Miami Relocation and Living Guide

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Bienvenidos a Miami!

On the white sand shores of Biscayne Bay, where the shimmering surf laps at the edge of a cultural paradise, lies one of the most unconventional and captivating cities in the country — Miami. No ordinary beach town, the Gateway to the Americas is, by turns, an economic engine, a retail Shangri-La and one of the hottest art and design destinations in the world.  

First inhabited by the Tequesta, Seminole, Miccosukee and Mayaimi Indians, Miami was colonized by the Spanish in the 1500s and traded hands between Spain, Great Britain and the U.S. until it was finally incorporated in the late 19th century. Early prospectors were attracted by the same things that draw people to the South Florida’s shores today — the warm climate and the coastal terrain — an easy lure for tourists. Since then, many events have shaped the culture and course of history in Miami, from the catastrophic hurricane of 1926, which promptly burst the housing bubble, to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, which brought 500,000 new residents to the city.  

This city that launched 100,000 cruise ships has long sailed on its reputation as a tropical alternative to ordinary American life. The extravagant social scene, the historic and contemporary architecture and the lush landscape create an alluring environment that few metropolises in the country can even attempt to imitate. Whether you prefer the charming, historic vibe of Coral Gables, the blowout scene of South Beach or the more sensible suburbs of Miami-Dade County, this is a city rich with possibility.  

If you’re thinking of moving to Miami, learn more about this complex and exciting city below. If you’re just beginning your search for where to live in the Sunshine State, our Moving Guide to Florida has loads of information to help you determine the best city to live in Florida.    

What It’s Like Living in Miami 

With a population of nearly 450,000, this small city on the tip of the Florida coast is bursting at the seams. 12,286 people reside in each square mile of Miami — that’s ten times as many as in Jacksonville, the state’s largest city. Nearly 2.7 million people reside in the greater Miami-Dade County area, making this metro the second-largest in the state.  

Sometimes referred to as the Gateway to Latin America, Miami has one of the largest concentrations of Latinx residents in the state: 72.3% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx in the city and 69.1% do so in Miami-Dade County. While it certainly helps to speak a little Española in the Magic City, 125 different languages from around the globe are spoken are spoken here, including Chinese, Haitian, Cajun and Portuguese. The more you learn, the more ways you’ll have to speak with your new neighbors!  

The Cuban and Haitian communities in Miami are foundational to its culture, and both have well-established neighborhoods in the city. Little Haiti and Little Havana — which is sometimes also called Little Managua because of the growth of Nicaraguan immigrants — have long welcomed exiles from their respective nations, and these neighborhoods help preserve the cultural traditions of residents new and old.  

Miami is also known for its other cultural mainstays, like the fashion destinations in the Design District, the murals of Wynwood and the art deco treasures of South Beach. And that’s not even counting all the amazing galleries and museums! Wherever you move to Miami, you’ll find a warm and dynamic place to call home.  

High Cost of Living

Much like sea level, the cost of living in Miami is rising. While housing costs are still relatively low compared to other coastal powerhouses, like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Miami’s real estate is some of the most expensive in the state, topping Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando by $85,000 or more. Only nearby Fort Lauderdale is comparably expensive, where the median home value is $364,100, just above the city of Miami’s median of $369,100. In the greater metro area Miami-Dade County, home prices are roughly $30,000 lower than in the city but rent in the county is higher. On average, Miami-Dade residents spend nearly $1,500/month on rent, whereas city dwellers spend $1,300 per month.  

The State of Florida has staked its reputation on its low-income-tax policies. There is no state income tax on personal income, and Miami levies no corporate income tax in the city. The state does charge a corporate income tax rate of 5.5%, but there are often tax exemptions or benefits offered to industries, to maintain Florida’s business-first policy. Learn more about the potential tax benefits for Miami residents

Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances. 

Robust Economy and Job Market 

Thanks to the resiliency of Miami residents and the determined nature of tourists around the globe to get back out there after 2020, the job market in Miami has proven to be as stable as a cruise liner at port. Unemployment in Miami has been below 3% since April 2022, and it now stands at only 2.2% — over a point below the national average.  

The number of non-farm jobs has increased more than 4% over the past year, and the sectors which have seen the most growth include other services (+7.9%), professional and business services (+7%) and manufacturing (+5%). While leisure and hospitality certainly represent a huge slice of Miami’s economic key lime pie, thanks to tourism, trade, transportation and utilities are still the city’s largest super sectors. 

Miami-Dade County’s business mix is impressively diverse. Travel and aviation giants like Royal Caribbean and American Airlines thrive here, and other types of corporations — including Ryder and Burger King — have found the city to be an appealing location for their headquarters. The University of Miami and Florida International University, along with many other public and private colleges, provide a well-trained workforce for the region.  

Unfortunately, Miami wages don’t necessarily align to offset the high cost of living in the city. Whether you’re an accountant, a registered nurse or a construction laborer, Miami residents earn a lower hourly wage than their counterparts in other areas of the country. Though there is no state income tax, residents of the city of Miami bring home a paltry $48,000 a year, on average, and those residing in Miami-Dade County earn only $10,000 more. For comparison, the median household income in the U.S. is now nearly $70,000, and this discrepancy is one factor that helps explain why poverty levels in Miami are persistently high — the poverty rate in the city has now reached nearly 21%.  

Be Aware of Hurricanes

In addition to being aware of the city’s depressed wages, Miami residents also must be looking for tropical depressions, which is what sets in when 1. you learn your fellow countrymen earn more doing the same work you do and 2. a powerful hurricane is brewing in the Atlantic. Miami residents know they can ride out both kinds of storms over a couple of mojitos at Monty’s — the bayside inspiration for “Burn Notice’s” Carlito’s. If things get really ugly, you can always call Fiona Glenanne for reinforcements. 

Hurricane season runs from June-November, and with ocean temperatures rising, storms have the potential to be more powerful and more frequent. When it’s not hurricaning, Miami is still a pretty rainy place. On average, more than 70 inches of rainfall in Miami each year, but it’s not like Seattle — there’s always plenty of sunshine in between those afternoon downpours, along with fluffy piles of cumulous clouds to make the seaside even more picturesque.  

With an average temperature of 78.2 F, Miami’s tropical environment means it is hot and humid for much of the year, which is great if you’re an orchid, but challenging if you are a member of Homo sapiens, especially in July and August, when the oppressive heat leaves both flora and fauna drenched in sweat. 

No place in America is staring down the barrel of climate change like the city of Miami — activists and even the government are battling the increasing threats of global warming. Sea level rise, flooding, storms and fierce winds have been this city’s nemesis since its inception, but the need to mitigate these threats has never been more urgent. Fiona Glenanne for Climate Czar? 

Getting Around in Miami 

With all this talk about mitigating climate change, we kind of hate to say this — so shhhhyou’ll probably still need a car to get around in Miami. Maybe you’ll opt for a beachy electric model instead of Michael Westen’s gas-guzzling Dodge Charger?  

If you want to avoid driving altogether, the robust public transportation network in Miami-Dade County provides lots of options. In Downtown Miami, the Miami Trolley and the Metromover will take you around the city for free. To get from home to work, the Metrobus and Metrorail will be your new BFFs. If you live nearby but outside the county — like in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach — the Tri-Rail system (which travels on a north-south route) connects even far-flung commuters to the city, sans automobile.  

If even that’s not green enough for you, you’ll find plenty of cyclists in Miami. Miami-Dade County maintains numerous trails throughout the city, so you won’t always have to share your wheels with drivers, either. Interested in a bikeshare? A deluxe Citi Bike pass costs $25.00/month for unlimited 60-minute rides.  

Some of the Top Neighborhoods in Miami  

Whether you’re looking for a place to live or just places to hang out when you move to Miami, the Magic City has dynamic neighborhoods to suit every style and mood.  

The always on-trend Design District is peppered with high-end fashion boutiques. In between shopping splurges, you can see art indoors and out, from museums like the Institute of Contemporary Art-Miami and the Haitian Heritage Museum to the Miami Museum Garage, an architectural mediocrity that artists transformed into an aesthetic destination.  

Once known as Little Broadway, the arts scene in Overtown is once again thriving. This historically Black neighborhood was nearly destroyed by segregation and urban development, which bisected this tight-knit community with a stretch of I-95 in the 1950s-60s, displacing tens of thousands of residents. But Overtown’s Historic Lyric Theatre has fortunately been reborn, once again showcasing major performing arts talents and hosting events like the Urban Film Festival.  

Further west, areas like Doral — which has a prominent Venezuelan community — have a more relaxed, suburban feel, with country clubs, shopping malls and easy access to the Everglades.  

If you close your eyes and picture the good life in Miami, you’re probably imagining Coconut Grove — stately homes and gardens, seaside restaurants and tiki bars, sailboats rocking gently in the marina, elegant but not overly fussy. Founded before the city itself, Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s most historic and sought-after neighborhoods. And while the Grove is expensive, one of its greatest luxuries is its walkability — the area within easy reach of the city’s best amenities — beaches, museums and shopping. Though it’s no Margaritaville — Jimmy Buffet did once call the Grove home. But the Grove could just as easily be the terminus of the road less traveled, as Poet Laureate Robert Frost once lived here, too, along with many other A-List celebs and dignitaries. 

Less boho and more bro-ho, Brickell is the financial center of Miami and one of the most densely populated areas in the city. Gleaming glass office towers condominiums offer premium ocean views and instant cachet for their occupants. This area is easy to navigate on foot or on the Metromover, which can take you from work to your favorite cocktail bar before hitting the cultural centers for a proper evening out. One of the best spots to hit in Brickell is the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a 110-year-old, Mediterranean-style estate with extravagant French and Italianate gardens and an incredible collection of art and furniture. 

Just north of these two popular districts, downtown Miami is the city’s cultural and business hub, where trendy restaurants and bars are packed with locals, out-of-towners and suburban tourists, alike. The Miami Riverwalk treats visitors to an avenue of delights, with walking trails, open-air shopping and upscale restaurants with a view. From here, you’ll have easy access to Miami Beach and South Beach, with its iconic art deco hotels and destinations like the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and the Jewish Museum of Florida. On tiny Watson Island, the Miami Children’s Museum will keep the more energetic members of your crew entertained with dozens of hands-on, bilingual exhibitions. Back on the mainland, the History Miami Museum tells the complex story of the Magic City, from the first inhabitants 10,000+ years ago to the immigrants still arriving on the city’s shores today.   

Note: If you’re planning to move to Miami, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Unique Experiences for New Miami Residents 

Southern Florida may have its entertainment predilections — sunbathing, shopping and al fresco dining— but Miami’s manifold diversions will definitely keep you guessing. This city has one of the most eclectic entertainment options of any city in the Sunshine State, from seeing exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art to mountain biking at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah to attending a drag brunch at the Palace.  

If you want to get outdoors, three national parks are within driving or boating distance of Miami. Dry Tortugas National Park may be lesser known than Everglades, but it should be high on your list of places to visit. This island-based park off the coast of Key West is the site of historic Fort Jefferson, but it’s also a snorkeler’s paradise. Within its crystalline waters, you can see a vast array of marine life —eye-catching stoplight parrotfish, grumpy red grouper and even the unmovable red hind, who simply cannot be bothered. No car can take you to this sequestered Aqualand — you’ll need to take a seaplane, a ferry boat or your own watercraft, if you’re both experienced and adventurous. 

Despite what you’ve seen on CSI: Miami, Everglades National Park is not the most murderous place in America, unless you count alligator-on-fish attacks. Gators gotta eat! This astonishing wetland is one of the most beautiful and important wilderness areas in the country, and you don’t need to take David Caruso’s sunglasses on and off to appreciate its singular beauty. More than 300 birds have been spotted here, from flamingos to scarlet ibis to sharp-shinned hawks. But a vast number of other species also call the sea of grass home. You may find you’ve slithered upon a scary-but-harmless Florida water snake or a yep-that’s-venomous eastern coral snake. You know how the saying goes, “Red on black, friend of Jack. Red on yellow, kill a fellow who’s not paying attention on his Everglades boat tour.”  

