Living Here

 

Tips to Upgrade Your Home for
Potentially Increased Property Value

A home is arguably one of the largest financial investments a person will make in their lifetime. While property values over time are determined by national variables, the economy and local market conditions, the care and upkeep of a property is also a crucial element toward achieving a solid re-sell. Whether you are planning on adding more rooms to create extra space, upgrading your kitchen with new appliances or are thinking of putting your home on the market, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation offers some essential home improvement tips that might increase the value of your home.

Kitchen Makeover: Out of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is the most popular to remodel. According to Remodeling Magazine, money spent to upgrade a kitchen produces the highest return on investment. “Hot” kitchen makeover trends include adding dual sinks, cooking stations, extra-long dishwashers, under-cabinet lighting, warming ovens, and wine coolers.

Bathroom Fixer-Upper: Upgrading a bathroom is also a sound choice and will usually provide a significant return on investment. Large bathrooms are typically on the top of the list of priorities for those seeking to purchase a home. Adding skylights, glass block windows, ceiling fans, and sunken whirlpool baths are also attractive selling features. If you don’t have the room to expand or to accommodate larger appliances, or you don’t think you’ll be living in your home long enough to enjoy the changes and/or see a return on this kind of investment, stick with neutral, mid-builder level updated cabinetry, refreshed flooring and shower/tub, or a new sink and toilet.

Room to Grow: Adding a room or two, such as a spare bedroom or a study, is a significant home improvement that you will be able to take advantage of every day. In addition to the much-needed extra space, it can also potentially provide you with a good return on your investment when it comes to selling the property.

Landscaping the Lot: A professionally landscaped yard can certainly increase the “curb appeal” or desirability of a home. In fact, beautifying your lawn can be one of the most inexpensive home improvements. Additional simple landscaping projects include trimming and edging the grass, manicuring the trees and shrubs to open up the view of the house, removing any dead plants and planting flowers to brighten up the yard.

Repair Jobs: While many homeowners may want to update and remodel their kitchen, if the roof needs fixing or the chimney has to be reappointed, then they should prioritize these necessary repairs over any cosmetic changes. This applies to both sellers and those who plan to stay in the home for years to come, as these essential repairs must be taken care of before they cause the house to lose value. It is vital to look after the minor problems such as a leaky faucet or a loose cabinet to ensure that your house doesn’t undergo any long-term damage. As soon as you notice a problem, fix it since this will help avoid a larger expense later on.

Cosmetic Touch-Ups: A paint job, new double-paned windows, and new carpeting will increase the price of a house virtually dollar-for-dollar. Neutral colored paint and eliminating clutter can make a world of difference. However, don’t go overboard with home improvement projects that will push a house too much above the current average value of homes in your neighborhood. It is important to make sure that your home has standards that are in-line with the other houses in the neighborhood, but you do not want to price yourself out of the market.

Cost of Living

The cost of living index is based on the composite price of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, clothing, and entertainment.
Cost of living indexes will generally be higher in areas that offer access to beaches, culture, arts, and recreation. In addition, areas that offer a wider variety of services such as health and education will run higher due to higher wages and increased the quality of living. Also, see http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/florida/key_wes

Cost of living indexing explanation
A figure of 100 points is used as an average both for the USA and Florida. For example:
* New York, NY -169.0
* Long Beach, CA -141.0
* Palo Alto, CA -310.0
* Boston, MA -149.0
* Malibu, CA -331.0
• Statewide, Florida cities come in from a low of 88 and up.

One way to compare Florida areas to salary requirements:

For example-If you were relocating from Portland Oregon (whose rate is 116.0) to Orlando, and you currently make $50,000 per year, the formula is as follows
• Take the destination index, in this case, Orlando-91.0 and divide by Portland’s index-116, then multiply by a salary of $50,000. This will give you a figure of $39,224.00, which you would be required to make in Orlando and have the same quality of life.

The Keys and Monroe County top out the state at an average Cost of Living of 140 plus. This is mostly due to the cost of housing, whether you’re buying or renting. We only have so much land and the building permits in the Keys are heavily regulated. IT’S-A GREAT TIME TO BUY IN PARADISE! We’re currently experiencing a buyers’ market, prices are down and there are many excellent opportunities to buy before the market takes off again.

