Main Content

Home » Blog » Key Largo Waterfront Living: Exploring the Benefits and Lifestyle

Key Largo Waterfront Living: Exploring the Benefits and Lifestyle

There’s island living, and then there’s Key Largo living – this world-class travel destination is not your usual summer getaway. It occupies a special place in pop culture, having inspired a number of songs and films. It’s not hard to see why. With powdery soft white sand and turquoise waters, the natural scenery comes straight out of a postcard. Here are the main advantages of living and investing in Key Largo.


This picturesque island in the upper Florida Keys embodies the ultimate vacation lifestyle with endless sunshine and mellow waves. As the largest section of the keys, Key Largo offers 33 miles of world-class dining, entertainment, and recreation.

The Florida Keys are a chain of islands spanning 125 miles off Florida’s southern coast. Key Largo is the northernmost of the Keys. It is also the northernmost of the keys that are connected to the mainland by US Highway 1 (Overseas Highway). The Jewfish Creek Bridge and Card Sound Road also make Key Largo living more accessible with many travelers coming to the island by car or shuttle bus.

The Upper Keys comprises Key Largo and Islamorada in Monroe County. The neighboring town of Islamorada provides access to additional restaurants, art events, and live entertainment. Key Largo is located about 60 miles from downtown Miami, which is known for its nightlife. The nearest major airport is Miami International Airport (MIA).

Key Largo encompasses 13 to 14 square miles and is home to 9,670 residents as of 2020. The population swells in the summer months, when visitors from all over the world come to explore the island and its natural beauty.

Formerly known as Rock Harbor, Key Largo was renamed after the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall hit the silver screen in 1948. Select scenes were filmed in Key Largo, putting the island on the map and lending it some Old Hollywood romance and glamor. The African Queen, which appeared in the 1951 film with Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, is docked in Key Largo and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Destination Like No Other

Key Largo is paradise on earth with glistening creeks and tropical hardwood hammocks populated by tamarind and sea grape trees. Its clear waters are pulsating with abundant marine life. It’s no surprise that Key Largo living revolves around the water – residents are surrounded by the Atlantic to the east; and Florida Bay and Everglades National Park to the west. The island also provides ready access to the Gulf Stream and numerous water activities. From kayaking and sailing, to swimming and fishing, residents enjoy a wide range of recreational activities in or near the gentle waves.

World-Famous Underwater Attractions

As the “Dive Capital of the World”, the waters off the coast are home to some of the finest coral reefs and marine protected areas in the United States. Under the water, you’ll find colorful mounds of elkhorn, brain, and star corals. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is an underwater park spanning 70 square miles best explored through scuba diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boat tours. The Christ of the Abyss Statue – a 4,000-pound replica of the Guido Galletti bronze statue in San Fruttuoso, Italy – is submerged about eight to 10 feet below the surface near Dry Rocks.

Key Largo is also home to the largest artificial reef in the world – the USS Spiegel Grove, which features maximum depths of about 144 feet below the stern. Dazzling French Reef has depths of 55 feet within the Key Largo Existing Management Area and is filled with marine life, such as manta rays, loggerhead turtles, and hammerhead and reef sharks.

On land, Key Largo has a rich heritage just waiting to be explored, making it a leading destination for those who want to learn about nature, history, and culture. The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park encompasses over 2,500 acres and has the highest concentration of National Champion Trees of various species – with some towering at 45 feet – in a single location in all of the US. This tropical hammock offers numerous opportunities for hiking and biking along paved and forest roads.

For something more laid-back, bird watching is a popular pastime along scenic trails. Dining and live music go hand-in-hand in the island with seafood shacks and waterfront restaurants serving the day’s catch. If all else fails, there’s always the Key Largo sunset – the sky turning into different shades of gold and orange over the ocean is a sight to behold.


As a premier travel destination, Key Largo presents many opportunities for real estate investors who want to acquire rental properties throughout the island. Here are some of the advantages of acquiring investment property in Key Largo.

