Are you considering moving to Bradenton, Florida? If you love sunshine, sandy beaches and festivals, you’ll feel right at home. Bradenton is a medium-sized town in Manatee County, Florida, near the Gulf Coast. It’s a part of the Sarasota metropolitan area, making it an excellent commuter town. It also has a reputation as a warm, welcoming place nicknamed “the Friendly City.”
But you might be wondering what that means for you. Is Bradenton a good place to live? Is it the best city for you and your loved ones? Read on to learn more about life in Bradenton, including the cost of living, employment opportunities and things to do in the area.
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Demographics and Population
According to Census Reporter, approximately 57,000 people call Bradenton, Florida home. It is the 68th most populous city in Florida and is considered an average-sized town among Floridians. Bradenton’s population per square mile was 3,882.7 in 2020. The city boasted over 22,000 households in 2021 and averaged 2.51 people per household.
While most of Bradenton’s population is Caucasian, it is still a diverse city with Hispanic, Latino, African American and Asian populations. The 2021 U.S. Census reported over one-third of Bradenton’s population is Caucasian, while approximately 20% is Hispanic or Latino and 16% is African American. About 13.5% of Bradenton’s residents reported they were born internationally. Just over half of the population is female, at 52%. Regarding age, most of Bradenton’s population is between 18 to 64 years old. The city’s median age is 45.
While Bradenton is home to many young families, 25% of the population consists of retirees over age 65 — the city’s largest age group. Nearly 4,000 people in Bradenton also reported they were veterans.
Cost of Living
One of the most important considerations when moving to a new town or city is the cost of living. Bradenton is well-known as an affordable place to live. The median household income in Bradenton was $48,369 as of 2021, while the median household income in Florida was $57,703.
In terms of housing, the average price of an owner-occupied home in Bradenton was $192,800 in 2020. That number was significantly less than the state average of $232,000 the same year. The median household income for Bradenton is also substantially more affordable than the national average at $229,800.
Like most places in the state, Bradenton boasts sunshine and blue skies with nearly 249 sunny days per year. However, Bradenton is classified as having a humid subtropical climate. It sees quite a bit of humidity and rainfall throughout the year, especially during the summer months.
Summers in Bradenton are hot and humid. The average temperatures are in the high 80s and low 90s from June to August. Fans of warm weather will be pleased to know that Bradenton’s hot season lasts several months, from May to October. Springs and summers in Bradenton are also warm, rarely dropping below 50 degrees.
Bradenton also sees more rainfall than the national average with around 41 inches of rain annually. The rainiest and most humid months are from June to September, and August has the highest number of rainy days. The driest, mildest months to visit Bradenton for outdoor sports, fishing and barbecues are April, May and October. Regardless of the time of year, it’s best to pack an umbrella just in case.
The Best Neighborhoods in Bradenton, Florida
There are several neighborhoods in Bradenton. Each has a mixture of housing and rental prices to suit various lifestyle preferences and income levels. Explore some of the most notable communities in Bradenton below.
Those comfortable with the hustle and bustle of city life might enjoy living in Bradenton’s city center. The City of Bradenton — or the central business district — is technically a suburban neighborhood. It is quickly becoming a “15-minute neighborhood” for residents, meaning all the services, amenities and resources you might need are available within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home.
Because the neighborhood is in the center of the city, home prices tend to be around $150,000 to $400,000.
Palma Sola Park
Palma Sola Park is an upscale yet low-key neighborhood featuring many older, single-family homes that date back to the 1930s or earlier. From early twentieth-century Spanish-style manors to modern ranch-style homes, the blend of architectural styles offers a unique snapshot of the regional history. Palma Sola Park is also one of Bradenton’s oldest neighborhoods, as it was settled shortly after the Civil War. The neighborhood is minutes from the city center, Anna Maria Island beaches and the Robinson Preserve.
Homes in Palma Sola Park are moderately priced and typically start at around $300,000.
Riverview Boulevard — known as the River District — traces the Manatee River near downtown Bradenton, the Gulf beaches and Anna Maria Island. As such, it is one of Bradenton’s wealthiest neighborhoods and is home to many luxury estates and waterfront properties. It also has many historic quarters, including old-world cottages, stone houses from the 1930s and traditional Mediterranean-style mansions.
