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Old 09-26-2012, 10:04 AM   #1
elf
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Any from Lee County Florida - Bonita Springs Area?

Hello all,

I had an extensive phone interview for a place in Bonita Springs, Florida and now have an in person interview. I wanted to move back to Florida (from NY) and sent resume's everywhere but really don't know anything about this area, previously lived in Northeast Orlando.

Now I'm like "what if I get this job"?

I have two dd's one in 7th and one in 9th grade

Can anyone tell me about schools and best places to live. I don't mind commuting if another town is better to live or has better schools. I'm used to driving and commuting. I only want to pay between $1000-$1500 a month in rent if I can.

Thank you!
I'm also researching on Data-City Forum but honestly I get better advise here.

Last edited by elf; 09-26-2012 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:44 PM   #2
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I thought I'd try one more time to post this. Getting desparate, not liking what I read about schools a little scary.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:23 PM   #3
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I never lived there. I lived in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. I know Lee County has one of the biggest foreclosure problems in the nation. Lots of stores and restaurants closed because of all the people who lost their homes. I would guess it's still a depressed area. I would call it a "backwater." There's no decent size city nearby, not even WDW is close. You can't beat the weather, but at least when I lived on the east coast there were lots of things going on, restaurants, shopping choices, cultural and civic events. The Lee County area is more of a quiet place for snowbirds, vacationers and boaters. Boring is what I'd call it, and a long drive from there to any place worth visiting. (This is just my personal opinion.) Perhaps this is why the housing boom didn't work in Lee County. Land was cheap, but not enough new people were interested in moving there (types of jobs and pay?). I think anywhere along the Gulf coast of Florida is similar to life in Lee County, except the greater Tampa area. Good luck.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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Thank you.

That's a bit depressing, since I'm one who likes being in the middle of the action.

If they offer the job I'm not really in a position to turn it down.

At first I was excited because I have friends that have vacationed and loved visiting Naples, Marco Island and Sannibel Island, but now I'm not so excited.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:56 PM   #5
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Yes, Naples, Sanibel and Marco Island are nice for a weekend or a week. But not Lee County 365 days a year. The worst problem I had in Miami/Ft Laud was family up north wouldn't visit me. They would go to WDW, but it was another 4 hrs to Miami, plus return time, and their vacation time was too short. So even tho I had lots of stuff to do locally, it was lonely in terms of friends or family visiting. The reverse of that was, if I was to visit up north, I had to use my few vacation days, so it was only once or twice a year.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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I have lived in Collier County (Naples) actually went to HS and Jr College there awhile ago. My Mother lives in Bonita Springs (Lee County) for MANY years in a condo.

Here is what I know... Lee County schools are subpar compared to Collier County Schools. I do believe there is some type of Charter School in Bonita that might be decent.

Bonita Springs area in general is very Hispanic (just giving facts) It is also has LOTS of Retirees.

Estero is a much nicer area IMHO with lots of shopping and restaurants... North Naples is also nice .. Naples in general is pretty pricey.. not sure if you are looking to rent a house or apartment but as a PP stated lots of foreclosures around.

There are alot of vacationers, snow birds and retirees around and in Season traffic is a NIGHTMARE how ever we love visiting there.. I have mixed feeling about living there with a family but I know there is ALOT more to do now then when I lived there.

Hopefully you can get a chance to visit? otherwise renting is the best option until you can find an area you like... most important should be your schools.. I believe Florida is a school choice state? Some one can correct me if I am wrong.

No matter where you live a beach is about 15-20 min away SouthWest Florida is totally different then the East coast side.. I should also tell you that there are alot of New Yorkers down there also
Good luck with your search and decision!
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Old 09-29-2012, 08:57 PM   #7
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thank you all,

You are so right about people visiting. I don't visit my Aunt when I go Disney unless I have a whole extra day.

I lived in the Orlando area and LOVED it. If I could get a job there I would move to Orlando area without hesitation. Had quite a few visits from friends and family, but I realized I wouldn't get many visits in the SW. I'm going where the job is. I'm really going to look at schools and housing (I'll rent first).

