Sanibel and Captiva Islands are some of the most coveted places to live in Southern Florida. The unmatched natural beauty and tight knit communities of the area are what draw people in and keep them hooked. Once you visit these islands, you’ll never want to leave. And you don’t have to! But buying an island home takes special preparation - there are a lot of things to consider before making the transition, especially for those who have never experienced island living before. Here are some tips to prepare you for the island lifestyle:
Old Fashioned Living
With fewer than 10,000 people living on the island, Sanibel offers a small town charm that cannot be missed by tourists. Even today, the island has no traffic lights and no billboards. Biking is a preferred method of transportation here, made easy by the 22 miles of traffic-less bike trails that weave around the island. Sanibel is also unique in that it has a long-standing ban on a number of chain restaurants, which helps preserve local businesses. Sanibel and its residents prioritize the preservation of the island’s natural beauty, and you should be prepared to do the same if you’re thinking of moving here.
Isolation and local-centric communities are both things you can expect to encounter when transitioning to island living. While the word “isolation” has negative connotations, residents of Sanibel Island actually appreciate the distance from the bustle of the mainland. There is a toll bridge that connects the mainland to the island, and although even year long residents are subject to fees, locals insist that it is a small price to pay for a life in paradise. Local residents have formed a very tight-knit and friendly community - the prohibition of most chain restaurants have allowed the local businesses to flourish and provide for the community. In short, locals are content with what the island provides; many have said that there is hardly anything worth leaving for anyway.
Living on Sanibel - or any island - you should expect a change of pace from regular urban (or even rural) life. Things tend to move much slower here. In fact, the speed limit never exceeds 35 mph on the whole island. Generally, people tend to be in less of a hurry. Things like honking your horn or letting out an exasperated sigh while standing in line may be frowned upon. The island is a place of relaxation, and locals strive to maintain the serenity and beauty of the island that keeps them in constant “vacation mode”.
Presence of Nature
Over half of the area of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are reserved for nature preserves or wildlife refuges. Many islands have their own ecosystems, which may mean that you encounter creatures you are unfamiliar with. Doing some pre-move research on the wildlife of the area is definitely a good idea. While the incredible environment offers you never-ending opportunities for exploration, it also demands a certain respect for nature that has been adopted by locals. Residents here are committed to keeping the environmental community in which they live. This means supporting conservation efforts, making sustainable lifestyle changes, and taking advantage of the man-made environment that already exists without encroaching on the natural preserves.