Florida owns 'worst small towns' for housing
Wake up and good morning. Anyone who eyeballs Forbes magazine and its blizzard of online content has to marvel at the offbeat lists and rankings offered. For example: What do these four small Florida towns -- West Little River, Key West (see photo), Aventura and Golden Gate -- have in common?
Well, they're all South Florida towns (Key West obviously being extreme South Florida). But Forbes says all four of them also rank among the 10 worst small towns in America in which to own a home. Why? Because these are the towns with the highest percentage of residents whose home ownership outlay tops 35 percent. In other words, these are the most expensive small towns in the U.S.A. based on income committed to home ownership. It's notable that some of the towns are frightfully poor but others among the ten are upscale.
West Little River is a tiny north-of-Miami spot sandwiched between Hialeah and Miami Shores not far from the Opa-Locka airport. It ranks No. 1 on the Forbes "worst small town" for home ownership because 73.6 percent of the homeowners there spend more than 35 percent of their income on owning a home. Key West, for all its color, history and boozy tourism (check out this live feed of Sloppy Joe's Bar), ranks No. 4 on the "worst small town" list because housing is pricey while incomes are low (71 percent there spend more than 35 percent on housing). Aventura -- a short drive from West Little River and which calls itself the "City of Excellence"-- ranks No. 8 on the list with 66.9 percent spending more than 35 percent.
Not to pick exclusively on the greater Miami area, coming in at No. 10 on the "worst small towns" for homeownership is Golden Gate, which is on Florida's west coast (actually east of Naples, closer to the Everglades) where 66.7 percent of homeowners spend more than 35 percent of their income on housing. States the Forbes story:
"High monthly mortgage payments are primarily behind the bills socking homeowners in these 10 spots. Some have home equity loans in addition to mortgages. Others live in desirable areas where housing is scarce and demand is high; this keeps prices elevated. And in some spots, lenders issued mortgages to those who did not meet traditional income criteria."
So that's four out of the nation's "worst" ten small towns based in Florida. The remainder are No. 8 Fallbrook, Calif., tied with Aventura; No. 7 Hamtramck, Mich.; No. 6, Chelsea, Mass.,; No. 5 Melrose Park, Ill.; No. 3 Copiague, N.Y.; and No. 2 Westmont, Calif.
(Key West photo courtesy of Len Kaufman, Florida Keys TDC.)
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist