Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale: Which City Would You Rather Live In?

Fort Lauderdale vs. Fort Myers FL

Choosing where to live is a life-changing decision! If Florida's sunshine calls your name, moving to Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale will get you exceptional coastal living with very different vibes. Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale is a choice between two stunning cities on the sunny shores of Florida, but they offer distinct lifestyles. Whether you dream of quiet beachcombing days or buzzing city energy, we'll uncover the perfect fit.

Lifestyle in Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale

Fort Myers

Fort Myers offers a tranquil environment and embraces its natural beauty. Spend your mornings enjoying invigorating strolls on beaches, inhaling the fresh ocean air, and feeling the warm sand beneath your feet. Participate in vibrant community festivals where locals gather to celebrate culture, art, and music. From weekly events like the River District Farmers Market to monthly art and music festivals to annual events like the Fort Myers Boat Show and the Edison Festival of Light, there are always fun things to do in Fort Myers.

Fort Myers is a haven for those seeking a relaxed pace of life. Its tight-knit neighborhoods foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging, while its lush natural surroundings provide ample outdoor adventures.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a city in Florida that combines urban life with serene beaches. It has a thriving culinary scene, exciting museums, and a rich nightlife. Visitors can stroll along waterfront promenades, admire yachts, and dine at cafes. The city also offers a variety of events and activities throughout the year, such as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and the Las Olas Art Fair. 

For those interested in history and art, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens and the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum are also available. Fort Lauderdale offers something for everyone, whether they seek adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both.

Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale Cost of Living

Fort Myers is Cheaper to Live In Than Fort Lauderdale

Fort Myers holds an edge over Fort Lauderdale in terms of affordability. Homes for sale in Fort Myers typically have a median home price in the mid-$300s, while Fort Lauderdale's is closer to the mid-$500s. Groceries and utilities are generally comparable in both cities, but transportation costs differ. Fort Myers is car-centric, which can be costly, while Fort Lauderdale offers better public transportation and walkable areas, potentially leading to savings.

The cost of living in Fort Myers is about 9% higher than the national average, while the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is roughly 22% higher than the average.

Overall, Fort Myers is less expensive than Fort Lauderdale, but careful planning can make either city suitable for various budgets.

Job Market and Economy in Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale

Major Industries

Fort Myers' economy thrives on tourism and healthcare. The city's beautiful beaches, warm climate, and many attractions draw millions of visitors yearly, supporting a robust tourism industry that includes hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Fort Lauderdale, on the other hand, has a more diversified economy. In addition to tourism, the city is home to many businesses in finance, technology, marine industries, and healthcare.

Major Employers

Fort Myers's largest employers include Lee Health, the School District of Lee County, and Publix Super Markets. These companies offer a range of job opportunities in various fields, including healthcare, education, and retail.

Fort Lauderdale has several major employers, such as Citrix, Broward Health, and AutoNation. These companies provide high-paying jobs in various industries, including technology, healthcare, and automotive retail.

Income Potential

Fort Lauderdale generally offers higher-paying jobs than Fort Myers. This is partly due to the city's more diversified economy and the presence of several large corporations. However, Fort Myers can offer lucrative niche opportunities in specific industries, such as tourism management or specialized healthcare. Ultimately, the income potential in either city will depend on your particular skills and experience.

Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale Things to Do

Beaches and Outdoor Recreation

Beautiful Beach in Fort Myers Beach FL

Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale are two of Florida's most popular beach destinations, each offering a unique beach experience. Fort Myers boasts calm Gulf waters, ideal for shelling, swimming, and enjoying spectacular sunsets. In contrast, Fort Lauderdale's Atlantic beaches are wider and have more wave action, attracting sunbathers and water sports enthusiasts.

Water Activities

Both Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale are paradises for water lovers. In Fort Myers, you can explore mangrove-lined estuaries by kayak or try your hand at fishing in the calm waters of the Gulf.

Fort Lauderdale offers a wide range of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing. You can also take a boat tour to the nearby coral reefs or explore the Intracoastal Waterway.

Parks and Nature

Nature lovers will find something to adore in both Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale. Fort Myers offers beachfront parks, such as Lovers Key State Park and Fort Myers Beach, and access to barrier islands like Captiva. From local parks like Centennial Park to wildlife havens like Manatee Park, one thing's for sure: it's easy to have fun outdoors here. 

If you're looking for a wild adventure, Fort Lauderdale's proximity to the Everglades offers hiking, airboat rides, and incredible wildlife encounters. You can also visit Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which provides a variety of nature trails and a butterfly garden.


Window Shopping Downtown in Fort Myers FL

Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale both offer a variety of shopping opportunities. In Fort Myers, you'll find a mix of souvenir shops, beach boutiques, and outlet malls. Fort Lauderdale offers a more upscale shopping experience, with high-end boutiques and designer stores.


Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale both have vibrant nightlife scenes. In Fort Myers, you'll find a variety of bars and nightclubs, as well as live music venues. Fort Lauderdale offers a more upscale nightlife scene, with rooftop bars, beach clubs, and casinos.


Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale have diverse dining options to suit every taste and budget. In Fort Myers, you'll find everything from casual beachside cafes to fine dining restaurants. Fort Lauderdale offers a more sophisticated dining scene, focusing on fresh seafood and international cuisine.

Transportation and Accessibility in Fort Myers vs. Fort Lauderdale


Traffic and congestion are also considerations to take into account. As a larger city, Fort Lauderdale experiences more traffic, especially during peak seasons. Residents driving in Fort Myers will also face congestion, primarily along beach access routes, but it's generally more manageable outside tourist surges.


Fort Myers is served by Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), which offers primarily domestic flights with some international routes.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is an immense hub with more domestic and international destinations.

Public Transportation

Water Taxis in Fort Lauderdale FL

Fort Lauderdale has bus routes, the Brightline commuter rail, and its water taxi system. Meanwhile, Fort Myers public transportation relies on services like LeeTran for bus routes, especially within the city.


Specific Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods, like Flagler Heights and Lake Ridge, are incredibly walkable. Fort Myers shines for uninterrupted beachside biking and walking paths and quaint downtown areas perfect for strolling.

The Sunshine State Showdown: Which City Wins Your Heart?

Ultimately, the choice between Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale depends on the kind of Florida lifestyle that speaks to you. Fort Myers offers a touch of classic Florida with a welcoming, relaxed feel. Fort Lauderdale brings a modern, vibrant energy perfect for those seeking action and diverse experiences.

Remember, this article is just a starting point! It's crucial to dive into deeper research, visit if possible, and trust your gut about which city's atmosphere makes you feel most at home. Whichever you choose, you're in for endless sunshine, beautiful beaches, and the chance to create your perfect Florida life.

If you've fallen in love with Fort Myers, Call Palm Paradise Realty Group at (239) 955-7256 to get in touch with a local real estate agent and find your Fort Myers dream home today.

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