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Relocating to Florida's West Coast?

Discover the popular metropolitan areas and best places to live on Florida's gulf coast.

If you’re considering relocating to Florida’s west coast, also called the Gulf Coast, you may be wondering what the differences are between the various metropolitan areas, and why people are moving to them. Via this page, we seek to provide you with a top-level overview of Florida’s west coast regions, what each region is known for, as well as the top west coast Florida cities that people are moving to.

The four regions of Florida bordering the Gulf of Mexico include Northwest Florida (aka the Panhandle), North Central Florida, West Central Florida and Southwest Florida. The two northernmost regions, Northwest Florida and North Central Florida, are known as the “old south” as they reflect much of Florida's rich history and generally offer a slower pace of life. The two southern regions, West Central and Southwest Florida, have attracted many persons who have relocated from other parts of the country (Midwest, Northeast and California) and these regions have experienced a boom in growth and development over the past couple of decades. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, and other metric-based reports which track population growth, the fastest-growing cities on Florida’s west coast include Brandon and Riverview in the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota, North Port, Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

The largest metropolitan area on Florida’s west coast is Tampa Bay with a population of nearly 3.2 million people and includes the primary cities of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater. The 2nd largest metropolitan area on the west coast is North Port, Sarasota, Bradenton (833K population) followed by Cape Coral, Fort Myers (760K population). To view a map of Florida’s largest metropolitan areas by population, visit our Florida’s 10 largest metropolitan areas page.

When deciding upon a Florida destination to call home, whether to be closer to family, for a new career or for retirement, it’s important to be familiar with the local cost of real estate to see how much house you can afford. In general, Northwest Florida and North Central Florida offer the most affordable home prices whereas prices in West Central and Southwest Florida are higher. As Florida is also home to many top-selling communities in the nation each year, five of the TOP 10 best-selling, master-planned communities in Florida are located from Tampa Bay south to Naples. Be sure to view our Popular Master-Planned Communities on Florida's West Coast page for a list of them.

To discover more in-depth information about the west coast regions of Florida, including local scenes, choose below.

West Coast Regions of Florida

Northwest Florida / Panhandle

Pensacola - Panama City - Tallahassee

The northwest region of Florida, also known as the Florida panhandle, is home to the state's capital, beautiful white sand beaches with emerald-hued waters, 8 military bases as well as the flying blue angels. Spanning just over 200 miles of shoreline along the Emerald Coast and the Forgotten Coast, the largest cities in the 16-county Florida panhandle region include Pensacola, Navarre, Destin, Panama City and Tallahassee. Situated at the northern most part of the Gulf, in a more rural setting, the average year-round temp in the panhandle is 68' and residents experience more seasonal weather changes, unlike the more tropical southern regions of the Gulf.

Top area beaches:
Pensacola Beach, Destin Beach, Panama City Beach

Top master-planned community:
Latitude Margaritaville - Watersound (Panama City)

City Median Home Price Average Age
Pensacola $267,100 36.8
Panama City $283,178 39.8
Tallahassee $292,531 27.2
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Discover Pensacola

Scenes of Northwest Florida

West Central Florida

Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater

The Tampa Bay region of Florida is home to Clearwater Beach, professional sports teams, a strong business climate, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and an expanding real estate market. Featuring over 400 miles of shoreline along the Gulf coast, the barrier islands and around the bay, the Tampa Bay region spans three counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco and has a population of nearly 3.2 million people. At an average temperature of 73’ year-round, residents enjoy endless outdoor activities, local theme parks, open-air eateries and trendy craft breweries.

Top area beaches:
Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach

Top master-planned communities:
Epperson (Wesley Chapel), Mirada (San Antonio)

City Median Home Price Average Age
Tampa $385,865 35.9
St. Petersburg $384,176 43.1
Clearwater $375,466 45.2
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Discover Tampa Bay

Scenes of Tampa Bay

Sarasota - Venice - Lakewood Ranch

The greater Sarasota area is home to Siesta Key Beach, the famous circus-performing Ringling family, an active scene of arts and cultural performances as well as top-selling master-planned communities. Spanning over 50 miles of shoreline along the Suncoast and the Cultural Coast, the largest cities in the two county region (Manatee and Sarasota) include Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Venice and North Port. While the region attracts many tourists year-round, it remains a top-ranked Florida retirement destination for many with its overall high-quality of life.

Top area beach:
Siesta Key Beach

Top master-planned communities:
Lakewood Ranch, Wellen Park (North Port)

City Median Home Price Average Age
Sarasota $460,633 48.9
Venice $441,043 68.7
Lakewood Ranch $664,729 51.2
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Scenes of the Sarasota area

Southwest Florida

Fort Myers - Cape Coral - Naples

The Southwest region of Florida is home to white-sand beaches, wild life preserves, the Edison and Ford winter estates, America’s 1st solar-powered town and more miles of canal-front property than anywhere in Florida. Stretching nearly 90 miles of coastline along the Lee Island Coast and the Paradise Coast, the SW Florida region spans Charlotte, Lee and Collier Counties. With an average year-round temperature of 74’ in a subtropical climate, the area attracts many snowbirds and tourists as well as seniors seeking an active retirement lifestyle.

Top area beaches:
Bowman's Beach (Sanibel Island), Vanderbilt Beach (Naples)

Top master-planned communities:
Babcock Ranch, Ave Maria (Naples)

City Median Home Price Average Age
Fort Myers $364,388 40.9
Cape Coral $386,147 47.8
Naples $599,953 65.4
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Discover Southwest Florida

Scenes of Southwest Florida