“Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.”
That’s what Cousin Eddie says in the holiday movie classic “Christmas Vacation” when Clark Griswold gets a Jelly of the Month Club membership instead of what he thought was his annual bonus check.
We are truly blessed in Southwest Florida to have it all — a big bonus and a Jelly of the Month membership, if you will. We have the immediate gratification of living and playing here as well as the extended enjoyment over and over of a place many people call paradise. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
As we approach the end of another year, take time this holiday season to reflect on the reasons we are fortunate to call Southwest Florida home.
Best place to be
In a Breaking Ground newsletter four months ago, we reflected on how Naples is one of the best cities for best lists. This entire region ranks high on national lists for the good things in life.
We only scratched the surface in August because we ran out of space to recount all the “best” lists with Naples near the top. We already know it’s one of the fastest-growing regions in America with the “best neighborhood,” the “best performance,” and the “best beach town to live in.”
Our hometown, or our adopted hometown, in most cases, also is highly ranked when it comes to vacations and retirement as well as health, happiness and having a bite to eat.
Best place to end up
Naples is the best place in the Sunshine State to retire and ranked third nationally, according to a report by SmartAsset, a New York financial services company.
Using government data, the annual study rated 4,700 U.S. cities by their tax friendliness, recreational and social opportunities for seniors, and availability of medical care, which it defined as “factors that affect quality of life for retirees.” All the factors were weighted equally and indexed.
Naples also ranked as the No. 1 place to retire in the country in another study. Data scientists with Livability.com examined more than 2,000 cities across the country and factored in many data points.
In 2017, SmartAsset ranked Florida sixth among the states as best for early retirement. Florida moved up from ninth the previous year. Researchers studied factors such as real estate, personal income and sales tax rates, average housing costs, the nonhousing cost of living, access to health care and the availability of leisure activities.
Clap your hands
Naples also ranks tops in the nation for well-being and happiness. For the second year in a row, Naples and its surrounding area took the top spot as healthiest and happiest in America as part of the Gallup-Healthways 2016 Community Well-Being Rankings.
The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro areas also have the healthiest eating habits in the nation with more than 75 percent of residents reporting healthy eating, according to a report published by Gallup-Sharecare. The “2016 Community Rankings for Healthy Eating” report examines a wide range of eating habits across the nation. We’ll eat to that.
Giving back comes naturally
To top it all off, Collier County residents are givers. Not just at Christmastime, but year-round, according to data culled from 2016 income tax returns.
A study of the data by SmartAsset showed Collier County residents gave back the most of any county in Florida. As a group, Collier residents donated 3.87 percent of their net income.
On top of that, nearly 28 percent of the county’s residents made charitable donations of some kind in 2016, SmartAsset reported this month.
So, Naples is definitely the best place to be. You feel like you’re going somewhere without leaving town.
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together,” Clark Griswold said.
So, together let’s enjoy the hap, hap, happiest Christmas.
Keep on giving
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