The Residency Experience

Now that you’ve been accepted


Here’s a little more information about the island, the residency program, and our facilities.

Key West is an island community, two miles by four miles wide, at the very end of the road. Most people get around on bicycle or foot, and the neighborhoods are compact and filled with lush gardens and tropical plant life. There are Cuban groceries and café con leche on every other corner, and a mix of Latin and Caribbean influences everywhere. Known for blue skies, open water and mangrove islands, and 80 degree days in winter, Key West is removed from the American mainland by 120 miles of bridges and small islands.

Long a home to artists and creative people, the ghosts of Hemingway, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Mario Sanchez, and Shel Silverstein still haunt our Old Town neighborhood. Flowers bloom year-round, and fruit trees proliferate. And on any given day, it’s not unusual to run into modern-day creative people, such as Judy Blume, Billy Collins, Jimmy Buffett, Meg Cabot, Terrence McNally, John Martini, Seward Johnson, or Annie Dillard.

For a small community, Key West is rich in cultural events, creative projects, and celebrations of every kind. The population is diverse and compassionate, and takes to heart the island’s famous motto: One Human Family. Our creative community is proud of this special sense of place. We embrace an independence from the mainland, celebrate our tropical and Caribbean influences, and seek out artists and cultural leaders wanting to do the same—and gain the benefit of exile in the Conch Republic.

When should I plan to arrive and leave?

Residencies run from the 16th of your arrival month to the 14th of the next month. For example: if you are awarded a residency beginning in mid June, you could plan to arrive on or very shortly after June 16, and would plan to depart by July 14.

Arrival: We ask incoming residents to time their arrival between 1pm and 8pm. If you arrival is earlier in the day, we will help store your luggage until you get settled in.

Departure: You should be packed and ready to leave by 10am on the 14th of the month, which is the time our cleaning service arrives to prepare your space for the next artist. If your departure is later in the day, we can store your luggage until your departure.

How do I get to The Studios of Key West?

Fly: We have an airport with flights arriving from a number of hubs. Be aware of different baggage restrictions for the smaller planes that make the final flight into Key West. Some artists fly into Miami or Ft.Lauderdale and then rental car the rest of the way. There is a shuttle from some of the mainland airports also.

Drive: Miami to Key West is usually a 4 +/- hour drive. It is a nice drive, but not unusual to encounter delays. The highway is two lanes in some areas and not the most pleasant trip to tackle at night.

Bus: Greyhound does come to Key West. It arrives at the airport.

Ferry: Key West Express sails year-round from Ft. Myers Beach and seasonally from Marco Island FL.

Key West is a great bicycler’s town! It’s how most locals get around. The bike lane on Southard will take you right downtown and to the best nearby beach, Ft. Zachary Taylor.

Biking: Through a generous sponsorship by We-Cycle Bikes, a ‘conch-cruiser’ bike is provided free for your use. Bikes will be delivered after you arrive and come with a basket, lock, and lights. There are no real hills to worry about; Key West is a 2 x 3 mile island, with the high point about 10 feet above sea level, so it’s very easy to get around.

Walking: Old Town is very pedestrian friendly. The Studios of Key West main building is located 8 blocks away from the residencies.

Cars: Artists who arrive with their vehicle will find limited parking on the street near the residences. Parking in some areas of the island can be difficult to nearly impossible in high season. Depending on what you hope to do while in residence, some artists find a vehicle useful during their stay, some find they rarely use them.

What are the accommodations like?

ACCOMMODATIONS  are a mix of cottages and apartments located in a residential neighborhood in Old Town. All live/work spaces include a private bedroom and bathroom; some have a small but separate attached workspace, while some have a combination bedroom/workspace. (Artists are assigned to accommodations based upon the specifications they stated in the space requirements section of the residency application.)

Some artists will have their own kitchen, some artists will share a kitchen and common space. Two residences are located on the ground floor, while two are second floor spaces. All spaces have AC.

A communal deck overlooks the Sculpture Garden and is shared by all residents. Kitchens are decently equipped, linens are provided and there are laundry facilities on site. Most cell phones work fine and there is WIFI access. There are no televisions.

What are workspaces like?

All live/work spaces include a private bedroom and bathroom; some have a small but separate attached workspace, while some have a combination bedroom/workspace. (Artists are assigned to accommodations based upon the specifications they stated in the space requirements section of the residency application.)

We will work with you to set up your work space with tables, easels, writing tables, stools, chairs, pin-up boards or whatever else (within reason!) you need to work.

Does the residency have maid service?

Housekeeping is not provided. The Studios asks that artists keep their spaces clean and picked up during their stay. Cleaning supplies are located in each space. Each residence is cleaned professionally between residenecy periods. 

Are meals provided at The Studios?

Artists are on their own schedule for meals and can use their own kitchens to prepare food or can dine easily in one of the many cafes and restaurants in Key West. There are a few large chain groceries in new town (Winn Dixie/Publix) and smaller (more expensive) neighborhood and organic markets in Old Town.

Fausto’s is a good grocery store and deli just a few blocks away where you can find most everything you’ll need. On Thursdays from 9am-2pm, you’ll want to check out Key West Green Market at Bayview Park where you’ll find amazing produce, specialty items, and handcrafted items. Keep in mind that Key West is located far from the mainland. Food prices are often higher than other parts of the country. Please budget accordingly.

What will I need to bring?

You will need to bring your personal items including clothes, and toiletries, work supplies. The residencies are equipped with basic linens and kitchen utensils. There is a laundry on site. Please bring your own beach towels.

