Everything You Need to Know About Sarasota County

Thinking of buying Florida land for sale cheap? There’s lots of affordable quality Florida land for sale, and in some areas with owner financing! You’ve come to the right place.

Florida is a popular place, and lots of people look to buy land there. I’m going to share with you a sweet spot in southern Florida that boasts fantastic prices for vacant and undeveloped land. (If you’re looking for a Florida land buying checklist, you can find one here 🙂 )

Everything You Need to Know About Sarasota County

How Florida got its Name

Let’s do a really quick overview of the state level, and then we’ll dive into Sarasota County! In the year 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer, landed on the eastern shores of Florida. He was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth. He called the area ‘la Florida’ in honor of the Spanish festival ‘Pascua Florida’, the feast of the flowers.

Florida still has abundant wildflowers, but now it’s most commonly known by its nickname the Sunshine State. Florida is also known for its many alligators, the Everglades, oranges, and of course – beaches!

Sarasota County, Florida

Sarasota County is located on the Gulf Coast of southern Florida. This area of Florida has a colorful history. It was settled by the Spanish in 1565, who named it ‘Bahia de Carlota’, or Charlotte Bay. In 1775 the English claimed the area from the Spanish and named it ‘Charlotte Harbor’ in honor of Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III (the monarchs at that time). Sarasota didn’t officially become a county until 1921.

Sarasota County is also known as the “culture coast” of southwest Florida. It’s one of the top destinations in the USA for retirees. Its largest city is North Port, with a population of approximately 65,000 people. This county contains much of the Myakka River State Park.

The land size of Sarasota County is 556 square miles and about 169 square miles of water. Sarasota County was founded in 1921 and is now home to over 400,000 people. This area of Florida has seen continuous growth, with both population and migration marginally increasing year over year.

Credit: Super Cool Beaches
Credit: Super Cool Beaches

Sarasota, Florida Weather

Southern Florida is known for its beaches. Vast, beautiful, sandy beaches! This makes it a popular worldwide travel destination due to its promise of sunshine, heat, and beaches all year round. Sarasota County will not let you down. Summer temperatures average around 91°F! You can expect over 250 days of sun, which is much higher than the U.S. average.

The average rainfall per year is 54 inches. Sarasota does have a low elevation (as does all of Florida), so be cautious about severe rainfalls! The weather here makes for a perfect vacation spot or a migration destination for those looking to escape the snow and cold.

This is the perfect weather for lounging on the beach and taking a dip in the ocean to cool you off. Pure bliss. Winter temperatures average around 51°F, and here’s the best part – with 0 inches of snowfall! ZERO! Why torture yourself with ice-covered cars, cold bones, and snow-ridden driveways?

Image Source
Image Source

This area of Florida is popular with ‘snowbirds’ escaping the harsh winters. ‘Snowbird’ is a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt and areas of the Caribbean.

Although snowbirds used to be associated with retired or older persons, snowbirds increasingly are of all ages. Many residents in the colder areas of the USA and Canada vacation in warmer southern locations to escape the winter weather. It’s not just the 8-month summer climate that draws people to Sarasota County, it’s the landscape!

Southern Florida is blessed with a multitude of beaches, Everglade-like parks, and picturesque treasures such as the Florida Keys. Sarasota County is on the Gulf Coast, which usually has warmer ocean temperatures than the eastern Atlantic coast. Enjoy a cold drink on the beach, in a hammock, under a palm tree.

You can explore the county by boat, fishing for different specimens on the way. Or you can drive to different preserves and parks to take in the trails by horseback, or walking. Southern Florida offers one of the most relaxing and tranquil scenes in all of the U.S., hang out here to recharge and refresh yourself, let the beach wash your worries away!

Why Florida Man

Florida Man became a phenomenon as an Internet meme in 2013. The meme typically consists of links to news stories and articles about unusual or strange crimes or events occurring in Florida, particularly those where the headline refers to the subject as “Florida Man” calling attention to Florida’s apparent notoriety for strange and unusual activity.

