The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Fort Lauderdale

If you’re considering moving to Fort Lauderdale, expect pleasant winters and great entertainment in combination with higher-than-average living costs.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Moving to Fort Lauderdale is a tempting choice for people in search of great beaches, mild winters, and a variety of things to do. Just be aware of its high housing costs and its hurricane risk.
Fort Lauderdale and its network of more than 165 miles of canals is a city made for water lovers—there’s a reason it’s nicknamed the “Venice of Florida.” It offers much of what you’d expect from picturesque southern Florida, from its sprawling beaches to its palm trees—and yes, those calming waters—which is why a growing number of people are flocking to this city.
If you’re considering living in Fort Lauderdale yourself, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of doing so carefully. Courtesy of
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What you need to know about Fort Lauderdale before you move

Fort Lauderdale covers over 36 square miles and is home to more than 180,000 people. But can this southern Florida city offer what you’re looking for in your next home? Read on to find out what you can expect after becoming a Fort Lauderdale resident.

1. The cost of living could be a wake-up call

Depending on where you’re moving from, the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale could be a rude awakening. While not as extreme as certain cities, like Washington, D.C.,
San Francisco
, or
New York
, the cost of living here is still nearly 20% more expensive than the national average.
Looking for an apartment to rent? The average one-bedroom in Fort Lauderdale is about $2,400 per month—about double the national average, according to
rent.com
.
Compared to housing, other aspects of living in Fort Lauderdale aren’t quite as expensive, although they’re still a little higher than average. Morning coffee from your go-to shop run could cost $4 to $6, while a pint of beer at your favorite bar might cost $6 to $7.A meal for two at an average restaurant could cost around $80.
On a grocery run, you could expect to find a gallon of milk for $4 to $5, and a loaf of bread could cost $4 to $6.
As of the 2020 census, the median household income in Fort Lauderdale was $64,313. After September 2022, Florida’s minimum wage will rise from $10 to $11 per hour and is set to reach $15 per hour by 2026.

2. The local job market keeps on growing

Fort Lauderdale is located in Broward County, and the area has seen a steady amount of job growth over the last several years, but what your job opportunities look like here might depend on what sector you’re looking for work in.
A
July report
from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance shared that the county added more than 36,000 jobs over the last year, which was a 4.4% increase.
Some of the largest employers in the Fort Lauderdale area include Nova Southeastern University, Spirit Airlines, property management firm First Service Residential, and American Express.
The industries that saw the greatest shares of job growth were leisure and hospitality as well as business and professional services.
However, job growth did slow in some sectors—education and health services saw a decline in job growth, according to the report.

3. Entertainment opportunities abound

There’s no shortage of things to do on both land and water when you call Fort Lauderdale your home. There are dozens of museums to get your history, arts, and culture fixes. 
For nightlife entertainment, make your way downtown to the
Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District
, which plays host to a good share of the city’s museums and performing arts establishments, including the Florida Grand Opera and the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens.
If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, you’ll be sure to enjoy the selection of public parks and beaches, where you could boat, kayak, or paddleboard, as well as the nearby
Sawgrass Recreation Park
and
Flamingo Gardens
.
Fort Lauderdale is relatively well-known for being a popular retirement destination. As of the 2020 census, nearly 18% of Fort Lauderdale residents were age 65 or older. 
Fort Lauderdale frequently tops lists ranking the United States’ best cities for retirees, and it’s easy to understand why: the great weather and beaches, plus a lack of state income tax, can make it an ideal place to live out your golden years.
For similar reasons, it’s also a popular place for families. Many of Fort Lauderdale’s neighborhoods are considered relatively safe with good school options, and the city has a variety of museums, parks, and beaches to keep kids active, entertained, and learning.

5. Driving can be a hassle—not to mention dangerous

Traffic has become considerably more congested in Fort Lauderdale over the last several years, and residents have taken note. A number of
influencing factors
have contributed to an increase in traffic congestion, like road maintenance and the timing of city traffic signals.
In addition to that, a stretch of I-95 that passes through Fort Lauderdale was actually deemed the “deadliest mile” of United States roadways in a
recent study
, with two dozen deaths resulting from vehicle crashes that took place here over a span of nearly twenty years.
That said, a car will often be your most convenient option for getting around Fort Lauderdale. 
Beyond driving your own car, there are a number of
public transportation
options at your disposal, from the local
water taxis
that traverse the area’s 165-plus miles of waterways to the (free!)
LauderGO! Shuttle
and more.

6. The winter weather is pleasant—but you’ll also deal with hurricane risk

If you love warm year-round weather, you’ll probably like Fort Lauderdale. Even during the coldest months of the year, average low temperatures rarely dip below the high 50s. 
As you’d expect from a tropical climate, summers in Fort Lauderdale are hot, humid, and rainy. Average high temperatures extend into the 90s. You can usually expect the most precipitation throughout the hurricane season, which spans June to November. 
And that’s the trade-off that comes with Fort Lauderdale’s pleasantly mild winters: hurricane risk. Like much of Florida, Broward County has a relatively high risk for hurricanes, which makes it important to have the right amount of home and
car insurance
coverage in place. 
To see how it compares to other Florida counties, you can check out the
FEMA National Risk Index map
.

