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Friday, September 14, 2007

There's No Place Like Home--if you live in Key West

I was in Atlanta last weekend buying fixtures for my soon to be remodeled house in Key West. During the ride in from the airport the cab driver told me that greater Atlanta now has about 5.5 million people. The next day I took a cab to the Buckhead area for dinner. There was an accident and traffic was backed up for miles. The next night another cab ride to the same area. Another accident knocked out traffic on I-75 for more than 24 hours.

The buildings in Atlanta are huge. The streets are congested. And there are so many people. I was in culture shock. I am not used to all that commotion. By contrast the buildings in Key West are in scale to our little island. The Hotel La Concha is the tallest building in Key West and it only has six floors. Some of the hotels on Roosevelt Boulevard have three floors, but most of the rest of the commercial and residential properties in Key West are either single or two story structures. The City of Key West adopted an ordinance a few years back limiting the height and density of new construction and it seems to be working quite well.

Some developers have been litigating the restrictions imposed by the city ordinance. And most of the lawsuits have been adjudicated in favor of the developers. But I think most of the residents of Key West really appreciate the height restrictions. We want to keep our little piece of Paradise pretty much the way it is. That does not mean we don't want to grow, but we want to keep growth in proportion.

Our major streets get congested during season and on busy weekends such as this one--it's Poker Run weekend. But most of the time you can drive your car or scooter just about anywhere without delay except if you go by a school or during our 5:00 PM rush hour (that lasts about 5 minutes).

And as for people, we have around 25,000 full time residents and depending on the day and time of year we could have 10,000 visitors such as are expected this weekend. This summer has been relatively quiet as compared to prior years in part, I think, because many visitors grew wary of mandatory evacuations imposed by over-zealous county or city officials fearing hurricanes over the past few years. Upper Duval has been especially quiet this year. And lower Duval has experienced some financial woes as well. Fast Buck Freddies has a huge Summer Sale sign in its windows. Fast Bucks never has a sale.

We make choices in life and there are a lot of us 25,000 full time residents who could live somewhere else and do what we did before we moved here and make more money in the process. But then if you are just living in the process as opposed to living your dream, what is the point. You could be tied up in traffic congestion in a city like Atlanta, Miami, Boston, or any other larger metropolitan area. You could have 5.5 million "neighbors" if you live in Atlanta. You could live in a co-op way up in the sky or live in a five story walk-up in SoHo if you live in New York City.

If you are tired of living in the process and want to live your dream, CLICK HERE to checkout all of the current mls listings for the Key West area. Then give me a call at 305-766-2642 for more information. There is no place like home if you are fortunate enough to live in Key West.


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.