Whether you’re staying for a few months or a year, our insider’s guide to Miami will make sure you’re ready for life in Southern Florida’s most popular city. Here are our top tips on things you should know before moving to Miami.
1. Be prepared for the humidity
Unfortunately, frequent frizzy hair days are not the only problem caused by all the moisture in the air. Miami is prone to flooding and storms during hurricane season: From June to November, keep an eye on the local weather forecast as you enjoy the summer heat and make sure you’re prepared for any bad weather alerts.
2. And for the AC
It might be scorching outside, but you can be certain it won’t be indoors! Miami residents love their A.C as much as they love their year-round tan. Short tees and shades might be the uniform outside, but keep an extra layer with you for when you step into an office, classroom, movie theater or store: chances are the air conditioning unit will be blowing an arctic gale.
3. You can practice your Spanish (and other languages?)
Miami is super multicultural. Though you might move to improve your English, you might also find yourself practicando tu Español, as 60% of Miami residents also speak Spanish!
4. Finding an apartment
If you’re travelling as a student, your school will have a housing department who can help you find a place to live. If you’re not living with a host family or in a residence, sharing apartments makes living in Miami a lot more affordable, so find some friends who want to live in the same part of town or connect with classmates by joining a Facebook group or school-organised group to find potential roommates.
5. Getting around
There’s no subway. Instead, people use the Metrorail (looks like a monorail), Metrobus (single-decker bus) and the tram-like Metromover networks to get around. The Metromover is free to use, while the Metrorail and Metrobus can both be paid for using an EASYCard, which you pre-pay and top-up. Think you’ll lose your all-important EASYCard? No problem: You can also use the EASYPay App. You can drive for 30 days on your foreign driver’s licence as a student, or 12 months as a tourist. For any longer, you’ll have to pass your American driving test. Traffic in Miami is notoriously bad, though: It’s probably best to stick to public transport, walking and cycling.
6. Understanding taxes
Sales tax in Miami is 7% and isn’t usually included in the prices of items that you see on the tags. Don’t be shocked when items appear more expensive than you expect when they’re scanned through the till, and remember this when working out spending budgets.
The US visa system is one of the world’s most complicated. If you’re travelling as a student, the company you’re going with or the school you’re attending will help: You’ll most likely need to visit your local US Embassy for an interview and to present your identification documents and student transcript.
8. Know where to hang out
With its golden sands, fancy restaurants, and stylish bars and clubs, South Beach is popular with tourists, locals and celebs. To experience Miami’s Cuban scene, try salsa dancing in Little Havanna. The business district in Downtown Miami is for the city-slickers who work hard and play hard, while creative types love the Design District, bursting with studios, galleries and art installations. Here’s our take on the best hidden gems in Miami.
9. Apps for everyday Miami
Install Lyft and Uber to easily order a taxi or join a lift-share from your phone. Download GrubHub and PostMates for your favorite restaurant food delivered right to your door. Instagram, for obvious reasons, should be on your phone already, but image-editing apps like VSCO can make your Miami snaps really stand out. Google Translate’s translate-from-camera function can also be mega useful if you’re struggling to read a menu or a sign.
10. People run late
Perhaps it started because of the awful traffic or perhaps it’s just that the endless sunshine makes everybody very laid back, but everything runs a bit late in Miami. But one thing is for sure, whether you’re waiting for friends to meet you for coffee or your food is taking a long time to arrive at a restaurant, it’s not the worst place in the world to not be in a rush.