Port Charlotte, FL

Florida’s Fishing Mecca

Photos Courtesy of: Tom O’'Neil and Jeff Palmer

Charlotte County is one of the fastest growing communities in Florida, yet it still offers leisurely living and plenty of elbowroom. In a prime location on the West coast of Florida about 120 miles south of Tampa, this little city is a treasure waiting to be discovered by those seeking the good life. Port Charlotte is a peaceful haven nestled in the very center of Charlotte County. Its neighboring cities are Boca Grande, Englewood, Punta Gorda, and North Port. With its worldrenowned fishing, boating, and swimming, this is the perfect venue for fun and relaxation all year round. The magnificent weather, the pure, limpid waters and glorious sunsets make it a true paradise. With quick access to Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands, a wide variety of natural recreation areas are close at hand.

”

There's even more to Port Charlotte than a wonderful life of leisure. For those of us who must eventually quit the beach and go to work, there are still plenty of reasons for living here. The Charlotte County area, and Port Charlotte in particular, has maintained extraordinarily high rankings by Money magazine for several years running. The city and surrounding area get especially high marks for their thriving economies, superb health care, and extraordinarily low crime rates. Add the low cost of living and even lower cost of housing, plus an idyllic climate, and Port Charlotte ranks high on the list of America's most attractive cities.

The city's job growth, both current and projected, is outstanding, and the cost of living is a solid 5-10% below the national average.

Although some parts of Florida are not particularly known for having low crime rates, Port Charlotte residents crow about theirs, which is significantly below the national average. Port Charlotte offers a bit of paradise for everyone who comes here, whether to raise children, pursue a career, or retire in style. Here, it's possible to live in the presence of stunning landscapes and seascapes, enjoy frequent walks along the harbor, and be kept warm all year long by soothing Gulf breezes.

Port Charlotte, FL At-A-Glance

Population: 54,392

Avg. July high: 92

Avg. January low: 51

Avg. Annual Precipitation: 50

Closest Big City: 105 miles to Tampa

Health Care: 2 hospitals with 427 beds

Cost of Living: 10.4% below the national average

Housing Costs: 167,400

Climate

More than one-fourth of Charlotte County's surface area is water- 219 square miles of it.

”

Bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico and several barrier islands, and on the east by the vast, untrammeled wetlands of Charlotte Glades, Port Charlotte's very existence is tied to water. The Charlotte Harbor estuary contains tributaries of the Myakka and Peace River systems and is renowned as the most pristine and unpolluted estuary in Florida.

The sub-tropical climate is tailormade for outdoor activities all year round. The average annual rainfall is 49 inches, with cooling showers likely to happen any time throughout the year.

These brief, often predictable drenchings are particularly welcome in August, when the mercury can climb to 90 degrees. The ample rainfall and abundant sunshine make ideal conditions in Port Charlotte for all kinds of tropical plants and flowers, and the average year-round temperature is a heavenly 75 degrees. Winter weather borders on the sublime, with January low temperature still in the 50s, requiring no more than a sweater for an evening stroll.

Art & Culture

The magnificent weather, the sparkling waters, and glorious Gulf Coast sunsets make Port Charlotte a true paradise. World-famous fishing, boating, and swimming are all found at this coastal retreat.

With Florida's Culture Coast just to the north, it is not surprising that Port Charlotte participates in its share of the action. People who love dinner theater should check out the Port Charlotte Cultural Center and the Charlotte Players Inc., a local entertainment company. This diverse community theater group has been pleasing the crowds for nearly four decades with Broadway musicals and a variety of new and classic comedies.

”

Crisp & Company presents musical melodramas and Broadway musicals, and Peace River Productions’ musical revues are always the talk of the town.

As well as the broad array of stage shows, Port Charlotte audiences love their concerts. Charlotte Chorale has been making beautiful music for more than a decade, celebrated at its two main concerts during the season. For people who like their tunes with a little more punch and schmaltz, check out the Charlotte County Concert Band. It's a 60-piece brass and woodwind ensemble of musicians of all ages who share a passion for everything from classic Sousa marches to pops. For serious jazz aficionados, the Charlotte County Jazz Society presents a monthly jam session and concert. Those with classical tastes won't want to miss the Charlotte Symphony Society. The orchestra appears in concert with well-known guest artists and a fine selection of symphonic works. People don't always have to sit quietly and listen. The Pride of Charlotte Chapter of Harmony Inc. sings women's barbershop harmonies, while the Sunshine Strummers host banjo sing-alongs.

City Recreation

Photos Courtesy of: Tom O’'Neil and Jeff Palmer

Charlotte County is home to world-class saltwater and freshwater fishing.

”

Afternoon and weekend anglers must make the tough choice among the waters of Charlotte Harbor, the Gulf of Mexico, the Peace River, and the wild and scenic Myakka River. Even if anglers leave the fishing gear at home, the Myakka, with its subtropical foliage, is one of the most spectacularly beautiful inland waterways anywhere.

The Port Charlotte area is widely known to be the tarpon fishing capital of the world, and neighboring Boca Grande is home of the " World's Richest Tarpon Tournament." Several other great fighting saltwater species are abundant, including bonefish, kingfish, grouper, redfish, amberjack, and snook, to name just a few.

The local rivers and Lake Okeechobee are home to large-mouth bass, crappie, bream, and gigantic alligator gar. Residents have plenty of access to the fishing, whether it be dockside, from a boat, or on a guided excursion.

