Moving to Miami
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What to know if you're moving to Miami
Will you be moving to Miami soon? This city in Florida’s south may be vulnerable to hurricanes, but it is a breathtaking sunny paradise nonetheless. Before settling down in this warm climate, have a look at our guide on moving to Miami and learn about districts, housing, visas, and safety.
All about the US
Relocating to Miami
- Miami’s climate is very tropical with humid summers and warm winters. It lies in the path of hurricanes from time to time, but luckily, no major hits have occurred since 2005.
- If you are only coming to Miami temporarily, you need to apply for one of the nonimmigrant visas. Otherwise, you can apply for an immigrant visa such as the famous Green Card.
- There are many different neighborhoods in Miami, each with its own charm. Every expat will find a place which fits his/her taste and budget.
- It is not that hard to find accommodation in Miami, but you should make sure your new home is located in a safe neighborhood.
As they move to Miami, expats are often prepared for everything except the eccentricities of one of the USA’s most southern cities. It is often said that the closer you move to Miami, the more bizarre the people you meet become. Just south of the city, the Everglades and Florida Keys’ mangrove islands give off the impression that you have arrived in a Caribbean paradise rather than southern Florida.
Miami through Time
As early as the 16th century, settlers were moving to Miami’s general area, when Spain claimed the surrounding land. The actual city is the only one of its size founded by a woman in the United States of America. The Mother of Miami, Julia Tuttle, came to the city in its early days, when the area was commonly known as “Biscayne Bay Country” and offered an exciting, uncharted wilderness. It wasn’t until the Florida East Coast Railroad extended its railway system to Miami in 1896 that many more people started moving to Miami, and the city began to prosper.
Throughout World War II, Miami was an important strategic position in naval battles, and in the 1960s the city experienced a population boom when Cuban refugees came to escape Fidel Castro’s regime. Today, Miami’s metropolitan population has reached more than six million, making it a major financial and cultural center.
Miami’s Natural Wonders
Miami is located at the southeastern tip of Florida, and the City of Miami proper covers a modest 36 square miles (93 km2), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the US. Expats moving to Miami benefit from the mild climate, affected by the Gulf Stream just off the coast.
However, regardless of if you are moving to Miami’s city center or if you find a home on the outskirts of the city, you can enjoy the natural wonders of Everglades National Park to the southwest and Biscayne National Park to the south. Because these national parks are so close, a fair number of Miamians have experienced run-ins with local wildlife, such as alligators.
Humid Summers and Hurricanes: The Weather in Miami
When you move to Miami, you should prepare yourself for a tropical climate, complete with hot, humid summers and relatively warm winters. During the summer months in particular, the weather in Miami is very similar to that on the Caribbean islands. Hurricanes are most likely to hit the city during the wet season from May to October. This is also the time when the city suffers from unusually high humidity and temperatures, which do not usually fall below 70°F (21°C). In winter, it is a fair bit cooler with average temperatures around 60°F (15°C).
While the city’s only recorded snowfall occurred during the winter of 1977, there is plenty of rainfall during the summer months in Miami. This is particularly the case in the afternoons and evenings, when thunderstorms bring some relief from the humidity. Miami also lies in the path of a hurricane from time to time, as the city is located between two bodies of water known for tropical activity. However, the last major hurricane to hit Miami’s metropolitan region was Wilma in 2005.
Miami: Visa Information
Immigration legislation in the United States is incredibly comprehensive. While some countries have merely three or four visa categories, the US boasts countless categories and subcategories, applying to different professions, purposes, and durations of stay. Below, we will list some of these categories, but you should not hesitate to have a look at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or visit the US consulate or embassy closest to you for more information. Our article on moving to the USA also has additional information on how to obtain a visa.
On Temporary Business: Nonimmigrant Visas
Before acquiring a visa and moving to Miami, you need to figure out if you plan to work for a limited period of time or if your move is permanent. Non-permanent stays require a visa from the nonimmigrant category. There are many different nonimmigrant visas, each with its own purpose. Below, you’ll find a description of the most common nonimmigrant visas for expats.
Specialty Occupations (H-1B)
This visa applies to expats who have specialized in a certain occupation and who have at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, fashion models also fall into this category. The specialty occupations visa is valid for up to three years. At the time of writing (September 2016), a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas were issued per year.
