Sarasota vs. Naples

A few weeks ago I headed down to Naples, Florida to check it out. Home buyers that contact us will often look in Sarasota as well as Naples for retiring or purchasing a vacation home. We lose buyers to that area and they lose buyers to Sarasota. Naturally, since I sell here my first instinct is to say, "Sarasota is Better!" However I will try to objectively compare the two areas.

A friend of mine, Tim Ryan of, recently opened his own real estate brokerage so I went down there with Jason Painter to see his new offices. He was nice enough to show me around Naples like I was a potential home buyer.  If you are thinking of buying in that area I highly recommend Tim. You can find him at or call his office at 239.963.4070.

Demographics of Sarasota & Naples

Sarasota and Collier counties are large. They incorporate many towns. For example, North Port is part of Sarasota county but is roughly 35 miles away from downtown Sarasota. For this reason, I used the city demographics instead of the county demographics. The data below comes from 

    Sarasota    Naples 
County Population, 2010 (Sarasota & Collier)    379,448    321,520
Population, 2010        51,917       19,939
Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010     5.2%    2.1%
Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010     16.8%    10.4%
Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2010     22.4%    48.4%
Housing units, 2010     29,151    17,753
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2006-2010     $227,500    $845,100
Median household income 2006-2010    $40,183    $75,836
Land area in square miles, 2010    14.66    12.31

City of Sarasota

City of Sarasota

City of Naples


Median Home Price

There are some noticeable differences here. In Naples the median value of owner occupied housing is $845,100, yet only $227,500 in Sarasota. You might interpret this a few ways:

  1. The city of Sarasota offers a fantastic value when compared to Naples.
  2. There are more luxury properties in the city of Naples raising the median home price or fewer lower priced properties. 
  3. There are fewer luxury properties in the city of Sarasota lowering the median home price or more lower priced properties.

Older Population in Naples?

I often hear the joke, "Old people live in Sarasota and their parents live in Naples."

As you can see above, 48.4% of the population Naples is above 65 years old while only 22.4% of people in the city of Sarasota are over the age of 65. Maybe the joke is accurate?

Higher Household Income in Naples

The median household income in Sarasota is $40,183 which is far less than Naples at $75,836. This makes sense as there are either a larger concentration of luxury properties or fewer lower end homes.


If you drive around Naples you will notice that there is no downtown district. You won't see any high rise office or condo buildings. 5th Avenue in Naples seems to be the epicenter of the town. I must say that it is really nice. It is very posh and upscale. There are a variety of nice places to shop and eat. It reminds me of St. Armands Circle but perhaps with fewer touristy gift shops.

The population density is much lower in the Naples. In roughly the same land area Sarasota has almost 52,000 people yet Naples only has only about 20,000 people. I did not see any tall condo buildings (1350 Main, Plaza at Five Point, Marina Tower) in the downtown area of Naples.

If you prefer a downtown area with office and condo high rises you might lean towards Sarasota. If you prefer low density, small buildings then perhaps Naples would be better for you.


Naples is further south than Sarasota so you would expect it to be a bit warmer. It is hot in both areas in the summer. Some people prefer Naples over Sarasota because of the warmer winter weather. Below is a temperature comparison between the two areas. I found it at


As expected, Naples is warmer than Sarasota. As far as the water temperature goes most would agree that it is probably too cold to get in the water in the winter time in both Naples and Sarasota.

Average Temperatures in Winter

    Sarasota    Naples 
December       73       78
January    71   76
February    74    78 
March    77    80 
April    81    84


I did get to check out one of the beaches while I was in Naples. We went to the Naples Pier and walked out to see the water and sand. The sand reminded me a bit like Lido Key or Longboat Key. It was very nice and the beaches were pleasant. However, the sand was not the quality of Siesta Key. The water looked cloudier than the waters around Sarasota. It did not have the clarity that you see at the Sarasota beaches. However, perhaps it was just a rough day. I will have to check it out the next time I go down there.

Waterfront Living

One noticeable difference between Sarasota and Naples was the amount of waterfront properties. See the map of Naples below.


Most of the waterfront properties are either on the beach or found in Port Royal, Park Shore or the Moorings (I am going by the map here so I might not be 100% accurate). There are some amazing beachfront estates in Naples. I don't know for sure but I think there are probably more beachfront homes in Naples. Except for Casey Key most of the barrier islands around Sarasota have condos lining the beach.

When I was in Naples I did not see many "WOW" water views. Sarasota seems to offer more of that. When you drive over the John Ringling Bridge and throughout other parts of town you often catch a magnificent water view that reminds of the beauty of Florida.

Compare the map of Sarasota below to Naples. Notice how much more bay front there is in Sarasota.


