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Realtors: Palatka, Hastings becoming 'new frontier' due to lower housing prices

Many people who work in St. Augustine can no longer afford to live there. They are living farther west.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Because many people who work in St. Augustine can no longer afford to live there, other areas are seeing an uptick in housing sales.

St. Augustine restaurant owner Frank O’Rourke said many of his employees and others who work in the old city can no longer afford to live in town. 

"Rents go up and rents go up and rents go up," he said.  He is also a real estate broker. 

He's noticed they are moving to places that are less expensive. 

"They're going farther west, to what I call the new frontier," O'Rourke said. "And that’s everything west of I-95, heading out to the river, such as Hastings, Elkton, and East Palatka."

"It is the new frontier," Real Estate Broker Teresa Mercurio said. 

Inland real estate is better protected from climate impacts such as coastal flooding, but the big driver is price. 

'People are realizing it is more affordable. They’re heading that way. That's what we're seeing," Mercurio said. 

The median price of single-family home in Putnam County where Palatka is located was about nearly $238,000 in May according to the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, the median home price in St. Johns County -- right next door -- was more than double that at more than $589,000.

Mercurio has personal stories to back up the numbers. She has a client in Palatka who wants to rent out his house.

"This house in St. Augustine would probably rent for $1,900 or $2,100 (a month). We’re going to be lucky to get $1,250 in Palatka for it."

And for-sale signs are not that hard to find in Palatka. 

Within a few blocks in the southern historic district of Palatka, there are at least ten homes for sale.  

"It’s a 25-minute drive from Palatka to St. Augustine," Mercurio said. 

And it appears people are willing to do that drive in order to keep working in St. Augustine.

O'Rourke said, "We have people coming from those areas to come to work."

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RELATED: Through the Roof: Is the middle class in St. Augustine getting priced-out?

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