For the fourth straight year, the Naples, Florida, metro area has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for health and happiness, perhaps because Florida is also one of the most tax-friendly of all U.S. states.
Just ask residents from the Northeast, who rank at the top of the list for the nation’s greatest number of residents who are moving there (three of the top four states with the highest number of residents migrating to Collier County are in the Northeast, and people from the Northeast also make up the highest number of out-of-state annual visitors to southwest Florida).
People come here for the spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, white sandy beaches, arts and culture and the many financial advantages – just a few of the reasons that the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index recognized Naples, in Collier County, for the highest well-being across 156 U.S. communities.
Florida offers residents a variety of attractive financial incentives that are particularly beneficial to people who are used to living in the Northeast, where taxes and property tax rates are some of the highest in the nation.
Florida residents reap many financial benefits. Unlike states in the Northeast, neither Florida nor Naples has a state or individual income tax, so Social Security benefits, pension income and income from an IRA or 401(k) are all untaxed. Florida also has no estate or inheritance tax. And unlike other states, there’s no so-called “death tax,” so loved ones don’t have to worry about paying taxes on the right to transfer a property.
In the event of a lawsuit or creditor dispute, Florida residents also don’t have to worry about losing their assets. The state offers homestead creditor protection, meaning residents cannot be forced to sell their home to pay off a lawsuit. Similar protection exists to protect IRAs, annuities, the cash value of life insurance and personal property, as well as any assets held in a business entity. And, unlike many other states, Florida law mandates that a surviving spouse immediately becomes the sole owner of the property when his or her spouse dies.
Throughout Florida and Naples, property taxes and sales tax rates fall within the national average, leaving residents with little to worry about when it comes to finances — and giving them more time to use that extra cash to enjoy all that the area offers.
Residents in Naples eat healthy and exercise regularly, and it shows. People in Naples have low levels of depression, stress and anxiety, according to the Gallup findings. The area is particularly appealing to retirees who want to move to an area with warm temperatures year-round.
Naples has become a wellness retreat and yoga hub, with classes held everywhere from traditional yoga studios to yoga on the beach. The Gulf of Mexico’s calm waters make the area a favorite place to go paddle boarding, and Naples’ year-round warm, sub-tropical weather makes it an ideal place to walk, run or play golf.
For rest and relaxation, Naples residents can visit one of the area’s many spas, which are located in some of the country’s top hotels and resorts. And there’s even a salt cave located in north Naples, where salt-infused air inspires natural health and healing.
Arts and culture
The Naples area is Southwest Florida’s center for arts and culture.
The Naples Philharmonic performs more than 140 orchestral and chamber concerts each year and welcomes a wide range of internationally acclaimed guest musicians. The area also plays host to many different festivals and community concerts that are held in open-air parks and pavilions throughout the year.
For the visual arts, the Baker Museum at Artis-Naples, one of the top fine-art museums in Southwest Florida, exhibits a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art. Downtown Naples’ Third Street South district and Crayton Cove, near the Naples City Dock, are both home to a variety of fine art galleries. And in downtown Naples, the Naples Art Association holds classes and workshops throughout the year.
Beaches, forests and swamps surround Naples, a community where environmental gems such as Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve are a short drive away.
About a half-hour away, the Everglades offers boating, kayaking and paddling tours The Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, is home to rare and endangered species such as the manatee, American crocodile and the Florida panther.
Also, about a half-hour away, Big Cypress National Preserve, which supports the marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast, has a unique variety of tropical and temperate plant communities and wildlife — along with ranger-led activities, camping and scenic drives.
The Naples area enjoys a strong public-school system that is balanced by an equally strong number of private and parochial offerings. The area is also home to an accredited liberal arts college, Ave Maria University, which has a variety of cultural and educational offerings that appeal to people of all ages.
Naples High School, part of the highly rated Collier School District, is ranked 139th of 1,081 high schools in Florida. And Palmetto Ridge High School, ranked 160th, is also highly rated. The schools enjoy a 93% and 95% graduation rate, respectively. Likewise, the elementary and middle schools are ranked highly, many of them earning “A” ratings on niche.com.
Renowned private schools are plentiful as well, many offering customized education plans that help students thrive in the areas they care about most, ensuring they’re set up for a successful future. STEM education systems also allow students to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Need some shopping therapy? Naples is home to outstanding outdoor malls that have a great balance of upscale stores and top-rated restaurants, as well as local farmers markets and small boutiques.
Waterside Shops, the Village Shops on Venetian Bay and Mercato are popular outdoor shopping destinations, while Coastland Center is a good option when it’s cold or raining.
Fifth Avenue and Third Street South offer a wide range of unique shops, while the nearby Naples Farmers Market is a favorite morning destination.
Naples is one of the country’s top golf destinations with more than 80 championship courses in the area. Favorite courses include TPC Treviso Bay, in the heart of Naples, and Pelicans Nest Golf Club in nearby Bonita Springs.
If golf isn’t your game, watersports such as fishing, boating and nature-focused activities like hiking are easily available. Some popular hiking areas include Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, which offers a 2.5-mile trek along its famous boardwalk, and Koreshan State Historic Site, located just north of Naples.
And, of course, warm temperatures year-round give residents plenty of opportunity to play tennis, go swimming or just sit outside in the sun at one of Naples’ numerous parks. Just within Collier County, there are five aquatic parks, 15 community parks and 16 neighborhood parks — each offering a wide variety of different outdoor activities.