Tim Cranch wearing blue shirt

Tim Cranch

Ellie Penaranda


From U.S. News & World Report

Offering a plethora of outdoor activities, immense natural beauty and close proximity to beaches, it’s no surprise Naples performed well in the desirability and quality of life indexes.

If you could afford to live anywhere in the U.S., would you consider moving to the Sunshine State? This Gulf Coast town may be known as a playground for wealthy retirees and snowbirds, but Naples, Florida, clinched the No. 1 spot in U.S. News’ Best Places to Live 2024 – 2025, edging out Boise, Idaho, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

U.S. News’ analysis evaluates data related to the desirability, quality of life, job market and value of 150 major U.S. cities. This includes crime rates, cost of living, job market, net migration, climate, quality of education, and more. While other factors – such as personal preferences, proximity to family and friends, phase of life and career opportunities in a given field – certainly influence where Americans choose to call home, U.S. News considered data that can potentially contribute to making a city a good place to live.

Naples performed well in the desirability (No. 4), job market (No. 3) and quality of life (No. 28) indexes. This combination propelled it to the top of the ranking, despite its high cost of living translating to a low score in the value index. The city also ranked highly among some of the individual metrics that factored into the quality of life score: No. 4 in college readiness, No. 26 in well-being, No. 15 in air quality and No. 12 for its low crime rate.

The Great Outdoors 

Naples, located in southwest Florida, has a nearly 9-mile shoreline of white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, and the city boasts sunny days for most of the year.

“Along the lines of the Florida lifestyle, you’re going to have a lot of that sunshine, warmer summers, very little potential for any kind of cold weather whatsoever – maybe in the 50s in a certain time of year,” says Kristina Park, president and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

But this is coastal Florida – it does get muggy in the summertime, and locals have to be aware of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Still, the warm, sunny days can be a serotonin booster for those who call Naples home.

“Six months out of the year, you could not have more perfect weather,” says Tiffani Mensch, president and CEO of United Way of Collier and the Keys. “And then the other six months it’s hot, but it’s still so beautiful here that you don’t care.”

Those who enjoy the subtropical climate have a variety of natural resources and outdoor activities at their disposal, from lounging on the beaches to exploring the nearby wetlands and Everglades. And residents of Collier County, of which Naples is the seat, can get free parking permits for the county’s beaches.

A plethora of golf courses add to the city’s manicured look. And when locals aren’t hitting the links, they can play pickleball at one of the many designated courts around town.

“Pickleball is No. 1 here,” says PJ Smith, 2024 Naples Area Board of Realtors president. While she prefers golfing, Smith says locals of all ages are playing pickleball. Naples also hosts the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships each year.

Living among pristine landscaping and steps away from white sand beaches does come at a cost, though – home prices in Naples are well above the national median, and the city ranked No. 108 in value out of the 150 major cities U.S. News included in this year’s rankings. Value considers the cost of housing as well as price parity, or the cost of standard goods and services across cities.

“It is much more expensive to live here than any place I’ve ever lived. Insurance is higher, housing is higher, food costs more,” Mensch says. “So obviously, there is a large portion of our population that lives paycheck to paycheck, and those folks are the ones that are really running this town. They’re our servers and our hotel workers and our teachers and nurses, and the people that run the tourism industry.”

Naples does have a strong job market, ranking No. 3 in that category among the 150 cities U.S. News evaluated as part of this year’s ranking, and Florida doesn’t collect state income tax from individuals. But because of the high cost of living there, people looking to move to the area should carefully consider whether it’s a good fit for their financial situation.

“It is a wealthier community. What that also means is that we have great public schools, great public safety and really beautiful streetscaping (and) landscaping,” Park says. “So I think you just have to do your research and kind of understand what it is you’re looking for, so that you can guide your search process accordingly.”

Smith strongly recommends that anyone thinking about moving to Naples consult with a trusted resource like a real estate agent or broker, who understands the nuances of the area and what to know about investing in different types of properties.

Winter Wonderland 

Naples is popular with seasonal residents too, as snowbirds – people who live in more northern states the rest of the year – flock to the Gulf Coast during the winter months to take advantage of the mild weather compared with many other places in the country. Naples has, on average, 264 sunny days per year.

“In the late fall, you start seeing the Maseratis and the Corvettes and the Lamborghinis start to arrive,” Mensch says. “And it starts getting busier and busier until about January, when everybody’s back down here for the season.” More people in town means more traffic – and perhaps more difficulty snagging a dinner reservation at the local restaurants – but it also means activities, events and festivals.

Tiburón Golf Club in Naples hosts the Chubb Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event, each February, and the CME Group Tour Championship, the season-ending LPGA Tour event, in November. And while many outdoor music festivals elsewhere in the U.S. take place during the summer, LiveFest, which has hosted acts including Darius Rucker, Gin Blossoms and Brad Paisley, is held in Naples in December. Charitable events also dot the calendar during this time of year. The multiday Naples Winter Wine Festival, for example, raises millions of dollars each January for programs that support local children.

A Culture of Community 

Park, herself a transplant to the area, says she noticed soon after moving there that Naples locals exhibit a strong sense of community.

“I think a lot of coastal areas, in particular, can be a transient community, where you’re going to have a lot more people kind of traveling through. What I find here is the deep sense of ownership and community spirit that lives here,” she says. “I’ve just been really impressed with how residents support each other, support each other’s businesses and ultimately just really want to give back to the community – that real sense of ownership.”

Smith has been a Naples resident since 2016, but she previously was a snowbird from Minnesota for 25 years before making the full-time plunge. While she acknowledges that many people who live there come from somewhere else, she says she’s noticed an interesting trend in recent years.

“Generationally, as new economic development occurs and better jobs are here like (medical device and education company) Arthrex … kids that are graduating from FGCU, that are from here, are staying here, which is kind of cool,” she says, referring to Florida Gulf Coast University in nearby Fort Myers. “I’m meeting more people who grew up here and are staying here, because they love it. It’s all about that lifestyle.”

Maybe it’s the southwest Florida lifestyle, with its ample sunshine and opportunities for active outdoor recreation, that keeps people coming to Naples. Of the factors U.S. News considered as part of the desirability index, Naples ranked No. 12 for net migration, which measures whether people are moving to or away from each city and assesses whether a city is actually attracting new residents.

“I don’t always meet people often that grew up in Naples – though once in a while, there’s one or two,” Mensch says. “But for the most part, a lot of us are transplants, and I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone who moved down here that said they would ever leave. Once you’re down here, you’re a lifer.”

Serious buyer? We listen well and will find your own “Piece of Paradise” or investment property at the best negotiated price and terms. We are full-time professional REALTORS® who depend on your referrals and take pride in our work. We have lived and worked through all real estate cycles. Take advantage of our skill and strategy to make you a successful buyer in a challenging market.

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Tim Cranch



Ellie Penaranda