Retiring in Cape Coral Florida

Cape Coral Boat Ramp

If you’re thinking of retiring in Cape Coral there are things you should know. Things the Chamber of Commerce and your real estate agent may not mention. That doesn’t mean retiring in Cape Coral is a bad idea. Living in Cape Coral is paradise for many, but for others, it’s not.

Reasons to retire in Cape Coral

There are lots of reasons to retire in Florida and particularly retire in Cape Coral. The cost of living is low and there is no state income tax. Homes are inexpensive and there are plenty of things to do and places to go geared towards seniors, including the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It’s easy to get around as traffic is usually reasonable except for a couple of months in season and Public Transportation is cheap. Excellent medical care is available at the Lee County VA Medical Center and Cape Coral Hospital. But what clinches it for many retirees is how much fun they can have, especially if they enjoy the water.

The Water

Living in Cape Coral Florida means being near water. Cape Coral has 400 miles of navigable waterways which is more than anyCape Coral Beach other city, not just in the U.S., but in the world. Most of these waterways are canals. Many of them lead to the Gulf of Mexico or, if you have the time, through Lake Okeechobee and out into the Atlantic on the east cost of Florida. It’s common for retirees to buy a reasonably priced house on a salt water canal. Imagine sitting in your backyard fishing and catching game fish like snook, or excellent eating fish like mangrove snapper and sheepshead.

However there are some facts you should be aware of. Retiring in Cape Coral doesn’t mean you’re going to live on a cape, nor is there any coral. You won’t be surrounded with crystal clear water like in the Bahamas or Keys. There are things you should check before settling in on any canal. Some of the canals aren’t salt water and they lead nowhere. Some are salt,Pool cage in Cape Coral but you have to putter along for a long time before going on plane, or puting up your sails. In parts of many canals, a sail boat will never reach open water because they’d have to go under a bridge that’s too low for the mast. Getting out of your canal may mean going through a lock, or passing over water that is so silted in it’s too shallow on some tides. The best thing to do before signing a contract is to make the trip from your prospective home by boat. Doing so may save you a lot of frustration.

An airiel view of Cape Coral
Cape Coral canals leading into the Caloosahatchee River

Many so called saltwater canals are connected to the Caloosahatchee. It’s a tidal river, and labeled on some government documents as a drainage ditch. Sometimes runoff and heavy releases from Lake Okeechobee turn it into a polluted fresh water river. A lot of people are trying to change this, but so far with little success.

Update 9/28/2015
Today CNBC named Cape Coral/Ft. Myers the best place to retire if you love the water.

Why you might not want to live in Cape Coral

Living in Cape Coral during the summer is not for everyone. It gets hot and humid. The average high for the four hottest months is 92 degrees. That may not sound bad, but the humidity makes it feel much worse. For a few residents a fan is enough. For others, the air conditioning will be on day and night. Factor that into your budget. It gets bad enough that twenty percent of the Cape’s residents leave during the hot months.

You may be surprised by the lack of sidewalks. If it’s upscale infrastructureSidewalks you want, check out Venice or the barrier Islands like Sanibel. Also some newcomers wonder why there are so few fenced yards and so many pool cages. The screened in pools make them fear bugs and mosquitoes, but those aren’t really a problem. Mosquito control does a good job.

Hurricanes are something else you need to be aware of, as well as how it effects your insurance. It’s possible that in the future a home on low ground will be impossible to insure or exorbitantly expensive. Buying or building a raised home may cost a little more now, but save a lot later.

From July 1, 2013 thru July 1, 2014, Cape Coral was the sixth fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. The population increased 2.7% during that time, and reached a total of 679,513. Clearly a lot of people like living in Cape Coral. Still everywhere has its positives and negatives. Most seniors retiring in Cape Coral are happy with their choice, but it’s not for everyone.

Update: 12/15/2017
SmartAsset has named Cape Coral as the top boom town in the US for 2017.

Update: 2/16/2016
Today Forbes mentioned Cape Coral as having a low serious crime rate, above average air quality, and a cost of living that is 4% below the national average.

Update: 6/8/2015
Today rated Cape Coral as the 8th best place to retire in the U.S. Among other things they mentioned that the crime rate is well below the National average.

Update 8/29/2015
WalletHub has put out their new list of the best and worst cities to retire in. Cape Coral was the fourth best. CBS News reported on the list and we’re proud to say they provided their readers with a link to this article.

Cape Coral Florida


  1. We took a trip and stayed a couple weeks. Two adults and two kids . The trip was very expensive. The food whether it was at a restaurant or a Publix was all very expensive. We looked at some homes and rentals while we were here all very expensive too. If you want to live here be ready to have your pockets drained dry

    • Things here were less expensive when I wrote the article. Like much of America, Florida has been booming for years. It will cost more to visit or live here than it did awhile ago. Costs here are still lower than in many states, but I agree with you, Paradise ain’t cheap.

  2. Thanks Chuck for your authentic article. We are looking in some other areas of Florida ( Bradenton and Cocoa Beach). Your info applies to all coastal areas. Great info to consider!

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