Fort Lauderdale is situated less than 30 miles north of Miami. It serves as the county seat of Broward County and serves as home to about 180,000 people.
This city is a popular tourist destination because it receives over 3,000 hours of sunshine each year. The Greater Fort Lauderdale area is home to 63 golf courses, a dozen shopping malls, and over 130 nightclubs.
If you like the idea of living near the beach where the weather is warm, then this community could be right for you. This guide will take you through the crucial pros and cons of making this decision.
List of the Pros of Living in Fort Lauderdale
1. There are a lot of great places to live in Fort Lauderdale.
If you want to purchase a home in Fort Lauderdale, then you’ll find that there are several excellent neighborhoods from which to choose. Each one has a unique personality, so there is one that will feel very inviting. Fort Lauderdale Beach is always popular since it provides you a spot that is walking distance from the water. You could opt for Wilton Manors if you have a family and don’t mind a short drive to the beach.
Las Olas is popular for those with a creative mindset. The neighbor connects the Downtown with the water, offering numerous galleries, bars, and historic sites to enjoy. Imperial Point and Poinsettia heights are excellent options as well.
2. Fort Lauderdale is surprisingly affordable.
Over the past decade, Fort Lauderdale has become one of the most affordable coastal cities in Florida. Although the median home value in the city is $312,000, the price has only gone up about 0.7% in the past year. The median list price is about $318 though, which is significantly higher than the average for Miami and West Palm Beach. The good news is that the market has remained consistently cool, so it is a buyer’s market in 2019.
Rental prices in Fort Lauderdale are reasonable for the Miami metro complex, with listings in the $2,000 range. That’s about $100 less per month than you’ll pay if you lived further south according to information provided by Zillow.
3. The weather in Fort Lauderdale is consistently fantastic.
If you love having weather that is consistently nice, then Fort Lauderdale is the place to be. The average temperature for the entire year is 75°F. It can get a little hot and sticky in the summer, but the winter months are always warm and pleasant. There is more than 325 days of sunshine to enjoy have moving here too. That means you can enjoy many of the benefits of living at a tropical location without paying a significant cost to move there.
4. The beaches of Fort Lauderdale are incredible.
If you are ready to enjoy the sunshine that is waiting for you in Fort Lauderdale, then the beach is the place to be. You might not be able to afford a place that’s right on the water, but almost every neighborhood is within 30 minutes of reaching the surf. There are 23 miles of warm sand to explore when you live here, along with about 300 miles of waterways that you can navigate in a boat of almost any size. This benefit has helped the city to earn the title of being America’s Venice because of how well the city integrates all of the water features.
5. Water sports are a way of life when living in Fort Lauderdale.
The water is an inviting place to be when you start living in Fort Lauderdale. It is warm throughout most of the year, so you can always head out to take a swim or do some surfing. You’ll need to pay attention to the riptide and surf warnings since they can get quite strong when storms are churning off of the coast, but otherwise, it tends to be a safe experience. Diving, snorkeling, and fishing are fun activities that are available throughout the year as well. Broward County has more than 42,000 boats registered, which means it is pretty easy to find a charter if you don’t have the cash to purchase a vessel yourself.
6. The lifestyle in Fort Lauderdale is laid-back and relaxed.
Most people don’t take life too seriously when they live in Fort Lauderdale. The warm weather, beach proximity, and reasonable employment prospects make it easy enough for most people to carve out a life for themselves in this city. The area also has all of the nightlife options you’ll ever need, including the Hollywood Boardwalk and the various hotspots that you can find in Las Olas.
There are more than 4,000 restaurants operating in the city as well. It’s one of the few places in Florida where you can find something authentic and ethnic whenever cravings strike. Whether you’re in the mood for something Cuban, Philippine, or just a great steakhouse, there is something for you to find in Broward County.
7. Retail therapy exists in many forms in Fort Lauderdale.
If you find that shopping acts as a form of therapy for you, then you’re going to enjoy life in Fort Lauderdale. This city can let you hit up the local flea market, go shopping at your favorite mall, or browse through a luxury shop. There is something for everyone available with this benefit.
You can even take your winnings from the local casinos that operate in the area. Instead of going out to Las Vegas to have a fun night out, you can stay in thanks to everything that Fort Lauderdale offers every day.