Anyone else know about schools or housing I'd appreciate any info or opinions. Thanks
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:58 PM   #8
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OP i agree with one of the other posters that you should look into estero, google it to find info. it seems to be a nice area not far from bonita. you can also go on the school district of lee county website to learn more about the schools in the area. lee schools have improved,higher test scores,etc. there is school choice you pick the schools in your zone in order of the ones you want the most etc. you can find out more about that on the lee county schools website.there may also be a charter school in the area. i'm sure you will find a nice place to live and good schools for your children. sanibel island and captiva are both beautiful and nice places to visit after you settle in as i'm sure is marco island. i'm sure you will find a place to live in your price range without any problem. when you get your in person interview i hope you get a chance to check out the area(estero). the interviewer may even be able to give you advise on best place to live near the job. good luck!
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:43 PM   #9
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http://www.leegov.com/Pages/default.aspx is a place to start

Lee County is FAR from "backwater". Lee County has: Lee Civic Center, Germain Arena (hockey games, concerts, Disney on Ice), Miromar Outlets, Coconut Pointe Mall (very fancy one), Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center, Spring Training home for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, fishing, boating, golf, parks, shopping, dining, Chuck E Cheese (lol), Florida Gulf Coast University, Edison State College, Edison/Ford Winter Estates. You can go to Oktoberfest at the German-American Club in Cape Coral, Mango Mania, Red White & Boom on July 4th, fish festivals, strawberry festivals, reading festivals, Edison Parade of Lights, and many other events.

Estero is a small community with US41 running through it. It has two big malls and Koreshan Park, and kayaking. Not much else. It is north of Bonita and south of South Fort Myers.

Fort Myers is not a "small city" by any means. To the south is Bonita Springs and Naples (Philharmonic and Swamp Buggy Races, Fifth Avenue Shopping District, Tin City), Everglades City, Marco Island. You can go black tie or red neck. Captiva Island and Sanibel Island are lovely and famous for shelling. Fort Lauderdale is 2.5 hours away, Miami just a little further, Tampa is 2 hours, Orlando is 3 hours, Cape Canaveral is 4 hours.

You will find lower income neighborhoods and upper end neighborhoods. Trailer parks and gated communities. Great schools and not-so-great schools.

Yes, the recession hurt because tourism is big here and when tourists quit coming the money dies down. Homes foreclosed on because construction no longer needed to build all those houses and malls for the tourists and people serving the tourists. Things are looking up though. Traffic can be bad but it was bad when I lived in Fort Lauderdale. Much nicer when the snowbirds leave.

There is no snow, no state income tax, and great Florida resident discounts for all kinds of fun things . . . Disney, Busch Gardens, Universal, etc.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:18 PM   #10
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Thank you all for the info. Rumrunner thank you for the fun list of things to do.

Thing that really caught my eye was a leash free dog park on the beach. My dog would love that!

I will look at Estero, I didn't initially because the school was graded to well, but I'll look more into it.

thank you!
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:33 AM   #11
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I live in Estero, one exit north of Bonita. This is a wonderful area. There are lots of families with children. Bella Terra is one big subdivision filled with families. There are lots of nice subdivisions off Three Oaks Road that are not too pricey. We have three giant shopping malls within three miles of our house. Estero is called little naples, but it is affordable. there are so many new north southroads between estero and naples that traffic is not the nightmare it was a few years ago. I believe in Lee County, you choose the school you want your child to attend.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:14 AM   #12
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Thank you Rapmarks, I heard nice things about Estero, I will definately look into the divisions you listed.
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:47 PM   #13
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Thank you all for the info. Rumrunner thank you for the fun list of things to do.

Thing that really caught my eye was a leash free dog park on the beach. My dog would love that!

I will look at Estero, I didn't initially because the school was graded to well, but I'll look more into it.

thank you!
Oh my gosh -- don't rely on what you read about that so called dog park. It's not a park at all. To even call it a beach is ridiculous. It is a swampy area which you reach by walking through a pondy path surrounded on each side by vegetation and filled with sand crabs -- literally, many hundreds, if not thousands, of them. We had to carry our dog most of the way, and I had to clean my water shoes and bathe my dog afterward because it was so gross. And that was during the drought this summer.

