Downtown

PHOTO BY JOSEPH JOHN ORCHULLI II

Venice’s historic downtown, palm trees and bikeability put the city on Kiplinger’s “7 Great Places to Retire in Florida” list.

Southwest Florida cities dominate Kiplinger Personal Finance’s “7 Great Places to Retire in Florida.”

Venice is on the list, of course. So are Sarasota, Punta Gorda and Naples.

Stretch the region north to include Pinellas County and that makes five out of the seven “great places.”

Gainesville and St. Augustine also made the list.

The report focused on Florida for the usual reasons: warm weather; no state income tax and a generous homestead exemption; “plenty of pleasant cities and towns on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.”

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 cities, it says, were chosen “based on locale, amenities, affordability and access to top-notch health care.”

For the four cities in southwest Florida, “locale” included the fact that the west coast of the state is somewhat less vulnerable to hurricanes than the east coast.

Three of them have something else in common: In Venice (61.1%), Punta Gorda (55.3%) and Naples (51.5%) more than half the population is over 65.

Nationwide the number is 14.92%. Gainesville (9.7%), a university town, was the only city on the list below the national average.

Venice made the list because of “wide, palm-tree-lined sidewalks [that] give way to white-sand beaches and expansive water views.”

“Locals can stroll the historic district and stop in the numerous shops and restaurants,” the article says. “On Saturday mornings, there’s a farmers market. You can catch a show at the Venice Theatre or a performance by the Venice Symphony at the Performing Arts Center.”

It also notes the Intracoastal Waterway, the Legacy Trail and the city’s more than 30 parks, though it incorrectly locates the Myakka River State Park within the city.

And it points out that because of the city’s popularity with seasonal residents, a rental could cost $3,000-$5,000 a month, with reservations made a year in advance.

Here’s a snapshot of the other cities on the list:

• Sarasota — nearly 100 upscale stores and restaurants in the island shopping center of St. Armands Circle; the Sarasota Memorial Health Care system; miles of white-sand beaches; lush landscapes and subtropical wildlife; and a lively and diverse arts scene.

• Gainesville — courses at the University of Florida at no cost on a space-available basis; Florida Gators football and basketball; 13 museums and galleries; and Shands Hospital and the North Florida Regional Medical Center.

• Naples — a top grade from the American Lung Association for air quality; beaches, gracious homes and giant banyan trees; No. 1 in the 2017-18 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index; and the NCH Healthcare System.

• St. Petersburg — vintage neighborhoods; neighborhood bars and restaurants and St. Pete’s artsy downtown; beautiful harbor views; the Salvador Dali museum and an array of theaters, concert halls, stadiums, colleges and hospitals; and Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

• Punta Gorda — 55 miles of canal-front homes; plenty of golf; Fishermen’s Village; and the Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor.

• St. Augustine — 42 miles of sand on St. John’s county Atlantic coast; laid-back restaurants; the 1,600-acre Anastasia Island State Park; and more than 60 historic sites and attractions, including a town square dating to 1573.

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