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Moving to Miami

Conjuring up images of palm trees, sandy beaches, neon lights and Latin rhythms, Miami is an exciting destination with much to offer. Its unprecedented population growth during the past century has led to it being nicknamed 'the Magic City', and it's undeniable that 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.

Living in Miami as an expat

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, and it also has significant finance and commerce sectors as well as being one of the busiest commercial ports of entry into the United States. 

Most foreigners 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 newcomers entertained, from malls to museums and national monuments. 

New Arrivals 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. This quality of care comes at a high cost, though, so it's extremely important that new arrivals in the city have quality health insurance.

Cost of living in Miami

While Miami is cheaper than some of the USA's other major cities it is still a relatively expensive place to live. Accommodation and entertainment in Miami don't come cheap, but transport is fairly affordable and public schooling is free for locals and foreigners alike. 

Expat families and children

The standard of education varies from school to school in Miami. That said, the city is home to some excellent schools, and language classes are made available to non-English speaking learners in public schools. This is helpful in managing the transition for many foreign families in the city.

The city also has a range of family-friendly attractions to entertain the kids outside of school hours. From educational museums and the Seaquarium to parks and amusement centres, families should certainly not struggle to keep their children busy on the weekends. 

A multicultural city made up of a wide variety of residents, newcomers arriving in Miami with realistic expectations and an open mind are sure 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. Winters are short and warm, and are also the drier season. Miami doesn't have distinct autumns and spring seasons, but temperatures during these months are mild and can be hot at times. 

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. 

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


Cost of living in Miami

+ PRO: Low taxes

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 almost 12 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 extremely 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 

Miami's nightlife scene rivals that of any city 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 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, newcomers 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 a number of major 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 cruise-liner industries attract many employees too.

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 newcomerss to find jobs in Miami as it used to be. While the job market is not as competitive as some other large American cities, such as New York, it is a popular relocation destination and good jobs are therefore well sought after. 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. Inter-company transfers though one of the several international companies based in the city will certainly be the easiest way to move to Miami with a good job in hand. 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.


Work culture in Miami

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 newcomers, while other businesses may be more casual.

Generally speaking, business culture in the US is incredibly individualistic. The working world rewards 'go-getters' while those who lack independence, initiative and self-reliance lag behind. Status and age are largely obsolete and instead, merit, experience and past achievement are the vehicles for advancement. Expats coming from societies where seniority is a consequence of social class, length of service or maturity may find acclimating to this idea especially challenging.

Cost of Living in Miami

In comparison to other major cities in the US 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 48th out of 209 cities worldwide in Mercer's 2021 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. 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 but 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 Miamians tend to own a car for convenience. As such, those planning a move to the city would do well to budget for the cost of buying a vehicle.


Cost of education in Miami

Expats and US citizens alike 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 August 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,500 – 5,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 2,000 – 3,200

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,500 – 2,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,100 – 1,800

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.80

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1

Rice (1kg)

USD 5

Loaf of white bread

USD 3

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 11

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 8

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.85

Cappuccino 

USD 4.50

Local beer (500ml)

USD 6 

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

USD 78

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.20 

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

USD 67 

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 140 

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.70

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

USD 2.50 

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.70 

Accommodation in Miami

Newcomers to Miami will have access to a selection of accommodation 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 Miami is one of the most popular destinations for British expats buying property in the USA, many new arrivals prefer renting at first to get a better sense of their new surroundings.


Factors to consider when house-hunting in Miami

The biggest thing that'll guide a newcomer's decisions when looking for housing in Miami is whether they're moving with a family. Miami is great for singles, but those with families may not appreciate the 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 have reputable schools, however, making them quite popular among families.


Finding accommodation in Miami

New arrivals 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.


Renting accommodation in Miami

Whether negotiating with an individual owner, a real-estate company or a condominium’s board of trustees, newcomers 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, but 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. Leases are generally for a fixed term, which is typically a year. 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 – for example, weekly or monthly.

Deposits

Landlords in Miami tend to charge a security deposit of one to two months' rent upfront, as well as the first and the last month’s rent. That said, new arrivals 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, but 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 best places to live 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.

New arrivals will be able to choose from a diverse range of neighbourhoods 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 a home 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 options in Miami. That said, 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, those living in Brickell tend to be affluent business executives who enjoy the convenience of being close to the office. The area is enhanced by 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 more 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, but in recent years this part of Miami has undergone a massive transformation. It's now not only a popular spot for holidaymakers but also home to some of the city’s most affluent residents. Full of glamorous bars, clubs and shops, it would be difficult to get bored in this lively neighbourhood.

South Beach is one of the few areas of the city where most 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.

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

Family-friendly neighbourhoods in Miami

For newcomers with children, finding a home close to the best schools in Miami will be a priority, and 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 popular among families because they are located in close proximity to a number of good schools. They are also well served 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 laid-back bars and good eateries in the area, and it is also home to the University of Miami.


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

It's important that expats invest in health insurance in Miami, however, since long-term care can be denied to patients without proper coverage. Although hospitals in Miami are required to accept patients needing emergency care, they will still be liable to pay for treatment. 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. Parents will have a wide spectrum of choices between schools, however, as Miami is also home to some of the best schools in the USA.

While most new arrivals to Miami find a public school that satisfies their requirements, others prefer private education, with expats in particular favouring international schools. 


Public schools in Miami

Expat children will be eligible to attend a public school in their local area free of charge. The registration process is usually quite straightforward. As public schools are largely funded by taxes, expats will find that schools in the wealthier neighbourhoods in Miami will have better facilities. Newcomers should take this into consideration when looking for accommodation

While newcomers will not have to pay tuition, some schools do charge for textbooks, equipment and uniforms. Parents should find out if there will be any fees associated with the schools in their area before applying, as they may need to put some money aside to cover these costs. 

