Manifest Destiny...westward expansion. The sound of it just takes me back to those good 'ol days of my 7th-grade history class! You don't remember? In short, the "new" Americans were pulling their roots out of the more populated cities and towns of the east and moving west. Moving west in search of economic opportunity, land ownership...and freedom. It started small, but by 1840, nearly half (40%) of our nation's population lived in the trans-Appalachian west. The suburbs were getting busy! Fast forward to modern day America and it would appear as though we may have another expansion occurring. Only this time, Americans are heading south.
You don't have to live in Florida to know that Florida's population is increasing at an exponential rate. In fact, the U.S. Census found in 2014 that Florida had surpassed the population of New York to become the third most populous state in The Union. Naturally, as people move to Florida, many times they find themselves in densely populated cities where the ills of living in over-populated urban areas begin to wane on their minds...and lives. The time to move to "The Burbs" has come. Others, many of whom already live in urban areas in other states, have already experienced the hustle and bustle of city life and are ready to live in quieter communities where they can relax and enjoy their lives. Some simply want a local community where their kids can go to great schools while living and playing where their friends are.
What do these suburbs look like? The most popular suburbs have great schools, neatly planned communities, and a lot of local eating and drinking spots. People want to be able to "go" to the city but want to live in the safe enclave of their suburb. A place where they can shop locally, have more "local" flare, walk down a small main street, and know their neighbors by their first names. There is a commonality among the inhabitants of these communities...but not in a Stepford Wives sort of way. Yes, they have income and demographic distances between them, but the "suburb life" brings them all together.
Realtor.com recently conducted a study and found that two of America's fastest growing suburbs were here in Florida, one being right here in the Sarasota area! So, without further ado, here you go!
Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Ok, what is it and where is it? Lakewood Ranch is a master planned community that sits right at the county division line between Manatee and Sarasota County, Florida. Lakewood Ranch encompasses multiple new home communities, called "villages", in nearly every price point from the $300's into the millions. There is a quaint main street with local, regional, and national retailers where they hold several outdoor events annually. Many of the schools are located within "The Ranch" in both the public and the private sector. Located just off of I-75, Lakewood Ranch provides easy access for commuters to the larger metropolitan areas or those residents who want to take a quick drive to one of the many beaches the area has to offer.
There is no shortage of shopping and dining in the Lakewood Ranch area, where one of nations newest indoor malls was recently constructed. University Town Center, or the UTC Mall, is the area's largest indoor mall outside of Tampa and sits just adjacent to the Nathan Benderson Park. This 600-acre community park is home to a world-class rowing facility where the 2017 World Rowing Championships were held and where the 2018 World Rowing Masters Regatta is set to take place in September of 2018. According to RCL Co.'s 2018 Mid-Year Report, Lakewood Ranch is the second top-selling master planned community in the United States; falling only behind The Villages, Florida. Oh...and Dick Vitale calls Lakewood Ranch home too. You might just see him The Concession Golf Club, the Ritz Carlton Golf Club...or just enjoying his favorite beverage at McCallister's Grill and Tavern. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Sarasota Polo Club...not something you find in every community and it can be a lot of fun!
Ponte Vedre, Florida
Ponte Vedra has ample shopping and if you like to golf and play tennis, this may just be the place for you. Ponte Verde is home to a slew of professional golfers and home to the PGA Tour Headquarters and The Players Championship played at The TPC at Sawgrass. You also have the city of Jacksonville located just a short drive away, where you experience world-class dining, entertainment, and culture.
Ponte Vedra is also only about a 40-minute drive to St. Augustine, our nation's oldest city. Saint Augustine is a wonderful destination filled with curiosity, wonder, rich history, and maybe....just a few ghosts!
As we all seek to escape the rat-race of city life, our Florida suburbs like Lakewood Ranch and Ponte Vedra are becoming increasingly popular, particularly to growing families and grandparents who want to be close to the grandkids...but don't necessarily want to live with them. If you think that the "Burb Life" may be for you, and you are moving to Florida (or already live here); you may just want to consider Lakewood Ranch and Ponte Vedra as you work towards creating the life you want to live.
We better be careful though...isn't this how cities start?
Sources: RCLCO (rclco.com), U.S. Census Bureau, Realtor.com