The Florida Keys is a beautiful chain of islands located off the southern coast of Florida, comprising over 1,700 islands.
This tropical paradise is known for its crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and picturesque beaches. The Florida Keys is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the stunning scenery, indulge in water sports, and soak up the sun.
However, living in the Florida Keys is not just a quick getaway but a lifestyle choice for many, which may come at a premium price, as the cost of living in the Florida Keys is relatively high compared to other parts of Florida. The cost of living is basically the amount of money required to sustain a certain standard of living in a specific area, although it can vary greatly depending on location.
If you’re considering a move to one of the neighborhoods in the Florida Keys and want to better understand the cost of living in the area, you don’t need to worry because we’ve got your back!
In this article, we will guide you through the ins and outs of the living expenses you should keep in mind and compare it to other cities in Florida to help you plan your finances accordingly. But that’s not all, we will also dive into the unique lifestyle that makes the Florida Keys such a special place to call home.
Overview of the Middle Keys: Location, Lifestyle, and Cost of Living
The Florida Keys are islands stretching approximately 120 miles from Key Largo north to Key West south. It comprises more than 1,700 islands, but only about 43 are connected by bridges and causeways, forming a roadway known as the Overseas Highway.
The Keys are situated off the southern coast of Florida and are connected to the mainland by the Overseas Highway, which crosses numerous small islands and coral reefs along the way. Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West are the main islands.
The area is known for its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and diverse marine life. The climate in the Florida Keys is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round and occasional rainfall. Thus, you can enjoy many fun water activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, boating, and kayaking.
The islands also have unique flora and fauna, including several endangered species, contributing to the breathtaking natural landscape of the area.
Living in the Florida Keys means living a laid-back yet adventurous lifestyle with something to do always. Residents of Florida Keys embrace a slower pace of life and a more relaxed approach to work and play.
This is reflected in the local culture, which is heavily influenced by the region’s history and geography. Key West, for example, has a rich literary and artistic tradition, and the city is home to many galleries, museums, and festivals throughout the year.
Another main draw of the Florida Keys is the outdoor lifestyle. The weather is warm and sunny year-round, so residents can enjoy activities like fishing, boating, snorkeling, and diving whenever they want.
The crystal-clear waters surrounding the Keys are home to diverse marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and shipwrecks. Fishing is a popular pastime in the Keys, with many residents heading out to catch tarpon, bonefish, and other game fish.
Aside from the water-based activities, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy. The Keys are home to several state and national parks, including the Everglades National Park, where residents can hike, bike, and explore the region’s natural beauty.
The cost of living in Florida Keys area varies depending on location and lifestyle. Florida Keys’ living costs are typically higher than the national average due to the area’s high demand for housing and goods.
Florida Keys scores 151.2 on a U.S. average of 100, indicating that it is more expensive to live in the area than in other regions. Meanwhile, the cost of groceries scores 114.5, health care scores 162.4, and housing scores 257.9.
The only factor with the lowest COL index in the Florida Keys that fall below the national average is utilities, which scored 98.9, and transportation, which scored 69.3. Therefore, living in Key West can be expensive even if you lead a modest lifestyle.
Housing costs are typically the most significant expense in the Florida Keys, with median home prices of $999,000 and median listing home per square foot of around $869, depending on the island and proximity to the water.
The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $3,475 per month. However, the cost of renting an apartment in the Florida Keys varies depending on the number of bedrooms and location.
On average, a studio apartment rent costs $2,700 per month, a one-bedroom apartment costs $3,100, and a two-bedroom apartment costs $3,900. It is important to note that each apartment complex may have different additional rental fees.
Housing Costs: Buying vs. Renting in the Middle Keys
The decision to buy or rent a home in the Middle Keys ultimately depends on your circumstances, including your financial situation, lifestyle, and plans. Here are some factors to consider when weighing the costs of buying versus renting in the Middle Keys:
Buying a home requires a considerable upfront expenses, including a down payment, closing costs, and other fees. On the other hand, renting typically requires a security deposit and the first month’s rent.
