Raising Kids on Sanibel Island

In honor of Mother’s Day weekend, I thought I’d share some of my experiences as a mother of four, raising kids on Sanibel Island. I’ll start by saying honestly, I can’t think of a better place to raise my kids.

As many of you know, Jim and I lived in Miami for some time, in fact that’s where three of our kids were born. The little one below is our true island child, born and raised on Sanibel.

raising kids on sanibel island

While we loved Miami, we knew that was not where we wanted our kids to grow up. At the time we were strongly considering purchasing a condo on Sanibel as a weekend getaway, since we loved the island so much, and it was near Jim’s hometown of Cape Coral. However, we hadn’t considered moving there full-time and raising our kids on Sanibel Island until we started weighing the Pros and Cons…

Several Pros to Raising Kids on Sanibel Island

  • Sanibel is one of the safest communities here in Southwest Florida, with a very low crime rate and history of serious criminal activity
  • The Sanibel School is ranked as a National Blue Ribbon school, with an excellent track record of academics
  • There are plenty of outdoor activities for the kids, including biking, swimming, beach combing,  tree climbing, etc.
  • Sanibel is a great hub for learning about science, nature and the barrier island’s unique ecosystem
  • The island has a great community of churches, and also a community center with programs to get the whole family involved
  • The Sanibel Public Library is phenomenal, and our kids also love the Sanibel Recreational Center, which offers after-school and summer programs
  • BIG ARTS has fantastic art and theater programs, and the theater provides stellar family-friendly entertainment
  • Not to mention, Sanibel Island residents are some of the most gracious and welcoming people I’ve ever met!

I could go on and on, but these are some of the major reasons we deemed Sanibel a great place to raise our family. Of course with the good qualities, we also weighed the less favorable aspects of raising kids on a barrier island.

The biggest worry for us was that there’s only one school on the island, serving grades K-8. Therefore, all high-schoolers have to travel off-island to attend school in Fort Myers. This means waking up early to go to school, and getting caught in the occasional traffic jam during peak season. But I must say, overall, we’ve had a great experience with the off-island schools so far.

In fact, our oldest daughter, Emily, is now old enough to drive! This has been a MAJOR help, since she can drive herself to school, along with her brother Andrew, and soon our incoming high-schooler, Caitlin (pictured below when she was younger). Oh my gosh, they’re growing up so fast!

raising kids on sanibel island

Our little duckling, Abbie, will continue into 2nd grade at the Sanibel School next year, where we are comfortable with her riding the bus to and from school, and/or going to the Rec Center after school until we can pick her up.

As a busy Realtor® on the island, you can understand why having this flexibly and confidence in my child’s safety is important to me! In fact Sanibel is the epitome of the saying, “It takes a village to raise a kid.”

I admit that there’s been times where the communication of who’s picking up the kids from the bus stop has lagged, resulting in a fellow Sanibel Mom or Dad taking our kids with them, and dropping them off at home or at the office. “Only On Sanibel Island,” I say! Again, showing just how caring our community is in looking out for one another.


While being a mother on Sanibel has certainly been rewarding, I cherish even more the opportunity to have my mother and father live right down the street from me as seasonal residents of Sanibel Island!

My kids often stop by to see grandma and grandpa as they ride their bikes, which of course makes my parent’s day every time. My Mom has even started picking the girls up from the bus stop, allowing her a few minutes to catch up with them on a daily basis.

Writing this, I’m reminded how truly blessed I am to call Sanibel my home, and what a wonderful place it is to raise children. In fact, I’m happy to share more of my experiences with you, or answer any concerns you might have about moving to Sanibel.

While I’ll admit, I’m a little biased about our tiny slice of paradise, I’m always honest and upfront about addressing your concerns, and the truths about our island lifestyle. So please, don’t hesitate to ask!

Helpful Resources For Sanibel Island Families

The City of Sanibel – Click here to visit the City of Sanibel website

The Sanibel School – Click here to visit the Sanibel School website

Sanibel Community House – Click here to visit the Sanibel Community House website

Sanibel Public Library – Click here to visit the Sanibel Public Library website

Sanibel Recreation Center – Click here to visit the Sanibel Rec Center webpage

BIG ARTS – Click here to visit the BIG ARTS website

Susan McCallion About Susan McCallion

Meet "Your Favorite Redhead." Susan was exposed to real estate while young with her parent's 8 Re/MAX offices in Connecticut! In 2008, Susan and Jim became permanent Sanibel residents, starting McCallion & McCallion to bring a fresh approach to real estate.