Compared to other areas nationally and given the amenities of the Keys, the Florida Keys are a wonderful place to live, work and play.
(Population Weighted-State Average=100

2011-2012 stats Source http://www.bestplaces.net/col/

Boca Raton-111.0
Cape Coral-Ft Myers-93.0
Ft Lauderdale-108.0
Destin-115.0
Jacksonville metro-88.0
Big Pine Key fl-123.0
Key Largo-143.0
Key West-141.00
Marathon fl-130.0
Miami metro-108.0
Melbourne-88.0
Naples Fl-161.0
Orlando metro-91
Palm Bay-86
Palm Coast-Flagler-91.0
Panama City-89.0
Pensacola metro-90.0
Sarasota-93.0
Tampa 88.0
St Pete-Clearwater-87
Vero-Beach Indian River-94.0
West Palm Beach metro-95.0
(Population Weighted-State Average=100
See national comparisons
Cost of living (100 = nationwide average)

* New York, NY -169.0
* Long Beach, CA -141.0
* Palo Alto, CA -310.0
* Boston, MA -149.0
* Malibu, CA -331.0
* San Francisco, -199.0
* Chicago, IL -105.0
* Dallas Tx -88.0
* Atlanta Ga -94.0

For more information about the cost of living go to
Sperlings best Places http://www.bestplaces.net/

For Utility charges
Water
• The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority provides water for the entire Keys:
• Tavernier…..305 852-8068
• Marathon…..305 743-5409
• Lower Keys…..305 296-2454

For Electric
• The Florida Keys Electric Cooperative
• provides power for the upper Keys:
• Tavernier…..305 852-2431
• Marathon, 3421 O/S Hwy…..305 743-5344
• Key West City Electric
• provides power for the Lower Keys
• 1001 James St, Key West…..305 294-5272

Gas.
Propane is available from local dealers

Telephone Companies:
• Bell South
• Residential Services…..305 780-2500
• Business Services…..305 780-2800

Florida Keys Electric Cooperative

Keys Energy

Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority

BellSouth
Most homes in the Keys are on septic tanks with a few exceptions-Key West-Marathon. Garbage pickup is included in your taxes

Health and Medical

The Florida Keys demand good healthcare facilities. Although the total population is less than 90,000, due to the influx of tourists,
good healthcare has to be available. In addition, Miami and its world-class Baptist hospital and all the other facilities are just hours away.
Healthcare Facilities in the Keys:

Monroe County Physicians Directory

Assisted Living Directory

Nursing Homes

Plantation Key Nursing Center
Telephone: 888-959-5948 x58523
Address: 48 High Point Rd Tavernier, FL 33070
Services: Nursing Home

Key West Health And Rehabilitation Center
Telephone: 888-959-5948 x52962
Address: 5860 W Junior College Rd Key West, FL 33040
Services: Nursing Home

* Hospitals, 3
* Assisted living, 1 SEE-CLICK HERE
* Health Care clinics, 20+SEE ALL CLICK HERE
* Skilled Nursing facility, 2

Key West – Health Care Clinics

FMC Dialysis Svc of Key West(305) 294-8453 – 1122 Key Plz, Key West, FL
Care Center For Mental Health(305) 292-6843 – 1205 4th St, Key West, FL
All Keyes Complete Wellness(305) 296-7533 – 619 Eaton St, Ste 2, Key West, FL
Kessinger Charles W(305) 296-7533 – 524 Eaton St, Key West, FL
Keys Medical Ctr(305) 294-1706 – 3426 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL
Fl Keys Intensive Outpatient(305) 396-7275 – 1205 4th St, Key West, FL
New Beginnings Clinic(305) 292-4670 – 724 Truman Ave, Key West, FL
Walker Richard CMD(305) 294-1068 – 2407 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL
Counseling Center of Key West(305) 294-8777 – 1111 12th St, Ste 206, Key West, FL
Surgery Center of Key West LLC(305) 293-1801 – 931 Toppino Dr, Key West, FL

