Nestled in Southwest Florida, just below the Tampa Bay Area, are some of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.
North Port and Port Charlotte have experienced significant population growth over the past half-century, with residents flooding in from across the country and overseas. Home to an abundance of beaches and natural beauty, this sunny region on Florida’s Gulf Coast is a hotspot for expats, retirees, and investors alike.
Conveniently located halfway between Tampa and Fort Myers, these two cities are just off the I-75 and close to popular tourist destinations in Southwest Florida. With highly rated public schools and easy access to all that the Florida Gulf Coast has to offer; it is little wonder that North Port and Port Charlotte are becoming some of the most popular places to live in the state.
An Influx of New Residents & Businesses
According to a study by Quicken Loans, released in January 2023, North Port is the second fastest-growing city in the U.S. The population has grown by 120% since 1980. Meanwhile, Charlotte County—which encompasses Port Charlotte—was named one of the top regions in the nation for population growth in a 2021 U.S. Census Bureau report.
These vibrant and well-known areas are home to active communities, making them attractive destinations for residents and ideal for investors. Better still, less than an hour’s drive away is the city of Fort Myers, known for its first-class amenities and beautiful waterfront views. Visitors can enjoy Fort Myers Beach, a popular destination for water sports, or take a trip to the beautiful barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva.
A healthy job market is also drawing working professionals to the region. In March, Florida’s unemployment rate was recorded at 2.6% for the third consecutive month—well below the national average of 3.5%. Meanwhile, unemployment rates in cities across Southwest Florida dropped year on year.
Existing businesses are expanding thanks to the influx of new residents. Wells Fargo, Amazon, Starbucks, IBM, Bank of America, UPS, Target, and Lee Health are some of the largest employers in Fort Myers-Cape Coral, North Port, and the surrounding area.
Florida also saw the highest number of new business applications in the country in 2021, according to Smartest Dollar, and Southwest Florida is a particularly popular base for new start-ups.
As more people and businesses move in, the local economy is enjoying sustained growth and housing markets are thriving. Since 2018, home prices have risen by 66% in North Port and 73% in Port Charlotte (Zillow), both outperforming the national average. With strong house price growth and high demand for rental properties, these cities represent some of the fastest-growing markets in the country.
A Shared History
North Port belongs to Sarasota County and Port Charlotte to Charlotte County, yet these cities have a strong historical tie dating back to the mid-20th century. Both cities were developed by the General Development Corporation (GDC), a company which developed land in Southwest Florida during the 1950s. Port Charlotte was the first area to be developed, followed by North Port. The area now known as North Port was originally dubbed North Port Charlotte by the GDC before it established its own city identity.
Port Charlotte: Waterways and Wildlife
Located about halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Port Charlotte features more than 165 miles of waterways with access to Charlotte Harbour, the Gulf of Mexico, and miles of stunning natural beaches. It also offers various hiking trails, wildlife viewing at Tippecanoe Environmental Park, and outdoor activities, making it ideal for nature lovers.
Charlotte Sports Park is home to the Tampa Bay Rays spring training facility. An increasing number of baseball teams are establishing a base in this region of southwest Florida, which is bringing an influx of sports fans and a welcomed boost to the local economy.
North Port: Forestry and Natural Springs
Encompassing the 8,000-acre Myakka State Forest, North Port is the only city in the state with an entire state forest inside its city limits. It is an area rich with archaeological history and beautiful natural springs. Warm Mineral Springs is the only natural warm spring in Florida, with a year-round 85-degree temperature and one of the highest mineral contents in the world.
With an estimated 80 miles of freshwater canals, North Port also offers an abundance of canoeing and kayaking opportunities.
Rotonda West: Another Popular Destination
Slightly west of North Port and Port Charlotte is the pristine, master-planned community of Rotonda West. Rotonda is smaller by comparison, with a population of around 10,000 residents—but it certainly doesn’t fall short of amenities.
Home to a strong retiree community, Rotonda West is well-suited to those looking for a peaceful, laid-back way of life on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Along with twenty-six miles of canals, the area boasts ponds, lakes, and plenty of parks with an abundance of local wildlife.