Moving to Key West Florida and the Cost of Living


Just about anyone who loves the Island & Beach Life has thought about moving to Key West in Florida at one point in their life. However, very few consider the cost of living before actually moving.

Assuming of course you do not already live in Key West, it can seem a bit challenging to get there. Just like any other move, you need to take into consideration your typical moving expenses, housing, and perhaps a new career. But moving to Key West is not really the tough part. Residing there with an unexpected increased of living expenses can be the real challenge.

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Unlike any other town in the USA, the mention of "Key West" brings to mind a lazy carefree life.

Relaxing ocean side or bar hopping on Duval Street or visiting The Green Parrot is a daily experience for anyone that wants to live it, right? Suddenly you start to think of selling your house in Massachusetts, quitting your job, piling everything into a U Haul, and taking the trek.

Slow down there! 
The reality is the streets of Key West are not lined with gold. Even though Route 1 will bring you right to the island, you are still living on an island. That means everything will start to get more expensive. Gas, food, and housing are much more that on the main land. Because Key West is 3 hours from Maimi, the expense of getting goods and supplies to the island will hit your wallet a bit harder. Living in Key West is also very desirable, thus driving up the costs due to basic supply and demand economics. You need to take all of this into consideration before moving to Key West.

Here are some things top to consider before moving:

  • Get a job lined up. This is probably the most challenging thing to have ready. Unemployment is high and job competition is fierce. Unless you have a specialized skill that is in demand and limited, you will likely be landing a tourist related job. Food service workers and gift shop cashier positions are going to be the most common and tough to get. You may want to consider going to the island first and meeting potential employers instead of trying to get a job over the phone.
  • Find Housing. A 1-2 bed room cottage or apartment could easily cost $1200-$1800 a month. In many cases it will be much more. A 2-3 Bedroom home could be in the $300-500k range. That is for something that needs a LOT of TLC. Something decent and ready to move into is much closer to the $1,000,000 mark. Condo's of course will be much cheaper.
  • Food. You will find a few common big box grocery stores with prices a bit more than on the main land. However, your local restaurants and sub shops are operating on island time too, and have a budget to match. Expect to pay resort prices for your prepared meals and cocktails.
  • Gas. 87 Octane will run about 10% more than on the main land.
  • Family. It's a great place to visit, but Key West is not exactly family friendly. An excessive amount of public drunk people and a low rated public schools are common and a turn off.
  • Moving to Key West

    RECOMMENDED: Unique Key West themed and inspired t-shirts and accessories from $3

    So how can you justify moving to Key West on a budget? There are a few options.

    • Prepare. Make a trip to the mainland for visits to your local Costco or BJ's and stock up.
    • Get a roommate. Two roommates could be even better. Cut your rent and utility bills in half or more.
    • Get a bike. Driving in Key West can be a nightmare. You will find it much easier to ride a bike as the island is small enough. You will save not only time, but gas.
    • When you need supplies locally, avoid Duval Street. Duval Street is the main tourist area so everything will be more pricey.
    • Don't live in Key West. Many people that work in Key West do not live there. They will find a place to stay a few keys up and drive to work. Sure, you may not be living next to Mallory Square, but you are very close and the sunsets are still the same.

    If you plan accordingly, there will be little surprises. If visiting Smathers Beach, going snorkeling, people watching, biking, boating, and kayaking (to name a few) are worth it when you are not working, then the decision is easy to make. Move to Key West and be the envy of your friends. Be smart and live the Island & Beach life that many of us want to be a part of.

    Need some resources for moving to Key West?

