Article Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in Miami, Florida
Thinking about moving to Miami? If so, you’re in good hands. I’ve lived in the Magic City for the past 8 years and thought it’d be helpful to roundup the perks (and disadvantages) of living in Miami.
Seems like a lot of people are interested in moving to Miami lately, but can you blame them?
Florida’s laid-back lifestyle 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 Florida (after Jacksonville).
There’s no denying that this vibrant city has a lot to offer! But before I get ahead of myself (as I’m known to do) let’s cover everything you need to know about moving to Miami.
Goes without saying, but just in case: While you’re reading, keep in mind that this is a personal list, not everyone will feel the same way about living in Miami. And that’s alright — heck, that’s what the comments are for!
In any case, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions if you have them, I’m (more than) happy to help.
Editor’s Note: As long time readers of this website know, the fun lives in the comments. Don’t forget to take a look below to see what the locals are saying. We update this post regularly based on feedback received. Cheers!
Pros & Cons of Living in Miami
If you’re planning on visiting Miami before finalizing your decision, here’s the best hotel in town. If luxury is more your speed, this one can’t be beat (pinkies up!).
Table of Contents
Living in Miami, Florida
- Pros & Cons of Living in Miami
- First, the Pros of Moving to Miami, Florida
- #1. Rich Culture & Diversity
- #2. Daily Access to World-Class Beaches
- #3. Year Round Sunshine
- #4. Outdoor Recreation
- #5. There’s No State Income Tax in Florida
- #6. Top-Notch Food Scene
- #7. Good Job Market
- #8. The Laid Back Lifestyle
- #9. There’s Always Something to Do
- #10. Moving to Miami for Nightlife?
- #12. The Coffee Culture
- Cons of Living in Miami
- Pros & Cons of Moving to Miami, Florida (Post Summary)
- First, the Pros of Moving to Miami, Florida
First, the Pros of Moving to Miami, Florida
#1. Rich Culture & Diversity
One of my favorite things about living in Miami is the mind-boggling diversity of the people that call this city home. Miami is an international city through and thought.
More than 70% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino and the diversity spans the gamut. From Cuba and Mexico to Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica and Colombia. There’s no denying that these vibrant and colorful cultures have greatly influenced the fabric of Miami.
The best part? These rich cultures are infused into everyday life while living in Miami. You’ll have access to incredible food, art, music and experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.
#2. Daily 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 sandy beaches but Miami definitely got the cream of the crop.
There’s a plethora 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.
Here’s three beaches in the Miami area that are often considered to be among the best:
- South Beach: South Beach is known for its iconic art deco architecture, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful sandy beach. It is one of the most popular beaches in Miami and attracts a diverse crowd.
- Haulover Beach: Haulover Beach is known for its wide, sandy beach, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque surroundings.
- Crandon Park Beach: Large, family-friendly beach with a wide, sandy beach, clear waters, and plenty of amenities.
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).
#3. Year Round Sunshine
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! In the same vein, temperatures don’t fluctuate much. By and large, average daily highs range from 76°F in January (you read that right) to 91°F in the heat of summer.
In terms of climate, Miami’s climate is billed as a tropical monsoon climate. This means humidity will become a part of your daily life while living in Miami. The upside? Mild and dry winters. And let me tell you, being able to walk around in a t-shirt mid-January doesn’t get old.
As you can imagine, the sunny and warm temperatures attract hordes of tourists in the winter months, which is bound to cause headache if you live in Miami full time. I’ll cover tourist season in depth shortly.
#4. Outdoor Recreation
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. There’s No State Income Tax in Florida
No list of the pros of living 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 improvements to your home. But again, I’m not an expert in this area (and don’t pretend to be).
Find an accountant you trust and hold on to them as tightly as you did your high school ex.
Absolutely. Residents are not subject to state income tax, making Miami one of the most tax friendly large cities in America.
However, every state needs to collect revenue one way or another. Miami chooses to do so through a sales tax of 7% and property taxes. Clocking in on average at 1.02% of the property’s assessed value, property taxes for those living in Miami are considered low
#6. Top-Notch 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 Do
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?
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.
Living in Miami Tip: Learn About Art Basel
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 event highlights collections from more than 250 art galleries and features works from world-renowned artists. The fact that Miami is one of four international cities chosen for this event speaks to the serious art presence in the city.
Another great event 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.
#13. Miami is a Very Walkable City
One of my absolute favorite parts of living in Miami is just how walkable the city is. Depending on where you live you can walk almost everywhere you need to go on a regular basis. Groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and more are all easily accessible by walking.