Even with all the hype and attention of Florida Man, Florida is a great place to live, and sees a high number of internal immigration every year, around 1.56% or 375,000 people! This means that many people are paying for over-priced real estate and living conditions, just to get a sport in the sunshine state.

If you’re looking to move to or establish a vacation home in Florida, Sarasota County very well is the last affordable coastal town in the state. There are a handful of larger cities in the county to choose from: Sarasota (population 210,149), North Port (population 65,246), Englewood (population 17,166), Nokomis (population 16,531), and Osprey (population 7,318). The county seat is Sarasota.

Sarasota County Florida
Sarasota County, Florida

Sarasota County has great shopping, with over 12 malls and outlet centers in the county lines! On top of this, there are plenty of boutique stores, food markets, and box stores like Walmart, Crate and Barrel, Walgreen’s, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Whether you’re looking to decorate a new vacation home or get supplies for a fishing trip, there is a store with options for you.

The cost of living in Sarasota County is slightly higher than the U.S. average. The biggest factor in the cost of living in housing, which has a higher value than average. It’s important to note that land in Sarasota County is still quite reasonably priced, and in some subdivisions is still under-valued – so don’t be discouraged! The county cares about its residents and spends time creating plans and goals around a variety of topics such as sustainability, green transportation, and neighborhood planning.

Transparency is of high importance in this county. Partly accomplished by their Performance Dashboard, which allows residents to click through and evaluate county progress in different areas. For example, from the dashboard, we see that in 2017, Sarasota County had a very strong sea turtle season with over 7,000 nests for the year. We can also see that 7 new bus shelters were added, and there was a 6% increase in the number of homes permitted compared to last year (2017).

Sarasota County is committed to demonstrating respect, accountability, integrity, quality, teamwork, and trust. And to keep these values as a priority while continuously working towards their mission:

The Mission of Sarasota County Government is to provide and enhance quality programs, services, and facilities that reflect the goals of the community while always promoting health, safety, public welfare and quality of life for our citizens.

If you’re beginning to browse land in Sarasota County, know that living in an RV is not permitted, unless it is within an RV park. You’re welcome to park an RV on your residential property, but it cannot be the main dwelling structure nor can be connected to any utilities.

When looking at different options, it’s always advisable to check with the County’s Planning and Development Services, to double-check the less obvious restrictions like loads, size restrictions per acre, and potential hazards. It’s also important to check the property zoning to make sure you can use the lot for what you wish.

If you’re planning on building, the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances can be found here(see Chapter 22). As described in the document, any development or construction site in Sarasota County must have the following:

  • Building Permit
  • Zoning Certificate (may be part of the Building Permit)
  • Plan and Building Specifications

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Sarasota, Florida Things to Do

Sarasota County has much to offer to keep you busy. You may be surprised to know that this area has options for hunting! Legal hunting is allowed only on Wildlife Management Areas, Public Small Game hunting areas, certain military bases, and National Wildlife Refuges within certain zones of the county.

Permits for the appropriate land area and a legal hunting license are required. Different permits are required depending on the animal and the weapon that you use for hunting – check out all the details here. Popular game for hunting are deer, turkey, migratory birds, waterfowl, quail, and alligator.

This area of Florida boasts a world-class fishing environment. People travel from all over to practicing their angling skills here! If you’re feeling confident, you can enter in the seasonal fishing tournaments.

Note that a freshwater or saltwater license is required even if you do not catch anything. What you might catch depends on whether you’re fishing the Gulf of Mexico, deep sea, or the Intracoastal waterway.

Depending on the season, you’re likely to find:

  • Spanish Mackerel
  • Mangrove Snapper
  • Red Snapper
  • Lady Fish
  • Flounder
  • Shark (Hammerhead, Nurse, and even Bonnet Heads!)
  • Tarpon
  • Snook
Credit: Share a Fishing Charter
Credit: Share a Fishing Charter

As you might expect, Florida offers a wide variety of beaches and outdoor activities. The eight-mile island of Siesta Key is comprised of Siesta Beach, which is one of the most highly regarded beaches in the world, Crescent Beach, and Turtle Beach. All boast soft white sand and are good for families and sunbathers during the day, and party-goers at night.