Biscayne National Park is an aquamarine marvel for eco-adventurers. On land, bobcats and gray foxes make their home among buttonwood mangroves and coconut palms, while whales and manatees swim in the Caribbean-like waters. You can venture into these wild waters with your snorkel and fins or your fishing rod and kayak for a relaxing day of awe and ahhhh.  

If the Magic City’s outdoors isn’t what drew you to southern Florida, Miami is still famous for its people-watching and its nightlife, from celebutante-centric mega-clubs on South Beach to swanky, subterranean lounges. Connected only to the mainland by a strand of I-195, the barrier island of Miami Beach is what made Miami Miami. By day, South Beach is pastel wonderland, chockablock with upscale eateries catering to glam beachcombers who arrive in throngs (and thongs) to its white sand shores. After the sun sets, the area turns technicolor with nightclubs, funked up bowling alleys and street beats — a veritable hotbed for hot, young singles tired of adulting.  

If you want to be fully immersed in the VIP party scene, M2 is the place to dive in. M2’s motto may be “no one can stop you from dancing,” but you’ll need a ticket to hear these celebrity DJs spin and a good hangover cure for the following day. Similarly amped, Basement Miami is nightclub with a tricked out bowling alley and skating rink that begs the existential question, “What if this is all real?” in pink neon, no less. What if, indeed. There is certainly no shortage of bars in the above-ground Miami scene, either. Toasting with a five-star gold martini at the elegant Setai hotel bar instantly sets a certain standard, but maybe sipping on a tobacco-infused Calle Ocho Old Fashioned at the historic Ball & Chain in Little Havana while listening to live jazz is more your speed. 

If your social currency is leveled closer to the 50-yard line, you can rest assured that you will find plenty of sports fiends to call your kin. The Miami Dolphins, the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins, the Inter Miami CF and the Florida Panthers will give you cause for plenty of celebration and only occasional grief. 

When it comes to dining out, Miami is a foodie’s fantasy. Tucked into what feels like a private rainforest in Coconut Grove, Koko offers heritage Mexican flavors in tranquil elegance. Diners can sample 400+ assorted tequilas and mezcals among the cooling palms while feasting on short ribs in a fragrant coloradito mole or enjoying a refreshing aguachile with shrimp and mango.  

You cannot consider yourself a true local until you have sampled food from at least a dozen Cuban restaurants and have formed a strong opinion about who has the best sandwich game. We’ll be surprised if the Cubano from Sanguich De Miami doesn’t at least make your top five list. Also try their Pan Con Bistec and their namesake sandwich, a griddled take on a classic club. 

Learn more about the best attractions and restaurants in town in our Miami City Guide

Ready to Move to the Magic City? Let Mayflower Help You

Get a quote on moving to Miami. 

If you’ve decided that Miami is the city for you, now is the time to start looking for the right professional moving company to help you move. During your move to Miami, Mayflower will be here for you Every Step of the Way®. Our trusted team of movers can make relocating to Miami as easy and breezy as the Magic City itself, whether you’re moving locally or long-distance. Using the Mayflower Move Portal will keep the details of your move organized and at your fingertips. 

Making a cross-country move to Miami? Mayflower’s long-distance movers will help you move to the Magic City from anywhere in the country. Our helpful agents can provide you with full-service moving services and custom moving packages, which can include car shipping, packing and unpacking, storage services, debris removal and more. 

Making a local move to the Magic City? Mayflower can assist you with local moves/movers in Miami and the state of Florida. Our Florida movers and Miami movers perform local moves in the Sunshine State independently under their own brands and business names.  

Planning a DIY move to Miami? Use Mayflower’s helpful moving checklists and packing tips to keep your solo move to the city on budget and on track. 

Curious about other cities in Florida? Mayflower’s Moving Guide to Florida can give you a bite of the Sunshine State’s most popular cities and attractions, along with insider tips for new residents on life in Florida. 

Get a moving quote for Miami from Mayflower.  

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