Homeownership comes with a monthly mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance costs. Renting has a fixed monthly rent payment, with the landlord responsible for maintenance and insurance costs.
Owning a home allows you to build equity over time as you pay your mortgage and your property value appreciates. Renting does not provide this opportunity for wealth building.
Renting provides more flexibility than owning a home, as it is easier to move when your lease ends or you need to relocate for work or personal reasons.
The local housing market conditions in the Middle Keys can also impact your decision. If home prices are high and rental rates are affordable, renting may be the more cost-effective option. Conversely, if housing prices are reasonable and rental rates are high, buying a home may make more financial sense.
Comparing the Middle Keys to Other Cities in Florida: Is It Really That Expensive to Live Here?
The Middle Keys have a higher cost of living than other Florida cities, which is 24% higher than the national average, with housing being the most significant factor.
However, it is essential to note that the cost of living in the Middle Keys is comparable to other popular beach towns in Florida. For example, the cost of living in Key West, located just 50 miles south of the Middle Keys, is also 24% higher than the national average. Similarly, the cost of living in Miami Beach, another famous coastal city in Florida, is also 24% higher than the national average.
Furthermore, the Middle Keys offer unique benefits that may justify the higher cost of living. For instance, the Middle Keys are known for their laid-back lifestyle, friendly community, and natural beauty. Residents can enjoy year-round outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and snorkeling and access excellent healthcare facilities and quality education.
Additionally, the Middle Keys have a thriving tourism industry, which can provide job opportunities for residents. The hospitality and service sectors are the largest employers in the area, and many businesses offer competitive wages and benefits.
From snorkeling and scuba diving to fishing and boating, there is always something to do in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Florida Keys. Additionally, the warm weather and stunning sunsets make for a picturesque backdrop for each home in the area,
However, you should be financially prepared if you decide to relocate to the Florida Keys, as the cost of living can be relatively high compared to other neighboring areas in Florida.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The cost of living in the Middle Keys of Florida is generally higher than in other areas in the state due to a combination of factors, including the area’s popularity as a tourist destination, its relatively high cost of housing, and its limited availability of goods and services due to its remote location.
What are the most significant contributors to the cost of living in the Middle Keys, and how do they impact residents' budgets?
The most significant contributors to the cost of living in the Middle Keys include housing, health, and food. Housing is costly, as the demand for homes and apartments is high, and there needs to be more supply due to the area’s small size and limited land availability. The cost of food and healthcare are also quite expensive in the Florida Keys.
These factors can significantly impact residents’ budgets, making it difficult for some to afford basic necessities. So make sure you carefully plan your finances if you are planning to move to the area.
Are there any cost-saving strategies that residents of the Middle Keys can use to make a living there more affordable?
Residents of the Middle Keys can use several cost-saving strategies to make a living there more affordable.
For example, they can consider living in smaller, more affordable homes or apartments, sharing living spaces with roommates, or saving money on food by buying in bulk, cooking at home, and taking advantage of local farmers’ markets and community gardens.
How has the cost of living in the Middle Keys changed over time, and what factors have driven those changes?
The cost of living in the Middle Keys has increased significantly over time, primarily due to rising housing costs. As the area’s popularity has grown, demand for real estate has increased, leading to higher prices.
Additionally, the cost of goods and services, including food, has increased due to inflation and other economic factors. These changes have made it increasingly challenging for some residents to afford to live in the area.
How do wages and job opportunities in the Middle Keys compare to the cost of living, and what does that mean for residents' financial well-being?
Wages and job opportunities in the Middle Keys can vary depending on the industry and level of experience. Many jobs in the area are in the tourism industry, which may offer lower wages than other industries.
Moreover, the high cost of living in the area can make it difficult for some residents to make ends meet, even with a steady income. Yet, some higher-paying jobs in industries such as healthcare and finance may offer better opportunities for financial stability.