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Home Hunting Advice for Families Relocating to Miami

I’m sure you are a very nice couple, possibly with very nice kids, but that is precisely why you should avoid this place like your mother-in-law on Christmas.
April 15, 2007 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 29 Comments

From the Miami Relocation Guide.


Married, people, seriously, Miami is not the town for you. I’m sure you are a very nice couple, possibly with very nice kids, but that is precisely why you should avoid this place like your mother-in-law on Christmas. Not to say this is not a beautiful city with culture and excitement and world-class recreational opportunities, but it is NOT a place you move when you want to start any sort of real life. Corruption, temptation and depravity lurk around every corner and I can almost promise you that your family will be worse off for having moved here.

This all being said, a lot of people spend one too many winters shoveling through 8 feet of snow and don’t concern themselves so much with the bad schools or inept government South Florida has to offer. Instead, they see laying on the beach in February and disregard the rest. Or maybe there is a job opportunity that is too good to pass up. Or maybe you met a Cuban girl while at school in Connecticut and decided the time was right to head south. So should other factors outweigh my advice in the first paragraph, there are places you can move that will make your stay in Miami at least somewhat bearable.



So you got married and have decided to start a new life together. And this new life is going to begin in Miami. Typically the only people who decide to do this arrive by raft, but if for some God-unknown reason you thought moving to a city full of sex, drugs and corruption was a good idea for a young married couple, then Bienvenidos!. That whole dual income, no kids thing is really a financial windfall and my suggestion is to live here as long as you plan on not having children then heading slightly north when you want to buy a house. Because while condos will soon be selling for less than the price of a gallon of gas, houses in decent areas are still prohibitively expensive.


While buying a condo may seem like a good idea, given the current market it is doubtful you will ever make any money on it. This makes it ultimately cheaper to rent. The first thing you want to consider is where you are working. Since nightlife is not as much of a priority as it may be to someone still looking to hook up with strangers in a public bathroom, and you have no kids to put in school, move as close to your job as you can. I’m not saying move into some rat hole in Doral because you happen to be working for Carnival Cruise Lines, but since you have fewer other priorities, try and make your commute as short as possible. If you are working further North, like in Broward County, there are a lot of nice beachfront condos in Sunny Isles and Aventura. My favorite neighborhoods up there are Morningside and Miami Shores, and while a bit of drive East of I-95 it offers some of the more unique homes in the area and is, as its name implies, right on the bay (see: map).


If you are working downtown or on Brickell, rent a condo on Brickell or in The Roads. You may actually be one of 8 Miamians who can take Public Transportation to work. Should your budget be slightly smaller, the Design District, which is just north of Downtown, may be a better, more-affordable option. If you are working in Coral Gables, move there, as close to your office as possible. But be advised that the Gables ends at SW 37th Ave and SW 8th street. And it is not above many realtors in Miami to tell you an apartment is in the “East Gables” when, in fact, it is in the “West Projects.” One thing you may have noticed about Miami is we have million dollar neighborhoods literally across the street from Shantytowns. It keeps with our “Central American Emulation” theme.

If you are young and married, there is absolutely no excuse to be living in Kendall or Westchester or really anywhere west of the airport. Yes, the rent is cheaper but the quality of life decreases exponentially as you venture west. This is mostly due to traffic and inaccessibility to freeways, and with a dual income and no kids there are many more convenient areas you can choose to call home. If you are planning on buying a house and starting a family, however, Miami is really not the place to do it. North of the county line is probably better, but then again if you’ve ever seen the movie “Bully” there are no guarantees there either.



If you have children, you really should reconsider whether or not you want to raise them in Dade County. If you do, be prepared for them to have smoked marijuana by 12, had sex by 14, and moved on to hard drugs before graduation. This is how it went for pretty much every friend I have who grew up here, even the Mormons. If your kids are American, expect them to be outsiders at school. Honestly, those of you with kiddies should move to Broward County and suffer through the commute to Dade. This is the price you pay for having children. Because this city is not at all conducive to raising kids.



