Living in Merritt Island Pros and Cons

Sunrise over the Banana River. Fishing boat in the foreground and pilons to a dock in the distance.
Morning sunrise over the Banana River near the Island Waterfront Bar & Grill

I recently heard that because of COVID, a lot of people are being given the go-ahead to stay working remotely and people are starting to consider new places to live since they aren’t tied to living near work anymore. The big destinations are just outside their current big city, the mountains, or somewhere near the beach. If you are in the latter category and think living near the beach could be right for you, Brevard County Florida has some great options. In this blog post, I would like to introduce you to Merritt Island Florida. This great island city is Brevard County’s 4th largest city and is home to over 36000 residents. Just like any town, Merritt Island does have its pros and cons to living there. Here is my breakdown of the good with the bad of living in Merritt Island.

Pros of living on Merritt Island

Location. Merritt Island Florida is centrally located in Brevard County offering easy access to the Kennedy Space Center, the Beaches, the Mainland, even East Orlando. SR 528  and SR520 is the connector through the center of the city. South Merritt Island has SR404 connecting you to the beaches, the mainland and I-95. The very south tip connects you to the beach via Mathers Bridge. The very north end is the Space Center that has the NASA Causeway (aka SR 405) to the mainland.

Surrounded by water. Banana River to the East and the Indian River to the West with Sykes Creek running through the middle, and canal ways leading into all 3 of these waterways. If you love the idea of either living on the water or near the water, Merritt Island is a great option.

map view of merritt island florida with the Banana River, Sykes Creek and Indian River highlighted
Merritt Island is surrounded by water

Diverse selection of homes to live in. What kind of house do you see yourself living in? Simple home built in the 1960’s or 1970’s that is near shopping, restaurants and the water? Newer home in a gated community on a lake? Large estate on the Indian River? A place for your horses? Merritt Island has homes under 1000 SqFt to over 12000 SqFt of living space. Home sites from under 1/4 acre to over 10 acre tracts of land. Homes sales in the last 12 months in Merritt Island had prices from the low $100K to estates over $3M with every price point in between. Median home price from 09.2019 to 8.2020 was $339,000. To see what is available for sale today in Merritt Island Florida, please click on this link

Great Schools. Merritt Island has great public schools. There are 5 elementary schools, 1 middle school, 1 JR/SR High school, and 1 High School in Merritt Island. Most are A or B rated according to this Florida Today website

screenshot fo the Florida Today website showing the schools of Merritt Island

Low Property Taxes. Property taxes in Merritt Island are very low compared to some of the neighboring cities. The tax district for all of Merritt Island is 2200 Unincorporated district 2 and the millage rate for 2019 was $13.8017 per $1,000 of value. If your home’s taxable value was $200,000 your property taxes would be under $2800. Here is the information on the millage rates for all of Brevard County Florida

Great Parks & Wildlife preserves. Merritt Island has some of the best parks in the county that offer the ability to do just about any outdoor activity you love to do. 

front of the kayak in the foreground on the Sykes Creek in Merritt Island. Launched from Kiwanis Island Park Merritt Island
Launched from Kiwanis Park. Paddling north on the Sykes Creek

Kayaking/paddle boarding can be done from Kiwanis Park, Manatee Cove Park, Kelly Park & Pine Island Conservation Area.

map image thanks to Garmin of our paddle from Kiwanis Island
This was our paddle from Kiwanis Island north. Didn’t quite make it to 528

Boats can be launched at Kiwanis Island and Kelly Park

Baseball, softball, tennis, football, racquetball can be done at Mitchell Ellington Park

Tennis, racquetball, and softball at Kiwanis Island (you can do a lot at Kiwanis Island)

Pavilions that can reserved for family or larger gatherings at most parks in Merritt Island

Wildlife preserve and trails-Ulumay Park, Pine Island, Rotary Park, Manatee Cove Park and the Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve are all great places to hike and explore.

