Dec 102015

No, not me.  I’m down now to just a constant nagging cough.  Slowly getting my energy back a little and starting to feel almost human again.  I’m still not sure what it was I got so I went online again and listed out the symptoms.  Lessee:  cough, fever, aches and pains, grouchy, bloated, mood swings….HOLY CRAP.  I got menopause!  No wonder it’s been so rough.  Explains everything.  Let’s move on.

The grimness I was referring to in the title is the continuing sorry state of affordable housing in Key West.  In a nutshell, there is no affordable housing.  If you have been following the Fritter you all know my current situation.  If not, go back to August in the archives and read away.  At the moment, things are pretty benign.  The landlord is sober, working, and working out.  He still likes to play the loud music but it’s tolerable.  Evicted friend, who owes him money rarely stops by.  Mouthy whore has come by with a new crack head boyfriend when they need a place to crash.  I locked them out the other day when said landlord was at work.  Pissed them off royally.  Too bad.  He ain’t here, they ain’t getting in.

The rent remains the same, $160 per week which is a bargain on this rock for any kind of roof over one’s head.  The wifi works great and is all important right now.  The bed bugs travel back and forth between rooms but I haven’t seen any lately.  The landlord did replace the bed for me so it helped.  For now, I make do.  I don’t like the place but there is nothing else I can find nor afford.  But it don’t stop me from looking.

On Facebook for those of you on there, a closed group called Key West Cribs was formed.  It’s proving to be a good gauge of the housing situation here.  There are listings, and people looking, but the difference between what landlords are asking and what people can afford or are willing to pay is at opposite ends of the spectrum.  I haven’t seen anything for under $900 a month in a long time and even then, it was a dump out on Stock Island.  Some people are offering to share a boat for what I’m paying for this room, but even then, they want first, last, security deposit, background checks, first born, and garnishment of wages.  I understand one has to be careful when looking at a potential tenant, but realistically, in this island economy, few people can afford what they are asking.

Many landlords are saying to hell with long term tenants and getting the license to rent to tourists.  They can get three times the rent and if the renter is a problem, they are gone in a week.  Can’t blame them for making the money but it really makes it difficult for those of us who live here.

The city talks a lot about the problem but does little more than talk.  Their idea of affordable housing is unrealistic also.  There are some subsidized housing projects on Key West and Stock Island, but to qualify takes forever.  Although, there is one senior living spot right around the corner from where I live.  And from what I have heard, one must be 62 and get on a waiting list of about 2 years to get in.  Basically, you get a place as the older residents die off. Gruesome but it’s a dog eat dog world out there.  And from what I have heard, and this is hearsay, your rent in said senior living establishment is based on your income so rent may be affordable.  It’s not something I qualify for now, but it may be worth a look later on in a year or so.

For me, all I can do is bide my time and see what comes up.  I know by 2017, things will have changed for the more better for me income wise.  Then I will have many more options open as to what I want to do.  Traveling to the Pacific is tops on the list of course.  But eventually I may have to find something a bit more permanent.  Going back on a boat is always an option and there are always good deals on boats.  A rv is a strong possibility even though staying in the Keys permanently is not an affordable option, at least not anywhere near Key West.  I don’t want to get into anything with a long term lease.  It’s just easier to have the option to get out when a situation is not working out.  If I buy another boat or rv it will restrict what kind of travel I would be able to do.  It’s ok if I find the right situation but I would really prefer to stay minimal and mobile for the moment.  Other more pressing needs may arise down the road with family meaning some important trips up north.  I’m not looking forward to it but it’s going to happen and I need to be ready just in case.  Not having to worry about leaving anything behind down here would make things a lot easier to take care of.

So, here I sit in my little room, banging away at the computer, and coughing up a lung now and then.  It’s not particularly exciting at the moment but it’s all I can do for now.  I hope things remain benign with the landlord but who knows.  Another binge, lose his job, anything could happen.  The end of the year is coming up and people love to ‘make changes’.  Could there be a rent increase?  Hope not.  Just have to wait and see.

As for any of you who are constipating a move down here, I cannot stress enough to research everything as much as possible before you make the move.  You may think you can afford the high rent down here but the realities of an island economy are going kick you in the ass and quick.  Be prepared to downsize and go without a lot of what you take for granted on the mainland.  Life here is very different and there is no middle class.  Key West has left a lot of people in very poor financial condition, especially those who have not adequately prepared themselves for the changes in lifestyle.  It ain’t all margaritas, palm trees, and sunshine.  Just kidding…it totally is but you still need to pay the bills.

Read up on as much as you can about living here.  This blog is a good start.  My book is still out there and getting some good feedback.  Be realistic about what you can and cannot live without.  Don’t come down here and bitch about gas being higher or the shopping sucks.  It’s not why we came here.  Acquire the island attitude and you’ll enjoy your stay a lot longer and more better.  Just be aware of the costs.  If you got questions, ask them here on the Fritter.  I’ll answer if I can or post said question to the blog and see what reactions we get.  I’ll be glad to help you not make the same mistakes others, and myself have made.

All in all though, I don’t regret for one second moving down here.  Despite the hardships, it has been well worth the effort.  After years of moving about, I found a home here in Key West, even though I don’t really have a home.  I have no idea how long I will stay here.  Maui may be a totally different mindset and I may never come back.  I may miss Key West, return and never leave.  I’m good for whatever happens.

In the meantime, hope everyone is doing ok with this damn holiday season.  Be careful in your travels, do not buy anything on credit, and enjoy yourselves.  I’m about over this change of life disease and should be at full snark pretty soon.

Capt. Fritter


  2 Responses to “Looking Grim…”

  1. Glad you’re feeling better Captain!

    I wanted to thank you again for publishing your book on the Keys and for all the advice you’ve given me over this past year. Both have been tremendous in helping me make the decision to move. Everything you’ve written about has been spot on with what I’ve been learning about finding housing down there. The hardest part for me so far has been downsizing. I’m getting there though.

    My goal is to make it there before New Years Eve, and it looks like I’m right on schedule so far.

  2. According to our family members who got that crud the coughing is indeed the last phase of it. Glad to know you are going to live through it and will be back to full snark soon.