With our sales of five charming island cottages since the beginning of the year, 2016 is turning out to be The Year of the Key West Cottage. While it is not unusual—among our closings of historic Classical Revival mansions, stylish oceanfront condos, and tropical mid-century homes—for us to sell an Old Town cottage here and there, more and more of our clients are choosing cottage living. Since we happily dwell in an 1890’s cigar makers’ cottage, it is not hard for us to expound on the joys of cottage life. We are delighted that cottage living seems to be the Hemingway cat’s meow in Key West.
So what is it about quintessential Key West cottages that is attracting buyers? Yes, they are quaint, charming, and adorable, but we believe people are being drawn to them on an even deeper level. Among this year’s contentious presidential primaries, the Syrian refugee crisis, and terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, individuals and families are longing for a simpler, less chaotic time. (Not long after the attacks of September 11th, Dean sold his home in Chicago and bought his first Key West cottage.) The trademark white picket fences, welcoming front porches, and Victorian gingerbread adornments of Old Town’s historic cottages evoke the cherished, uncomplicated lifestyle lived by our grandparents and great-grandparents. Only a distant memory in most places, Key West cottage living offers a lifestyle of strolling to dinner, visiting with neighbors, and watching the world pass by from a porch swing.
While the Florida New Urbanism communities, of Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and Celebration have worked to recreate the best of small town America, Key West is the real deal. The Charter of the New Urbanism begins with: “We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrates local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.” Sound like Key West? Investors have been backing these developments for over three decades because they know they offer what buyers are looking for. Key West has obviously inspired more people than us.
Taking up residence in a century old cottage can take a lot of getting used to for those that are accustomed to the space allotted to many of the country’s suburban homes. Although challenging, adapting to living less large can be freeing, and can certainly lead one on a path to a simpler life. (Many Old Town cottages have been renovated to make it easier, not only maximizing space, but reflecting the best of modern living and design.) It is the Siren’s call of Key West’s laid-back, authentic, small town lifestyle that is capturing the hearts and minds of our cottage buyers and makes adapting to a different way of living well worth the effort.
Cottage living in Key West has given us the uncomplicated lifestyle that we see our clients longing for. We bet that they will love living in a tropical island cottage as much as we do. With a new listing of an exceptionally renovated Key West cottage coming our way, and clients deciding on which charming shotgun cottage to make an offer, 2016 will surely continue to earn The Townsend Team’s title of The Year of the Key West Cottage.
—Dean & Keith