Key Largo – Health Care Clinics

A1 Urgent Care(305) 453-3006 – 101451 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL
VA Key Largo Clinic(305) 451-0164 – 105662 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL
Coastal Counseling Svc(305) 453-0602 – 99696 Overseas Hwy, Ste 4, Key Largo, FL
Keys Counseling(305) 453-9522 – 99551 Overseas Hwy, Ste 205, Key Largo, FL
Key Largo Health Ctr(305) 451-0440 – 102900 Overseas Hwy, Ste 8, Key Largo, FL

Marathon – Health Care Clinics

Children’s Clinic(305) 743-4321 – 9499 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL
Rural Health Network(305) 289-8915 – 2901 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL
O’Connor John P MD(305) 743-9436 – 13365 Overseas Hwy, Ste 102, Marathon, FL

Islamorada – Health Care Clinics

The essence of the Phoenix(305) 664-2490 – 81990 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL
Islamorada Chiropractic(305) 664-4240 – 81905 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL

Guidance Clinics of the Florida Keys:
GCC – Marathon
3000 41st Street – Ocean,
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 434-7660 • Fax: (305) 434-9040
Hours of Operation: M-F (8am-5pm)

GCC – Key West
1205 Fourth Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 434-7660 • Fax: (305) 292-6723
Hours of Operation: M-F (8am-5pm)

GCC – Key Largo
99198 Overseas Hwy., Suite 5,
Key Largo, FL 33037
(305) 434-7660 • Fax: (305) 451-8019
Hours of Operation: M-F (8am–5pm)

WomenKind in Key West 
http://womankindkeywest.com/

Alternative Medicine
http://www.clinicofalternativemedicine.com/

Ket West Urgent Care
http://www.keywesturgentcare.com/

Hospitals

* FISHERMEN’S HOSPITAL
* 3301 OVERSEAS HIGHWAY
* MARATHON, FL 33050
* TELEPHONE#:305 743-5533
http://www.fishermenshospital.com/

* LOWER KEYS MEDICAL CENTER
* 5900 COLLEGE ROAD
* KEY WEST, FL 33041-9107
TELEPHONE#:305 294-5531
www.LKMC.com
Owned by Health Management Associates www.HMA.com

MARINERS HOSPITAL 
* 91500 OVERSEAS HWY
* TAVERNIER, FL 33070 TELEPHONE#:305 434-1582
* OWNER: BAPTIST HEALTH SOUTH FLORIDA

Monroe County Health Department

Lower Keys / Key West
(305) 293-7500

Middle Keys / Marathon
(305) 289-2708

Upper Keys / Tavernier
(305) 853-3240

Hours: Lower Keys Office
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday
Upper Keys Office
M, Tu, W and Fri (call for appts. 853-3240)
Address:

Lower Keys Office (Main Office)
1100 Simonton Street
The E. H. Gato Building
Key West, FL 33040

Middle Keys Office
Ruth Ivins Center
3333 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
Fax: (305) 289-2479

Upper Keys Office
The Roth Building
50 High Point Road
Tavernier, FL 33070
Fax: (305) 853-3242

For names and numbers of physicians in the Keys go to http://www.mcms.org/contents/refserv/referralservice.htm
In addition to local facilities, the world-class health facilities of Miami are 3 hours away from Key West.

Recreation

There are lots of things to do in Key West and the Lower Keys. There are Miles of oceanfront and Gulf front access await you in the Keys.
Recreational opportunities in the outdoors are the most important assets of the Keys.
The fishing and boating here is incredible-both in the Ocean and the back-country (the Gulf). There is something
to catch year round and our weather lets you do it. If you like the water, this is the place
Recreational Opportunities:
•  47 Marinas
•  13 Parks,
•  3 Golf Courses
•  10 Campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks
• 13 public Tennis Courts
• 18 Boat Ramps

• To see a complete list of parks and recreational opportunities see
• the sites below

Things to do outdoors:
• Fishing-saltwater, freshwater-Ocean, lakes and the Everglades
• Boating-Ocean, Gulf or Bay
• Diving
• Hiking
• Tennis
• Bike riding
• Birding
• Photography and Wildlife watching
• Kayaking—canoes-there are good rental locations and lots of places to launch.
• Air boating into the Everglades
• Windsurfing the flats

