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Moving to Miami

Conjuring up images of palm trees, sandy beaches, neon lights and Latin rhythms, Miami is an exciting expat destination with much to offer.

Sometimes called 'the Magic City' for its unprecedented population growth during the past century, migrants have played an important role in shaping the city’s history and unique character. 

That it's also known as 'the Capital of Latin America' suggests something about the central role that Hispanic people have come to play in Miami, as well as its role as a cultural and economic gateway between Latin America and the USA.

Large communities of Cuban, Haitian and Puerto Rican residents, among others, have left an enduring mark on the city. This can be seen in the nightclubs, restaurants and general lifestyle in Miami, especially in areas like Little Havana.

The city is also home to the headquarters of major corporations and functions as the Latin American outpost for other multinational businesses. Miami’s economy is unsurprisingly driven by tourism to a large extent. However, it also has significant finance and commerce sectors and is one of the busiest commercial ports of entry into the United States. 

Most expats don't necessarily move to Miami for professional reasons, however, and are instead attracted by the Florida climate and the city’s atmosphere. A large variety of activities and attractions keep expats entertained, from malls to museums and national monuments. 

There are, however, potential downsides to living in Miami. While its wealthier residents have largely put the financial crisis behind them, many lower- and middle-income families are still struggling and have a very different picture of life in the city.

This can be seen in Miami's system of education, where schools in wealthier areas are less likely to suffer from staff and funding shortages, meaning they can offer a higher standard of education. One positive, however, is that language classes are made available to non-English speaking learners in public schools, which is very helpful in managing the transition for many foreign families in the city.

Expats will also have access to a large selection of medical options, given that feeling and looking good is so important to many of Miami’s residents. It is very important that new arrivals in the city have quality health insurance.

A multi-cultural city made up of a wide variety of residents, expats moving to Miami with realistic expectations and an open mind are likely to enjoy life in the Magic City.

Weather in Miami

Miami enjoys a subtropical climate marked by plenty of hours of sunshine throughout the year.  A cool wind moderates the humid summer temperatures, and rainfall occurs mainly during summer and early autumn.

Summer (June to August) temperatures average around 90°F (32°C) whereas winter (December to February) temperatures range between 60°F (16°C) and 75°F (24°C).
 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Miami

Miami’s vibrant art scene, racy atmosphere and Latin culture make it one of the most evocative destinations in America. Wildly different from New York and Los Angeles, its signature flair runs through everything, from its gorgeous, turquoise shoreline and tropical gardens to its whimsical Art Deco architecture and eclectic food choices. 

Expats moving there should certainly look forward to its youthful character but should recognise its drawbacks as well. This list of pros and cons may give them perspective. 


Cost of living in Miami

+ PRO: Taxes are low

One of the perks of moving to Florida is that there is no state income tax. This means that Miami residents can save thousands of dollars if they have a fixed income. Property taxes vary by municipality, though residents will generally receive a discount if they pay early. There are several sales tax exemptions as well. 

- CON: Accommodation costs are high

Finding an affordable place to stay in Miami can be difficult. The cost of living is 14 percent higher than the national average. This difference is directly influenced by the city’s status as a popular tourist destination. 

- CON: Healthcare is expensive

Healthcare is very expensive in Miami, as it is in other US cities. Even with health insurance, only a small portion of the population can afford top-class services. 


Working in Miami

+ PRO: Work environment is rated highly

Miami consistently ranks as one of America’s happiest cities to work in. The city’s employees have based their opinion on how welcoming the destination is of people from different cultures and relationships with employers and co-workers. Compensation, growth opportunities and company culture are rated highly in Miami workplaces. Rankings also factor in whether their leadership sets realistic goals, the extent to which they are involved in the decision-making process and how trusted they are to work independently.

- CON: Tight job market 

A drawback to living in Miami is that the job market is less competitive than in other major US cities. Wages are lower and jobs generally require that applicants have college degrees and that they speak both English and Spanish. 


