Maybe I operate on a different compass, but for me the quality of the school systems would be the critical factor in my choice of towns if I had a middle school age daughter.
Charlotte County has good schools.
I keep pushing Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda because I *wish* I could live there. I'm in Fort Lauderdale...its crowded, overbuilt, poor schools...really paradise lost.
Port Charlotte/Punta GOrda remind me of what Fort Lauderdale *USED* to be in the 80s and early 90s.