Considering moving to Miami from NYC? You’re not alone honey. According to new data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 33,565 New York residents got Florida driver’s licenses between September of 2020 and March of 2021. That’s a 32% increase from the same period the year before.
It was just before this time in fact, that after moving to New York alone, that I too made the move (back) to Miami from my tiny walk-up in Brooklyn.
Why I moved to Miami from New York.
I grew up in Florida. And decided when I got bored of the place as a single 20-something, I decided to the give New York City experience a try.
But when in early 2020 the Covid-19 crisis started creating a frenzy (this was even before the lockdown), I came running back home to South Florida. I knew that if things were really about to get real (and real they got), the last place on earth I wanted to be was New York City.
Fast forward several months into a full-fledged worldwide pandemic, South Florida became notorious for remaining pretty lenient with the shut own as compared to other cities. New Yorkers came moving to Miami in droves shortly after.
Things you may want to know before moving to Miami from New York (or anyplace).
After living in New York City for 1 year before moving back to Miami and being in lockdown for what seemed like an eternity, I’m seeing the magic city with pair of new eyes. If you’re new to town, here are some insights you might find helpful.
1. Miami is open!
Yea, that whole worldwide pandemic — not a thing here anymore. At least in terms of the shutting down of businesses, social distancing, and wearing masks. And truth is, it’s been this way since the start of the pandemic (at least as compared to other cities like New York City).
While the entire world was on lockdown, South Florida was notorious for remaining rather lenient on many restrictions. All the parties were popping, tourists were flocking, and New Yorkers were apparently packing their bags.
2. Public transit is not a thing.
I remember once when I had first moved from New York to Miami and before I had bought a car, my now very ex-boyfriend at the time suggested I take the city bus to get someplace. I broke up with him shortly after that.
While Uber is certainly pricey in South Florida, public transportation is just not a thing. And I don’t say that as if I’m too good for public transportation.
I love public transportation actually! I took the public train every day from Brooklyn into Manhattan when I lived in New York. And during my short stint in San Francisco, I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
With the exception of the expensive tri-rail system (that one might consider if they’re traveling from West Palm Beach to Miami) and the extremely limited Miami Metro Mover (if you’re basically just hopping around Brickell and Downtown Miami), “normal people” just don’t bother with Miami’s public transportation system.
- The waiting time between busses in many areas is about half an hour. Perhaps I’m spoiled by New York City’s timely subway system but that’s entirely too long to wait for a bus.
- The stops are spread out from each other in terms of distance and most areas in South Florida are not very walkable.
- It’s hot as hell. Oh, and humid too. Unless you don’t mind being drenched in sweat by the time you reach your destination… I’m personally gonna pass, thanks.
3. You’ll need a car. A fancy one.
With my previous point made, you will need a car to get around Miami. But not just any old car will do.
Miami is a very show-offy city. And the car you drive in this town is about more than just getting you around.
Lamborghini’s or Ferrari’s are a dime a dozen. But the super-rich aren’t the only ones rolling around in exotic cars. You better believe that the college student, your hairstylist, heck even your waiter in Miami are driving around in luxury vehicles (like the time I literally pulled up next to my waiter in his 7 series BMW).
4. There are lots of lizards.
As a Florida girl, I had never given this observation much thought before my friend John (also an NYC to Miami transplant), pointed it out to me.
While NYC is infamous for having lots of rats, South Florida has its own kind of common critter — lizards!
Little lizards. Medium lizards. Big lizards too. Even the kinds of lizards you might otherwise find at the zoo like iguanas and alligators, graze freely in these neck of the woods.
5. Other kinds of wildlife.
Once I was driving in around in Coconut Groove and we had literally had to stop traffic and give way to a family of pelicans who were casually crossing the street. In New York City you don’t have to worry about wildlife randomly crossing the street.
While we’ve built Miami up with fancy hotels and posh rooftop bars, some of Miami’s most tenured residents aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Amonst them are huge snakes, ducks, mosquitos, Florida bugs — iguanas and alligators too.