If you are intent on staying in Miami there are a few areas that offer pretty decent schools and a minimal scuz factor. Assuming you are a two-parent family, the prime areas to go are Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay. While located in the Southwest Triple-Digit streets, the location is not as inconvenient as one would think. You are fairly close to access to the Turnpike, not far form the Palmetto Expressway, and can even take Old Cutler Road if you like the scenic route. Very rarely does anyone find jobs in these parts of town, so your commute will most likely be unpleasant, but the neighborhoods are safe (by Miami standards which means you can leave your car out in broad daylight and if it is locked and has an alarm you shouldn’t get it broken into more than twice) and the schools are pretty good. Additionally, most errands you would need to run are within a short drive as the nicest Publix in Miami is in Palmetto Bay and The Falls shopping mall is right across US-1.


Just make sure when you are looking at places they are EAST of US-1. Some unscrupulous realtors have been known to advertise places as “Pinecrest” so they can jack up the rents, but in fact are in unincorporated Dade or an area known as Richmond Heights. Whose most notable resident is rapper Trick Daddy.  Pinecrest, so you are not fooled, runs east of US-1 from SW 104th St to SW 136th St, running all the way to Biscayne Bay. Palmetto Bay picks up where Pinecrest leaves off at 136th and continues south to SW 184th. The disadvantage to this area: It is very expensive. If you are on more of a budget, you may want to look at West Kendall or the cheaper parts of South Miami. Their schools are comparable, but the area is not as nice.


If you are a single parent, well, you are not in the minority in this city, but most local single parents in Miami still live at home. The aforementioned Kendall area is relatively new and has a lot of affordable townhomes and apartment buildings while still offering decent schools. This is most likely your best bet as you can find reasonable rent in a decent apartment, but again you will spend the bulk of your time sitting in traffic. The further-south communities of Cutler Bay and Saga Bay also offer the advantage of cheaper pricing, but again your commute will be unpleasant and the schools may not be as good.

As a person trying to “settle down,” Miami may provide some challenges that other cities do not. However, it is not impossible to find and acceptable place to call home, and if you do not have children your options are the best of any demographic. Those with children must understand the inherent complications that Miami will throw your way, but it is not impossible to raise a family here and still maintain some sense of normalcy. But I make no guarantees.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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29 Comments on

"Home Hunting Advice for Families Relocating to Miami"

John says:

Uh, the Gables doesn’t end at SW8th Street.  The area bordered by Flagler on the North, Ponce on the West, Douglas on the East, and Calle Ocho on the south is a part of the Gables.

Posted on 04/23/2007 at 3:44 PM

ashley says:

I see you have had very bad experiences living there, therefore you should be the first to move out to venture some other state or county. But beware of having children because where ever you go there is always sex, drugs and crime. It depends on how you choose to raise your children that really makes or breaks them. Your so bitter about the whole florida thing you should definitly try going to NewYork. At least there you have more crime, more sex and definitly more drugs. Also the weather is horrible, the winter is too cold and the summers are too hot and humid.  And may I add, the streets are way more dirty than any other city I’ve ever seen..

Posted on 04/28/2007 at 6:27 PM

Suzy says:

Matt!!! Don’t scare them away!  Miami, as a whole, is actually a FANTASTIC place to live, work and play! Oh sure, there are areas where you want to “Quick! Lock the doors, roll up the windows and grab your Glock,” but I’ve lived here 31 years and I’ve never been mugged, assaulted, car jacked or had my house broken into-granted, I do have bars on my windows!

One area of Miami that was not mentioned in your article (but most certainly is worthy of mentioning) is Key Biscayne.  I grew up there and it was definitley MILES away from the Miami hustle and bustle while being only a 7 mile beautifully scenic ride away.  Incidentally, the town has coined itself “Paradise Found.”  Key Biscayne is a great place to raise a family filled with public and private schools that are ranked among the top in the state.  There are numerous dining and shopping options as well as local churches, and what tops the Key’s private beaches? The Key is also home to the Nasdaq Tennis Open, the Seaquarium, a few 5 star resorts and a laid back atmosphere where most residents travel by golf cart or bicycle! If you can afford the hefty price tag (and property taxes), the Key is definitely a place to check out.

Posted on 05/15/2007 at 3:55 PM

Miami student here to prove an ignorant man wrong says:

Miami is no worse than any major city in he United States.  People, and it seems you too, see the stupidity of college students here on break and think “oh Miami is nothing but a ‘city of sin’,” but as a resident from birth, I can tell you from personal experience that I enjoy where I live.  I’ve lived in Westchester since birth and have gone to public school since then and passed perfectly fine with a 3.3 unweighted, 4.1 weighted. I go to the 66th ranked high school in the entire country and where is it located? but amazingly in Miami Dade county.

