There are a multitude of reasons why Fort Lauderdale is a favored vacation spot, but why stop at visiting South Florida? Imagine the bliss of making it your permanent home! If you’re seeking a tropical paradise, you’ll find it here in Fort Lauderdale. It offers a big-city dynamic as well as slower-paced suburban neighborhoods. This area has something for everyone, and it attracts singles, young professionals, established families, and retirees alike.
There are so many questions to ponder before beginning the relocation process. Which moving tasks do you want to tackle yourself, and which would be easier with professional help? Which Fort Lauderdale neighborhood might be best for you? Read up on our resources to educate yourself about beautiful Fort Lauderdale. You can learn about things to do, housing prices, tax policies, and more. We hope our guides can help you manage a smooth move to the hometown of your dreams!
Living in Fort Lauderdale, FL: What to Know Before Moving to Fort Lauderdale
At 180,000 residents, Fort Lauderdale is the third largest city in the Miami metro area and offers the perfect mix of peaceful suburbs and bustling city life. If you’re planning on packing everything up and moving down to SoFlo, here are a few things you might want to know.
Pros and Cons of Living in Fort Lauderdale
Like any city, living in Fort Lauderdale has its upsides and downsides.
- Many areas of Fort Lauderdale offer surprisingly low living costs. Given all the sunshine and beachside activities, you might think South Florida would be pricey. However, with low tax rates and reasonable housing costs, Fort Lauderdale is surprisingly affordable.
- There are plenty of competitive schools. You’ll find many A-rated elementary, middle, and high schools in the Fort Lauderdale area. Some of these facilities are committed to helping students develop a sense of ambition and self-esteem.
- You have access to first-class healthcare. The facilities are top-notch, so if you or a retiree in your family needs regular medical attention, the Fort Lauderdale area will serve you well.
- You’ll always have plenty to do. There are museums, theater, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and endless outdoor activities. Thanks to the unbeatable year-round warmth, you’ll only have to walk outside to start having a great time!
- Who doesn’t love that beachside lifestyle? If the beach is your happy place, Fort Lauderdale is a dream destination. You can go boating or surfing, check out the sand volleyball courts, or have a nap in the sun whenever the mood strikes.
- While the weather is warm, it isn’t perfect. Fort Lauderdale is as good as it gets in many ways, but don’t be shocked by the stormy summers. The rain, thunder, and lightning can be intense, even causing people to pull over on the highway at times. Plus, the humidity might feel a little heavy at first and will require an adjustment.
- You’ll have to watch out for the wildlife. If you’re living in South Florida, you’re probably going to see a few gators. Many suburban neighborhoods feature stunning manmade lakes – you’re going to love the view and the fishing, but don’t let the dog get too close to the shore! You should also anticipate seeing lizards inside your house and colorful birds strutting through your yard.
- You might want to bring your bug spray. If you don’t do well with mosquito bites, you may want to reconsider moving to a humid place like South Florida. Mosquitos and insects abound in Fort Lauderdale, so be sure to stay on top of pest control and bring your bug spray.
- Come prepared for hurricane season. It’s crucial to properly prepare for hurricane season with hurricane shutters, food storage, and a generator. Do your research and have an evacuation route mapped out if a hurricane ever heads your way.
- Your daily commute could be slightly longer. Traffic isn’t unbearable in the Fort Lauderdale area, but it can certainly get dicey around the airport and downtown area. Depending on where you’re relocating from, your time spent in traffic could increase some.
Florida is one of the few lucky states where residents pay zero state income tax, so you can keep a little extra hard-earned cash. Smart Asset claims that property taxes “rank near or below the national average,” at 1.336%. On a home valued at $250,000, you’ll pay just over $3300 in taxes. Avalara lists the Fort Lauderdale sales tax rate at an even 7%, which consists of a 6% Florida sales tax rate, plus a 1% tax rate for Broward County.
In early 2019, Biz Journals completed a buy/rent analysis of 159 different zip codes in South Florida. They concluded that in most cases, buying is a better financial move than renting. If you’re hoping to stay in Fort Lauderdale long-term, consider purchasing a property instead of renting for more than a few months.
Fort Lauderdale’s median home value is $318,100, according to Zillow. Home values have been increasing, and they’ll likely continue to rise based on current predictions. Rent Café places the average rent for an apartment in Fort Lauderdale at a whopping $1744, with the average apartment size at about 945 square feet. Your rent costs can add up quickly over just a few months, and you may be more interested in some larger living quarters.
