Explore Moving to and Living in Bradenton, Florida 2023

Last Updated:

February 27, 2023

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Thinking of Moving to Bradenton? Read Our Guide Below! 

Blessed with plenty of sunshine, Gulf Coast breezes, and just 10 miles north of Sarasota—this popular SW Florida City has much to offer.

Bradenton is located in Manatee County, bordered on the north by the Manatee River and just a short drive to barrier island keys with public beaches like Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, and Manatee Public Beach. It’s also only a 35-minute drive to Longboat Key Beaches

One of the best things about moving to Bradenton is its close ties to nearby Sarasota, so you get the best of both worlds—two amazing cities with plenty to do, see, and explore. Still, Bradenton has its own unique culture, and that’s what draws so many people to make Bradenton their home. 

With everything Bradenton has to offer, it’s no surprise that it’s known as the “friendly city.” Whether you’re walking around downtown, strolling barefoot on the sugar sand beaches, or shopping and dining on the dreamy and laid-back Anna Maria Island—you may have to pinch yourself. It's not uncommon to see people smiling, laughing, and enjoying themselves in their own slice of paradise. 

So how did this Tampa Bay Area city with year-round sunshine get its start? 

Many locals are surprised to find out about Bradenton’s origins. 

Little Known Secrets About This City—Bradenton’s Early Settlers 

Sandhill Crane

When people talk about Bradenton’s origins, most residents either don’t know how it began, or they’ve heard about the Braden brothers—whom the town was named for. 

But there was a lot that happened before the brothers arrived in this beautiful coastal city bordered by turquoise waters!  

Archeological evidence suggests that Bradenton was initially inhabited by native tribes thousands of years before explorers discovered it. It seems the land was not ideal for established long-term living, but historians believe it was a popular place for short-term native dwellings and for fishing, swimming, and hunting. 

Famed Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto discovered the region in 1539. The DeSoto National Memorial and monument at Shaw’s Point commemorates the area where DeSoto is believed to have first landed (though historians don’t have definitive proof) at the mouth of the Manatee River. Shaw’s Point, a 35 acre archeological district includes a prehistoric coastal village on the National Register of Historic Places. Evidence of shell mounds and walkways suggests that native Florida tribes made this region their home as far back as 400 A.D. to 1700 A.D. 

The Tabby House Ruins, also at DeSoto National Memorial, was once a home constructed in 1843 and belonged to William H. Shaw and his family, who were early settlers to Bradenton. Also known as coastal concrete, “tabby” included burned oyster shells, other seashells, sand, lime, ash, and water for constructing homes, buildings, and roads. Despite many storms, hurricanes, rain, intense heat, and relentless sun—these materials for constructing homes were built to last. Not much is left of the ruins today, but visitors to the area enjoy acknowledging an important part of Bradenton’s early history. 

The Braden Brothers Dream—A Sugar Mill 

“Bradentown” was named after some of the first settlers in the area, Dr. Joseph and Hector Braden. The brothers relocated to Bradenton from Tallahassee, after the National Banking Collapse of 1937 hit Northern Florida. Looking for new avenues to earn their living, they planned to start a sugar mill together. Tragically, Hector drowned, but Dr. Joseph persisted in making their dream a reality. He grew sugar on a plantation at the confluence of the Braden and Manatee Rivers, eventually building the Braden Sugar Mill and shipping processed sugar out by boat. 

The Braden Castle 

Not many cities in the United States, let alone Florida, can boast a castle as part of their history. As one of the largest homes of its time in the area, the home was referred to as “the castle” by locals and provided protection from Seminole attacks in 1856. It was built with similar materials used in the Tabby House; lime and shell. Just a few years after its construction though, Braden left the home to go back to Tallahassee after the sugar plantation hit hard times. Today, the remains of the castle, battered by over a hundred years of Florida weather, stands in ruins. 

The Braden Castle area is also known for being one of the oldest tiny-home communities in Florida, before tiny homes were a popular trend. Many homeowners have kept their home in the family, passing it down through multiple generations. It’s a proud piece of the city’s history, started by what were called “Tin Can” tourists coming from up North to vacation in Bradenton at low or no cost. 

