April 23, 2014

Florida Keys

Changes in Latitude

Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys, is the only county in Florida that has steadily lost population over the past five years. Is it part of the Keys' ebb and flow or something more ominous?

Cynthia Barnett | 10/1/2006

Kelly and Terry McMurtrie were already fed up with life on Big Pine Key when their windstorm insurance bill came in the mail: A $5,000 annual premium for a house insured for $149,000.


PRICED OUT: Steep increases in the cost of living are driving families out of the Keys. Home prices in Key West average $1 million. Meanwhile, Monroe County homeowners pay the highest windstorm rates in the state.

Kelly is a union pipe welder whose work takes him around the country. He and his wife, in their 40s, can live wherever they wish. In 1997, they bought their peach-colored home on stilts for $117,000 in what they thought would be paradise. But like many others who move to the Keys expecting life will be as laid-back as a beach chair, they were in for a surprise. "Paradise is great for vacation," says Terry McMurtrie. "But to live there every day is a very hard life."

Today, the McMurtries' canal-front home is up for sale, for $489,000. They've moved to Homosassa Springs on Florida's west coast, where they bought a cozy block home on three acres for $84,000. They're thinking about farming blueberries.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Southeast

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Water is the instrument at Florida Orchestra concerts
Water is the instrument at Florida Orchestra concerts

Florida Orchestra Percussionist John Shaw and his water basin will be center stage for the Tan Dun Water Concerto, a unique production of light and sound being performed by the Florida Orchestra.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

How quickly must we act to protect Florida's dying springs?

  • Immediately - Florida's House and Senate must pass SB 1576
  • Not a priority - issue can be postponed
  • This shouldn't even be on the agenda

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe