The Ultimate Expat Guide to Moving to Miami

The Ultimate Expat Guide to Moving to Miami

Mar 22, 2024 March 22, 2024

Ever thought about grabbing your passport and moving to Miami? You wouldn’t be the first to be drawn to this tropical metropolis. It’s a place with a rich history, diverse culture, and spearheading innovation. Also known as the Magic City, it’s the only major city in the US to be founded by a woman, and it proudly claims the origin of sunscreen and the ATM!

It’s no secret that Miami is a great choice for expats in pursuit of new opportunities. Its appeal is truly worldwide, attracting people from Latin America, Europe, and beyond. Proof of this is that the city was the most popular destination for people born outside of the U.S., attracting 54,500 new residents in 2023, the most out of anywhere in the country. This diversity is evident everywhere, from the vibrant neighborhoods and incredible food scene to its dynamic business, art and hospitality sectors. Living in Miami offers a global lifestyle with a very local flavor, full of opportunities to grow and explore.

So, if you’re thinking about leaving your hometown for the Magic City, read our Miami guide for expats offering insider tips to ensure a smooth transition so you feel right at home upon arrival!


— Why Move to Miami?

Luxury living in Miami, Fl


When you think of Miami, your mind might first drift to the sun-kissed waters of Miami Beach and its bustling tourism sector. However, there’s a whole other side to our city. It’s a global banking capital and is quickly becoming a hotspot for tech startups, driven by its prime location, diverse workforce, and supportive business climate. 

And even bigger corporations and financial companies, like American Airlines and Ryder, have headquarters here and major international corporations like FIFA and Amazon are opening offices, drawing in a wave of talent and innovation. 

If you plan to work, the job market for expats in Miami is diverse, thriving in sectors like tourism, real estate, finance, healthcare, and technology. Undoubtedly, the local work culture is influenced by the city’s cosmopolitan nature, creating a laid-back yet professional atmosphere. Being bilingual, particularly in English and Spanish, is highly valued and can open up many opportunities! Also, leveraging local expat networks can significantly smooth your transition and provide an invaluable support network. 

Another benefit you’ll notice once you settle and start working here—and one of the reasons high-profile figures like Jeff Bezos are moving here—is the absence of state income tax. This perk can significantly increase your disposable income and enhance your quality of life in Miami

Finally, we can’t ignore one of Miami’s most desirable features: its weather and beautiful waters. It’s warm here year-round, making it perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors or simply hates chilling winters. Take advantage of the multiple activities happening all over the city, from free yoga classes in Bayfront Park to running or cycling along the beach to paddleboarding or boating in Biscayne Bay! It’s also a racquet sports paradise. 

However, you’ll have to keep an eye out for hurricane season, happening in the second half of the year.



Insider Tip!

For those looking to immerse in Miami's luxurious lifestyle, consider joining exclusive member-only clubs like Soho Beach House or The Bath Club. They offer a blend of networking opportunities, cultural events, and leisure activities, perfect for connecting with like-minded individuals and easing into the city’s social fabric.



— Best Miami Neighborhoods for Expats

Key Brickell, Miami, FL


Choosing where to settle in Miami means exploring what places match your lifestyle, work, and personal preferences. There are many different areas in Miami that could be good for expats, each with its own character and amenities, so once you get here, we recommend you book temporary accommodation and take your time to get to know the different neighborhoods. Consider factors like proximity to work, your hobbies, and the
top private schools in the area to make your final decision.

