Are you considering moving to Florida? Maybe you can’t decide which city in the Sunshine State is best for you. Let’s compare two Gulf Coast cities, Sarasota vs. Venice, and you can decide for yourself. Which city do you prefer, Sarasota or Venice? Please stay tuned until the end when I share my favorite of the two cities for retirees and snowbirds.
Let’s start with the obvious, the reason so many people move to FL – THE CLIMATE!
Let’s face it – anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico is pretty close to paradise. Both Venice and Sarasota share a similar southwest Florida climate. They both boast year-round warm, balmy weather. And both cities get 250+ days of sunshine a year.
But is everyone old in FL? MEDIAN AGE
Sarasota was once known as ‘Heaven’s Waiting Room’. But in recent years, the county of Sarasota overall is continually getting younger and younger. However, it still ranks higher than the national average of 37. The City of Sarasota’s median age is 45. And the entire county of Sarasota’s median age is 57. However, the City of Venice (also part of Sarasota county) maintains its record as one of the oldest populations in America. Residents of Venice are considerably older with a median age of 69 per the 2019 census.
WHAT SETS THESE CITIES APART?
Venice’s unique charm and character set it apart from most other communities in Southwest Florida. Compared to Sarasota, Venice has a much more low-key lifestyle. For starters, Venice is nearly ½ the size of Sarasota. It has a population of just under 24k. This is only 39% of Sarasota’s population of just over 58k. So if big-city living is more your speed- Venice may not be the right fit for you. However, in terms of amenities – Venice definitely packs a punch for a city of it’s size, but it does lack a “big city vibe”. Many clients that are ready to relocate call looking for that small-town atmosphere – and what’s not to like?
The historic downtown core of Venice is quaint and charming. It is without a doubt one of the most popular features. This central hub of the community features plenty of restaurants and shops. Venice offers many of the conveniences of Sarasota but on a much smaller scale and without the crowds. However, if you are in need of a bustling downtown with countless restaurant and boutique options – Sarasota will be more your style.
Both cities have world-class golf, beautiful beaches, and unrestricted access to the crystal clear, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re looking for an escape to nature – both towns are home to incredible parks and wilderness preserves. But if you feel the need to experience a city setting – Sarasota has plenty of highrise buildings, condos, and traffic. Plus it is only 19 miles north on I75 or highway 41.
So which city has the best communities, Venice or Sarasota? and equally important – which city is more affordable?
The gap between Sarasota and Venice has tightened in recent years. However, Venice is still the more affordable option – the median price of homes in Sarasota is 11% higher than in Venice. Currently, the median price of a home in Sarasota is $362,500, while Venice sits around $323,850. Because Venice is only 20 miles south of Sarasota – that is a significant difference.
But which city has better NEIGHBORHOODS?
Both Venice and Sarasota offer a mix of luxury communities, golf & country clubs, historic areas, and more affordable neighborhoods. But let’s touch on a few areas most sought after by my clients. Let’s start with Sarasota with the well-known community of:
Sarasota: PALMER RANCH
Located south of Clark Rd, and covering approximately 60 square miles between the I-75 and Tamiami Trail, Palmer Ranch is called home by over 20,000 residents. The community of Palmer Ranch offers a range of lifestyle choices, from maintenance-free villas and condominiums to beautiful single-family homes. Homes in this neighborhood start at 350K and can range into 1M+
Check out my video Palmer Ranch Sarasota Florida. It describes Palmer Ranch in more detail.
In the city of Venice a good comparison neighborhood to Palmer Ranch would be:
Venice: WELLEN PARK
This brand new, highly desired community is located only 15 minutes away from the scenic beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Formerly, known as West Villages – Wellen Park is an expansive,12,000-acre community that is expected to have 77,000 residents and 22,000 homes. Most of Wellen Park is incorporated into the city of North Port with the remainder in unincorporated Sarasota County.
This master-planned community was 2020’s 4th top-selling community in the U.S. in offers a variety of opportunities for homeownership. It is comprised of an array of neighborhoods all of which are nestled within 3 distinctive districts. Each neighborhood offers a variety of housing styles as well as resort-style amenities, a town center, and medical facilities. Homes in this neighborhood start around 380K to upwards of over 1M dollars.