We did see two other dogs there when we went, but it was not as if there was a big area for them in which to run on sand. It looked almost like a small sandbar, although that's not what it actually was. As an example, you could not access the "beach" without walking through a minimum of two feet of water. I am sure that particular circumstance differs from day to day, but even on the best day, this is not what anyone would deem a proper "dog park" or "dog beach."

Having just returned from living in north Naples for seven months, I would not recommend the area. I have young kids in my extended family who live there, and there are limited offerings for kids (the new children's museum is wonderful, though). I have always loved, loved, loved the area for vacations (still do), but I now would never consider living in the Fort Myers/Bonita Beach/Naples areas again on a long term basis. Fort Myers had numerous drive-by shootings, some on busy highways, while I was there. In fact, there were some major citizen/police forums during that time to try to address the growing violent crime rate. Having come from a large Midwest city, I found many of the people living there to be unfriendly and unreliable (two rental agents blatantly lied to me, several workmen did not show up for appointments, etc.). Still a great place to visit but not a great place to live, in my view.

With that said, I know some wealthy retirees who live there who love it. Plus, the weather is absolutely incredible nearly all of the year. Having sunshine virtually every day . . . priceless.
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:58 PM   #14
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I've never lived in the Lee/Collier area, but my father and his family did - in N. Naples and Ft. Myers - so I spent a decent amount of time visiting and can tell you what they thought...

They were happier with Estero and Ft. Myers Beach for living than Bonita. Schools in FL are, generally speaking, not fantastic. Every district is run differently (mine no longer has a "choice" program, though there are lots of charter and magnet schools available), so you need to do some homework there. My dad and step-mother both taught and thought highly of Collier county schools.

I live in Pinellas county, across the bay from Tampa, and found the Lee/Collier area to have a more laid-back feel; definitely lots of snowbirds and tourists. We have that, too, but we also have a much larger year-round residency. The summer lull in Naples was VERY noticeable... and it was NICE! Summers are, (hard to believe, I know), hotter and more humid than central FL and winters are more mild. Tampa Bay seems to be the dividing line on FL's west coast between sub-tropical and full-on tropics. While I get some pretty chilly winters, I don't recall it ever being very cold in Ft. Myers or Naples.

From my half-brother's perspective (he spent most of his childhood in Naples), it was a comfortable place to grow up, but "boring". He hated not having professional football/baseball/hockey/basketball teams for his city. The mall and movie theaters got old - as a young adult, he craved a city like Tampa or Orlando that had a a "real" nightlife. The greater Naples area has a lot of wealth - there's a very real and obvious distinction between the monied and the less-monied. It was less in-your-face in the Ft. Myers area.

From my perspective, it's not the area I most want to live in within FL... but it's high on the list of places I'd consider. As you know from Orlando, crime is funny in FL; one 3-block area may be awful and the next perfect. But the Estero/Ft. Myers/Naples areas I saw always felt safe and the whole area is very pretty. Yes, lots of foreclosures and short sales on the West coast, but that can work in your favor for getting something really nice within your rent budget; lots of folks would rather rent a place than let it foreclose.

I'll finish with this: Best. Beaches. In. The. World. That's what's kept me on FL's west coast for 20 years.
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Old 10-05-2012, 01:02 PM   #15
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thank you all,

You are so right about people visiting. I don't visit my Aunt when I go Disney unless I have a whole extra day.

I lived in the Orlando area and LOVED it. If I could get a job there I would move to Orlando area without hesitation. Had quite a few visits from friends and family, but I realized I wouldn't get many visits in the SW. I'm going where the job is. I'm really going to look at schools and housing (I'll rent first).

Anyone else know about schools or housing I'd appreciate any info or opinions. Thanks
It's been several years since I've been to this area, but used to frequent it to visit my grandfather. His area of Bonita Springs at the time was lots of retirees. I don't know too much about the schools or what neighborhoods to look in - but keep researching. School choice is really helpful and I wouldn't just look at test scores alone. Have you done a preliminary apartment search to see what/where you can get in your price range?

Since you ultimately want to be in Orlando, I would think that at least being in Florida would be good. Perhaps this Bonita job could be a stepping stone? Maybe in a year or two you could look for work again in Orlando. Good luck!
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