Before Panama Beach became a spring-break destination for high-school and college students—this is still a thing, right? we’re not dating ourselves, are we?—Fort Lauderdale was the place to go for teenagers to party. And it stayed that way until the mid-’80s, when the city began passing laws discouraging the kind of behavior that often comes with high-school and college spring-break trips. Now Fort Lauderdale has become much more family-friendly and caters to older crowds who prefer the resort lifestyle, with plenty of upscale dining and shopping.
For those considering a move to Fort Lauderdale, we’ve gathered information and resources to help make the decision easier. We’ve also reached out to folks who live there to find out what they love about the city and what they think it could improve upon. Also, if you're interested in Florida, but not sure if Fort Lauderdale is right for you, check out our guide on moving to Florida.
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Although this coastal city is relatively small, with a population of about 180,000, Fort Lauderdale is often grouped within the larger Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area, which has grown rapidly and now consists of more than 5.5 million people.
For this reason, Fort Lauderdale has traditionally existed in the shadow of Miami, but now, thanks to a development boom spurred in part by Miami’s skyrocketing real estate market, Fort Lauderdale is experiencing significant commercial and residential growth of its own.
It has 23 miles of beaches, which one might expect from a town situated along the Atlantic Ocean, but it also has an expansive canal system that runs more than 500 miles and has earned it the nickname “Venice of America.”
Fort Lauderdale is the seventh-most-expensive city in Florida, and the cost of living is 37 percent higher than the national average, according to SalaryExpert.
According to Zillow, the average listing price for homes is $495,000. When it comes to renting, apartments tend to range from $1,470 to $2,053, depending, of course, on where you want to live.
If you would like a more thorough review of the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale, Expatistan is a great site that will provide you with an extensive list of expenses such as health care, groceries, clothing, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Fort Lauderdale’s population, much like other parts of Florida, fluctuates with the large number of people who live there on a seasonal basis, which helps boost the economy during the slow times for tourism.
In addition to the strong tourism industry, Fort Lauderdale has a robust job market that employs people in a wide range of fields. Here are the current salaries for the most common jobs:
For some, it’s possible to live in Fort Lauderdale without a car, but it’s definitely not ideal for most people. Now that you’ve been advised, if you choose to go without a car, here are your best options:
As with any major American city, crime is a factor, but it varies based on which part of town you live in. This interactive crime map is a handy resource for determining the level of safety in particular areas.
Located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Colee Hammock is one of the area’s oldest—and coolest—neighborhoods. Many of the older houses—think of two-story wraparound porches—have been completely restored, and there is also a nice mix of condos, apartments, bungalows, and Cape Cod–style homes. The area is also known for its boutiques, restaurants, and highly rated schools.
With a working-class vibe and convenient proximity to supermarkets, shopping centers, parks, and the water, Tarpon River is great for families and young professionals.
Victoria Park is one of those neighborhoods that hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves, and because of that some lucky buyers found beautiful homes for well under $100,000. But that’s not the case anymore. Since the 1990s, people have been flocking to this area, and now it’s a fairly tight-knit community consisting of mostly upper-middle-class families and senior citizens.
Harbor Beach is a gated community tucked behind the southern end of Seabreeze Boulevard, complete with a marina and a private beach club. It’s one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale and features some absolutely stunning architecture. Pier Sixty-Six is a short walk away and offers waterfront dining and one of the best spots in the city to view the sunset.
Fort Lauderdale is home to more than 4,100 restaurants and 120 nightclubs, many of them located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, which runs from east to west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the heart of Downtown to the beach. The district includes the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the famous Elbo Room.
Other popular bars and restaurants include Rocco’s Tacos, Royal Pig Pub & Kitchen, YOLO, and Shooter’s Waterfront.
For fans of live music, we recommend you check out the Escape Lounge and the Culture Room. And the annual Tortuga Music Festival is a great way to see a wide variety of acts all in one place. For those with more refined tastes, check out the South Florida Symphony Orchestra.
Finally, when it comes to museums, Fort Lauderdale has no shortage of them. Art enthusiasts will want to visit the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Museum of Discovery and Science, Coral Springs Museum of Art, and the African American Research Library and Cultural Center.
According to Lynda Balfour, the food is amazing, especially when it comes to Central American and South American cuisine.
It might seem like cheating if we rank this as both a pro and a con, but for every person who loves how the temperatures in winter remain above 40 degrees, there is someone who will complain about the extreme heat in the summer. The area is also prone to torrential downpours and hurricanes, which is worth keeping in mind, especially in the fall.
With eight beaches covering 23 miles, this can’t possibly be a con.
The traffic, according to Lynda Balfour, is awful. She says it’s worse than Atlanta, New York City, and Washington, D.C. While our experience there says it's not quite that bad, Lynda's other advice should not be ignored: “Be prepared to shell out about $60 a month, per car, on Sunpass fees [toll roads], depending on how often you use the highways and their fast lanes.”
For all the things we didn't cover, and for more of what we did, here are some other sites that will help you with your decision on moving to Fort Lauderdale, FL:
And that’s it. Our job is done. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your potential move, that’s OK. It’s all part of the process. Hopefully, what we’ve provided will help alleviate some of your anxiety and enable you to decide if Fort Lauderdale is the right place for you. If you decide to take the plunge, get in touch. We know some people who might be able to help.
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