Moving to Naples, FL? Here's What You Need to Know First

So you're wanting to move to Naples?

I don't blame you. It's a wonderful place to live. Low crime rates, white sand beaches, year-round warm weather and plenty of fun things to do. It was also rated by Forbes Magazine as the top city for job growth, and by Gallup-Healthways as the happiest, healthiest city in the US. What's not to love? If you like art, nature, good food and lots of culture, you'll probably feel right at home here in Naples.

One of the questions often asked when searching for a Naples home is "Where is the best place to live in Naples?". Sounds like a simple enough question, but the truth is it depends on a number of factors - such as how much you can, or are willing to, spend.

Real estate in Naples is very communal. There are well over 100 different communities here, each offering it's own unique spin on Naples living, and it really comes down to personal preference as to which one of these communities is right for you. For the sake of time, we've tried to narrow these communities down into lifestyle categories. They may not all fit inside these boxes, but I feel that these categories could cover the vast majority of Naples communities.

Affordability Factor

Let's start with price. For those who may be guided more by budget than by personal preference, at the end of the day it all boils down to what they can afford. And when it comes to affordability, few places in Naples have as much to offer dollar for dollar as Golden Gate Estates.

When I first came to Naples, Golden Gate Estates seemed like the perfect place. Being from Indiana, I was used to rural living. Driving 20-30 minutes in order to get to civilization was par for the course, and I really enjoyed the privacy that comes with having a large yard and distant neighbors. When it comes to price, $200,000 will buy you a LOT more house (and acreage) in Golden Gate Estates than other places in Naples. In fact, the same money wouldn't even get you into a one bedroom condo in Pelican Bay.

Horses Running Free in Golden Gate Estates, Naples

If you like country living - having yardage (most homes are built on 2.5 or 5-acre lots), animals, gardening and maybe even a toolshed or other outside structure - not to mention skipping HOA and Condo Association fees, then you should take a look at Golden Gate Estates. It's affordable, private and most of all quiet.

But it does have it's disadvantages as well.

The thing that bothered me the most about the Estates (and what eventually prompted me to move to North Naples) is the drive. I work in North Naples, and I'm not exactly what you would call a morning person. Getting up an extra 30-40 minutes early and fighting traffic on Immokalee Rd. or Golden Gate Blvd. twice a day isn't exactly something that I enjoyed doing. And that's only for commuting to work. If you need groceries or just want to go out to do something fun, be prepared to drive for 20-30 minutes depending on how far out you are.

There were other issues that made me stray from Golden Gate, such as the constant need to have your water filtration and softening systems checked and maintained to keep your water from smelling like a sulfer spring, but for me the drive quickly became a deal-breaker. In all fairness, there is now a Publix being constructed in Golden Gate, which will make it easier for residents to do simple grocery shopping without having to drive 15-20 miles each way.

There is also the matter of wildlife - bugs are bigger in Golden Gate, and there are lots of snakes, frogs, lizards and spiders. There are also occasional Black Bear and Panther sightings, however they are extremely rare. If this kind of thing bothers you, then you should probably look elsewhere. Otherwise, click here to see some listings for Golden Gate Estates.

There are other places in Naples that offer the same benefits (large estates, privacy, no HOAs) as Golden Gate but are closer to civilization, unfortunately they aren't as competitive on pricing. A few examples are:

Side Note: A few other notable Naples communities that, while they do not offer an abundance of acreage or privacy do offer HOA-free living, would include Naples Park and Naples Twin Lakes. Most of the homes in these communities are reasonably priced considering the location, and are free of HOA fees and other restrictions that come with living inside an association.

Golf Lifestyle

One of the great things about Naples (for a lot of residents, at least) is that there is a plethora of golf courses, and many of those courses are contained within their own communities. There are essentially two different types of golf communities in Naples - Bundled golf and equity golf communities. The main difference between the two are the cost. With bundled golf, the membership is basically included in the price of the home. If you buy a home in a bundled golf community, your membership to the course is included. With Equity golf, you will have to pay extra for the membership - ranging anywhere from $10,000 to well over $200,000. There are also annual dues as well as cart fees. The advantage to having an equity membership is that the club generally has a lower density of members so tee times are easy - even in season. Also, when you wish to sell your membership there are generally buyers interested, and there is generally no requirement to maintain your membership, as the community and club are seperate entities.

Some examples of Bundled Golf communities in Naples are:

Examples of Equity Golf communities in Naples are:

Naples Gated Communities

Security is a big deal to a lot of people, and gated communities generally offer an additional level of security that let residents sleep easier at night knowing that only residents and guests are able to get inside. It also tends to keep out pesky solicitors and door-to-door salespeople which is attractive to just about everyone I would think. Not to mention less traffic, stricter building codes which keeps the communities looking nice and home prices up and typically a host of amenities and community activities that are available only to residents. Of course the trade-off for these benefits is usually higher prices and HOA fees, and the additional hassles of waiting for a gate to open (sometimes behind a line of cars doing the same) in order to get inside, and needing to give out codes to guests and delivery people so that they can get to your residence.

Some examples of gated communities in Naples are:

See a list of Naples gated homes for sale.

Resort Lifestyle

While Naples doesn't exactly have huge, all-inclusive resort-type retirement communities that residents never have to leave (there are a few that are close), there are many that are perfect for second-home residents that offer tons of luxurious amenities and activities involving residents of the community. Many of these communities are golf-centered (let's face it, we're talking about Naples here), which we have already covered above, but there are a few that could hold their own even without the plush greens and rolling fairways that define them as such.

A few of these would include:

There are many more, but these are not the resort communities that we will focus on to comprise this list. For the sake of brevity (and to avoid repetition) we will exclude golf communities from this particular list, and focus only on communities that offer resort-style amenities that do not include golf.

We'll start with the "Walks". These are a series of gated communities that were constructed by the home builder Divosta, each offering top-notch amenities such as fitness centers, community pools, tennis courts, car washes, cafes, dedicated post offices and a lot more. These communities also offer a plethora of organized activities for residents, ensuring there is always something to do inside the gates.

These communities include:

Naples is loaded with communities that could be considered "Resort Style", and more are being built every year. The list of these communities would go on for what could seem like an eternity, so I'll stick to the ones that are the most popular. And those would include:

While not entirely exaustive, I hope that this list can serve as a guide to those that are new to the area and are looking to purchase a home here. If you found this post helpful or would like to add something to the conversation, feel free to speak out in the comments section.

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