Other places to visit.
• Audubon House- original Audubon engravings (not Audubon’s residence)
• Conch Tour Train-
• Curry Mansion Inn – 305 294-5349 511 Caroline Street, Key West FL 33040
• Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum – 305 294-1136, 907 Whitehead St., Key West FL
• Flagler’s Station Historeum®-901 Caroline St., 1-305-295-3562.
• Haitian Art Co. – 305 296-8932, 600 Francis St., Key West FL 33040
• Heritage House Museum – 305 296-3573, 410 Caroline Street, Key West FL 33040
• Historic Seaport at Key West Bight.
• Key West Aquarium – 1 Whitehead St., Mallory Market
• Key West East Martello Museum – 305 296-3913, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd.
• Key West Lighthouse Museum – 305 294-0012, 938 Whitehead Street
• Key West Museum of Art & History – 305 295-6616
• Customs House – 281 Front Street, Key West FL 33040
• Key West Shipwreck Historeum – 305 292-8990, 1 Whitehead Street
• Little White House Museum – 305 294-9911
• Wrecker’s Museum – 322 Duval St., 294-9502. Built-in 1829. This is Key West’s oldest house.

Pro Sports
• A 2-3 hour drive to Miami:
• Florida Marlins
• 2269 Dan Marino Blvd, Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 · 305-626-7400
• Miami Dolphins
• 2269 Dan Marino Blvd, Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 · 305-620-2578
• Miami Heat
• 601 Biscayne Blvd, American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL 33132-1801 · 786-777-432

Schools

See article at the bottom showing Monroe was at the top of the list with a 3.92 GPA; the second-highest, Brevard County, had a 3.87 GPA.

Monroe County is totally dedicated to good education. The school district offers a first class educational system to all its residents. With over 1500 employees
To see the Monroe County mission statement and for more particulars go to http://www.monroe.k12.fl.us/
Schools listing
• ASD 275828-Public Big Pine Key Neighborhood School Big Pine Key Monroe 33043
• ASD 9902- Public Coral Shores High School Tavernier Monroe 3307o
• ASD 144250 Public Gerald Adams Elementary School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 144249 Public Glynn Archer Elementary School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 123786 Private Grace Lutheran School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 39184 Public Horace O’Bryant Middle School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 123787 Private Island Christian School Islamorada Monroe 33036
• ASD 9972 Public Key Largo School Key Largo Monroe 33037
• ASD 9981 Public Key West High School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 123788 Private Little Lambs Preschool & Childcare Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 44232 Public Marathon Junior-Senior High School Marathon Monroe 33050
• ASD 9983 Catholic Mary Immaculate Star Of The Sea School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 144254 Public Plantation Key School Tavernier Monroe 33070
• ASD 9982 Public Poinciana Elementary School Key West Monroe 33040
• ASD 140995 Public Sigsbee Elementary School Key West Monroe
• 33040 144253 Public Stanley Switlick Elementary School Marathon Monroe 33050
• ASD 144251 Public Sugarloaf Elementary Middle School Summerland Key Monroe 33042