Miami scores 77/100 walkability ranking making it one of the most walkable major cities in the US.
Cons of Living in 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, but the list below is how I feel.
#1. The Cost of Living in Miami is High
Florida has a reputation for being one of the more affordable states in America. This is largely true for two reasons: the generous tax benefits (mentioned earlier) and the relatively affordable housing market.
As such, some folks are surprised to learn that living in Miami won’t come cheap. Far from it. The overall cost of living in Miami is 21% higher than the national average.
Miami is considered the 10th most expensive city in the US, making it the only southern city to grace the list. But there’s a reason for this.
First, Miami is home to an impressive array of well-known financial institutions that attract wealthy foreigners and investors like moths to the flame.
Unlike the average Joe, these folks don’t cringe when they see $20 avocado toast on the menu. No, these people check their bank accounts for comfort when they’re feeling low.
Secondly, the city is a top tourist destination that sees around 24 million tourists annually. Plainly put, Miami is a popular place and living in a popular place seldom comes cheap.
You’ll need to make a decent living in Miami to enjoy all the city offers. So factor that into your decision before moving to Miami.
For perspective, I currently pay $2,200 for a one-bedroom apartment downtown. $20 avocado toast is a pipe dream over here because the only thing my bank account offers is the element of surprise.
The real estate market is the key factor that drives up the cost of living in Miami. The median home value is 30% higher than in other parts of the state. Which brings us to the next point …
#2. Obnoxious House Prices
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. Nightmarish Traffic
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. Hot & Humid Summers
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.
Good to know before moving to Miami, Florida: Tropical storms
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. This is nature’s sweet spot and nature is worse than a jealous ex (sometimes).
Thankfully, hurricane season keeps regular office hours, you can expect questionable weather from June through November.
Between the tropical storms, strong gusts of wine, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and lightning, power outages are not uncommon.
#5. Moving to Miami? Bugs, Bugs and More 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 is 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. Spring Break May Break You
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.
Retiring in Miami FAQ
The million dollar question, isn’t it? All told, it’s easy to say yes. Daily access to world-class beaches, vibrant nightlife, rich culture, friendly locals and the top-notch food scene makes living in Miami a joy most of the year. In terms of the cons of moving to Miami, we have the usual suspects: hot and humid summers, hurricane season and high cost of living. But at least there’s no state income tax.
Miami has no shortage of charming neighborhoods, but a few stand a mile above the rest. After living in Miami for 8+ years, I have found that the best neighborhoods in Miami are Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, Brickell, Coconut Grove and Miami Beach.
No, recreational marijuana is not legal in Miami. However, Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Florida, and it can be used by those with qualifying medical conditions.
In November 2020, a constitutional amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Florida was on the ballot but it did not pass. As of 2021, the possession, use, and sale of marijuana is illegal.
Absolutely! Retiring in Miami seems to be on everybody’s mind for many reasons. Chief among them is the ample year-round sunshine, warm climate, lack of state income taxes and daily access to the beach.
Pros & Cons of Moving to Miami, Florida (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
- Miami is a walkable city
- 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
Pros & Cons of Living in Miami
|Cultural richness & diversity||The high cost of living|
|Access to world-class beaches||Home ownership feels out of reach for most|
|Sunny, warm weather year-round||Constant traffic & parking that requires miracles|
|Outdoor recreation (especially if you love the water)||The constant humidity (& threat of tropical storms)|
|No state income tax||Moving to Miami? Welcome to the world of bugs|
|The food scene||High rates of homelessness|
|Good job market||Making friends might be challenging|
|The laid back lifestyle||Miami is THE Spring Break destination|
|Always something to do|
|Great art scene|
|The coffee culture|
|Miami is a walkable city|
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Charlotte Tomic says
Love your analysis and agree with most of your points!
I would have loved more details on coffee talk and places!
I’m a realtor here— like thousands of others —and worry about the increase in mortgage rates frustrating new home buyers.
But it’s expensive to live in paradise!
Tel Aviv feral cats says
I’m terrified of large cockroaches and can’t stand mosquitoes. Miami sounds like heaven during winter, so the best thing is probably to buy or rent a winter home there and spend the summer way up north.
Hurricans that Miami is famous for aren’t as scary as earthquakes in California, because there’s always a warning before hurricanes, with plenty of time to get away.
Miami would’ve been perfect if it was possible to erase the summer, which is sadly impossible, so for those who insist on staying in Miami in summer, there are months of being stuck in an air conditioned house to escape the blazing heat outside, moist heat, the worst kind.
Charlotte Tomic says
It’s great for swimming with the water at 90 degrees! We live the summer for swimming.