The Village that calls itself the Island Paradise is getting more crowded, growing a sizable 20% in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The official headcount, as of April 1, 2020: 14,809.
The increase caught state and federal demographers off-guard, who had been expecting a much smaller bump for the island. After all, Miami-Dade County was up only 8% for the same period.
Why? An expert says it’s because the occupancy rate and the number of people living in the same household have both exploded.
“The reason we did such a lousy job is that neither of us expected this huge increase in both occupancy and household size,” said Rich Doty, a research demographer at the University of Florida.
Doty said the average household size in Key Biscayne is 2.8 persons, up over 7% from ten years ago. And occupancy is up over 10 percent. As a result, the average number of people in a housing unit increased by almost 18 percent, he said.
Another interesting comparison is growth since the community incorporated 30 years ago. In 1992, the first full year after incorporation, the Census put the population at 8,897. Since then, the island has added 5,900 people, an increase of 66%.
“I understand why people want to move here,” said Mayor Mike Davey, a former New Yorker. “I did.”
Davey, a real estate attorney, said he’s seen anecdotal evidence in his practice of many northeasterners moving to Key Biscayne to take advantage of the community’s many benefits while telecommuting.
Doty said there is evidence to support that view.
“Florida grew as much or more in the pandemic as it did in the previous several years,” he said. “It is domestic migration to the State of Florida that has fueled the population increases,” noting that there were more deaths than births. And he said the migration trends are continuing.
Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tatyana Chiocchetti said the numbers are not a surprise, based on reports from real estate agents. And the business group is seeing new enterprises launch at an increased pace.
“We’re giving a lot of welcome bags,” she said.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.