As a frequent visitor to both cities I'd have to say I like Punta Gorda better for living although I would prefer to "play" in Cape Coral. Punta Gorda Isles in particular is a beautiful area with shops, culture, old floridian flare, restaurants, water water everywhere and not like Cape Coral in terms of the foreclosure nightmare we are all going through. Cost of living I'd say in Cape Coral is a little higher. You have a higher millage rate (property taxes) and I am aware of the excessive water and sewer projects going on down there. I've also read how the city is having some financial woes. Punta Gorda remains a vibrant community even in the midst of the economy. That's not to say all is perfect in Punta Gorda but comparing the two I'd give Punta Gorda the nod, (again in particular the PGI area) There are also some beautiful areas along Burnt Store (Burnt Store Meadows, Lakes, Isels) but as Nancy stated they are a little rural but hey that might be what you are looking for.
Let me know if you would like to see some listings in the PGI area. Here is a link to city website for further reveiw:
Have a great day.
Jason Stevens, GRI,ABR
Keving Flynn Realty, Inc.
Punta Gorda is a bit more rural than Cape Coral. We also have many more Gulf access properties. I am a fan of Cape Coral so my opinion may be a bit more for Cape Coral. I would also recommend when thinking of any new area give the local police department a call and get an idea of crime stats. I would be happy to e-mail you properties or answer any questions you may have on the area.
I wish you the best of luck,