Tell me about living in the Florida Keys

Just what the title says. Quality of life, jobs, retirees, housing, cost of living… What’s it like for someone to pack up and move there?

I dunno. Heat, humidity, and the Zika virus. What’s not to love ? :smiley:

Just kidding. I’ve only visited it but I enjoyed myself.

I’m not planning on getting pregnant.

The Keys are beautiful. Once you cross that first bridge onto the string of islands that is 150 miles long, a calm takes over. It’s a laid back stress free feeling that cannot be described. I have lived in the Keys since 1991 but visited since 1980.

The quality of life will depend totally on attitude and bank account. It is expensive here. Everything costs more especially housing. Regular everyday things like groceries and gas are more expensive than the mainland due to costs of getting stuff here. The utilities are not much more than anywhere else. There are limited shopping opportunities. We are closer to Cuba than Walmart in the Lower Keys.

Jobs are few and far between unless you are in the service industry. I work for the Federal Government (DOD) and my husband is self employed in the Air Conditioning business. The is no industry here except the tourist industry or fishing. There are plenty of service jobs available most of the time. Most local people actually work more than one job to make ends meet.

The are many, many homes here that are second homes for well off people and retirees. As far as packing up and moving here one must have housing sorted. There is a housing shortage and especially affordable housing. The county and cities within the county are all trying to find a solution to the workforce housing shortage. If someone wanted to buy a home now would be a good time to buy as prices are down. .

Heat and humidity are truths here but we also do not get cold in the winter. I think the coldest I remember it ever being was 53 degrees F and that was plenty cold. Mostly we have perfect weather. There has been two cases of Zika but both were travel related (infection occurred somewhere else). We have a very robust Mosquito Contol program and everything is being done to stop the spread and prevent any infections.

I live on Big Pine Key which is 30 miles above Key West. It is a rural community of 5000. We have a library, one grocery store, four liquor stores and a hardware store. We have a doctor and a dentist. We love on a canal and can go anywhere in the world from our back door. The people here are friendly and look out for each other and care about each other.

I work in Key West which is the county seat at the end the road. It is a small 2 mile by 4 mile island rich in history and culture. It is an artist’s colony. It is a drinking town. Last count there were over 400 bars on that small island.

Thanks for the insight.

A very good friend and her husband moved to Key West five years ago from Orlando. He had grown up there and inherited his parents’ house. He found a very good job doing IT work for the school board. She was a well-qualified legal assistant but didn’t find a job for a year, and even after that could only find part time work. There are much better places in Florida for former law enforcement to retire if you’re looking for part-time police work or something like that - Sarasota is popular, and far cheaper.

They moved back after three years because they were bored stiff. The only young people they saw were tourists; all the locals were 40-plus. It was also expensive - even without having to make payments on the house, they had to rent out half of it to pay property taxes and homeowners’ insurance (flood insurance is a killer there).

I don’t live in the Keys but know co-workers who do, and generally at the northern end = closer to Miami.

Summarizing their comments:

  1. Expensive.
  2. Isolated like rural out West, not like rural NJ.
  3. There are two things to do in the upper Keys for entertainment: fish & drink beer. If you like talking to drunks about fishing you’ll fit into the local social life perfectly. If not, not.
  4. Incredibly beautiful in spots. Spots you (and I) can’t afford.

Back to the OP: I’m curious… what are you looking for in a place to relocate that made you think of the Keys? Are you looking to retire? Is it the “simple life,” the weather? The water/beaches? Are you picturing living in shorts and sandals year-round?

If you specify what kind of environment you’re seeking you’ll probably get some good suggestions and insights from all over.

Good god no.

Yes all of that.

What about Hawaii? Or South Padre Island in Texas?

I’ve never lived there, but visit a lot and have a few friends who made a go of it there (Key West). Two of them from Jersey!
>As stated, no work unless it’s from home or in the service industry.
>Expensive real estate (quick glance shows the cheapest thing in the Keys is a run down mobile home at about $200k).
>Very few options at entertainment, but what they have is pretty awesome. Booze, great fishing, world class sunsets, great food.
>The lower Keys have an almost Caribbean vibe to them. Laid back but lots of tourists.

Going off of what RNATB said, the people I know who stayed were happy with the routine of island life. They have a small group of friends, know all the bartenders on the island, and do pretty much the same things over and over. Very fun things, but limited. Talking to a few retirees, they did seem to be happy, but a tad bored. One person said the lack of intelligent conversation drove him nuts (his words). Not a large pool of people to interact with, and many of the locals are 20 somethings who heard too many Jimmy Buffet songs (again, his words).

I do know one person who is a bartender in KW and lives on a sailboat. He uses a dinghy to get to shore and has a bike with a little trailer for getting around. He’s raising his daughter there. She has an interesting home life to say the least.

Emphasis added. Sounds "love"ly. :slight_smile:

The locals sound quite young to me. :slight_smile:

Just wanted to say that I’ve never been to the Keys, so this is a fascinating read.

One thing many visitors to the Keys are surprised to learn is that the beaches are few, and most are small and rocky. Florida conjures up visions of endless, wide sandy beaches. The Keys are quite different in that regard.

There are innumerable smallish towns along the east coast of mainland Florida between the greater Miami metroblob and the greater Jacksonville metroblob. I’m thinking generally between roughly Stuart and Daytona Beach.

Any of these will be less remote and much cheaper than the Keys. While avoiding the big city craziness & endless suburban traffic common in Jax & far worse in greater Miami.

There are also many quiet smaller towns along the Gulf Coast. I’m not experienced enough with that area to offer local advice.

The cultural rule of thumb in FL is that folks from the Northeast retire to the east coast of FL and folks from the Midwest retire to the west coast of FL. As a NJ kinda guy you can choose to stick to the culture you know on the east coast or branch out for something different on the west coast.