City Guide to Living in Miami and Its Neighborhoods

City Guide to Living in Miami and Its Neighborhoods
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Before deciding to move to Miami, learn about its neighborhoods, cost of living, cost to buy a house and more.

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Set on the southeastern tip of mainland Florida, Miami is the area’s cultural, economic and financial hub. There’s a little something for everyone—from diverse experiences with international flavor to artwork, nightlife, local music and plenty of beaches and parks.

Although you can enjoy big-city life in Miami, there are also quieter neighborhoods, depending on your lifestyle. If you’re thinking about living in Miami, here’s what you need to know.

Living in Miami: What to expect

Miami is a culturally diverse city that attracts people from all over the globe and from one area in particular. As many as 72% of residents identify as Hispanic/Latino and 66% speak Spanish, so it may not come as a surprise that Miami is often referred to as the capital of Latin America.

Walkable areas in Miami

While you may need to use a car to get from one neighborhood to the next, you can typically switch to foot once you get there.

Miami is the fifth-most walkable large city in the United States—the downtown, Wynwood and Little Havana areas are the most pedestrian-friendly—and also offer a network of buses, local railways and bicycle lanes. You can also hop on the TriRail or Brightline to get to Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County in under an hour.

Commute time in Miami

Driving to work takes some patience: Miami and Los Angeles are tied for the longest commute in the US at 56 minutes on average. Commuters also have the farthest walk on average during a single trip. According to a Census report in 2019, the average commute time in the Miami area was 30.3 minutes.

Miami weather

The year-round warm weather might make those trips more bearable, since you won’t ever have to deal with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Winters in Miami average 68 degrees, while summer temperatures climb to 84 degrees or higher. The humidity, which averages 72% annually, will make everything seem hotter.

And while Miami has a “tropical monsoon” climate year-round, you’ll need to pay special attention to hurricane season, which lasts from June through November. It’s a good idea to prepare a hurricane kit in the event one of these storms comes your way. Since 1930, 85 hurricanes have hit Miami-Dade County.

Table of annual Miami weather.

Miami crime rate

Despite the nice weather, you need to consider safety before moving to Miami. As of 2019, the crime rate is 71% higher than the national average, and Miami is only safer than 10% of the cities in the US. During the 2019 calendar year, 17,624 property crimes and 2,850 violent crimes were reported to the police, according to the FBI. Theft was the most frequently reported crime, followed by assault, vehicle theft and burglary.

Chart of crime rate in Miami.

Best public schools in Miami

If you’re bringing your kids to Miami, here’s a peek into schools the city has to offer: With 334,000 students, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system is the fourth-largest in the US and has been A-rated for two consecutive years.

According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the best public schools in the city include Sunset Elementary, Herbert A. Ammons Middle and the School for Advanced Studies (SAS), which is the No. 1 ranked high school in the state and No. 5 in the nation.

Top 3 elementary schools

  • Sunset Elementary
  • True North Classical Academy
  • I Preparatory Academy

Top 3 middle schools

  • Archimedean Middle Conservatory
  • Ada Merritt K-8 Center
  • Herbert A. Ammons Middle School

Top 3 high schools

  • School for Advanced Studies (SAS)
  • Archimedean Upper Conservatory Charter School
  • Design and Architecture Senior High

Miami city population

By population, Miami is the second-largest city in Florida (behind Jacksonville) and the 42nd largest city in the US. According to the Census, there are 399,457 people living in the city—just under 400,000 people. More people are moving to Magic City every day. Miami is growing at a rate of 1.09% per year, and its population has increased by 19.7% since 2010.

Chart of population growth in Miami.

Cost of living in Miami

Housing costs in Miami are 44% higher than the national average, while the general cost of living is 14% higher. Numbeo estimates a family of four spends about $3,895 a month on living expenses, while a single person might need $1,072 per month. Both estimates leave out the cost of a mortgage or rent payment. On the plus side, Florida doesn’t tax income, pensions, Social Security or inheritances, so your earnings go further than in some other states.

Chart of cost of living in Miami.

Median household income in Miami

The median household income in Miami is $70,110. That represents an increase of about 16% since 2013 but sits lower than the national median of $80,944. In 2019, the median household income was $39,049.

Miami neighborhood map

Top 5 Miami neighborhoods

When moving to Miami, choose your neighborhood carefully. In addition to the monthly price, think about your lifestyle and daily commute and whether you want to live in a single-family house or a unit in a condo or apartment. Here are five of the most popular neighborhoods in Miami right now:

Brickell

Image of Brickell neighborhood in Miami.

