Karol Marsden, Broker Associate 305-395-1975 karolrealtor@gmail.com

Living in Key Largo: Learn If This Upper Keys Island Destination Is Right for You

Key Largo, the first island in the island chain known as the Florida Keys, offers residents a relaxed, casual environment away from the hustle-and-bustle of busy city life. While Key Largo offers a laid back island lifestyle, it’s only an hour’s drive to Miami and South Beach for world class entertainment, dining and entertainment. Do you think living in Key Largo would be a good fit for you?

Quick Facts (2016 estimates)
Population: 11,400
Median age: 48
Unemployment rate: 3.3%
Average Commute Time: 27 minutes

Housing and Neighborhoods

This coastal destination offers residents a variety of housing and neighborhood options for those looking to move to Key Largo full-time or simply to own a vacation home. Residents have several distinct neighborhoods from which to choose, and more upscale areas include North Key Largo, Port Largo, Venetian Shores and Buccaneer Point. Other neighborhoods in Key Largo are: Angler’s Park, Largo Sound Park, Stillwright Point, Key Largo Park, Newport, Rock Harbor, Sunset Point, Sunrise Point and Thompson.

Home sizes in Key Largo range from one-bedroom, one-bath houses starting around $220,000 to luxury waterfront homes with three bedrooms or more, with pricing starting around $1,500,000. In addition, residents can choose from resort-like condominium complexes, apartments and rental homes, all ideal for full-time residents and vacation rental investors. See current real estate listings in Key Largo. karolkeysrealestate.com/key-largo-real-estate/

Key Largo Schools

The Key Largo community strives to provide residents with a variety of public, private and Montessori school options. The Monroe County School District oversees 16 schools, including the A-rated Key Largo School and Plantation Key School that both serve children from Pre-K through eighth grade. The Treasure Village Montessori and Ocean Studies Montessori schools are free Public Charter Schools. In addition, The Academy at Ocean Reef, is an independent school serving students in Pre- K through eighth grade as well. The primary high school for the Upper Keys is Coral Shores High School, ranked eighth in the state. Island Christian School in Islamorada is a private school option for Pre-K through 12th grade. Those interested in post-secondary education can attend Florida Keys Community College, with a main campus in Key West and additional learning centers at Coral Shores High School in Plantation Key. View a full list of Key Largo schools. http://www.keylargochamber.org/Schools

Health-Care Options

Living in Key Largo provides residents with plenty of ways to stay active and healthy. The area has more than 250 days of sunshine a year, with average highs around 77 degrees. The climate and island location makes it easy for residents to enjoy the clean air whether in the water or on the land.

When medical attention is needed, there are several healthcare options, including traditional medical care, holistic, chiropractic and acupuncture. Mariners Hospital is a 25-bed critical care hospital in nearby Tavernier, and residents can also see a physician to receive additional services. Mariner’s Hospital provides a wide scope of care including: cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes, diagnostic imaging and women’s wellness, as well as others. Other healthcare facilities include the Florida Keys Orthopedic Center, Plantation Key Health and Rehabilitation, Florida Keys Dermatology and Florida Keys Pediatric and Adolescent Center. View a full list of health-care providers in Key Largo. http://www.keylargochamber.org/Health-Care

Fun Things to Do in Key Largo

Key Largo’s top industry is tourism and with that comes plenty of leisure activity choices. With the  year-round tropical climate and pristine natural waters, visitors and residents only need to take a short boat ride to experience these amazing options.

Key Largo’s close proximity to some of the best scuba and wreck diving, snorkeling and fishing on the planet. In fact, the city is known as the diving capital of the world due to the only living coral reef in North America being three miles off shore. Eco-tourism also thrives here, as Key Largo is home to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. Everglades National Park is a short drive by boat or car as well. Other outdoor activities include sailing, boating, golfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, canoeing and kayaking.

Residents will also enjoy browsing boutiques and shops, spending time at the beaches, exploring the area’s museums, and trying fresh flavors from Upper Keys restaurants. Many of these spots have won international acclaim, ranking high by TripAdvisor users and featured on the Food Network. Those who want to broaden their horizons have a variety of arts and culture attractions that specialize in visual art, dance, film, literature, theater and more.

