FORT MYERS BEACH

It may seem like a majority of people living in Southwest Florida are from somewhere else. Just ask your next door neighbor or the people living down the street. The tropical climate and prices make the Southwest Florida region attractive to foreign investors.

Like many enjoying Fort Myers Beach right now, Joerg Ifler originally came to Southwest Florida for vacation.

“I liked the island so much I actually bought the hotel I stayed in,” Ifler said. “That was my initial investment here in the area and then it grew from there.”

Now, 18-years later, Ifler, originally from Germany, owns the Flamingo Inn and seven other properties including his home.

“I live on the south side of the island, which is very quiet,” Ifler said. “You know your neighbors because they’ve lived there forever.”

Experts said, between Fort Myers and Cape Coral, around 12,000 people living here are now from other countries. They are making significant investments in real estate and seeing lucrative returns.

Local Realtor Marianne Zeltner said she sells a lot of Canadians and Europeans who have come here for job opportunities.

“It can be in the restaurant,” Zeltner said. “It can be in pool service. It can be property management. It can be real estate like me — it has all kind of possibilities.”

Seventy percent of foreign buyers in Florida are purchasing vacation rentals or living here year round.

“We have more than 300 days of the year of sunshine,” Zeltner said. “That makes us move over here even if it’s for work and buying a business. We can have a business and be on vacation at the same time, so that is very attractive.”

Meaning more money for our local restaurants and eventually our pockets.

“You cannot take the property with you,” Ifler said. “It’s an investment that’s going to stay either or so you bring fresh money into the country, so it’s a good thing.”

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