Southwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 1, 2018

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Interior Designer?

Interior designers may charge hourly rates, flat fees, cost-plus or a combination. Here’s what that means for you

April 9, 2018

Best City to Retire in Florida

 1. Naples, Florida

As most of us already know, Naples has been voted the "Happiest and Healthiest Place To Live" in the United States year after year.  Naples has now been voted the #1 best city to retire to in Florida!  With pure sunshine, pristine beaches, highly rated schools and a healthy lifestyle, its easy to see why Naples is the happiest place to live.  But what makes it the best city to retire to?  

The report was based on the following aspects:

  • Lowest State and local tax rates
  • Highest number of doctors' offices per 1,000
  • Highest number of recreation centers per 1,000
  • Best population ratio


For additional information about this report by SmartAssetM click here.

March 8, 2018

Naples, FL ranked the healthiest city in the U.S. for the 2nd year in a row

For the 2nd year in a row, Naples, Florida and the surrounding areas of Marco Island and Immokalee, have been ranked the #1 happiest and healthiest communities in the United States according to the Gallup-Healthways 2018 Community Well-Being Rankings article that came out March 7, 2018.

Living in 2018, everyone wants to be happy and live healthy lifestyles, so why not come live in the #1 healthiest and happiest city in the U.S. for that reason? Southwest Florida, also known as the Paradise Coast, which includes Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee, Bonita Springs, Estero and Fort Myers, gives you the best of both worlds with sunshine and tropical climate all year round! So why wait? Pack up your swimsuit and come join us in the sunshine state!

The top 10 U.S. communities with the highest well-being are:

1. Naples–Immokalee–Marco Island, Florida

2. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

3. Santa Cruz–Watsonville, California

4. Honolulu, Hawaii

5. Charlottesville, Virginia

6. North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, Florida

7. San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles, California

8. Lynchburg, Virginia

9. Hilton Head Island–Bluffton-Beaufort, South Carolina

10. Boulder, Colorado


The report is based off of how residents of the 189 cities feel about the following categories:

  • Physical Health
  • Social Ties
  • Financial Security
  • Community
  • Sense of Purpose





Reference Articles: Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being 2018 Community Rankings

March 6, 2018

Featured Listings in Miromar Lakes!

















Interested in viewing one of these properties?

It's easy to schedule a viewing!



Miromar Lakes is ranked the #1 gated community in the United States! Check out this article for more information on the Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida.


Jan. 10, 2018

2015 Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida

Gate EntranceLuxury REALTOR'S Opinion of the Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida - 2015 update

It was merely a year and a half ago that I embarked on my quest to review and summarize the top rated gated communities of Southwest Florida. As a luxury real estate agent I am constantly asked what is the best neighborhood to live in, who has the best amenities, where is the best golf course, etc. I can tell you that there are many gorgeous communities behind luxurious gates in Southwest Florida and there really truly is something special about all of them. But, a select few stand above the rest in terms of their special features.

To see my first twenty picks for Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida, start with the following article. Or view my newest additions to the list for 2015 (in alphabetical order)!

1-20. Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida

21. Bella Terra, Estero, FL 33928

22. Burnt Store Marina, Punta Gorda, FL 33993

23. Heritage Bay, Naples, FL 34120

24. Lely Resort, Naples, FL 34113

25. Treviso Bay, Naples, FL 34113

26. Verandah, Fort Myers, FL 33905

27. Village Walk, Naples, FL 34109

28. Vineyards, Naples, FL 34119

29. Pelican Preserve, Fort Myers, FL 33913 (a 55 & better community)

30. Shadow Wood (at the Brooks), Bonita Springs, FL 34135 and Shadow Wood Preserve, Fort Myers, FL 33908

31. Esplanade, Naples, FL 34119

32. Pelican Bay, Naples, FL 34108

This list is a work in progress. I look forward to adding many more top rated gated communities of Southwest Florida to my list of reviewed, approved, and revered!

Jan. 4, 2018

2018 Top Rated Gated Community: Pelican Preserve a 55 & better community

pelican preserveExplore Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida: Pelican Preserve

A WCI planned community, Pelican Preserve offers its residents the Florida lifestyle and then some! There truly is something for everyone in this beautiful community designed specifically for folks 55 and better, Pelican Preserve comes complete with 27 holes of golf, a magnificent town-center, tennis, volleyball, swimming, fishing pier, and incredible nature views. Read on to see why I’ve added it to my list of the 2018 Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida.