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Brickell is the city’s business and financial hub and offers “super modern living,” said Tina-Gaye Bernard, a licensed broker-associate in Miami who goes by Bernie. You’ll find tons of trendy restaurants and shops along with high-rise condos and a handful of single-family houses. The drawbacks? There are lots of people packed into a relatively small area, and it’s the priciest of the neighborhoods on this list.

Coconut Grove

Image of Coconut Grove in Miami.

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Founded in 1873, the Grove is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami and is “the complete flip of Brickell,” Bernie said. You’ll find unique single-family homes on streets lined with tropical plants and trees, giving the neighborhood a quaint and charming vibe.

“The houses are older so the exterior is mostly original, but you’ll see some with interior renovations, though the layouts are a little tight,” Bernie said.

It’s a very family-friendly area and provides a straight shot to the highway and airport when you need to get out of town. However, homes are pricey and in-demand.

Edgewater

Image of Edgewater in Miami.

Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Edgewater is a bayfront neighborhood in Miami that offers a lot of what Brickell has but at slightly lower prices and with a smaller population, Bernie said. There are plenty of condos, restaurants and shops, and it’s more accessible to some other fun neighborhoods, such as the Design District, Wynwood and Midtown.

Wynwood

Image of Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Known for its colorful murals, Wynwood is Miami’s arts district with a thriving local music scene and plenty of restaurants and breweries. You’ll find mostly condos in low- to mid-rise buildings, Bernie said.

There’s a lot of development so you may need to get used to the sounds of construction, and the condo units are often small despite the high price tag. Most buildings you live in will have amenities like a gym, game room and lounge.

Little Havana

Image of Little Havana.

Photo Credit: Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

With a name like “Little Havana,” it should come as no surprise this neighborhood is the center of Cuban culture, cuisine and music in Miami. There are a handful of mid- and low-rise condos, but you’ll mostly find a lot of single family homes in a working-class setting.

“This community holds on to their homes, so it’s hard to find a rental for a single-family house,” said Bernie, who lives in this area.

Median home price in Miami

Among Miami’s 46 neighborhoods, the median listing price on all homes is $450,000 or $331 per square foot. On a 30-year fixed-rate home loan with 20% down, a $450,000 price tag may translate to a mortgage payment of about $1,810 per month. You also need to factor in the cost of a homeowners association (HOA) fee if you’re buying a home under an association.

But tracking down a home and putting in a winning bid may be hard.

“2021 has been a record-breaking year,” Bernie said. “In terms of the city’s sales history, six of its top 10 months ever are in 2021. So big picture, the market is up in both dollar volume and units sold for both single-family houses and condos.”

That’s all thanks in part to the state’s low taxes, warm weather and laid-back lifestyle. Coupled with the pandemic, Bernie said, “It all created really strong demand and low inventory for single-family homes and condos.”

If you’re looking to buy in Miami, Bernie said it’s important to work with a licensed real estate agent who can give you intel on the area and home loan advice. You might also be able to strengthen your offer with a large down payment (if you can afford it) and getting a mortgage with a local lender.

Waiving one or more contingencies might also help you win a bid, but this move may put you at risk. Only explore this option if you’re comfortable with it.

Average rent in Miami

According to RentCafe, the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami in 2021 is $1,915 per month up from around $1,700 in 2019.

“It’s not on par with local salaries whatsoever,” Bernie said.

As demand pushes rental prices higher, applicants are making offers over the asking price—even before stepping foot into the unit. If you’re planning to rent, Bernie suggested starting your search a few months before you actually move to Miami. You also need to save up because most condos and apartments require three or four months' rent to move in.

Moving to Miami

If you’re considering a move to the area, Bernie said, “Come understanding that Miami is expensive.” Your housing costs may be much higher than what you’re used to paying, and everything from restaurants to hair salons and entertainment will cost top dollar in some areas.

You also need to know about the “high season,” which runs from around October through March every year. The relatively warm weather and low tax rates cause the population to swell with tourists and seasonal residents. Traffic steps up, and you might not get a restaurant reservation or doctor’s appointment so easily.

There’s also a more laid-back culture to the area year-round, so you’ll need to “temper your expectations in terms of the customer service you’re going to receive and the level of professionalism,” Bernie said.

But despite some of the trade-offs you might make when moving to Miami, many feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. With beautiful natural areas and lots of vibrant neighborhoods, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Sources:

AreaVibes, FBI Crime Data, NOAA, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. News & World Report, Walk Score

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.