7. You won’t have to worry about state income tax

As mentioned above, Florida is one of several states that doesn’t collect state income tax. While you’ll still owe taxes at the federal level, the lack of state income tax means you could have a little more expendable income to work within your paychecks than you might be accustomed to, which could be a nice feeling!

Does Fort Lauderdale live up to the hype?

Fort Lauderdale has a lot to offer. The city’s a popular contender among retirees and families, and depending on what sector you work in, you could face an increasing number of job prospects in the Fort Lauderdale area. Once the work day’s over, Fort Lauderdale has a wide variety of entertainment options to keep yourself busy.
At the same time, many residents feel traffic conditions in Fort Lauderdale have room for improvement, and in exchange for mild winters, you’ll have to be able to tolerate the area’s high risk for hurricanes.
If this all sounds tolerable to you, Fort Lauderdale might just be worthy of your consideration.

Finding a place to live in Fort Lauderdale

One of the most challenging parts of any move is finding a suitable place to live—and if you're thinking of moving to Fort Lauderdale, you’ll want to plan your budget carefully.
Maybe it’s not as expensive as
Miami
, but housing is still one of the most expensive aspects of living in Fort Lauderdale—and you might need to be prepared to put down a pretty hefty down payment. The median home sale price in Fort Lauderdale in August was about $540,000, according to
realtor.com
. The monthly homeownership cost for Fort Lauderdale homeowners with mortgages was about $2,143, as of the 2020 census.
If you’re planning to rent rather than buy a home, the average one-bedroom rent is about $2,400 compared to the national average of about $1,700,
rent.com
says, but the neighborhood you choose will have a big impact on what your rent costs actually look like. 
In Port Royale, the average rent for a one-bedroom is closer to $3,300, while in Sailboat Bend, the average is about $1,250.
Looking for a little more space? An average three-bedroom in Fort Lauderdale costs around $4,031 per month.
So, where to start when looking for your new place? It might be helpful to establish a budget first and to see what options are available to you. From there, you can make a list of what kind of neighborhood characteristics are important to you—like proximity to good public parks, good restaurants, or good schools—and narrow down your options based on which areas offer the most of what you’re looking for.
As you familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of Fort Lauderdale’s 60+ neighborhoods, here are a handful worth looking into: 
  • Most iconic neighborhoods: Las Olas, Downtown, Victoria Park
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Coral Ridge, Birch Park, Downtown
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: Victoria Park, Central Beach, Las Olas
  • Best neighborhoods if you want to buy a house: Oak River, Flamingo Park, Downtown
  • Most affordable neighborhoods:  Golden Heights, Bermuda Rivera, Rock Island
To get a better sense of whether the atmosphere might be a good fit for you, be sure to visit some of your top-contending picks for Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods in person.
Pro Tip To cut down on rent costs in Fort Lauderdale, consider looking for a roommate or two to share an apartment with.

Moving to Fort Lauderdale checklist 

You did it—you officially found a place in Fort Lauderdale to call home! Now comes the fun part: arranging your move.
Whether the distance of your move is 20 miles or 2,000 miles, relocating almost always comes with challenges. To help make the transition to Fort Lauderdale as smooth as possible, here are some items you’ll want to add to your Fort Lauderdale moving checklist. 

Before you go

Before you leave for Fort Lauderdale with all your boxes in tow, be sure to: 

After you get there

Beyond unpacking that last box, there are a couple more items you’ll want to take care of as you get settled in at Fort Lauderdale:
  • If you’ve moved to Baltimore from
    out of state
    , you’ll have to
    re-register your car
    in Maryland and
    update your car insurance
    if you haven’t already.
  • Get to know Baltimore! Now that you’re officially a local, it’s time to get out and get familiar with all the best food, shops, and entertainment that Baltimore has to offer.

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Fort Lauderdale

Housing and car insurance costs in
Florida
can be somewhat expensive compared to other states, but the
Jerry
app can help you make sure you’re not overpaying for the
Fort Lauderdale car insurance
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With Jerry, the insurance shopping process is faster and easier than ever. It only takes a matter of about 45 seconds to answer a few brief questions and start comparing custom quotes from some of the country’s top insurance providers. From there, you can easily compare your options in one spot and find the amount of coverage you’re looking for at the best available rate.
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FAQs

Whether it’s worth it to move to Fort Lauderdale is largely going to depend on your budget and lifestyle. If you love beach towns with mild winters and no shortage of entertainment options, and you can stomach the risk of hurricanes, Fort Lauderdale might just be worth it for you to consider.
How much it costs you to move to Fort Lauderdale will depend on the distance of your move, what possessions you’ll need to move, and whether you’ll be hiring professional movers to help you. You could generally expect to spend anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand on a move to Fort Lauderdale depending on how these details shake out for you.
To live comfortably in Fort Lauderdale, MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates you’d need to earn at least $17.51 per hour to live comfortably in Fort Lauderdale as a single adult without kids. That comes out to $36,420.80 per year.
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