Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I move to Southwest Florida?

Fort Myers and Naples Rank as the #2 and #4 Best Places to Retire in the Country - US News & World Report


Naples Named a Top 10 Best Place to Live in the U.S. - US News & World Report


Naples, FL Named the #1 Best Beach Town to Live in America - WalletHub


Fort Myers Ranks #1 as the Fastest Growing City in the Entire US 


Naples, FL Named as the #1 City to Retire in the USA - Smart Asset


Fort Myers Named 6th Fast Growing City in the USA - Wallet Hub


Marco Island Named Safest City in Florida for 2021 -



2. Where can I find COVID information & updates? 

Florida Health



3. What is the population of Southwest Florida?

Southwest Florida continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. Growth is attributed to in-migration mostly from Northeastern and Midwestern states. However, foreign migration and intrastate migration are also major factors for growth. U.S. Census Population Estimates, released in April 2021, shows the recent growth can be seen in the graph below. Population estimates as of July 1st each year through 2020. It shows Southwest Florida continuing to experience significant gains in population with a 2.3% gain (or 30,597 people) in 2020 over 2019 for Collier, Lee, and Charlotte Counties combined. This is 6.7 times the national population growth rate (0.35%) and double Florida’s population growth rate (1.1%) over the same period. The population trends for all three counties can be seen below:



4. What is the Projected Population of Southwest Florida?

The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) released their updated population projections through 2045 in April of 2021, which can be seen below for each county. Lee County’s population is expected to grow 38.4% from 2020 (BEBR) to 2045 (BEBR), which is the third highest percentage gain for any county in the state of Florida with a current population of 350,000 residents or more. Only Lake and Osceola County have higher projected percentage increase. 

Collier County’s population is expected to grow 34.0% from 2020 to 2045, which is the seventh highest percentage gain for any Florida county with at least 350,000 current residents; trailing Osceola, Lake, Lee, Orange, Manatee and Polk County. There were 19 counties in Florida with at least 350,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census figures as of April 1, 2020, with Lake County being the newest addition exceeding the mark for the first time in 2018. 





5. How many students are enrolled in Southwest Florida?

Southwest Florida school enrollments saw an overall decline in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years. As a result of the 2004-2007 run-up in real estate prices, many young families opted for less expensive areas to raise their families. Families continued to exit the market when unemployment began to spike in 2008 due to the economic downturn. Enrollment figures; from the past nine school years showed a reversing trend to positive growth in Lee and Collier Counties. Enrollment growth is indicative of an improving job market in Southwest Florida. Enrollment trends are depicted in the following graphs. The decline in 2020-2021 is likely due to COVID impacts of parents electing to home school or switch to private schools.


 6. What is Enrollment at Florida Gulf Coast University?

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has become a large regional university and economic driver for the Southwest Florida area. The university is located in southern Lee County on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. Enrollment growth, has slowed over the past few years after experiencing strong growth the prior decade. The slowdown in enrollment growth is largely due to strategic planning. However, some can be attributed to strong labor market demand experienced over the past few years. The University continues to add more degree opportunities while adding more classrooms and dedicated learning centers. 


The growth of FGCU contributes to the overall population growth of Southwest Florida and is a big economic driver for the area. A September 2013 study by an FGCU professor found the university's impact on the Southwest Florida economy for the 2012-13 academic year was approximately $422 million in overall expenditures, $154 million in labor income, and was responsible for 3,723 jobs. 




7. What is the average Household Income in Southwest Florida?

The following graphs indicate median and mean income levels for each county according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 ACS (American Community Survey). Data for the U.S. Census 2019 ACS was released in March 2021.  




8. How is Employment in Southwest Florida? 

The graphs in this following section depict historical and current employment conditions at the county, state, and national levels. Note the strong seasonality in Collier County’s unemployment rate. As of March 2021, Collier’s unemployment rate fell to 4.0% after reaching 13.4% in April from the fallout of the pandemic. Employment should slowly normalize and likely to increase in the coming summer months as seasonal population of Collier County vacates during the summer.



Lee County has less seasonal irregularity than Collier County and may be more relevant to the overall job market in Southwest Florida, which also affects the primary housing demand in the area. It is important to note that recent employment figures for Lee County prior to the pandemic show more people employed in the county than any time in its history. As of March 2021, the unemployment rate was 4.6% with the available work force (blue) returning to pre-pandemic levels 




9. Who are the largest Employers in SWFL?




10. Where is Everyone Moving From?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides annual migration data based on the addresses from annual tax returns received and compared year over year. IRS migration data captures roughly 80% of all United States residents. While it does not capture all migration, it does represent data regarding migrants who have the ability to purchase a home in Southwest Florida. Data depicted in the following tables is from the 2017 tax year, which was released in December 2019.