8. Fort Lauderdale is one of the most diverse cities in the United States.
Some people might worry about living in Fort Lauderdale because they don’t fit in with their current community. It won’t take long for you to realize that this city has a remarkably high level of diversity. Over 30% of the current residents in this community were born in a foreign country. There are more than 100 languages commonly spoken here. That means you can connect to a network of people who understand who you are and where you’re from so that you can feel welcome right away.
9. This city serves as an international travel hub.
When you start living in Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find out quickly that it is very easy to travel internationally from this location. People from all over the world come to the city to take their holiday because the weather is so nice. That also means you have the opportunity to reciprocate the favor to over 40 different destinations around the world. The airport is only a few minutes away from most neighborhoods, so it isn’t that hard to plan a trip when you’re ready to go relax somewhere besides the local beach.
10. There are plenty of educational opportunities in Fort Lauderdale.
If you are thinking about living in Fort Lauderdale with your family, then you’ll be joining the sixth-largest school district in the United States. There are more than 280 different schools from which to choose when enrolling your children. You will have access to several public and private colleges and universities to pursue any level of degree. It is possible to work your way through the K-12 system, get your undergraduate degree, and then move on to your graduate and doctorate degrees all without leaving your home.
11. There are homestead exemptions to manage the property tax burden.
There are several exemptions available to help households in Florida manage the burden of their property taxes. A homestead exemption is available for up to $50,000, but only 50% of applies to all taxes. The remainder is for non-school taxes. There are senior citizen exemptions in some countries, and a widower exemption could be available. Veterans and individuals with disabilities qualify for some benefits with this advantage as well.
12. You can go deep sea fishing when living in Fort Lauderdale.
If you love to go swimming on a hot day, then you might see some large marine life doing the same thing next to you. There are marlins and barracuda in the region that allow you to enjoy some deep sea fishing almost all year long. Attacks from these animals are extremely rare, and most of the injuries attributed to them happen when anglers reel them in after a catch. You can charter a boat to spend a day on the water, spend a weekend if you wish, or buy your own vessel to enjoy this advantage.
13. The entire area is compact, so driving is sometimes option.
About everything that you need in Fort Lauderdale is within a five-mile radius. Depending on the neighborhood that you choose when moving here, there is an excellent chance that you could walk to take care of your errands. Unless you commute a long distance, most people put on very little mileage on their vehicles because of this advantage. When you consider the public transportation options that are available, you might be able to manage life without a vehicle in some situations here.
List of the Cons of Living in Fort Lauderdale
1. There are a lot of people who visit Fort Lauderdale each year.
During the average year, over 23 million people will visit Fort Lauderdale for some reason. Many of the tourists come to enjoy a vacation in the city because of the sunshine, beaches, and restaurants that are available to them. That also means there are going to be some snowbirds coming down to enjoy the warmer weather during the winter months before moving back north during the summer. You don’t really get an offseason when living here because it is a destination of choice. That means you’ll be dealing with tourists more often than not, which can get annoying after some time.
2. Traffic in Fort Lauderdale can be terrible.
If you have ever experienced the traffic in Atlanta or New York City, then be prepared for Fort Lauderdale. It tends to be worse here in the city most days than what you’ll find in the bigger metro areas up north. Even though some days tend to be better than others, you’ll need to budget the expense of Sunpass fees for your driving habits. If you need to use the fast lanes for your commute, then you might be paying up to $60 per month in fees just for the privilege of using the local roads.
3. The weather in Fort Lauderdale can be a disadvantage for some people.
There are a lot of days filled with sunshine in Fort Lauderdale, but that can also mean that the heat levels rise during the summer. When you get a hot day that approaches 100°F and the humidity percentages are high, then the extreme heat can be bothersome to a lot of people. Not even the beach can provide a cure in those circumstances.
There is also the threat of hurricanes that you’ll need to worry about when you start living here. The coastal area tends to get blasted by a robust storm about once per decade, with lower level tropical storms blowing through a handful of times per year. Getting stuck in a torrential downpour isn’t a pleasant experience, especially when the weather starts to turn in the fall.
4. Some households may struggle to support themselves in Fort Lauderdale.
Living in Fort Lauderdale can be a challenge because of the seasonal changes to the population. If you work in the hospitality industry, then you’re almost guaranteed to find work. The only problem is that your salary might not be enough to meet your needs. Even RNs that work in the city average less than $80,000 per year. You’ll want to carefully manage your expenses as you hunt for a place to live until you know what your salary is going to be. If you’re only clearing $65,000 per year as a paralegal, one-third of your income is going to go directly toward your rental costs.