If you want water views it appears that Sarasota has the edge over Naples. You can find a fabulous water view from the mainland of Sarasota, Osprey, Nokomis as well as the barrier islands like Bird Key, Lido Key, Casey Key, Longboat Key and Siesta Key. You can find them from both condos and homes. That "WOW" water view seems to come at a higher price in Naples since there is less of it. 

Real Estate Prices

The average and median home prices in Naples has always been more expensive than Sarasota. I don't know Naples so it is a bit difficult to compare apples to apples. I used Tim Ryan's property search for the following information:

Single Family Homes

             Sarasota             Naples  
$10,000,000+   7 homes   15 homes
$5m - $10m   28 homes   52 homes
$2m - $5m   171 homes   181 homes
$1m - $2m   270 homes   236 homes
$0 - $1m   3,405 homes   1,436 homes

What is noticeable here is that Naples has roughly twice as many homes for sale with asking prices of $5 million or more. We have about the same amount of homes for sale between $2 million and $5 million. Sarasota has more than twice as many homes for sale under $1 million than Naples. The higher number of luxury homes in conjunction with fewer lower priced homes gives Naples a much higher average and median home price.


           Sarasota           Naples  
 $10,000,000+   0   1 condo
 $5m - $10m   5 condos   10 condos
 $2m - $5m   41 condos   68 condos
 $1m - $2m   99 condos   208 condos
 $0 - $1m   1,667 condos   2,478 condos

It is interesting to see that Naples has over twice as many condos for sale between the $1million and $2 million price range. Naples also has 811 more condos for sale priced under $1 million. I am actually surprised to see this as it seemed like there were more condos in Sarasota. However, I noticed that many of the beachfront condos in Naples are much larger buildings with higher floors and more units. I will double check the accuracy of these numbers.

Arts & Culture

I have a hunch that Sarasota probably has a leg up in the arts and culture department. This area has often been called the 'Cultural Capital of Florida." You can see the wide array of cultural venues that Sarasota has to offer here - A few of them include:

  • Asolo Theatre
  • Burns Court Cinema
  • Florida Studio Theatre
  • Golden Apple Dinner Theatre
  • Ringling School of Art & Design
  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • The Players Theatre
  • The Jazz Club of Sarasota
  • Sarasota Orchestra
  • Sarasota Ballet
  • Sarasota Opera House

After doing a few Google searches I can't seem to find much in the way of Naples Arts and Culture. We did drive by The Philharmonic Center for the Arts (The Phil in Naples) which was a gorgeous facility.

If this important to you I suggest asking someone much more involved in that world for an unbiased comparison of both cities.


Honestly, both Sarasota and Naples are really nice places to live and own. I don't think you can go wrong in either area. It is simply a matter of personal preference.

It is good to have choices.


#1 By Mary Godshalk at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Loved your article. Might I suggest that you also include the Longboat Key area as a comparison of higher priced homes that are included in the Sarasota area. Also it would have been helpful if you had included the price per square foot comparison. I follow your website with regularity and very much enjoy it.

#2 By Marc Rasmussen at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Hi Mary,

Thank you so much! Actually, Longboat Key and the other barrier islands are included in the numbers above. Great suggestion on the $/sq. ft. If I get some time I will add it. ;-)

#3 By Kristin Gustafson at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Great article. I lived in Naples in the late 80's when the Vineyards was just being developed. I liken it to what Lakewood Ranch has done to change Sarasota. I wish we had moved to Sarasota sooner as there is so much more to do here just as your article stated. I love our diversity in population, architecture, shopping choices from Main St, to Osprey Ave, to Southgate, the South Trail, and of course St Armand's. Boating is so much better here also which is why we chose Sarasota. I'm truly glad we lived in Naples when we did as
it was really charming in the late 80's. Now it seems to be just huge mansions with a few good restaurants, galleries, and shops.

#4 By Randy Bayard at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Great article Marc! As a former resident of Sarasota and a current resident of Naples; I think your observations are right on target. It was great to see the side by side comparison and note the similarities as well as the differences.
I enjoy living in Naples but will eventually return to Sarasota!!

#5 By Marc Rasmussen at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

@Randy - Thank you. It will be great to see you around Sarasota again!
@Kristin - Thank you for the comment. Great information for everyone! ;-)

#6 By Maureen Johnson at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM


#7 By bk at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM


Thanks for the great piece comparing Sarasota and Naples. I found it insightful and analytical.