My grandparents live in Opa Locka and Hialeah and while they both have their share of street crime, neither of them have had their houses broken into and moreover name a major city that doesn’t have crime.  All in all, your bad experience should not effect the people reading this article because your description of life in miami is clearly wrong to anybody who actually lives here.

Posted on 05/15/2007 at 7:00 PM

Sylvia says:

I am planning on moving to the Miami area in a month or so and have heard and read nothing but great things until your article. It is apparent that you have issues with your city and you also must be miserably single and alone. I agree with the responder above; you need to move to New York. This place better suits you but, sorry to say, kids are being raised there too.

Posted on 09/02/2008 at 11:28 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

HaHa. Oh Sylvia, your wide-eyed eagerness amuses me to no end. While the last poster lived here for life, and therefore has a pretty credible argument, you, apparently, have never even written a check to FPL. Get back to me in a year.

BTW, what is your ethnicity? If you are Hispanic, I am not at all surprised you’ve heard nothing but great things. If not, I wanna know who you’re talking to. I love Miami, don’t get me wrong, but I’m also a realist.

Posted on 09/03/2008 at 1:20 AM

wade says:

i agree with ashley and it is how you raise your children. i am planning on moving to miami for a job. and have 2yr old and would be moving family there. i do appreciate the info on certain areas. but am willing to take a chance at living in miami, but have also thought of living farther out and using light rail. i have ? about lightrail how safe and stuff.

Posted on 02/05/2009 at 3:56 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

The Metrorail, our attempt at some sort of rail system, is pretty safe most of the time. During the day, no worries. I see kids on it all the time. At night, well, I wouldn’t go north of Vizcaya or Brickell. We have a guide to it here:

Posted on 02/05/2009 at 8:01 PM

Johnny says:

what about Homestead? how’s that location for family?

Posted on 04/16/2009 at 3:36 PM

Gus says:

Johnny, if you’re considering Homestead, check out Palmetto Bay, near 152 and US-1. It’s an excellent place for families.

Posted on 04/16/2009 at 4:03 PM

Johnny says:

Thanks Gus! ... I’m moving from orange county, california to miami but can’t find any 3 bed rooms in Palmetto bay on (except for homestead) ... do you know of another reliable miami site?

Posted on 04/16/2009 at 5:27 PM

Gus says:

Cool. I’m from San Diego.

For rentals, Craigslist is the best. Palmetto Bay has tons of 3 bedroom houses, but I can’t say what the rental market is like.

What part of Miami will you be working in?

Any plans to visit before you move?

Posted on 04/17/2009 at 5:18 AM

Johnny says:

I stopped in Miami at the beginning of the year then went to Orlando last month for a week ... I’m going to be heading back to Miami in June for a couple of days to get a fill.  I’ll probaby be working of NW 87th Avenue which is really close to Pinecrest & Palmetto Bay but also doing some work in South Miami.

Posted on 04/17/2009 at 1:02 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Johnny, NW 87th Ave, is NOWHERE NEAR Pinecrest and Palmetto bay. I mean that’s the kind of commute i talk about, that can ruin your life if you have to do it during rush periods. SW 87th might be close, but it depends on the cross street.

Point is, if you’re working that far north, maybe look at Broward or something.

Posted on 04/17/2009 at 5:40 PM

Johnny says:

oops sorry wrong location I’ll be at North Kendall Drive in Miami 33156 ... according to yahoo maps that’s close to pinecrest & palmetto bay ... checked out craigslist today thanks for the advise ... found some good stuff

Posted on 04/18/2009 at 4:29 AM

emily says:

