America’s Most Expensive Cities: How to save on rent in Miami
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Welcome to Expensive Cities, a new series designed to help renters find affordable apartments in the nation’s most unaffordable metros.
Hello, Miami! It’s easy to see why the 305 with its white sands, blue waters and bustling nightlife is an attractive place to live — but an apartment in its flashier neighborhoods come with a high price tag.
Miami is currently the tenth most expensive big city for U.S. renters. The good news, rents have dipped slightly this summer, increasing the chances of finding a comfy and affordable home.
As of August, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami was $1,780, according to apartment listings site Zumper. That’s a tad lower (1.1%) than a month earlier, though essentially flat compared to a year ago. Renters insurance in Miami can be pretty pricey, compared to other cities, given its erratic weather and proximity to water — though that’s all the more reason for residents to carry some. (We can help you compare and buy renters insurance if you're hoping to save.)
But Miami is a city of extremes — wealth, poverty, celebrity, infamy — and the cost of rent varies wildly around the metro. On exclusive Fisher Island — America’s most expensive zip code and a former retreat of the wealthy Vanderbilt family — one-bedroom apartments go for a whopping $6,500 a month.
Miami also has a burgeoning high-tech economy that is a magnet for young workers. These workers are driving up demand for new, decked-out apartments — a trend that’s similarly driving up rents in other major metros like Pittsburgh.
Professionals and couples often gravitate toward neighborhoods like Bricknell, Miami’s relatively pricey financial district and home of the new Brickell City Centre luxury mixed-use complex.
“One-bedrooms in Brickell go for about $2,085, and residents are in the thick of some of the most luxurious restaurants and clubs, as well as within walking distance to the highest-paying jobs,” says Pamela Stergios, a market analyst covering South Florida for CoStar Group, the parent company of Apartments.com.
Further north, Midtown is another popular but expensive neighborhood. Two new mid-rise apartment complexes in the area have one-bedroom units for around $2,100 to $2,200, she says.
If those prices sound too high for your budget, there are plenty of more reasonably-priced neighborhoods in which to conduct your apartment search. Stergios recommends these three up-and-coming neighborhoods to stretch your rent dollars the furthest.
One mile from Miami International Airport and 12 miles from downtown, the city of Doral is a relatively affordable, highly livable enclave boasting a slew of dining and entertainment. It’s become popular with renters who want easy access to Miami’s city center.
“Doral is ideal for young to middle-aged professionals making a decent amount of money who want to be close to the nicer things to do,” Stergios says.
The mega-shopping and entertainment complex CityPlace Doral, built in 2017, has luxury apartments along with plenty of ways to have fun — bowling, movies, comedy and more.
“Six other new apartment communities have gone up near this area, and one-bedroom apartments go for about $1,800 to $1,900,” Stergios says. “This seems expensive, but it’s a discount compared to one-bedrooms in Downtown Miami and Brickell, which are over $2,000,” she says.
Edgewater is the solution for people seeking a tranquil, walkable lifestyle that’s close to the water and city center — and won’t break the bank. This bayfront community is just north of Downtown and east of Midtown and Wynwood.
Margaret Pace Park provides green space, sports facilities and a walking path with views of Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach.
“There is relatively less crime here, and you can walk or bike to the Midtown and Wynwood areas, as well as the Design District and the beach,” Stergios says.
One-bedroom apartments in this neighborhood rent for about $1,790, on average. While that’s higher than Miami’s median rent, you’ll likely save around $300 a month compared to Midtown, while staying within walking distance.
For a family-friendly neighborhood that is safe and affordable, consider venturing out to the surrounding suburbs (a la many a Los Angeles renter). The Homestead area has surged in popularity recently, yet it is still one of the cheapest places to live in Miami-Dade County, with one-bedrooms going for an average of $1,032.
“Even newer one-bedrooms built in the last three years are under $1,300,” Stergios says.
Apartment construction has exploded near the Leisure City neighborhood, with six new complexes. “Homestead tends to attract families who want to escape the business of the city,” she adds.
Moving to Miami in 2019? Keep an eye on Wynwood, the up-and-coming arts district, Stergios says. Major changes are afoot in this former industrial neighborhood adjacent to Midtown.
Wynwood is known for quirky art installations and colorful murals covering almost every building. Starting in the early 2000s, old warehouse spaces were converted into restaurants, bars and other attractions.
The area was rezoned for commercial and multi-family buildings in 2015. Residential developments currently under construction should open up within a year or so, with units at a variety of price points. One project, The Bradley, will even offer micro-sized units targeted to singles and couples.
Considering other cities? We’ve got ways to rent an apartment anywhere for less.
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