Between the 2000 and 2008 censuses, the population of Fort Myers jumped from 48,208 residents to 65,394 residents. That's an increase of more than 17,000 people! Why have so many people decided that moving to Fort Myers is a great idea? The answer lies in the pleasant weather and beautiful sandy beaches of this historic Florida town.
What else keeps Fort Myers moving companies busy? Perhaps it's because the cost of living is only three-quarters of the national average. This makes Fort Myers, Florida an attractive home, especially for retirees and others on a fixed income. The city also has a lively arts scene, many fine golf courses and several Division 1 university sports teams. If you're thinking of moving to Fort Myers, take a moment to learn more about the balmy "City of Palms."
Tourism is the heart of the Fort Myers economy; the town welcomes five million visitors each year. In fact, tourists spend nearly $82 per second and account for a quarter of the local jobs. Despite the influx of tourist dollars, the cost of living in Fort Myers is lower than the national average (if the national average is charted at 100, the Fort Myers cost of living is a mere 87.1). The three largest industries (in terms of number of persons employed) are construction, health care and food services. With its deepwater port right on the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Myers is ideally situated for shipping, and its reputation as a tourist destination has made it a popular point of departure for cruise ships. The area also boasts an international airport, nine other airports and seven heliports.
Before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, the Fort Myers area was populated by Native Americans, including the Calusa and Seminole groups. The first European explorer was probably Ponce de Leon, who traveled along the Florida coast in 1513 and 1521. Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, and soon dozens of settlers were moving cross-country to Fort Myers. The U.S. Army accompanied them to protect them from attacking Seminoles, and they built Fort Myers as part of their defense. The fort was abandoned and then re-inhabited several times, and it was eventually disassembled after the American Civil War. Wooden timbers from the fort were used in the building of homes and shops in the new town of Fort Myers. By 1885, the town boasted 349 inhabitants, which made it one of the largest cities on the coast. In this same year, Thomas Alva Edison arrived in Fort Myers and was captivated by what he saw. He soon embarked on the building of Seminole Lodge, which was his home and laboratory.
Perhaps the most interesting attractions in Fort Myers are the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, where Thomas Edison and his good friend Henry Ford spent many winters enjoying the balmy climate of Fort Myers. Visitors can tour Edison's experimental laboratory, admire the collection of antique automobiles or tour the pleasant, magnolia-scented gardens. Families with children will also enjoy a stop at the Imaginarium, which offers interactive programs such as live animal exhibits, 3-D films, hurricane simulators and fossil digs. The Southwest Florida Museum of History also offers a fascinating glimpse of history, with enormous dinosaur fossils, relics of the Calusa and Seminole Indians, maps and memorabilia from Spanish explorers and historic recreations of old-fashioned Florida "cracker" houses.