Article Overview: Living in Miami, Moving to Miami Florida
Thinking about moving to Miami? If so, you’re in good hands. I’ve lived in Miami for the past 8 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Miami.
The laid-back lifestyle of Florida living is tempting and few can resist the pull to this sunny state. Miami itself is home to a population of 440,000, making it the second-most populous city in the state (after Jacksonville).
And it’s not hard to see why so many folks choose to live in Miami, the vibrant city has a lot to offer! But I don’t want to get ahead of myself so let’s cover everything you need to know about living in Miami, based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Table of Contents
Living in Miami
- Pros & Cons of Living in Miami
- Pros of Living in Miami
- #1. Cultural richness & diversity
- #2. Access to world-class beaches
- #3. Sunny and warm weather year-round
- #4. Outdoor recreation (especially if you love water sports)
- #5. No state income tax
- #6. The food scene
- #7. Good job market
- #8. The laid back lifestyle
- #9. There’s always something to keep you entertained
- #10. Moving to Miami for nightlife? You’re in the right place
- #11. Love art? Learn about Art Basel while living in Miami
- #12. The coffee culture
- Cons of Moving to Miami
- #1. The high cost of living
- #2. Home ownership is out of reach for most folks (myself included)
- #3. Constant traffic & parking that requires miracles
- #4. Summers suck (& threat of tropic storms)
- #5. Moving to Miami? Welcome to the world of bugs
- #6. High rates of homelessness
- #7. Making friends might be challenging
- #8. Miami is THE spring break destination
- Pros & cons of living in Miami (post summary)
- Pros of Living in Miami
Pros & Cons of Living in Miami
If you plan on visiting to get a lay of the land before moving to Houston, I highly suggest this great hotel. It’s the one I recommend to my own family and friends when they visit. But if you’re into luxury hotels, this one is a no-brainer.
Note: This post is part of the Local Living Series, wherein locals share honest insights of living in a specific city through comprehensive pros and cons lists. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
Pros of Living in Miami
#1. Cultural richness & diversity
One of my favorite things about living in Miami is the mind-boggling diversity of the folks I share the city with. Miami is an international city and more than 70% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, hailing from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, etc.
The best part? The rich culture from Latin America is infused into everyday living in Miami. You’ll have access to incredible food, art, music and experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, folks from Latin American countries are known for their outgoing and vibrant personalities, making it easy to befriend folks when moving to Miami.
If you’ve ever lived in a city where locals are known to be reserved, you’ll probably understand why this is such a big perk.
#2. Access to world-class beaches
Alright, let’s state the obvious: having daily access to crystal clear water and soft-sand beaches is one of the biggest advantages of living in Miami. The state of Florida is known for stretches of long white-sand beaches and Miami definitely got the cream of the crop.
There’s a ton of great beaches to choose from and you can easily spend weekends fishing, swimming, diving, deep-sea fishing, boating, playing volleyball or sunbathing. Indeed, this coastal vibe is the reason living in Miami feels like living in paradise.
Local’s tip: Most of the beaches in Miami have lifeguards on duty. The lifeguards are highly trained in everything from CPR to reading the tides. If you’re moving to Miami in hopes of becoming acquainted with water sports, I highly suggest educating yourself on swimming safety tips.
Also, don’t you dare forget your sunscreen! And no, not all sunscreen is created equal. Here’s the only brand I use (I discovered it shortly after moving to Miami and never leave the house without it). You can thank me later.
#3. Sunny and warm weather year-round
What’s the fun in having access to world-class beaches if you don’t have the weather to enjoy them? Thankfully, getting constant sunshine is not a concern while living in Miami. Heck, the city averages 250 days of sunshine per year!
You’ll also quickly learn after moving to Miami that the temperatures don’t fluctuate much. By and large, the average highs range from 76°F in January (you read that right) to 91°F in the heat of summer. As you can imagine, the sunny and warm temperatures attract hordes of tourists in the winter months (we’ll cover this more shortly).
#4. Outdoor recreation (especially if you love water sports)
If you’re an avid water enthusiast, you’re going to love living in Miami. I lightly touched on this earlier, but daily access to the beach is par for the course. Being able to swim, surf, kayak, dive — you name it — is bound to keep you in tip-top shape while doing the things you love.
Apart from the water-centric sports, you’ll also have access to a handful of hiking and biking trails, yoga studios, gyms, tennis courts, etc. Is golf more your speed? Well, there’s 14 courses to choose from. It seems to me that locals love staying in shape and thankfully there’s more than enough ways to find a sport that keeps you active while living in Miami.
Local’s Tip: If you love hiking, I suggest taking a day trip to Everglades National Park. It’s the third largest park in the contiguous United States and it’s only an hour drive from Miami. Biscayne National Park is another great day trip!