     

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    Comments 66
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    • Angie Christie
      Angie Christie

      I moved to Key West from Canada in 1989. Shrimp boats swarmed the rocks at the historic byte. No cruise ships came to Port back then. I was a bartender in a local joint flooded with the local working stiffs. Friendly people who came together for one another in a time of crisis. Tight night community. My cute little duplex on Staples Ave. was an affordable $350 a month. The Bubba system was alive and worked well, everybody knew everybody. Life was GOOD. I raised my daughter, born in 1993, she grew up in the best of times. Schools were excellent. The year of 2004 changed everything in Key West. GREED graced the island I loved so much. Bigmoney came to town. Conchs were offered huge sums of money for their tiny homes in Old Town. A lot of the Conchs decided to take the money and run North, never having to worry about work or taxes ever again. Things changed. Once a single family home, now a vacation rental. The cost of living is unbelievable. The tight knit community has faded. Gone are the days when locals were treated with preferential benefits. Most of friends from back in the day were forced to leave, some drank their livers away. Great times back then. I can’t even go back for visit. I want to remember the Old Key West.

    • Dennis Allen
      Dennis Allen

      Just got engaged in KW in late Sept. , getting married in KW on the 1 year anniversary of our first date. Her and I completely fell in love with the Island and the people (drunks included), and have begun to seriously start considering moving down. We have no children, and aren’t going to be making any, ever. Both of us are young professionals, who have held almost every job in the service industry, bar tending, bouncing, customer service, and business mgmt. I currently work in cleanroom making micro chips 12 hours a day, and have come to realize it’s not conducive to keeping your sanity. We currently live in upstate NY and the cost of living is the about same, if not higher as whats being described here. We’re not waiting till we’re to old to truly enjoy everything that island life has to offer. Hunter S . Thompson makes my case better than I can.

      Security
      by Hunter S. Thompson (1955).

      Security … what does this word mean in relation to life as we know it today? For the most part, it means safety and freedom from worry. It is said to be the end that all men strive for; but is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut?

      Let us visualize the secure man; and by this term, I mean a man who has settled for financial and personal security for his goal in life. In general, he is a man who has pushed ambition and initiative aside and settled down, so to speak, in a boring, but safe and comfortable rut for the rest of his life. His future is but an extension of his present, and he accepts it as such with a complacent shrug of his shoulders. His ideas and ideals are those of society in general and he is accepted as a respectable, but average and prosaic man. But is he a man? has he any self-respect or pride in himself? How could he, when he has risked nothing and gained nothing? What does he think when he sees his youthful dreams of adventure, accomplishment, travel and romance buried under the cloak of conformity? How does he feel when he realizes that he has barely tasted the meal of life; when he sees the prison he has made for himself in pursuit of the almighty dollar? If he thinks this is all well and good, fine, but think of the tragedy of a man who has sacrificed his freedom on the altar of security, and wishes he could turn back the hands of time. A man is to be pitied who lacked the courage to accept the challenge of freedom and depart from the cushion of security and see life as it is instead of living it second-hand. Life has by-passed this man and he has watched from a secure place, afraid to seek anything better What has he done except to sit and wait for the tomorrow which never comes?

      Turn back the pages of history and see the men who have shaped the destiny of the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed. Where would the world be if all men had sought security and not taken risks or gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer? It is from the bystanders (who are in the vast majority) that we receive the propaganda that life is not worth living, that life is drudgery, that the ambitions of youth must he laid aside for a life which is but a painful wait for death. These are the ones who squeeze what excitement they can from life out of the imaginations and experiences of others through books and movies. These are the insignificant and forgotten men who preach conformity because it is all they know. These are the men who dream at night of what could have been, but who wake at dawn to take their places at the now-familiar rut and to merely exist through another day. For them, the romance of life is long dead and they are forced to go through the years on a treadmill, cursing their existence, yet afraid to die because of the unknown which faces them after death. They lacked the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.

      As an afterthought, it seems hardly proper to write of life without once mentioning happiness; so we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?

    • Devin Clark
      Devin Clark

      At the risk of offending any Conchs that may be going through these posts, I’m going to have to shoot it straight. Key West is primed for a major recession, possibly even depression. I’m from a huge tourist city like Las Vegas, which was ground zero for our last big recession and all of the indicators are right there.

      The housing market is extremely overvalued. There is no justifiable reason at all why residents are paying so much for so little. To say that any rental or place acquired under $300,000 is an understatement. There are places with extensive wear and tear, either from being built quite a long time ago, constant water damage, sub-par construction and housing foundations, patchwork repairs, and conversions to vacation rentals or apartment housing. I’ve personally never seen such a nerve wracking and sad situation of affordable housing compared to wages. There is a very limited amount of upward mobility here. I’ve been lucky enough to be a young professional with an opportunity to not be geographically locked to my income. The opportunities of learning and vocation based training simply are not available in Key West.

      Key West talks a great game when it comes to friendliness, however this is not the truth. It is an extremely cliquey place, that thrives off of pseudo-camaraderie of “toughing out an island lifestyle.” What that means is that if you’re not working in a bar, restaurant, or a boat full-time, and spending the majority of your hard earned money back in said bars and restaurant’s. It’s a way of life to work three or four jobs to afford the bare minimum, and it’s worn like a badge of honor. Alcoholism is a gigantic problem. Non-drinkers need not apply.

      Key West is having a hard time recovering post Irma not just because of the lack of tourism, but from its lack of differentiation in businesses. Especially on Duval St. I am extremely worried that city has close to zero awareness of demographic changes that are already happening. It is not irregular to walk down Duval’s busiest areas and hear the same song playing in 3 bars at the same time, that each have identical menus to each other, with identical price points. In a time like slow season you can watch this play out first hand as you see businesses close before they even get started and watch employees tough it out for pennies because there is nothing of merit other than the fact that they’re there and have been there for x amount of time. I don’t say any of this to shit on Key West, I say it all because I’m from a family of proud Conchs that have been here for over 80 years, and it’s extremely sad to see somewhere that’s already so geographically vulnerable suffer so badly.

      It would be a dream to maybe see Key West shift from it’s rebel. pirate spirit and grow up a bit and maybe be more open to some infrastructure planning and key things that it needs to at least have a future to not only attract customers, but have the ability to develop promising young locals to come back and innovate. Right now it’s a nightmare, that once you wake up you would never revisit.

    • W. P
      W. P

      So, I loaded the wife up(which means way too many clothes), moved to key west this month. We found a place in coppitt key(10 miles away from the end of us 1) for 1200 its a rental, and we have our own space below our landlord, We have loved it so far. We love to snorkel and scuba… And find places that are just off the beaten path. If you don’t like being in the,ocean then why come?

      If you like to shop then go to a big city, if you like to leave cheaper, then go to rural area away from the beach.

      If you like to enjoy everyday and appreciate the most beautiful place in the united states then this place is for you.

      Money is made to be spent, this is by far the best place to spend it.

    • Yvette J Walker
      Yvette J Walker

      I was born in Key West in 1963 at the Navy Hospital, which is no longer there. My dad got transferred until I was about 4 and then we moved back until my parents divorced when I was 9. My dad, brother & half sister still reside there. Until about 8 years ago my kids and I visited every year. If you have a boat life is great otherwise not so good. I tell people that have never been not to go for their beaches and also that you will either hate it or love it. Best beaches ever are in siesta Key Sarasota.
      I now live in Tennessee. Rent near ( about 20 miles ) Nashville is very high. My daughter is paying $1200 a month for an extremely nice large 2 bed 2 bath apt with all amenities. That is considered on the cheaper side.
      I would never want to live in Key West again, but it is a cool place to visit. And it is true. People I talk to that have visited either Hate it or they Love it. Heading down to the big city this month. My husband has never been.

    • Julie Mckendree
      Julie Mckendree

      I lived in Key West from 1960-1965. I was a child.My Father was a Marine and the experience was wonderful. Much different than now.
      I went to St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic School. My education was top notch.
      I lived alot of history. I will always have wonderful memories. I visit it has changed in some ways but the true Key West still lives.

    • Michael
      Michael

      The reason things cost more has nothing to do with trucking 150 Miles. That happens everywhere. It’s because prices are based on the perceived wealth of the zip code. That’s all.
      Housing is not only expensive it is of extremely low quality. Higher quality homes, places with full kitchens or central air, gardens, parking, storage will all cost more. Roommates are drunk unreliable wasters lives by here to piss you off. Loud parties will keep you awake. What make you laugh on vacation will make you grind your teeth as you work three jobs.
      The biggest thing here is you cannot get away. You must be polite to everyone all the time. Anyone you bad mouth may be a relative, a former or current lover, friend or enemy of anyone within hearing. Once you make an enemy, even accidentally, your reputation will spread like an oil slick. Lose your job? Good bye. No one will rehire you if you get a reputation and you aren’t an Important Person. These are the real issues living here. There is a pecking order and you are st the bottom. Don’t be ambitious is my first word of advice to people thinking of living here. Choose St Petersburg is my second, it’s much more livable.

    • Debbie
      Debbie

      I live in Ft Myers and I would like to relocate to Islamorada or Marathon area. Our housing is quite expensive as well. The average one bedroom is 1000 a month and goes even higher during season.

    • Dale
      Dale

      Living in the Keys is an expensive proposition. Even now with the better bridges than in the 70’s when I lived on Sugarloaf Key for three years. But it is a very nice place to vacation and cheaper than Disney, fer sure. The biggest downer while I was there, other than the period where one powerplant failed and we were on rotating blackouts (no electric across the 7 mile bridge) was the fact of going shopping to find what you are willing to buy that is in stock. Don’t assume you will get to find what you specifically WANT. You get to choose from what is available, like third world countries. After all, it’s the “Conch Republic”.

    • Jericho
      Jericho

      Sounds pretty much like gulf coast and cost of living

    • Jason
      Jason

      I lived in the keys for awhile and loved everything about it, except the low pay and high costs for everything. Sure there is a price to pay for paradise, but not when it means the only thing you can afford is rent.

    • Pam Hamilton
      Pam Hamilton

      I’d much rather be there than in northern Minnesota ANYDAY!!!!!

    • Joe Richards
      Joe Richards

      I’d rather be stuck once a month or even once a week on US 1 in the Keys than every day on I/4 in Central FL.

    • Mark D
      Mark D

      Wife and I did our vacation to Key West for well over 15 + years. Wanted to move there sob ad it was crazy! Bout 6 years ago, we picked up packed up and moved lived there for five years. Bought a townhouse in an HOA (First mistake) on Big Coppitt Key just north of Key West. I found work as a tour guide. My wife working retail as a store manager. Cost of living is without question high with pay rates that don’t match!. You are at the end of the line three + hours from Miami making good time. Most trips to the mainland take four + hours. Point living there is too far from the real world it’s way too remote. Most people are friendly yet the true locals hate the transplants. Most will never make friends! That’s another issue! If you don’t hang in a bar and get waisted daily ya don’t fit! I can keep going! Close it with this! You want a great vacation here ya go! Key West has a lot to offer! But that’s about it! Great place to visit NOT a great place to live!

    • Tim King
      Tim King

      Welcome back to Key West Elaine Chinnis !

    • gary raymond
      gary raymond

      I love living here in key west for the diving , fishing, and friendly people. people talk about high food prices, well if you look at the flyers that winn Dixie and publix puts out they are the same as any of their stores elsewhere. places like gfs you can buy three slabs of babyback ribes under 20 bucks. so food prices at big chain stores are about the same. if your eating out most food places are high in some areas but the amount of food you get will feed two people. yes I love the weather here also tends to be alittle warm in july aug n sept. I live on open water front here and my taxes are as cheap here as anywhere else ive lived. crime here is at a minimum and I feel safe walking anywhere. yes the winters here tend to get alittle crowed. from December to march it seems. home prices and rentals tend to be alittle high here, but rent something in any popular area and they are all high not just here. I never get tired of the sunsets or looking at the water here. and the beaches in the back country are some of the best you will ever see and no crowds. my electric and water here tends to be alittle high than other places, but not bad. if you have homeowners and flood ins. now thats high. a lot of things I buy off the internet, its easier. you don’t have the shopping you do on the mainland. that doesn’t bother me in the least. all n all I love it here.

