It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Key West for a month already, and that it was a mere five weeks ago that we put everything we own in a truck and drove it as far south as possible. (Don’t ever let it be said that I’m not willing to go to extreme lengths to escape winter.)
On our pre-move visits, I would make a point of asking the locals what they didn’t like about living here, and nobody ever had a good answer, to the point that it almost made me suspicious. However, after this short time, I’d have to agree. It’s a pretty incredible place to live.
Some of the many things I’ve come to love a lot:
- Everything that grows here. In our yard, we have huge bougainvilleas and some other flowering bushes that I haven’t identified yet. There’s a mass of colorful native plants and what may be a starfruit behind the carport. There’s a coconut palm out front, taunting me with a ton of green coconuts I can’t reach. We have banyan and royal poinciana nearby. I planted agave, aloe, cactus, hibiscus, and a key lime. I’m pretty into the complete novelty of everything that grows here. (Not to mention the fact that it just became vegetable gardening season, since it’s too hot in the summer.)
- Riding our bikes / walking everywhere. Driving in Old Town is stupid and will make you angry, so thankfully we have no need to. Our Publix and any other shopping we need is within 2 miles (we have to go to Miami for Costco, but how often do you need to go to Costco?). Biking on the bigger streets here could be a little nervewracking (vacation town = drunk tourists, any time of day), but there’s a huge sidewalk that goes nearly all the way around the island, and means you never have to ride in traffic.
- Our wildlife. All the chickens have names, since we see the same ones every day. We have a bunch of mourning doves and mockingbirds that hang out on the patio, and ibises wander around in the yard eating bugs. We also have a million tiny lizards who find their way inside occasionally. We had one warming himself on the printer yesterday.
- Everyone here is SO INCREDIBLY FRIENDLY.
- There’s great food. I didn’t think that 5 years ago, but it’s true now. It’s easy to find excellent vegetarian options nearby.
- It’s all the artsy/hippie/gay-friendiness that I love about Minneapolis. Probably even moreso.
- Cuban coffee everywhere.
- Being by the ocean. That’s a given, right? I can get on my bike and be at either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean in 5 minutes. Living at the end of a 120-mile chain of islands is kind of amazing.
So, the downsides I’ve identified so far.
- You don’t do things online here. You call or stop in. It’s strange to go from one of most tech-savvy cities to a place that’s definitely not.
- Yeah, bugs love to live here, too. From what I’ve learned, everyone just has an exterminator contract. I’m kind of shocked at how little mosquitoes are a problem, though. Since we’re at risk of things like malaria and chik-v, they do a really good job controlling them.
- The main reason people leave Key West is that they can’t afford it anymore. There’s a huge number of hospitality workers here, and they often have to work multiple jobs to be able to live on the island. That sucks a lot.
- Apart from drunk people causing accidents on Roosevelt, the only big crime problem here is bike theft. Matt already had the seat stolen off his bike at the Zombie Bike Ride. So you do things like get rid of the quick-releases and make your bike look not very valuable, but mostly you just cross your fingers that they don’t cut your lock. It’s such a stupid, petty crime that’s really incredibly annoying since it’s many people’s main form of transportation.
- That time I saw a grandma’s body-painted boobs hanging down below her waist at Fantasy Fest, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.