Can’t Afford to Live in Miami? Live Here Instead.

These cities aren’t Miami, but they’re close enough that you can fake it.

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Miami FL
iStock/Art Wager

Miami’s unofficial motto? “We live where you vacation.”

And the numbers reflect the allure of living in a tropical getaway. In 2018, more Americans moved to Florida than any other state in the U.S. In Miami alone, that translated to 5,400 new residents a month, pushing the total population beyond 460,000.

But don’t let Miami’s palm trees, ocean views, white-hot food scene and glitzy nightlife fool you — living in paradise comes at a price. And it’s a hefty one.

While the median home value in Miami is $224,600, that number doesn’t tell the full story. With a median household income of $31,051, those prices are out of reach for many. Especially when you factor in the astronomical cost of homeowners insurance — the most expensive in all of the country — and sky-high property taxes.

So what’s a cash-strapped beach lover to do when faced with the reality that living in Miami is too expensive? Start looking outside the city limits. Luckily, you’ll find some cool and surprisingly affordable spots that are easily accessible to Miami and offer reasonable housing prices. Whether you’re looking for proximity to the beach, a raucous rodeo lifestyle (yes, really) or a thriving street art scene, these five South Florida cities have you covered — without breaking the bank.

1. Hollywood

Median Household Income: $46,791 
Median Home Price: $181,700 
Average Commute: 35 minutes

Crossing from Miami-Dade County into Broward is a big deal-breaker for some locals, but when it comes to Hollywood, all bets are off. Because this beachside town combines Old Florida charm with a preternaturally hip underbelly of street art, music and multicultural eats.

Creatives will feel right at home here — Hollywood boasts a tight-knit scene of galleries, artists and performers who lend their talents to the neighborhood. 

But families also flock to this sunny beachside town for its community-friendly vibe and inclusive events. Locals gather at ArtsPark at Young Circle, a bustling 10-acre park in downtown Hollywood, to check out live concert performances at the amphitheater, let their kiddos romp around the splash pad and playground, and attend weekly yoga classes.

2. Davie

Median Household Income: $59,680 
Median Home Price: $210,800 
Average Commute: 40 minutes

Moving to Davie? Dust off your cowboy boots — this South Florida city is the next best thing to living in Texas.

Exhibit A: the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds, where on any given weekend you can catch professional cowboys competing on the southeastern rodeo circuit.

Exhibit B: the infamous Round Up, where boot-scootin’ singles and sweethearts try their hand at the two-step and perfectly choreographed line-dancing routines. 

Some parts of Davie definitely have a suburban feel, but the upside is finding a spacious townhouse or single-family home for considerably less than what you’d spend in Miami. 

But also: #CowboyLife.

3. North Miami Beach

Median Household Income: $38,387 
Median Home Price: $149,000
Average Commute: 40 minutes

Technically, North Miami Beach doesn’t have a beach to call its very own. But you can’t really blame a city for trying to cash in on some of that South Beach name cred.  

Fortunately, people who call NMB home only have a 10-minute drive to the nearest beach, so we’ll call that a win. The city itself is a bit quirky — and its residents like it that way. After all, it’s home to a 12th century Spanish monastery that was brought to the U.S. by William Randolph Hearst and the Miami Showmen’s Association Rest, a cemetery for Miami’s fallen carnies. (Like we said: quirky.)

Housing-wise, North Miami Beach is a low-key mix of condos and cozy single-family homes set alongside the Intercoastal waterway. If you’re the outdoorsy type, Oleta State National Park — the nation’s largest urban park — features 1,043 acres of kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, swimming and log cabins (yep, log cabins … in Florida) for camping. 

After working up an appetite on the trails, residents hit up Duffy’s Sports Grill — a veritable shrine to the art of watching sports. You’ll find over 200 digital screens tuned into the latest game along with a swimming pool, baskets of addictive pub grub and 50 boat slips for those nautically navigating themselves to happy hour. 

4. Hallandale Beach

Median Household Income: $34,216
Median Home Price: $151,600
Average Commute: 50 minutes

Chances are, you’re looking at Florida because you need some Vitamin Beach in your life. We get it — and a sweet little beachfront condo in Hallandale Beach is just what the doctor ordered. A serene slice of beachy heaven that lies between Miami’s frenetic energy and Hollywood’s busy boardwalk, Hallandale’s shores are quieter than its South Beach counterpart. And that’s a really good thing if you’re going to consider calling it home.

But hey, every beach bum gets the urge to turn up sometimes. Enter: Hyde Beach, Hallandale’s beloved beachside club, bar, restaurant, spa and general epicenter of all things that spark joy. Located directly on the beach, locals gather for casual movie nights on the sand, a dressy night of cocktails under the stars and long afternoon brunches in the sun.

5. Delray Beach

Median Household Income: $50,136
Median Home Price: $151,600
Average Commute: 1 hour

Delray Beach might be the furthest city from Miami on this list, but the eclectic scene and funky personality of this Palm Beach County town more than makes up for the longer commute. After all, it was voted “Most Fun Small Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today for a reason.

Sure, there’s the impeccably maintained two-mile strip of municipal beach that families flock to, but the neighboring downtown area is packed with sidewalk patios, local bars and restaurants that stay busy throughout the night. Take, for example, local fav Dada, which serves up a hodgepodge of creative delicacies in a 1924 historic home, and the imminently cool Death or Glory with its bartender bar brawls and themed tiki dinner nights.

Culture vultures are well served by the abundance of galleries, art walks and festivals the city offers. And with its serene tea house and pristine bonsai gardens, the nearby Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens offers a moment of tranquility away from the downtown hustle. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is a Livability editor covering the latest in food, drink, travel and parenting for both local and national publications. A born-and-raised Miami native, she... more

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Wed, 09/25/2019 - 12:12