What to Know Before Moving to Miami

Beyond the sunny weather and beaches, Miami offers residents global business opportunities and multicultural attractions.

U.S. News & World Report

What to Know Before Moving to Miami

a newly built neighborhood in Miami, Floria

If you're planning to move to Miami, be ready for high housing costs and an influx of residents during the winter.(Getty Images)

Miami appeals to people for a wide variety of reasons. Some are looking for the ultimate city to retire in, with all the amenities to fill up a daily schedule. Others are drawn to Miami because it offers a global business market that can help set them up for success. Still others value its beaches and consistently warm weather, and see it as the perfect place to spend part of the year – or even just a few weekends to unwind.

But before you move to this coastal metropolis, it’s a good idea to know a few additional details that can help you thrive in your new hometown. Here’s what you should know about moving to Miami before you get there.

Should You Move to Miami?

While there are plenty of lifelong Miami residents, you won’t be hard-pressed to find transplants from other parts of the U.S. or even abroad. Between 2013 and 2017, Miami’s population increased by 3.9% due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While the 10 other Florida metro areas that appear on the U.S. News Best Places to Live ranking in 2019 all had faster growth rates due to net migration, Miami is also the largest metro area in Florida and saw the greatest number of net new residents (228,645) over the five-year period.

Like many other Florida cities, Miami offers ample job opportunities in the tourism industry to cater to the millions of visitors each year as well as a continuously expanding construction and development industry to meet the housing and commercial property demands of its growing population. In addition, Miami’s reputation as a world capital of international business can make it the perfect place to work in trade, manufacturing or finance.

How to Move to Miami

As with any move to a new city, having a job lined up is ideal. However, plenty of people move to Miami after retirement or purchase a second home there while they live and work elsewhere.

When it comes to choosing an area to live in Miami, there are a wide variety of options. There are neighborhoods known for their cultural influence like Little Havana and Little Haiti, trendy parts of the city like Wynwood that offer an active art scene or suburbs like Coral Gables that have more single-family homes. Miami Beach is a popular destination for luxury buyers, who are also attracted to beachfront opportunities north of the city toward Fort Lauderdale. A real estate agent who is familiar with the area can help you find the spot that fits your budget and lifestyle.

“If you’re very indecisive, I would say don’t buy right now. Come in as a tenant and rent, and experience South Florida,” says Jorge Guerra Jr., chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors.

As with any cross-country move, Guerra recommends relocating with a licensed and insured moving company so your belongings arrive safely and within the expected time frame. If you’re planning to buy a home right away, he adds, get preapproved for a mortgage to make any offer more attractive to the seller.

Here’s what you should know before you move to Miami:

  • Housing costs are high.
  • It’s more crowded in winter.
  • Spanish is often the default language.
  • It rains more than you may think.
  • Traffic delays are expected.

Housing Costs Are High

If you’re coming from another major city like New York, Boston or San Francisco, Miami’s home prices and rents likely won’t phase you, says Danny Hertzberg, a real estate agent for The Jills Zeder Group, part of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, in the Miami area.

Hertzberg notes that the area's most active price ranges are at the bottom, where you find most first-time homebuyers, and at the top, where ultra-luxury real estate sells for $10 million or more, though there are naturally far fewer buyers on the luxury end. The median home price in Miami as of February 2020 was $336,400, according to real estate information company Zillow, compared with the national median price of $250,000.

If you’re worried about affording a home, adjust your expectations about the type of property or location you envision. “The further you get out from the center of the city, the prices go down and you get more land and larger homes,” Hertzberg says. “It’s all about where (buyers are) willing to compromise.”

It’s More Crowded in Winter

Since Miami is a popular destination for snowbirds – people who spend winters in the southern U.S. to avoid cold weather and summers in the north to avoid peak heat – you can expect the population to grow between November and April.

“You feel it – the restaurants are busier, the roads are busier,” Hertzberg says. Expect the housing market to follow similar seasonality, with fewer sales in late spring and summer and more buyers in late fall and winter. However, Hertzberg notes that the COVID-19 pandemic led many New Yorkers to Florida, and he expects quarantines and a disinclination to fly to keep more seasonal residents in Miami throughout summer 2020.

Spanish Is Often the Default Language

As a former colony of Spain before it became a part of the U.S., Florida has a long history with the Spanish language, and Miami is also heavily influenced by Central America and South America. Being bilingual will get you through just about any situation, but knowing a few helpful Spanish phrases will work as well. “Make sure you learn some basic Spanish. ‘Where is the bathroom?’ and things like that,” Guerra says.

Latin American influence can be found throughout the city. “It’s not just in the language. It’s also in the cuisine; it’s also in the culture. So when people are moving from a different state (or) a different city, it’s very new to them,” Hertzberg says.

It Rains More Than You May Think

When you think South Florida, you likely picture sunny days spent at the beach. The reality, though, is that it rains pretty regularly. The Weather Channel reports that Miami receives an average of nearly 52 inches of rain per year. Not every day that includes rain will be a day you can’t go to the beach, though, as there are plenty of rainy mornings that turn into sunny afternoons. But if you’re not a fan of keeping an umbrella on hand just in case, you may be better suited to a drier climate.

Traffic Delays Are Expected

You can expect rush-hour traffic in just about any major city. In South Florida, drawbridges throughout Miami and the outer metro area can add even more time to your commute. If you’re relocating from a town that doesn’t see many traffic jams, Guerra jokes that you may want to prepare yourself for a new style of driving: “The way we say ‘hi’ is we honk excessively.”

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