If the glamorous places and people you've seen in films and TV shows are all you know about Miami, you're in for a long list of pleasant surprises. There's more to this subtropical metropolis than its pristine beaches and star-studded social scene, including its family-friendly activity options and laid-back neighborhood choices. If you're ready to learn more about what it's like to live here, this city guide from our local Miami and long-distance movers will get you off to a good start.
Fast Facts About Miami
For many people, "Miami" either means Miami Beach or is a catch-all term for the City of Miami and its adjacent municipalities in Dade County. Together, these comprise the area that's often casually referred to as "Miami-Dade." Here are a few things to know about this area:
- At more than 2,000 square miles, Miami-Dade County is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island.
- The county stretches from Broward County to the north, the Florida Keys to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Everglades to the west.
- Approximately one-third of the county is in the Everglades National Park.
- Miami-Dade is Florida's most populous county, with more than 2.7 million people.
- The Bahamas is just a one-hour flight away, and Key West is just a three-hour drive.
Getting Around the Miami Area
The ease of getting from one spot to another in Miami-Dade County depends on which part of the area you are in. In Miami Beach, walking is a great choice, particularly in South Beach. You can also rent a bike from various service providers or take advantage of the Citi Bike bike-sharing system. In other parts of Miami, a car is usually the best choice for making your way around the city. If you choose to live close to the ocean, traffic can be heavy during the visitor "high season" that runs from November through about mid-March.
Throughout Miami-Dade County, there are plenty of affordable and even free ways to travel using public transportation through these services:
- Metrorail is an elevated rail system with stops at nearly two dozen stations. It runs daily from 5:00 a.m. to midnight and lets you easily travel to downtown, Coral Gables, and South Miami.
- Metromover is a free service with more than 20 stations about every other block. This electric elevated shuttle offers great views of Biscayne Bay and downtown.
- Metrobus is a daily service that covers a wide area from Broward County to the north and the Middle Keys to the south. It connects with Metromover and Metrorail to make it easy to get almost anywhere in the Miami-Dade area.
Arts, Culture, and Events in Miami
The Miami area is one of the world's most exciting centers for art. Artists and art aficionados come from around the globe during Miami Art Week, which is held each year during the first week of December. The prestigious Art Basel Miami Beach art fair is part of Miami Art Week, which also includes dozens of other fairs and art-related events and activities.
Additional popular events that draw large crowds and attention include:
- South Beach Wine and Food Festival
- Art Deco Weekend
- Ultra Music Festival
- Miami Film Festival
- Art Wynwood
- Coconut Grove Arts Festival,
- Miami International Boat Show
Throughout the year, you can find arts and cultural experiences across the city. Wynwood Arts District, a neighborhood encompassing over 50 city blocks, is filled with art. It boasts world-famous murals and galleries for you to discover. It's best to see the district on foot, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars where you can give your feet a rest.
Elsewhere, you'll find additional cultural hotspots at the Miami-Dade area's many museums, with works from Old Masters to the very latest in modern art. Put these destinations on your list:
- Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in the Design District
- Wolfsonian-FIU in South Beach
- Pérez Art Museum (PAMM) downtown
- Rubell Museum in Allapattah, west of Wynwood Arts District
- The Bass in South Beach
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami
- Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami in Coral Gables
Like most great American cities, Miami has a team in every major sports league and top-notch, modern venues to host them. Here are some of the city's teams:
- The National Football League's Miami Dolphins
- The National Basketball Association's Miami Heat
- The North American Soccer League's Miami FC
- The Premier Development League's FC Miami City
- Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins
- The National Premier Soccer League's Miami Fusion and Miami United FC
Sporting events in Miami include:
- The annual Capital One Orange Bowl Game
- NASCAR races at the Homestead Miami Speedway
- Thoroughbred horse racing at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach
- The annual World Polo League Beach Polo competition
- The Miami Open tennis tournament
Shopping and Dining
Shopping in Miami is as upscale as it gets, on par with any of America's most famous retail centers. The warm climate here means most malls are outdoors, such as the Bayside Marketplace on Biscayne Bay, which is one of the most-visited spots in Miami. The Bal Harbour Shops has everything, including department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and numerous small boutiques with designer jewelry, accessories, and apparel.
