Last Updated on September 30, 2022 by Filip Poutintsev
The Florida Keys is a sub-tropical island chain on the southern coast of Florida. The Florida Keys is undeniably a top-rated vacation destination for many looking to have a fun summer.
To ease your decision about moving to the Florida Keys, it helps to look at the pros and cons of what residents say about the area.
The Florida Keys offers plenty, from stunning beach-front properties to relaxed and calming environments. Many residents have made Keys their retirement plan. No one area is wholly perfect and comes with both pros and cons.
Pros and cons of living in the Florida Keys at a glance
- Beautiful scenery/environments
- Slow-paced lifestyle
- Warm weather
- No state income taxes
- Great dining options
- Good quality public schools
- Low unemployment rates (0.5-1%)
- Strong community
- High Rainfall
- Hurricanes and storms
- Expensive housing
- High cost of living
- Difficult air travel
- Limited roads
- Many tourists
- High petty crime rate
Pros of living in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys offers much to people seeking a slow and relaxed lifestyle. From great weather during the summer to fantastic restaurants and dining spots, the Florida Keys are frequently used by couples for romantic getaways and proposals.
The gorgeous beaches across the Florida Keys ensure that no matter where in the Keys you are, you aren’t far from a beach. The beaches in the Florida Keys are the highlight for many tourists visiting the Keys and make a great staple to a calm retirement lifestyle.
Stunning seafood dining spots can be found just off most beaches as Keys is a big part of the fishing industry. These seafood restaurants serve freshly caught fish and much more, making life in the Florida Keys more relaxing and exciting.
Due to the lack of a major city and large industrial infrastructure, Florida Keys is very slow-paced. If you are seeking to escape the speed of city life or simply slow down your lifestyle, moving here would certainly help.
Many residents of the Florida Keys are not only retired individuals but also families who sort a more calming environment. As a result of the calming lifestyle most residents live, the general atmosphere surrounding Keys is friendly and accepting. All are welcome to slow down and enjoy all the pleasures the Florida Keys offer.
Since the Florida Keys is sub-tropical, year-round the temperature is warm and sunny year-round except for the late summer rainfall. For most of the year, the Florida Keys have an enjoyable warmth that doesn’t make you boil inside your clothes but creates perfect vacation weather.
No state income taxes
Many states across America have harsh taxing on all residents, averaging 8%-16% property tax, drastic income tax, and high sales taxes. One of the best advantages of the Florida Keys is that it doesn’t have any income tax.
You read that right. The only way you’ll have to go through the grueling income tax forms is if you’re a business owner.
The Florida Keys not only doesn’t have income tax but also has less than average property taxes which vary depending on your property’s location. The average ranges below the national average of 8%-16%. The sale tax is a modest 7.5% as the Florida Keys fall under Monroe County’s sales tax rate.
Great dining options
As mentioned before, the Florida Keys is home to many great dining spots. Many of the Keys’ restaurants use the large fishing industry around the Florida Keys and serve premium fresh fish. This does not mean that all the Keys restaurants only serve fish.
Most of the restaurants in and around Keys serve a diverse menu to accommodate the residents and tourists. It is easy to find somewhere to eat delicious food while watching the gorgeous sunsets of the Florida Keys.
Good quality public schools
If you are taking care of children or looking to find the best schools for them, you’ll be delighted to know that the Florida Keys has a very low teacher-to-student ratio. The ratio of 17:1 means that, on average, there are 17 students to every teacher.
This ratio is a good way to gauge how much attention a student will receive. In general lower teacher-student ratios mean that the student performs better as they can ask more questions and receive more answers.
Low unemployment rates (0.5-1%)
The national average unemployment rate differs from state to state, with the Florida Keys being one of the best. The unemployment rate is 0.5%-1% of the general population. On average, fewer people are without jobs and income in the Florida Keys.
This great unemployment rate is largely due to the Keys’ large hospitality and fishing industry.
One of the greatest positives of the Florida Keys is its strong sense of community. This not only helps people feel like they belong and are welcomed but in times of strife or crisis, Florida Keys’ residents have been known to be very generous and help those who are in need. This is especially great considering the Florida Keys receives its share of hurricanes.
The great sense of community has also proven to help residents through difficult times. One example was during the covid pandemic when some residents delivered food and medicine parcels free of charge. The community of Florida Keys takes care of its people.
Cons of living in the Florida Keys
While living in the Florida Keys has great advantages, it is not without its faults. Mainly hurricanes, limiting roads, and some high cost of living must be considered before you plan to move across the country.
The Florida Keys indeed have great sunny weather year-round. The rainy season of late summer has the highest rainfall of the year. This rainfall is no joke and often leaves small gutters and drain systems overflowing.
The high rain season starts at the end of summer and averages 6 inches of rain for a few months. The rainfall often leaves the end of summer wet and hot and the winter cold and dry.
Hurricanes and storms
The obvious and arguably most impactful con of Florida Keys is the Hurricanes. The Florida Keys is one of the highest at-risk hurricane locations. Large hurricanes such as Hurricane Andrew (1998) and Hurricane Irma (2017) have left parts of the Keys in ruin.
Hurricanes are a frequent occurrence in Florida. However, there are many hurricane shelters designed to keep residents safe and sound in the event of a hurricane.
You must consider the risk of hurricanes when thinking about moving. These hurricanes do pose a threat to residents, but communities and governments offer shelter and aid to all residents of the Florida Keys.
The Florida Keys is not the cheapest area to live in, largely due to tourists and beautiful views. The average median house cost in Keys West is roughly $600 000, and Key Largo costs roughly $620 000. Many residents prefer to rent at an average cost of $1400 for a one-bedroom apartment or larger places at $3000 in the upper Keys.
Cheaper housing costs roughly $900-$1000 across Keys but doesn’t stay on the market for long. The costs of buying property in more affordable areas range from $400 000 to $500 000. The most affordable areas to buy and rent in the Florida Keys are Layton, Big Pine, and Stock Island.
High cost of living
Apart from high housing costs, the average cost of living in the Florida Keys is higher than most. Many of the day-to-day products you need might have a 10% or higher additional cost due to the difficulty of importing products to the Florida Keys.
This 10% would be on top of the 7.5% sales tax. The additional cost of these items may seem ridiculous compared to costs in major cities, but it is a result of higher fees for fuel and transportation.
A big factor to consider about living in the Florida Keys is whether you care about tourists. Keys is a very popular tourist destination meaning you will have many out-of-state visitors. More tourists mean more cash flow to the Florida Keys but also bring many more people through, which often creates more litter and may interfere with the calm nature of the Keys.
High petty crime rate
The Florida Keys does not have an extremely high crime rate but a higher than average petty crime rate. This all stems from tourists who are easy prey for criminals. As more tourists started coming to the Keys, there was an increase in petty crimes, which is mainly petty theft.
In the Florida Keys, the petty crime rate is 25% higher than the national average. These petty crimes have been reported not to be the residents but instead a wave of criminals that follow tourism.
The Florida Keys is unlike most places because of its slow-paced lifestyle and calm nature.
Its calm and relaxed environments are mirrored by the kind community present, which is welcoming and caring. The greatest downsides of the Florida Keys are hurricanes and a high cost of living.
However, the upside of a lack of income tax leaves residents with more gross income. Many residents believe the scenery of the Florida Keys to be so peaceful and beautiful that they don’t mind its negatives.