If I can’t find my dream home in Venice, FL, I can go to Naples instead. Pronto, pronto!
Post updated in December 2019
Well, maybe, but let’s try to clarify the difference between both cities. Naples versus Venice or Naples equals Venice? One thing is for sure; both cities have a famous Italian name, and they are only 75 miles apart (not 450 miles like their Italian counterparts). Okay, that doesn’t get us any further. Are those two cities on the Gulf of Mexico comparable with each other? Let us check.Maybe we are comparing apples with oranges.
The history of both cities looks pretty much alike, but when the cities reached crossroads, they embarked in different directions. That happened somewhat after WWII. But let us start a little earlier.
History of Venice and Naples
Both cities were founded roughly at the same time. There is no exact starting point, but that probably happened somewhat in the late 1880’s. Although the first railroad was already built in 1911, that didn’t change anything. Venice remained a small fishing town and farming community. Therefore, it didn’t exactly smell of roses when travelers came to the city. The city dwellers didn’t notice that fishy smell. They were used to it. For them, it was the smell of prosperity, of money. Although, money shouldn’t stink that bad.
Development occurred slowly – watching the overall activity at that time was like watching paint dry. Almost the same thing happened in Naples. Agriculture and real estate development dominated the economy in Naples for many decades, but nothing resembled a boom. At least it didn’t stink of fish – like in Venice.
Suddenly, something happened: The railroad reached Naples in 1927, but for whatever reason, that also did not have a significant impact until after the war. Oh, yes, there was a reason for that! Like many other areas in the world, Venice and Naples, both got hit hard during the Great Depression. Life was miserable in the early 1930’s; one can hardly imagine how bad it was.
Eventually, during WWII, both cities got a little help from the Army. American planes dominated the skies over Asia and Europe. Inexperienced pilots had a short expiration date. Therefore, many aircraft and many pilots were needed to replace the not so lucky fighters.
Fortunately, Naples and Venice both had small airfields, which the Air Force could use for training purposes. Although, the young pilots did not paint the town red. They were too busy learning the skills necessary to survive the first enemy encounters. Nevertheless, they spent at least a good portion of their pay for things young men like to spend money for. All that money kept both cities afloat during those hard times.
The airports are still around today. The owners modernized them through the years, and they both became Municipal airports.
A limited number of inbound/outbound planes are servicing some national airport up north, and flight schools are teaching soon-to-be pilots how to land without tearing off the landing gear of the aircraft. Once in a while, an airshow takes place which is entertaining the crowd with vintage planes and air tours.
Now we are in the year 2019 The city of Venice and Naples have almost the same size (about 22,000 residents, but Collier county has over 320,000 and Sarasota county has 420,000 residents.) both have a historic downtown area, both cities have an airport. Both cities have a fishing pier, where you can fish for free. No license is required! You can rent equipment and buy bait directly on the pier. How wonderful. Both cities also have a beautiful beach.
Nevertheless, after the war, each city took a different route. The proximity to Miami, the Everglades, Marco Island, Sanibel, and Fort Myers attracted a lot of wealthy northerners and Europeans, while Venice catered more to the middle-class retiree community. This decision should have a huge impact over the next decades.
Naples became one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the sixth-highest per capita income in America, and the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita in the US. Real estate is among the most expensive in the country, with houses on sale for in excess of $40 million. “Mamma Mia! Materialmente impossible!” That makes a difference. We will look at some Venice Real Estate numbers a little later, but those numbers are outrageous.
Can you guess who has bought a second, third or fourth home in Naples? Here they are. What does Venice have in store? Yes, only (only?) Stephen King (on Casey Key). But that’s okay. One celebrity is better than none.
What else is different: Naples appears to be more “upscale,” Venice more “laid back.” The shops are more sophisticated in Naples, and they carry more expensive items. Venice is more “laid back,” offering more “regular” stuff. Naples has an exciting nightlife, in Venice, they roll up the sidewalks at 10 pm. Naples has upscale restaurants, Venice has restaurants, too. However, here comes the whopper: the same amount of money that gets you a small single-family home in Venice buys you probably a nice one-car garage in Naples.
Real Estate Values in Venice versus Naples:
The median house or condo value in Naples was a whopping $330,900 in 2019. The median home value has gone up -1.% over the last year. Compared to the median house and condo value in Venice with $251,000 and the State of Florida with $245,000, those numbers make a difference for some home buyers – at least for home buyers on a tighter budget. Naples is by far not an alternative for them, because homes in the $180,000 range are nonexistent there; at least not in desirable locations.
For home buyers who have a little more money to play with, Naples may be an ideal location. Naples – also called ”The crown jewel of Southwest Florida “- is nestled on the more than 10 miles long sun-drenched beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Naples is known for world-class shopping, fine and casual dining and abundant, challenging championship golf courses. It is also, only steps away from island seclusion or the untamed tropical wilderness of The Everglades National Park, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Picayune Strand State Forest.
While Venice is called “Shark Tooth Capital of the World,” we think that Naples should get the nickname “The Parking Meter Capital of the World”! Why?
There are parking meters everywhere, and if you don’t carry ten pounds of quarters with you, you are easily out of luck.
Be prepared to spend six quarters per hour. You need to carry a heck of a lot of metal around for your 2-week vacation. County officials tried the same thing in Sarasota, but hell broke loose. The parking meters are long gone, and there is free parking everywhere again in Sarasota County, even at the beach. That is so sweet.
Will Sarasota remain a “parking paradise” forever? We don’t know, but most likely not.
One of those days Naples will probably switch to electronic payment. That would make it a lot easier to depart you from your hard-earned money. You won’t even notice how your money is flying out of your bank account into theirs. How beautiful is that?