Key West, Florida, is one of the most expensive places to live in Florida, with the average price of a house in Key West being $706,601, according to news channel 8 and WFLA.com. Tourism is the city’s main industry and is a huge income source for the local residents. However, many locals today are being driven out by high property prices and the lack of affordable housing in the city itself. I personally do not even live within the city. I live with my family in a house 21 miles away from the city. However, I spend a disproportionate amount of time within Key West compared to my time at my own home. I spend 6 days of the week in the city, 5 days for school, while 1 day is spent on the weekend for work. This leaves me only 1 day of the week to spend time at my own house because my family simply can’t find affordable, public housing close to the city. This is, in my opinion, due to a combination of factors, chiefly the hostile environment being made for local citizens of Key West being driven out of their own houses by tourists who likely make twice or even three times as much income as the local citizenry.
Rental property in Bahama Village, able to be rented for vacationing families and individuals. (Best of Key West Rentals/bestofkeywestrentals.com)
One of the best areas to explore the topic of gentrification in Key West is Bahama Village. Bahama Village is one of the oldest parts of Key West (besides Old Town, conveniently enough), but it has one of the highest house costs in the city. This is due to a combination of factors, mostly the growth of rental vacation homes and a rise in taxes across the city related to the growing affluence of the upper-middle-class tourists who rent summer or vacation rentals in the city. Local residents also may struggle to find affordable housing, which leaves many of them to take on loans or other forms of financial assistance to cope with rising property and rent prices. Old Town has a similar story, but it has suffered even more than Bahama Village. For example, this home at 613 Margaret Street is valued by the seller at $4.995 Million. It has 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and is only 3,000 square feet in floor area. It has one dedicated pool and two structures on the actual property. There are many similarly inflated house listings throughout Old Town on this website alone. This high price is in contrast to the average annual income of a Key West citizen, which is a meager $39,000. A mortgage for the aforementioned property would be $29,000 a month, which is over 9 times the annual income of a Key West citizen. Gentrification proves to be a major local and national issue, and its most acutely affected city seems to be the city of Key West, Florida.