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Skyline of downtown Miami as the sun sets

17 Things to Know About Living in Miami

Thinking about moving to Miami? As one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., Magic City’s streets are brimming with colorful Art Deco architecture, a trendy fashion scene, celebrations of diversity, and more—not to mention the gorgeous Florida weather and Miami beaches. If you’re ready to plant roots in the Sunshine State, here are 17 things to know about living in Miami!

Live in the Only Major City Founded by a Woman

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The area where Miami now sits was initially inhabited by the Tequesta Tribe up until 1763. In the late 1800s, Ohio native Julia Tuttle was so enchanted by the area’s natural beauty that she wanted to create a new city along the Miami River where citrus crops could be grown. She convinced industrialist Henry Flagler to extend the railroad from Palm Beach, making it possible for Miami to be incorporated as a city in 1896. Over the course of nearly 130 years, Miami went from 300 citizens to over six million, gaining the nickname “Magic City” due to its enchanting scenery and prime location, which opened opportunities for the city’s growth. Now, the “Mother of Miami” is honored by the namesake road and Miami landmark the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which connects the city to Miami Beach.

Find Bang for Your Buck In Miami

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The cost of living in Miami may be high, but as with other expensive U.S. cities like San Francisco and New York City, this South Florida metro is well worth the cost for its white-sand beaches, vibrant culture, and thriving arts scene. For those considering buying or renting in Magic City, there’s a range of Miami neighborhoods that are safe and affordable for young professionals, families, and retirees alike. To meet Miami’s housing needs, the Miami Affordability Project (MAP) focuses on providing and distributing affordable housing to city residents. Additionally, this Florida city offers businesses and individuals a low tax environment—there is no state income tax, inheritance tax, or estate tax in Miami! And if you’re interested in buying a home in Miami, this beach city is one of the best places to invest in Airbnb rentals and vacation properties.

Work in a Diverse Job Market

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Finding a job to fit your career path is a breeze when you’re moving to Miami! Tourism and trade are staples of this area’s economy, providing a wide range of employment opportunities. In fact, PortMiami is known as one of the largest cargo ports in the U.S. and the Cruise Capital of the World. In addition, finance, international business, healthcare, and aviation are other main industries that provide jobs in Miami. Major employers headquartered in Magic City include Burger King, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Telemundo, Perry Ellis International, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Fortune 500 company Lennar, and the University of Miami Health System. Plus, the unemployment rate in Miami has continued to drop significantly, giving this Florida metro one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S.!

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Learn at Highly-Rated Miami Schools

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Education is an important part of Miami life, especially with more than 500 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district—which is both the biggest school district in Florida and the third-largest in the U.S.! The School for Advanced Studies (SAS) ranks third among the top 30 best high schools in the U.S. due to their high test scores and strong graduation rates. Ransom Everglades School and Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart are two top-notch Miami private schools known for college prep, STEM, marine science, and video production programs. The Miami area also has several highly-rated universities. For those interested in furthering their education, competing at a Division I school, or pursuing a career in higher education, the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Barry University are among the best colleges in Miami.

Use Miami’s Public Transportation

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Largely considered one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. and a “15-minute city,” Magic City has a variety of transportation options for commuters across the Miami metro. On an average weekday, there are around 300,000 passengers boarding some mode of Miami-Dade Transit (MDT). The Miami Metrobus is the most common form of transportation, with access to nearby areas including Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Florida City, and more! The free Metromover operates seven days a week in Downtown Miami, while the Miami Trolley has more than 10 different routes at no cost! Miami International Airport is also easy to reach via the Miami Metrorail. On top of all that, the ride-sharing company Freebee offers complimentary, smart-car transportation around Miami hot spots like Key Biscayne, Palmetto Bay, and Coconut Grove.

Experience Fantastic Outdoor Recreation

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As you might expect in a city renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, there are endless things to do outside in Miami! Pull out the irons and spend a day golfing at one of many courses in the Miami-area, like Granada Golf Course, Miami Shores Country Club, Miami Springs Golf & Country Club, and more. Sign the kids up for a seasonal nature camp or try kayaking, camping, and archery with Miami EcoAdventures. Stroll beneath the foliage of tropical plant species, see art collections like the (Hu)mangrove Exhibition, and attend classes and workshops at The Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden. Head 15 minutes north of the Miami metro to 515-acre Amelia Earhart Park, where you’ll find endless activities—like sitting next to one of five lakes, meeting animals at the Bill Graham Farm Village, or watching your pup run the obstacle course at the five-acre Bark Park. Visit local reefs and shipwrecks, or spend the day fishing for a variety of local catches like groupers, amberjack, and sailfish with a chartered fishing trip by Reward Fishing Fleet. Or take a day trip to the lush Everglades National Park and go on a swamp tour to see alligators, manatees, and more.