I can go on talking about the pros of Merritt Island. I didn’t include the nearby restaurants and shopping, watching rockets launch from your yard, or the amazing running & biking community.

You have to take the good with the bad into consideration when you are considering a move. Merritt Island, like any other city in the county and state of Florida has some cons too.

Traffic can be bad. Especially around rush hour and schools starting/finishing. Courtenay Parkway from SR 520 to Merritt Island High School gets bad in the morning and especially thick in the afternoon. North of 528 on Courtenay gets bad on either side of the Barge Canal Bridge in the afternoon. SR520 on between N Tropical Trail and the Hubert Humprhrey Bridge can be bad during rush hour. N Banana River Drive between 528 and Sykes Creek Parkway is bad during school letting in and out. This is only 2 lanes and if you are heading North and need to turn left or heading south and need to turn right, traffic will be backed up until you can make your turn.

The barge canal draw bridge is up in north Merritt Island on SR3
Every now and then, the Barge Canal Bridge gets me as I am heading towards North Merritt Island

Insurance can be expensive in Merritt Island. Most of the homes sold in Merritt Island are over 30 years old. You have to pass a 4 point inspection to obtain insurance coverage (full coverage for a loan). If the roof has less than 5 years left, there is cast iron pipes, or an issue with the electrical system (either aluminum wires or a Federal Pacific panel), your insurance will either be expensive OR you won’t be able to obtain coverage until the issues have been resolved.

Images from a 4 point inspection: electical system, plumbing system, HVAC, and roof. The link under the photo takes you to a video on 4pt inspections.
Learn more about a 4 point inspection with this video

Flood insurance may be required. Living on a barrier island, you would think flooding can be an issue. Surprisingly, a lot of our Beach communities are not considered to be in a flood zone. You would think the same then should be true for Merritt Island. Most of the Island, you are good. There are sections of communities along N Banana River Drive (Glen Haven) and near Hampton Homes that are in a flood zone. Depending on the elevation of the land will depend upon how much the flood insurance will cost you.

Screenshot of our MLS and iMAPP software showing where a flood zone is. Areas that are yellow are the floodzone.
This is a screenshot from our MLS. The iMAPP has an overlay showing the flood zone (yellow area) and the non flood zone (green area)

Hurricane evacuation area. Merritt Island is a barrier Island. If a storm is coming and they declare mandatory evacuation, you will need to leave your home for the storm. Anyone living east of US1 (all of Merritt Island & the Beaches) need to be safe and evacuate.

hurricane evacuation sign
This is an important sign during hurricane season

So what do you think, do the Pros outweigh the Cons for you to consider Merritt Island florida as a place to live? You also get the great year round temperatures and sunshine that add to the quality of life living in Florida. I alway recommend doing some drive throughs to see if an area is right for you. I highly recommend a drive down S. Tropical Trail to enjoy the water views. Head north on SR3 to see all the activity around the Kennedy Space Center. See the amazing restaurants available along Courtenay Parkway and SR520 between Tropical Trail and S Banana River Dr. 

If  you are considering a move to Florida and the Space Coast and you are trying to decide which community is right for you; I think Merritt Island offers a lot and should be on your list of cities to consider. I get questions all the time from people and families ready to make the move to our area that I love to answer. If you have questions, I would love to talk and answer your questions too. Call me, text me, email me or leave a comment below. If you like to do some exploring through social media, all my information is below.

About the author:

Eric Larkin is a Broker Associate with Real Broker, LLC. He lives, works, and plays in the Cocoa Beach area. If you have questions about moving or relocating to Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast, let me know! I get calls, texts, direct messages & comments on my posts every day about the real estate market and things that are happening in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast that I love answering. Ask me your questions on moving, relocating here, or anything about the community. I am here to help. I have been helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs since becoming a real estate agent in 2003. My focus is always on helping, answering your questions, and doing everything possible to make certain you have a smooth transaction from beginning to end.

What questions do you have about buying or selling a home? Contact Me

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