Cape Coral, Florida is a city of about 180,000 people located in southwest Florida along the Gulf of Mexico.
It is nicknamed the “Waterfront Wonderland.”
If you like boating, sailing, fishing, and napping on white-sand beaches, then Cape Coral may be the place for you.
If, however, you’re not a fan of hot weather, this may not be the right place to make your home.
25 Pros And Cons of Living in Cape Coral FL
1. Prime Boating
Cape Coral is a boater’s paradise, with its 400 miles of canals, many of which directly access the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf of Mexico.
Boaters can access the waterways through five improved boat ramps and several unimproved freshwater ramps.
Unimproved ramps lack paved parking lots and restrooms but still allow access to the water.
Boaters can take a variety of tours in and around Cape Coral.
You can take trips to watch manatee and dolphins, to the islands of Sanibel, Captiva, and Estero, to the beaches, the Everglades, and Naples.
2. Excellent Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
If you like fishing, you’ll enjoy the city.
Cape Coral’s canals and rivers provide extensive freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities year-round.
Winter is an excellent time to fish for largemouth bass, redfish, and large speckled sea trout.
Redfish, largemouth bass, snook, and tarpon also are plentiful in the spring.
Snook, tailing redfish, and tarpon are available in the summer.
Fall fishers also will find snook, tarpon, peacock bass, and redfish.
You also can find many locations within the city that allow 24-hour fishing, both freshwater and saltwater.
You’ll also find several fishing tournaments to test your skill.
3. Desirable Weather
If you enjoy being outdoors all year, Cape Coral will please you.
The city has an average of 265 sunny days per year, and the temperature hardly ever falls below 44 degrees.
Rainfall is highest in summer.
Winters are short, and the coldest day on average each year is January 18, with lows of 56 degrees and a high of 74.
The average water temperature in summer is 82 degrees, and in winter, it’s 71 degrees.
Cape Coral has beaches on both the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf of Mexico.
They range from small family beaches to island retreats to party beaches.
They have white sand and palm trees and are part of a preserve of mangrove forests that teem with aquatic life.
Two of the most popular are Yacht Club Beach and Four Freedoms Park, both of which are kid friendly.
Lover’s Key State Park is more secluded and is a haven for wildlife as well as those humans who desire a quieter beach experience.
5. Waterfront Living
The Cape Coral lifestyle revolves around water because the city has miles and miles of waterfront.
In addition to boating and fishing, swimming and lying on the beach also are popular pastimes.
Cape Coral has more canals than any other city in the world, including
Venice, after which it was modeled. It also has several islands, such as Matlacha and Pine Islands, beautiful paradises to visit or live in.
The islands of Sanibel and Captiva also are just across the bay.
6. Nature Parks
If you love hiking in nature, you’ll love the city’s nature parks.
Currently, the city has three nature parks: Sirenia Vista Park, which features manatees and ospreys; Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, which features tortoises and yellow crown night herons; and Rotary Park, which features butterflies and nature trails.
Yellow Fever Creek Preserve, which houses the last remaining cypress strand, is under development and will eventually be a 535-acre nature park with equestrian trails and a dog park.
7. Lots of Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
Because the weather is so sunny, the city provides many outdoor recreation activities in addition to water activities.
Parks throughout the city offer trails for walking, biking, and jogging.
Many of the parks also provide opportunities for basketball, bocce, pickleball, shuffleboard, and tennis.
The city has six golf courses within its limits and an additional 78 courses within 20 miles.
The city has a skateboard park and Cape Coral Park, which has one of the oldest BMX tracks in the United States.
The Tour de Cape is an annual cycling and running event.
8. Great Food
The city has a variety of excellent restaurants, many of which feature world-class seafood.
However, seafood isn’t the only cuisine available.
The city’s best restaurants also feature Cajun, Italian, Thai, creative vegetarian, and Australian cuisines.
The city has cafés featuring punk rock music and infamous burgers.
It also has an excellent gastro-pub.