Private schools
• ACADEMY AT OCEAN REEF, 2 Dockside Lane N, Key Largo, 305-367-2409
• ISLAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, MM 83.2, Islamorada, 305-664-2781
• ISLAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL-SOUTH, 14 125th St., Gulf, Marathon, 305-743-2200
• MARATHON LUTHERAN SCHOOL, 325 122nd St., Gulf, Marathon, 305-289-0700
• MARY IMMACULATE STAR OF THE SEA SCHOOL, 700 Truman, Key West, 305-294-1031 Preschools and kindergarten
• ABC DAY SCHOOL, 6630 65th St. Ocean, Marathon, 305-743-3521
• COMMUNITY COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL, 550 122nd St., Marathon, 303-743-3517
• EASTER SEALS FLORIDA, 5220 W. Junior College Rd., Key West, 305-294-1089
• FREDERICK DOUGLASS CHILD CARE CENTER, 103 Olivia, Key West, 305-294-3934
• GRACE LUTHERAN SCHOOL, 2713 Flagler Ave., Key West, 305-296-6262
• GROUPER LANE PRESCHOOL, 735 Grouper Lane, Key Largo, 305-852-9520
• HAPPY APPLE PRESCHOOL, 12350 O/S Hwy., Marathon, 305-743-9020
• ISLAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL-SOUTH, 14 125th St., Gulf, Marathon, 305-743-2200
• ISLAND PRE-SCHOOL, 5 Transylvania Ave., Key Largo, 305-451-1181
• KEYS ACADEMY AT ST. JUSTIN, MM 105.5, Key Largo, 305-451-6415
• KEY WEST PRESCHOOL CO-OP, 2610 Flagler Ave., Key West, 305-296-4749
• KREATIVE KIDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, 4711 O/S Hwy., Marathon, 305-743-7165
• LIGHTHOUSE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, 5580 MacDonald Ave., Key West, 305-292-5582
• LITTLE BEARS PRE-SCHOOL & DAYCARE, MM.100.4, Key Largo, 305-451-0755
• LITTLE SEAHORSE ACADEMY, MM.104.9, Key Largo, 305-451-6045
• MONROE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, 241 Trumbo Rd., Key West, 305-293-1400
• MONTESSORI IN KEY LARGO, MM. 99.5, Key Largo, 305-453-3939
• MONTESSORI ISLAND SCHOOL, MM 92.3 Oceanside, Tavernier, 305-852-3438
• ST JAMES CHILDREN’S CENTER, MM 87.5, Plantation Key, 305-852-2161
• TEMPLE CHRISTIAN PRE-SCHOOL, 5727 2nd Ave., Stock Island, Key West, 305-294-2775
• VINEYARD EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING CENTER, County Rd., Big Pine Key, 305-872-3404
• WESLEY HOUSE CHILD CARE CENTER, 1100 Varela, Key West, 305-296-5231 Universities and colleges
• FLORIDA KEYS COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Upper Keys, Tavernier, 305-852-8007
• FLORIDA KEYS COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Middle Keys, Marathon, 305-743-2133
• FLORIDA KEYS COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Main Office, Key West, 305-296-9081
• GOSHEN COLLEGE MARINE BIOLOGY LABORATORY, Layton Dr, Layton, 305-664-5454
• NATIONAL UNDERSEA RESEARCH CENTER, 515 Caribbean Dr, Key Largo, 305-451-0233
• SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY, 718 Boca Chica Naval Air Station, Key West, 305-293-284 Junior/Community Colleges:
• Florida Keys Community College and Adult education

Monroe tops in its class
Board: Schools should exceed state standards
BY JOHN L. GUERRA Citizen Staff

Monroe County schools this year collectively earned the highest grade point average in the state, besting more than 65 other school districts, Schools Superintendent Randy Acevedo said. Educators, however, think it’s time to compare county student achievement with other scores nationally.

Monroe was at the top of the list with a 3.92 GPA; the second-highest, Brevard County, had a 3.87 GPA.
Monroe’s score shows that of the 13 schools rated, 12 received an “A” rating. Key West High School received a “B.” Three schools — Coral Shores High School, Horace O’Bryant Middle School, and Marathon High School — improved one letter grade.

“When you look at the grades in a GPA format, we had the best performance statewide this past year,” Acevedo said. “I am very proud of our staff, students, parents, and community — it takes a team and a village.”

It’s the latest indication that county schoolchildren are performing well on standardized tests and improving scores; recent Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results reflected higher scores in reading, writing, math, and science. Third-graders, for instance, showed increases as high as 32 points at some schools in reading and math; 81 percent of the county’s third-graders were reading at or above grade level. Upper grades also showed increases in test scores, with some schools showing more improvement than others.

The high scores have renewed calls by School Board members to take students to the next step by comparing Monroe County scores nationally, not just in-state.

“We have had discussions at the board table that these Florida standards are not stringent enough,” member Debra Walker said, “and that we should compare our progress to national and international standards. Now we are free to set new goals based on even tougher criteria.”

