to the Sunshine State, whose white beaches offer a true sense of paradise. Located at Florida’s southern tip, the city of Miami, home to five million, is a glamorous metropolis, especially the South Beach area, where a plethora of celebrities own prestigious villas. Nature lovers particularly appreciate the Everglades National Park with its wonderful fauna, whilst families enjoy the wide collection of theme parks such as Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral.
Sarasota, around 371 kilometres northwest of Miami on the Gulf of Mexico, counts a population of 57,000, 55 kilometres of coastline and is something of an insider’s tip. The protected location of this diverse city benefits from climatic conditions that the more humid Miami can’t offer. Not only was Key Siesta named best beach in the world in 2011 by Dr. Beach; a survey by John Brady (Topretirements) in 2012 named Sarasota as the best place to retire to in the USA. Not without reason, Sarasota is also called the cultural capital of the Sunshine State of Florida. Famous museums house some outstanding artworks, including contemporary art, and many of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Sarasota County offers more than 1000 public, semiprivate, and private golf courses, and especially beautiful hiking trails in more than 20 natural parks. Property prices here are lower than those in other parts of Florida and are remaining stable. Good quality at a better price can be expected here.
Miami Beach is probably the most famous and, with its 92,000 inhabitants, the most densely populated island in the south of Florida, connected to mainland Miami via four bridges. South Beach, also called SoBe and The Beach, is one of the most popular areas in the city. The region captivates with its kilometres of white sandy beaches, its tropical climate and crystal-clear turquoise water. The Art Deco district with its around 1000 pastel-coloured buildings from the early 20th century is particularly charming. At night, Miami Beach becomes a party. Expensive cars cruise along the famous Ocean Drive, and those who want to mingle with the celebrities and jet-setters can do so on Sundays, mixing with the guests at the wildest open-air party at the world-renowned Nikki Beach. The property market here has completely recovered from the property bubble burst of 2007. Today, prices of over 10 million dollars are paid for exclusive condominiums in Miami Beach.
Orlando, in the centre of Florida, with a population of 280,000 and an abundance of parks and green spaces, is one of America’s largest tourist capitals. It is easy to access thanks to its two airports. The nearest beaches of Daytona and Cocoa Beach are an hour away by car. The climate is subtropical: in summer, it rains half the time with temperatures around 29 degrees; it is cooler from December to February at 18 degrees. Orlando is best known for its status as world capital for theme parks. Around 57 million visitors a year from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Disney World and around 50 other sites including SeaWorld, Bush Gardens, and Universal Studios. Arts and culture enthusiasts are also well catered for, with a wealth of museums, galleries of all kinds, and various shows. The great variety of bars and restaurants is constantly changing, and offers something for everyone’s tastes. Orlando’s inner city presents a mixture of luxury apartments and historic buildings. Property prices in Orlando are reasonable, even at the high-end range.
Palm Beach is in Palm Beach County. The 10,000 inhabitants are mostly older and well-to-do. Refuse is collected daily here, unlike in other Floridian cities. The town is located around 105 kilometres north of Miami on the Gold Coast, whose nickname probably comes from the beach of shimmering golden sands stretch an impressive total length of 76 kilometres. Palm Beach is seen as the town of the rich and beautiful and is known particularly for its expansive villas, shielded from curious eyes by high fences and hedges. You can relax on Peanut Island to the north, whilst global brands and smaller shops and galleries can be explored on Worth Avenue. The PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, north of Miami, is regarded as one of the best golf resorts. It boasts five golf courses and a large spa area. The prestigious PGA Honda Golf Tournament takes place here every year. The further south of Palm Beach you travel, the higher the land and property prices are.
St. Petersburg, nestled between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, is home to around 265,000. With the best beaches, its legendary skyline, classy marina, and high-quality cultural offerings, the city attracts a particular kind of person. For those who wish to avoid the sultry weather around Miami, this picturesque city with its subtropical climate is a stylish alternative. The high standard of living can be seen in the quality of the restaurants, shops, and galleries. The locals are relaxed and treat visitors as if they were one of them. The city is considered a centre of culture in the southeast with a vibrant art scene, the largest Dalì collection outside of Europe, and annual music festivals. The Museum of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg houses a unique collection of paintings, photographs, and sculptures, together with important works by some of the great impressionists. St. Petersburg was awarded 7th place by Americans in the list of cities with the highest quality of life. Property here is somewhat cheaper as Florida does not levy a state income tax or land tax. You can find apartments here with a private beach, balcony, and sea view, magnificent mansions, villas, and gated communities with their own lakes. Nearly everywhere, residents live close to water.
Tampa is less superficial and youth-obsessed than Miami, and significantly less busy than Orlando. The city of about 350,000 is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico and you can guess from its nickname–Sunshine City–that the weather is as promising as it is in the rest of Florida. The seven-kilometre-long Bayshore Boulevard right on the Gulf of Mexico is said to be the longest promenade in the world. The fresh sea air brings a welcome breeze, and if you are lucky, you may spot dolphins in the morning. What you will definitely spot, however, are some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and the city’s inhabitants, who are outdoors at all times of the day, be it on their own, in groups, with children, and with dogs, as they stroll, play, jog, and cycle. Cocktails and a sunset here are particularly special–and can be found at the local white-sand beach of the Postcard Inn in St. Pete Beach on the western side of Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Buyers seeking traditional luxury property should explore the elegant historic quarters of Davis Islands; sailing enthusiasts can head to areas such as the Culbreath Isles, which offer direct access to the bay. The area near the Avila Country Club in Tampa’s northern Lake Region offers large properties in the best private surroundings.