Additional restaurants and cuisine are easily available in nearby Fort Myers.
9. Low Crime Rate
Cape Coral has a low crime rate when compared with many other cities in Florida.
The chance of being a victim of a violent crime for residents of Cape Coral is 1 in 861 as compared with 1 in 264 for Florida as a whole.
Cape Coral also has only 21 crimes per square mile compared with the national median of 28.3.
Cape Coral offers safe suburban neighborhoods and security for its residents.
10. Highly Rated School System
The city’s four high schools and multiple middle schools and elementary schools are rated better than most schools in the country based on test scores.
The schools have an average math proficiency of 63 percent compared with 58 percent in the rest of Florida and an average reading proficiency of 59 percent vs. 55 percent in the rest of the state.
The city also has a charter school system, including two elementary, one middle, and one high school.
These charter schools are free public schools which follow different academic curricula.
Besides the public schools, good private education options also exist, such as Trinity Preparatory School.
11. Moderate Cost of Living
Cape Coral’s cost of living is about 4 percent below the national average based on the cost of housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation.
Full-time residents of Florida enjoy other financial benefits that lower this cost further.
For example, Florida residents pay no state income tax or inheritance taxes.
Also, the sales tax of 6 percent is below the national average of 7.3 percent.
12. Close to Shopping
There are three popular shopping areas in Cape Coral:
- Coralwood: with national anchor stores, a movie theater, and a Starbucks.
- Cape Harbor: with restaurants, art galleries, and other boutiques.
- The Shops at Surfside: with stores such as Belk and Home Goods, and several places to eat.
Some of the city’s islands also have quaint shops and restaurants.
Nearby, Coconut Mall in Estero features several boutiques, shops, and a movie theater.
The city of Fort Myers is about 20 minutes away and features the 160-store Edison Mall.
Edison Mall has national brands such as Penney’s, Macy’s, and Victoria’s Secret.
13. Cape Coral Art Festival and Marketplace
Each year the Rotary Club sponsors a two-day festival in July.
The festival features arts and artisan crafts, including ceramic, digital, drawing, fiber, glass, graphics, jewelry, metal works, mixed media, paintings, photography, sculpture, wearables, and woodcraft.
It also features a marketplace of stores, professional services and restaurants, and a display of student artwork.
14. Sounds of Jazz and Blues Festival
The city’s parks and recreation department and other sponsors present the Sounds of Jazz and Blues Festival in March every year on a beautiful waterfront venue at Marina Village.
The festival typically draws thousands into the city. In addition to great music, the event also features a buffet dinner.
15. Reasonable Home Prices
You can find affordable housing.
You’ll pay less in taxes, too.
The home tax rate for Lee County is 1.145 percent, which is just below the national average of 1.15 percent.
16. Numerous Colleges and Universities
Cape Coral also has 12 colleges and universities within a 45-minute drive.
These include the following:
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- Southern Technical College
- Florida Southwestern State College
- Franklin University
- Hodges University
- Ave Maria University
- Ave Maria Law School
- Wolford College
- Immokalee Technical College
- Charlotte Technical College
- Lorenzo Walker Technical College
- Fort Myers Technical College
17. Growing Economy
Manpower ranks the job market in Cape Coral as No. 1.
The market also is growing at a rate of about 1.9 percent a year.
Over the next ten years, the growth is predicted to be 41 percent, which is higher than the US average of 33.5 percent.
Health care, manufacturing, and education are the industries with the greatest number of jobs currently.
Top employers include the following:
- Affordable Roofing of SW Florida Inc.
- City of Cape Coral
- Coral Health Care Associates LLC
- First Home Builders of Florida LLC
- Guerrieri Management, Inc.
- Viking Construction Corporation SW Florida
18. Museums and Culture
Although many of the city’s strengths are its outdoor activities, Cape Coral also has a number of indoor cultural activities to participate in.
The Cape Coral Historical Museum presents the history of the city.