The scores in the Florida school report card program and FCAT results often clash with the federal government’s annual yearly progress measurement under No Child Left Behind. That is the level of improvement each schoolchild is expected to reach year to year in reading, math, and other subjects.

Though Florida may rate schools as “A” performers, the federal Education Department designates those same schools as “F” performers for failing to reach annual yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. In 2006, 712 schools that Florida considered “A” performers were listed as “F” schools.

Though Standard & Poor’s education analysts rate Monroe students’ reading proficiency in 2008 at 62.5 percent and writing proficiency at 67.7 percent, the county still isn’t meeting annual yearly progress targets under federal No Child Left Behind requirements, S&P reports.

As in other states, Florida has a student testing regime — FCAT — that’s similar to the one mandated by No Child Left Behind. Under the federal program, “F”-rated schools that don’t improve over several years can be closed or turned into charter schools or put under a state’s direct control.

The FCAT testing regime launched under former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002 in effect puts Florida schools out of the federal government’s reach. FCAT also is a better measure of Florida student success, the former governor has said.

Still, Monroe’s “A” school ratings are nothing to sneeze at, said School Board member John Dick.

“It is great news for our schools and district,” Dick said. “It is a job well done by all the personnel involved, and of course, our students.”

Being at the top of the state school GPA scorecard gives the county some financial rewards, Dick said.

“The state has what is called school recognition funds, and “A”-rated schools receive $85 per student as a bonus,” he said. “Schools have discretion with how they use the money, but [most schools] use it to give staff members a bonus.”

jguerra@keysnews.com

Weather

The weather in Key West offers a sub-tropical climate offers year-round sports and recreational opportunities. Winter, spring, and fall are filled with lots of sunshine.
• The hottest month is August with an average high of 89° F and an average low of 78° F. In January the average high temperature is 74° F and the average low is 65° F.
• There have never been frost or freezing conditions in Key West.
• Normal annual precipitation is 39 plus inches, with the largest monthly totals accumulating from July through September.

Subtropics marked by two distinct seasons
• Weather is what brings a lot of people to Southern Florida – particularly during the dry, mild winter.
• It’s also what drives a lot of people away – particularly during the hot, rainy, sweaty, sticky summer.
• Welcome to the subtropics, an area just outside the tropics, which lie between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
GENERAL WEATHER SAFETY
• Lightning
• • When lightning flashes, count the number of seconds before thunder is heard. Divide the number by five. The answer is the approximate distance in miles from the lightning.
• • Never seek refuge from a storm under a tree
• • Make sure you are not the highest object around you
• • Avoid open fields, open water, beaches
• • If you are on the road, stay in your car
• Heat
• • Avoid heavy exertion during the hottest part of the day – noon to 3 p.m.
• • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Remember, alcohol and caffeine increase dehydration n Wear a hat and sunscreen
• Our subtropical weather is marked by two distinct seasons – the rainy season, part of which is hurricane season, and the dry season, part of which is windsurfing season.
• During the rainy season, May 15 to Oct. 15, Southern Florida receives 42 of its annual 53 inches of rain.
• Rainy season temperatures average highs in the high 80s and low 90s and lows in the 70s.
• A typical rainy-season day in Southern Florida starts with a hot, humid morning, followed by a hotter afternoon, clouds moving in from the east, and sometimes violent thunderstorms.
• The frequency of summer thunderstorms has made Southern Florida the lightning capital of the world, so it’s a good idea to seek shelter as the clouds roll in.
• Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30
• Emergency managers suggest that residents educate themselves about hurricanes and be prepared, just in case.
• In contrast to Southern Florida’s rainy season, the dry season is, well, dry.
• Eleven inches of rain spread over six months doesn’t exactly put us in the same arid league with the Sahara, but the countryside can get pretty parched.
• In one of those curious hydrological coincidences, the dry season also happens to be tourist season, so we have all those extra people using up the available water that isn’t replenished because it’s the dry season.
• So water levels in aquifers can drop, and the South Florida Water Management District can impose water-use restrictions.
• All this dryness can lead to serious wildfires, and residents are urged to clear vegetation around their homes.
• People should never throw cigarette butts from car windows – that practice is bad for the environment at any time – but during the dry season, it can easily and quickly spark a major fire.
• Dry season temperatures average highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.
• But things can get chilly around here.
• The big factors are cold fronts that occasionally blast through Southern Florida, bringing nasty cold rain and leaving behind unsubtropical, cold air.
• You can usually tell when a cold front is coming without even looking at a weather map.
• Southern Florida’s prevailing winter winds are light and easterly, but a couple of days before a front hits, winds pick up and clock around to the south – the winds are warm and the days sunny.
• This is when area windsurfers load up their gear and head to their favorite sailing sites.
• As the front approaches, winds shift to the Southern, then west – winds still warm, days still sunny.
• Eventually, the front appears on the horizon like a long, gray wall; when it hits, the wind jerks abruptly around to the north, and the air behind the front feels as if somebody up north left the door open on a giant freezer.
• Fortunately, cold temperatures following a front usually don’t last long.
• Within a few days, skies clear, temperatures warm, and once again, Southern Florida shows off the weather that attracts all those winter visitors.
• Then, within a few weeks, the overall dry, mild dry season gives way to the rainy, sweaty rainy season that drives them all away.