These are some of the best Miami neighborhoods for expats

  • Brickell: It’s one of the best areas to live in Miami for young professionals seeking luxury and a true city feel. Brickell offers high-rise living close to the financial district, and with the most city feel in all of Miami. Buildings like Brickell Flatiron and Echo Brickell come with top-notch amenities, including open-air pools and modern gyms, catering to refined urbanites. 
  • Edgewater and Midtown: Edgewater is a favorite neighborhood for expats because offers walkable, upscale urban living with stunning bay views, in an extremely convenient and central location. Paramount Bay in Edgewater stands out for its unobstructed water views and proximity to Margaret Pace Park, with tennis courts, playgrounds, a dog park and beach volleyball and basketball courts. It is surrounded by condo and rental buildings as well. Nearby Midtown is a mix of residential comfort and lively commercial spaces, set amongst several square blocks of retail and restaurants, giving you easy access to a Target, Trader Joe’s and more. 
  • South Beach: If you’re new to our shores and want to live out your Miami movie dream, South Beach is the place. Known for its Art Deco architecture and vibrant lifestyle, this Miami Beach neighborhood mixes culture, nightlife, and beachfront fun. The West Avenue and Sunset Harbor areas are very popular for their walkability. And Apogee in the South of Fifth neighborhood is notable for its high-end living spaces and comprehensive amenities.
  • Downtown and Arts & Entertainment District: Downtown Miami is where the city comes alive, with new luxury apartment buildings and condos, especially at Miami Worldcenter, that offer views of the skyline and the bay. It's home to the Perez Art Museum, the Frost Science Museum, Bayside Marketplace and the Sky Wheel, and the nearby Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, as well as world-renowned clubs like E11EVEN and Space. One Thousand Museum, Zaha Hadid’s masterpiece, is a landmark for the neighborhood, is home to David and Victoria Beckham. It’s also home to the Brightline high-speed rail station. 
  • Coconut Grove and Coral Gables: Coconut Grove is all about laid-back living, with sidewalk cafes and boutiques under a canopy of trees. Here, Grove at Grand Bay is a perfect example of luxury bayfront living. And Coral Gables, known as "The City Beautiful," boasts historic landmarks like the Biltmore Hotel and the Venetian Pools. Both areas offer a quieter side of Miami life, perfect for families or those who appreciate a slower pace with all the perks of city living. 

When it comes to the latest real estate trends, Miami's market is dynamic, with prices reflecting the city's growing popularity and development. Seasonal fluctuations can slightly impact prices, with winter and early spring being the two busiest times of the year. However, in recent years, the market has shifted and Miami has started to attract more permanent buyers and renters alike, drawn by its diverse neighborhoods and year-round sunshine.



Insider Tip
!

When considering where to live in Miami, it’s better to let an expert real estate agent guide you. If you are renting, you don’t pay a commission for them to find you your next home. And they can offer insider expertise about the best places to live and help you with making an offer and making sure you have all the proper paperwork to rent or buy as a foreigner or expat moving to Miami. At Blackbook Properties, we have an international team ready to help! Contact us about any inquiries.



— How to Get Around Miami

Briteline


Life in Miami often requires local know-how, especially when getting around the city. While some areas are great for walking, like Coconut Grove, Brickell and South Beach, Miami's size makes public transportation, ubering or driving more practical, if not necessary, for longer distances. 

When it comes to public transportation, the Miami-Dade Transit system is your go-to. The Metrorail, Metromover, and extensive bus network offer connectivity across the city, sometimes for free! The Metrorail’s Orange Line is particularly handy for those flying in, providing a direct link from Miami International Airport to Downtown, easing the journey if you have family or friends coming over to visit from overseas. Most areas also have free, air-conditioned trolleys that operate within that neighborhood, like the South Beach Trolly, Downtown Trolley, and so on. 

And don’t forget the aforementioned Brightline High Speed Railway system, starting in Downtown, will take you to Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, all the way up to Orlando and Disneyworld. It’s really a great addition to Miami’s transportation system. 

For a greener approach traveling shorter distances, there is also the city-wide, bike-sharing program Citi Bike, which has over 160 locations, as well as electric scooters. These options help reduce carbon footprints and offer a fun way to get around.

Still, any Miamian will tell you that the most convenient way to get around the city is by car. Its layout and the sprawling nature of its suburbs mean that car ownership is almost a necessity. If you’re new to the city, you can use your home country’s driver’s license for a few months, giving you time to transition smoothly. After establishing official residency, you must obtain a valid state driver's license within 30 days.

Knowing the increasingly heavy local traffic patterns and planning commutes accordingly can save a lot of time and stress, making the daily drive more manageable. Morning rush hour typically runs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and the evening peak hits between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. During these times, major highways like the I-95 and the Dolphin Expressway can get particularly congested, especially near Downtown and the financial district in Brickell.



Insider Tip!

If you're going from Miami to Miami Beach, skip the busy bridges and take the Venetian Causeway instead. While is has a small toll, it's a relaxed route locals love, offering some beautiful water and skyline views without the rush.



— What to Do in Miami

Boating and fishing in Miami
Boating and fishing are widely popular activities in Miami


In Miami, you’ll never run out of great places to have fun, explore new cultures and meet new people. Being such an international and multicultural city, you'll find lots of Caribbean and Latin American flavors here, obviously, but also upscale spots that bring authentic flavors from Italy, France, or India, to name a few. At Zuma, for example, you can enjoy some amazing Japanese dishes, and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink offers creative American cuisine made with the freshest ingredients. And being by the ocean, don’t forget to sample the fresh seafood at some of the
finest boat-up restaurants!

