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What It's Like to Live in Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida, and the nearby communities of Marco Island and Immokalee top the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being: 2015 Community Rankings list released on Tuesday. The report measures how residents of 190 U.S. cities feel about their physical health, social ties, financial security, community and sense of purpose.

Naples, it seems, isn’t often found by design. People tend to come to it serendipitously: Newcomers are often introduced during a getaway from Florida’s other coast or while visiting friends. Naples quietly works her magic, revealing a lifestyle that’s slower paced than, say, Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but just as glamorous and vibrant. The city’s Gulf of Mexico backdrop mesmerizes, and with its small-town attitude and big-league amenities it offers the best of both worlds.

The Ritz, which opened in 1985, is often credited with giving Naples its luster. Its founders saw Naples as a little town on the verge of greatness, close to a brand-new international airport in Fort Myers and positioned along the newly completed Interstate 75, connecting Michigan’s Canadian border all the way to Miami. The resort became a classic build-it-and-they-will-come success story. Other luxury properties followed, as did business and leisurely pursuits catering to the well-to-do: golf courses, gourmet restaurants, high-end boutiques at Waterside Shops and the Venetian Village, and the arrival of famed city planner Andres Duany from Miami, who in 1996 redesigned Fifth avenue South, Naples’ downtown.

Today, international house hunters are among the many buyers taking full advantage of favorable currency exchange rates and home prices that have dropped 50 percent since their 2005 peak. 

Naples’ most coveted neighborhoods are west of U.S. Highway 41, placing them between the major traffic corridor and the Gulf. Older communities like the Moorings and Coquina Sands offer 1970s and newer single-family homes along banyan-tree-shaded streets, and many access the Gulf via canals and back bays.

Food is a big part of the Naples lifestyle, and the wine festival has also introduced many chefs and vintners to this Gulf city.

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