The Southwest Florida Military Museum in nearby Fort Myers features an expansive display of military artifacts from all major American wars.
The Cultural Park Theater produces diverse plays from September through May and also offers acting classes to children and adults.
19. Variety of Housing Styles
No matter what type of house you want, Cape Coral probably has it.
The city offers a variety of housing styles, including ranchers, bungalows, modern villas, traditional homes, and condos.
The city has a considerable amount of undeveloped land and newly built homes, so it is a perfect place for those who want to custom build.
20. Great Neighborhoods
The city and its suburbs also offer several great neighborhoods to choose from, and if you like waterfront living, you can find a waterfront home in almost any neighborhood.
- South Cape is excellent for its festivals, theme nights, bars, and restaurants.
- Cape Harbour is an upscale yachting community with great restaurants, festivals, and boating contests.
- Cape Coral Riverfront offers properties along the Caloosahatchee River.
- Cape Royal is the only gated golf community in Cape Coral and features single-family homes on large lots. It also has vacant lots available for building.
- The Pelican neighborhood has excellent restaurants and schools. It’s also close to the city’s Farmer’s Market.
- Unit 64 provides homes with sailboat access, and its claim to fame is the Gloriana Canal.
- Lakeview at Verandah includes modern homes, nine miles of biking and walking trails, and breathtaking scenery.
- Turtle Run consists mostly of waterfront properties and has amenities such as restaurants and shopping.
- Burnt Store Marina has affordable homes and is a great place to sail.
- Santa Barbara also has affordable single-family homes and apartments, two waterways, and a greenway.
- City Center also offers affordable housing, both owned and rented. Housing consists primarily of apartments with some single-family homes.
21. A Great Place to Retire
Niche has named Cape Coral one of the Top 10 best places to retire, and its demographics skew toward middle age and older.
The city’s median age is 43.
About one-quarter of the population is between ages 45 and 64, while 19.6 percent are 65 or older.
The city is also a popular golf destination with both private and public clubs such as Coral Oaks Golf Course, Cape Royal Golf Club, Hunter’s Run Executive Golf Course, and Palmetto-Pine Country Club.
A local art studio offers classes, and the Lake Kennedy Senior Center offers various activities for Baby Boomers.
22. Varied Nightlife
Because Cape Coral is a vacation destination, it offers a great variety of nightlife for a city its size.
It offers tiki bars, upscale waterfront bars, sports bars, and membership clubs.
Most bars and restaurants offer live music.
The Dixie Roadhouse is a country and western dance club which has been voted the best nightclub in southwest Florida.
During the season, a trolley will take you to nine different bars in pub crawling events.
23. Great City with a Small-Town Feel
Cape Coral is a popular Florida city, but, compared to many others, it is more peaceful, less crowded, and has fewer traffic jams.
It’s also clean and well-organized.
24. Popular with Snowbirds
With year-round fishing, golf, and other outdoor recreational activities, Cape Coral attracts a lot of snowbirds seeking respite from Northern winters.
Because houses are affordable, having a second home here is possible.
25. A Great Place to Raise a Family
Niche has named Cape Coral one of the top cities in Florida to raise a family.
The city’s affordability, excellent schools, low crime rate, small-town feel, and outdoor recreational opportunities are some of the reasons.
1. Humid Summers
While the subtropical climate is an advantage for many months of the year, summers can be oppressively hot and humid.
From mid-April to mid-November, the city is muggy, oppressive, or miserable at least 38 percent of the time.
If you’re not accustomed to the heat, you’ll need to acclimate carefully, particularly if working or playing outside.
2. Hurricane Weather
Five months of the year, Cape Coral, like many Florida waterfront communities, is at a risk for hurricanes.
While weather forecasters can warn residents several days in advance so that they can evacuate, their property is at risk.
3. Risk of Flooding
Because the city has so much waterfront property, much of it is at risk for flooding from hurricanes as well as other storm surges and rain.
The city has developed infrastructure and keeps flood maps on its website to help residents minimize the potential damage.