Lifestyle in Miami

+ PRO: Outdoor activities are endless

Miami’s lush parks are great places to enjoy jogging, dog-walking, free yoga, volleyball, basketball, outdoor gyms and, of course, barbeques. Visitors can fish along the pier at Oleta River State Park and canoe through the lengthy, untamed and beautiful Oleta River. Other notable parks include Bayfront Park, Margaret Pace Park and Brickell Key Park. The city also has terrific golf courses and a gorgeous coastline for yachting, sailing, surfing and diving.

+ PRO: Great nightlife 

The city’s nightlife rivals any scene in the United States. Miami has an impressive selection of oceanfront clubs, live music settings and dance venues. 

+ PRO: Rich in food culture

Newcomers will find many authentic ethnic restaurants in Miami, which is home to many cultures. Cuban, Haitian, Brazilian, Puerto Rican and Colombian are a few of the ethnicities that make up the food scene, though the Cuban sandwich is perhaps the city’s most representative dish. Newcomers can grab one almost anywhere in Miami.  

+ PRO: Cultural melting pot

Miami is a true melting pot of cultures, with residents from Cuba, Haiti, Central and South America and other parts of the Caribbean living throughout the city. Their art, food, dance, music and observances are infused in the city’s character. Little Havana, Little Haiti and the Bahamian Coconut Grove Village West retain some wonderfully distinctive cultural traits.  

- CON: Traffic is a problem

Miami has some of the worst traffic congestion in America and its drivers have a poor reputation. Commute times in Miami-Dade County average around 36.4 minutes each way and have been influenced by the city’s layout and massive population growth.


Weather in Miami 

- CON: High humidity

Miami’s heat and humidity can be overwhelming, especially in the summertime. Staying in the shade won’t help and the only real solution is to constantly move from one air-conditioned place to the next. These conditions mean that people should be on the lookout for large-scale bugs, spiders, snakes and other creatures too. 

- CON: Tropical storms

Hurricanes and tropical storms are a factor from June through November. This is also Miami’s rainy season when torrential afternoon showers are an almost daily occurrence.

Working in Miami

The so-called Gateway to the Americas, expats working in Miami will find themselves in one of the most important economic centres in the southeastern portion of the United States. Its proximity to Latin America and large migrant population have fostered the city’s regional importance to extend beyond the borders of the USA.


Job market in Miami

The economy in Miami is largely driven by finance, commerce and tourism. Several large corporations have headquarters in the city, while many others have their Latin American operations based here.

It's also the epicentre of Spanish-language entertainment in the USA, with several Spanish-language broadcasters based in the city, as well as the Latin divisions of several music record labels. 

Cementing the city’s regional importance, PortMiami and the Miami International Airport are among the busiest ports of entry into the United States, receiving cargo from South America and the Caribbean. 

Most of the largest employers in Miami are government and educational organisations such as the Miami-Dade Public Schools District and the University of Miami, although the airline and the cruiseliner industries attract many employees too. 

One of the best ways to gain an advantage when looking for a job in Miami is being able to speak Spanish, given its Latino population and the frequency with which companies interact with Central and South American associates.

While growth levels have perhaps not reached the dizzying heights seen before the housing market crash in 2007, the general economy, and construction in particular, have shown encouraging signs of growth. 

Most foreigners in the city tend to work as managers as well as in office and service industry jobs. The health, education and social services sectors also continue to employ a fairly large amount of migrants.


Finding a job in Miami

Unfortunately it's still not as easy for expats to find jobs in Miami as it used to be. Salaries tend to be lower than in many other US cities as well. Some of the most popular ways of looking for jobs in Miami include the employment sections of newspapers, local online classifieds, and employment agencies. 

The working environment in Miami is as varied as the city itself. The Western corporate culture that dominates in large companies will be familiar to many expats, while other businesses may be more casual.

Cost of Living in Miami

In comparison to other major cities in the USA such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the cost of living in Miami is significantly lower. That said, it's still a relatively expensive city when put into a global context, ranking 44th out of 209 cities worldwide in Mercer's 2019 Cost of Living Survey.

The cost of living in Miami is significantly affected by lifestyle choices – there are just as many opportunities to save as there are to splurge out. Accommodation and transport are likely to be one's biggest expenses.


Cost of accommodation in Miami

The cost of purchasing a home in Miami has been continuously climbing over the past few years and looks set to continue. While this is good news for those looking to invest in real estate, it does mean that rental prices are also on the rise.

When looking for accommodation in Miami, new arrivals may notice that there's plenty of availability in new and expensive developments. However, there are far fewer options for people on a tight budget. It's worth noting, though, that outlying suburbs are generally cheaper than central inner-city areas, and adding a little extra to one's commute time can pay off when it comes to saving money on rent. 


Cost of entertainment in Miami

Entertainment in Miami is often relatively expensive, especially in popular areas such as South Beach. There are, however, plenty of affordable things for expats to do in Miami, such as spending a day exploring the city's botanical gardens, hiking in the Everglades National Park or perfecting one's tan on the beach.


Cost of transport in Miami

The cost of public transport in Miami is reasonable, although most expats tend to own a car for convenience. As such, expats planning a move to the city would do well to budget for the cost of buying a vehicle.


Cost of education in Miami

Expats can attend public schools free of charge, many of which offer a good standard of education. Parents who wish to send their children to a private or international school in the city should note that school fees can be high and there are often additional expenses for things like school uniforms, stationery, extra-curriculars and textbooks.


Cost of living in Miami chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for March 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 3,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 2,200

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,900

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,400

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 3

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1

Rice (1kg)

USD 4

Loaf of white bread

USD 3 

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 9 

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 7 

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2 

Cappuccino 

USD 4 

Bottle of local beer 

USD 5 

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 70 

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.25 

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

USD 50 

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 140 

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 2 

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

USD 2.50 

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.80 

Accommodation in Miami

Expats will have access to a selection of accommodation in Miami that's as diverse as the city itself. Art Deco apartments on palm-lined streets, gentrified lofts and Mission-style housing all play their part in shaping the city’s landscape.

While it is one of the most popular destinations for buying property in the USA among expats from the UK, many new arrivals prefer renting in Miami at first to get a better sense of their new surroundings.


Factors to consider when house-hunting in Miami

The biggest point that'll guide an expat’s decisions when looking for housing in Miami is whether they're moving with a family. Miami is great for single expats, but those with families may not appreciate the sweltering party atmosphere of certain neighbourhoods.

As is the case when moving to any city, the distance to work and school, pricing and the accessibility of public transport should be primary concerns. Areas like South Beach make it convenient to commute around the city centre, although the price is a hindrance to many prospective residents.

Areas further away from the city centre usually offer larger and more affordable accommodation, but access to public transport is more restricted, often making a car a necessary purchase. Many of these areas do, however, have reputable schools, offsetting the disadvantages for expat families.


Finding accommodation in Miami

Expats who are house-hunting in the city would do well to first get to know the different areas and suburbs in Miami. Physically exploring a neighbourhood has the added advantage of seeing properties for sale or for rent that may not be listed elsewhere.

Another alternative for finding accommodation in the city is by searching online classifieds and in the property sections of local newspapers. 

A less time-consuming option is hiring a real estate agent or contacting a property management company. The one downside of this is that some agents are more scrupulous than others. A good way to minimise risks is to go by word of mouth and ensure that the agent belongs to a reputable realtors' organisation.

Expats need to have an idea of what they are willing to spend, know when they want to move in and have an idea about the average price of rent in their preferred area.


Renting property in Miami

Whether they're negotiating with an individual owner, a real estate company or dealing with a condominium’s board of trustees, expats should be aware of the processes and costs attached to renting in Miami.

Renting a condo in Miami often involves more bureaucratic processes than dealing directly with an owner, and can entail extra fees for things like registration, parking spots or even owning pets. Realtors are also likely to charge agent fees.

Leases

A rental lease in Miami can be written or verbal. However, most agreements are in writing as verbal agreements can be misunderstood. The written lease can be anything from a formal contract to a simple letter stating the landlord and tenant's rights and obligations.

If a lease doesn't say what the duration of the contract is, the duration is determined by the period in which the tenant pays their rent (weekly, monthly, etc.)

New arrivals should keep in mind that they will have to give notice in writing if they want to terminate their lease. 

Deposits

Expats should be aware that landlords in Miami tend to charge a security deposit as well as the first and the last month’s rent, but they shouldn't be afraid to negotiate, since many landlords are willing to make some kind of concession when it comes to the security deposit.

Utilities

Typically, tenants in Miami are responsible for paying their own utilities. However, they should check with their landlord whether it's their own responsibility to set these services up or not. In some cases utilities like gas and electricity will be paid for by the landlord; however, this can lead to a higher rental fee.

Garbage removal and recycling

Both the garbage removal and recycling collection schedules can be checked on the city's official website. Residents are required to put their bins outside 12 to 24 hours before the removal day.

The city has strict rules when it comes to what can and can't be recycled. Things like paper, plastic and unbroken glass can all be recycled. On the other hand, electronic waste, medical waste and batteries are non-recyclable items.

Areas and suburbs in Miami

The Magic City, as it's known to many, can be roughly divided into the North, West and South sections, as well as the eastern Downtown district that functions as the heart of the city, hugging the Atlantic Coast.

Expats will be able to choose from a diverse range of areas and suburbs in Miami. Whether they want to live in vibrant Latino communities or in the glitzy atmosphere of South Beach, there is bound to be something to suit their preferences.

Property in some of the most popular areas of Miami is, however, in such high demand that it can sometimes be challenging to find an apartment that meets all of a house hunter’s needs at a decent price. As a result, when looking for housing in Miami, it may be necessary to be somewhat flexible in terms of size and budget. Enlisting the help of a real estate agent will also ease much of the stress of finding accommodation. 


Luxury living in Miami

Brickell Miami

New arrivals will have no shortage of luxury living options in Miami. However, demand for real estate in certain popular areas or complexes can be so high that prospective tenants may find themselves on a waiting list for their dream home, regardless of how big their budget is.

Brickell

A cosmopolitan neighbourhood close to Miami’s financial and commercial district, expats living in Brickell tend to be affluent business executives who enjoy the convenience of being close to the office. The area enjoys the natural beauty of Biscayne Bay, and also boasts some of Miami’s best fine dining spots and eclectic boutique shops. 

The area offers expats the best in city living and is well serviced by the city’s public transport system. Accommodation options tend to be mostly high-rise condominiums or penthouses and, as can be expected, rent in Brickell doesn't come cheap. Apartments in some of the most sought-after complexes in Brickell are often hard to come by, so prospective tenants might need to put their name on a waiting list.

South Beach

South Beach used to be associated with retired citizens and starving artists. However, in recent years this part of Miami has undergone a massive transformation. It's now not only a popular spot for holidaymakers but home to some of the city’s most affluent residents. Full of glamorous bars, clubs and shops, expats are unlikely to get bored in this lively neighbourhood.

South Beach is one of the few areas of the city where residents opt not to have a car. The neighbourhood is well-served by the Miami public transport network and while there is no Metrorail service, there are frequent bus services and taxis are readily available.

Bal Harbour

Technically a standalone village on the northern tip of Miami Beach, Bal Harbour is the epitome of luxury living and provides a wide selection of ultramodern apartment complexes. Expats moving to Bal Harbour will find it easy to settle in as it's home to a large international community which provides a friendly atmosphere. It's also one of the safest areas in Miami. Residents are likely to notice a strong police presence in the area.

Those living in Bal Harbour will find themselves close to some of the city’s top designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and trendy bars. The area is also close to the beach and, for those who don’t want to walk, there are a good number of bus services operating in this part of Miami.

As one would expect, accommodation in Bal Harbour is expensive and often hard to come by.


Family-friendly neighbourhoods in Miami

Coral Gables Miami

For expats with children, finding a home close to the best schools in Miami will be a priority, while those looking for a spacious family home will find better options further away from the city centre.

Coral Gables and Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove and Coral Gables are two of the most historic suburbs in Miami. These neighbouring areas are very popular among expats with children because they are located in close proximity to a number of good schools. They are also served well by Metrorail and bus services.

Coconut Grove has a strong community feel and is more residential and peaceful than areas such as South Beach. There is a bustling cultural scene in Coconut Grove, which is home to a wealth of artists and writers, as well as one of Miami’s most famous theatres, the Coconut Grove Playhouse. 

Officially a city in its own right, Coral Gables has a number of gated complexes located in picturesque settings, surrounded by trees, open green spaces and canals. Known as the City Beautiful, there are lots of laidback bars and good eateries in the area, and it is also home to the University of Miami.


Hip, young areas in Miami

Little Havana Miami

Though much of the property market in Miami is geared to those with larger budgets looking for luxury accommodation, it's still possible to find apartments with rentals that won't break the bank in some of the city’s up-and-coming districts.

Little Havana

Rental prices in Little Havana are far more reasonable than one might find elsewhere in the city. One of the best suburbs in Miami for expats looking to live on a tight budget, or who just want something a little different, it's identified by many as the city's foremost up-and-coming area.

Traditionally home to immigrants from Cuba, the area has become somewhat more diverse in recent years and accommodates residents from Puerto Rico, Colombia and Guatemala, giving the area a truly Latin American atmosphere. Over the past few years, there has also been an influx of students and artists into the area, bringing with them a growing number of bohemian bars, cafés and restaurants. Comprehensive bus services connect Little Havana to Miami’s city centre and neighbouring suburbs.

Healthcare in Miami

A city that takes wellness seriously, expats should have few problems when it comes to healthcare in Miami. There are dozens of hospitals, clinics and general practitioners to serve the needs of a population that places a high importance on looking and feeling good.

The quality of hospitals in the city is generally very high, and residents have access to nationally recognised medical options. 

There is also an abundance of pharmacies in Miami. This includes chain stores as well as independent pharmacists and in-store supermarket pharmacies.

It is, however, important that expats invest in health insurance in Miami since long-term care can be denied to patients without proper coverage. Although hospitals in Miami are required to accept patients needing emergency care, these procedures are often expensive. Expats with medical insurance from overseas should ensure that they are still covered while living in Florida. 


Hospitals in Miami

Baptist Hospital of Miami

Website: www.baptisthealth.net
Address: 8900 North Kendall Drive

Jackson Memorial Hospital

Website: www.jacksonhealth.org
Address: 1611 NW 12th Avenue

Nicklaus Children's Hospital

Website: www.nicklauschildrens.org
Address: 3100 SW 62nd Avenue

University of Miami Hospital

Website: .www.umaiamihospital.com
Address: 1400 NW 12th Avenue

Education and Schools in Miami

The system of education in Miami is overseen by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, one of the USA's largest school districts.

The district has invested heavily in bringing public education into the digital age, with many students and teachers at schools in Miami using computer-driven learning platforms. 

But it's also had a history of challenges, including funding shortages and student overpopulation at certain schools. As a result, there's a gulf in quality between schools, which is often determined by where they're situated.

On a more positive note, this means that expat parents have a wide spectrum of choices between inner-city schools and some of the best schools in the USA.

Expats with children who don't speak English as a first language will also be relieved since extra English classes are available to migrant children who need it.

While most expats find a public school that satisfies their requirements, others prefer private education. 


Public schools in Miami

Students attend schools in Miami based on where they live, except for a few magnet schools for which children must pass a test to be accepted.

Magnet schools

There's been increased emphasis on building magnet schools and converting existing schools to operate on this model for several years. Unlike regular public schools, magnet schools in Miami often emphasise a particular focus area and have a competitive admissions process which enables them to draw from a talented pool of students outside of their immediate catchment area.

They often enjoy better reputations, lower drop-out rates and more diversity than standard public schools. Some of the best schools in Florida, and the USA as a whole, include the city's magnet schools which specialise in fields like maths, science, technology and the arts. 

Charter schools

Charter schools are public schools that are bound by a performance contract with the district school board in exchange for being able to pursue a curriculum other than the state-mandated curriculum. 

This gives expat parents more scope in choosing a school that suits their child’s talents and personality at various levels of education.

The balance between freedom and accountability means that charter schools in Miami are among some of the best in the state. Unlike most private schools, charter schools are non-profit organisations which are partly funded by the Florida Department of Education.


