How to Test-Drive a Neighborhood While Sheltering in Place

“Drive through the neighborhood to get a feel for the community!” — That’s the #1 advice we used to give clients who were here on island familiarizing themselves with the different neighborhoods. 

Obviously, the global pandemic has made that impossible for those of you who are not here in Southwest Florida. Not to fear, there are still ways you can “test-drive” a neighborhood – virtually! 

Virtual Test Drive

The image above was shared in an article on We think it offers a great starting point if you’re looking to get a feel for the different communities on island, or even deciding between Sanibel vs another destination.

To make it easier for you, we’ve linked to as many of these local resources as possible, including a number of blogs on our own website. 

#1. Check out local publications and social media

Our local newspapers are one of the best ways to not only stay informed with what’s happening on island, but to get a feel for island living in general.

#2. Take a walk with Google 

If you haven’t seen or used Google Street View, you should check it out! While the quality of imagery isn’t always the best portrayal of a neighborhood, it does help to provide a better sense of direction and “feet on the ground” feel for a particular street and location. 

Start by opening the Google Maps view of Sanibel Island (linked here). Then zoom in to the area you’d like to view and click the little yellow person at the bottom right of the screen. Then you can move along the street by clicking the arrows on the screen. 

Click here to see an example which shows the Google Street View of our office (captured in March 2019). 

Snapshot of Goole Street View

#3. Browse websites with neighborhood data

While not all of the statistics and information on third-party websites is correct, you can browse online resources such as City Data to learn more about the island’s demographics, crime rate, weather, and so forth. 

Click here to visit the City Data site for Sanibel island

#4. Investigate school and educational data

That should be pretty easy to do on Sanibel since there is only one school on island, The Sanibel School (linked here)

We’ve written a few articles about the Sanibel School linked below:

#5. Check safety ratings

While City Data shares some of the crime statistics for Sanibel, you can also check with the local Sanibel Police Department for more information. Click here to view the 2019 Crime Report for Lee County and Municipals including Sanibel Island. 

#6. Understand your daily commute

The majority of you are likely looking at Sanibel Island as a place for retirement, and therefore, won’t have a daily commute, yippie!! But for those of us that do, or to help you better plan your proximity to the mainland for doctor’s appointments and Costco runs, you can check out our blog about timing your commute during our busy season when traffic can certainly back up! Click here to read our blog, Avoiding Traffic Jams During Season

#7. Call a real estate agent

That’s us! Our number is 239-472-1950. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with ANY questions about specific neighborhoods, streets, or properties on island. We can be your actual feet on the ground until you’re able to visit again. 

Jim McCallion About Jim McCallion

Meet the "Marketing Megaphone" and Webmaster behind McCallion & McCallion. After selling his software company, Jim, Susan and kids moved to Sanibel in 2008. With his tech experience, he and Susan bring a fresh approach to island real estate.