Living in Miami: What You Need to Know Before You Move (2024)

Housing

While the cost of living in Miami is not as high as it is in other US cities such as San Francisco, New York, or Boston, the price to live in this tropical paradise will take up a large amount of your budget. Whether you want to live in the center of the city or one of the surrounding neighborhoods, be prepared to spend at least 1,000 USD per month on rent (not including utilities).

Miami Housing Market Overview

It should not come as a surprise that the Miami housing market is competitive. With all that the city has to offer foreigners and local Americans alike, Miami welcomes thousands of new residents every year. Accommodation options will vary from small studio apartments in neighborhoods outside the city center to deluxe condos in South Beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Being a competitive market means you need to be organized and serious about your home search. When you arrive in Miami, it is best to have short-term accommodation already set up.

How to Find an Apartment in Miami

As an expat, what does Miami’s competitive market mean for you? Luckily, simply being a foreigner will not put you at a disadvantage when searching for a place to live in Miami. The Fair Housing Act legally mandates that landlords cannot deny a tenant due to origin, race, gender, religion, disability, or family status.

Online

To look for housing in Miami, it is best to start online. You can look at sites like Zillow, Apartments.com, and Trulia. In the US it is common for a prospective tenant to see a property before agreeing to rent or buy. If a landlord only wants to send you photos, it is best to keep searching for another place.

Newspaper Ads

If you prefer to wait until you arrive in Miami to start searching for accommodation, it is possible to look for vacancies in local newspapers and magazines. Some real estate companies will create weekly or daily pamphlets with all of the property listings in the area. You will find these booklets in grocery stores, gas stations, local shops, and of course, real estate agencies.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help alleviate the home-finding stress for you. They will take your wants, needs, and budget for a home and gather an appropriate selection for you to view. It is standard for Miami landlords to pay realtor fees, so this should come at no extra cost to you.

Miami is not short on housing options and it is possible to move in within a day or two of signing a lease. In fact, property in Miami moves so quickly that you should come to each showing with the required documents and deposit ready. If you decide to wait on a place for 24 hours, you may find that it is no longer available the next day.

Required Documents to Rent in Miami

To rent in Miami, and anywhere in the US, you will be asked to provide the following documents:

  • passport;
  • proof of employment/income;
  • financial information (bank statement, proof of support, etc.);
  • credit statement;
  • Social Security Number or TIN;
  • contact information of previous landlords.

Security deposits are common, and they should not be more than two- or three-month’s rent. Generally, this will cover a security deposit (equal to one month’s rent and refundable if there are no damages to the property) and your first and last month’s rent.

For more on what you should expect when renting in the States, see our guide on Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home in the US.

Things to Consider When Renting in Miami

Given its oceanside location, Miami has historically been a competitive city in which to rent. Depending on where you live, renters can expect to spend 30-50 % of their monthly salary on rent alone. However, while this amount may only earn you a room or a cramped studio in uber-expensive cities such as New York City or Los Angeles, in Miami you will at least be awarded something more spacious.

How Long will it take to Find an Apartment?

Housing in Miami is competitive. On average, most newcomers to Miami spend two to three weeks searching for accommodation. However, if you are looking to buy a condo it may take longer as you will need to be vetted and approved by the condo association.

When You Find a Place, Act Fast.

Again, because Miami’s housing market is competitive, prospective tenants will need to act fast. Come to each apartment and house showing with the required documents and a deposit ready. If you decide to wait for even one day, you may find that the property is already taken.

The Cost of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning in Miami is not just a convenience to have, it is a necessity. With temperatures remaining in the 90s°F (30s°C) for most of the year, and an average 70% humidity, air condition will help you feel more comfortable at home, avoid heat exhaustion, and prevent mold damage inside your home. Unfortunately, this need for air conditioning also drives up utility prices. Electricity costs in Miami will easily reach 100 USD per month, and likely more during the hot summer months.

Hurricanes and Flood Lines

As mentioned earlier, hurricanes are an unfortunate fact of life in Miami (and in most of the coastal southeastern United States). Flood and storm insurance is important for the majority of Miami households, so you will want to ask real estate agents and landlords about this when searching for a place.

If you rent or buy a place that is on the ground level (or even the second level) be sure to ask about flood lines. This is where the water is expected to rise should a hurricane come to shore. Likewise, your home should come with hurricane shutters as this is the best and easiest way to protect your goods from the storm. Because hurricane shutters are not mandatory, you should ask about them when searching for accommodation. If the property does not come with hurricane shutters, see what it may cost to have them installed.