Within Wellen Park is one of Venice’s newest communities, Grand Palm. It is by far one of the best neighborhood developments for families in the Venice area. This 1,005-acre Neal Community development is the perfect balance of homeowner comfort and natural wonder. It is located near the intersection of Center Road and River Road; just west of downtown Venice. And it is approximately 20 minutes from Venice Beach by car.
Grand Palm caters to those with an active lifestyle. However, families will also love this neighborhood because there are so many amenities and activities for both adults and children to enjoy. Here you will find multiple clubhouses with swimming pools, but the newest pool includes an amazing waterslide that kids will love! In addition, there is a splash pad, a playground, and 2 dog parks.
Residents can enjoy miles and miles of walking and biking trails, fitness centers, and even a unique 32-acre adventure lake called Lookout Island; where you can kayak or fish from the docks. The dedicated activities coordinator helps bring about a sense of community among residents along with many fun things to do.
Homes in this neighborhood range in size from 1,632 – 2,907 SQ FT and are offered in different styles from simple two-bedroom villas to larger four-bedroom homes. The starting price in this neighborhood is 390K.
Check out this episode where I will discuss Wellen Park neighborhood in more detail.
If your lifestyle calls for rounds of golf, let’s start in Venice: THE PELICAN POINT GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
This beautiful golf community was recently featured in 2020 on the award-winning Traveling Golfer TV Show. Located on Center Road, this Sam Rogers master-planned community is just minutes from the beach.
Pelican Pointe Golf and Country Club is a gated community with 1355 homesites. It features 27 holes of Ted McAnlis-designed championship golf that is semi-private. This community is situated on 1000 acres – half of which is dedicated to wildlife preservation and provides habitat for native wildlife.
A good comparison neighborhood to Pelican Point in Sarasota would be: THE MEADOWS
The Meadows is a lush, vibrant, mature neighborhood in Sarasota, FL. It is nestled only minutes from downtown Sarasota, UTC Mall, and I-75. Residents enjoy three distinctive golf courses, a beautiful tennis complex with 17 Har-Tru courts, a junior Olympic pool, and custom fitness programs. 14 miles of oak canopied walking, nature and biking trails that weave through the community. And there is something for everyone in terms of social programs and recreational activities.
It has a diverse mix of living options from single-family homes to condos, villas, townhomes, and garden houses. There are over 3,400 residences in the neighborhood and depending on preference, home sizes range from 1,535 to 5,791 square feet. Home prices in this neighborhood start around
Is retirement approaching? Are you searching for the perfect 55+ community?
Let’s start in Sarasota with Oakhurst
Oakhurst is a scenic, wooded, active 55+ community in Sarasota, Florida. Conveniently located less than five miles from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Oakhurst provides an ideal location to enjoy Southwest, Florida’s natural beauty. This paired villa community offers its residents a low-maintenance lifestyle and classic amenities.
The center of the Oakhurst community is the clubhouse which includes a heated outdoor pool and accompanying patio. Inside the clubhouse, residents can enjoy the billiards and an on-site library. The social committee of Oakhurst is always eager to create new events and activities for homeowners – from Tai Chi to water aerobics. Many events are scheduled throughout the year. including gatherings and holiday parties.
Residents of Oakhurst enjoy a low-maintenance lifestyle. The homeowners’ association covers exterior maintenance such as landscaping, roof upkeep, and common area maintenance.
This neighborhood offers various styles of homes that range in size from 1,374 to 1,800 square feet. Most homes in Oakhurst have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, while a few have three bedrooms. All homes include a one or two-car attached garage. Home prices in this neighborhood start at
In Venice, a good comparison neighborhood to Oakhurst would be Venetian Golf & River Club
Venetian Golf & River Club is an active 55+ community in North Venice, Florida. Located minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, this community of 1,000 single-family homes offers residents a low-maintenance lifestyle and access to numerous amenities.
The Golf Club offers a spacious clubhouse with a multipurpose room, pro shop, men’s and women’s lounges, as well as on-site dining. Outside The Golf Club, residents can enjoy the 18-hole golf course, scenic lakes & ponds, and ample natural space.
The River Club features multipurpose spaces, a fitness center, and on-site dining. Outdoors The River Club features an outdoor lap pool, resort-style swimming pool, patio, as well as an event lawn. Residents can also make use of a six-court tennis complex as well as The River Walk, a 70-acre nature preserve with a boardwalk, nature trails, and a canoe launch.
