I too am a Michigan transplant and have been in the Keys the past 13 years. Key West and the Florida Keys is a very diverse area. You will find Million dollar plus homes built next door to a 40 year old mobile home. The charm of Key West is in it's diversity, newer structures next to century old "conch" houses, fishermen alongside the retired CEOs, tacky vs. traditional. The beauty of Key West is not black and white rather- the colors of the Sunset.
That being said, the downtown area known as Old Town consists of quaint old homes and small shops. The eastern end of the island is referred to as New Town and consists of chain stores, hotels, restaurants and mostly ranch type homes built in the 60s. There is a great community spirit throughout the Keys and as previously mentioned neighbors watch out for each other.
Key West is the only place in the country where you are closer to Cuba than to a WalMart!
Oh P.S., Here on Long Island we have a town called Smithtown. It's 95% white. Yet its the heroin capital of Long Island. Newsweek ran a feature story on this town. "How could this happen in such an affluent area???" they wrote.
Even with the rampant increase in heroin use, a ridiculous number of teens addicted and in rehab,and the crime, its still considered a "good" area because its 95% white. Had it been in a predominantly black area, it wouldnt even have been mentioned in that newspaper....
I kid you not. I've grown to the code phrases used in the real estate business, such as "in transition", "gentrification", "rough area" etc., It may not be this way in Key West being such a small island, but this is how it is in New York, ESPECIALLY on Long Island.
Key West is a wonderful place to live! I have lived here for 34 years and raised my daughter here. It is a very small island and generally the locals watch out for each other. There are several neighborhoods to choose from it just depends on what you are looking for. I am a real estate agent and would be happy to show you around when you decide to make your move. You'll be surprised at how welcoming our island folks are! You can contact me anytime if you have any more questions just go to my website, LureyTaylor.com
One way you can get an idea of Key West is to take an online subscription to the local newspaper, "The Key West Citizen". It doesn't cost much, it covers most of what's going on in Key West, it has a daily "Crime Report", and generally keeps you informed of what's going on in Key West. I moved here in January 2010 but I began my subscription in October when I decided to move to Key West. So when I arrived I had a good idea of what was going on and what I could do. The link is: http://secure.keysnews.com/enews/purchase.cfm?issue=Citizen0
And it's having a promotional right now so you can even get it on sale. Good luck
I've got relatives in Key West and it's a great place. Once you're ready to look let me know and I'll have them show you around.
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What a disappointment to read your comment.
Some of the buyers that were asking questions regarding bad neighborhoods were asking about crime. A vast majority of crimes are related to drugs so many were asking about drugs in the neighborhood whether they knew it or not.
I've talked to people all over the country. Usually the bad areas and drug availability are the same areas. Buyers from some parts of country were asking about meth labs. Buyers from other areas of the country were worried about "grow houses" and pot. Crack, coke, heroine.... if the drugs are there the crime is there and then many people think it's a bad area. The point: The crime is generally where the drugs are available and where the people go to buy the drugs. I've looked at crime statistics.
By the way, the buyers that asked me about bad neighborhoods were usually were asking about "partiers" when they don't drink, a family friendly neighborhood when they have children and other personal considerations that affect quality of life.
If you have kids that are certain ages the Terraces in mid-town might be perfect. If you are a bartender then Old Town in walking distance to the 200 block might be your match. If you don't cook then there are a few blocks that may be what you are looking for. If you are an artist or love to look at art there may be a perfect spot. If you have 4 kids going to different schools then a mid-point might make your life easier. If you want a lot of land and tranquility Big Pine Key might have some good matches for you.
Find an agent that you feel comfortable with that you would like to work with and then share your priorities and goals and the agent should be able to show you homes in areas that will appeal to you.
Steve Eid, Broker Associate, Crocker Wagner & Associates
Contact the local police department or county sheriffs department. They have access to the most accurate and up to dte information.
Congrats on deciding on K.W. ......It is a very special location.
The "Eckler Team"
I too am from Michigan... I recommend following the advice of all those who answered below (Sound advice). I think you should first start by renting for a short time then finding out all the ins and outs of Key West itself. You will quickly realize the Island itself tends to be a blend of everything it has to offer all within a short walk. So make a list of your plusses and minuses then go from there.