Also because of hurricanes, floods, and Miami’s general low-lying position, basem*nts are not common in the city, nor are they common throughout much of Florida.

Furnished or Unfurnished?

It is possible to find both furnished and unfurnished places in Miami. If you find yourself in the need to purchase your own furniture, options include major department stores such as Target or used-goods shops like Salvation Army and Good. Some of the most popular local furniture recommendations include:

  • Big Box Furniture Store
  • Modani Furniture
  • El Dorado Furniture
  • City Furniture

Average Rent in Miami

The most expensive areas of Miami are Downtown and the Brickell and Brickell Key neighborhoods. Rent in downtown Miami for a standard one-bedroom apartment will be around 2,000 USD. Brickell and Brickell Key will range between 2,200—2,700 USD per month. You will find the lowest rent in Mays Gardens and Palmer Lake-Mia Station (900 USD).

The average salary in Miami brings in about 4,000 USD per month. To live comfortably, a single expat will need to earn 3,500 USD per month. This amount includes living in a standard one-bedroom apartment, utility and grocery costs, as well as a bit extra for eating out or extra activities. This totals to 42,000 USD per year.

Here is a look at some of Miami’s most popular neighborhoods and the cost per month to live there.

The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in Miami

NeighborhoodOne-Bedroom Apartment USDThree-Bedroom Apartment USDSouth Beach2,0005-12,000Coral Gables2,2004,250Brickell1,9004,000+Coconut Grove1,8002,500

The Most Affordable Neighborhoods

NeighborhoodOne-Bedroom Apartment USDThree-Bedroom Apartment USDBrownsville1,2001,700Liberty City1,0001,800Gladeview1,2002,200Edgewater1,3002,000

Some of the cheapest neighborhoods in Miami are Little Haiti, Wynwood, and Allapattah. However, keep in mind that these neighborhoods are the least expensive for a reason. Some are inconveniently located to the rest of Miami and everyday amenities such as grocery stores and shops. Others are cheap due to their crime rate.

Expats looking for a reasonable cost of living, without sacrificing for convenience and safety, may want to look at the surrounding Miami-Dade area, or even the Florida cities like Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale, which are not considered part of the Miami metro area but are at an easy commuting distance.

Average Monthly Rent Near Miami

LocationOne-Bedroom Apartment USDThree-Bedroom Apartment USDBoca Raton2,0004,400Ft. Lauderdale1,9702,900Coral Gables2,2004,250

Where to Live in Miami

Whether you are relocating to Miami by yourself, with a partner, or your whole family, there is something for everyone in this vibrant, diverse city. Lifestyle choices range from an active, luxurious life on South Beach to the calm serenity of Coconut Grove. For city-goers, there is Downtown Miami, and for those looking for more access to nature there is Weston, which borders Florida’s expansive Everglades National Park.

Below is a look at some of the most popular neighborhoods in Miami for expat families, solo expats, and some areas that are ideal for both.

Good for Expat Families

Coconut Grove

Average Monthly Apartment Rent

  • One Bedroom: 1,800 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 2,500 USD

In addition to being one of Miami’s most popular neighborhoods, Brickell is also one of the city’s oldest. Founded in the 1870s, Coconut Grove expertly balances a small seaside village vibe while being conveniently situated in the middle of Miami proper. This neighborhood is known for its parks, walkability, and easy bike paths. Between its quaint cafes, local shops, a movie theatre, and interactive museums, there is plenty for families to stay busy.

Expats relocating with children will be happy to learn that this neighborhood is home to some of Miami’s top private schools. Coconut Grove is also known as one of the safest areas in the city. Homes in this area will be pricier to buy or rent when compared to other Miami neighborhoods, but residents in Coconut Grove are rarely disappointed with the investment.

Weston

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 1,800 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 3,200 USD

Of all of Miami’s neighborhoods, Weston may be the most ideal for families. This neighborhood is situated right on the edge of Florida’s Everglades National Park, which is the tenth largest National Park in the US. A quick drive west from Weston promises a day full of hiking, kayaking, and spotting wildlife such as alligators, Florida panthers, and roseate spoonbills.

For adults, Weston is home to a number of golf courses, shopping malls, and sports clubs. There are numerous public school options throughout the neighborhood as well as private institutions.

Pinecrest

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 1,500 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 2,400 USD

When Pinecrest was first founded as its own independent village, it was as the last town before driving across the Overseas Highway that connects mainland Florida to Key West. In the late 90s the town was incorporated into the Miami-Dade County and is now a popular residency for those who wish to have a quiet, suburban beach life, but still be connected to the Miami metropolitan area.