Other Must See Historic Bradenton Sites

Though it’s a growing and popular city to move to, Bradenton is proud of its history and makes a point of preserving it. The Palma Sola Community Church is a key part of that history.

A non-denominational church originally built in 1886, Palma Sola Community Church was reconstructed after a fire. This was the home parish for Bradenton’s pioneer families, including the Cortez family—whom Cortez, Florida (within the Bradenton region) is named for. Some of the residents of these early pioneer families still live in the area today. 

The historic Bridge Street Pier on Anna Maria Island is another local treasure that regularly attracts throngs of tourists and residents. The bridge was once the only avenue for vehicle access from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island. Today, it’s a wildly popular walkable area for visitors and residents to shop and dine at well-known and loved restaurants like Anna Maria Oyster Bar, and The Island Creperie, among others. The area also hosts community events year-round. 

Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is also a frequently visited site for learning more about the area’s early beginnings. 

How Bradentown became Bradenton

Before “Bradentown” was incorporated in 1903, the town was known as Manatee. By 1943, the “w” was removed in favor of a more sophisticated sounding name, and the town became known as Bradenton. 

What is Living in Bradenton, Florida Today Like?

Bradenton beach

Like Sarasota, Bradenton shares some of the best beaches in the country, if not the world. If you haven’t visited Bradenton yet and experienced the sugar sand cooling under your feet, there’s nothing like the feeling it will give you! Residents and tourists enjoy taking advantage of the easy access to these highly acclaimed beaches, as well as boating, golfing, shopping, dining, and walking the many areas downtown and along the water. 

While there’s plenty of recreation, Bradenton also has a strong community feel with family-centered and retirement-friendly neighborhoods, parks, as well as an active business culture. 

Rather than hopping on a flight, or taking a long road trip for vacation, Bradenton residents are only a short drive away from popular vacation spots like Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, and Sarasota’s Siesta Key Village, and Siesta Key Beach. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Living in Bradenton, FL?

Before considering a move, it’s always a good idea to look at the pros and cons. Packing all of your belongings up and relocating to a completely different area is a big decision. 

That’s why we put together the main pros and cons of living in Bradenton to offer some clarity as you consider your options.


  • If you like sunny weather, Bradenton is the place to be! According to Bestplaces.net, Bradenton averages 240 sunny days per year. The national average is 205 days. Another key factor to consider? Bradenton does not get sub-freezing temperatures! Many people moving here from Northern states with long and cold winters appreciate that.

  • Bradenton is accustomed to new arrivals, transplants from out-of-state, and seasonal residents. If you move to Bradenton, it won’t take long to meet others who also just moved to Bradenton!

  • Lower cost of living than other cities in Florida and the United States. Of course, like the rest of Florida—there’s no state income tax!

  • Good schools, with Niche.com giving Bradenton schools an average of a B+ grade overall.

  • Amazing beaches like Anna Maria Bayfront Park Beach, Manatee Public Beach/Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Cortez Beach, Beer Can Island Beach, Coquina Beach, and Longboat Key Public Beach. There are plenty of places to enjoy sun, sand, and fun on Bradenton’s surrounding beaches. 

  • Bradenton is family-friendly! Unlike many cities in Florida, Bradenton has a younger median age of 44. This means Bradenton is a great place to call home for families, retirees, singles, and people from all walks of life!

  • Plenty of outdoor activities like kayaking, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, walking, biking, and boating. If that’s too much activity for you, there’s always the option of taking a nap under an umbrella at one of the many beaches listed above. 


  • The sunny weather comes at a price. Summers are hot and humid! (Air conditioning, and spending time outside in mornings and evenings, while staying inside during the hottest part of the day makes the summer heat much more bearable.)

  • It also rains a lot during summer. This is actually a pro and a con. A downpour can come on quickly—but it keeps everything green and clean, and is usually over after a short period of time. Then it’s back to sunshine again.

  • Some areas of Bradenton have more crime. Like many cities, you’ll want to check crime maps and avoid areas with higher incidences of crime. Neighborhood Scouts lists Pomello Park, Winding River/Mill Creek, and Rosedale/Serenity Creek as some of the safer neighborhoods in the city, among others.

  • There’s more traffic during snowbird season. Also similar to Sarasota and other popular coastal Florida cities, snowbirds flock to Bradenton in the largest amounts from October through Easter (usually in April). While this is great for the local economy, it also adds more cars on Bradenton’s  roads, as well as longer waiting times pretty much everywhere. If you ask most residents though, they would still deal with this any day over going back to living in their former state.

  • With so many people moving to Bradenton—housing can get competitive. The key is to find a trusted and experienced real estate agent. Being in the moving business, Sunshine Movers regularly works with the best real estate agents in the area. We’re happy to connect you with a real estate agent we’ve already vetted and worked with. Call us at 941-447-1719—we’re happy to help! 

Is Bradenton, Florida a Good Place to Live?


Bradenton is Listed as #178 of 656 cities on Niche.com as Best Places to Retire in #345 of 1,297 Most Diverse Places to Live in Florida, and #427 of 656 Places with the Best Public Schools in Florida.

So, what is Bradenton, Florida like?

Many people living in the area describe it as a coastal city with plenty of sunshine that offers both an urban and suburban feel. There are plenty of things to do, whether it’s on or near the water, or around town. 

Here are some Bradenton, Florida reviews that will help to give you a feel for the town:

Niche.com commenters say: “Bradenton is a lovely town, connected to several Gulf beaches and quaint shopping districts,” and “I have lived here my whole life and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.” 

Another reviewer says: “I liked the diversity in people. The various places it has available for the arts, such as historical sites, and museums.”

Like the pros and cons we mentioned above, living in Bradenton, FL reviews are important to read before making any big decisions. It also helps to talk to people you know who live in Bradenton, or areas near Bradenton. 

What’s the Cost of Living in Bradenton, FL?

According to Payscale.com, Bradenton’s cost of living is 5% below the national average. These costs are determined by comparing employment, housing, groceries, healthcare, and energy costs with other similar cities across the country.

Bradenton’s housing is lower than 7% compared to the national average, and Niche.com lists the current median home value in Bradenton at $192,800. The national average is $229,800. 

Median rent runs about $1,158 and 58% of Bradenton residents own their homes. The median property tax in Manatee County is $1,973 annually.  

Another area where Bradenton comes in at a lower cost is utilities, with a 12% reduction compared to a similar coastal city like San Francisco. 

Is it expensive to live in Bradenton, Florida? Based on the data above and what we’ve experienced—for a beach city, Bradenton is surprisingly affordable! 

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Best Neighborhoods in Bradenton, FL 

Any search for your next place to live should always include mapping out where you could see yourself buying or renting a home. That usually means looking at a variety of neighborhoods and narrowing down your search to your top choices. 

Some good questions you may want to ask are:

  • Which neighborhoods in Bradenton have the least amount of crime?
  • What area of Bradenton is the most family-friendly?
  • Where are the best schools in Bradenton?

  • How much does it cost to hire a mover in Bradenton? (link to page about moving costs that includes a CTA for them to call you)

  • What’s the job market like?

  • Does this neighborhood fit my budget?

As far as the best places to live in Bradenton, Florida, these areas of the city outshine the others: 

  • West Bradenton—Along the north, it’s bordered by the Manatee River and State Road 64 on the south. It’s a popular area for retirees and residents who enjoy a rural feel. Families who move here appreciate that West Bradenton schools are rated above average. 
  • South Bradenton—An active urban/suburban area with plenty of options for dining, local bars, and nightlife. 
  • Bayshore Gardens—This area is known for its charming and affordable homes, as well as proximity to many favorite nearby places like Anna Maria Island, local beaches, and Longboat Key. This community is situated on the northern section of Sarasota Bay, which is a huge draw for many people moving to Bradenton. 
  • Bradenton Beach—This is actually a city on Anna Maria Island, but it’s also a beach. Bradenton Beach has a small-town feel and is well-loved for its small shops, fishing piers, dining options, and a down-to-earth, relaxed feel. 

Wondering Where to Live in Bradenton, FL? Check Out These Top Bradenton Neighborhoods: 

  • Whitfield Estates—Close to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, this neighborhood is built alongside Sarabay Country Club, and has a residential golf course.
  • Wares Creek—A historic residential neighborhood separated from downtown by a 5-mile-long creek.
  • Riverview Boulevard—Though there are many historic (100+ years old!) homes in this neighborhood along the Manatee River, some newly built custom homes have been added. Residents enjoy the affordability of waterfront property and easy access to boating on the river.
  • Palma Sola Park—A waterfront neighborhood, and the oldest planned community in Manatee County, Palma Sola Park is also near Robinson Preserve. Residents love that it’s peaceful and quiet. Most homes in this neighborhood are mid-sized, and many were built in the 20s and 30s and are well-maintained. 

  • Point Pleasant—This is a popular neighborhood, famous for its Old Florida feel. Residents love that it’s conveniently located near downtown and the Manatee River, and people relocating to Bradenton appreciate that homes here are competitively priced. A variety of dwellings attract buyers including condos, large homes, and mid-sized single-family homes.

  • Azalea Park—A private luxury neighborhood close to Robinson Preserve, Azalea Park contains a nature sanctuary with walking and biking trails, and an observation tower along the south shore of the Manatee River. 

Housing in Bradenton, FL 

Bradenton neighborhood

Let’s face it. A lot of people want to live in Bradenton. So buying a home can get competitive at times. It’s crucial that you find an experienced real estate agent you trust to help you in your home search. 

If you’re not sure which area you want to buy in, come visit Bradenton for a few weeks and experience the city like you live here. If you’re still not sure where you want to buy a home in Bradenton, it might be a good idea to rent for a few months until you find the ideal place you’re looking for.

Is Bradenton, Florida Safe? 

It depends on which area you’re talking about. That’s why we recommend checking crime rates for each area you’re considering living in. While one pocket of town may have high rates of crime, another section could be much more peaceful and secure. 

Though many people feel that Bradenton is a safe place to live, it’s also important to take necessary precautions. Like we mentioned in our Sarasota city guide, crimes of opportunity often happen as a result of leaving expensive items in sight, and not locking the doors of your home and vehicles. 

When people know their neighbors, and they feel safe living somewhere, it’s common that residents forget to take precautions like locking the doors of their home, as well as their cars, and leaving valuable objects within sight. This can be very tempting for opportunistic criminals. 

What is Senior Living in Bradenton, Florida Like?

There are endless options for seniors in Bradenton! Plenty of 55+ communities offer gated senior-living communities with private golf courses, pools, tennis, and other fun recreation amenities. 

Retirees appreciate Bradenton’s affordability and location just 50 minutes south of Tampa, and 20-30 minutes north of Sarasota. 

Is Bradenton a Good Place to Retire? 

Paddle boarding

If you ask the many retired people who have moved here, they’ll probably tell you they love being so close to Sarasota’s arts culture plays, ballets, and operas. There’s also Bradenton’s rich history, as well as proximity to many popular vacation spots. To live within minutes of a place where hundreds of thousands of people flock to for vacation every year—that’s not a bad choice for a place to retire! That doesn’t include the many popular seafood restaurants and endless choices for dining. And should we mention the beaches again? 

Bradenton vs. Sarasota—How to Decide?

When deciding on a city, so many factors come into play. Comparing these two popular Gulf Coast cities can be tough, because they’re both well-loved, and offer different advantages. And even though the two cities are right next to each other, they’re different in a lot of ways. 

So Which is Better—Sarasota or Bradenton? 


Here are a few things to consider:

  • Bradenton’s homes are less expensive in comparison to Sarasota 
  • Some reports show that Bradenton’s cost of living is lower than Sarasota, but others show they are about the same
  • It’s a little easier to get to many popular beaches from Bradenton—including beaches in Clearwater and St. Petersburg
  • Sarasota tends to get more tourists, which can make shopping, beaches, and attractions crowded 
  • Easy access to the amazing Anna Maria Island 
  • Robinson Preserve offers plenty of recreation options
  • Lakewood Ranch (in Bradenton) is a popular and safe community with its own infrastructure 

When deciding if it’s better to live in Sarasota or Bradenton, the factors above are important to consider, but there really are endless reasons why choosing Bradenton can often be the best choice. 

This Gulf Coast city has a strong community feel. Being a coastal city, it’s easy to get to the water and spend the day soaking in the sun, in between refreshing swims in the Gulf of Mexico. 

There are many neighborhoods and sections of the city favored by new residents because of easy access to beaches, golf courses, restaurants, and shopping. 