Designed by renowned golf architect, Chip Powell, the 27 holes at Pelican Preserve include ample water, sand, and grass hollow hazards. There are also beautiful practice facilities and a well-equipped pro-shop. After a round, relax in the clubhouse at the spa, fitness center, dining area or locker rooms!

Town Center

Pelican Preserve Town CenterThe mecca of Pelican Preserve is the Plaza Del Sol Town Center. It’s comprised of 4 buildings and exemplary outdoor amenities for the residents to enjoy.

Building A offers: Destinations Restaurant, Ceramic and Art Studio, Hobby Shop, Game Room

Building B offers: Indoor Theatre, Magnolia Room, Computer Room, Card room

Building C offers: Fitness & Aerobics, Juice Bar, Indoor Walking Track, Indoor Lap & Aerobics Pool, Locker Rooms, Sauna & Steam Rooms, Spa Treatment Rooms

Building D offers: Tennis Pro Shop, Outdoor Activities Administration, Restrooms

Outdoor Amenities include:

6 lighted Har-Tru Tennis Courts

Basketball Court

Pickle Ball Court

Volleyball Court

Softball Field

Outdoor Amphitheatre

Resort-Style Swimming Pool

Walking Trails

Lawn Bowling

Sand Beach

Fishing Pier

Nature Boardwalk

Butterfly Garden & Garden Area

Residential Options:

Pelican Preserve offers beautiful residences in the shape of condos, coach homes, attached villas, and single family homes. The homes in Pelican Preserve have styles and features that meet a wide variety of preferences and budgets with prices starting in the mid $100’s ranging to over a half million.

If you are interested in seeing these homes or any of the other Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn more.

Jan. 3, 2018

2018 Top Rated Gated Community: Shadow Wood & Shadow Wood Preserve

Explore Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida: Shadow Wood & Shadow Wood Preserve

Located in the heart of Bonita Springs and Fort Myers, Shadow Wood & Shadow Wood Preserve, respectively, are master planned communities developed by Bonita Bay Group with three fantastic and challenging golf courses, lighted tennis courts, several delicious dining opportunities, and a very active social and events calendar. For these reasons and more, Shadow Wood and Shadow Wood Preserve makes my list of the 2018 Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida.



The two courses located within Shadow Wood (in the Brooks) are called the North and the South courses and were designed by Robert Cupp. The facilities include a beautiful clubhouse with locker rooms, driving range, short game area, pro-shop and convenient snack bar.

The third course is located in Shadow Wood Preserve and is deemed the most difficult of the three with plenty of areas to get in trouble between tall grass, water, and sand! The Preserve also has a full service clubhouse, pro-shop, locker rooms, restaurant, driving range and more!



The tennis program is open 365 days of the year and offers members 9 Har-Tru lighted courts meticulously maintained. The staff and teaching professionals are top-notch and run a fun yet competitive program.

Dining & Social

Speaking from personal experience, the food at Shadow Wood is first class! I actually had the pleasure of cooking at The Preserve during my college years. The kitchen is incredibly clean and well run – turning out delicious cuisine is the staff’s passion! Between the two developments there are two full service clubhouses with a variety of casual and fine dining options. You will not be disappointed with the food!

rosie_spoonbillsThe Commons Club

Residents of Shadow Wood and Shadow Wood Preserve also have the option of joining The Commons Club which is available to all homeowners within The Brooks. The Commons Club provides private beach and beach club access on Bonita Beach, a fitness and spa facility with lap pool, dining privileges at Rosie Spoonbill's, and access to the enrichment center which offers ample social activities.

Residential Options:

Shadow Wood and Shadow Wood Preserve offer beautiful homes of various sizes and price points. The Preserve has 293 homes that include coach homes, villas and single family residences. Views include the Estero Bay Nature Preserve and the historic Mullock Creek. Residents can kayak, canoe, and enjoy picnic areas!

Shadow Wood (in the Brooks) has over 1400 home sites lined with 85 lakes, green fairways, and 350 acres of preserves. Homes include custom estate single-family, custom single-family, traditional single-family, villa and coach home options.