Members of the Venetian Golf & River Club enjoy a low-maintenance lifestyle thanks to a homeowners’ association that takes care of common area maintenance, cable television, and security.
Venetian Golf & River Club was developed from 2004 to 2015 by WCI homes. The community consists of 1,000 single-family homes that range from 1,089 to 4,086 square feet. These spacious homes offer two to five bedrooms and bathrooms and attached two- to three-car garages. Homes in this neighborhood start at
In my opinion, Venice takes the prize for Snowbirds. Here they will be able to find more affordable 2 bedroom villa-type homes which are perfect for those hoping to have a second home in sunny Florida.
Aside from an affordable homes market, Venice has so much to offer. Like Sarasota, it is frequently on those “TOP LISTS”.
- Venice has been named the #1 place to live — in Coastal Living magazine.
- #2 on its list of “Best Cities to Live in Florida – 2019” – by The US Chamber of Commerce
- And as #1 Best City to Retire -by US New and World Reports
If you haven’t heard Sarasota also tops countless “BEST LISTS” including:
- Time Magazine’s ‘World’s Greatest Places’ Live List
- It ranked one of the U.S. top 10 places to live 2021-22 – by U.S. News & World Report
Well, Sarasota is on the mainland so doesn’t have a beach. But the 4 islands offshore certainly do- Siesta Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, and Anna Maria Island are some of the best beaches in FL and some argue the world.
As mentioned before, Venice has a more quaint with a smaller town feel, however, it does have a beach. Venice offers an incredible 14-mile stretch of sandy coastline. And just offshore beautiful natural coral reefs just waiting to be explored. But in my opinion, none of Venice’s beaches are in Sarasota’s league.
Besides the world classes beaches and glorious weather, another reason people are flocking to Sarasota is its vibrant arts and culture scene. It is rich with live theater, concerts, ballet, opera, galleries, museums, and even, the circus! It boasts of the world-renowned Sarasota Film Festival, the Sarasota Opera House, the Sarasota Ballet, Circus Arts Conservatory, the Asolo Repertory Theatre Sarasota Contemporary Dance, and the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, just to name a few! – art and culture flourish here!
Venice’s art and culture scene aren’t as vast as Sarasota. However, it is not lacking. This town is small and quaint, but did you know that the largest and most active community theatre in the United States resides here? The Venice Theatre is your source for cabarets, musicals, dramas, comedies, and cutting-edge contemporary productions. Likewise, the Venice Performing Arts Center is a 1,090-seat multi-level auditorium that is home to The Venice Symphony, The Venice Concert Band, The Venice Chorale, The Venice Institute for Performing Arts, and the Venice High School Performing Arts Department.
Foodies: Sarasota—A Foodies Paradise
In terms of culinary experiences- Sarasota is the clear winner. Yes, you can wear shorts and sandals in about 95% of our restaurants (maybe 100%). But, mixed in among the fish tacos and grouper sandwiches – Sarasota has a vibrant and nationally recognized fine dining scene.
Watch my video on Downtown Sarasota Restaurants where I dig deeper into my top 5 favorites.
But, just like the downtown area of Venice – the food scene in Venice is wonderful, but on a much smaller scale. When I have clients in town to touring Venice- I always send them to If Sharky’s! If that isn’t fancy enough, don’t worry – Fins at Sharky’s is a posher option right upstairs. Fins at Sharky’s offers a metropolitan-coastal ambiance with a stellar view of Venice Fishing Pier. Or visit the downtown staple – Café Venice Restaurant and Wine Bar this cozy, romantic Tuscan atmosphere and a gourmet menu never disappoints.
Is Venice or Sarasota Right for Me?
I can’t tell which is better – that’s a subjective judgment that only you can make for yourself.
As noted above, both Sarasota and Venice enjoy a similar year-round, sunny southwest Florida climate, vibrant art, food, and culture scene, some of the world’s best beaches, and award-winning golf courses. That being said, there is a mark difference that will almost certainly place one above the other – based on the lifestyle that best suits you. The good news is I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have about Sarasota and/or Venice. Feel free to call or text me anytime.
Sarasota vs. Venice: Do you know which city is right for you? Is Venice or Sarasota winning out when it comes to your Gulf Coast Florida home? Let us know in the comments below.
As always, thanks for watching, and until next time, take care!