Midwesterners, Canadians and New Englanders have been making their way to South Florida for decades. Retirees discovered the area in the 1960s and 1970s, and soon after, the younger generations moved south in search of plentiful jobs, lower costs of living and, of course, those beautiful beaches. Today, the area remains a draw for retirees and young people.
South Florida is made up of three counties that cover the lower southeastern part of the state. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach have the Atlantic Ocean as a border to the east and they stretch west to the edge of the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, more than 5.7 million people live in the tri-county area.
Population by county
- Miami-Dade County: 2,591,035
- Broward County: 1,815,137
- Palm Beach County: 1,356,545
Each South Florida county has its own distinct identity. Like anywhere else, where you choose to live can be influenced by where your family and friends live, the type of work you do and whether you like to live in a high-rise condo by the beach or a gated community in the western portion of the tri-county area.
Miami-Dade County is perhaps the most diversified of the counties. Everyone knows South Beach, but the expansive county also includes such places like North Bay Village, Coral Gables, Hialeah and Miami Lakes.
According to Zillow, in May of 2013, the county-wide median home value was $136,600. Traffic can be bad at certain times of the day in Miami, and the average cost per gallon of regular gas according to the latest AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report for June 14, 2013, was $3.56.
Miami is a city that is home to very wealthy people, middle class families and those that are struggling to get by. You will see a lot of brand new BMWs around the city, but you will see more used cars in Miami. Miami has many rich people, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Miami-Dade County is saddled with a high unemployment rate of 8.8 percent.
Just to the north of Miami-Dade is Broward County. Some of the bigger cities within the county’s boundaries include Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines and Davie. One of the nice things about living in Broward is that it is centrally located and you can be in Miami or Palm Beach in about an hour or less. Sunrise is home to Sawgrass Mills, one of the largest outlet malls in the country. Fort Lauderdale has great beaches and is still a popular place for Spring Break. Unemployment is close to the state average of 7.2 percent and Broward housing prices average $150,000.
Palm Beach County
As you might have heard, Donald Trump owns a home in Palm Beach. However, Mr. Trump’s Mira Lago waterfront estate does little to raise the median home values in Palm Beach County. According to Zillow, half the homes in the county cost more than $157,600 and half can be had for a lower price. Unemployment is the lowest in the tri-county area, falling below the 7.2 percent state average.
South Florida is no longer just a place to retire. It is one of the most desirable areas of the country to live if you want to get away from cold winters and enjoy all of the good things in life. Yes, Miami has crime and Fort Lauderdale has traffic, but, on balance, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties rank near the top of the list of the best places to live in Florida.