The more than 200 coral islands of the Florida Keys lie like pearls in the turquoise sea. Visitors cast off their worries as soon as they arrive on these islands off the coast with their heavenly beaches. Life here is different, and sometimes eccentric. The main town of Key West is a special town located right next to a stunning coral reef. The 260,000 inhabitants know how to connect nature with culture. People gather in the evening to celebrate the sunset in Mallory Square in the Key West Historic District, the old town. In October, things get really extravagant during the 10-day Fantasy Fest. If you forget your costume, you can just get body-painted. The highest-value properties in the Florida Keys are surrounded by water on all sides and have a price to match.
Naples, which counts only 20,000 inhabitants, is a small town with a European flair and Beverly Hills atmosphere in the southwest of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, 170 kilometres from Miami. This former fishing village boasts a number of canals and wonderful beaches. Thanks to the Caribbean climate, lemon trees, palms, oleander, and rubber trees all thrive beautifully; mangrove forests offer an undisturbed habitat to turtles and countless species of birds. The appearance of the city is tidy and very clean. Elegant boutiques and art galleries in the old town are perfect for a stroll; you can see and be seen in the cafés and restaurants. Many of the nostalgic shops on 5th Avenue are former fisheries and boathouses. Naples can easily hold its own against the celebrities’ paradise Palm Beach on the East Coast. Thousands of luxury villas, 80 golf courses and an extensive cultural offering have lured many famous American celebrities and other wealthy Americans and Europeans to make this their second home. The population has doubled in the last 15 years–and is still rising.
Attractive property offers can be found in Bonita Springs on the border with Lee County in the north, where some of the most popular beaches are located, or in Port Royal, south of the inner city, where breathtaking detached houses provide views over the canals. There are some properties in the inner city directly on the bay of Naples.
Fort Myers lies on the picturesque banks of the Caloosahatchee River between Naples and Tampa, only a few kilometres from the Gulf of Mexico. The average temperature here is 35 degrees; the sun shines nearly all year and the beautiful cool water is perfect for swimming. The fabulous islands of Sanibel, Captiva, and Estero, and the beautiful city of Cape Coral are all close by. Fort Myers’ 80,000 inhabitants are an interesting mix of young and old with an average age of 32 years. The town beguiles with white beaches under majestic palm trees, endless shopping avenues, family-friendly leisure attractions, excellent fishing opportunities, 130 golf courses, and restaurants of all types. The best place for a stroll is the historic River District. The buildings in the carefully renovated quarter have a southern states feel; countless cafés, restaurants, bars, and shops line the streets, and local artists exhibit their work in small galleries. The city and surrounding area is one of the fastest-developing parts of Florida, enjoying prospering tourism, a booming employment market, a stable infrastructure and a lively community. Of primary interest here are the river locations where large properties and exclusive apartments in newer high-rises offer the most beautiful living space. A detailed overview of the property market in Fort Myers can be found here.
Fort Lauderdale, with its canal landscape that spans over 400 kilometres in length, is known as the Venice of America and is a relaxed beach metropolis. Water taxis drive locals and guests along the canals to shops and restaurants or to one of the endlessly long, immaculately clean beaches. Fort Lauderdale, which is home to around 170,000 people, is in the subtropics and benefits from warm, not too dry weather. Culture enthusiasts particularly love the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, one of the most visited theatres in the world for its Broadway shows, and the Pompano Beach Amphitheater for its concerts. The Art Museum presents dynamic exhibitions and a collection of over 300 exhibits. When it comes to shopping, Sawgrass Mills, the largest designer outlet mall in the world, certainly has something to offer. Many restaurants are based on “sea-to-table” cuisine, serving fresh seafood prepared in the Floridian style; two dozen “dock-and-dine” restaurants can be accessed directly by boat. When night falls, the attractive Fort Lauderdale underground scene entices with live music, art and film. A more detailed overview of Fort Lauderdale’s property market can be found here.
Boca Raton, called simply “Boca” by its around 100,000 inhabitants, is located in the southeast of Florida, around 70 kilometres north of Miami between Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The climate is mild, with an average temperature from May to October of 33 degrees, and a gentle breeze blowing off the sea. The town’s unique appearance can be attributed to Addison Mizner; the eccentric architect imagined Boca Raton in the early twenties as a dream town. He created pink- and pastel-coloured houses in Spanish-Mediterranean style with pretty red tile roofs and shady arcades. The Boca Raton Resort & Club is the best-known building in the city and is also a creation of Mizner. The city parks, beaches, golf courses, first-class art museums, and some of the best restaurants in the south make the people here very happy. Furthermore, Boca is home to the popular Festival of the Arts BOCA, as well as numerous jazz clubs, and concerts in Mizner Park. Keen shoppers bustle around the boutiques in the glittering town centre. It is no coincidence that many celebrities and millionaires have settled here–hence some of the world’s most luxurious boats and yachts lining the harbour of Boca Raton. The most expensive properties are the detached houses and apartments in areas such as Gulf Stream, Highland Beach and Ocean Ridge, boasting views of the Atlantic or the canals.