“The area has hung on to its small-town feel: its beaches and art scene (more than 134 galleries in the vicinity) are often voted tops in the nation,” the article says. “And for link lovers, it’s heaven: Naples-Marco Island has the second most golf holes per capita in the country. In our survey, residents got high scores for regular exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking, so it’s no surprise that the area has one of the lowest cancer mortality rates going.”
Not surprisingly, the article mentions the area’s real estate market.
“The downside is high housing prices and a high cost of living,” the articles states. “Naples has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis — but that means you might be able to find some bargains here.”
Mike Reagen, president of the Naples Area Chamber of Commerce, said the AARP research dovetails with what author Richard Florida said in his best-seller, “Who’s Your City?” where he ranks Naples as among the top 10 places for people 65 and older.
The author and professor of business and creativity at Toronto University says where people choose to live has a profound effect on all aspects of their lives. “It sounds reinforcing,” Reagen said of AARP’s finding about Naples and Marco Island.
In the next two to three years, the next wave of the baby boom generation will be looking for a place to retire and this area will be appealing to many, Reagen said.
The area has great infrastructure of good medical care, the arts, recreational amenities, and an ideal climate that will attract more people, he said.
What Gary Elliott, president of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, sees all the time is that people enjoy living in the region, plus they enjoy working here.
“My theory is when people arrive in Naples and Marco Island, they are euphoric,” Elliott said. “People came here with a good attitude.” When people relocate or retire to the region, they came from successful careers and they continue to lead vibrant lives here, he said. That helps with longevity.
He did a survey last month for the Marco chamber and reported that more younger families are moving to Marco, comparing 2000 census data to his own research. He went to the schools on Marco and private schools to find out how many children are now living in Marco.
In 2000, there were 1,622 children under 18 living in Marco and today that figure is 1,900 — a 17 percent increase, he said. While Naples young population has grown exponentially as well triggering the construction of dozens of area schools since 2000 it hasn't been
I think in the next census we will see a lot of younger families,” he said. The Naples area is a "...great place to live."What’s also notable is the Internet and other technology makes it possible for people who work in consulting and other non-location jobs can live anywhere they want, he said.
Real estate activity in Marco has been solid for properties in the lower price range of under-$350,000 for inland properties, he said.
The AARP finding could help bring more people to Naples/Marco Island for relocating or retiring but Arlene Carozza, Realtor and president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors, said she doesn’t believe this region has more foreclosures than anywhere else and could have less.
“When we get good news like that, that it’s a wonderful place to live, it certainly helps all of us,” she said. “No 10. We will take that. It says something for the area.”
She came from the Orlando area and was amazed by the array of cultural amenities in the area for the city of this size, especially with the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
“Naples is still small-town like with white sand beaches and gorgeous water and shopping,” she said.
Median housing price:
Average number of sunny days:
264 per year
Healthy bragging rights:
Long walks on the beach pay off, as residents of this sunny spot score second highest on our longevity scale.
Real estate is selling steadily and has been since January, she said. “We have had a steady upgrowth. More people are purchasing homes and it’s not just the beach area, it’s right across the board,” she said.
Despite that, Naples does have a lot of retirees.
AARP also found Naples/Marco Island ranks second among a larger group of cities for longest life expectancy of 80.97 years, behind Ames, Iowa, with a life expectancy of 81.02. The Collier County Health Department backs up the region’s life expectancy standing, which in 2002 stood at 82.9. Life expectancy for the United States for the same period was 77.4 years, according to a 2002 report from the department. “We are pleased to see the dedication of the health community recognized,” Dr. Joan Colfer, executive director of the health department said in a statement about the AARP finding. She credits the local medical community for lowering cancer rates and adding to residents’ longevity. “In addition, we applaud Collier County citizens for being proactive in their personal health and wellness,” she said.
Ann Gardner, Naples’ community representative for the American Cancer Society, learned of Naples’ standing on the “Good Morning, America” TV show Wednesday and wasn’t surprised. “It’s definitely pretty cool to see that,” she said. “It means people are taking care of themselves.” (Also appeared on the Today Show, see video below.)
See an expanded article on www.NaplesNews.com
See the AARP article at www.AARPmagazine.org
Garren Grup, REALTOR
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