If low living cost is your number one priority, check out the most affordable neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, according to niche.com:
- Dillard Park
- Rock Island
Cost of Living
With visions of Miami Beach, you might imagine South Florida as a ritzy and pricey place to live. However, Fort Lauderdale is more affordable than its neighbor to the south. Though still more expensive than the rest of the U.S. (which has a cost of living index of 100), Fort Lauderdale has an overall cost of living index of 129.6, compared to Miami’s 137.1. Groceries, housing, and transportation are all more expensive in Ft. Lauderdale than across the country, but you can expect savings in the categories of utilities and healthcare.
To afford Fort Lauderdale, a family with two adults and two children will need almost $87,000 in household income just to cover basic living costs. According to the EPI budget planner, a family of this size will need to budget around $1400 for housing, $1200 for childcare, $800 for food, $1000 for transportation, $1000 for healthcare, plus another $1600 to cover taxes and other necessities.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Fort Lauderdale experiences some wild weather conditions. Some of the conditions you’ll want to secure your home against include:
Fort Lauderdale’s website assures its residents that when a disaster is predicted, the city will immediately deploy protection and resources to minimize risks and damage. They have plenty of practice with emergency response, and they work hard to help residents in times of crisis.
While stormy conditions can occasionally be a threat throughout the year, they aren’t usually a major concern. Fort Lauderdale experiences a tropical rainforest climate, which means over 140 rainy days and 60 plus inches of rain annually. The other 200 plus days it doesn’t rain, you can look forward to sunny skies and balmy temperatures. The average lows, even during the winter months, only dip into the upper 50s.
Economy & Job Market
A few of Fort Lauderdale’s most thriving industries include marine commerce, tourism, and trade and business. Fort Lauderdale’s government website goes into detail about why these industries are so successful.
- Marine Industry: Yachts and boats abound in Fort Lauderdale, which has also been nicknamed the “Venice of America” for its 165 miles of canals. It’s estimated that over 100,000 people work in the area’s boating industry.
- Tourism Industry: Due to Fort Lauderdale’s gorgeous weather and proximity to beaches, the area welcomed over 15.4 million visitors in 2015 alone. If you’re not sure about what you want to do once you arrive in South Florida, check out the thriving tourism industry.
- Trade & Business: Fort Lauderdale is one of the fastest growing locations for global trade. It’s also home to around 6,000 technology firms.
Due to boat construction and the tourism industry, plus the arrival of newer industries like technology, Fort Lauderdale has maintained a strong economy. The unemployment rate is 3.5%, which is lower than the US average.
Zippia.com lists some of the best companies to work for in Fort Lauderdale, based on salary, diversity, and financial success:
- Signature Consultants
- Broward Health
- Moss & Associates
Traffic and Transportation
What are the best ways to get around Fort Lauderdale? According to walkscore.com, the area has a walkability score of 59/100, meaning that, depending on the neighborhood, some getting around can be done on foot. Some of the most walkable areas in Fort Lauderdale include the downtown area, Colee Hammock, and Flagler Heights. Not the most cyclist-friendly city, the bike score here is 56/100.
Fort Lauderdale has some limited forms of public transportation, scoring only a 39/100 in this category. Broward County Transit (BCT) provides bus and shuttle services around the metro area. Additionally, the BCT system connects commuters to commuter rail services as well as to transit systems in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Some other ways to get around include water taxi, the Sun Trolley, and the Broward Bike Share System.
A few of the major roads running through Fort Lauderdale include the US-1, the US-27, and US-441. The area is also served by highway I-05 and SR-862. Don’t forget about Florida’s Turnpike and the Sawgrass Expressway. Unfortunately, it seems like traffic has been worsening in Fort Lauderdale over recent years, but the county promises to work on the timing of traffic lights and take other measures to improve traffic. The Sun Sentinel explains that only 15% of drivers claimed to be “happy” with the flow of traffic in 2019, but the government says improvements are on the way.
Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for – reading about the highlights of life in Fort Lauderdale! Here are some of the top sights and destinations in this South Florida town.
Walk down the beautiful beachfront promenade and step inside stunning luxury hotels, like the Ritz and the W, for an afternoon cocktail. Brush with culture by visiting the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, which features concert venues, galleries, and events of all kinds. If you appreciate music and art, you’ll enjoy the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and the Florida Grand Opera.
For those interested in more interactive activities, hop onto a Segway at the Segway Fort Lauderdale Tour and explore your new hometown on wheels. Or, take a bike ride using a bike sharing service. Rent a jet ski or a boat, or head to the beach for a day full of surf and sun. To see more of the city, hop on the Sun Trolley or explore the Flamingo Gardens to enjoy exotic and native plants, as well as diverse Everglades wildlife!
If you’re looking for an indoor activity, Sawgrass Mills Mall has over 350 designer outlets, including Kate Spade and Bloomingdale’s. Once your shopping is done, dive into some upgraded mall dining options like P.F. Chang’s or Grand Lux Café.
