… makes Jack a dull boy, so the proverb says.  Well there’s certainly no danger of that being the case for many Canadians who choose to spend time on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Floridians are used to welcoming our “snow bird” guests from Canada each winter, but recent times have seen a change in the profile of our Canadian visitors.  As a Realtor® who specializes in working with foreign buyers in the Sarasota area, I have witnessed this first hand.

The west coast of Florida has long been attractive as a destination for tourists and retirees to enjoy outdoor and cultural activities during the cooler months, but increasingly it is being seen by Canadians as a place to do business.

One Canadian client relocated from Montreal to establish a business which organizes corporate hospitality and sporting events .  The area’s many golf courses and country clubs are an obvious target for this, but close proximity to Tampa’s professional ice hockey, football and baseball teams is an added draw.  At the other end of the spectrum, Lakewood Ranch which is a very successful master planned community, offers their Premier Sports Campus – 140 acres and 22 fields – to host soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, archery, senior games, Ultimate Frisbee, Special Olympics, flag football, youth football, Frisbee golf and punt/pass/kick football on local, state, regional and national levels.

The owner of an Ottawa-based company that markets specialist building products recently purchased a property in Sarasota to house their staff members, as they begin to explore the Florida market for their merchandise and services.  A small Toronto-based software company has decided to make Sarasota their home too, and will work for many U.S. clients from this location.

Businesses can operate from many locations, but what about the proverbial Jack’s play time – what does Florida’s west coast offer?

Rolling white-sand beaches and sparkling azure waters combine with sophistication and charm to form a backdrop for a host of activities.  For those who love the outdoors, Sarasota boasts many opportunities for golf, tennis, boating, fishing, lawn bowling, water skiing, shell collecting, bird watching, growing exotic tropical plants and much more.  Home to the number one beach in U.S.A – Siesta Key offers safe swimming, magnificent sunsets and draws visitors from all over the world.  The area is also known as the cultural centre of Florida where you can enjoy museums, art galleries, theater, opera, ballet, film and music festivals and the list goes on.

Just as there are many and diverse activities, the real estate market has a plethora of options too.  Condominiums, town homes, villas and single family homes offering a variety of lifestyle options.  Many Canadians choose to purchase property in a golf and country club community, although there are many public courses available where membership is not required.  Active lifestyle communities offer activities beyond the sporting norms – organized parties, trips to the theater, shopping and dining are commonplace and some communities have their own activities director.  Homes range from modest condominiums to high end, larger single family homes, but typically are always in a maintenance-free environment so absentee owners can “lock and leave” their properties and be worry-free when they get north of the border.  Waterfront properties are always popular, but sweeping bay views do command a premium price, as do beachfront homes.  I’ve chosen a few examples of properties to include in this article, to demonstrate the wide variety on offer – we want Jack to have a comfortable home base from which to work and play, regardless of his budget!