This is a really great question and one that is probably going to be mostly determined by your criteria and ultimately by your budget. So let me start by saying that it is my experience that when most people choose to move to Miami their number one place that they want to live is a neighborhood of Miami Beach named South Beach. After all most people move to Miami for the beaches and the attractions.
South Beach is a very unique neighborhood. South Beach is a neighborhood of Miami Beach and is from about 23rd street down to 1st street. It’s jam packed full of different people from all over the world. It’s a destination, a scene, lots of shopping, restaurants and one of the really true pedestrian areas of Miami or really Miami Beach. Plus it features the infamous beach. It’s truly a very mini city within itself.
The problem with most for South Beach is that it can be a little pricey for most people’s budget. It’s located on an island with not a lot of land left to develop, so what you get comes at a premium. The more affordable buildings are typically a little older and of course the newer buildings come at a premium.
Brickell is often referred to as the financial and business district of Miami. There are a lot of banks, insurance companies and International professional businesses based in Brickell. In terms of the overall environment Brickell feels a little more polished, commercial and planned than the organic feel of South Beach. Brickell is located just south of Downtown Miami on the edge of Biscayne Bay (east). Many of clients really like the Brickell area because in terms of what you get for your money, it’s a lot newer than South Beach. For instance for about the same average price point of a typical affordable one bedroom on South Beach, you can have a brand new unit on Brickell: nice kitchen, stainless steel appliances, washer/dryer, parking and amenities. It also offers a pedestrian lifestyle and features the Mary Brickell Village area that hosts many shops, restaurants and bars.
Downtown Miami is located just north of Brickell and south of the Biscayne Corridor and Midtown Miami Area. This area stretches east of 95, south of the causeway and along the Biscayne Bay. On the bay side of Downtown Miami are the Port of Miami, Bay side Market Place, the American Airlines Arena and the soon to be Miami Art Museum (scheduled to open in 2013). Even in our more challenging market place, the developers of Marina Blue, 900 Biscayne and the newer Marquis have managed to open some of the best and highest end buildings in Miami. I think this area has big things to come in its future! Pretty impressive.
Biscayne Corridor/Midtown Miami are sort of parallel to the Miami Beach area and just off of the Biscayne Bay. I grouped these two areas into one because they are both similar to me in terms of development. A few years ago, some of the blocks in these areas were literally grass and fallen down buildings. They are the areas that were booming during our boom time. There are still a lot of projects planned for the future in terms of development but since the market has slowed down, I think some of those plans slowed down too. The 1800 Club & Quantum have totally transformed the Pace Park area. For affordable living go to Midtown Miami. In terms of pedestrian friendliness (sorry but that’s how I judge everything), during the day both of these areas are hustle and bustle but at night they are a little slower. If you live in these areas you are probably going to be driving around in a car more than you would in Brickell or South Beach. Don’t worry, they will get there I am sure of it. **Note Midtown Miami has had a lot of recent success in terms of new restaurants and stores opening…… this area is now more hustling than in the past in the evenings.
As you can see, each of these areas are very unique. Where you should live depends on your budget, lifestyle and what you expect to get for your money. South Beach, Brickell, Downtown & Midtown Miami are different and each have something special to offer….. drive around, do the comps, preview the buildings and find out which area and building fits you.