If a mall isn't your style, head to Ocean Drive in South Beach. It's lined with independent shops that offer the latest fashion trends and are interspersed with some of Miami's most popular restaurant and bar destinations.
To be immersed in style while you shop, check out The Webster. This 20,000-square-foot boutique was once the Webster Hotel, designed by a Paris architect in 1939. Its three stories include 10 boutiques that carry luxury brands.
Another don't-miss shopping destination is the Miami Design District. It's a popular center of art, dining, events, and fashion.
When it's time to dine, nowhere is Miami's diversity more evident than in its food. From Little Havana to Little Haiti and every cultural hub in between, you'll find most of the world's cuisine represented here. You can experience the creations of Michelin-star chefs at several locations, but there are also restaurants that exemplify "casual" here.
Popular Miami-Dade County Neighborhoods
The area's diversity is reflected in its one-of-a-kind neighborhoods and suburbs. There's also a wide variety of types of homes from which to choose, including single-family homes and the high-rise luxury condos Miami is known for.
Here are a few Miami area neighborhoods to get to know if you haven't yet decided on where you want to live in Miami-Dade County:
- The Miami Design District is situated on 18 square blocks that once were a pineapple farm. Today, it's a hub for trendy boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
- Downtown Miami is the city's central business district, but it's not all business. More than 15,000 people call downtown home, often residing in one of the pricey condominium buildings with views of the waterfront.
- Hialeah is rich in Hispanic culture, which you'll see reflected in its many events and cuisine. It's convenient to all of the major thoroughfares and the Miami International Airport. Hialeah offers plenty of green spaces to enjoy the sunny weather.
- Key Biscayne is known for its casual island culture, even though it's just moments away from downtown Miami and Brickell. Great beaches and parks make it popular with families.
- Palmetto Bay is on the shore of Biscayne Bay, so recreational activities are popular here. There's also an extensive network of parks in this charming neighborhood with just 25,000 residents.
- Miami Lakes is just 16 miles from downtown Miami. Residents love it for its family-friendly features, such as cycling trails, water parks, water sports venues, good public schools, playgrounds, and parks.
- Miami Beach isn't an inexpensive place to live, but a home there puts you in the middle of the world-renowned cultural destinations of the "American Riviera." This international destination includes downtown Miami and the famous South Beach neighborhood.
- North Beach gives you easy access to the glitz of Miami beach while feeling like it’s miles away. Mostly residential, North Beach has less traffic and fewer tourists, making walking and biking the preferred mode of transportation for many residents.
- Miami Gardens is one of the country's larger cities. This suburban area is known for hosting the Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes play. There are also 12 parks and a casino, plus popular annual events, such as the International Music & Food Festival.
Miami's Climate and Weather
If you come from drier or colder climes, you'll want to prepare yourself for the warm, humid climate of Florida's southernmost region. Most of the state is in the subtropical climate zone, while Miami is usually designated as being in the tropical savanna region.
The average annual temperature is 76°F, and the average annual high is 89°F. The difference is only a few degrees, but if you live along the coast, you'll enjoy cooler summer temperatures thanks to the moderating effect of the ocean.
Although there's no true dry season in Miami, winter is the least rainy time of year. The most rain falls from May to October, but showers and storms form and pass quickly. The exception, of course, is the tropical weather and disturbances that the Southeastern U.S. is known for. Due to its location, there is always a chance that Miami will experience a tropical storm or hurricane in any given year.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. If you haven't lived in an area that's vulnerable to severe tropical weather, take the time to familiarize yourself with hurricane preparations. Miami-Dade County offers a hurricane readiness guide with detailed information on how to protect yourself, your family and pets, and your property.
Things to Do for Families
Miles of beaches provide the ultimate playground for kids, but the fun doesn't stop there. Put these family-friendly destinations on your must-see list:
- The Miami Children's Museum has kid-sized installations and exhibits plus after-school programs.