Private and international schools in Miami

A significant proportion of expat students attend private schools in Miami, many of which offer religious, and particularly Catholic, instruction. These tend to have good reputations and superior facilities at a higher cost than public schools.

Gaining admission to one of the city’s private schools can be difficult, and expat families should be prepared for entrance exams, interviews, extensive school tours and open days for potential students.

Many of these institutions provide financial aid to qualifying students who can't afford tuition. However, this shouldn't be counted on as funding availability is also highly competitive and may have certain restrictions.

International schools in Miami which offer overseas curricula are unfortunately limited, although a number of private and charter schools do offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum.


Homeschooling in Miami

Parents who wish to homeschool their children in Miami need to file a notice of intent to homeschool with the county superintendent. The superintendent will then accept the notice and register the home education program.

Parents who choose to homeschool their children themselves will need to keep a portfolio of records and materials. Things to keep include a log of educational activities, worksheets, workbooks, materials created by the student, etc. Children will also have to be evaluated annually by a teacher registered in Florida or a licensed psychologist. Another option is for children to take a state student assessment test used by the school district under conditions approved by the school district.

Parents can also choose to enrol their child under an "umbrella" school. This school then takes on the responsibility of overseeing the homeschool program while the child still receives their schooling at home.


Special needs education in Miami

Public schools in the Miami-Dade County follows a policy of maximum inclusion. The city even has an Inclusive Schools Week which is a national movement to encourage schools to give special needs students more opportunities when it comes to taking classes and participating in activities with their general education peers.

Miami also boasts some excellent special education private schools. These schools primarily serve specific groups of students like children with learning difficulties, speech or hearing impairments, handicapped students, etc.

Parents of special needs students should contact the school district and network with other parents to find their perfect fit school.


Tutoring in Miami

Miami has a wide range of options when it comes to tutoring. Parents can enrol their children in tutoring centres, enlist the help of a private tutor for one-on-one or group classes, or even find tutors online.

A unique tutoring option in Miami is found in the Miami-Dade Public Library System. Certified teachers are available to meet with small groups of children between grades K-12 at the city's public libraries. These teachers provide help with homework and tutoring in reading, math and science. Tutoring sessions usually last an hour and are held on Saturdays. The best part is that this option is free of charge.

Lifestyle in Miami

The Magic City elicits images of neon-lit clubs, humid Latin rhythms and shimmering beaches. The lifestyle in Miami is one of its most attractive features in the popular imagination.

Whether exploring the restaurants and nightlife of the Art Deco District or gliding along the Everglades in an airboat, expats living in Miami are regularly able to enjoy all the attractions of a world-renowned holiday destination.


Shopping in Miami

Expats have various options when it comes to shopping in Miami, whether they want to soak up the sun ambling down the city’s retail avenues or explore the glossy interiors of its shopping malls.

Aventura Mall is one of the most popular shopping malls in Miami and, with more than 300 retailers, is Florida's largest mall.

Other prominent malls in Miami include Cocowalk, which is designed to blend into Coconut Grove’s village ambience, and the Falls, with its abundant water features and foliage.

For a more authentic shopping experience, expats can explore the boutiques and independent stores of Bayside Market Place and Mary Brickell Village.


Nightlife in Miami

There are few experiences like enjoying the nightlife in Miami. The city is famous for its electric evening entertainment, from opulent lounges to tropical bars. It's perhaps best known for its Latin clubs, from cafés infused with Cuban culture to live music venues that rumble with the flavour of Latin rhythms.


Sports and outdoor activities in Miami

Expats who prefer their entertainment out in the sun will enjoy the range of sports and outdoors attractions. South Beach is arguably the most celebrated beach in Miami, and is broken up into sections to satisfy a wide variety of sun worshippers. 

Lovers of the great outdoors can enjoy nature trails that meander through mangrove forests, visit the renowned Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden or camp in one of the city’s national parks.

Active expats will revel in the chance to go boating in Biscayne Bay, cycling along Sunset Drive or do yoga on the beach. The city also boasts championship golf courses and some of the most famous names in sport, with the Miami Heat and the Miami Dolphins attracting thousands of zealous basketball and football fans to their stadiums regularly.