Homes in Riverview Boulevard range in price and can be upwards of $3 million.
Schools and Education
Bradenton is home to various types of schools, including charter and top-rated private and public schools. Some of the best schools in Bradenton include:
- IMG Academy: IMG Academy was rated the best private boarding high school in Manatee County. It is a small school geared toward athleticism and college placement, with approximately 1,300 students and a 5:1 student-teacher ratio.
- St. Stephen’s Episcopal School: St. Stephen’s Episcopal School is a small, private Christian school with approximately 700 students and a 9:1 student-teacher ratio. It is known for its small class sizes, higher-than-average test scores and Marine Science program.
- Braden River High School: Braden River High School is among the best public high schools in the Manatee County School District. It has around 2,000 students and a 22:1 student-teacher ratio. The school is best known for its high ranking in health and safety, diversity, and after-school clubs and activities.
- Manatee School for the Arts: The Manatee School for the Arts is a public charter school based in Palmetto, Florida. It is a part of the Manatee County School District and was rated one of the best high schools for the arts in the state. It is a medium-sized school with around 2,000 students and a student-teacher ratio of 17:1.
- Manatee High School: Manatee High School is an above-average public school with over 2,000 students and a 22:1 student-teacher ratio. The school placed in the top 50% of Florida schools’ math and reading test scores in 2019.
The employment outlook for Bradenton is excellent. While the average household and per capita incomes in Bradenton were lower than the national averages, the city’s unemployment rate was 1% lower than the national average at 2.7% as of October 2022.
Business is booming in Bradenton. Job opportunities continue to grow as the city’s civilian labor force rises steadily. Industries that are doing exceptionally well in Bradenton include:
- Financial services
- Leisure and hospitality
- Professional and business services
- Legal services
The Sarasota metropolitan area is home to many large businesses and institutions. Many of the following companies or institutions employ Bradenton residents:
- Manatee Memorial Hospital
- Blake Medical Center
- Lakewood Ranch Medical Center
- IMG Academy
- Tropicana Products
- Pepsi Bottling Group
- Sun Hydraulics
- SYSCO West Coast Florida
- Feld Entertainment
- Manatee County Sheriff’s Office
- Manatee Community College
- State College of Florida
- Commercial Plastering USA, LLC
Bradenton is a relatively safe city to live in and raise a family. The town’s crime rate is approximately 22.23 per 1,000 residents per year, making it slightly lower than that of the average U.S. city. Most crime in Bradenton is property-related and primarily includes theft and burglary, so home alarm systems and security cameras are worthwhile investments.
Things to Do in Bradenton
Whether you enjoy fairs and festivities or time in the great outdoors, there’s plenty to see and do in Bradenton and the surrounding areas. Adventurers routinely flock to Bradenton for its festivals, carnivals and family pastimes. Water sports, including water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing and kayaking, are also popular in the area, as Bradenton is conveniently close to the Gulf of Mexico.
Some of the region’s most popular attractions and activities include:
- Bradenton Riverwalk: The Bradenton Riverwalk attracts walkers, bikers and skaters alike. This walkway spans 1.5 miles along the Manatee River with 5 acres of public green spaces. It features a skate park, amphitheater, splash pad and several playgrounds for children of all ages.
- Downtown Bradenton Public Marketplace: Locals and tourists meet weekly to scout fresh produce, purchase art from local artisans, enjoy music and participate in various activities with loved ones at Downtown Bradenton Public Marketplace.
- Manatee County Fair: The Manatee County Fair boasts entertainment for the whole family with livestock competitions, mini zoos, music performances, rides and plenty of delicious food. Visitors from far and wide enjoy the Manatee County Fair every January.
- Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival: There’s no better combination than seafood and music. Every year, the Downtown Sarasota Enrichment Association hosts the Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival, where visitors enjoy fresh seafood dishes and enjoy live performances by local musicians.
- Circus Sarasota: Sarasota is considered the “Circus Capital of the World” and annually hosts Circus Sarasota. Visitors and locals flock to see acclaimed performances in an on-ring, European-style big top tent.
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