The above article was written by By KEVIN LOLLAR, klollar@news-press.com Published by news-press.com on November 3, 2003.
His emphasis was on the southwest area of Florida just above the Everglades, however, the article primarily relates to the Keys as well.

The Keys Temperature Annual high average
• Month         Air
• January      7 4
• February     75
• March         78
• April            81
• May            85
• June           87
• July            89
• August        89
• September 88
• October       84
• November   80
• December   76

Water temperatures go from 69 in January to 87 in July and August.

Other Keys Weather Indicators
• Average Wind Speed 10.9
• Clear Days  104
• Partly Cloudy Days 155
• Cloudy Days 107
• Avg. Relative Humidity 74.5.  To see stats by the month, go to
http://www.climate-zone.com/climate/united-states/florida/key-west/

*Although it looks like we have lots of cloudy days, the sun is out almost year round and the clouds are partial-not like in the Northwest where it will stay overcast and dark for weeks on end.

*Also, although we do get rain here-it is a tropical rain and comes and goes quickly, generally acts as a refresher to the hot days.

To see average January temperatures across the United States go to http://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/thematic-maps/usa-temperature-january.html
Compare where you live or want to live in Florida. For more specific info, look at the area you are interested in and go to the weather page.

So what about Hurricanes, the rainy season and humidity?
We are a tropical climate, so our rainy season comes in the summer. Generally, it will rain hard for a half hour then subside. It does get humid then. Although not as bad as you’d think. Our water breezes really help cool us off.
Hurricanes.
Despite four devastating hurricanes in 2004, the number of Florida visitors rose 7% to an all-time high of 79.8 million last year and is on target to hit 80 million this year.
To think about:
If you live on the coast you stand the greatest chance of having one affect you. Some areas of Florida have gone fifty years plus without one but you never know.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is buy a home that was built after Andrew-August 92 that was built to stricter building codes. Have window protection and a backup generator and make sure your insurance is up to date. If they ask you to leave, do it!

Realize-If you live in an older home that was not built up to the stricter building codes (After Hurricane Andrew-August 1992) or you live in a mobile home you stand the best chance of having major structural damage.

Living on the beach in a mobile home is asking for it. Although you may never have a problem, you’re still definitely taking your chances. Barrier islands and open-water Ocean or Gulf front are the most prone to damage.
I prefer the threat of a hurricane however as opposed to an earthquake. At least you have a warning.
• For current information about hurricanes go to http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ 
• For current weather forecasts by cities go to http://iwin.nws.noaa.
gov/iwin/fl/fl.html

*Living in a waterfront home typically means that you will pay a higher Insurance premium. The insurance is higher due to flood and wind concerns.
Part of this is also because the pricing on these homes is higher so there is more value to insure against.

Having said all this, I can’t imagine living elsewhere. It is really great to wake up and it’s sunny out.
We spend over half our lives indoors…so when you do go outside, wouldn’t it be nice if it was warm

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