Interested in living in Key Largo? Contact me for more information:
104300 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037

For Key Largo vacation rental information and property management services, contact iTrip Vacations Upper Florida Keys-South Miami:
3390 Mary Street 116
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Finding the balance when buying a home in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys real estate market covers all of the Keys and they are all great. But, depending on one’s lifestyle preferences, some will have the perfect combination you’re looking for of solitude, community and conveniences. Our family has chosen to live in the Upper Keys for over thirteen years now. It allows our kids to attend weekend sailing practice in Miami because it’s only one hour away. We love the separation from the mainland and living on an island but not being isolated when we want to access the city amenities of shows, shopping and attractions.

The Upper Keys are also very convenient for grocery shopping with a Publix Supermarket and two Winn Dixie’s, pharmacies (Walgreens and CVS), hospitals and office supplies (Office Depot and Kmart). For building supplies, there’s KLI and Keys Supply in Key Largo and Forest Tec in Islamorada. We often go up the 18 mile stretch to Florida City to the Home Depot there when we need those types of supplies. There’s even a Pier 1 Imports and a multi-plex movie theatre in Tavernier Towne Center.

Some prefer less traffic and more solitude like you’ll find in Lower Matecumbe, Grassy Key and Duck Key. From Lower Matecumbe to Duck Key, there are very few options for groceries so visitors and residents travel either to Winn Dixie in Tavernier or Publix in Marathon. Marathon also has a Home Depot for plants and building supplies that is relatively close to these areas.

Another advantage that is available in the Upper Keys is two roads to the mainland if there is heavy traffic. Going up Route 905 and then across Card Sound Bridge is a great way to avoid slow traffic on the stretch during holiday weekends or in the case of an accident stopping traffic. There is a $1 toll that way but well worth it when saving lots of time. In Islamorada, the Old Highway runs parallel to US1 as well in many areas, so locals often use it to bypass sitting traffic. You just have to know where it stops and starts.

For full time residents with school age children, the Upper Keys offers fantastic schools from two public A rated schools to a charter Montessori school or private Christian School. Our kids have attended Key Largo School from Pre-k through 8th grade and are currently attending Coral Shores High School. We have found their teachers to be extremely good and always helpful. Both of our girls are in National Honors Society and score well on the AP and national standardized tests.

Choosing to buy property and live in the Florida Keys is usually a pretty drastic lifestyle change but I highly recommend it!

Fourth of July in the Florida Keys

July 4th in the Keys, what could be better? Imagine owning your own home in paradise here in the Florida Keys. Spending your days exploring on your boat, snorkeling North America’s only living coral reef, fishing the pristine waters of the back country or getting more adventurous and fishing off shore. Or maybe you see yourself lounging by the pool while spending quality time with friends and family. Whatever your idea of the perfect July 4th weekend, the Florida Keys are the perfect destination.

If you are interested in an investment property to rent out short term so you can also use it yourself, the Keys offer the best rate of return because of the high occupancy rates and high daily rates. In fact, they are the highest in the nation.

With idyllic island vistas and tropical surroundings, the Keys are consistently popular with tourists who want to get away from the hectic pace of daily life. And it doesn’t hurt that there is no location that has warmer temperatures in the winter. November – May are the high season months for rentals. These months stay virtually full at the highest rates.

I’m seeing a lot of customers purchasing properties who plan to rent them when not using them. This offsets the carrying costs dramatically. However, it is important to rent according to the property’s zoning rules. In Monroe County, for example, a single family home can only be rented to one family at a time and for a minimum of 28 days per rental.

Some condos in the Upper Keys have short term rentals allowed. Moon Bay Condominiums and Kawama Tower in Kawama Yacht Club development are allowed to rent by the week. Tranquility Bay, Ocean Pointe, Hawk’s Cay and Mariner’s Club are some of the developments that are allowed to rent daily. Most other condos must have a 28 day minimum rental.

June through October are the Florida Keys’ low season, so that’s a great time to use your vacation home if you want to maximize the rental income.  It’s a great time to be in the Keys too. The water is warmest this time of year so people love diving and snorkeling without wetsuits. It’s also when there’s less wind, so it’s perfect for fishing and boating.  Because the Keys are narrow strips of land surrounded by water, the constant breeze keeps the summer temperatures lower than on the mainland further north. Many of my customers use their properties during the summer than during the winter months.

So, this holiday weekend, we will be enjoying the Keys, showing buyers around available properties and taking some time out to enjoy where we live. The fireworks on Blackwater Sound are always a highlight as we watch them from our boat as they are being set off from a barge out on the water.