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  1. #1
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    Cool Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    Hello everyone! I'm Lisa. I am a newb on the forum, although I have been on here plenty reading a plethora of info on life in Miami. I wish I did more research on here when I first moved down! But I didn't, and low and behold, I have spent a whole year living in Doral (sigh). It has definitely been a learning experience for my boyfriend Andy and I, but boy are we ready to move many miles away from this congestion of craziness! Our destination of interest? The legendary South Beach...

    Our reasons for wanting to move to the beach are quite simple. We're both in our mid-20's and want to enjoy ourselves. We love the beach. We love walking, riding bikes, and not driving whenever possible. We love small-town feels and local spots. We love character and the ever-changing setting. We love the island vibe in general. And we love the idea that we can let our creative juices flow! Andy's a musician and I'm a painter. Needless to say, the inspiration has not been abundant in our current local. We are looking for the action! We're looking for real life.

    There are a few things influencing my practical brain as to whether or not moving to SoBe is right for us. First of all, I work in Coral Gables and Andy works in Key Biscayne. We both attend FIU main. So, I am definitely concerned about traffic leaving and returning the island. Although, Andy's commute to work now is so terrible with all the traffic , I doubt that SoBe to Key Biscayne is worse than Doral to anything. But it is still a concern as we don't want to spend so much money on gas anymore.

    The next concern is all this talk about how sketchy the landlords are. We are fairly new to the renting game, and don't want to get trapped into any scams. But I'm also worried that using a realtor wont allow much room for bargaining with the landlords since everyone wants to make their cut. Maybe someone has some tips about not getting ripped off?

    My last, and most important concern is getting a place with enough room for all our equipment/materials/supplies on our budget. We currently rent a 1BR with a little over 800 sqft. It's ok, but we need a bit more space. We are banking on getting a 2BR where the second BR can work as a make-shift in home studio as well as a guest bedroom when needed. We can spend $1400/mo on rent. Really can't go much higher than that.

    I know on an island, space is a commodity, so I am worried that we may not be able to swing that. And, we totally need a balcony or patch of grass or some outdoor space of our own. Hopefully we're not asking too much! Also, we are not really into the crazy party scene. We're more of a chill, local hangout type of couple. It seems like some people (Jess lol) and others have been able to find some real quality people in SoBe. That's what we want. Creative people, creative atmosphere. And just lots of being outside and riding bikes!

    Does anyone think this is probable for us? Can we get a decent place with 2 BR in a safer part of town for $1400? Any suggestions as to which area to move? We are looking to move in around August 1st or 7th. So it's kind of early, but I want to do as much research as possible before it's time to really start looking.

    It is just so overwhelming to find a place to live. And craigslist is just flooded with low-qual stuff. I def plan on going to really check out the area with a local friend so I can get a better idea of what I like. But any information or advice from you guys would be so helpful! And sorry for the super long post.. Just wanted to give some background to see if maybe anyone has a suggestion for another area that might work for us as well! Thanks soo much for any advice!

    Lisa

  2. #2
    Senior Member Marc Middleton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    But I'm also worried that using a realtor wont allow much room for bargaining with the landlords since everyone wants to make their cut. Maybe someone has some tips about not getting ripped off?
    Lol, this comment cracked me up so I had to comment.

    First, without access to recently rented properties, how will you know if you are getting a good deal? 2nd, if you don't have someone negotiating for you, the landlord is going to get the best deal for himself.
    3rd, there is more to a good deal than just price and this is commonly over looked by tenants. Do you know what a liquidated damages clause is? Or a landlord repair limit? Or who pays the building deposit?
    These are all things that I negotiate for my client, not just $50 or $100/month. You can get a great deal, but if there is no break lease clause, you can get screwed. If the repair limit is $250, you'll be stuck fixing everything.
    4th, how are you going to find places for rent without access to the MLS? Do you think that these foreign investors rent these places out themselves on Craigslist or Trulia or Zillow? No, they don't want to be bothered. So 99% of rentals will through an owner's Real Estate agent so why wouldn't you want someone on your side looking out for your interests at no cost to you? You will find VERY FEW private owners renting properties on Craigslist. Plus its a maddening process to find (I did it last year and I've been doing it for the last 2 months)

    Realtors get paid from the landlord, not the tenant, so its not about a 'cut'. The commission is the same on most rentals so it doesn't matter to the realtor which unit you rent. I'd rather see a client walk away from a bad deal and not rent anything through me than take something that I know is a crappy deal only to call me in 5 months complaining about how awful it is. Because unlike most agents in this city, I have a soul & feelings so that would bother me and keep me up at night.


