I mentioned in passing recently about the impending overhaul of flood insurance for homes in flood prone areas, which is pretty much all of the Keys. Here is a good follow up article that appeared in today’s Keynoter:
When these new rates go into effect, most people who own a house down here are going to be losing their little slice of paradise. And it’s not just the low end owners either. Notice the example in the story of a prospective buyer who walked away from a $650,000 home because of the rate increase from $1400 to $12000. It’s gonna affect anyone who currently owns or is looking to buy a place in the Keys or just about anyplace else from Maine to Texas.
Insurance companies make the rules and they are tired of paying out for claims, which if I understand the business model, is exactly what they are supposed to do. And granted, they have had some pretty rough times over the past ten years with all the storms we have had from Katrina to Ike to Sandy. But still. now that FEMA has their grubby little claws into the mix, there will be fewer and fewer home owners in the Keys. And maybe that is what they want to begin with. The possibility exists that there will be no more building permits issued by the state for the Keys after 2023. All this means that if you want to live here, renting, live aboard, or rv may someday be your only choice.
From my standpoint, as you may well guess, I have no problem with that. I have no intention of ever owning property again. A boat or perhaps another rv will be as close as I intend to get. I see no advantage whatsoever, at least in my case to owning another house/condo/lot. I have no heirs to leave it to. I have no desire to take on the responsibility of taking care of such a property. And I have no desire to come under all the rules, regulations, taxes, and other requirements that owning a piece of property…requires. Plus I tend to get the wonderlust every so often. I may get bored where I am, see something interesting off on the horizon that I might want to check out, and being anchored down by a 1/4 acre with a decaying building on it just don’t fit into that sort of lifestyle.
But still, even with not owning a place, these insurance rate hikes will affect me as well as anyone else who rents. If the landlord sees a big increase in insurance for their rental property, do you really think they will eat all that cost themselves. Rental rates are already too high down here. When the new insurance kicks in, look out. Right now you will have a hard time finding anything to rent under $1000. Imagine how high the rents will be when the insurance goes from $1400 to $12000 a year.
A few years back, when I first moved to Key Largo, there was a grass roots movement to have the Florida Keys turned into a National Park. At the time I thought, no way in hell. If that happened, nobody would be able to live here. The idea was voted down and has not come up since. Now, after being here for a while, and seeing first hand what we are doing to these islands, I have had a change of heart. Perhaps designating the Keys and surrounding waters as a National Park is the only way to save it. Major restrictions on development, a real effort to clean up the waters and protect the reefs, mangroves, and grasses, and these islands could become pristine again. You could still retain some of the existing infrastructure. Key West, barring a major catastrophe, would always be Key West. You could still dive, fish, and enjoy the waters and climate, but at least the over development would stop. But, it won’t happen. Too many Labombards in the mix with too much money to throw around.
I know, such a development would most likely result in people like me having to leave and never being able to live here again. And that will probalby happen anyways. Well, as much as I love it here, and hope to stay awhile, I can see the reality of things. And that’s ok. I will enjoy whatever time I have in the Keys, as soon as my goddamn knee stops hurting. There are other islands.