When night falls, Miami's bar scene comes alive, offering everything from the relaxed ambiance of The Broken Shaker to rooftop bars in Brickell or Wynwood to the high-energy beats at LIV. For a slice of Miami's rich culture, Ball & Chain in Little Havana serves up live music infused with Cuban rhythms.

But Miami’s allure extends far beyond its food and nightlife. The city is a well-established arts hub, hosting major events such as Art Basel, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the Miami Open Masters 1000 Tennis Tournament, the Ultra Music Festival and much more. In fact, even the streets themselves often become a canvas, especially in Wynwood, where murals tell stories of creativity and expression. On the other hand, architecture enthusiasts will marvel at Miami's skyline, a mix of Art Deco beauty and modern marvels by architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry.

And if you’re more of an outdoorsy or fitness-minded person, Miami’s definitely got you covered in land, sea and sports. First, boating is a way of life in the city and a top destination for water sports enthusiasts. In February, there's the Miami International Boat Show, and you can also check out the Neptune Memorial Reef for an underwater adventure. On land, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden invites exploration with its rare tropical plants and stunning butterfly conservatory. There's also the nearby natural wonder, the Everglades, a unique wetland ecosystem. 

For healthy living, if you don’t already have the fitness bug, you’ll likely get it living here. The weather is just too good not to be outside, and you’ll see so many people biking, running, doing yoga, paddleboarding, playing racquet sports, or soccer. It’s truly a haven for those who love to live a healthy lifestyle in a community with like-minded people. There’s a reason Miami has been ranked the healthiest city in America for several years!



Insider Tip!

Miami's beaches offer a range of activities, from workout sessions to community clean-ups, making them perfect for spending quality time. To dodge the crowds and midday heat, it's best to arrive early in the morning. Locals often visit quieter spots like Hobie Beach for windsurfing and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park for its tranquil setting.



— Other Things to Keep in Mind Before Moving to Miami

Traveling with pets


When it comes to
expat tips about Miami, there are several other important factors to consider before making the city your new home:

  1. Cost of Living: Understanding the cost of living is essential, as there’s a range of lifestyle options that can vary widely in expense. Research the city's living costs to plan for a comfortable life that aligns with your financial situation, and if you’re wondering about what salary you need to live comfortably in Miami, overall, you could live with $70,000 but it would only cover the essentials if you want to live in the heart of the city. To better take advantage of everything the city has to offer, calculate for around $100K a year.
  2. Cell Phone Service and Communications: Staying connected and managing your finances are key aspects of settling into Miami life. You'll find several phone and internet providers in the city, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, offering different plans to meet your needs. When it comes to banking, many expats turn to established institutions like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi Bank, and Chase Bank, which offer services tailored to international clients, including multi-currency accounts and international wire services.
  3. Healthcare: Another thing you’ll likely want to research is the US healthcare system. This includes knowing about insurance requirements and how to access medical services. A good starting point is to explore health insurance options through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which can help you find coverage and healthcare providers who best fit your budget and needs, if you don’t have corporate insurance available to you, taking into account language preferences and the importance of a doctor familiar with your medical history. Cigna Global offers international health insurance as well. 
  4. Bringing Your Pets: If you’re moving to Miami with a pet, remember that animals entering the US are subject to specific regulations by USDA APHIS and other federal agencies. When entering Florida, for dogs, this typically includes a valid rabies vaccination certificate and, in some cases, a health certificate from a veterinarian dated within 30 days of entry. Cats also require a current rabies vaccination. You may also want to have your pet microchipped for easy identification. Before your move, check with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the most up-to-date information.
  5. If You Need Help: Most international consulate offices are in Brickell or Coral Gables, and here is the entire list of Miami’s consulates. In Brickell, you will find consulates for Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia (one of the major investors in Miami real estate) and so on. Plus there are country-based cultural organizations that will help to make you feel welcome and also offer support if you run into any challenges getting established in Miami.



Insider Tip!

Take advantage of Miami-Dade County's online services for new residents. From finding information about procedures to understanding waste collection schedules, these resources can significantly ease your transition into local life.

So, there you have it, a comprehensive Miami guide for expats! If you’re thinking about moving here and are looking for advice on where to live or have any questions, our team is here to help. We aim to provide the information and support you need to make a well-informed decision and assist you in navigating this exciting new chapter. To learn more about the city and what it has to offer, check out our real estate blog, and feel free to contact us anytime!




 

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