Pinecrest has some of the most expensive homes in Miami-Dade County, and many of these homes are standalone mansions. Expats with large families will have no problem finding a spacious home. In addition, this area is also home to several top public and private schools, as well as having many shopping and dining options to enjoy on the weekends.

Good for Solo Expats

Downtown Miami

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 1,900 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 4,000 USD

While Downtown Miami can be a nice location for families, it is best suited for solo expats, specifically young professionals. Many businesses are in the downtown area and many incoming expats may find that their jobs will be somewhere among the tall skyscrapers that make up this area. There are also many attractions for residents to take part in such as the Bayside Marketplace, Miami Art Museum, and even a large sports arena that is home to the NBA team, the Miami Heat.

Although an active city center, Downtown Miami still has many beautiful, open green spaces. Like many other areas of the city, downtown is easily accessible by public transport or just plain walking.

Little Havana

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 1,200 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 2,000 USD

Little Havana is one of Miami’s up-and-coming areas. Recent years have even seen the arrival of students and artists, which has directly led to the increase of more eclectic bars, cafés, and restaurants.

As its name suggests, Little Havana is the Cuban district of Miami, although it hosts residents from Colombia, Puerto Rico, and other Latin countries, too. Expats will find delicious Cuban restaurants and exciting clubs and bars to enjoy.

One of the biggest perks to living in Little Havana is the cheaper rental prices, especially when compared to areas like Brickell or South Beach. In addition, Little Havana is also located near the center of Miami, making it easily accessible to the rest of the city and its beaches. Extensive bus services connect Little Havana to Downtown Miami and neighboring suburbs.

Miami Beach

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 2,000 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 5,000 – 12,000 USD

In recent years, Miami Beach has been named one of the Top Ten best places to live in the US. This is due to the area’s thriving business sector, myriad of cultural opportunities, and diverse international community. Mt. Sinai, one of the top hospitals in the country, is located in this area.

Despite having “beach” in its title, Miami Beach is actually an island, which is connected to mainland Miami by a single bridge. The one downside to living in this popular Miami neighborhood is having to navigate through hordes of tourists on a daily basis. Because of this, Miami Beach may not be an ideal area for families with young children. Housing options are also largely high-rise apartments and condominiums, yet, this area is also known for being very walkable, especially along the oceanfront.

South Beach

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 2,000 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 5,000 – 12,000 USD

South Beach is perhaps one of the best-known areas of Miami. With its chic art deco architecture and reputation for celebrity sightings, this area of the city is ideal for expats who want an active, glamorous lifestyle. Thanks to its reputation as a home for the wealthy mixed with its beachside locale, South Beach residents are particularly known for their active lifestyles mixed with a party-going attitude at night.

Like Miami Beach, the drawback of South Beach is the crowd. Housing is limited to high-rise apartments and condominiums and having a car will not be the most convenient option. Instead, many SoBe residents store or sell their cars and opt for getting around by bicycle instead.

Good for Both

Brickell

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 1,900 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 4,000+ USD

Because Brickell is known as Miami’s financial district (and one of the largest financial districts in the US), it may surprise relocating expats to learn that this is also one of the city’s fastest growing and more densely populated neighborhoods. In fact, this neighborhood is swiftly becoming more popular than the famous South Beach.

Brickell is home to luxury brand retailers, museums, and top-rated schools for expats with kids. There are also great restaurant options, clubs, and rooftop bars for foreigners looking for adults-only fun.

In Brickell, you will mostly find high-ride condominiums and apartments, but also a few single-family homes. Although many neighborhoods in Miami are ethnically diverse, Brickell will feel especially like home to international residents as it attracts many nationals from Central and South America, as well as those from colder regions, who have moved to Miami for the year-round warmer climate.

Coral Gables

Average Monthly Apartment Rental

  • One Bedroom: 2,200 USD
  • Three Bedroom: 4,250 USD

Coral Gables is an ideal location for expat families or solo expats. Nearly 30% of the neighborhood is dedicated to green-space. This area is rife with picturesque gated complexes, canals, and it is also home to the University of Miami. In this neighborhood, you will find many local dine-in restaurants, quiet cafes, and relaxed bars. The number of canals is also ideal for expats who enjoying boating.

Living options in Coral Gables range from apartments to townhouses or detached homes. For expats with children, there are excellent public and private schools in the area. This is a very safe area of Miami, and there is even a free trolley that will shuttle residents downtown.

Whenever you decide to settle in Miami, it is always best to do some research and contact locals to learn all you can about the area. Expat networking sites such as InterNations are great resources for connecting you with the international community in Miami.

Living in Miami: What You Need to Know Before You Move (2024)
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