We are at the ‘end of the road,’ but have the stores that most towns have: pharmacies, groceries, library, secondhand and boutique clothing, computer stores and a very robust Saturday morning yard sale routine.

What clothing should I bring?

Comfort is the rule and “Key West Casual” is year-round and acceptable anytime, anywhere.

The following is from Tripadvisor…

“Everything you’ve read about Key West being laid-back and relaxed is absolutely true. There is no need for suits, ties, dress shoes or practically anything that might need heavy ironing. Think “summertime” or “BBQ at your neighbor’s house” for a clothing guide.”

Bring a swimsuit! Many residents report that after a long day’s work there’s nothing better than hopping on a bike to catch the sunset from the water at Fort Zachary beach.

December – March: The daytime temps will be in the mid to high 70’s with occasional evening dips into the 60’sF (sometimes as low as the 50‘s) or a daytime spike in the low 80’s. Occasional showers should also be anticipated. 

April – November: Daytime temps can average up to the mid 90’s with high humidity and often an afternoon downpour. Honestly… No one cares what you’re wearing here. If you have to choose, here’s the best rule of thumb: Always choose comfort over appearance.”

What about supplies and materials?

Residency artists are responsible for supplying their own electronic equipment including computers, printers, and photocopiers. There is an Office Max on Roosevelt Blvd. to meet additional needs.

You must arrange for all of your own supplies including paper, paints, pencils, etc.

We have a Ben Franklin store but it’s supplies are limited and expensive. Many local artists buy their supplies online and have them delivered.


Can my spouse, partner, child(ren), great aunt, old friend, new friend, visit? stay with me?

Visitors/guests are always welcome. Visitors/guests staying overnight at the residencies are NOT. We have a no overnight guests policy for residency artists.

We understand the sometimes complicated logistics residency artists go through to get here and so allow a “support traveler” to stay the first night of arrival and the last night before departure. Please inform us if this is required. Key West has many, many guesthouses and hotels. Prices are all over the board and very dependent on location, season and holidays. Generally, the closer to Old Town the more expensive. We are a popular destination and there is ALOT of helpful information online. Our suggestion would be to go on the internet and search around with your budget and dates. We also suggest using a map and work out from your residency location which will be at or next door to 607 Ashe St.

Can my cat, dog, bird, guinea pig stay with me?

No animals are permitted for health and safety reasons. Note: the local cats all have loving homes with owners who plead with you to please NOT feed them or allow them into the residency spaces. They are crafty (the cats) and will test what they can get away with.

What is your guest policy again?

We have a no overnight guests policy for residency artists. The only exception to this rule is that you may have one travel support person stay overnight on the first night of your arrival and/or the night before your departure to help with traveling logistics.

Can I host a party while I’m in residence?

Artists are permitted to host small gatherings of up to 8 people on a reasonable/limited basis during their residency. If you do plan to host a gathering/party, please communicate with TSKW staff and other residency artists beforehand to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Please make sure gates are secure when your guests leave.

NOTE: You will be a member of a small residential neighborhood in OId Town. Please be conscious of noise levels and respectful of your neighbors and fellow residency artists at all times. Voices travel easily and we ask that you enforce very low to no noise outside after 11 pm each night.

Are there emergency facilities?

Lower Keys Medical Center is our local hospital just outside of Key West. It has Emergency facilities. We have Urgent Care Centers and drop in clinics also. There are pharmacies ( CVS, Walgreens), dentists, and medical specialists including chiropractors and acupuncture specialists.

Do I have to worry about ‘bad bugs’?

We get mosquitoes, no-see-ums and ants, which we don’t like, they come and go dependent on the time of year and weather.  We have lots of geckos and anoles, which we do like, as they eat the bugs we don’t like. Seeing a scorpion or snake would be a rare occurrence.


Have a look at the Key West Insider Guide for recommendations, and check out the Where to Eat, Shop, Etc section of our website to see a list of local businesses who support The Studios 


There are more churches per capita than anywhere else in the country. Many residency artists have reported enjoying the services at a different one each week.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are also more bars per capita than anywhere else in the country. Duval Street is loaded with bars catering to various tastes. Unique and eclectic watering holes can be found all over the island.


Fort Zachary Taylor State Park has the best beach for swimming: deep water close offshore, and the shade of pine trees over a picnic area. If the winds are down and the water is clear, there’s great snorkeling around the rocky breaks.

Public Library

On Fleming, at the corner of Elizabeth.

Other Fun Activities

Movies – Rated “Best Cinema in Florida,” The Tropic Cinema in Old Town is a a retro-style cinema with 3 theaters for mainstream & indie films, plus cultural events & lectures.

People Watching – There are wine bars and cafes that are great to people watch from in Old Town, this is especially fun around the waterfront where you can watch charter boats arrive and depart while sipping a margarita. White Street Pier is a great spot to watch the sunset or the stars.

A Day Trip Renting a car for a day or two to explore the other Keys is a fantastic idea. If you’re heading up the Keys, Bahia Honda State Park (about an hour from Key West) has a gorgeous beach.

Fitness and Yoga – Stay Fit Studio offers monthly passes with a full schedule of aerobic and spin classes.   

There are a few great yoga studios on the island. Yoga on the Beach is just what it sounds like, daily yoga classes on the beach at Fort Zachary. Shakti Yoga ( and the Key West Yoga Sanctuary ( offer full weekly class schedules with a lot of different class options and monthly passes available.


The Studios of Key West