The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Five “first year” lessons for living in Key West

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


You know how polite people invite house guests to come stay a while? And, how polite people smile and say “sure” and never show up?

That’s not Key West. Nope, invite house guests to Key West and they actually come. As Ed and I tell each other, “finally, we live in a place where people will show up.” We’ve got this refrigerator magnate that says: “Life on an island: Expect company.”

We made Key West our full-time home in 2012, fulfilling a dream that began with Ed’s simple and completely unexpected 2007 proposition: We ought to buy a house, renovate it and move here.

We sold the Rockford, IL, life, packed up the four cats and did it. Our house guests followed.

We like house guests, though we do have some rules. Family and fast friends are welcome to food and lodging for a week; after that they chip in. No maid service. We don’t cook much, but you can use the can opener. There’s always a fresh pot of coffee. Entertain yourselves; Ed and Linda still work for a living.

Use inside voices even outside. We don’t want problems with the neighbors who disagree with your politics. Oh, and the three cats stay; bring your antihistamine.

We’ve learned five lessons this first full year in Key West:

  • Expect iguanas in the bathroom occasionally. Along with ants and palmetto bugs (Yankees call ‘em roaches.)
  • Neighbors frown on excessive Christmas decorations. Tone ‘em down. You can keep the lighted flamingo with Santa hat.
  • Yes, it is OK to wear shorts and flip flops to work and church. Keep your tuxedo and evening dress; Key West adores dress-up parties.
  • Have a calendar handy. Because the seasons don’t change, you’ll have no idea what month it is. Although, it is nice to mulch the plants in December. July is a bit sweaty.
  • You cannot convince your family and friends that you didn’t retire. On the other hand, you can take a swim and admire the palm trees after work.

To friends — old and new. To family. May the sunrise bring you joy and the sunset peace.




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