6. If you’re brown, people assume you speak Spanish.
Don’t be surprised after moving to Miami if you walk into any place (especially west of Brickell) and you’re greeted in Spanish. Your first reaction might be to wonder if you’ve forgotten for a second that you’re on vacation somewhere foreign — but no, you’re just in Miami.
In this way, Miami is unlike any other city in the USA (even New York City). While immigrants in New York City come from virtually every place in the world, Miami’s immigrant population is made up mostly of Spanish-speaking Cubans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans (There’s a large population of Haitians and Jamaicans too). So don’t forget to brush up on your high school Spanish before crossing the border of County Line Road.
7. But if you’re white or black, people will still assume you speak Spanish.
If you’re white some might assume you’re a white Cuban… and speak to you in spanish.
And if you’re black they’ll assume you’re Dominican. Unless there’re also black — then they might assume you, too, are Haitian and speak to you in Haitian creole.
8. Miami is transient.
It’s pretty easy to meet people and make friends once you move to Miami. But just as easy as it is to make friends in Miami, you will just as easily lose friends in Miami.
And not necessarily because of your inconsistency with texting back. But because people are constantly in and out of this town.
Additionally, much like New York City, in Miami, you’ll find that many people, aren’t actually from Miami. Even long-time residents. And many Miami locals are often Caribbean immigrants or first and second-generation Americans.
9. The scooter situation is out of control.
If you’re in Brickell or Downtown Miami there are electric scooters everywhere. At the time of posting this article, Miami Beach seems to have gotten its act together. But in Brickell and Downtown, you will find electric scooters thrown about at every other intersection.
And the scooter companies… There are so many scooter companies! Depending on where you are in the Greater Miami area, you may even need different apps to get you around as each company has there own zones of where you can park and pick up scooters.
10. Overtown is the Harlem of Miami.
Originally called Colored Town during the Jim Crow era of the late 19th through the mid-20th century, the area was once the preeminent and is the historic center for commerce in the black community in Miami and South Florida.
If you’re moving to Miami from New York, consider Overtown akin to Harlem. Overtown has even got its very own Red Rooster (one of my favorite restaurants in New York). Miami’s historically black neighborhood is now poised to gentrify like Harlem.
11. Most places have rain. We have torrential downpours.
And torrential downpour can strike at any time.
It’ll be a perfectly beautiful sunny day in Miami, and then out of the clear blue sky, here comes raindrops the size of soda cans to ruin your sunny afternoon by the pool.
We also get hurricanes in Miami, pretty frequently in fact. Real Floridas will usually stock up on non-perishable and essentials and ride out category 4 and even 5 hurricanes. But if you’re moving from New York to Mia (and not about that life), be prepared to pack up and get of of town each hurricane season.
12. People are late. It’s not personal.
Blame it on the fact that many Miamians are immigrants and first and second-generation Cuban, Dominican, Jamaican, and Haitian — many of us just run on Caribbean time (I’m Jamaican myself so I can say that).
If you’re a stickler for time or are offended when someone shows up half an hour late to meet you for coffee or drinks, this might not be the city for you. Unlike the hustle and bustle mentality of New York, we’re a little more laid back in Miami. So order a mojito and just tranquilo.
13. Miami fashion is fun.
When you imagine Miami style, think anything but boring. For women think flirty dresses, bright bold colors, showing skin, and sky-high heels — always.
Because you better believe when Miami girls step out the house, they’re gonna give you something nice to look at.
14. We don’t pay personal income tax.
The super-wealthy are moving to Miami for more than just the sunshine honey. Miami is also a pretty good place to make money moves but it’s also a great place to move your money honey.
15. If you’re planning a move from New York to Miami, you’re not at all unique.
Don’t be shocked when you strike up a conversation in the lobby of your new high-rise condo with your new neighbor, only to learn that he too just moved to Miami from New York. Or when you’re traveling over the causeway to south beach more New York City license plates that you can count.
Are you thinking about heading south to the magic city of Miami? Have you already made the big move? What insights have you discovered? Share in the comments below!