#5. No state income tax
No list of the pros of loving in Miami would be complete without mentioning the lack of state income tax. That’s right, after moving to Miami you will only be expected to pay federal income tax, property taxes and a sales tax of 7%. Note, grocery food is exempt from the sales tax.
Generally speaking, the generous tax breaks are a big reason why so many wealthy folks end up moving to Miami. I’m not an accountant and wouldn’t feel comfortable (or confident) sharing the various tax breaks offered to folks living in Miami, but highly suggest reaching out to someone you trust if you fall into this category.
In terms of property taxes, the average property tax in Miami-Dade Country is 1.02% of assessed home values. I reached out to two friends that own homes in Miami and they both shared that they pay closer to 2%.
The property taxes are determined annually by the tax assessor, so you’ll want to consider that before making large improvement to your home. But again, I’m not an expert in this area (and don’t pretend to be).
Find an account you trust and hold on to them as tightly as high schoolers hold on to the belief that they will not, in fact, turn into their parents (beer gut and all).
#6. The food scene
The epic food scene in Miami deserves a mention because it’s one of the biggest perks of living in Miami. Offering an impressive array of cuisines to choose from, the food scene is a cultural experience in itself!
Chefs from around the world run oceanfront restaurants, diners, small dives and food trucks. In fact, some locals claim the food scene got even better in the post-COVID world because so many chefs moved out of the bigger cities (New York City, Los Angeles, etc.) in search of a calmer way of life.
Expect to find knock-out Latin American dishes like tacos, empanadas, tostones, yucca dishes and — my favorite — the coveted Cuban sandwich. Heck, the sandwich is worth moving to Miami for alone. You must try Versailles Restaurant Cuban Cuisine to see what all the fuss is about.
Local’s Advice: In terms of the best places to eat in Miami, well that list is too long to mention here. However, if helpful, a few of my favorite joints include: Coyo Taco (they melt in your mouth!), Andiamo! Brick Oven Pizza and BBQ & Craft Company.
#7. Good job market
One of the biggest draws of moving to Miami is the stable job market. Miami is an international city, which means the travel and tourism industry thrives. You can expect to find hospitality-centered gigs are hotels, restaurants, stores and around the cruise industry (Miami is the cruise port capital of the world).
But it would be a mistake to assume that all jobs revolve around hospitality because that’s not the case. Miami’s largest employers include the University of Miami (education), Baptist Health South Florida (healthcare) and American Airlines (aviation).
If you’re moving to Miami for a job and find yourself ready for a change of pace, you’ll find careers in many different fields. From real estate, manufacturing and trade industries to investment firms and large international banks. Worth noting, the development boom in recent years has increased opportunities for contract work and construction-related jobs.
All this to say, the finance and real estate sectors are thriving in Southern Florida and Miami welcomes business ventures with open arms.
If helpful, the highest growth in job opportunities for those living in Miami is anticipated in the hospitality and leisure sectors as normalcy resumes after the pandemic.
#8. The laid back lifestyle
Not mentioning the laid-back lifestyle of living in Miami is nothing short of criminal. Heck, it was my biggest reason for moving to Miami. Frankly put, I was burned out by big city living (looking at you, NYC).
If you’re anything like me, you might be used to following a daily schedule, showing up on time and listening to a podcast while simultaneously reading a book (to make sure you stay on top of your game, of course).
Well, you’ll need to part with your old ways because living in Miami comes with a more relaxed vibe — 15 minutes late is still on time (imagine!). By the same token, everything seems to start later in the evening than typical for other U.S. cities.
Invited to an 8pm dinner? Plan to show up at 8:30 unless you want a lot of quality one-on-one time withe host. My coworkers often joke that being late isn’t possible — you’re considered on time as long as you arrive before the last person leaves.
#9. There’s always something to keep you entertained
Miami offers a plethora of exciting entertainment options. From theaters and art galleries to museums, festivals and concerts, it’s easy to find something to love.
Hosting a bevy of interesting festivals, locals have access to world-renowned musicians, fashion and films. There’s too many great events to name in this article, but here’s a roundup of the most popular events:
If you’re moving to Miami in the hopes of experiencing a different culture, check out the Calle Ocho Festival, the highlight of Carnaval Miami. This one day fiesta draws more than one million visitors per year.
If you consider yourself a film connoisseur (pinkies up!), don’t miss the Miami Film Festival that takes place in March. The festival showcases retrospective independent films with a special focus on Ibero-American film.
Miami also has several orchestras and performing arts conservatories like the Frost School of Music, the Florida Grand Opera and New World School of Art.
Moving to Miami with kids in tow? Check out the Miami Sea Aquarium, Miami Zoo or have a picnic at one of the 147 public parks in Miami.