I’ve lived in south miami, or more specifically the “horse country” area, all my life. I have grown up in this city along with many of my friends and have not had a destructive upbringing, like described in your article. Actually I attended a respected private school, got good grades, and wasn’t allowed near the club scene until I was of age. Lets face it drugs and alcohol are available to kids in all kinds of major cities, not Just Miami. No doubt this is a party city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise a “normal” family here. And as for traffic, if you live out west like I do, it can be stressful, but its not all that bad if you leave early enough. I’ve been to other cities and it could be a lot worse.If you are married with children, I would recommend looking for housing in the south miami areas because you can get a lot more land and a bigger house for less than the homes located in the more expensive areas of the gables, miami beach, or pinecrest. You will find very nice and safe nieghborhoods and if you are worried about your 14 year old sneaking into a night club then you"ll be ok out here because the nearest night clubs or bars are about a 20 minute drive away, give or take. =)

Posted on 08/19/2009 at 2:27 AM

George says:

My family moved from Tennessee to what is now Pinecrest in July 1967.  The June issue of POST (or LIFE?) magazine, in a section on “Suburbs in America” profiled the area’s Palmetto High School and talked about “pregnant cheerleaders” and “the sweet smell of marijuana smoke floating through living rooms with plush wall to wall carpet”.  Well, some things never change?  But I graduated from Palmetto, and went on pretty well in life.  As did my kid brother, who stayed in the old neighborhood, and has graduated his son “Summa Cum Laude” from Palmetto a few years ago, and his daughter ready to graduate “Summa Cum Laude” next spring!  Pinecrest’s public schools (and the Palmetto “feeder” schools) are consistently ranked the highest in the State, and in the top tier public schools in the nation (see Newsweek Magazine’s high school rankings).

Posted on 11/06/2009 at 5:33 PM

Lola says:

wow, you really are a racist. On the surface you seems almost normal. But once you finish the first paragraph you offer no doubt that you are in fact a full blown, combat boot wearing, swastika tattoo having racist.

I wonder, what is an American?? White? Educated? Someone who speaks English? Who are you to even define what an American is? People like yourself need to stick to the woods of Montana.

Posted on 01/05/2010 at 5:12 PM

Cai Santos says:

Sounds like you hate Miami! Met my wife in NYC and moved to Miami after we got married. It’s been more than five years and our marriage is still strong. We have no intentions of moving out of MIA. Moreover, I am only 25 years old and never cheated on my wife. I really don’t what heck you talking about. If you can’t handle MIA then you won’t be able to handle NYC. My advice is, move to Alabama…......

Posted on 06/09/2010 at 8:38 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Hey there, Santos. There’s exceptions to every rule. But you have to deal in generalizations in order to give information like this.

Posted on 06/09/2010 at 2:37 PM

JK says:

What’s the best/safe place or area to live in that is close and not so expensive for a married couple near 8900 north kendall, 33176?

Posted on 10/23/2010 at 8:10 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

That area near there, Kendall, is pretty good for families, actually. If you have the money, Pinecrest, which is just Southeast of there and west of US-1, is a really nice area and not a bad drive. But Kendall, if you’re not trying to go out or go to the beach or downtown a lot, is really good for families and more affordable. PM me or post a question in the forums if you want more specific questions about any area down there.

Posted on 10/25/2010 at 9:36 PM

ES says:

I lived in Miami for 16 years , once I had my son decided to move out state and go to TX.

I have to recognize that Miami is a beautiful city with a lot of entertainment, but it is like any other city from South America, It is just a branch of the South, I come from Caracas, Venezuela, and know that pretty well.

If you live in Miami and you are Latin, you enjoy it, it is our culture, our food, our language, and fulfills our needs in regards to weather and sitting by the ocean is perfect, it is something we need, is in our blood.

Now, Matt Meltzer is absolutely right on his appreciations, you cannot understand what he is saying unless you are not totally open and have travelled a little bit, or until you have kids and have tried other school districts.

There is not quality of life in Miami, period.

Miami was our welcome city ! our Mecca ! And we adjusted well to it, and you could live there forever, until you want improve your life.

You either find a way to have a lot of money and live further than Broward, or you will sink on dirty streets, loud neighbors, terrible traffic.

I can tell I miss it, and may go back…who knows… but I have accomplished (in regards o quality of life) in 3 years, what I never was able to accomplish in Miami in 16.

I also have to admit that weather is an issue everywhere you go in the US. And Miami or Florida in general,  represents the best options for those of us who suffers serious Allergy issues and problems with cold weather.

Bottom line, it is very nice for vacation, not so good for living , unless you have a lot of money or you are Latin and understand the culture and can adjust to our below the line living style.