Newcomers with children who don't speak English as a first language will also be glad to know that extra English classes are available to children who need it.

Charter schools

Charter schools are public schools that are bound by a performance contract with the district school board in exchange for more freedom in how they teach the state-mandated curriculum. This gives 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. Charter schools are non-profit organisations partly funded by the Florida Department of Education.

Charter schools are obligated to accept all applicants, but in the case there are more applicants than places available they are required by law to use a lottery system to determine which students can attend. Many schools also have a waiting list from which they can accept students as places become available. 

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. 

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. 

About a third of all magnet schools have an admissions process which enables them to draw from a talented pool of students. This process could be in the form of an entrance examination, an interview, or an audition, depending on the subject area the school specialises in. The remaining two thirds of magnet schools either select all students who apply, or if there are fewer places available than applicants they use a lottery system to select students.


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 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. That said, this shouldn't be counted on as funding availability is also highly competitive and may have certain restrictions.

Unfortunately, international schools in Miami that offer overseas curricula are 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 organisation 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 follow 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, and so on.

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.

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


Shopping in Miami

Newcomers 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, new arrivals can explore the boutiques and independent stores of Bayside Market Place and Mary Brickell Village.


Nightlife in Miami

There are few experiences quite like enjoying the nightlife scene 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

Newcomers who prefer their entertainment out in the sun will enjoy the range of sports and outdoors attractions on offer in Miami. 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 newcomers will revel in the chance to go boating in Biscayne Bay, cycling along Sunset Drive or doing 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, children are sure to enjoy exploring Miami.


Entertainment for kids in Miami

Pinecrest Gardens 

For a day out in the fresh air, parents could take the kids to explore the greenery of Pinecrest Gardens. Also known as South Florida's Cultural Arts Park, Pinecrest has plenty on offer in terms of entertainment, from concerts, theatre shows and festivals to children's field trips and picnics. 

Crandon Park Beach

Crandon Park Beach is a popular spot for families in Miami as it offers so much in terms of entertainment. While spending a day on the sand is definitely an option for a family day out, the beach also has an Amusement Center with a historic carousel, roller rink and playground. Families can also get involved in a number of water sports, as well as tennis, biking and skateboarding. There is also a Nature Center where visitors can browse through exhibits and learn about the park's surrounding ecosystems. 

Miami Children's Museum

The Miami Children's Museum has various interactive, educational exhibits to explore, as well as offering events and camps. It's a great place for children to learn in a creative atmosphere. 

Gold Coast Railroad Museum

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum can keep children enthralled for hours in an interactive, educational environment. It houses over 40 historic rail cars, has a model railroad room, many exhibits and displays, and Thomas the Tank Engine play tables for children to enjoy.  

Miami Seaquarium

The Seaquarium has an array of exhibits for visitors to wander between and also offers live dolphin shows. Visitors can even get the chance to swim with seals. At the Seaquarium children can learn about all the different species of marine life, as well as how they can play a part in protecting them. This oceanarium is committed to conservation and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of distressed marine animals. 

Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

The Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science 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. This is a great place for children to learn about the natural world around them, as well as the greater universe. 

See and Do in Miami

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


Popular attractions in Miami

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.

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 this magnificent creation that was made using techniques that some say cannot definitively be explained.

Wolfsonian Museum

The Wolfsonian Museum is a museum, library and research centre that uses its collection to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design. It 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’. Shopping enthusiasts 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 varied as the city itself. Residents and visitors can choose between a range of festive activities that showcase and celebrate the city's culture and history.

As a result of the city's mild weather, there are events all year round. 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. On top of all the incredible works on display, the event is accompanied by live music and local food. 

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 of Little Havana to enjoy the shows, parades, dancing and revelry. This massive party has 12 stages and stretches across 20 blocks.

Miami Beach Pride Week (April)

The city's LGBTQ+ community comes out in full force to celebrate Pride Week, with the Miami 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 Miami 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. The carnival includes four signature events: Junior Carnival, Panorama, J’ouvert and a costumed Parade and Concert, 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 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 know Spanish?

Foreigners will easily get by with English, but 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. Newcomers will therefore do well to learn Spanish. 

How hot is it?

Miami's temperatures don't usually get unbearably hot. July or August are the warmest months, averaging below 90°F (32°C). Winter months are cooler but are rather mild and temperatures never drop to freezing levels. 

What are the best areas for newcomers to live in Miami? 

There are many wonderful areas in Miami that are popular among foreigners. Newcomers should consider their preferences for lifestyle, distance from the city centre, the amenities available nearby and their budget when selecting a neighbourhood. While certain areas such as Brickell, South Beach and Bay Harbour offer luxury accommodation options and tend to house the city's more wealthy residents, Little Havana is home to the young and hip and is more budget friendly. See Areas and Suburbs in Miami for more information. 

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. 

Getting Around in Miami

Though Miami's public transport network is considered one of the most extensive in Florida, the system is not quite up to the standards of 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 buses often run late due to traffic congestion. Most bus services arrive frequently and there are a few 24-hour options.

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 newcomers avoid expensive parking and the gridlocked traffic Miami is famous for. The Metromover runs every day of the week between 5am and midnight, and arrives every minute and a half during rush hours and every three minutes otherwise.  

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 operates seven days a week between 8am and 11pm on four different routes. Most trolleys run every 30 minutes, depending on the route. Notable stops include Miami Beach Botanical Garden and the Convention Center.


Taxis in Miami

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 newcomers 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.

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.