Venice Beach is close to downtown Venice, has wonderfully colorful lifeguard stands, a pavilion with shaded tables, a café, bathrooms, and ample parking. Note that nearby Brohard Paw Park in Sarasota County’s only dog-friendly beach. Other notable beaches in the county include Manasota Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, and Casey Key. You can check out the current beach conditions here.

Florida is blessed with one of the longest golf seasons in the U.S., plenty of time to perfect your swing! There are over 30 golf courses in Sarasota County alone to choose from, some of these are private clubs, and others are open to the public. One of the best is the TPC Prestancia, University Park Country Club, and the Meadows Country Club, which has two 18-hole championship courses.

Aside from hunting, fishing, and golfing, Sarasota still has many activities to offer!

  • Snorkeling
  • Diving
  • Boating
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Sailing
  • Yoga
  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • MLB Spring training (Ed Smith Stadium)
  • Siesta Key Rum Distillery
  • Detwiler’s Farmers Market
  • Museums (Sarasota Opera, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, The Ringling, Ca d’Zan Mansion, Marietta Museum, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Aquarium)
  • Youth Sports Leagues
  • TreeUmph! Adventure Course
  • Community Events (Manatee County Fair, Greek Fest, Sarasota Jazz Festival, Sharks Tooth Festival, Siesta Fiesta, Sand Sculpting Contest, Suncoast Offshore Racing Festival, Oktoberfest, Sarasota Holiday Parade)

What is Florida Known for?

Aside from the other great benefits and features we discussed, when you think of Florida, you can’t help but think ocean and surf. And you’re not wrong. But, Florida is also popular for its many state parks and forests.

The Myakka State Forest is a must-visit in Sarasota County. The Myakka River flows through the northeastern portion of the forest, dividing it into two tracts. This ensures plenty of recreational activities such as biking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, hunting, paddling, and picnics.

Myakka State Forest is an excellent park with much to see and wildlife to observe (with active alligators!). Enjoy a walk, tree bathing in this peaceful environment, and press the reset button on your day.

Credit: Myakka State Forest
Credit: Myakka State Forest

Another great way to reset and get in touch with nature is to explore nearby Stump Pass Beach State Park and Gasparilla Island State Park.

At Stump Pass Beach you can expect beautiful remote beaches with white sand. An awesome spot for fishing, swimming, and beachcombing! Stump Pass is located south of Sarasota County, where there is a mile of beach where seashells and shark teeth wash up and where anglers fish the surf for prize catches.

Floria State Parks points out that shelling here is best in the winter months. You can explore the hiking trail, or launch a kayak to enjoy the West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, least terns, and magnificent frigate birds.

Gasparilla Island State Park is a sportsman’s paradise! Tarpon and other prized fish call the blue waters here home. Gasparilla is separated from the mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, it’s part of a chain of Gulf Coast barrier islands. Be sure to check out the iconic Port Boca Grande Lighthouse while you’re there.

As mentioned by Florida State Parks, swimming, snorkeling, fishing and nature study are popular activities that can be accessed at any of our five parking lots. Shelling is particularly good in the winter months along the Gulf. There are two picnic areas that offer pavilions for shade and scenic views of the surrounding water.

Bottom Line

Sarasota County has fun to offer for the entire family, and plenty of activities to keep you busy on vacation! It’s one of the best places to retire in the USA and the top four retirement destinations in Florida. Its rich culture offers something for everyone, so be sure to check it out soon!

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2 responses to “Everything You Need to Know About Sarasota County

  1. Include the Legacy Trail in your list of Sarasota County attractions. It offers a lengthy bicycle path from Venice north all the way to downtown Sarasota.

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