Moving to Miami
Are you moving to Miami? Miami is the seat of Miami-Dade County, which has a total area of 6,237 square miles. Greater Miami consists of 27 independent municipalities, with the Everglades National Park in the western part of the county. With an exceptional standard of living, great weather and luxurious accommodation, Miami is an excellent place for expats and their families. Voted as the 6th best place to live in the US, the suburbs are characterful and historic.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Miami report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The public transport system in the city
Putting Miami on the Map
Located on a plain between Biscayne Bay to the east and Florida Everglades to the west, the city has an extremely comprehensive and efficient public transport system.
- Metrorail and Metromover. Metrorail stretches for 22 miles with 23 stations, running from West Miami to Downtown (the city centre), then onto South Miami. An Orange Line runs to the airport, ending at Miami Intermodal Centre, a transport hub connecting directly to Miami International Airport. Travel cards are available online or at the stations.
- Metromover, which is a free rail service, runs around Brickell and Downtown. It also serves as a connection between Metrobus and Metrorail.
- Miami does not have a subway system.
- Metrobus operates in excess of 90 routes and 1000 buses and covers an astonishing 41 million miles per annum. This includes areas not covered by the rail system such as Miami Beach, the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne and Homestead.
- Miami’s Free Trolleys have various routes running during daylight hours, with some running as late as 10 pm.
- Miami International Airport is 10 miles from Miami Downtown. The Airport Flyer is an inexpensive express bus which runs to South Beach every 30 minutes. Taxis, hired limousines and Uber are other options.
- Cycling is popular, but the busy traffic and inconsiderate drivers make it dangerous. CitiBike is Miami’s bike sharing and rental system with 100 stations and over 1000 bikes, making cycling fun, efficient and convenient.
Known as the Magic City, Miami can be divided into North, West and South districts, as well as Downtown in the east, which is the city centre and the heart of the city, located on the Atlantic Coast. This beautiful city has many green areas, each with a profusion of flowers and trees. Property here, in the most popular areas, is at a premium which could present a challenge to expats. An expert relocation specialist will be able to help with this, finding you a home that addresses all your needs.
An affluent area to the south of Coral Gables, Pinecrest is a high-income area which is convenient to the city, about a 30-minute commute. It is one of the most expensive real estate areas in the country, with massive single-family houses and mansions. The schools are highly rated and there are more private schools than there are public.
CORAL GABLES AND COCONUT GROVE
These two are Miami’s most historic districts, both popular with expats with families’ due to their proximity to many good schools. Both are serviced by Metrobus and Metrorail.
Coral Gables is officially a city and has many picturesque gated complexes, surrounded by canals, open green areas with mature trees, along with great restaurants and bars. The canals and 40 miles of waterfront properties make this ideal for boat enthusiasts, with an abundance of boat storage options. The area includes both residential and business areas. Accommodation choices vary from townhouses, single-family homes and apartments, and there are excellent public and private schools. The University of Miami is here, making it very popular with students. Plus, a free trolley bus makes car ownership unessential.
Coconut Grove, or just The Grove, has a bustling cultural scene and is home to writers and artists and the Coconut Grove Playhouse, one of the city’s more famous theatres. The area has a strong sense of community, along with peace and quiet and a range of property types. From massive waterfront houses, luxurious condos with breath-taking views, modest cottages, most are a quick walk away from the shops, marinas, restaurants and bars.
Nice and close to the commercial and financial district, Brickell’s residents are mostly affluent executives looking for a quick commute, provided by the Metrorail. Mainly high-rise apartments and penthouses, neither of which come cheap, housing is at a premium and may require being on a waiting list. Restaurants and shops are exclusive, some of the best in Miami. There is a high concentration of international banks, which makes the area popular with financial graduates looking to pursue their careers.
SOUTH BEACH, OR SoBe
This area, one inhabited by starving artists and retirees, has undergone gentrification in the extreme. It is now home to a number of the cities most affluent and is chock-full of high-end shops, elegant restaurants and vibey clubs. Many locals choose not to own a car as the Metrobus covers the area efficiently and taxis are plentiful. The miles of beaches add to the attraction, offering exercise and family fun.
SoBe is busy and crowded, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet, this is not the area for you. Standalone houses are almost impossible to find and are extremely expensive, so you’re left with high-rise condos. The amazing Art Deco architecture adds to this popular neighbourhood’s charm.
Once named the 6th best place to live in the US, Miami Beach is a small island, seven miles long and only one-mile wide, so it is extremely walkable. It is crowded and popular with tourists, so be aware of that. The scenery is stunning, the Art Deco architecture gorgeous, with a diverse culture and a feast of museums and art galleries. Miami Beach is also home to the world-famous Mt Sinai Hospital, one of America’s best hospitals.
Established in 1927, this is one of Florida’s oldest municipalities and one of the best places in the state to live. Good schools and many businesses mean that the area is populated with well-educated people with families. And it’s just three miles from Miami proper, although the traffic may make your commute feel much longer.
South of Miami Beach, this barrier island, with its stunning scenery and opulent homes, is very popular with well-to-do retirees. An abundance of cycle paths and peace and quiet makes this unique isle unique in busy, noisy Miami. The highly ranked schools make this a great area for affluent families.
As one of the safest areas in Miami, with a strong police presence, and up-market, modern apartment complexes make Bal Harbour very popular with expats, with its large international community. Proximity to the beach, gourmet eateries, designer boutiques and classy bars make this an expensive option, with accommodation hard to find, and would-be tenants being vetted by condo association boards.
Just north-west of Coral Gables, this has all the amenities for young professional families, with large homes and good schools. More affordable than most, it is further away from Downtown but doesn’t lack shops or entertainment. It is fairly close to an Air Force Base.