Schools and Universities
Broward County Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the country, serving over 270,000 students and employing over 39,000 faculty and staff. According to greatschools.org, some of the best schools in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Bayview Elementary School (rated 10/10)
- Floranada Elementary School (rated 8/10)
- Virginia Shuman Elementary School (rated 8/10)
- Sheridan Technical High School (rated 9/10)
- Pembroke Pines Charter High School (rated 9/10)
Are you looking to further your education? You won’t be disappointed by South Florida’s excellent universities, which include Florida Atlantic University and the University of Florida. Broward Community College, Nova Southeastern University, and Keiser University are also nearby, so you have plenty of higher education options.
Neighborhood Scout places Fort Lauderdale’s crime rate at 62.37 crimes per 1,000 residents. This stat includes both violent and nonviolent crimes. The crime rate is higher than the US average around Fort Lauderdale, so it’s important to choose a neighborhood wisely. For some safe family-friendly places to live, check out the neighborhoods of Weston, Parkland, Cooper City, and Coral Springs.
You’ll probably be running your A/C year-round in South Florida. Make sure your electricity and other services are scheduled for turn-on prior to your move:
- Electricity: Fort Lauderdale’s sole energy provider is Florida Power & Light, as the city is not deregulated. Start service by calling 954.797.5000 or visit the website here.
- Natural Gas: For gas service, call TECO People’s Gas at 877.832.6747 or start service online.
- Water/Sewer/Trash: The City of Fort Lauderdale handles all these essential services. Call 954.828.5150 or check out the website for additional details on starting service.
- Cable/Internet: DIRECTV, AT&T, DISH, and Xfinity all provide cable and internet services.
Best Neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Now that you know a few things about your new hometown, here’s an overview of some of the top communities in which to live:
If you’re looking into the best neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, you’re bound to hear about Colee Hammock. You can take a water taxi ride or enjoy the riverfront views here year-round. First, where does the name Colee Hammock come from? The area was once marked by a closed canopy system of trees called a hammock. The “Colee” portion of the name comes from an engineer named James Louis Colee, who purchased some of the original land years ago.
Colee Hammock has an old-world, Spanish feel. The neighborhood is monitored to ensure a peaceful and beautiful aesthetic that brings tranquility to the retirees, families, and young professionals in the area. Here, you have easy access to Las Olas Boulevard, a famous Fort Lauderdale street lined with art galleries, fine dining, museums, and lots of shopping. Fort Lauderdale’s largest public play space, called Holiday Park, which features athletic fields and courts, a gym, and an auditorium, is also conveniently close by.
Which schools are the best in the Colee Hammock area? Colee Hammock is served by both top-rated public and private schools. Virginia Shuman Young Elementary School is a well-known Montessori school. Other fantastic options for the kids include Sunrise Middle School and Fort Lauderdale High, or you might prefer a private school like American Heritage or Pine Crest.
From family activities to nightlife, and family homes to luxury condos, Colee Hammock is a desirable area for individuals in any stage of life. Zumper shows median apartment rents of $1475 and $1850 for 1- and 2-bedroom units, respectively. In this cozy neighborhood of just 918 residents, many homes fetch well over a million dollars, though the median home value is just north of $685,000.
Victoria Park is an ideal location for those who want access to the downtown city center and the liveliness of city life, while still being able to retreat to their neighborhood sanctuary. Home to 6,618 residents, it’s bordered by Broward and Sunrise Boulevards, just north of the Colee Hammock neighborhood and west of the Intercoastal Waterway. Victoria Park boasts a low crime rate for the Fort Lauderdale area, as well as many enjoyable amenities.
What do residents do for fun in Victoria Park? The neighborhood is only a mile away from Fort Lauderdale Beach, an easy walk on a nice day. There’s plenty of shopping at the Galleria Mall and dining at the Canyon Restaurant. You’re also close to Las Olas Boulevard or the downtown area if you want even more dining and shopping options.
Victoria Park’s perks come with more expensive living costs, at a rate of 22% more than the rest of the city, according to AreaVibes. The median home value is $458,600, and the median rent for a 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartment is $1400 and $1925, respectively.
St. Anthony School is a favored private school that serves Victoria Park. Virginia Shuman Young Elementary School is another great school for your little ones.
Las Olas Isles
We’ve mentioned Las Olas Boulevard a few times, because it’s one of the most treasured places in Fort Lauderdale. Las Olas Isles, population 14,000, is actually a neighborhood itself, and it lies within the Venice community of Fort Lauderdale. Venice is named so because of its 165 miles of inland waterways. It’s truly a dream to live in an area modeled after Italy’s famous canal system. This results in very sought-after real estate and higher than average costs of living.
Las Olas Isles is a great place to be if you love going boating on the weekends. You’re right by Fort Lauderdale Beach, and when you’re back on land, a trip down Las Olas Boulevard will take you to the best eateries and retail stores in the city.