    • Jean
      Jean

      Lived on Stock Island when my children were in grade school. Lived there about 10 years and loved every minute of it. This was back in the late 50’s till late 60’s. We owned a mobile home sales and a mobile home park. That’s where I met my husband and I regret that we sold out and moved north. I love the Keys, wish I could afford to live there now, but I do visit every chance I get

    • Jack Hoagland
      Jack Hoagland

      I learned a long time ago that, when you find a place that you love, you do NOT move there. A week-long visit to a fun place is great but, once you move there, you have to deal with the day to day BS… taxes, the neighbor’s dogs, crime, tourists, road construction, etc., etc., etc. I would never move to Key West. But I love it as my now and then getaway…

    • D warren
      D warren

      Do not move here…it’s expensive with bugs, drunks, bad drivers, bad weather, nothing to do, mean people, bad schools,
      sharks, to many tourist, bad food, bad roads, poor housing, please dont; move here….we don’t need any more people.
      I hope this satisfies your request as we not to move here. Please stay away….lol.

    • Tantsy Sackville-West
      Tantsy Sackville-West

      We moved to Key West from Miami in June 2017. I cannot stand it. What we pay to rent a 850sf apartment, in Miami could get you pool, gym, water an 100-station cable besides rent. I couldn’t find a decent gym to work-out a or a yoga studio I like, there is only one grocery story, drug store prices are sky-high and there’s NOTHING to do. There are a couple of clothing boutiques, but they are unapproachable. Unless you consider Sear a shopping destination, you have to drive to Miami for retail therapy or rely on Amazon. Driving is a challenge, everybody seem to be in mad rush and do not pay attention and you a large number of accidents on the hideous Roosevelt Boulevard. The beach is not very nice and the water is murky, so you need a boat or bust. I am glad we didn’t sell our condo in Miami to buy a place here. To top it off, people are extremely unfriendly. Paradise my…

    • Mark A
      Mark A

      I spent one week there and it changed my life but I am more interested in living somewhere in the keys besides Key West. I’m retired and I don’t drink. Married 40 plus years. I live in the Midwest and its beautiful in spring and fall but winter is just aweful.

    • Diane Wendland
      Diane Wendland

      If I had my choice I would move to Islamorada, I think it’s the first key and it is so beautiful and not far from the large grocery stores and such.

    • Kay
      Kay

      Houseboat living seems the cheaper way to go. I’m looking at putting an Aqua Lodge down there. The boat is under $90k, so it’s a great deal cheaper than trying to get into an apartment. Just gotta find the right slip.

    • Born and raised here
      Born and raised here

      Great place to raise an opened children. I taught here for seven years and I can guarantee that all the schools are not poor. Yes, it’s very expensive – it’s called supply and demand. If you want to live in paradise, it’s expensive but there’s no other place like it in the world.

    • Bernadette becker
      Bernadette becker

      I came in 1979. Really great place to have and raise two daughters. Both did very well at key west high and went on to universities to get master degrees. So, no problem with education !! At a young age they experienced transvestites in public restrooms and the usual duval drunkenness. It gave them a liberal look on life and a distaste for drunks. I am a dental hygienist and always worked with a better Salery than Illinois. Raised those girls in a house we built in Sugarloaf that is gorgeous! Now one is in st Augustine, and one bought a house on Sugarloaf with her young family. Kids grow up here with sunshine, ocean, and. Love. Very tight local community. I’d get a call if someone saw those girls misbehaving in key west!! It’s paradise !!!