Click here to see the current inventory of homes for sale in Shadow Wood and Shadow Wood Preserve.

If you are interested in seeing these homes or any of the other Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn more.

Jan. 2, 2018

2018 Top Rated Gated Community: Pelican Bay in Naples Florida

Pelican Bay beach boardwalkExplore Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida: Pelican Bay

While all of Pelican Bay is not behind gates, this sprawling development includes some of the finest in Naples’ luxury living with various subdivisions behind gates and exclusive tropical amenities that will make you sing with joy! Located in the heart of Naples 34108, Pelican Bay offers its residents private beach access, restaurants, private golf, and so much more. Pelican Bay is the perfect addition to the list of 2018 Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida.



The Club at Pelican Bay is a private, member owned club located in the center of the community. It offers members 27 holes of championship golf.


Two beautiful tennis facilities are accessible within Pelican Bay and offer a total of 18 Har-Tru meticulously kept courts.


Residents enjoy access to Pelican Bay’s 3 miles of pristine white sandy beach, the North & South facilities, and several dining options – The Sandbar and Sunset Café for casual options and Marker 36 for elegant beach front dining. The beach attendants keep the beach area clean and setup chairs, umbrellas and cabanas from 9am to sunset. Members can also use complimentary kayaks and sailing boats, arrive by the tram system to avoid parking, and enjoy volleyball, shelling and fishing!

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Community Center

Pelican Bay’s amenity complex is over 25,000 sq. ft. and contains a fitness center, spa, art studio, pro shop and a very active social events calendar.

Within Walking Distance

Pelican Bay is neighbored by the prestigious Waterside Shops and Dining of Naples. Several fine and casual restaurants as well as high end fashion, department stores and boutiques exist for the pleasure of attendance! Residents can also take a short stroll to Artis Naples to frequent the Naples Philharmonic and The Baker Museum.

Residential Options:

Pelican Bay is comprised of 6,500 total homes which include high rise condos, luxury apartments, coach/carriage homes, villas and single family homes. There are 95 different subdivisions with each offering unique amenities. Pelican Bay is anchored by the Ritz Carlton, Naples Grade Beach Resort and Waterside Shops. It also offers 88 acres of parks and recreation!

Click here to see the current inventory of homes for sale in Pelican Bay.

If you or someone you know is interested in seeing these homes or any of the other Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn

Jan. 2, 2018

2018 Top Rated Gated Community: Esplanade Golf & Country Club Naples

Esplanade gated communityExplore Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida: Esplanade

A special new gated community has emerged in Naples, FL 34119, Esplanade Golf & Country Club! This Taylor Morrison development is currently under new construction with some of the amenities ready for use and others still to come – some homes complete and others still to be built. The location is convenient to many of Naples’ finest attractions. Located just east of I-75, near several of the other Top Rated Gated Communities. Read on to discover the fabulous plans for Esplanade, one of my picks as a 2018 Top Rated Gated Community of Southwest Florida.



The 18 hole championship golf course is complete and open for play. It offers lush fairways and tees positioned for various skill levels. The neighborhood is currently "bundled golf" for an annual fee of $2550. At buildout, some of the multi-family dwellings will not be bundled but for now, all current homeowners are enjoying the beautiful greens.


Esplanade has four Har-Tru lay courts with lights for play anytime of the day or night. One court has stadium seating a wonderful pro-shop for both the tennis and golf enthusiasts. There will also be pickle ball courts once amenities are complete.

Dining & Social

Amenity completion in Esplanade will include a 15,000 sq. ft. clubhouse including a grand lobby, reception and administration offices, art & display gallery, grand ballroom, private fine dining, fireplaces for gathering, bar & grill, lounge, outdoor patio dining and outdoor event pavilion. There will also be a convenient fresh market for quality produce, fish, flowers, and more!

Residents will also have an 8,000 sq. ft. wellness center, spa & salon, swim center with lap pool, resort style pool area and an open-air tiki bar!

Residential Options:

At build-out, Esplanade will offer 1,121 homes among its 1,000 acres of nature preserves and wetlands and over 170 acres of lakes. The neighborhood composition of home options include 75% single family homes and 25% coach (multi-family) homes. Coach homes start with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in the mid $300s and single family homes start in the mid $500s.

