Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Key West, Florida
Originally a Spanish Fishing Village, Today Key West Draws Tourists from Around the World with its Tropical Vibe, Famous Duval Street and Charming Architecture
The southernmost city in the continental U.S. is laid back Key West, Florida. It started out as a Spanish fishing village in the 1500s, but development did not start until the early-1800s. Presidents have vacationed here, and authors, including Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway, have written landmark works here.
This island town's casual, tropical vibe draws "snowbirds" and tourists from around the world, and shorts and t-shirts almost count as formal wear. The historic Old Town along the waterfront features Mallory Square, a long public plaza, and nightly Sunset Celebrations. Duval Street is home to colorful shops, famous pubs and storied eateries, including Sloppy Joe's, Jimmy Buffett's original Margaritaville and Rick's Bar. This area is usually congested, and evenings often have a carnival atmosphere. It is also where cruise ships offload. Mallory Square is a waterfront gathering spot with nightly sunset parties.
Key West supports a symphony, a dance company and theater companies. The Tennessee Williams Theatre on the Florida Keys Community College campus attracts national acts, and the Key West Literary Seminars draw an international audience.
The city has a deep harbor and a large marina, and they are a great place to start a fishing, diving or Dry Tortugas National Park adventure. Residents also enjoy a botanical garden, a butterfly habitat and an aquarium. Sites and museums include the Ernest Hemingway House, Truman's Little White House and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
Neighborhoods are compact, and most residences sit on a small lot with overgrown vegetation. Key West is famous for its colorful historic mansions, bungalows, shotgun homes, Conch houses (a combination of Victorian, New England and Bahamian styles) and homes with eyebrow windows and deep porches. Many of these are in Old Town. In other areas, condos, modular homes and modest ranch ramblers atop pillars are common.
Population: 24,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 38%
Cost of Living: 105% above the national average
Median Home Price: $995,000 See This Lovely Key West Home for Sale for $350,000
Climate: This area has a tropical savannah climate. Year round temperatures are in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Key West receives 38 inches of rain per year, on average. It is the driest city in Florida.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital is Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Above the national average, but much of the crime is confined to Duval Street where late night drinking leads to fighting.
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 32%
Is Florida Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: Tropical storms and hurricanes are always a possibility. Hurricane Irma caused damage in 2017, but residents think that Wilma in 2005 was worse.
Notes: Key West is racially diverse and has a rich Cuban heritage. It is well known for its gay-friendliness. Beaches are not the city's strong point. Big city amenities are three hours away in Miami. Home prices have increased 33% since a year ago, and the population has grown 5% during the last decade.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, although tourists are ever-present and another hurricane could strike.
The world's 11th largest peninsula doesn't just have an east coast and a west coast. It has a First Coast, Surf Coast, Space Coast, Treasure Coast, Gold Coast, Paradise Coast, Lee Island Coast, Cultural Coast, Nature Coast, Big Bend Coast, Emerald Coast, and a Forgotten Coast.
Each of these geographic regions is packed with its own history and attractions. The first place to be colonized by Europeans, the First Coast is rich with tidal marshes. It's the home of Amelia Island and St. Augustine. The venerable Castillo de San Marcos sits here and guards the Matanzas Bay.
Daytona Beach and the Halifax River are the heart of the Surf Coast. Automobile racing helped it develop its reputation. The area code is 386 (FUN). South of the fun is the Space Coast. Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, and the Kennedy Space Center are a part of its culture.
Named after the Spanish fleet lost in a 1715 hurricane, the Treasure Coast's principle city is Port St. Lucie. It is a northern neighbor to Miami and the Gold Coast. The affluent Naples and major land reserves characterize the Paradise Coast. The Ringling Estate and Sarasota make the Cultural Coast come alive. Twenty miles of beaches along the Gulf Coast distinguish the Suncoast from the forests and blackwater rivers of the Nature Coast.
Travel up to Florida's Big Bend along its emerald waters. Find the Forgotten Coast. With no major cities, it may be the best place to enjoy the state's white-sand beaches.
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