The Port Charlotte area also maintains a wonderful park system catering to every recreational need. More than 20 public parks are equipped with fishing piers, boat ramps, and docks. Three public beaches provide plenty of fun in the sun, and for less aquatically oriented recreation seekers there are tennis and basketball courts, bike paths, and championship golf courses.

There is also a lovely combination park and beach at the Port Charlotte Beach on the shore of Charlotte Harbor.

Port Charlotte has even more to offer than a day at the beach. For baseball fans, this is the winter home of the Texas Rangers. The city supports a wide variety of clubs and organizations, in every interest from children and youth to senior activities.

For nature lovers and learners, the 840- acre Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center has nature trails, picnic areas, and educational activities that focus on local environmental issues. For longer excursions with the family, theme parks, and other sightseeing trips abound in all directions, with the ever-popular Disney World about three hours to the north and Miami four hours south.

Education

Go fishing in Charlotte Harbor, the Gulf, the Peace River, or the wild and scenic Myakka River.

Even without fishing gear, the Myakka offers spectacular scenery that can be seen via a canoe ride.

Plenty of educational opportunities exist in and around Port Charlotte. Fort Myers, 20 minutes to the south, is home to the University of South Florida and a community college. Even closer are Manatee Community College, between North Port and South Venice, and Florida Southern College's campus at Lake Suzy. Just south of Fort Myers there's the Florida Gulf Coast University.

”

Port Charlotte takes great pride in its Vocational and Technical Center and adult and community education centers. Next door in Punta Gorda, Edison Community College offers fully accredited courses for both traditional and non-traditional students.

Port Charlotte's excellent school system maintains a low teacher-to-student ratio.

Its stated mission is to instill in its students the necessary skills for the future along with a sense of personal and community pride. The school system's success is due in part to the high rate of parental involvement. Recently, 2,000 school volunteers donated more than 66,000 hours of time assisting school children. The system is comprised of more than a dozen elementary, middle, and senior high schools.

As an alternative to public education, there are about a half-dozen private schools in the city.

Housing & Cost of Living

In Port Charlotte, both the overall cost of living and the average price for a three-bedroom home are significantly lower than the national average.

Port Charlotte is a relatively new community encompassing the unincorporated area of Charlotte County. It consists mostly of single family homes with a sprinkling of condos and townhouses. It's a small town atmosphere, but the advantages of city life lie just around the corner. It's a 20-minute drive to Fort Myers, and Sarasota is 40 minutes away.

”

Housing costs in Charlotte County are significantly lower that national average costs for the three-county Southwest Florida Gulf coastal region. The average home price for a threebedroom home in the area of Port Charlotte is $173,000. More than half of homes are available for less than $156,000. Prices are sure to rise as more people and businesses discover this little jewel on the Gulf Coast.

In harmony with the area's extremely affordable housing, living costs are also favorable, registering at between 5-15% below the national average. Child care costs contribute to this low number. To make the deal even sweeter, the state-funded Voluntary Prekindergarten Program offers fouryear- old Floridians, born before September 1, free education for one year before they start kindergarten.

Crime & Safety

Port Charlotte is known throughout Florida as having one of the lowest crime rates in the southwest portion of the state.

”

The city's law-enforcement officials and the citizens work together to build strong communities with safe streets and neighborhoods.

Officers make regular presentations in the school system, where they engage the students in programs regarding personal safety and drug and gang awareness.

Police officers are also happy to give home inspections and talk to residents about the best ways to ensure the safety of their homes.

Earning a Living

This city on Florida's protected Charlotte Harbor is relatively young: it was developed in the 1950s...

For several years running, Money magazine has ranked Port Charlotte as one of America's top cities. Along with its high marks in weather and a notably low crime rate, the city received a perfect score for its thriving and diverse economy. Money projected a strong job growth over the last few years, and has not been disappointed.

”

Retail trade, health care and social assistance, and construction are the biggest employers in the area. The finance and insurance and accommodation/food service sectors come in a close second.

As one of the fastest growing counties in the state of Florida, Charlotte County offers many unique and promising opportunities for businesses considering expanding or relocating. Not the least of these is worker satisfaction with the area. The county has the necessary requisites for startups and relocations in business and industry, including an appealing tax structure, low business costs, and no personal income tax. Excellent rail and road transportation and a well-educated labor force complete the compelling infrastructure.

Port Charlotte also boasts its own employee training facilities and a well-placed industrial park.

Health Care

Residents of Port Charlotte are always within easy reach of excellent health care facilities. The city houses more than 100 office-based physicians and two first-rate hospitals offering the best in comprehensive medical services. Preventative care is also part of Port Charlotte's healthy agenda, and St. Joseph's Hospital is on the cutting edge of holistic care with their well respected Medical Acupuncture Center.

”

Port Charlotte is also home to nearly a dozen accredited independent living and congregate care centers. The Cultural Center of Charlotte County, founded and staffed originally by retirees, is utilized by people of all ages. This center has a 418- seat theater, regular events and performances, and a plethora of classes in everything from crafts to health and fitness.

A 20-minute trip to Fort Myers brings locals to several more excellent hospitals.

Gulf Coast Hospital is the only teaching hospital south of Tampa, and the George M. Cox Cancer Center offers excellent cancer treatment. Lee Memorial Hospital is well respected for its diabetes center, while Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center is home to a dialysis center. Health Park Florida appears to be a luxury hotel, but it is actually an acute care facility.