- Gold Coast Railroad Museum lets you get a close look at more than 40 historic rail cars. It has a Naval Air Station Richmond Exhibit, model railroad rooms, and Thomas play tables for the little ones.
- The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has hands-on exhibits, an aquarium, and a planetarium, making it a great place to bring kids in the downtown Miami area.
- The Miami Seaquarium offers 38 acres of tropical beauty with a 750,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. The marine life here includes reef fishes, manatees, sea turtles, sting rays, seals, sea lions, and much more.
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park's beaches are a draw for families. There is a lighthouse, kayaking, cycling, a picnic area, a cafe, and plenty of native wildlife to explore.
- Zoo Miami is a cage-free animal experience and the largest and oldest zoo in the state. It has water play areas with splash zones for the kids.
- Jungle Island is the place to go for a zipline, including some courses just for kids.
- Butterfly World is a great spot to visit throughout the year. It has thousands of butterflies and birds, flowering tropical gardens, and hands-on activities, such as feeding small parrots.
- The Venetian Pool is a popular spot, with its shallow pool, grotto, on-site cafe with kid-friendly menu options, and free parking.
- Tidal Cove lets kids try out their surfing skills. It has seven waterslides, a 4,000-square-foot kids' pool, and a splash pad.
- Skatebird is a 32,000-square-foot skate park that includes areas just for beginners. It offers skate camps and classes, plus a membership program to help frequent visitors save.
- Everglades Alligator Farm offers an up-close experience with these giant reptiles while keeping kids safe.
The Miami area is also home to two national parks. Everglades National Park sprawls across nearly 8,000 square miles. Although it's only about one hour from downtown Miami, the unspoiled park feels remote. It has two entrances, one in Homestead and the other via the Tamiami Trail. You can take a tram tour on its 15-mile road or rent a bike to see the park on your own.
Biscayne National Park has the distinction of being 95% underwater. Its 270 square miles reach from just southeast of the city to the Florida Keys. Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the U.S. (and one of the world’s largest), is here, as are manatees, sea turtles, and crocodiles. There are islands in the park you can visit, including Elliott Key, a former pineapple plantation, and Boca Chita Key, which has a 65-foot-tall lighthouse that offers spectacular views of the ocean and the city. Activities include snorkeling and scuba diving through shipwrecks, paddle boarding, hiking, and camping.
Residents who want to enjoy Miami's many attractions without breaking the bank can purchase a Go Miami Pass. You can choose from an all-inclusive pass that helps you save up to 55% on admission to more than 25 top attractions or an "explorer" pass that comes with a 40% discount on admission to three, four, or five attractions of your choice.
There are also plenty of places that have free admission or offer free admission days, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Pérez Art Museum, and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum.
Education in Miami
Beaches and sunny skies aren't the only reasons people head to the Miami-Dade area; it's also where almost 25% of the state's universities and colleges are. According to U.S. News & World Report, these are the best colleges in Miami:
- University of Miami
- Florida International University
- Keiser University
- Nova Southeastern University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Florida National University
- Florida Memorial University
- Lynn University
- Broward College
- Everglades University
- Barry University
- Miami International University of Art & Design
Employment and Business in Miami
Miami is one of the world's leaders in finance and international trade, so there are always job opportunities in these categories. Other industries that offer good employment opportunities are tourism, including the major cruise ship lines, and hospitality via the many hotels and restaurants. Some of Miami's top employers are American Airlines, Publix Supermarkets, Florida Power & Light, and the University of Miami. The area's largest employer is Baptist Health South Florida, which employs approximately 11,000 people in its hospital and associated outpatient facilities and physician's practices.
If you're interested in starting your own business in Miami, you'll find a highly business-friendly climate where local governments recruit business startups and offer assistance to entrepreneurs. You'll also have the benefit of no state or local personal income tax, and you can take advantage of the many business startup events hosted here. In 2019, Miami took the top spot in the nation on Biz2Credit's Top 25 Cities for Small Business Growth list.