    • Linda Gee
      Linda Gee

      This is a horrible place to live. People are very unfriendly. Yes, there is a large gay community, but don’t be fooled that such acceptance means it’s a liberal community. Much of it is pseudo-liberal. (Like any place, there are some wonderful people, but too few to make up for the trash.) This is no place to raise a family. It should just be thought of as a wonderful place to vacation. After 8 years, we have become virtual hermits. We have lived in 5 different states, and many more cities and employment and university locations. We remain friends with people in all places that we have lived, and left some of our heart behind. But not this place It is a beautiful place to have an exceptional vacation. But don’t be seduced into living here. We’d love to hear from others where we might be able to live the last chapter of our life in a friendly and peaceful place – either one or both.

    • Ruby
      Ruby

      This article is good except for the “not family friendly” info. I have lived here 10 years and both my young children are growing up here. If you are a family in this town, you know that there are many families here and lots of family friendly events! Parents and kids that live here don’t wander around Duval street watching drunk people at night lol. We are boating, fishing, and taking advantage of the waters here. Also, the schools are not “low rated.” Sigsbee charter school and Montessori are the highest rated schools in Monroe county, both A’s. in fact Monroe County schools are rated higher than Fort Lauderdale or Miami. My kids are lucky to grow up in this beautiful place!

    • Capt. Fritter
      Capt. Fritter

      If only there were a book about moving to the Florida Keys. Written by somebody who had made the move.
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010WNCFZW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B010WNCFZW&linkCode=as2&tag=manatfritt03-20&linkId=26JOIUARJ3IGJB3M

    • Billy Brown
      Billy Brown

      I am interested in getting more information on relocation I am a professional looking for a retirement type Resort location economy laid back
      At your convenience can you send me to my email more information thank you so much B. Brown

    • Faye
      Faye

      Like Babs Wade said with rent through the roof you need to figure the utilities: water, sewer, garbage collection, electric.
      If you want internet and tv that is another 150, you only have AT&T for internet and dish for TV or you have Comcast that has internet, TV, and landline phone.
      Most people ditch the landline and only use their cellphone.

      Cell phone carriers are: Sprint, Verizon, AT&T,T-MOBILE/METROPCS.

      Retail Stores in up town are: ROSS, K-Mart, Sears, Rainbows, TJ MAXX, Payless. Home Depot, Strunks.

      Pharmacy & Grocers : Winn Dixie, Publix, CVS, Walgreens.

      Restaurants: Starbucks, Sister noodle House, Outback, Bagelry, Mr. Z’s uptown and downtown, Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut,

      Subway, China Garden West, Miami Subs,5 Guys, Seven Fish, Conch Republic Seafood Co., B&B Lobster House, and there is more.

      Duval and old town very pricey: T-shirt shops, Banana Republic, Express, Jewelers, Bars, Restaurants.

      Sears and Kmart will be closing their doors towards the end of the year.

    • Chuck Bukowski
      Chuck Bukowski

      Tell it like it is, Brother! The truth hurts, and it’s also damned expensive. LOL

    • Eric
      Eric

      Come live the dream…

      Tarponharbourapts.com

    • Realtor Jeri Smith
      Realtor Jeri Smith

      I have seen some great home prices on foreclosed homes in Monroe County. My favorite site is homepath.com These were loans backed by Fannie Mae which were defaulted on.
      Imo it would be best to buy if you are able. Rates are incredibly low and you can lock in a 30 years fixed mortgage to avoid rent hikes from your landlord.