Soak Up Sunshine at Miami Beaches

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Magic City is home to some of the best beaches in the U.S.—most famously Miami Beach—and the Sunshine State’s average of 248 sunny days per year means the fun can continue year-round! Miami Beach runs beside the Atlantic Ocean for seven miles and includes three iconic neighborhoods—North Beach, Mid-Beach, and South Beach. Beat the heat and escape to Biscayne Bay for a peaceful day of paddleboarding and exploring Historic Virginia Key Beach Park—which is filled with a variety of shady oases, stretches of surf, and swaying palms. Enjoy the warm sand, surfing in Miami, spectacular views from the pier, and delicious food at the many seaside eateries found at South Pointe Park. Get in your workout at Lummus Park, which has built-in, nature-themed workout structures that double as art pieces. Build sandcastles, cool off in the ocean, and have a blast jet skiing across the clear waters at Crandon Park. Or enjoy beaches, high-end shopping, and fine dining at Bal Harbour!

Enjoy Family-Friendly Fun

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Though the beaches and nightlife undoubtedly draw in many singles and young professionals, there are also tons of things of things to do with kids in Miami! Marvel at over 2,500 animals from 400 different species as you explore on foot, safari cycle, or by tram at Zoo Miami. Swim with dolphins, snorkel with virtual reality technology, and interact with live animals in the touch pools at the Miami Seaquarium. Dive into interactive exhibits like Sharks, Feathers to the Stars, and Power of Science at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Get a bird’s-eye view of the jungle below with Treetop Trekking Miami, or meet creatures like flamingos, lemurs, capybaras, sloths, and more at Jungle Island. Go on a fun, educational adventure through exhibits like the luminous Castle of Dreams, interactive Music Makers Studio, and the Sketch Aquarium at the Miami Children’s Museum. Or take a 35-minute drive north for an adrenaline-filled day trip that includes waterslides, a lazy river, and the thrilling Aqua Drop ride at Tidal Cove Waterpark in Aventura.

Embrace Magic City’s Many Cultures

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From food and clothes to art and music, Miami’s diverse cultural scene is influenced by people from all over the world, including the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Africa. In fact, the city is nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” because more than 66% of Miami’s population are Spanish speakers. Additionally, the high concentration of Cuban immigrants in Miami has a strong cultural influence that can be clearly seen along Calle Ocho, located in the heart of Little Havana. This cultural blend is also responsible for the thriving coffee culture in Magic City. Try a cafecito, latte, or Cafe Cubano (Cuban espresso) from some of the best coffee shops in Miami, such as Vice City Bean and Panther Coffee. Or head to Versailles, “the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant,” where you can stop for a brew and conversation at the iconic La Ventanita.

Celebrate the Calle Ocho Festival

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International food vendors, musical artists, and street dancers take center stage at the Calle Ocho Music Festival! Started in 1978 to bring the city’s Cuban community together, this free Miami festival—just one part of the broader event known as Carnaval Miami—is one of the biggest street parties in the U.S. This free Miami festival brings in more than 1 million people yearly and holds the record for the longest conga line in the world. Festival attendees are given a schedule packed with events like the Miss Carnaval Miami competition, Domino Tournament, and Golf Classic. Plus, Kings and Queens who represent the pillars of the Latin American community are crowned every year. If you want to get in the Carnaval spirit beforehand, Carnaval on the Mile is a pre-festival weekend event in Coral Gables where partygoers can experience local art, live music, and cultural cuisine!

Miami Is Out & Proud

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Known as “America’s gay melting pot,” Miami is a gay-friendly destination for travel and living. The South Beach district—the heart of the LGBTQ scene—features resources like the LGBT Visitor Center, which is backed by the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Miami also supports young residents and their queer experience through organizations like Pridelines and Safe Schools South Florida. Celebrate Miami’s diverse spirit at Miami Beach Pride, featuring events like the Family Picnic, Queer Art Showcase, and the Miami Beach Pride Parade. Attend a weekend of drag shows, musical performances, and DJs at Wynwood Pride. Watch culturally-diverse films dedicated to presenting historical and contemporary perspectives on the LGBTQ experience at OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival: Miami. Dine and drink in comfort while cheering on your local drag divas at Palace. Or spend an evening at Twist, the longest-running gay club in Miami, which hosts events like House Party Tuesdays and Fresh Wednesdays!