#10. Moving to Miami for nightlife? You’re in the right place
Miami is considered the second best American city for nightlife (after Las Vegas, naturally). There’s no denying that the city comes alive after dark with deafening nightclubs and balmy rooftop bars. I don’t know where folks get the energy, but it’s no uncommon for parties to wrap only when the sun starts to rise.
I’m convinced that most of the party animals living in Miami consider the sun to be the city’s biggest party pooper. Well, it might be a tie between that and the expense of a night out.
And it’s true, the expense of the epic nightlife in Miami serves as sobering reality check when the credit card bill comes due. Miami isn’t cheap (we’ll cover this in the cons) and expenses add up quickly — cocktails are pricey and cover charges non-negotiable.
Local’s Tip: Want to keep your friends around? Don’t make early morning plans during the weekends. Late nights + early mornings don’t mix and if you force a local to choose between the two, expect to eat brunch alone. Bring a book — it will feel less weird when the locals around you feign surprise.
#11. Love art? Learn about Art Basel while living in Miami
I could take this opportunity to present a side of myself that seems sophisticated and cultured. But I’m tired and the lie would become evident in no time. So here’s the truth, I don’t understand art, and heck, I’m not even in the same time zone as cultured.
While visiting museums I become one of two people: half the time I’m the head scratcher, the other half? I’m pretending to know what I’m talking about and toss in every luxury item I can think of for good measure. So if you’re like me and don’t consider yourself an “art person” I urge you to learn from my mistake and learn about Art Basel while living in Miami.
Held for a brief weekend in June, Art Basel is a world-renowned international art fair staged in four international cities: Basel (Switzerland), Miami, Hong Kong and Paris.
The fact that Miami is one of the four cities is a huge deal and speaks to the serious art presence in the city. The objective of the art fair is to grow local art programs and imbue passion for creative works.
The event highlights collections from more than 250 art galleries and features works from acclaimed artists. You’ll be rubbing elbows with collectors and enthusiasts as you make your way from one piece to the next.
Another great even to know about is Miami Art Week (topically held the last week of November/first week of December). Also make sure to check out the Perez Art Museum Miami and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
#12. The coffee culture
Let’s wrap the pros of living in Miami with something that seems inconsequential but isn’t: good coffee.
You’ll find your fair share of third-wave coffee roasters while living in Miami, to be sure, but what makes the coffee culture unique is the influence of Cuban culture.
Cuban migrants are credited for shaping the coffee culture in Miami, which is more focused on the social aspect rather than “dine and dash.” If you’re interested, you can read about the importance of Cuban influence in Miami’s coffee culture here (I found it interesting).
It took some adjusting to go from treating coffee as an item on my “to-do” list to actually making small talk with the barista (or the folks next to me). I’ve had several interesting conversations that span the gamut. From nothing more than small talk (I have an app for the weather, but thanks for playing) to interesting conversations about traditions and life experiences.
Coffee is a daily affair, and the coffee culture in Miami is unlike anywhere else I’ve lived. It’s turned into one of my favorite things about living in Miami.
Cons of Moving to Miami
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the Sunshine State. As such, I’d like to cover some of the cons of living in Miami. Similar to the perks listed above, these cons are subjective — not everyone feels the same way about living in Miami. Keep that in mind while you read the list.
#1. The high cost of living
Florida has a reputation for being one of the more affordable state in America. This is largely thanks to the tax benefits mentioned earlier and home prices that are less than the national average. As such, some folks are surprised to discover that living in Miami doesn’t come cheap.
Miami is considered the 10th most expensive city in the US, so factor that into your decision before moving to Miami. It’s the only southern city to grace the list, but there’s some key factors at play.
First, Miami is home to many notable international financial institutions, which attract wealthy foreigners and investors. Secondly, the city is a top tourist destination, seeing an average of 24 million visitors per year. As such, you’ll need to make a decent living in Miami to enjoy all the city offers.
My one-bedroom apartment clocks in at a steep $2,200, which is comparable to the rent my friends pay. It’s estimated that the overall cost of living in Miami is 17% higher than the national average.
So, what does that mean for you? Well, expect to pay more for everyday things (groceries, utilities, entertainment, restaurants, transportation) unless you’re moving to Miami from another major US city.
The real estate market is the key factor that drives up the cost of living in Miami. The median home value is 30% more than in other parts of the state… talk about perfect segue into the next section of the downsides of moving to Miami.
#2. Home ownership is out of reach for most folks (myself included)
Like most (if not all) cities in America, home ownership is a pipe dream, which has been the case for the past 10 years. Well, Miami is no exception.
Median home prices in Miami clock in at an impressive $517,987, an increase of 26% from last year alone. So if you’re looking to buy a home, be prepared to have a cool half million and a minimum down payment of $100,000 to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.