Investment Opportunities

The Florida Keys is known for its rich architectural heritage, with Conch-style homes and cigar cottages in addition to spacious mansions with Queen Anne, Mediterranean, and Modern architecture. Investors have plenty to choose from in Key Largo, which offers a diverse range of property types and neighborhoods that cater to each taste.

From lavish mansions and upscale condos, to low-maintenance apartments and traditional cottages, the island has it all. Rental properties run the gamut from family-owned properties and beach bungalows to top-rated hotels and luxury resorts. Key Largo is also home to many thriving communities and established neighborhoods, such as:

  • Calusa Campground is a condo community with 367 residential units and a host of upscale amenities, including a pool, playground, boat ramp, boat dockage, and basketball, pickleball, and tennis courts.
  • Cross Key Waterways Estates offers waterfront homes in a variety styles and sizes. Some of these homes are used as luxury vacation rentals.
  • Landings of Largo is a condominium complex offering 126 residential units and resort-style amenities such as a private marina, boat slips, heated pools, and lighted tennis and pickleball courts.
  • Port Largo Villas offers a selection of two-level condos and timeshares in addition to amenities, including a marina, swimming pools, horseshoe pits, and more.
  • Tavernier is an unincorporated community with apartments and condo hotels within close proximity to fantastic restaurants and hotels.

These are just some of the neighborhoods that offer investment opportunities. The combination of affluent and relatively more affordable communities lets you choose a suitable property that appeals to your intended rental market.

However, vacation rentals are only allowed in certain areas or Land Use Districts in Monroe County. Work with a real estate professional to learn more about Key Largo living and locate your next investment on the island.

Flexibility and Personal Use

Owning a vacation home in Key Largo gives you and your loved ones a private getaway without having to deal with bookings and reservations. A vacation property lets you escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It also feels more personal and comforting than a hotel or resort, which gives you little control over other guests and your immediate surroundings.

When you own vacation property, you can visit Key Largo and entertain guests as you like. You can plan your vacations or getaways at your convenience, without ever having to worry about availability or whether the home suits your taste. You can decorate the property as you please so that it reflects your personality and preferences. Whether your style is coastal chic or modern glamor, there are many ways to make a vacation rental feel like your own space.

A vacation home in Key Largo is also ideal for family get-togethers and destination weddings. If you want to celebrate with friends and family, you can decide to block off the schedule and use the property to host an event. Some of the finest homes in Key Largo offer stunning water views and make for an excellent backdrop for an unforgettable event.

Short-term rentals offer the most flexibility if you intend to use the property from time to time. If tenants check out every few days or weeks, the property will become more available to you and your guests. You can also opt to rent out the property on a seasonal basis if you want to generate a steady stream of income.

For example, you can rent out the property during peak season then occupy the home during low season, when the island is much quieter and less crowded. The popularity of the area depends on the time of year.

Dry season typically lasts from November through April, when the weather is usually warm and there is less likelihood of rain. Most tourists visit Key Largo between December and March, when the weather is dry and temperatures are comfortable enough for water sports and other outdoor activities.

During peak season, Key Largo is usually busier with throngs of snowbirds and vacationers than it is during the slower months. The peak season is fantastic for those who want to be part of all the action.

But if you prefer to stay on the island when there are fewer vacationers, you can use the rental property during low season, when there aren’t as many bookings. It is still possible to enjoy Key Largo living from mid-October to mid-December. This lets you experience the quieter and more laid-back side of Key Largo, while generating passive income during peak season. This is, undoubtedly, enjoying the best of both worlds.

If you’re concerned about the Atlantic hurricane season, which typically lasts from June through November of each year, the Florida Keys has an advanced hurricane warning system.

Lastly, if you want to rent out the property on a long-term basis, there will be demand from well-to-do retirees and in-migration from heavily urbanized areas. These individuals will be looking to rent in Key Largo before deciding to buy a home. They may also prefer the freedom and flexibility of renting to homeownership.

