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.
► Check out the Moving to Miami page to learn more about life in Miami.
"Miami is a great city to live and work in, ideally located for doing business with the Americas and Europe and very easy to adapt to if you don’t mind the summer heat and humidity. But I reassure you, during those months, you quickly learn to hop from one air-conditioned location to another. After 20 years of hopping around, it’s going to be hard to make me move again. I think I finally found my home away from home!" Read more about the ups and downs of Miami life in Emmanuelle's interview.
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.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.