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Cudjoe Key, Florida
Part of a Group of Islands at the Southern End of the Florida Keys, Little Cudjoe Key Boasts a Balmy, Bohemian Vibe
The Lower Keys is a group of islands at the southern end of the Florida Keys and includes Summerland Key, Big Torch Key, Little Torch Key, Sugarloaf Key, Big Coppitt and Cudjoe Key. Named after either the Joewood tree or a fugitive slave - no one is quite sure - Cudjoe Key the island (and the town upon it with the same name) became home to an air force station in 1959. A small Department of Homeland Security station remains.
Balmy, mellow and a little bohemian, Cudjoe Key is a place where life moves slowly. Businesses include charter fishing services, fish warehouses, rental cottages, an inn, a market and a handful of restaurants, including seafood places, a steakhouse, an Italian place and a Cuban cafe. Fishermen reel in plentiful amounts of mahi mahi, jack fish, and snapper from Cudjoe Bay, and the full-service Cudjoe Key Garden Marina is a great place to set sail for a tropical adventure. Most of the island is in its natural state, so nearly all residences - a mixture of white and pastel-colored mobile homes and beautiful stilt homes - are clustered closely together the on island's southern end where short palm trees sway and streets have no sidewalks. Most homes sits next to a canal and have direct access to Cudjoe Bay or Pirate's Cove.
Residents are 20 minutes from all of the galleries, festivals, theater, and cultural amenities of Key West. The Lower Keys are also home to the Underwater Music Festival. The Great White Heron National Refuge stretches from Bahia Honda State Park to North Key West, and the nearby 9,200-acre National Key Deer Refuge has 23 endangered species.
Population: 2,200 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 56%
Cost of Living: 110% above the national average
Median Home Price: $975,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. On average, the area receives 40 inches of rain each year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No. A Fisherman's Community Hospital clinic is 10 miles away in Big Pine Key, but the nearest hospital, Fishermen's Community Hospital, is 25 minutes away in Marathon.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No. The nearest accredited hospital is Fisherman's Community Hospital, 25 minutes away in Marathon.
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Transit: No, but a bus runs from Key West to the Miami area.
Public Library: No, but one is in Big Pine Key, about 10 miles away.
Political Leanings: Slightly conservative
College Educated: 40%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: In 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, made landfall on Cudjoe Key and brought extensive flooding and wind damage. Hurricane Ian in 2022 caused some street flooding.
Notes: Cudjoe Key has boat launch areas but does not have a beach. The population has grown 12% within the last decade. Home prices have increased 29% since a year ago. One road, the Overseas Highway, runs across the southern end of the island and connects Cudjoe Key to Upper Suarloaf Key to the west and Summerland Key to the east. The "Fat Albert" blimp (actually a Tethered Aerostat Radar System) still hovers over the island's DHS station, detecting illegal drugs en route to the U.S.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, although the hospital situation should be weighed if considering retirement here.
Named Pascua Florida by Juan Ponce De Leon, the Sunshine State did not enter the Union until March 3, 1845. Balmy mild winters began attracting snowbirds to the state in the late 19th century. Retirees continue to flock to the state. It's not hard to see why tourism has become the leading industry.
International trade and citrus are also major contributors to the state's economy. Eighty percent of the nation's oranges and grapefruits are grown here, and 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin America flow through Florida.
Florida's landscape includes uplands and coastal plains. It contains more than 11,000 miles of waterways and about 4,500 islands spread across 10 acres.
The state has 1,250 golf courses, more than any other state in the Union. The 47 mile Pinellas Trail is the longest urban trail on the east coast. Orlando theme parks attract more visitors than any other theme parks in the U.S. The only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist is in National Everglades Park.
Florida, particularly the Keys and the Gulf Coast, were struck by Category 4 Hurricane Irma in early September, 2017. Towns will rebuild, perhaps this time with climate change in mind, making them safer and better equipped to handle major hurricanes going forward.
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