Moving to Miami
Situated at the southeastern tip of Florida, the city of Miami itself covers only about 36 square miles, making it one of the country’s most densely populated cities. The city has a lot to offer its including a mild climate, national parks, sports, pop culture, and more.
Miami is a highly diverse and multicultural city. In fact, expats make up over half of the population. People of Cuban descent make up around one third of the population. There are also large numbers of residents from Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.
The city’s enormous growth has also been influenced by Americans relocating to the area for a variety of reasons, and Miami is now one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States.
Even those moving from inside the US who are familiar with US customs are likely to experience some culture shock upon moving to Miami. This city may not be as laid-back as LA or as fast-paced as New York City, but it certainly has its own vibrant, chaotic charm.
One of the best things about Miami is that there is a place for everyone, regardless of language, country of origin, or personal preferences.
The weather in Miami tends to be warm; summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild. The area is vulnerable to hurricanes between May and October. There is virtually no snowfall here (the winter of 1977 notwithstanding) and plenty of rain, especially during the summer.
As for transportation, there are as many ways to get around Miami as there are places to go. Miami is a surprisingly walkable city, and you can also bike in many areas. Miami International Airport is located here, and you can also utilize the city’s public transportation options including buses, the metro rail, shuttles, trains, taxis, and ferries.
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The Job Market
More than two thirds of Miami residents speak Spanish as their primary language. English is of course the other language commonly spoken here, but you’ll also find French, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Arabic. However, for the purposes of finding a job, you will do just fine with either English or Spanish; a combination of both is the best option, so even English moving to Miami from the UK will do well to pick up at least some basic Spanish.
Even for expats, finding a job in Miami is relatively easy. There are various multinational companies located here thanks to the city’s proximity to the Caribbean. Although jobs in the construction industry declined after the housing market crash of 2007, these jobs are starting to pick back up.
There are also jobs available at the International Airport and the Port of Miami. (The Port of Miami accounts for some 176,000 jobs on its own!). In general, residents are able to find work in retail, wholesale, transportation, education, healthcare, international trade, and other industries.
The price of groceries in Miami is comparable to other US cities (or perhaps slightly higher), with a gallon of milk costing about $4, a dozen eggs about $2.60, a pound of apples about $2, a pound of chicken about $4, and a mid-range bottle of wine about $12.
As in most other places, restaurant meals cost more, with a meal for two costing as much as $60 or more in a mid-range restaurant. Two imported beers will add roughly $11 to the tab. You can expect your morning coffee-house beverage to run about $3.70.
As far as utilities, the average bills for a 915-square-foot apartment come at about $178 per month for electricity, heat, water, and garbage service. A 6-Mbps Internet connection with unlimited data costs around $46 per month. Most gyms offer monthly memberships for around $50.
Rent in Miami tends to be on the steep side. In fact, Miami is one of the ten most expensive US cities in which to rent an apartment. Even the cheapest option, a one-bedroom outside the city centre, runs on average about $1,000 per month.
A three-bedroom outside the city centre will set you back around $1,800 per month. Looking for something in the city centre? You’ll pay about $1,700 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, and closer to $2,800 for a three-bedroom.
Like renting, property ownership in Miami does not come cheap. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs about $358 per square foot. The average Miami home sells for $484,500. In the more popular neighborhoods, such as Coral Way and Wynwood-Edgewater, average home prices inch closer to $600,000. And in the more upmarket neighborhoods, like the Upper East Side and Northeast Coconut Grove, the average homes sells for over $1 million.
These prices represent a strengthening housing market in the city. During the first half of 2015, home prices rose almost 1,000% compared to the same period on 2014. The number of home sales fell about 12%. Renting, at least temporarily, is always advisable when moving to an unfamiliar city; this gives you a chance you get to know the neighborhoods and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Like most cities, Miami has a variety of neighborhoods to choose from, each offering its own unique set of draws for people with different needs and preferences. Whether you want a high-energy, trendy, relatively child-free neighborhood or a quieter, more family-friendly option with great schools, Miami has the perfect neighborhood to offer.
- Family-Friendly: With fewer tourists, quieter nights, actual parking spots, lower home prices, and close proximity to the beach, the neighborhood of North Beach is popular with families.
- Upmarket: If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury, there are plenty of options in Miami. Fisher Island, Indian Creek Village, and Coral Gables are just a few of the exclusive upmarket areas in the city.
- Hip & Trendy: Coconut Grove has a somewhat bohemian feel with a laid-back, artsy vibe. Here, there are lots of bike paths, lush tropical foliage, and easy access to the airport and the beach.
- Up & Coming: New residential developments and rising prices are evidence of the re-emergence of several Miami neighborhoods, including Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and downtown.
Source: Flickr | Janie Coffey
Schools and Education
Miami is home to the nation’s fourth-largest public school district, Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The district has almost 400 elementary, middle, and high schools, 345,000 students, and more than 40,000 employees.
Students of this district come from all walks of life, hail from 160 different countries, and speak 56 different languages.
Universities in Miami
As for universities, there are many options. The University of Miami is ranked number 55 in the US, with globally recognized achievements in education, teaching, and service, as well as its extensive athletic programs.
Florida International University is the city’s only public research university and offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. Miami Dade College is the second-largest institution of higher learning in the country – and these are just a few of the many options available for those looking to start or further their careers through higher education in Miami.
Ranking against the World
Although Miami has a higher cost of living than many US cities, it is still lower than the cost of living in New York City or Seattle. Miami also has the largest Latin American population anywhere except for Latin America itself.
Source: Flickr | Michael Pick
The economy in Miami is heavily based on tourism, and not just during the winter months as has been the case in the past.
However, Miami’s economy has become much more diversified as well, relying increasingly on trade, international banking, and the production of goods such as textiles, apparel, pharmaceuticals, plastics, furniture, transportation equipment, and agricultural products including beans, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and avocados.
A Day in the Life
When you’ve got a day or a weekend off and would like to spend it enjoying Miami, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time. The first thing to know is that Miami is highly walkable, and it’s also very easy to get around by bus or train, so there’s no need to try and drive downtown – park your car for the day (or the weekend!) and walk or use public transportation to make your activities easier.
On any given day your chances for warm, sunny weather are great, so head outdoors for a sightseeing tour (a great way to get to know your new city), a stroll along South Beach, an alligator encounter in the Everglades, or just a day or relaxing on the beach.
In some locations you can even get spa treatments right in your beach chair for the ultimate in relaxation. Those with kids will want to check out Jungle Island or the Miami Children’s Museum for tons of family-friendly fun.
Want to do some shopping? You’re not alone – tourists from all over the world come to Miami to shop, and for good reason. Here you’ll find top brand name designers, loads of interior design and art options, the enormous Dolphin Mall, and much more.
When you’re ready to eat, know that the city’s cuisine options are positively endless. From chain restaurants to health food eateries to seafood to brunch buffets, there’s something for everyone. Cap off your day with a visit to one of Miami’s famous nightclubs for an authentic local experience.