Las Olas offers a mix of family homes right on the water and just a few condo complexes, including luxury condominiums. The homes are expensive, usually starting out at around one million dollars. The median list price per square foot is $674, according to Zillow, which is more than double the Fort Lauderdale average. If you plan on renting, the median rent for a 1-bedroom is $2195, while a 2-bedroom unit is over $3000.
If you have children, you should know that some of the best schools in the area include Virginia Shuman Montessori school, Harbordale Elementary, and Calvary Christian Academy.
Sunrise Intracoastal sits between Sunrise Boulevard and Las Olas Isles. Sunrise’s population is around 1,000, with a median home value of $487,500, according to HomeSnacks. According to Trulia, there are only a few rental properties available in the area, with an average rent of $2,300.
You’ll find a variety of home types here, from single-family, some breathtaking waterfront homes, and luxury townhomes. Avid boaters dream of living right on the Intracoastal Waterway or the Atlantic Ocean, and that dream can come true in Sunrise Intracoastal.
Residents are just a short walk to Galleria Mall, and only a few minutes’ drive from Fort Lauderdale Beach or Fort Lauderdale Airport. Sunrise Intracoastal offers a suburban kind of feel, with plenty of restaurants, parks, and coffee shops lining the streets.
Families love to hear that public schools here are above average. Some of the best schools in the area include College Academy at Broward College, McFatter Technical School and College, Pompano Beach Institute of International Studies, and City of Pembroke Pines Charter High School, according to niche.com.
Just north of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and south of SR-84 lies the beautiful community of Edgewood. This is a smaller, family-oriented community of 5,450 residents and six competitive private schools. Edgewood features mostly single-family homes and many gated communities for additional security. The tree-lined streets are peaceful and well-kept.
Edgewood offers outdoor and indoor fun, with enormous Snyder Park and a few great shopping centers. You can sign your youngsters up for Little League or take the family to the lake for the weekend. You have sufficient distance from big city life, but you’re never too far to head downtown for various events and activities.
Realtor.com states that the median home value in Edgewood is $255,000. Home values have been rising over the past year and are predicted to continue going up. According to Trulia, the median rental price is around $2,150.
Tarpon River is a tiny one-square mile area of 4,429 residents, and the neighborhood teems with grassy parks and family homes. Tarpon River is north of Davie Boulevard and west of Andrews Avenue, according to the Miami Herald. This is a family-friendly, working-professional neighborhood with plenty of shopping and amenities.
What is there to do in Tarpon River? According to City Data, Tarpon River is a favorite for families because of the plentiful parks to visit, low crime rate, and successful schools. Plus, with all the waterways, boat tours are a popular pastime. Zillow places the median home value at $313,500 with predictions that they’ll rise by over 5% in the next year or so. Trulia places the median rent for apartments in the area at $2,400.
Niche.com reveals some of the best Tarpon River public schools are the College Academy at Broward College, McFatter Technical College, Pompano Beach Institute of International Studies, ATC Technical High School, and City of Pembroke Pines Charter High School.
If you want to feel like you’re on vacation every day, look at your options in Rio Vista. This neighborhood, with 2,264 residents, is just outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, and it features sparkling lakes and a beautiful landscape. There are plenty of rec centers and golf courses to explore, as well as walking trails and outdoor options to enjoy. Rio Vista has a low crime rate, successful local businesses, and clubhouses with various activities. Residents also have direct access to the ocean at 17th street, so if you love being on the water, you’re going to love Rio Vista.
With more than one thousand residences in Rio Vista; one of them could become your new home. Homes are built in diverse styles so you’ll be able to find something that suits your taste. You might even be able to find a home on the Intracoastal Waterway and put that new boat right on the water! Zillow places the median home value of Rio Vista at $1,199,700. Apartment rentals are limited in the area, although you can potentially rent a home if you’re looking to live here short-term.
One of the best schools in the area is Bethany Christian School. You’ll also have access to Happyland Preschool and Bayview Elementary.
Coral Springs is known for its art and culture, and it’s only a few miles north of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Art, theater, and music enthusiasts love the Coral Springs Center for the Arts and local museums. What else is there to enjoy in Coral Springs? You’ll appreciate spacious parks, tropical landscapes, lush golf courses and plenty of natural beauty. Explore the Tall Cypress Natural Area or Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital. The hospital is a unique place where injured birds and animals are nursed back to health.
Coral Springs has a population of 133,037, and the median home cost is $347,500. There are numerous restaurants and coffee shops, plus there’s great news on the education front – Coral Springs’ public schools are well above average with some of the best schools being Country Hills Elementary, Coral Springs Charter School, and Coral Springs Middle School.
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