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.
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.
STARTING YOUR LIFE TOGETHER IN THE CAPITAL OF HEDONISM
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.
PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN: GOOD FREAKING LUCK
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.
THAT BEING SAID…
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.
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"Home Hunting Advice for Families Relocating to Miami"