4. Less Exciting for Younger People
Some have dubbed the city “Cape Coma” because the city attracts more retirees and snowbirds than it does young adults.
While many year-round activities exist that appeal to all ages, young adults often travel to nearby Ft. Myers for a more youthful nightlife scene.
5. Car Dependency
Cape Coral is definitely a city for car drivers and less friendly than many for walkers.
The walkability score is a low 17, and the bike score is only 39.
Almost all errands require a car, and most people cannot walk to a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop within five minutes.
The city also has minimal bike infrastructure.
The city does offer a trolley and bus system that includes a mini-bus system with door-to-door transport; however, they only operate Monday through Friday until 4 p.m.
6. Navigation Isn’t Intuitive
Many new residents find getting around the city to be difficult at first.
Instead of being divided by roads and neighborhoods as many cities are, it is organized by many smaller streets and mini neighborhoods.
Learning to navigate the canals requires considerable time and patience.
7. Waterfront Property Can Be Expensive
If you want to live on one of the canals or the river, you’ll pay a premium, especially for direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.
While, in general, homes are affordable here, some waterfront homes can run more than $2 million.
8. Pest Control Is Required
South Florida is a haven for a variety of pests who prefer its climate.
Top pests include the following:
- Cockroaches which like warm, moist places
- Bed bugs which can infiltrate furniture and travel effortlessly
- Silverfish which like hot places and will wander around in search of water
- Spiders, including some poisonous ones, who like warm, dark places
- Termites that do more damage to homes than wind and rain
- Rodents who like to live near canals and will come inside homes for food (They also often carry diseases.)
- Fleas that live on animals
- Mosquitoes that prefer standing water and carry diseases
9. Traffic Jams
Although a relatively small city, Cape Coral can be prone to traffic jams during peak times, especially on roads leading to Fort Myers and to the islands.
Traffic can be particularly heavy during the winter when snowbirds and tourists visit from the North.
While the traffic jams don’t rival those in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., or Boston, they still are irritating to many locals.
Cape Coral is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
While growth has a positive side, it also has a negative one.
Growth can lead to higher prices, greater density, and more traffic.
It also creates a need for infrastructure and other improvements.
For example, the city mayor has expressed the need to continue to add firefighters and police officers as the city grows to enable it to maintain its safety record.
Also, growth often brings with it changes that some people will like, but others may not.
11. Wages Are Lower
While the cost of living is lower here than in many cities, the wages are lower as well.
The average income is $24,001, which is about 19 percent less than the national average income of $28,555.
The median household income also is lower, at $49,841 compared with a US average of $53,482 a year.
12. More Restaurant and Shopping Variety is Found Elsewhere
If you’re used to living in a larger city, you may not find enough various dining and shopping opportunities.
Fort Myers, which is about 20 minutes away, has a greater variety of shops and restaurants.
Fort Myers has a large 160-store mall with national brands, as well as Franklin Shops, which resembles a large indoor market.
13. Nightlife is More Energetic Elsewhere
Those who like to party may find options in Cape Coral more limiting than those of larger cities or cities with a younger population.
Nearby Fort Myers, for example, offers a variety of more energetic options, including a booze cruise, the Buddha nightclub, which features live music, and a downtown riverwalk.
14. Health Care Is Expensive
You’ll probably pay more for health care if you are moving here from another state.
Florida, as a whole, is ranked 49th out of 50 states in terms of healthcare access and affordability.
Health care costs in Cape Coral are more expensive compared to the rest of the state, especially senior health care.
Senior in-home health care costs an average of $4,350 a month compared with a national average of $4,099.
Also, fewer people have health insurance in Cape Coral than in the rest of the United States.
For example, about 92 percent of Americans have health insurance, but only 87 percent of Cape Coral residents do.
15. Energy Costs Are High in Summer
Because the temperatures are so hot, humid, and muggy in the summer, air conditioners run almost constantly from April through September.
