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.
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.
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.
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.
►See Areas and Suburbs in Miami for an overview of the city's neighbourhoods
"A wide variety of housing options are available, from luxury condos with all the amenities of a resort to Spanish-style homes, modern houses and quaint apartment buildings. There is something for every budget and offers are plenty.
The months of June-July are the most popular moving months so you may not have as much inventory, or you may have to make a quicker decision in order not to lose the property you are interested in and have less bargaining leverage. If you will be moving during the summer, it may be best to secure housing a couple of months before arrival." Read more of Emmanuelle's advice on moving to Miami.
Are you an expat living in Miami?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Miami. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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