    • KeyzCat
      KeyzCat

      When commenting on the school’s grade keep in mind that there is a large number of English as a Second, Third, fourth or fifth language students as well as a wonderful inclusive Disability program at Key West High School which in reality are pluses but when it comes to school ‘grades’ these programs have negative impact on the grade. Living in a community where weird is the norm kids that on the mainland are being tortured by students and even teachers and administrators will find it a lot more likely to find it is the ‘Mean Girls" and ’Heathers’ are the ones that don’t fit in to an island way of life. There is almost no label touting with kids of Billionaires best friends with kids whose families are on public assistance. And something unheard of in most High schools if you want to play a sport you can. There are try outs for baseball and it is the one sport that can be hard to get on the traveling team as Baseball is kinda a religion down here. The community supports the school and the students not just for one or two things but in everything. There are several club sports supported by probably one of the best PAL programs in the US. Officers even work in stop gap programs when after school programs are closed which in many mainland communities lead to left at home accidents and injuries to younger children. There are many opportunities for high school students to get after school jobs, internships in the community and professional certifications at the high school. The greatest issue for Keys students is the range some will have to travel to and from school. There are only 3 County High school programs in the lower keys there is an additional Charter Option at the FKCC campus on Stock Island covering the 100+ miles of Florida Keys.Coral Shores near Key Largo, Marathon Middle High (has both Middle school and High school grades) in Marathon, Collegiate Charter High School at FKCC on Stock Island and Key West High School. Some programs are limited to only one or two so if you live in Big Pine Key (zoned for Marathon Middle High 15 miles away, and your child wants to be in NJROTC They would need to apply to go to Key West and would have to be approved to ride bus that picks up on Little Torch as farthest north bus stop or drive the 60 miles round trip each day. For those that parents work in Key West this can be a minor inconvenience. Although school grades take in very important aspects sadly more often than not things that can be even more important to social, education, prep for college, work and life skills are overlooked. With dual enrollment, Virtual school through the state FLVS, College Prep, traditional 18 credit, Trades training and certifications (KWHS has a nationaly awarded Multimedia professional certification and a culinary program which offers catering to school, business and private events. Although there are VERY serious issues to being able to move here and not have to head back mainland bound in a few months. Although someone WILLING to work can find a job for being able to afford housing be willing to have a couple. Affordable housing is one of the greatest issues that face the worker bees of the islands. Habitat for Humanity is about to build a few homes but those in line for those have been on H4Hs list for years. The Lower Keys H4H does have a few rental apartments but those also take years to get in as do the County Afforable housing programs. can take a decade to move up to the front of the line. Average movement for a low income 2 bedroom is 3 – 5 spots every 2 years. On the mainland of Florida 250K can get you a nice home on Key west you might get in to a condo but they will be one of the condos that you are looking at 500-1300 HOA and Wind/Water Insrances above what your Mtg and basic Insurance costs. Those under 250 k condos are usually under 900sf Even half million dollar condos will not have central AC so do not be surprised. Useing small units which have come a long way from the powerbill killing units of decades ago is that you can limit the areas being cooled. So at night just bedroom needs to be cooled, The tile and Building materials can help reduce the amount of the air temprature The Sun however will be the worst so using window tinting and films might help limit your electric needs due to the sun you want to move here for it is going to limit the view. But hey an apt /condo/ house is just a place to sleep between your couple jobs and hours off right?

    • Stefan Ayres
      Stefan Ayres

      Good read!! I have travelled to Key West many times and do find it to be captivating and appealing (lest the tourists ?) but I don’t understand the willingness to pay this extremely high cost of living. I’ve lived all over and yet I always end up back in the Midwest, in Amish Country, where you can buy a mansion with many acres for $200,000. I guess I don’t understand the disproportionate cost of living/average pay either…..guess it all depends on what someone wants for themselves. I would rather live in the Midwest and be able to afford regular vacations……and a nice house….and a luxury car. I don’t knock anyone that chooses this however, because it sure is beautiful. ?

    • Laura
      Laura

      I’ve lived in Key West for 30yrs and I’ll say it’s not for everyone! If you like small town living and knowing ALOT of people everywhere you go and are comfortable with knowing you have to drive a couple hours to get to a mall then you’ll love it here! If you can’t escape the comforts of wanting everything outside your front door then you’ll hate it and constantly compare it to somewhere else! Yes the housing costs are higher but the supply isn’t as abundant! It could take a VERY LONG time but great deals DO come along. They call it paradise for a reason! You either want the relaxation of an island or the chaos of a city…choose wisely cause they’re not combined.living 10 miles up the keys is cheaper and still very close to everything. It’s all relative. ..in the heart of a city is mu h more expensive than on the outskirts! I think people’s expectations are too high and not reasonable. If you WANT EVERYTHING then you must expect to PAY FOR EVERYTHING!!!

