How I Moved to Miami from England
“I want to move to Miami”. A sentence that is both daunting and exciting at the same time. Most people dream of moving to Miami for blue skies, sunshine, fun and most importantly, a change in their lives. Miami is a place people go to reinvent themselves, start over or escape a city where they are no longer happy. But where do you begin? For me, it was by following a guide on MiamiBeach411.
I WANT TO MOVE TO MIAMI
Let me start off by saying this isn’t a story that explains how to get that elusive green card or work visa for Europeans. Born with dual citizenship, I am blessed to be able to enter America and never get stopped by immigration. Instead this is a story about the steps I took and what I actually did to successfully move here.
When I first discovered MiamiBeach411, I was living in England, fed up with grey skies, long commutes and cold weather. I lived on Starbucks, the familiar white and green cup grasped in one hand with my blackberry a permanent fixture in the other. Not a very colorful existence, but that is city living for most people. I decided on a whim, it’s time to live out that unfulfilled dream and move to America. And coming from England, if I was going to make a life change, it had to include sunshine! My first thought was Hawaii but after reading stories about how to ship your belongings there, I decided on a city in a nearer time zone to London. These were the only two reasons I originally chose Miami… 5 hours behind London and the beach.
FINDING AN INSPIRING ARTICLE ON MIAMIBEACH411.COM
As many others before and after me have discovered, when you google moving to Miami, an article written by Doug for this site comes up in the first search results: How I Moved to South Beach: Budget-Minded Tips from A New Resident. The opening paragraph “For those of you who want to follow your bliss without forfeiting your life savings, listen up! I’ve picked up a lot of useful knowledge in my escape to paradise, and I’m happy to pass it on! And here I am! I actually pulled it off! This was my strategy. Feel free to copy it or amend it as you see fit!” had me feeling optimistic from the start. Moving from overseas is difficult, but achievable nonetheless, and by closely following MiamiBeach411’s good advice, I also managed to move here successfully.
VISIT BEFORE YOU MOVE
Doug visited South Beach to find a neighborhood he liked by walking the streets and getting to know the area before he actually committed to moving. This is an absolute must if you are planning to move here. How else will you know if you like it unless you visit? Miami is portrayed in a certain way in magazines, TV shows and movies, but that is for tourists, for the people coming to spend a 2 week vacation out of their 52 weeks a year. It is not real and living here is not like that. Visiting alone if you are planning to move here alone is the first way to see if Miami is the place for you.
So I arrived in Miami in September to case it out for a week. I came prepared as Miami is not a city where things will happen easily for you. I bought a guide book and a map and went out exploring as Doug had done previously in his story. I walked miles that week, looking at apartments, taking photos of buildings, meeting landlords and owners and soaking up the atmosphere in this crazy little city. I made sure to do things I would do if I actually lived here, so I took the beach yoga class and ate out alone. I used the local bus to go around South Beach so I could get to know the area. I had spent many hours reading the MiamiBeach411 relocating forums and could see that many people burnt out quickly when they moved here so I was determined to not be someone who moved on an extended vacation. As a result I spent my week exploring and getting to know the city. I made it to the beach maybe twice that week and have no real memory of it as that’s not what I came to see. I wanted the local experiences and to picture myself living here.
ASK THE LOCALS ADVICE
If I could expand on Doug’s advice for that week, I would say that while you are checking out Miami as a future home, go out and meet the locals. Doug noted that “people here have the same basic needs for friendship and affection as people do everywhere else”. I met so many people on that trip, some of whom I still know today. Everyone was friendly and helpful when I asked for advice about living here and shared their own stories about how they had made the move. I began to see that Miami Beach was a city where no one was here first and that everyone had arrived from somewhere else. I asked people what had brought them here and heard amazing stories. Most importantly, everyone loved living here. And so with its pastel colors and daily sunshine, Miami Beach slowly cast its spell over me. I knew that I just had to live here.
FINDING YOUR APARTMENT
Back in England I once again followed the article’s advice, keeping a close eye on Craigslist to look for apartments in the area I had liked the most. Moving with no credit or bank account prompted me to look for an apartment with all utilities included, as one rent check would be easier than trying to set up internet and electric bills. I eventually found an apartment in the area I liked in my price range, and began emailing the realtor.
Miami is full of scam artists so I had the realtor send me real photos of the unit and give me as much information as possible. Renting sight unseen was a risk, but one I had to take as I did not want to stay in a hostel with all my worldly belongings when I moved. I checked out the address and building online and went through the Condo Board application, again reassuring me this was no scam. I signed a 6 month lease, paying first, last and security but was still able to rent with no credit history. All I needed was references, which anyone could provide. This was my first taste of Miami… they don’t care who you are, as long as you can pay. With the lease in my name it was time to buy that one way ticket.
QUIT YOUR JOB AND MOVE TO SOUTH BEACH
One of my dreams when I lived in England was the final scene from the movie The Devil Wears Prada, when Anne Hathaway’s character throws her blackberry into the water fountain and walks away from her job. Of course, telling people I was moving to Miami had people looking at me in disbelief. But with the memories of South Beach still fresh in my mind, I gave the required notice I needed to pack up my life and move across the pond. After visiting in September, I moved here in November 2008.
The first few weeks in Miami were interesting to say the least, and I will write more on that next week. But thanks to MiamiBeach411’s article and advice, I successfully moved here from England. Yes there were days I wanted to go home. But to quote Doug one final time; “Naturally, life’s complications will stay with you no matter where you go, but they’re a lot easier to deal with among the palm trees and the turquoise water”.
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