In 1513, Ponce de Leon went looking for the Fountain of Youth and found Florida – St. Augustine, on the northeast coast, in particular. With miles of Atlantic beaches and a historic downtown, the town of 12,700 offers many of the same benefits as more-popular Gulf Coast hot spot, Sarasota — along with some unique advantages.
History buffs get the Colonial Spanish Quarter, Castillo de San Marco, a 17th century fort, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. Shoppers get St. George Street, a brick-lined pedestrian thoroughfare with restaurants and small shops. For top-flight medical care, drive 45 minutes north to Jacksonville, home of the Mayo Clinic, with its two-year-old hospital, a multidisciplinary stroke-care team, and other resources.
To live in Sarasota, on the other hand, will be quite a bit more expensive – and you’ll have company. The town, which consistently lands on “best places to retire” lists (at least three in 2010 alone) was named one of the “fastest growing domestic beach towns” by travel site Orbitz in 2008; now average home prices are 51% higher than those in St. Augustine. In Sarasota, a two-bedroom home costs $122,400 on average, while across the coast, a similar house costs $46,000 less, according to Trulia.com.
The biggest downside to St. Augustine? The nearest commercial airport is about an hour away, while Sarasota residents have a local airport. But with all those beaches and average December highs in the upper 60s, shouldn’t the grandkids come to you?
Click the link below to read more at SmartMoney.com: