What’s it like to live in Sarasota, FL?

Sarasota has a distinct vibe that’s different from Florida’s relative coastal cities, with its own vibrant arts scene, beachy atmosphere and burgeoning food culture. People who choose Sarasota as their home are generally called by its unique charm. This metro area of just over 800,000 people has a renowned opera housea number of rooftop bars and the popular beach of Siesta KeyWhat makes the region special is its duality – downtown Sarasota boasts resorts and fine dining, but strolling Siesta Key Village or St. Armands Circle offers a more intimate, seaside ambience.

There was once a time when Sarasota was dismissed as a playground for retirees, but that reputation is slowly changing as more young professionals begin to make it their own. One of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods is the Rosemary District, where eclectic murals decorate storefronts and modern condominiums and hotels sit near casual breakfast cafes.


U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there.


  • 7.8 Desirability
  • 6.1 Value
  • 6.1 Job Market
  • 7 Quality of Life
  • 9.1 Net Migration

What is there to do in Sarasota, FL?

Beaches line the Gulf Coast of Florida, so there’s no shortage of outdoor activities for residents. Sarasota has multiple popular outposts, including Lido Key Beach and Siesta Key Beach, which is known for its soft, white sand.

The region has a number of formal art opportunities, like the Sarasota Orchestra, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Sarasota Opera House and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The region attracts classic live music acts – think the remaining Beach Boys – but has a harder time attracting younger, more current performers.

The museum culture in Sarasota continues to buildThe John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art offers modern art as well as an eclectic collection of work from Baroque artists like Peter Paul Rubens. There’s also a circus museum and Ca’ d’Zan, John Ringling’s lush, Mediterranean-style home.

Downtown Sarasota’s bayfront is a popular spot to walk and admire the extensive view without spending a day on the sand. The region also has a number of tiki bars and seaside restaurants for those looking to kick back and enjoy the Old Florida lifestyle – O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill and New Pass Grill and Bait Shop are local favorites.

What’s the cost of living in Sarasota, FL?

Sarasota’s popularity with both the over-65 and under-65 sets means rising home prices, and many people who want to live here are priced out.

For a metro area of its size, Sarasota is not a cheap place to live. In fact, average rental prices for an apartment are even slightly higher in Sarasota than in nearby metropolitan areas like St. Petersburg and Tampa.

In Sarasota, residents pay a combination of local property taxes from the county, city and school districts. Florida is one of a few states that do not have a state income tax, but many residents say that is offset by the state’s high property taxes. With the state’s homestead exemption, however, if property owners can prove that their Florida home is their primary residence, the assessed value of their home will only go up by a maximum of 3% each year. That grandfathers in a number of property owners who are paying low property taxes relative to the overall current value of their home.