Click here to see the current inventory of homes for sale in Esplanade.  There new construction options and customization is endless!

If you or someone you know is interested in seeing these homes or any of the other Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn more.

Dec. 11, 2017

Four Tips to Help Find and Work with an Out of State Realtor

Having to search for a home out of state can be difficult. Advantages at your disposal when looking for a home in a town or city you have lived in for years are no longer available once you decide to shop out of state, such as knowing where the good school systems are located, how property taxes have changed, and where that one of a kind home can be found. No matter where you live and where you want to buy a home, Orchid Realty wants to help you find a realtor who is able to help.

Orchid Realty serves home buyesmall jen purplers in Southwest Florida, a part of the United States that attracts many out of state home buyers every year. If you’re looking to buy a home in our part of the country, we hope you will contact us as you interview realtors. No matter where you are buying a home, these four tips from Orchid’s staff will help you evaluate and work with a realtor that will be your most valuable resource.


  1. Choose a Realtor with a Network of Contacts

Rather than make ten separate calls to different businesses and services providers you will need as part of buying a home, make just one call – to a well-connected realtor. It’s important to work with a real estate team that has cultivated the contacts who can help you during any phase of the home buying process. Orchid Realty’s relationships with interior designers, attorneys, general contractors, handymen, and roofers make it so our clients save time. Our strong network of service related people become our buyer’s network so they have peace of mind on who to call once they move in to their beautiful home or even before the closing like working with an attorney or lender. Make sure you choose a realtor with a list of vendors and service providers who are local to the area.

TIP: While a realtor may not want to share their entire list of contacts, it’s not out of the question to ask for a few contacts that you can reach out to independently and evaluate on your own.

  1. Find a Realtor Who Understands Your Lifestyle

People buy homes with different intentions. Make sure your realtor understands yours. Buyers should work with a real estate team that has agents who can relate to the lifestyle you want to create in your new home, a person who understands why you are buying: for leisure, for family, as an investment. In Southwest Florida a home buyer will need to know the options a home in a gated community brings versus ungated neighborhoods. Orchid Realty has designated agents that focus on gated communities, golf communities, properties close to the beach, and even starter homes or luxury condos. A realtor should align you with a property based on your needs, and the best way to guarantee you’re getting this is to work with a realtor who has been down that road before.

TIP: Before sharing your favorite neighborhoods (if you have them), ask your potential realtor to share theirs. See if these recommendations match the area you have in mind.  

  1. Look for Great Communication at the Start

Buyers should work with real estate agents that know how to work remotely, which includes promptly responding to messages: email, phone calls, and texts. It’s possible to buy a home out of state, from home tours to closing, without ever boarding a plane. This only works if your realtor is a great extension at helping you from afar. We all have different communication styles, even real estate agents. Some of us know how to leverage digital communication to overcome the challenges of working with the home buyer who is not face to face.

TIP: Never feel pressured to stick with a realtor if the communication begins to break down. As deadlines loom and documents start to stack up, you want to make sure you feel like you’re a realtor’s top priority.

  1. A Realtor with an Intricate Knowledge of the Areas is Essential


All cities and towns have their quirks. Some homes are part of a historic districts and include construction restrictions. Other home, like those in Florida, have Home Owners Associations (HOA) and rules to follow as part of a gated community. These nuances can be confusing to buyers not familiar with their area of interest. It’s best to know about these details in advance, so you can make informed purchasing decisions. The only way that will happen is by working with a realtor who has an intricate knowledge of the area.


TIP: At your first meeting with a potential real estate agent, always ask about the special considerations that a home buyer must weigh to live in your specific area of interest.

We can’t overstate how important it is to evaluate an out of state realtor before deciding to work with them. A great looking website or well-spoken sales person isn’t all it takes to make your home buying process a success. Those are good sign posts to guide you toward a fantastic realtor, but make sure to go the extra mile in getting to know the person on the other side of the phone call or Skype conference call. If you find yourself in need of a realtor in Southwest Florida, give a realtor from Orchid Realty a call: 239-849-2230. We’d love to be among those you consider to help you buy a home in Southwest Florida.