    Now lets talk budget. A 2 bedroom for $1400 is not realistic pretty much anywhere on the beach (or downtown, Biscayne, bayshore, midtown) that will be bigger than what you have now. There is 1 unit that's over 1000sq ft and its on Crespi Blvd (wouldn't recommend) for $1500. The other 5 or so units are under 800 sq feet so you can imagine how big those bedrooms are and the lack of closets.
    My wife and I have been looking for 3 months and want a 2 bedroom for 950sq ft+ for under $1900 and haven't found anything (Sobe, Mid Beach, Downtown, Brickell, Midtown). We might have to settle for a unit at the Loft II building downtown for $1900 on a 1050 sq ft unit with no bedroom walls. OR go up towards FIU North and get a huge 2/2.5 1700sq ft unit at Biscayne Landing for $1800 with cable & internet.
    There was a 2/2 at Gallery Art on 24th & Biscayne for $1850 but they received 4 offers in 1 week as it was the only 2/2 in the area for under $2000.

    Timeframe: You said August and think its too soon? Its not, you should be looking every day. Associations take 1-3 weeks, landlords take 1-5 days to get you a lease and you can't do the association without a lease. What if its tenant occupied through July 31st? That means August 3rd/4th at the earliest (if the landlord is halfway decent and cleans the place).
    But I can assure you that you will not find a 2 Bedroom for $1500 or less in South Beach (1st to 23rd street). The cheapest I've seen in recent months was a unit I rented for $1600 at 2600 Collins with a balcony, washer dryer, parking but only 800sq ft (bigger floorplan unit for this building!)


    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    Hello Marc, glad I got your attention

    After I posted that, my boyfriend and I decided it would be not only 1000x's easier, but just smarter to get a realtor. That was some stupid advice someone gave me and I was hoping to get some feedback on that. You definitely solidified my thoughts on the subject though.

    I also did some more research and realized that we had high expectations as you said. Since it's not too early to look, I definitely need someone to help us find a place. Would you have time for that? You seem to not only be knowledgable but realistic. Our budget can't really exceed $1400 though, and one bedroom is fine, as long as theres enough storage space it will be alright. Def most interested in Sobe, but were also open to Midtown, Brickell and Downtown as well.

    If you are not able to take us on, is there someone else you can recommend? Finding a realtor last year when we moved to Miami for the first time was next to impossible. Not sure why, but no one wanted to help us find a rental. But we eventually found a friend of a friend to help. And she was a total lifesaver. As you mentioned, we were totally stressed and at our wits end when we found her.

    Anyway, any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Senior Member Marc Middleton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    Yes, finding a good Realtor is impossible. That's why I quit my hotel job @ Doral and changed careers..Because there was a serious need of friendly, helpful, English-as-a-1st-language Real Estate agents. Since then my wife has gotten her License and left her Restaurant Management job.


    $1400 for Downtown & Brickell is out as well, and even Midtown unless you like some of the older buildings. If you have pets, forget about it.

    Storage & South Beach don't go together either. Little to no closets are common. My wife and I share 1 closet and a coat closet for storage. WE have 1 stupid bathroom that is not very private and we got a deal on our place because it was in foreclosure. This place on the open market is $1500 because its on Meridian and has a washer/dryer.

    I'd be glad to send you what's available in the $1400 range so you can see what is out there (and what isn't).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Middleton View Post

    I'd be glad to send you what's available in the $1400 range so you can see what is out there (and what isn't).
    That would be super helpful! If it makes much of a difference, we can probably swing $1500. Thanks so much!

  6. #6
    Editor Matt Meltzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Miami/South Beach Locals to Share Some Wisdom?

    I'll chime in on traffic.....SoBe to FIU main is a pain, pretty much any time after about 11a. If you can swing your classes so you hit the Dolphin during light traffic hours, ok. Past 2:30 p.m., forget it. You're in traffic hell. Though it sounds like your BF already is.

    SoBe to KB is prob half an hour, and rarely a bad drive, except in the morning. Even then if you take 395 you can avoid most of the downtown bottleneck. Getting back to South Beach can suck during rush hour, and on big weekends (Boat Show, MDW, Ultra, etc.) it's an absolute nightmare. Those weekends, get on the Beach and don't leave. It's Hell, probably my least favorite thing about living on the Beach.

    Beach to Gables commute isn't bad, again, as long as you go earlier in the day. If you're working evenings, that's gonna be bru-TAL.

    I'll just chime in the everything Marc said was pretty much spot on in terms of budget. Tough to find a 2 BR for that price anywhere you'd want to live.

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