Who Lives and Works in Miami
With a city population of approximately 441,003, the urban area has close to 5.5 million people, the 4th largest in the US. The ethnic makeup is 61% White, 17% African American, 2.1% Asian American, 1.4% Native Americans, with the balance Latino or Hispanics.
Miami is a leader in commerce, media, finance, culture, the arts, entertainment and international trade, and was classified as an Alpha-World City. It was ranked seventh in the US in terms of information exchange, cultural experience, political engagement, human capital and business activity, and is home to many international companies.
Miami leads in many areas: The Port of Miami has been the top cruise port in the world for more than 20 years; Metropolitan Miami ranks at second as a US tourist hub, after New York City; Downtown Miami has the largest concentration of international banks in the country.
The city of Miami is a mix of residential and commercial, with financial headquarters, schools, parks, courthouses, major banks, cultural and tourist attractions, and many high-rise apartment blocks.
Over ten million tourists per annum generate in excess of 60% of Miami’s economic activity, with almost 10% of the workforce employed in motels and hotels, restaurants and other recreational facilities. Directly or indirectly linked to the tourism trade, many other industries, including retail, wholesale and construction depend on this business activity.
The garment industry, stone quarrying, warehouses, agriculture and transportation all contribute to the economy, along with military installations. Many Latin American multinational corporations have their headquarters here.
The Best Bits
Where does one start? Great accommodation, equally great salaries, relatively low crime rates, the beaches, the sea and the culture. There is so much to do here, and so much to see.
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was specially built for James Deering in the early 20th-century. With extravagant architecture and an opulent interior, it is full of decorative works and European antiques dating back to the 16th to 19th There are many other art museums in the city.
- Benjamin Green invented suntan lotion here in 1944. Little did he know that this would become an essential product used by millions around the globe.
- Little Havana. For a Cuban experience of the areas of Vedado and Miramar, with Mediterranean houses complete with a rocking chair on the porch, the mandatory cigar shops and record shops playing Latin music, one hardly needs to travel to Cuba.
- The Ball and Chain have recreated the hotspot of the 1930s, which starred artists such as Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. La Pachanga, which is a crazy Cuban fiesta, starts at 9 pm on Saturdays, with Salsa dancers strutting their stuff.
- Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. True to its calling, this massive 250,000 square foot museum offers visitors a range of inspirational programming. Occupying four buildings, the Frost Planetarium, the North and West Wings, and the Aquarium, they display year-round exhibits including River of Grass, Feathers to the Stars and MeLab. The latter is an interactive exhibit, allowing kids to learn about health by using their own bodies to conduct experiments. There are 34 other museums in Miami.
- Numerous theatres, including the Olympia Theatre and the Miami Children’s Museum.
- Legend has it that Gasparilla and Blackbeard left many priceless treasures in the ocean here. So, be one of the many and join the ranks of those who have found silver and gold on the beach and in the sea.
- The Downtown Miami Historic Performing Arts Centre, around since 1926, along with the professional symphony orchestra and ballet company, which performs in the County Auditorium features local and international artists.
- Sports teams the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers make their home here.
- Bayside Market Place has a festive feel, with shopping and great restaurants.
- Key Biscayne has beautiful beaches, waterfront parks, a cycle path and great views. Crandon Park has picnic and barbeque facilities. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park has excellent and safe swimming.
Bringing the Kids
With 145 colleges and universities in Florida, 57 private and 85 public, they offer a wide range of degrees and programmes. Public colleges are around 58% cheaper than private education.
Public schools work on the catchment system, so where you live determines where your children attend school. This excludes magnet schools, which work on an examination entry. Some of the best public elementary schools in Miami include North Beach Elementary, Sunset Elementary and Equestrian Trails Elementary, with high schools, School for Advanced Studies – South, Cypress Bay High and AD Henderson University School and FAU High School.
For those unfamiliar, magnet schools tend to focus on a particular area, such as science, maths, the arts and technology. The exam entry system is tough, but this enables the school to choose from students outside of the catchment area. Miami has placed emphasis on building more magnet schools and converting existing schools to the system. These schools tend to have lower drop-out rates, better reputations and more diversity than public schools.
Charter schools are bound by a performance contract with the school board, which allows them to pursue an alternative curriculum other than the one that is state-mandated. This enables parents more choice of schooling that suit’s the scholar’s personality and talents. These are not private schools but are partly funded the Florida Department of Education and are non-profit organisations. Charter schools in the area are some of the best schools in the state.
Private schools offer a higher standard of education, and most are religious schools, especially Catholic. Fees are high and they have excellent reputations. However, admission is based on entrance exams, extensive school tours, interviews and open houses.
International schools offering the International Baccalaureate or other overseas curricula are limited, but a number of charter and private schools do offer this.
Relocating to Miami
With an exceptional standard of living, great weather and luxurious accommodation, Miami is an excellent place for expats and their families. Voted as the 6th best place to live in the US, the suburbs are characterful and historic – some extremely expensive and extravagant, some with smaller homes for the less-affluent – they all have efficient public transport to carry them, en masse, into the city centre, and there is a great choice of accommodation. Miami is a remarkable place to work, with strengths in tourism, banking, finance and transport, and it has plenty to do for the family at weekends. The school catchment system may be slightly baffling, but with the expert help of an area relocation specialist, you will ease yourself and your family into the system with much less stress and anxiety.
Average Monthly Rent - Miami
|1 bedroom||$1851 (£1400)|
|2 bedrooms||$2236 (£1688)|
|3 bedrooms||$4157 (£3137)|