Palm trees, laid back lifestyle, tropical breezes, sandy shores…South Florida is calling your name! But which city is right for you and your family? In this article, we’ll be comparing and contrasting Miami vs. Fort Lauderdale. The cities may only be a 35-minute drive apart, but just like Miami and West Palm Beach, they’re as different as night and day.
Read on to find out which one is the best choice for you.
Tourism continues to dominate Miami’s job market, but the city’s close proximity to the Caribbean has led to a boost in international trade and banking. More than 100 foreign consulates and trade offices are located in Miami. However, the unemployment rate is 5.2%, higher than both the national average (4.4%) and Florida’s average (4.9%). One big perk about working in Miami: there seems to be an unspoken rule against talking about work. So you won’t have to hear the tired old “So, what do you do?” at any more dinner parties. People are much more interested in hearing about your fun weekend plans.
Known as “The Venice of America,” it should come as no surprise that Fort Lauderdale relies on its many marinas and waterways to support the local economy. Marine commerce is the #1 job industry here (here’s some related job listings), accounting for more than $10 billion in local income. Tourism is the second-most popular job industry, with international trade and banking following close behind. Fort Lauderdale’s unemployment rate is much closer to the national average, at 4.3%, so if you’re worried about finding a job, you might be more comfortable in Broward County.
Which City is Right For You?: Both cities have a booming tourism industry with a heavy emphasis on international trade. If you’re looking to support yourself and your family and don’t want to worry about finding a job, Fort Lauderdale is probably the place for you. But if you’re looking for a new hometown where you can be yourself without letting your job define you, Miami is where it’s at.
Cost of Living
Miami’s average home price is $282,000, and the average apartment goes for around $2660/month. The median income is a solid $50,000, but the cost of living is higher than the national average. However, according to a recent study by Go Banking Rates, you’d need to make more than $77,000/year to live comfortably in Miami.
Fort Lauderdale’s average home price is $277,500 and the average apartment is $2037/month. The median income is less than Miami’s (just shy of $49,000) but you would only need to make about $42,000 to have the same lifestyle as a $50,000 salary in Miami.
Which City is Right For You?: While both cities have a high cost of living than the national average, Miami will hit your wallet a bit harder. If you have a lucrative career path ahead of you with plenty of cash in your future, you’ll do just fine in Miami. Otherwise, stick with Fort Lauderdale.
Miami has a large Latin/Caribbean population and the city is oozing with Cuban food, salsa rhythms, and Latin flair. Many companies prefer to hire bilingual employees and some smaller, local businesses in the Cuban district are owned by people who speak no Spanish at all.
Therefore, it might surprise you to hear that the more diverse city is actually Fort Lauderdale! (Hialeah, a suburb of Miami, actually snagged the title of “Least Racially & Ethnically Diverse.”) Here, not speaking Spanish won’t be as much of a hindrance. Fort Lauderdale actually has the country’s highest population of same-sex couples.
Which City is Right For You?: If you speak at least passable Spanish and want to immerse yourself in the Latin community, Miami is right up your alley, amigo. Those in the LGBT community or those looking to live in a more diverse area should consider Fort Lauderdale.
For residents of The Magic City, there’s plenty of activities you can do with the kids: Zoo Miami, Miami Children’s Museum, Miami Trolley (Daniel Tiger fans, anyone?), Miami Seaquarium, and plenty more. The overall party atmosphere of the city and the active lifestyle of its residents will mean you and your kids will be always on the go.
Just like you, Fort Lauderdale has grown up a lot since the 1980’s. These days, you’ll hardly see a single Spring Breaker on the beach (or anything you’d have trouble explaining to your kids). The local government crackdown on crazy college antics has left the city cleaner, safer, and more family-friendly than ever before. Another plus? Broward County boasts the largest fully accredited school system in the country.
Which City is Right For You?: If you prefer to raise your kids in a quieter, more conservative town, Fort Lauderdale is going to be your best bet. If your family is always on-the-go and up for an adventure, then dive straight into the Miami buzz.
Say what you want about Miami, but one thing’s for sure: it’s never boring. Between the festivals on Calle Ocho and the tourists on the beach, there’s always something to do. In fact, you might want to invest in an extra bedroom to prepare for all the out-of-town visitors you’ll be getting. The tropical landscape is reflected in a general “laidback” attitude (“being late” is just a fact of life) as well as an urge for people to work on their “beach body.” It’s no wonder that Miami consistently lands the #1 spot on any company’s “Best Looking City” list.
Fort Lauderdale has been called “sleepy” or even “boring” but its residents prefer to think of the Venice of America as a calm oasis. The city has a definite upscale “cosmopolitan” vibe with a thriving arts scene and the beaches and waterways support a booming marine lifestyle that makes the slower pace of life downright peaceful.
Which City is Right For You?: Fort Lauderdale is the best choice for those looking for a city with a more suburban feel, while Miami is best for those who love to be in the middle of the action.
Whether you’re looking for the glitz and glam of The Magic City, or a more peaceful way of life in the Venice of America, South Florida has the perfect spot for your new hometown.
Moving is hard enough as it is. Download our Ultimate Moving Checklist for a step-by-step guide.