Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Florida Keys

THE FLORIDA KEYS, MONROE COUNTY OVERVIEW

Imagine: Incredible Sunsets, Tropical Weather, lots of sun, Palm tress, Balmy Nights with Soft Tropical Breezes. How about a unique array of colors: for instance, shades of Greens you never knew existed? How about, world-class fishing and diving within minutes of your home? How about year round citrus, vegetables, gardens and really fresh seafood? How about clean air, beaches and pure nature and all of this mixed in with a laid-back Island attitude?

If all this sounds (too!) good, consider this--since we only spend a small percentage of our lifetimes outdoors, why not make the most of it?

The Florida Keys are a unique American landscape. They are not even like the rest of the Florida. Called by some “America’s Caribbean,” they are reminiscent of the Bahamas or the Caymans or the Netherlands Antilles. They are low-lying dots on an azure sea that separates Cuba from the U.S., strung 130 miles in a long narrow corridor athwart the Gulf Stream, and bordered by one of the world’s principal coral reefs that was the scourge of pirates and the Spanish fleet nearly 500 years ago but beckons divers, fishermen, and boaters today.

The Keys today are comprised of four very distinct areas.

Upper Keys:

Key Largo, Islamorada--These are bedroom communities to Miami- very busy on weekends due to closeness to Miami. Desirable for 2nd home owners as it’s a short trip from Miami International. Another plus is a very active tourist base meaning jobs and if you’re an investor or want to rent out your home, it means great occupancy rates.

Middle Keys:

Marathon—The big community at midpoint down. Very diverse Real estate options. The water is deep for good boating. It’s only 50 miles from Key West. Marathon has lots of business activity and a good airport making connections through Miami to the rest of the world.

Lower Keys:

Big Pine through Sugarloaf Key, These are great residential areas- small and more like flat versions of New England or Caribbean seaside towns—shopping is available and Key West and all the restaurants and nightlife are 30 to 45 minutes away.

Key West:

A destination point for millions of tourists, cruise ships and Florida residents looking for something different. This town definitely has a relaxed feel about it. Eve though I lived 23 miles from there, going in on week ends still felt like going on vacation.

General Information Florida Keys
• Located in the southern tip of Florida. The keys border the Everglades and the waters of the gulf of Mexicoand the Atlantic..
• 2000 square miles
• Average Temperature 77.8°F
• Average Annual Precipitation 39 in
• Average Rain Days 109
• Population projection 2005 -80,000
• Key West population-34,000 plus
• Average home cost-June 2005-$600,000 in the Keys
• Cost of Living-almost 112-1st in the state
• Median age-43.

Major Employment and jobs by Industry in order of numbers
• Management, professional
• Service occupations
• Sales and office
• Fishing
• Construction
• Natural resources
• Production and transportation

In conclusion, the Keys are expensive but are like no where else you’ve ever been. If you like the water and are an avid boater, fisherman, diver, you should consider the Keys. You’ll never regret it.

The only cautions are the usual suspects in waterside Florida: first, the possibility of hurricanes in the late summer and fall months, and, since you are literally at sea level, and since evacuation is only towards Miami some hours away (3 ½ from Key West), a fair amount of stress around that issue. (Unless, of course, you adopt Jimmy Buffet’s attitude and just lie back and enjoy the waiting.) And second, for real shopping variety, you really do have to go to Miami, and at 45 mph in tight traffic for several hours, that gets old. (Which is why I and other Keys residents learned to provision ourselves in advance, and otherwise take a page from Buffet’s song and just enjoy hamburgers in paradise.) And finally, insurance rates are on their way through the roof. (But aren’t they everywhere?)

Perhaps all that, and a generally very high cost of living, is why more and more people are looking at the Keys not so much as a primary home for retirement, but rather as a second or vacation home – and most people who have ever been there, or like us who have ever lived there, would have to say that there is no place quite like it or quite so wonderful. I think the Keys will always have a unique draw for folks old and young alike. As I said, we spend only a small part of our lifetimes outdoors, so why not make the most of it – in the Florida Keys!

1 comment:

doodles said...

I think the tourist development council should hire you.......I should know I lived there for 20 some years..........

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