#8 By Nella DeCesare at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Based on your criteria, especially median home prices etc., it seems like 2 very different markets altogether from a real estate perspective, so not really comparing Apples to Apples here. Clearly, if your budget is on the lower end, Sarasota is your place. But, to say that there are just "mansions and a few good restaurants" in Naples is really inaccurate. Naples is pristine and luxurious, as well as family-friendly. The "older" set you speak of are mainly part-time winter residents. I would like to see your age breakdown with seasonal numbers taken into account. Our full time residents are young families as well as older. We have an abundance of cultural activites as well, but sorry - we're not home to the "world-renowned" Ringling School (tongue-in-cheek on that one). It's no wonder Naples always makes national lists for top seaside town, best, beaches, most family-friendly - the list goes on. For an alledgedly "objective" article, it sure sounds biased! Lastly, there is a reason many will pay the median price to live in Naples! You do the math!

#9 By Marc Rasmussen at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Hi Nella,

Thank you for the comment. It is apparent which town you like better. ;-)

I tried to be objective but I am obviously a bit biased. I found Naples to be a fabulous place. Ultimately, the buyers will visit both areas and pick the one they like best. ;-)


#10 By vince friedel at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

thank you for the info

#11 By John at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

I must say, I enjoy reading all of you articles. You have presented some excellent reading on topics that are both useful and interesting. I hope someday to make Sarasota my home and fully expect to use your agency for any transaction. Thanks again and keep the articles coming.

#12 By Marc Rasmussen at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Hi John,

Thank you very much! We would be happy to help. ;-)

#13 By Barry Rosenfeld at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM


Very informative article. One statistic you left out was crime rate, which in Naples is non-existent, there are no "Gentleman Clubs" unfortunately or foretunately depending on how you look at it.

Also, where I looked at properties in Sarasota, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, I was stunned by the prices of what you call waterfront and the age, condition and square footage. They may be less expensive however the ones I saw needed to be gutted and totally rebuilt, or torn down completely.

Naples is also the cleanest city I have ever experienced. Even the center islands of the roads are landscaped and irrigated and absolutely trash and debris free. Unlike what I noticed in Sarasota.

And in the 10 years I've owned property in Naples I've watched the population get younger and younger with lots of children and some of the best public schools in the entire state of Florida.

I'm surprised that Tim didn't show you the new Mercato shopping and entertainment complex on the north end of town as well; there's a Whole Foods, Capital Grill, Seasons 52, AZN Asian fusion, the Pub, Bravo, upscale movie theater, shops, Blue Martini, and more to come! No need to drive to 5th ave anymore!

I do enjoy my Visits to Sarasota as well! But it's always nice to get back to the peace and serenity of my Naples.

My 3 cents.

Naples and Washington DC

#14 By Marc Rasmussen at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Thanks for the great insight Barry.

You are right, I should have added some crime stats. However, I don't trust them entirely because they say Bradenton is a safer city than Sarasota which cannot be true. I would imagine the crime is lower in Naples than Sarasota just based on the demographics.

Gentleman Club - I will leave that one alone. For some that is an asset. A liability for others.

It is hard for me to compare condos in Sarasota to Naples because I don't know that market. As I scan through I see a lot of beachfront condos that were built in the 1970's (i.e - Which is the same for Sarasota. I imagine they are pretty comparable based on other clients who moved up here from Naples.

Cleanliness - No doubt it. Naples was super clean. I agree that the common areas look fantastic. Something Sarasota really needs to work on. The paths into Sarasota (Fruitville, Bee Ridge, Clark Road, U.S. 41) do need some sprucing up in my opinion.

Age - Again, I don't know Naples all that well so I have to go by what tells me - Persons 65 years and over - 22.4% for Sarasota, 48.4% for Naples.

Tim did show us Mercato. That is a great shopping destination.

Again, appreciate the comment. This wasn't a Sarasota is better than Naples article. Just a comparison. Some people like it here better. Other people like it there.

Different strokes for different folks.

#15 By Davey at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Marc! Great article and I fully concur with your analysis. "Some" just have to turn things into a contest rather than allowing for a "different" point of view. You clearly stated both cities have their strong points but it is a matter of personal preference. Sorry but Sarasota is indeed the cultural capital of the west coast of Florida, if not, the whole state. Excellent article! You have me sold on Sarasota :)

#16 By Coral Gables Real Estate at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

What a complete and informative article comparing these two cities. Each year we spend at least a week on holidsy with the kids on Florida's Gulf Coast. Siesta Key is has always been a favorite choice. We always take day trips to explore all that both cities have to offer. You have highlighted some attractions we have not seen yet. Will be back again this summer and will have NEW places to check out.

#17 By Denny Lawrence at 8/20/2021 6:23 AM

Thank you to all posting opinions. My wife and I are examining 2nd home options and this was helpful. I don't know Naples but remember hearing its name when my orthodontist advised he was retiring there 45 years ago. We plan on visiting the Sarasota area within the next year to look around.

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