Kids and Family in Miami

Those moving to the Magic City with family will be pleased to know that there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep kids in Miami happy and entertained.

With everything from museums to parks and beaches, expat children are sure to enjoy exploring Miami.


Entertainment for kids in Miami

For a day out in the fresh air, parents could take the kids to explore the greenery of Pinecrest Gardens or enjoy the carousel rides at Crandon Park Beach.

Biscayne National Park is also one of the most popular attractions in Miami. Older children can go snorkelling in one of the world's largest coral reefs, while those with little ones can show them the beauty of nature from the comfort of a boat tour.

Expats who prefer that their children's entertainment be educational will be happy to know there's much on offer in the city. The Miami Children's Museum has various interactive, educational exhibits while the Gold Coast Railroad Museum has kept many a child enthralled for hours.

Other popular kids attractions in Miami include the Seaquarium, which offers live dolphin shows; the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, which has everything from a planetarium to a wildlife centre; and Monkey Jungle, where visitors of all ages can do a guided walk through forest foliage while all manner of monkeys swing in the trees above.

See and Do in Miami

Expats will have a great time finding their way around and discovering the many attractions in Miami, from sunkissed beaches to trendy shopping malls. Here's a selection of the city's must-see attractions.


Popular attractions in Miami

Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Containing a plethora of fascinating exhibits, this museum is a fun and interesting attraction that all residents of the city should visit at least once. There's also an aquarium and a planetarium on site, where visitors can get to know a variety of sea creatures or enjoy a thrilling laser light shows.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

This magnificent villa houses original Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical furniture throughout its more than 70 rooms. The manicured perfection of its gardens is simply breathtaking to stroll through – not to mention the opulent grandeur of the villa itself.

Miami Seaquarium

World renowned for its spectacular sea shows, exhibits and animal encounters programme, the Seaquarium is a must for all new arrivals in Miami. One of the first sealife parks in the USA, visitors will get the chance to swim with seals and shake hands with a dolphin.

Ancient Spanish Monastery

Dating back to 1133 AD, the Monastery of St Bernard de Clairvaux is one of Miami’s most popular tourist attractions. The monastery, which originally came from Segovia in Spain, was brought over to Miami by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1925 and rebuilt brick by brick.

Coral Castle

According to legend, a Latvian immigrant carved the Coral Castle by hand over the course of 25 years as a bid to impress a lost lover. It has been dubbed ‘America's Stonehenge’ and continues to draw flocks of tourists to view a magnificent creation that was made using techniques that some say cannot definitively be explained.

Wolfsonian Museum

This museum houses a wonderfully eclectic collection of more than 180,000 pieces of art and design and is a must for all art aficionados.

Lincoln Road Mall

This pedestrianised promenade is overflowing with boutiques and designer stores as well as fascinating Art Deco buildings and has been dubbed the ‘Fifth Avenue of the South’. Expats looking to shop till they drop will have a great time exploring stores where big-name American labels can be found in abundance.

Biscayne National Park

The Biscayne National Park is home to some fascinating coral reefs, magnificent wildlife and even a few eerie pirate shipwrecks. It's known as one of the best scuba-diving sites in the United States, and visitors have the opportunity to see local wildlife in their natural habitat.

What's On in Miami

The annual events in Miami are as many and varied as the city itself. Residents and visitors can choose between a wide variety of festive activities that showcase and celebrate the city's culture and citizenry.

As a result of the city's mild weather, there are events all year round, provided the celebrations aren't dampened by the occasional hurricane. Here are some of the top yearly events in Miami.


Annual events in Miami

Coconut Grove Arts Festival (February)

Each year on President's Day weekend, the neighbourhood of Coconut Grove plays host to a fabulous outdoor art festival. With everything from photography and jewellery to sculpture and woodwork, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Calle Ocho (March)

The biggest Hispanic bash in the United States, Calle Ocho is a fantastic way to become more familiar with Miami's vibrant culture. Expats who like a little Latino flavour should head down to the streets to enjoy the shows, parades, dancing and revelry. This massive party has 12 stages and stretches across 20 blocks.