Root For Your Favorite Miami Sports Team

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With five professional sports teams calling the 305 home, going to a game in Miami is a must! Tailgate with brews and hot dogs outside the Hard Rock Stadium before watching the Miami Dolphins (NFL) take home a win, or root for your favorite team playing at the Copa America soccer tournament. Witness the three-time champion Miami Heat (NBA) shoot nothing but net at Kaseya Center (previously named American Airlines Arena). Buy some peanuts and popcorn while you root for the Miami Marlins (MLB) to reach home base at loanDepot Park. Watch your favorite player go for a hat trick while supporting Inter Miami CF (MLS) at Chase Stadium. Or cheer on the Florida Panthers (NHL) as they score their way to the Stanley Cup at Amerant Bank Arena.

Strut Your Fave Fits in Florida’s Fashion Capital

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Living in Miami means living in an international fashion capital. One of the first and most famous designers to be drawn here was Gianni Versace, who lived in Miami until the end of his life—and today, you can still visit his apartment-turned-fashion mansion, the Villa Casa Casuarina. Since then, many world-renowned designers like Dior, Christian Louboutin, and Giorgio Armani have set up shop in the Miami metro, creating and growing the Miami Design District. Design Miami, an art fair dedicated to elevating and celebrating emerging design trends, holds multiple fairs and events throughout the year. The city also hosts several fashion events, including Miami Swim Week and Miami Fashion Week. And if it’s always been your dream to rock the runway, Wilhelmina Models, Elite Model Management, and William Morris Agency are just a few big-name modeling agencies in Miami.

Experience Magic City’s Booming Art Scene

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Miami and Miami Beach host more than 20 art fairs and 1,200 art galleries yearly—and though Miami Beach is home to the prestigious art event, Art Basel, it’s the bold Miami art scene that makes this Southern Florida metro one of the best cities for artists. As such an accessible area for creative visual expression, artists are sure to love living near Downtown Miami and Wynwood! The city developed Miami Art Week for new and emerging artists to display their work at fairs like Art Miami, Untitled Art Fair, and CONTEXT Art Miami. Visit South Florida’s premier arts festival, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, where digital art, clay work, watercolor, and more are on display! Interact with exhibits at Superblue Miami. Take “Spray It Loud” classes to learn the art of graffiti at the Museum of Graffiti. Jam out to major DJs like The Chainsmokers and Marshmello while browsing the work of visual artists like Chica Dania and Chaz of the London Police at Ultra Music Festival. View public sculptures or visit one of the permanent collections of art at the Lowe Art Museum. Or appreciate Miami art from anywhere in the world with the Miami Art Scene magazine!

Discover the Art of Miami’s Architecture

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One of the most unique aspects of Florida architecture is the Art Deco Historic District, located across the bay on Miami Beach. Named the first urban 20th-century historic district, this East Coast city contains the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world and is maintained by the Miami Design Preservation League. Hotels along Ocean Drive, restaurants on Washington Avenue, and bars beside Collins Avenue show bold geometric patterns, porthole windows, and exotic floral prints. But you’ll know when you’ve made it to the Art Deco Welcome Center when you’re surrounded by pastel orange, pink, purple, and blue buildings.

Explore Out-of-This-World Flavors

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In a place as diverse as Magic City, it should come as no surprise that Miami restaurants draw inspiration from Latin and Caribbean flavors. Feast on Queso Fundido or Flautas while sipping on a Slushy Catrina out of a sugar skull at Tacology. Savor the Causa Limena, Clasico de Toda La Vida, or El Del Barrio at CVI.CHE 105, one of the best Peruvian restaurants in Miami. Order the Tropical, Alaskan, or The Terminator sandwich with a Miami Sunset Smoothie at La Sandwicherie. Dine on delicious Florida seafood dishes like Stone Crab Bisque, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, and Seafood Paella at one of the top restaurants in Miami at Joe’s Stone Crab. Searching for the best desserts in Miami? Have a slice of the famous Key Lime or Coconut Custard Pie, or Flan from Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop. Or grab kosher brunch and dessert items like the Challah French Toast, Starfruit Yogurt Parfait, or Labneh + Eggs Plate at the Miami bakery, Zak the Baker.

Find the Magic in Miami’s Nightlife

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Whether you’re looking to share a few glasses of wine with your friends or have a weekend filled with dancing and bottle service, you’ll find that Miami nightlife is full of excitement! Dance with your friends, enjoy happy hour specials, or reserve your spot at Lime Cay Sundays at Blackbird Ordinary. Enjoy artists like Drumcode Miami, Solid Grooves, and Mason Collective at Miami hot spot CLUB SPACE. Try unique blends of wine that include avocado, passion fruit, lychee, or mango at Schnebly Redland’s Winery. Tear up the dance floor or attend Miami Music Week in the spring at the high-energy, luxurious club LIV. Or see fantastic shows with big names like David Guetta, deadmau5, and Skrillex at M2.

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Moving to Miami? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities throughout the Miami metro that can help with your transition. Find Miami storage near you!

Pinterest graphic: Living in Miami, FL: 16 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.