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17 Things to Know About Living in Fort Lauderdale

Thinking about moving to Fort Lauderdale? Known as the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is an ocean-side Florida city with warm weather, beautiful beaches, and plenty of things to see and explore. Here are 17 things you should know about living in Fort Lauderdale!

Experience Luxury Living in Fort Lauderdale

Sun sets across Fort Lauderdale skyline. Photo by Instagram user @daniel_eidsmoe

Photo via @daniel_eidsmoe

If you love living near the ocean, meeting visitors from around the world, and enjoying international eats on the regular, the relatively high cost of living in Fort Lauderdale may be worth it for you. Fort Lauderdale’s cost of living is 17% higher than the U.S. average, but still significantly lower than other well-connected coastal towns like Palm Beach, San Diego, and Key West. Residents here pay only a little more than the national average for groceries, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and goods and services—rates comparable to Florida cities like Miami. And though houses for sale in Fort Lauderdale have a median home price of $575,500, and local rentals have a median monthly rent of about $2,700—residents can still find plenty of safe, affordable Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods that can fit most budgets. Plus, Florida is one of the states without income tax, which helps residents save money.

Access Growing Employment Opportunities

One of the things people love most about living in Fort Lauderdale is the abundance of job opportunities. The unemployment rate is only 3%, and several major companies are headquartered in and around Fort Lauderdale—including AutoNation, Hotwire Communications, Citrix Systems, SmartWater CSI, and Spirit Airlines. With around 10 million annual visitors, much of Fort Lauderdale’s economic power comes from tourism and its related industries like transportation, retail, accommodation and food services, and more. Healthcare professionals account for 10% of the Fort Lauderdale workforce—likely due to a higher-than-average median age in Fort Lauderdale—with employment options through healthcare organizations like Broward Health. Other growing industries—including technology, manufacturing, global logistics, financial services, marine industries, and more—have opportunities to receive incentives and assistance from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

Find Great Florida Schools in the Area

Looking up at a building on Keiser University. Photo by Instagram user @alattewriting

Photo via @alattewriting

Everyone can benefit from access to excellent education opportunities in Fort Lauderdale. If you’re looking for one of the best private high schools in Florida, look no further than Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School, which excels in both academics and athletics. The College Academy of Broward College is also a fantastic public school option with an average graduation rate of 99%. But don’t stop there! If you or your kids want to pursue higher education, there are also several public, private, and community colleges in and around Fort Lauderdale. Keiser University offers a wide range of associates, bachelors, and graduate degrees—with classes at all times of day taught in both English and Spanish to accommodate students’ needs. Broward College makes pursuing your education as a full-time or part-time student easy with certifications, associate degrees, and bachelor degree programs in the arts, sciences, and more. Attend the nationally-ranked Nova Southeastern University to participate in international scientific research on sharks, play on the Sharks Athletics teams, and earn your undergraduate or graduate degree.

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Live in the Venice of America

Living in Fort Lauderdale means you’re living in the Venice of America! This city’s nickname comes from the 165 miles of navigable canals that allow residents to get almost anywhere by boat. You’ll be able to find a long list of activities to do right on the water of Fort Lauderdale’s canals! Embark on a Water Taxi to reach your favorite Fort Lauderdale bars. Have a few drinks on the water with Cruisin’ Tikis. Board Carrie B and enjoy a sightseeing tour of luxurious homes owned by celebrities in the Fort Lauderdale area. Catch some bass while inshore fishing with iOutdoors. If you’re looking for great restaurants along the water, Blue Moon Fish Company and 15th Street Fisheries are known for having some of the best seafood in South Florida.

Ride in Style with Public Transit

Yellow, red, and blue fort lauderdale trolley. Photo by Instagram user @suntrolley

Photo via @suntrolley

Though most residents own a car, there are also plenty of Fort Lauderdale public transportation options available within the city. Broward County Transit (BCT) provides nearly 400 buses traveling 42 daily routes that connect Fort Lauderdale to nearby Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. For a faster commute between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, try taking the Tri-Rail. The privately-owned express train, Brightline, also serves the three cities’ downtown areas. Tourists and locals alike can enjoy shuttles that travel through popular areas of town, like the City of Fort Lauderdale Community Shuttle (also known as the Sun Trolley) and the LauderGO! Community Shuttle. Or, go green with an affordable bike-share service serving Broward County, B-Cycle, and an interactive map of available carpools provided by the South Florida Commuter Services.

Travel Anywhere from Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale’s location allows the city to be a common jumping-off point for plenty of vacationers. In fact, Port Everglades, the official Fort Lauderdale cruise port, is the third busiest cruise port in the world, and receives as many as 3.8 million passengers in a single year. Residents can also head to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for worldwide flights and the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport for domestic trips. Enjoy the benefits of relaxed cross-country travel by embarking on a train ride from the Fort Lauderdale Amtrak station. Or take an easy day trip down the South Florida Coast to West Palm Beach or Miami. You can even drive to Key West on the Overseas Highway for a breathtaking road trip!

Take Advantage of Warm Weather Every Day

Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where the sun shines 246 days of the year? The average temperatures in Fort Lauderdale rarely dip below 60 degrees. Most tourists visit Fort Lauderdale from November to May, as the city’s winter weather is cooler and dryer than in summer. In a tropical Fort Lauderdale climate, residents can expect a clear rainy season from May through October, featuring often overcast skies, high humidity, and daily high temperatures above 87 degrees. Since Fort Lauderdale is a coastal city, it’s recommended that residents make preparations for the Florida hurricane season, which lasts from June through November.

Explore Fort Lauderdale Outdoor Activities

Consistent warm weather means outdoor activities in Fort Lauderdale are never in short supply! Explore the Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale—“Florida’s Most Beautiful Mile”—for a scenic stroll through native plant life along New River. Grab a group of friends to see celebrity mansions in Downtown Fort Lauderdale on a night-time Segway tour. Put on your wetsuit and head to the ocean for paddle boarding, snorkeling, or a diving adventure! Stay above water with excursions on Fort Lauderdale fishing charters and coastal yacht tours. Practice your golf game at nearly 40 Fort Lauderdale golf courses. Looking for Fort Lauderdale things to do that only the locals know about? Hike through a 56-acre floodplain to see native pollinators on Butterfly Island and exotic birds in the cypress trees at Secret Woods Nature Center. Do some primitive camping or simply enjoy the natural trails on Deerfield Island Park—just plan your trip in advance, as the island is only accessible by boat! Head to the city’s hidden oasis with over 250 species of birds, snorkeling and paddle-boating, cabin and primitive camping, rollerblading paths, and much more at Huge Taylor Birch State Park.

Enjoy Endless Family Activities in Fort Lauderdale

If you’re moving to Fort Lauderdale with family, you’ll find endless entertainment options everyone will love! Get an adrenaline rush at Xtreme Action Park, where you’ll find high-intensity rope courses and go-karts. Have a one-of-a-kind aquatic experience as you glide through the water on the back of a dolphin at Dolphin World. Let your imagination run wild at Young At Art‘s interactive art museum, which is considered one of the top things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids. Learn more about nature’s beautiful pollinators across three acres of butterfly aviaries, botanical gardens, and the working butterfly farm and research center at Butterfly World. Explore hundreds of interactive exhibits like Prehistoric Florida, Storm Center, Otters at Play, and more at one of the best Fort Lauderdale museums, the Museum of Discovery and Science. For a true Southern Florida experience, board a high-speed airboat and tour the Everglades with Airboat Rides Fort Lauderdale.

Relax at Fort Lauderdale Beach

Marked by the iconic wave wall, Fort Lauderdale Beach is the perfect destination to soak up the sun. Locals and visitors alike experience everything from live music and beach yoga, to spotting baby sea turtles hatch from their eggs and learning to surf. Fort Lauderdale Beach is also home to some of the most unique Fort Lauderdale beach bars. Sip on a Tiki Punch in a hurricane glass at LuLu’s Bait Shack or have a tropical cocktail and watch mermaids put on a show at Wreck Bar. Fort Lauderdale Beach isn’t the only beach in the area! Head just half an hour north to board a tour boat and visit one of the oldest structures in Broward County, Hillsboro Lighthouse, at Hillsboro Beach. Or visit even more of the best beaches around Fort Lauderdale, like Las Olas Beach and Hollywood Beach.

Shop ’til You Drop

Galleria mall in Fort Lauderdale. Photo by Instagram user @galleriaftlaud

Photo via @galleriaftlaud

There’s no shortage of options for a Fort Lauderdale shopping trip! Put on your walking shoes to stroll through one of the biggest Fort Lauderdale malls: Sawgrass Mills. Located just 15 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, this outlet mall is full of over 350 stores including GUCCI, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Versace, and more. Head to the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale for more common brands like Apple, H&M, Michael Kors, and Sephora—all minutes from the beach and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Boward County Convention Center! Make a day of visiting the Festival Marketplace, an open-air, European-style marketplace with over 250 shops, beauty services, and restaurants. Or catch a drive-in movie on one of 14 screens, play in a huge video game arcade, see the Ferrari Museum, or find unique, thrifted items at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop!

Immerse Yourself in Fort Lauderdale Art & Culture

performers on stage for Aint Too Proud musical at Broward Center. Photo by Instagram user @browardcenter

Photo via @browardcenter

Witness experimental cultural productions in three art warehouse spaces in the Flagler Arts Technology Village (FATVillage). Attend events like the Fort Lauderdale Artwalk, featuring an alliance of creative businesses in the Music & Arts South of Sunrise (MASS) District. Check out the 1920s creative studio of two American artists at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. See a wide variety of shows like Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas or Miami City Ballet: Romeo & Juliet at the Broward Center for Performing Arts. Learn about Fort Lauderdale history at the oldest surviving structure in Broward County, The Historic Stranahan House Museum. Explore rotating exhibits like Photographing the Fantastic or Confrontation: Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky at the NSU Art Museum—and remember that admission is free on First Thursday and during Fort Lauderdale Neighbor Day! Or catch a glimpse of work from famous local, regional, and international artists and art collectives at the annual Art Fort Lauderdale fair.

Stroll Through Las Olas Boulevard

Street view of local businesses and trees on Las Olas Boulevard. Photo by Instagram user @lasolasblvd

Photo via @lasolasblvd

Located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale is the energetic street of Las Olas Boulevard. Once a dirt road that led to the beach, this area has grown into the ultimate center for shopping, dining, and Fort Lauderdale attractions. Choose between 50+ dining options that range from upscale Italian pasta at Caffé Europa and gourmet empanadas at Argentino Las Olas, to creative cocktails and dishes at Golden Lyon Vintage Pub. Looking for cool shops and boutiques in Fort Lauderdale? Pick up fresh, seasonal bouquets at Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar, luxury home decor from House Boutique, or ocean-themed artwork and apparel from Guy Harvey Gallery and Shop. And don’t miss out on cool activities in Fort Lauderdale like the Las Olas Art Fair, Las Olas Wine & Food Festival, and Christmas on Las Olas.

Attend Fort Lauderdale Festivals for All Ages

Locals and tourists alike can always find fun things to do at Fort Lauderdale festivals! Rock out to country music on the beach at the three-day Tortuga Music Festival. This Fort Lauderdale music festival is guilt-free fun as the event’s proceeds are donated to the Rock The Ocean Foundation for oceanic conservation. Bring your pet to the two-day FemAle Brew Fest to sample craft brews from women-led businesses and jam out to female DJs and singers. Get up-close and personal with international luxury yachts at the world’s largest in-water boat show, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Don’t forget the annual Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival, featuring an inclusive parade, six stages, and 16 bars, providing a wide variety of entertainment!

Eat at Mouth-Watering Fort Lauderdale Restaurants

Searching for the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale? They’re all around you! Wake up with a Fort Lauderdale brunch of famous Doughnut Holes, Banana Bread Grilled Cheese, or a Barnyard Frittata at Foxy Brown. Try the Charred Octopus or fresh daily catches of Grilled Swordfish or Yellowfin Tuna at Boatyard. Sample from 200 varieties of tequila, dig into freshly prepared table-side guacamole, and try a variety of Tacos de Casa at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar. Make a reservation to try Regina’s Famous Gluten-Free Cheese Bread with a rotating menu of soup, dinner, and dessert at the authentically Brazilian eatery, Regina’s Farm. Or experience science, food, and a brain freeze in one cup when you indulge in some Cake Batter, Dulce de Leche, or Yodha Matcha ice cream at Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream.

Discover an Emerging Hub for Craft Beer

If you love a good craft beer after a long day of work, the growing number of Fort Lauderdale breweries have got you covered! Bring your furry friend to the dog-friendly microbrewery, LauderAle, and have their C Porter—a malt beer with a tropical Caribbean coconut twist. Attend Oktoberfest events or sample craft beers year-round from Riot Blood to Cream Head at Khoffner Brewing. Experience a rotating beer menu of creative and original craft beers in a taxidermy-stuffed taproom open seven days a week at Invasive Species Brewery. Visit the neighborhood-centric, locally-sourced nano brewery, Orchestrated Minds Brewing, for the Touch of Grey Blonde Ale, In My Soul Lager, or Highly Approachable Stout. Or stretch your happy hour into dinner at Tarpon River Brewing with delicious dishes like IPA Mac and Cheese and Fish Tacos to pair with your Rusty Blonde Lager or Margarita Gose Sours.

Dive In to Fort Lauderdale Nightlife

Music, fun, and dancing at Fort Lauderdale clubs is a huge draw for singles and young professionals living in the Venice of America. If you’re looking to experience the ultimate outdoor party like true Fort Lauderdale spring breakers, head to America’s Backyard, which attracts college students from all over the U.S. with beer pong, free drinks for ladies from 9-11, and high-energy music. Dance at a Downtown Fort Lauderdale nightlife hotspot, Club Euro, where you can party with locals and celebrities from the NFL, NBA, and Top 40s charts. Keep the night going with live country music, line dancing classes, and craft beers on tap at Round Up NightClub. Or enjoy a more relaxed experience at one of the more upscale Fort Lauderdale bars, Blue Martini, featuring bottle service and a different live performance every night.

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