I have lived here in Sarasota since I was 4. The entire state of Florida is built upon tourism (theme parks, beaches, etc.) so there is hardly anything left over for the people who actually LIVE here year round. Sarasota is very seasonal. The summers are extremely hot and humid. Winter is nice but it's hard to enjoy when all the snowbirds come down and mob the place. From October till about April is the heaviest tourist season. All the businesses will begin hiring and the traffic will be horrible (congested with old people who come down for the winter and go back north for the summer). The school system is horrible. Every year there are more and more budget cuts (again this is a TOURIST state. I would never, EVER suggest raising a child here, under any circumstance.) All of the people who I grew up with have moved away or plan on moving away as soon as possible (I'm moving to Seattle this summer.) I've seen teachers drink alcohol in classrooms. With a state so focused on tourism, why would they even bother spending money on the school system. (Note that this state is 49th in the nation for education.)
As far as crime goes, my mother is a probation officer and there is a lot that goes on the that media just does not cover. It is NOT as safe as everyone makes it out to be, but Sarasota is supposedly this picturesque community and the city does not want it to be tarnished. At some of the most prestigious high schools in the county are reported rape cases, HUNDREDS of drug offenses. While I was attending riverview (only one year because I could not stand it) there was a physical altercation at LEAST once a day. There are murder cases, rape cases, robberies, etc that are not covered by the media here.
If you are 50+ there are plenty things to do in this community. It is tailored to the rich and elderly. For someone my age (early 20s), it is REALLY lacking. I've heard of a lot of high school kids dying of drug overdoses. With nothing else to do you really can't blame them. And drive down MLK and you can get anything you could imagine (as far as the drug market goes.)
The people in Sarasota are rude elitists. I've been working in customer service since I was in high school (now in college) and I am continually shocked every day with just how vicious people can be.
My parents are now in their mid to late 50's and share the same feelings as I do about the city. The summers are unbearable, and the winters just don't make up for it. The people here are ill tempered maniacs who think that since they live here they own the world.
Please heed my warning. If you are elderly and would like to retire here, this place is probably what you're looking for, if you can tolerate the heat and humidity in the summer and the major tourism in the winter.
If you are young and/or raising a family DO NOT MOVE HERE. For the sake of yourself and/or child. Move to a state with a better school system and better opportunities.