PUNTA GORDA — With a majority of its population being 65 or older, Punta Gorda "knows how to appeal to retired folks," according to Kiplinger Personal Finance.

Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.- based publisher of business forecasts and financial advice, issued a listing recently of '7 great places to retire in Florida'.

With a median condo/townhome price of about $172,500, and a population estimated at 18,656, about 55.3% is in the 65-plus range, according to Kiplinger.

"Life here revolves around 55 miles of canal-front homes as well as numerous retirement communities, restricted to people age 55 and older," states the report. "Plenty of golfing, plus a Fishermen's Village waterfront complex with 30 shops and restaurants. Also in town, the Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor is just a portion of the 18 miles of bike trails and pedestrian pathways you can enjoy."

It wasn't just Punta Gorda that made the list. Other cities in Southwest Florida did too.

Here's the breakdown:

• Sarasota

• Gainesville

• Naples

• St. Petersburg

• Punta Gorda

• St. Augustine

• Venice

The report notes draws to Florida including warm weather; no state income tax and a generous homestead exemption.

The lack of an income tax and any state inheritance or estate tax also landed Florida at No. 5 on Kiplinger's list of most tax-friendly states for retirees.

The seven "great places to retire" were chosen based on locale, amenities, affordability and "access to top-notch health care," according to the report. 

Population over 65 is slightly higher in Venice, at 61.1%, compared to Punta Gorda's 55.3%. Naples has about 51.5% of its population in that age range. 

Nationwide the number is 14.92%. As a university town, Gainesville registers at 9.7%, and was the only city on the list falling below the national average.

For Punta Gorda, there's a hometown feel that brings retirees to the area, according to Punta Gorda communications manager Melissa Reichert.

"Punta Gorda is a welcoming community that invites everyone to engage and interact with one another. With miles of shady sidewalks (trails and parks), it makes the city a perfect place for walking, biking, and shopping," Reichert said.

The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor Information Center can get busy.

"Visitors and future homeowners are always looking for information about relocating to Charlotte County," said Wendie Vestfall, tourism director for the bureau. “Punta Gorda and the Charlotte County area offers quick and easy access to salt water activities such as Gulf of Mexico beaches, world-class saltwater fishing, sailing, paddling trips through mangrove tunnels, sightseeing cruises where it’s common to see dolphins, and of course, (the) sunsets."


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