5. You’ll need to manage your tax situation wisely when living in the city.
Florida is one of the few states that doesn’t have an income tax. In 2013, the state even ranked as the fifth-lowest tax burden on businesses and residents in the United States. Since your income isn’t going to be taxed when living here, that means the government needs to get your money in a different way. That’s why it can be a challenge for retirees to make life happen down here.
The current sales tax rate for the state is 6%. Broward County has the right to add more on top of that, and then there are the property taxes to consider – which are some of the highest in the country.
6. The cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is exceptionally high.
If you compare the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale to that of the United States, then living here will cost almost 40% more. When you are deep into the heart of tourist season, the prices can go even higher. Even the average listing price of a home is $500,000 these days, which is about 30% above what the assessed value of the properties are. For most households, the best option is to rent an apartment to save up for a down payment or to commute from one of the outer suburbs.
7. You’ll need to get used to the animals and the insects in the city.
If you’re not a big fan of bugs, then living in Fort Lauderdale is going to be a challenge for you. There are plenty of biting insects that like to fly around at night. Mosquitoes are a significant problem. You can control them around your property, but it is also essential to remember that there isn’t an off-season here. You’re going to be managing this pest issue all year long.
There are some dangerous animals that can show up in your yard when you start living in Fort Lauderdale too. Most people are aware of the alligators and snakes (like the rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads) that are in the area. You’ll also need to be aware of some spiders, the Florida black bear, and sharks that appear off of the coast. There are even wild boars in the city, descendants of escaped domestic pigs. They can weigh more than 300 pounds and be very aggressive if they feel threatened.
8. Everyone experiences fire ants in Fort Lauderdale at least once.
Add this insect to the list of issues that you’ll encounter when living in Fort Lauderdale. This species might be little, but it earns its own specific disadvantage because of its capabilities. Most species of stinging or biting insects can only attack once, but fire ants can sting multiple times. They are venomous as well, creating a red bump that turns into a white pustule. Scratching them can lead to an infection. If you encounter a swarm of these vicious buggers, then you’ve got an issue to worry about here in the city. Some people can even have an allergic reaction to their bites.
9. You’ll need to watch out for the jellyfish when you go to the beach.
There are several species of jellyfish that you can find around the Fort Lauderdale area. Only some of them have a significant sting that can be problematic to humans. The most dangerous type you’ll see is the box jellyfish because it has the most powerful venom in the ocean. It only takes one sting to deliver a powerful paralytic that can be administered by walking barefoot on the beach if one washes ashore.
This disadvantage should not be dismissed. Over the past 50 years in Florida, there have been more people killed by jellyfish than sharks.
10. There is the long-term issue of sea levels rising to consider.
Whether you believe that global warming is a natural weather cycle or a human-made issue, the consequences of rising temperatures mean that sea levels are going to start rising at some point. The coastal location of Fort Lauderdale makes is quite vulnerable to this issue in the future. Sea walls installed along the shore can only protect the land so much, and there are always some streets that flood when there is a robust high tide that comes through. Over the next 20 years, you could find that your coastal home needs to be moved or protected in different ways to ensure your investments can still work for you.
Many of the homes that you’ll find in Fort Lauderdale are between 0-10 feet above sea level, so everyone will feel the impact of this disadvantage in some way.
11. You may not have much variety in home styles when living here.
Many of the homes that are offered for sale in Fort Lauderdale are built to withstand hurricanes. That means you’ll be dealing with a concrete block and stucco combination for most properties. Tile roofs are still common, but more homeowners are moving to metal since it’s a cheaper solution. You can weather most storms if you live inland, but anything near Fort Lauderdale Beach will usually require an evacuation when there’s a storm that starts heading your way.
Verdict of the Pros and Cons of Living in Fort Lauderdale.
Living where 23 million people take their vacation each year can be a wonderful experience. It can also be a nightmare if you are not used to the higher cost of living and the unpredictability of traffic. You’ll get to experience a lot of sunshine here, which means you must be proactive with your care needs.
The cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is 37% higher than the national average. It is up to you to determine if the 23 miles of beaches is worth the investment it takes to live here.
There are more than 5.5 million people living in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area. You might only have 180,000 individuals living with you in Fort Lauderdale, but this and every other vital point in this guide must receive careful consideration before you decide to start living here.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.