You’re ready to find the perfect Key West real estate for your new Key West life. You’ve likely bought and sold homes before, so you familiar with the basics — starting with the right Realtor. But locals know that home buying in Key West has a few quirks that you might not find in the “real world.” We asked our local experts for their top five “insider” tips and this is what they said:
- Know the neighborhoods. Key West boasts several distinctive neighborhoods often separated by little more than a walking lane. Each has its own personality and you’ll be happiest if you match your personality with the neighborhood. Key West has been called “Manhattan without the skyscrapers” and that brings wonderful restaurants, cultural activities and sophistication. It also means we live close, sometimes very close, to our neighbors. You can learn more about each neighborhood in our Island Homes Key West guide.
- We aren’t at the “end of the world.” Sure, U.S. Route 1 begins in Key West at Mile Marker Zero, at the corner of Fleming and Whitehead, but we aren’t without modern amenities. A strong local business community — from retail shopping to medical services — means you don’t have to go “off island” for the things of your daily life. We even have enough “big box” retail to ensure you find what you need.
- Seriously, you don’t need a car. Well, not two or three.” Leave the extra cars up on the mainland. Keep one for groceries and an occasional off-island adventure. Walk, bike, scoot. Know that parking is at a premium even in your new neighborhood. Expect to pay extra for a home with off-street parking — and grab it if you can. And, yes, you really can budget a sharp reduction in gasoline expenses. While a gallon of gas is more expensive in Key West, that gallon’s likely to last you a week or two.
- Budget for wind and flood insurance. Our weather is perfect almost every day. But when it isn’t, you’ll be glad for the protection. You can also look for a home in a X-flood zone; mortgage companies don’t require flood insurance in X-zones. You can learn more about wind and flood insurance requirements in our links below.
- Understand the Historic Architecture Review Commission guidelines. Key West prides itself on its historic architecture — which is one of the reasons you want to live here, too. We maintain that look-and-feel through strict building codes and historic guidelines. HARC and the City of Key West must approve of almost all renovations, from the height of your new fence to the kinds of windows you install. The Tree Commission guidelines control what you can cut down and what must replace it. The process can feel restrictive at times, but it’s what keeps Key West beautiful, enhances your property value and ensures your homes is safe and secure in our occasionally erratic weather.