For many, Key West, located in the Florida Keys, seems like a dream home location. It’s often at the top of people’s lists when they think of beautiful areas or ideal retirement spots. However, although there are many benefits to living in Key West, there are also a few drawbacks. It’s important to consider all of these factors before making a move.
Beautiful Landscapes and Views
One of the best parts about living in Key West, and what draws most people to the area, is the spectacular environment. Key West is an island city off of Florida’s southernmost tip, and because of its location, the city is tropical.
The landscape is filled with palm trees, colorful flowers that bloom all year, and exotic animals. Anyone living on Key West will be almost constantly surrounded by ocean views.
Key West is also known for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, which can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Warm Yet Unpredictable Weather
For the most part, the weather in Key West is fantastic. Most days are warm and slightly humid, and the skies are largely clear during the dry season. The weather remains warm throughout the year. People who live in Key West will never need to shovel snow or worry about freezing temperatures.
Although the area sees little rainfall during the dry season, the wet season is a different story. During this season, which can start in June and often lasts through October, Key West gets about 6 inches of rain every month.
Key West and the Florida Keys also see frequent tropical storms and hurricanes, which can be inconvenient at best and life-threatening at worst. Strong storms can often damage property or cause flooding. Because the area is so flat and most of the city is only a few feet above sea level, flooding can happen anywhere.
Many Recreation, Entertainment, and Dining Options
Because it’s a popular place for tourists, there are many options for fine dining on the island. If you’re living in the Florida Keys, you’ll have your choice of restaurants each night, and many of these locations also offer entertainment, such as musicians.
There are also many recreational opportunities available on or near the island. Residents can walk the beach, swim, snorkel, paddle, fish, or take a boat ride. Because the island is so small, many people also choose to walk or bike from place to place instead of driving. Residents of Key West are often active all year, and this can lead to better overall health.
High Property Prices and Cost of Living
Purchasing a home in Key West or anywhere else in the Florida Keys is very expensive. The area is small, so homes are limited, and almost every home can claim an ocean view or beach-front property, raising prices significantly.
The average cost of a home in the Keys is about $600,000, which is almost double the average home cost in the United States.
In addition, the cost of living is much higher than in other areas. Almost all goods must be brought onto the island, and this raises prices by a high margin. Fuel is also more expensive. The ocean air also brings moisture and salt, which can corrode metal objects, meaning that cars and other machinery usually need more upkeep or more frequent replacement.
No State Income Tax
There is no state income tax, and the property and sales tax in the area are relatively low, which helps to offset the high cost of living.
There are few roads leading in and out of Key West, and there’s only one major road that leads to the Florida Keys. This highway is U.S. Route 1, which starts in Maine. At the southern tip of Florida, the highway narrows to two lanes.
Because it’s the only major route in or out of the city, it’s often very congested, and the road sees frequent car accidents.
The lack of major roads and the small size of the island can also sometimes make it difficult to find a diverse selection of goods, including groceries. Many people choose to go to the mainland for groceries, but this can be very time-consuming.
During the dry season, tourists flock to Key West. While this is beneficial for the city’s economy, it can be a hassle for the area’s residents. The influx of tourists makes the city crowded, causing more traffic and congesting popular public areas. The prices in the area, including prices for dining out or shopping, are also influenced by tourism, and they can be much higher than in other places throughout Florida.
Many people who live in Key West or the wider Florida Keys are surprised by how close-knit the communities are. Most people live in small communities throughout the islands, and people will often go out of their way to meet their neighbors and become friendly with other people living in their immediate area.
Good School Systems
The schools in the Florida Keys are highly ranked, and there is a low student-to-teacher ratio. This provides a better learning environment, since teachers can focus more on each student.
Low Unemployment Rates but Limited Job Opportunities
The unemployment rate in the Florida Keys is usually about 0.5 to 1% lower than throughout the rest of the United States. However, most people are employed in hospitality or retail. There are also many jobs for those who enjoy fishing or otherwise working in or on the ocean. If you want to have a job in another industry, however, opportunities are quite limited.
Slower Pace of Life
Because it can take so long to go anywhere thanks to the lack of major roads, residents of Key West have adopted a slower pace of life. The rush to get from place to place largely disappears. This is quite calming and helps to eliminate stress for many people. Others, however, can find the transition challenging.