Miami Beach Gay Pride Week (April)

The city's LGBT community comes out in full force to celebrate Pride Week, with the Miami Gay Pride Parade being a major highlight. Friends and allies from all walks of life are welcome to join the celebration. The parade is accompanied by live music events and celebrity appearances.

Goombay Festival (June)

Bahamian culture has been an active influence in the city since the 19th century. In June of each year, the streets of Coconut Grove are transformed into a celebration of the Bahamas and its people. There is dancing, a street parade, music and streetside Caribbean food, making this a truly unique experience.

Miami Carnival (October)

This cultural celebration of Caribbean-Latin flavour attracts hordes of people each year. With a parade featuring performers, floats and colourful costumes, new arrivals in Miami should head down to the streets to enjoy the festivities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Miami

When moving to a new city, it's only natural for expats to have a few queries and concerns. To ease the transition, here are some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about life in Miami.

Do I need to be concerned about hurricanes?

In the case of an approaching hurricane, the government will make sure residents are kept up to date on weather conditions and imminent evacuations. Homeowners may want to purchase hurricane insurance and residents are encouraged to have an evacuation kit with essential portable items ready. 

Do I need to know Spanish?

Yes, knowing Spanish will certainly help. More people speak Spanish than English in the city and everything from advertisements, to radio programmes, to streetside conversations are in Spanish. Business is often conducted in Spanish and when dealing with the many international Latin American companies based in the area, speaking the language will be an advantage. That said, one can easily get by with English.  

How hot is it?

Miami temperatures don't usually get unbearably hot. July or August are the warmest months, averaging below 90°F (32°C). Winter months are much cooler.

Getting Around in Miami

Miami is said to have the most extensive public transport network in Florida. However, the system is perhaps not up to the standards that would be expected in other major cities like Boston or New York. 

Given how spread out the wider metropolitan area is, transport authorities have struggled to integrate public transport in Miami as effectively as has been done in other cities.

As a result, bus and train journeys can be slow and most residents prefer to drive.


Public transport in Miami

Public transport in Miami is overseen by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) and consists of a fairly comprehensive bus network, a rail network and the Metromover, an automated "people mover" that operates in Downtown Miami.

The public transport network uses an integrated ticketing system, and fares can be paid for using a rechargeable smart card called the EASY Card.

Buses

The bus system in Miami services the entire city, but expats will find that buses are often not on time due to traffic congestion. Most bus services tend to be fairly frequent and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The frequency of Metrobuses varies from route to route.

Trolley

Travelling by trolley is a fun and unique way to explore Miami and Miami beach. To make it even better, the trolley is also free in most neighbourhoods. The trolley runs Monday to Sonday on four different routes. The trolleys run throughout the day about every 15 minutes, depending on the route. Notable stops include Miami Beach Botanical Garden and the Convention Center.

Metrorail

Metrorail and Metromover are Miami's answer to a subway. The Miami Metrorail system is a single line train system that serves the city and its surrounding areas. The system consists of more than 20 stations and connects areas in the city centre to outlying suburbs.

The Metrorail operates between 5am and midnight. Metrorail trains are fairly frequent, arriving every 12 minutes during peak hours.

Metromover

The Metromover is a free automated shuttle that runs a limited route. The Metromover is the quickest and most efficient way to get around central Miami. This option will help expats avoid expensive parking and the gridlocked traffic Miami is famous for.


Taxis

Taxis in Miami are known for being relatively expensive but are widely available. It's usually best to book a taxi by phoning ahead of time. Another option is to get a taxi at designated ranks found outside most Metrorail stations.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft are operational in Miami.


Driving in Miami

Most of Miami’s residents prefer to own a car rather than relying on public transport. While driving in Miami is no easy task, having a vehicle of their own affords expats an increased level of independence. 

Navigating the streets of Miami is fairly straightforward because of the city’s grid system. Road conditions and signage are also generally good and the streets are clearly numbered.

Expat drivers who are new to the city should take extra care and be aware that locals are known for driving particularly aggressively and often break the posted speed limits. The experience of driving in Miami is made more frustrating because of traffic congestion during rush hour.