The only commentary that I believe Matt was not right was when he mentioned:  “…Typically the only people who decide to do this arrive by raft…”

The ones migrating by rafts are only Cubans and Haitians. The rest of us migrate by plane, with a legal Visa to enter the US but decide to stay or with permits to work legally in this country which are approved by the respective US embassies at our Countries, and you would be amazed to find out that these are the most of us. Remember this country also needs out Petro-Dollars…and other dollars too.

In my case I can say that I have work honestly since I arrived to this country, I am very grateful for the open door, no matter were you live in the US it will always be better than most of our South American countries, in regards to opportunities, education and socially speaking, despite the war issues, USA is still a safe place were to live.

I believe that any Latin or Hispanic reading this note , should be proud and grateful for the opportunity, and should come in doing good for themselves and for others, if that is not the case, please go back were you came from..

Welcome to Miami ~

Posted on 01/15/2011 at 1:54 PM

Alaine Hernandez says:

I would like more specific help/suggestions on where to rent: We are moving from Kansas City, Missouri for me to go to a doctoral program at UM.  My husband is hispanic & our family is bilingual; we have lived in FL before.  Suggestions on where to rent? Sounds like Kendall or Pine Crest are relatively affordable and better for families than other areas? Any other ideas? Are there areas where you can safely live close (walking distance) to the light rail? Also suggestions on how to find a place long-distance…have done some looking on apartment websites but anything specific you could suggest perhaps more tailored for finding a place in Miami… (I’ll check out the place in person before we move there, but likely I’ll have limited time to do so - most of my research will be done from Kansas City). Thanks! And your map is really helpful by the way.

Posted on 01/21/2011 at 1:26 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Pinecrest is actually quite expensive, and not really close to any sort of rail. The Metrorail, actually, is pretty useless unless you want to go to UM, downtown, Brickell or the Hospitals. As it is, your husband is gonna be at UM. I’d recommend South Miami as an area that might be close to the Metro and is also affordable and somewhat family-friendly.

Kendall sucks, avoid it at all costs. Even going to UM the traffic will be unbearable and you’re nowhere near the rail.

FYI if you’d like to get a better variety of responses, you may want to try posting your question in our Relocation Forums…

Posted on 01/21/2011 at 2:20 PM

Kissy says:

I really don’t understand how this is different than living in NYC where you literally see drugs, sex and corruption, even in the most luxurious neighborhoods, every day. I’ve lived in NYC for the past 12 years, and I’m definitely considering moving to Miami. I’m fed up of shoveling snow and surviving the winter, but Miami is giving me an opportunity that NY hasn’t offer yet, a nice house in a nice neighborhood where eventually I can raise my kids. I travel to Miami every year and I don’t experience anything of what you are describing here. There are places, obviously, better than other, but isn’t it the same elsewhere? NY is expensive, uptight, and culturally shocking as well. Appreciate your comments, but please try to be less bias.

Posted on 06/29/2011 at 11:07 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Kissy, you came here on VACATION. you weren’t sending your kids to the local schools or having to deal with the BS of the place like a real resident. Of COURSE you didn’t see that. Look, I’ve lived here a long time and known more people than I can count that grew up here, and they all say the same thing. You grow up REAL fast here, rich or poor. And the opportunities to get into sex and drus at a young age will be thrust in your kids’ faces no matter what you do. I’m going to take their take over that of a frequent tourist.

Posted on 06/29/2011 at 12:52 PM

franciababies says:

Hi Matt, thanks for the harsh and true facts about MIA.  I’m from Venezuela, my husband as gringo as they get and our 3 sons a wonderful mix of the two of us.  We will be moving to Miami either late summer or mid fall.  We visited a few months ago and fell in love with mid-beach and north beach!  Loved the idea of being so close to the beach and being able to walk everywhere, the less driving the better!  I’ve been doing my research on homes to rent and it looks like for us to be comfortable and well situated a budget of $3000-$6000/month is the norm, for that area.  Am I totally wrong and barking up the wrong tree with these assumptions?


Posted on 07/06/2011 at 4:30 PM

Austin says:

The capital of hedonism?  Really?  I’m pretty sure Las Vegas deserves this title much, much more than Miami does.

Posted on 06/15/2013 at 11:54 PM

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