Is it Better to Live in Sarasota or Bradenton? Again, we encourage you to come out and stay for a few weeks and then make your decision! 

How Far is it From Bradenton to Sarasota?

Not far at all! Of course, it depends on which area of the city you’re coming from, and what time of the day you’re traveling, but most car trips from Bradenton to Sarasota take about 20 to 30 minutes. 

The distance between Sarasota and Bradenton is another benefit to moving to Bradenton. Even if you choose to live in Bradenton after comparing both options, you’re not saying no to Sarasota. You’ll still get easy access to Sarasota and all it has to offer because of how close the two cities are to each other. 

Bradenton is Home to The Tropicana Orange Juice Plant

When people think of Florida, they often think of oranges. After all, the famous citrus fruit and its blossoms are the symbol on Florida’s vehicle license plates. But many people don’t realize that the Tropicana factory is in Bradenton, Florida. It’s named as the “most productive orange juice plant in the nation” by The Center for Land Use and Interpretation. As one of the most popular fruits consumed, orange juice is always in demand. And the Tropicana plant processes most of the Tropicana brand orange juice in the United States, as well as a quarter of the total U.S. orange juice market. 

Many residents who live near the plant report smelling the sweet and tart citrus fruit when there’s a light breeze in the air. But they aren’t complaining. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-squeezed orange juice? 

Things to Do in Bradenton, FL 

Aside from going to the beach, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Bradenton. 

Here are a few popular choices: 

  • The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature—Famous for rehabilitating manatees, and the former home of Snooty, the manatee. This is the largest natural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast and it features exhibits and galleries from as far back as the Pleistocene to present day. Since 1988, the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has housed 40 rehabilitating manatees.
  • Bradenton’s Riverwalk—A 1.5 mile ADA accessible paved trail along the Manatee River, the Riverwalk is perfect for enjoying with the family on one of Bradenton’s many sunny days. 
  • LECOM Park—A baseball field and the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Locals have been enjoying games here since 1923!  
  • Red Barn Flea Market—145,000 square feet of shopping, food, and treasure hunting. With 6,401 Google reviews averaging at 4.3 stars, this place gets visited a lot! 
  • DeSoto National Memorial—Part of the U.S. National Park service, this beautiful park along the shores of the Manatee River commemorates explorer Hernando de Soto’s arrival in the region in 1539. 
  • Manatee Village Historical Park—An open-air museum with restored historical buildings that date back to Manatee County’s early settlers. 
  • G.T. Bray Park—Locals appreciate all this park has to offer for recreation including an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts, skate park, sports fields, and an amphitheater. 
  • Mixon Fruit Farms—Where else can you get orange-flavored ice cream, fresh-squeezed orange juice, tram tours of the citrus grove, and a wildlife refuge? Mixon Farms also has what they call “The Amazing Play Place” for kids, along with a wedding venue, and much more! 
  • Motorworks Brewing—A popular and award-winning brewery and Florida’s largest (neon-lit) beer garden, as well as regular performances of live music. 

What Are the Best Jobs in Bradenton? 

If you’re looking for employment, there are plenty of options in Bradenton! 

Because it’s such a huge producer of orange juice, Tropicana is often hiring. Aside from ensuring America gets delicious orange juice, there are plenty of other options for employment in Bradenton. These range from the medical field, to trades—to local businesses. 

In a growing city like Bradenton, there’s a need for hard-working people in many businesses, as well as public safety—including fire fighting jobs, and law enforcement. 

Though there are plenty of job sites you can look at, if you’re looking at working for the City of Bradenton, you can browse their open listings here.

There are currently 25,308 Bradenton jobs listed on Indeed.com. These include a wide variety of open positions like: accountant, dental assistant, construction superintendent, and FedEx delivery driver.

Are You Thinking of Taking the Leap and Moving to Bradenton?

With year-round sunshine, no income tax, plenty to do, and great neighborhoods—no wonder so many people can’t wait to make Bradenton their home! 

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Author: Blake Fitzpatrick

When I started Sunshine Movers, I only had one truck and one employee—me. Today, I’m the owner of one of the highest rated moving companies in the Tampa Bay area. I credit my amazing wife, a lot of hard work, and a committed team of outstanding employees for the success of Sunshine Movers.

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