This is a complete guide on Sarasota vs Bradenton.
Want unbiased info?
With no agenda or realtor sales pitch at the end?
We spent 2 weeks researching so you can compare the best place to live.
Here are the main differences between Bradenton and Sarasota:
- Real Estate
- Cost of Living
- Elementary Schools
- Middle Schools
- High Schools
- Sarasota Pros and Cons
- Brandenton Pros and Cons
The average home price in Sarasota, Florida is $492,189. Which is an increase of 27.5% in the last year.
The average home price in Sarasota County is $495,207. Which is an increase of 27.8% in the last year.
Data updated December 10, 2022.
Sarasota has a population of 54,764. However, that is just the downtown Sarasota area and some surrounding areas nearby. Sarasota County has a population of 447,057 which also includes Venice.
However, none of these are accurate as Sarasota experienced a massive migration in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The estimate population is based on the Census projected population growth before 2020.
The city of Bradenton has a population of 55,905. However, that is just the downtown area. Manatee County has a population of 412,703 which also includes Lakewood Ranch.
Lakewood Ranch had the biggest migration in 2020, 2021 and 2022. So the population estimates are drastically incorrect and probably much higher.
According to the Census, here are the demographics for Sarasota vs Bradenton.
Sarasota per capita income is $48,380, while the Sarasota County per capita income is $48,265.
Bradenton per capita income is $29,154, while Manatee County per capita income is $38,008.
Cost of Living
Sarasota Gas Prices
Sarasota gas prices are pretty much the same Bradenton. However, there is a Costco gas station in Palmer Ranch and a BJ’s near University Town Center.
Sarasota Housing Costs
Real estate prices have almost doubled since 2020. There is lots of new home construction in Palmer Ranch, Waterside and East of I-75.
Palmer Ranch, Waterside and Skye Ranch have CDD fees that make cost of living more expensive. These are on top of HOA fees.
Bradenton Gas Prices
Bradenton gas prices are pretty much the same Sarasota. However, Bradenton has a Costco in Lakewood Ranch and a Sam’s Club discounted gas station in Bradenton.
Bradenton Housing Costs
Lakewood Ranch is part of Bradenton. Lakewood Ranch real estate prices have doubled since 2020.
CDD fees in Lakewood Ranch add about $2,000-$7,000 of annual costs for residents for new home construction.
Best Elementary Schools
- Pine View
- Ashton Elementary School
- Southside Elementary School
- Lakeview Elementary School
- Venice Elementary School
- Tatum Ridge Elementary
These are the best magnet and charter elementary schools in Sarasota:
- Phillippi Shores
- Bay Haven School of Basics
- Sarasota Suncoast Academy
- Robert Willis Elementary School
- Gene Witt Elementary School
- Ida M. Stewart Elementary School
- Gilbert W McNeal Elementary School
- B.D. Gullett Elementary School
- Anna Maria Elementary School
These are the best magnet and charter elementary schools in Manatee County.
- Palmetto Charter School
Best Middle Schools
Sarasota Middle Schools
- Sarasota Middle School
- Venice Middle School
- Woodland Middle School
- McIntosh Middle School
These are the best charter and magnet middle schools in Sarasota County:
- Student Leadership Academy
- Sarasota School of Arts/Sciences
- Brookside Middle School
Bradenton Middle Schools
- R. Dan Nolan Middle School
- Dr Mona Jain Middle School
- Carlos E. Haile Middle School
- Buffalo Creek Middle School
These are the best charter and magnet middle schools in Manatee County:
- Rowlett Middle Academy
- Oasis Middle School
Best High Schools
The best public high schools in Sarasota are:
- Sarasota High School
These are the best magnet and charter public high schools in Sarasota County:
- Suncoast Polytechnical High School
- Riverview High School
- Venice Senior High School
- Sarasota Military Academy
- Lakewood Ranch High School
These are the best magnet and charter public high schools in Manatee County:
- State College Of Florida Collegiate School
- Manatee School For The Arts
Sarasota is a safe place to live in. However, it has the #1 beach in the US and is considered the #1 retirement city in the US for snow birds.
The Siesta Key beach attracts a lot of tourists. Which in turn, encourages pickpocketing and theft in downtown Sarasota.
Additionally, many retirees buy homes in Sarasota, but only stay for 6 months a year. This causes vacant homes, which encourages burglary.
Bradenton is very patchy. You have Lakewood Ranch, which is a city out of a fairytale. Then, you have Bradenton which is split between “Old Florida” and new home construction.
The city of Bradenton is very nice and modern, but the rest of Bradenton will remind you of how Florida used to be. Specifically North of FL-70.
Overall, it’s very safe. Especially if you’re coming from New York, Chicago or other Florida cities.
Sarasota is generally safe from hurricanes. Major hurricanes tend to be attracted to large bodies of water. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico usually end up in Destin (Florida), Texas or Louisiana.
Sometimes they end up in Tampa Bay, Port Charlotte or Fort Myers. These large bays or inlets allow hurricanes to strength, which just isn’t the case in Sarasota.
Bradenton is also safe from hurricanes. Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key provide perfect cover for Bradenton.
Due to water currents and wind patterns, hurricanes end up in Tampa Bay and avoid Bradenton. Over the years, the Lakewood Ranch area does tend to experience more tornados since it is more inland.
These are the best restaurants in downtown Sarasota.
- Selva Downtown Sarasota
- Indigenous Restaurant
- Owen’s Fish Camp
Sarasota Waterfront Restaurants
- Jack Dusty
- Dry Dock Waterfront Grill
- Chart House
- Lido Key Tiki Bar
- Drift Kitchen & Bar
See the full list of Sarasota restaurants on the water.
These are the best restaurants in Bradenton, Florida.
- Tiramisu Ristorante Italiano
- Lucky Frog Restaurant
- Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille Bradenton
- O’bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar
Bradenton Waterfront Restaurants
- Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant
- Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina
- Swordfish Grill
- PIER 22
- Woody’s River Roo
See the full list of Bradenton restaurants on the water.
Sarasota Pros and Cons
- Very safe to live in
- Excellent school ratings
- Sarasota Farmers Market
- Lots of gated communities
- Excellent quality of life
- Lots of golf courses
- Lots of mini golf courses for kids
- Kayaking at Lido Key Mangroves
- Close to Siesta Key beach
- Close to Lido Key beach
- New Waterside area East of I-75
- Low property taxes
- Cute downtown Sarasota
- Lots of private schools
- #1 elementary school in the US
- The Bay (new area)
- Many boat ramps & fishing piers
- Many fruit picking farms
- Excellent coffee shops
- Lots of things to do with kids
- Very fast DMV
- Many luxury or clean movie theatres
- High cost of living
- Lots of traffic after 2020
- Restaurants close early
- Food delivery is patchy
- Food delivery is underdeveloped
Bradenton Pros and Cons
- Better affordability
- Great quality of life
- Excellent elementary schools
- Great middle schools
- Lakewood Ranch new communities
- Lakewood Ranch is very safe
- Bradenton Riverwalk
- Kayaking at Robinson Preserve
- Lots of waterfront restaurants
- Close to Anna Maria Island
- Close to Bradenton beach
- Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market
- Low property taxes
- Easy drive to St. Petersburg
- Modern downtown
- Lots of boat ramps
- Hunsader Farms
- Better affordability
- Very patchy
- Lots of “old Florida” areas
- Lots of traffic after 2020
- Few high schools with good ratings
- More crime than Sarasota
- Movie theatres are rundown or outdated