Sarasota is an affluent resort community with an interesting history. In the late 1880’s, golf was introduced to the area from Scotland, and today, there are more than 30 golf courses near downtown. Leftover Scottish influence defines the appearance of many buildings. Led in part by the Ringling family of circus fame, the area became a top resort and real estate investment attraction in the 1920’s.
Today the area is booming once again as a pleasant residential area and retirement destination, and this has impacted housing and living costs. Bradenton is more residential and close enough to the Tampa area that some make the commute, while also being close enough to that area that many weekenders make the trip south to enjoy Bradenton’s beaches. Venice is a small coastal city some 12 miles south of Sarasota.
The downtown areas of all three cities are pleasant and walkable, with plain, sprawling suburbs surrounding Bradenton and Sarasota towards the north-south I-75 corridor. Although the economy in general and future job growth projections are strong, this is not a great area for the career-minded to settle; much of the area’s wealth and economic base are brought in from elsewhere, and employment is heavily centered on healthcare, government and retail. There is plenty to do, and the area is strategically to provide a smaller city lifestyle while taking advantage of the greater set of city services available in the Tampa-St Petersburg area.
Located on the shore of Sarasota Bay, Sarasota sits on level, sandy terrain across from a long, narrow barrier island. There are areas of banyan trees and other tropical plants. Inland sections contain agriculture and orchards. The climate is subtropical with a substantial Gulf influence. Summers are long, warm, and humid, with afternoon highs of 90 or more and warm evenings in the 70’s. Afternoon sea breezes and frequent thunderstorms moderate temperatures. Winters are quite mild with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s and lows rarely below 50. Invasions of cold northern air produce an occasional light frost and a cold winter morning or two.