Expat city guide: Miami

21st September 2017
Expat city guide: Miami

Think of Miami, and think of long hot days on the coast, soaking up the sunshine, spending time on the beach and relaxing with a cool drink. It conjures up images of a laidback lifestyle that is appealing to many of those working in the 9-5 bustle of a rainy city.

However, there has recently been another side to Miami in the news, with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which battered the Florida coastline in September. The weather in Miami is tropical, which means that it is generally warm – hot and humid in the summer months, with relatively mild winters. Hurricanes can hit in the wet season, between May and October, and Miami is located in an area known for this kind of tropical activity. Hurricanes on the scale of Irma are less frequent, but expats moving to the region should be aware of the possibility and ensure that they are prepared for all eventualities.

Miami is a popular location for British expats. While the hurricane, and the ongoing rebuilding and recovery that follows, is fresh in people’s minds, it can be hard to imagine a life in the region, but there it is an area that offers a lot of benefits to international expatriates.

Working in Miami

Miami has fantastic career opportunities for skilled workers, which is why it is a popular destination for expats seeking a slice of the sunny life for themselves. The city is a major centre for finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment and the arts, and has excellent international trading links. In particular, there is a large number of international banks concentrated in the Downtown area, as well as many notable national and international corporations.

This is in part due to its favourable location. It offers easy access to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the rest of the United States. It is also a major port, which opens up a lot of trade opportunities, and it plays host to a reliable and busy international airport.

One of the advantages of working in Miami is that Florida has no state income tax, though expats will have to pay federal income tax if they are considered ‘resident aliens’ for tax purposes. As with all major cities, the financial crisis hit hard, but the economy is picking back up.

Day-to day-life

Miami is a diverse city, due to its close links to Latin America. It has large communities of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Haitian residents, which is reflected in the variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities in the various neighbourhoods. There is plenty to do and explore when not at work, and the city is very family friendly. It may be worth investing in some Spanish lessons, as a large proportion of the local community will speak Spanish as well as English, so it can help with integrating into the area.

There are fantastic healthcare facilities in Miami, so expats will be able to access top-quality treatment and services at one of the many hospitals in the area, as long as they have the appropriate level of insurance. Schools are also plentiful, with both public and private options, as well as international schools.

Unlike many other cities in the USA, the public transport system is not the best. It doesn’t cover the whole of Miami, which can make commutes more difficult. As such, it is quite common to own a car, but heavy traffic can mean long journey times.
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