Get Settled with These Important Links
Our Miami movers understand that one of the most important parts of moving is knowing where to turn to get basic services set up and how to comply with residency requirements. These links to services and information can help:
- Florida Power & Light provides electricity, and you can open your electric service account online.
- You can arrange your water and sewer service with the Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department's online portal.
- You have more than one option for trash and recycling pickup. Visit the county's website for information.
- Two sources for phone, internet, and cable are Xfinity and Dish.
- You can get voter registration information from the Florida Division of Elections.
- If you're coming to Miami from anywhere outside of Florida, you will need to get Florida tags for your vehicles and a Florida driver's license. Find more information on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.
Learn More About Our Miami Moving Company
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Make your move to Miami the best it can be: Get in touch to learn more or schedule your free moving estimate.
FAQ About Moving to Miami, FL
With so many choices, it can be a challenge to know which Miami local movers or long-distance movers are right for you. To help ensure you work with a mover that offers reliable, high-quality services, our moving experts offer these tips:
- Get a written estimate. If you encounter a Miami moving company that won't (or even hesitates) to provide a firm quote in writing, it's best not to do business with it.
- Make sure you fully understand moving quotes. A trustworthy moving company will be transparent about its pricing and what it does and does not include. There should never be any hidden fees or costs added at the last minute when the scope of your move hasn't changed.
- Ask about additional services. Does the mover have secure storage facilities you can use if you need space to store some items while you're moving? Do the company's moving crews have experience handling oversized, unusually heavy, or sensitive items? Questions such as these can help you decide whether a company can meet your particular needs.
- Research the moving company's background and credentials. Look for Miami moving companies that make information on their licensing, insurance, and other credentials readily available. You can also check trade associations, such as the American Moving and Storage Association (AMA), to see whether a company has earned the Certified AMA ProMover designation.
- Look for customer reviews. Excellent ratings in online reviews can be helpful when you're comparing Miami movers. See how companies respond to negative reviews, which is a good indicator of how they value customer feedback.
- Ask about hiring and training practices. A lot can go wrong with a move when unqualified or untrained personnel are managing it. For the most protection of your belongings and your property, make sure the moving company you choose invests in their crew members with extensive training and only hires employees who have been thoroughly vetted.
Florida remains at the top of the list of retiree destinations, and Miami is in the top five U.S. cities, according to a study by WalletHub.
While housing prices have risen in Miami—as they have nearly everywhere over the last several years—Florida's lack of a state sales tax is a big draw for seniors. In addition, Social Security income and withdrawals from retirement accounts are not taxed, and there are no inheritance and estate taxes.
The weather is one of the main reasons people come to Miami to retire. You can put away your heavy coats for good and comfortably get outdoors throughout the year.
Lastly, retirees can easily connect with people in their age group, and there's always something interesting to do or see. You can swim, golf, relax on the beach, or take a cruise from the largest cruise ship terminal in the world, Port Miami.
In general, it's best to avoid the busy season for moving companies, which is often in the summer months when school is out, and families are relocating. It's not impossible to get the moving date you want during this time, but you'll need to book your move many months in advance.
Keep in mind that summers are very hot in Miami—if you're planning on a do-it-yourself move, you may want to wait for cooler weather if you can.
Every city has its plusses and minuses, and Miami is no exception. If you're considering relocating to Miami, here's what you need to know:
- There's no state income tax; this can help residents save thousands of dollars each year.
- The city's cultural diversity means there are plenty of unique events, art centers, and authentic ethnic eateries.
- The nightlife scene is always active and offers live music and dance venues, plus clubs and bars throughout the area.
- The weather is warm year-round, and the beaches are beautiful, rivaling anything in the Caribbean.
- Its location makes a weekend getaway to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas easy.
- Traffic is often congested, so commute times can be long.
- Tropical storms and hurricanes are a concern six months out of the year.
- The area's heat and humidity can be a challenge to live with, and staying indoors is the best option during the worst of it.
- During the winter busy season, tourists crowd the shops, restaurants, and roads.