Executives and Managers (L-1A)
Expats who have worked in a managerial position for at least one year and are transferred abroad by their employer need to apply for an L-1A. This visa is initially valid for one year if your business in Miami involves establishing a new headquarters for your company. If you are going to work in an already established office, your visa is valid for three years.
Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O-1)
Expats who are considered among the best in their field (particularly in the fields of science, business, art, sports, film, and education) can apply for an O-1 visa to enter the United States. As with many other visas, it is initially limited to a period of three years.
Treaty Traders and Employees (E-1)
The USA maintains treaties of commerce and navigation with a number of countries. If you are a national of one of these, this visa allows you to carry out substantial trade with the United States. The E-1 visa is particularly popular because it can potentially be extended an unlimited number of times after the initial two years. In addition, your family can join you in Miami by obtaining their individual E-1 visas, and your spouse can even apply for work authorization.
Here to Stay: The Famous Green Card
If you fall in love with Miami and wish to move to this city permanently, you should apply for an immigrant visa instead. Most expats may have heard of the most notable immigrant visa, the Green Card, which you may receive through an annual lottery.
For information on this and other immigrant visas, have a look at our article on immigration and citizenship in the USA or visit the USCIS’ page on permanent workers.
Districts and Accommodation in Miami
Life in the Different Neighborhoods of Miami
Miami is a city of many faces: it is simultaneously an all-day party, a laid-back beach town, and a refugee camp. The city bursts with cultural diversity and you can’t help but notice the myriad languages, ethnicities, and cultures as soon as you arrive. To help you decide where in Miami to settle, the following descriptions will give you a brief idea of some of the most notable districts in Miami.
Once the home of retired citizens and starving artists, South Beach is now a popular vacation spot located on the barrier island Miami Beach between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Here, you may enjoy taking a stroll down Ocean Drive or Lincoln Road and spend your time observing Miami’s rich and beautiful. The district is packed with glamorous bars, clubs, and shops, giving you something to do at any hour of the day.
Expats with a large budget who don’t want to miss out on the luxurious life in Miami should move to Bal Harbour, located at the northern tip of Miami Beach. Luxury resorts and palatial homes coexist with exclusive eateries and shops, so Bal Habour is likely only for the richest of expats.
If you feel like you belong in the city’s business district, you should go downtown. Aside from office buildings, however, downtown Miami also boasts an abundance of museums, retail shops, and markets. This neighborhood is also home to Miami’s port. In recent years, this has been among the fastest-growing districts in Miami.
Although just minutes southwest of downtown Miami, this gated community gives off a bit of small town flair. Amidst the trees and canals, you can find fantastic restaurants, high-end residencies, and the University of Miami. The “City Beautiful”, as its nickname implies, is one of the most desired and old-fashioned neighborhoods.
South of downtown across the Rickenbacker Causeway, you’ll find Key Biscayne. Here, it feels like you have entered a different world, and life on this tiny tropical island is characterized by peace and quiet, a more leisurely pace, and friendly people. If a secluded life away from the hustle and bustle of the big city is to your liking, and if you have a hefty savings account, Key Biscayne could be the place for you.
Just west of the city center, many Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, and Guatemalans have settled in Little Havana, their unique cultures leaving their mark on the district. Little Havana is the place to be if you are a fan of salsa music, extremely strong coffee, and authentic Cuban cuisine. Additionally, the neighborhood is among the cheaper ones with one-bedroom apartments starting from 1,400 USD.
Less than half an hour away from Miami, Broward County is one of three that make up the Miami metropolitan area. With the city of Fort Lauderdale, nicknamed the “Venice of America,” and the immense Sawgrass Mills shopping mall, Broward is a major destination for anybody living in or visiting Miami.
Better Safe Than Sorry: Accommodation in Miami
Finding an available apartment in Miami is not necessarily hard to do. The real trick is finding an affordable apartment located in a safe neighborhood. The process is essentially the same as in any other major city around the world: browse online listings for apartments or houses that meet your preferences. You should, however, remain flexible in terms of size, number of rooms, and rent.
If you are looking for short-term leases, Craigslist Miami can be a valuable source as long as you are careful not to fall prey to any scams. Other online databases, such as ForRent.com, can be rather helpful as well.
If you are searching for apartments from afar, and you won’t be able to visit them to take a closer look, always ask for pictures of the place. Also make sure to check the crime rates of the neighborhood. After all, even though the overall district may be rather safe, crime rates naturally vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Neighborhood Scout provides an overview of crime levels in Miami’s neighborhoods.