Permit and Tax Exemptions

In Monroe County, a special vacation rental refers to a dwelling unit that is rented or leased for a duration of less than 28 days. You will be required to secure a vacation rental permit for your property. However, there are some exemptions. A vacation rental permit may not required in the following circumstances:

  • A vacation rental or dwelling unit located within a gated or controlled access community governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) that regulates or manages vacation rentals within its boundaries.
  • A vacation rental or dwelling unit inside a multifamily building within a multifamily district with 24 hour on-site management or supervision. A designated individual acting as property manager or supervisor must be physically located within the building or at least within 300 feet of it and must be available at all times to respond to tenant concerns.

You may request for an exemption to special vacation rental permit on a per unit basis. You will also need to file a separate application for each dwelling unit in your real estate portfolio.

While Monroe County does not offer a homestead exemption for rental properties, you may qualify for a partial exemption if you are only renting out a portion of your home:

  • Partial rental – If you plan on renting out a portion of your primary residence, such as a designated room or floor, you may be eligible for a prorated homestead exemption for the part of the property that you live in.
  • Duplex rental – If you receive income from a portion of the property, only the part that serves your primary residence may qualify for the homestead exemption. You may also qualify for exemption for the whole property if you are no longer collecting rental income.

Check with the local tax agency or talk to a tax expert for more information on permits and tax obligations as a real estate investor.

Rental Rates and Long-Term Appreciation

The median rental price in Key Largo is $4,800 as of May 2023, according to data from Realtor. That’s much higher than the median asking rent of $1,739 during the same month in the 50 largest metro areas in the US. Tenants are willing to pay for the privilege of living in Key Largo and its tropical environment.

The median listing home price was $1.4 million in May 2023 – higher than the state average of $459,000. The homes in Key Largo can retain value depending on location, upkeep, and other conditions. Waterfront estates are especially sought-after due to their unique setting and on-site amenities.

Professional Management Services

Don’t have the time or experience to manage a rental property? There are reputable companies and agents offering property management services in Key Largo and the surrounding areas. These professionals will handle the day-to-day management of your vacation rental for a fee. This is one of the most cost-efficient ways of operating rental property and maximizing revenue.

Professional management ensures that your real estate investment remains lucrative and viable through timely rent collection, legal compliance, and effective advertising. A property manager will also make sure that your vacation rental is in pristine condition by arranging repairs and cleaning services.

Working with a property manager becomes more important as your real estate portfolio grows and becomes more valuable. Entrusting your vacation rental with a professional management service will help free up your time for business and family. This lets you explore other opportunities for investment and income generation without neglecting your rental properties.

Enjoyment of Key Largo Lifestyle

The Key Largo lifestyle is relaxed but exhilarating. While residents enjoy a leisurely and slower pace of living than many other places in Florida, Key Largo living still offers many opportunities for you to remain active and meet new people. The constant comings and goings of vacationers from all over the world means that there will always be a new face in the crowd. This unique lifestyle appeals to renters and travelers who want to step out of the daily grind.

Moreover, Key Largo’s proximity to Miami means that residents are never too far from the excitement and cosmopolitanism of the Magic City. Its famed bars, nightclubs, and shopping centers are just a drive away from the Florida Keys. Not that residents need to go far from home for a good time – Key Largo’s oceanside bars and restaurants offer some of the most memorable culinary experiences that Florida has to offer.


Explore real estate investment opportunities in Key Largo and the surrounding areas with a local expert like Angel DiGiorgio, Florida Keys Luxury Realtor. With over five years of experience, she offers a high level of service to help you find the right vacation property in the Florida Keys. Having lived in the Keys for more than 25 years, Angel DiGiorgio is a trusted name in luxury real estate. Schedule a consultation when you call 305.509.0971 or send your real estate inquiries here to get started.