Sanibel, Florida

Best Places to Retire in Florida


Sanibel is a barrier island just off the southwest coast of Florida, not far from Fort Myers. It has a permanent population of about 6,200 residents and has a community vision and mission to protect its natural environment.  About 65 percent of the island is a sanctuary. The community of Sanibel strives for a balance that sustains, preserves and restores natural settings for residents, visitors, and wildlife.  Limited new development will occur, however there are well-established regulations to minimize harm to the natural environment, or the character of the community.

Although Sanibel is something of a quiet getaway, there are lots of things to do including, community activities, classes, and cultural opportunities.  There are also many volunteer efforts supported by this active community.  The island has numerous boutiques, specialty shops, and galleries.  There are three live theaters and a good number of fine dining establishments. The beaches are magnificent — so are the sunsets!  Sanibel is noted as one of the very best shelling areas in the world. There are also miles of well maintained bicycle paths, and there is the five mile Wildlife Drive through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge which you can also enjoy on your bike or by car. The cost of living on the island is somewhat high, with the average cost of a house being $480,000 (2004).

Arts & Culture

Sanibel Music Festival presents classical music of the highest standard and to promote the careers of emerging artists through performance opportunities. The Festival presents seven to nine concerts each “Save March for Music” season, with piano, chamber music, two operas and a children’s concert.

Art Galleries are listed on

The island’s lively arts include two local playhouses on Periwinkle Way and a dinner theater nearby in Fort Myers. Old Schoolhouse Theatre is a 90-seat building that serves up New York cabaret and Broadway musical productions.

Barrier Island Group for the Arts (B.I.G. Arts) hosts concerts, readings, film series, art classes, and workshops year round.

In Fort Myers, The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, features professional performers in a large scale, modern auditorium. It serves cocktails and offers a salad bar and buffet.


The Recreation and Parks Department sponsors an extensive list of programs geared for seniors and others for youth.  The list ranges from “aerobics with sand”, kayak trips, and yoga to a masters swimming program. In addition to the many programs, there nearly 23 miles of off-road biking trails (  (See also the Island Seniors Program listed below under “Seniors Programs.”)


The only school on Sanibel is an elementary school.  However, Sanibel Community Center and BIG Arts (Barrier Island Group for the Arts) hold a variety of classes, seminars, workshops and special events.

Florida Gulf Coast University is a public, four- year college offering degree programs in education, business, health professions, liberal arts, and protective services.  Enrollment is 4,200 students.

Edison Community College offers Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees as well as various certificate programs. It has a 140-acre main campus in south Lee County with 23 structures, including the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.  The Collier County campus opened in 1992 in east Naples, and the Charlotte County campus opened in 1997 in Punta Gorda.  The college has a staff of 350 professionals and enrolls over 13,000 for-credit students and 10,000 non-credit students each year.

Seniors Programs

The Island Seniors Program is sponsored by the City of Sanibel Recreation Department.  This very extensive program includes physical exercise activities, special events, travel, health programs, social gatherings, and seminars.  All geared to seniors.  Monthly events are detailed its newsletter.

Island Seniors, Inc. serves as an advisory board to the city for purposes of developing the Island Seniors Program.  It is a non-profit entity whose primary mission is to raise funds to help defray the costs of seniors programs and equipment.  Annual membership cost is nominal.


There is no hospital on Sanibel. However, a good number of physicians have offices there, including dentists, internists, ophthalmologists and other specialists.  HealthPark Medical Center is located about five miles from the island causeway. It is a 166 bed acute care hospital offering 24 hr. emergency care, including cardiac, surgical, inpatient and outpatient services.  It is the anchor facility of the Lee Memorial Health System.

Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center is located in Fort Myers, Fla.


Southwest Florida International Airport is located just outside Fort Myers. There is no public transportation system on Sanibel, however a number of shuttle services transport passengers to and from the airport.  Taxi service is also available.


Sanibel has an average high of 72 degrees and a low of 52 degrees in January.
July averages are 91 degrees and 73 degrees.  The relative humidity averages 52%.


Fort Myers News Press –

Property Taxes

State of Florida Department of Revenue — property tax links and downloads. (  The property tax office for Lee County, is located in the Constitutional Complex building Fort Myers (website for contact information only) (

State Taxes

Florida has no state income tax nor does it tax inheritance.

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Naples – 42 miles
Sarasota – 103 miles
Tampa – 153 miles
Marco Island – 62 miles

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