Annual energy costs in Florida run 40 percent higher than the rest of the country, and 27 percent of Floridians’ electricity use is air conditioning.
Residents can save money by choosing systems that operate efficiently and maintaining their systems properly.
16. Road and Highway Infrastructure Is Lacking
Cape Coral suffers from a history of poorly planned streets, limited bridge capacity, and no direct access to an interstate.
Lee County is trying to remedy some of these issues and is discussing building a new commuter bridge over the Caloosahatchee River and widening the Kismet Parkway leading to Fort Myers.
17. Auto Insurance is Expensive
Florida is one of the most expensive states for car insurance, even though the car accident rate in Cape Coral is relatively low.
The national average premium in the United States is $1,674 per year for full coverage and $565 per year for minimum coverage.
Motorists in Florida pay $2,364 annually for full coverage and $1,101 annually for minimum coverage.
In Cape Coral, in particular, the average motorist pays about $3,100 for auto insurance.
18. Renting a Home is Expensive
Renters are at a disadvantage in Cape Coral’s housing market.
A typical single-family home will cost about $821 a month more to rent than to buy.
This difference between buying and renting is more than double the state norm.
The median rent in the city is about $2,000 a month, while the median mortgage is $1,179.
Apartments also cost more to rent than single-family homes cost to buy.
The median low-rise apartment is $1,600, while the median high-rise is $2,750.
If you plan to live in Cape Coral for more than a short time, you’ll want to consider buying a home as soon as possible.
19. Politics Are Conservative
If you’re liberal, you’ll find the politics to be a bit different from yours.
The politics in Lee County and especially in Cape Coral are conservative.
The county has voted Republican in the last five presidential elections by a majority of 58.1 percent to 37.9 percent.
That being said, several residents contribute to Democratic or liberal causes, although the gifts are small.
Between 2015 and 2018, 11,068 contributions totaling $438,234 were given to liberal and Democratic causes.
This represents an average contribution of $40.
In the same period, 2,673 contributions totaling $586,517 were given to the Republican Party and conservative causes, averaging $219 per contribution.
20. Commuting Times Are Higher than Average
If you work in or near Cape Coral, you’ll spend more time in your car. Commutes in Cape Coral are slightly longer than the average for the rest of the country.
The average commuter spends more than 26 minutes in the car traveling to their job while the average US commute is 25 minutes.
About 2 percent of commuters spend more than 90 minutes traveling each way to their jobs.
About 83 percent of commuters drive alone, and 8.5 percent carpool.
The rest work from home.
21. Fewer People Are College Graduates
If you’re a college graduate, you’ll find fewer with your education level.
A higher percentage, however, have graduated from high school.
In Cape Coral, 92.1 percent have graduated from high school, while the national average is 84.6 percent.
22. The Risk of Drought is High
Cape Coral is prone to droughts.
In fact, the city had to pump water from a reservoir in another county last year to offset a drought.
The city often goes through wild cycles of feast or famine with water, rotating between floods and drought.
23. Groceries Are a Little More Expensive
You’ll probably pay a bit more for groceries than you’re used to, especially if you’ve been living in a larger Northern city.
This is because Cape Coral is a bit off the beaten path.
In fact, groceries are about 5 percent higher than the national average.
24. The Canals Have Alligators
South Florida is known for its alligators, and the canals of Cape Coral are no exception.
For the most part, they tend to live quiet lives in the canals.
A few reports of alligators being found in swimming pools or killing small pets have surfaced, but fortunately, no human deaths have been reported.
25. It’s Home to Invasive Lizards
Three types of invasive lizards make their home in Cape Coral.
They are the Nile monitor, the green iguana, and the spiny-tailed iguana.
Invasive species potentially can threaten the ecology of a region, plants, and other animals.
While iguanas are found throughout Florida, the Nile monitors are unique to Cape Coral.
They are believed to number in the thousands and are good predators.
The Environmental Resources Division is conducting a trapping program to try to rid the area of the Nile monitors.