To that end, those moving to Miami to buy an “affordable home in the south” may find themselves disappointed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a place full of sunshine and sandy beaches?
#3. Constant traffic & parking that requires miracles
Let’s lighten up this cons list with yet another factor we have no control of: angry drivers! I swear, owning a car while living in Miami will take 5 years off your life.
Heavy traffic and mind-boggling congestion while become a part of your daily life. It’s inevitable that you’ll own a car while living in Miami, as will practically everyone else that calls the city home. As such, traffic is a nightmare (which tells you everything you need to know about public transportation, or lack thereof).
And while Miami’s traffic doesn’t hold a candle to New York City, it’s still something to take into consideration, especially if you’ll be commuting for work.
In addition to traffic, on-street parking is nearly impossible most days of the week. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself circling the block while questioning why any sane person would move to Miami. Always account for 20 minutes minimum to find a parking spot, especially in the downtown core.
#4. Summers suck (& threat of tropic storms)
One of the biggest cons of living in Miami is the unrelenting humidity during the summer months, which I’m not used to 8 years after moving to Miami. It’s not uncommon for summer temperatures to dance in the 90s while the humidity slowly builds a dome around the city.
The reason for the humidity is logical enough (I tell myself from the comfort of my air conditioned home). Miami’s climate is subtropical marine because the city borders the Gulf of Mexico, an area known for its tropical climate.
If you’re unfamiliar with subtropical marine climates (lucky you), allow me to fill you in. Think unbearable heat, sticky humidity and a climate that feels like swimming in a bowl of soup (poetic, I know). If you’re curious, Miami ranks as the 7th hottest city in America during the summer season.
Oh, and if the summer humidity wasn’t enough allow me to share that Miami is one of the US cities most prone to tropical storms and hurricanes.
Tropical storms are a common occurrence because of Miami’s location at the southern tip of Florida, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. Between the tropical storms, thunderstorms and lightning, power outages are not uncommon.
#5. Moving to Miami? Welcome to the world of bugs
Yet another downside to the humidity and heat of Miami is the thriving insect population. A little known fact that many folks moving to Miami don’t realize is that the city is ranked as one of the buggiest in America.
Home to cockroaches, mosquitoes, biting midges (look it up, or better yet don’t) and a plethora of biting bugs, you’ll be living in their stomping grounds and they’ll let you know it.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, in addition to insects you’ll also experience your fair share of scorpions, snakes and spiders while living in Miami. To that end, always keep your eyes peeled.
#6. High rates of homelessness
Like many other cities in America, homelessness is on the rise. As of May 2022 it’s estimated that the homeless population in Miami is 1,000 and rising due to the housing crises. Frankly put, home values have skyrocketed and rentals have followed suit — affordable housing has become an oxymoron.
But again, this issue isn’t unique to daily life in Miami. Plus, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what the solution is, making me unqualified to complain about the issue because I don’t have anything to offer.
#7. Making friends might be challenging
I’m reluctant to mention this aspect of living in Miami because it’s so subjective. If you’re a very social person you probably won’t have too much trouble making friends. But speaking from personal experience, finding genuine friends was tough.
I won’t even pretend to know the reasoning for this one. The best I can come up with is that a ton of folks living in Miami are hustling to make their dreams come true. As such, they don’t want to waste their time and can sometimes come off as abrasive and aloof.
For what it’s worth, I have a handful of friend groups because I’ve been living in Miami for 8 years, but it took a while to make connections when people I jived with. So heads up!
#8. Miami is THE spring break destination
I don’t typically deal in the dirty business of stereotypes, but in this case it applies: Miami attracts some rowdy crowds during spring break! If you’re moving to Miami in search of zen, look further because this is the second-most visited city in America.
But Spring Break (March/April) is a whole different animal, I actively avoid South Beach altogether. Maybe it’s my old age speaking (I am hitting 40 next year), but I’m definitely getting more and more annoyed lately by the whole experience. Not to mention the inflated house of lodging during that time!
Anyways, this is my personal quip which is why I included it. I know some locals that love spring break because of all the life it brings to the city, so to each their own.
Pros & cons of living in Miami (post summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in Miami, I hope you found this list helpful.
- Cultural richness & diversity
- Access to world-class beaches
- Sunny, warm weather year-round
- Outdoor recreation (especially if you love the water)
- No state income tax
- The food scene
- Good job market
- The laid back lifestyle
- There’s always something to keep you entertained
- Moving to Miami for nightlife? You’re in the right place
- Love art? You’ll love living in Miami
- The coffee culture
- The high cost of living
- Home ownership feels out of reach for most
- Constant traffic & parking that requires miracles
- The constant humidity (& threat of tropic storms)
- Moving to Miami? Welcome to the world of bugs
- High rates of homelessness
- Making friends might be challenging
- Miami in THE Spring Break destination