    • Chris Owens
      Chris Owens

      Just got home (Orlando area) from a week in KW working (covering for another staff member). I have to correct the gas prices – Orlando was 1.87, Miami/Upper Keys 2.18, KW 2.63 a gallon. I have been to KW many times vacationing and would love to live here for many reasons and I do not even drink! I like that it is walk and bike friendly, historically fascinating, architecturally beautiful, quirky, diverse (One Human Family), and just plain positive. It represents a mindset and lifestyle change for real. For me, the drawback is distance from family and the housing challenge. I would live in Old Town or not move to KW at all. It is a very special place.

    • Don
      Don

      The school board is inept. Don’t bring your kids here. The real estate prices in this article are low. Good luck

    • Phillip leo
      Phillip leo

      KEY WESt is a great place to visit,2nights,3 days :-) :-) :-) :-)

    • Nora
      Nora

      I lived there for 5 years..I don’t get it…I saw people work 3/4 jobs and live in campers… You are surrounded by drunks on vacation all the time..Duvall street smells like a bar floor in the mornings.. You work hard and then have little time to enjoy it. There are many other places that have a relaxed lifestyle that do not cost as much..going on vacation there doesn’t give you a real view of living there…

    • Jack Brizendine
      Jack Brizendine

      I am a professional solo acoustic musician/ Entertainer that has been making a living doing so in Louisville, My… which is a good music City, for about 15 years…. I’m looking to relocate down to Key West because I’ve been told if you are a musician, as such and know a million songs and are great Entertainer you can basically work as much as you can handle…. does this sound familiar to anyone?

    • Jane
      Jane

      The cost of housing is considerably higher than Jay stated.

    • Bob S.
      Bob S.

      I looked at some real estate listings. A 350 sq ft condo in KW is priced at $245,000. That’s the size of my patio.

    • Eric santmyer
      Eric santmyer

      Everything in life is a matter of perspective. Ive been visiting the kw twice a year for 8 years now and every time I leave it gets harder and harder. Im an executive chef and traveled all over. There is no place that holds my heart like kw. If you dont try you will never know. Ones perspective is there own. Life is to short to not experience everything you possibly can. $ is only $ Happiness is everything. Im taking the leap the end of this year, I cant wait!!

    • Henry Tucker
      Henry Tucker

      Excellent article! My pipe dream!

    • JS Stewart
      JS Stewart

      Tourists are a two edged sword everywhere for the locals. They are the reason for many of the jobs but they are the reason for the inflated costs of goods and services in a market where wages are disproportionately low.

    • Lisa G
      Lisa G

      We just left Key West for the SECOND time. I guess we’re slow learners. We loved it there more than I can say, but jobs don’t pay well for most people and housing really is ridiculously overpriced. Giving up a car does NOT make up the increased price of housing, utilities are higher than anywhere we’ve lived, food is also higher and restaurants are outrageously expensive (to capture more tourist dollars). Airfare in and out of Key West is outrageous so it’s difficult to leave to see family or have them fly in to see you. And seats are limited due to the short runway that doesn’t allow for big planes to fly in. Living up the Keys is cheaper, but kind of defeated the purpose of moving to Key West and we wanted to live in Old Town Key West. We did it. We loved it. But couldn’t afford to stay. We will go back for vacations because there is SO MUCH to do there and recapture a little of the magic that will always be there.

    • Brenda
      Brenda

      Had to chuckle when I saw “Key West is 3 hours from MAIMI”…….you definitely got the MAIM part right!. I have lived in Homestead, about 40 minutes south of It, almost my entire life. A major problem for anyone driving to/from the Keys is the two-lane US1 with concrete wall median when there is a traffic accident…..almost impossible for police and rescue to arrive on scene due to bumper-to-bumper stopped traffic. The most serious situation is when a hurricane is an eminent threat….what would be a normal 3-4 hour drive can become a 10-12 hour nightmare.

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