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  1. #21
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    Uhhhh... Gta liberty city(video game) was in NYC LOL, vice city is the right one.

  2. #22
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    Ohh and about your dog im glad you care about you neightbors, my dads neighbor in miami locks his dog in the guest house oh his mansion. and ia barks and whines so last time i threw a rock and busted their window so im going to do that till they stop it i even wrote them a letter saying please stop so im just gunna bust their windows from now on.

  3. #23
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    Hi Twiggers! Thanks for sharing your relocation story with us. This is a great thread and I'm sure it will be helpful to others. If you have a chance, please stop by and say hello to us on Saturday.

    Good luck with everything!

    SBAOL - downtown Hollywood has a few blocks with shops and restaurants that is walkable. It's not a huge area, but it's nice. Hollywood beach also has a nice broadwalk. Yes, it's definitely a good idea to come down here and check out the different areas.

  4. #24
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    Hi all,

    It's now Saturday and I've been down in Miami for almost 3 days. It's been so busy that I just haven't had a chance to update.

    Wednesday:

    We landed on time (amazing!) and made it safely to our hotel. We were so tired that we didn't really feel like doing any apartment hunting. Instead we just kicked back for a little bit, and then headed to South Beach to wander.

    Thursday:

    Appointment with realtor at 11 AM. Called two of the places that I had found independently. Neither of them answered, so I left messages. Checked Craigslist one more time, nothing new.
    We started our apartment search in South Miami. Two units in the same building. One was a 2/2 with 2 parking spaces for $1500, and the other was a 2/1 with 2 spaces for $1500. Apartment #1 was kind of beat up...stains on the carpets and really dirty walls, but good size, nice building, and had been on the market for 100 days. We decided to keep this one on our list.

    We then moved to Coral Gables. Mostly condos along the Douglas Avenue area. One unit was so weird....looked like current tenants were hising somewhere in the unit! There was laundry on the table, and a Oija board in the closet. The master bedroom didn't have a doorknob, just a deadbolt. I wanted to see it though, so we figured out that we were able to enter from the balcony. There was a purse with an open wallet on the bed....so I backed right out and we left. Wasn't too impressed anyways, so we scratched it off the list.

    The next building we went to had three apartments available. However, one apartment was unavailable to see. One unit smelled like dog pee when we walked in and the walls were trashed, so we scratched it (I am a responsible dog owner, so I couldn't live in a place like that, plus my dog would pee everywhere because of the smells). The other one wasn't that great either.

    The next building originally had only one unit to see, but apparently another unit came on the market just the day before, so we looked at it too. THe first unit was a 2/2 and they wanted $1600. They were putting in new laminate floors, the walls were a bit dirty, and the view was of a concrete wall. The second unit was identical (2/2) and only $1500, with new laminate floors, walls were a little dirtier, and a view of the pool area. We decided to keep both these places on our list. I really liked this place because there is a baseball diamond, park, and tennis courts adjacent to the building (perfect for doggie) and the grocery store is very close. In addition, it's on a side street (just off Douglas) which is better for walking my dog, and parking is plentiful.

    We looked at a house in Coral Gables. $1600 and it was very old. Realtor says it is historic Spanish-style....I say it needs extensive renovations. The dead cockroach (palmetto bug) on the floor didn't impress me either. Scratched it off the list.

    Now on to Coconut Grove. We looked at a triplex and a duplex. Both of them were older spanish-style places. The triplex was OK, it was $1250 (great price) but small, but renters on either side had big dogs....so I know it's dog friendly. No yard for doggie though. Dead cockroach on floor. The duplex has actually not too bad, until I found rat droppings in the kitchen. Scratched both of them off the list. It was too bad...I really LOVED Coconut Grove! Such a cool little area!

    Next up was South Beach. We originally had 2 units to look at, but one was rented the day before :-( The place we ended up looking at was on West Avenue, on the 3rd floor and a corner unit with 1 parking space for $1600. Unit was in pretty good condition. Decided to keep it on the list....just wasn't overjoyed by the unit, if that makes any sense!

    Our final stop was North Beach. When we arrived at one place (high rise) we found out no dogs were allowed (it didn't say it in the listing) so we left. Looked at one final place. It was a corner unit overlooking a canal. Big unit, in excellent condition! $1350 including one parking space. Really, the best place we had seen all day. We drove back to our hotel and timed the distance....45 minutes at 5 PM...and I knew it would be longer during morning rush hour. Decided to keep it on the list, but way at the bottom.

    Stay tuned for more...

  5. #25
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    Thanks for the update.

    Seeing how other people live can be so weird.

    Please keep us posted on any other weird stuff you see.

    Hope you find a nice place.

    And don't forget to have some fun.

    Today looks like a great beach day!

  6. #26
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    Thanks Maria for that inormation on Hollywood. So, is Hollywood smaller than South Beach?

  7. #27
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    SBAOL - yes, downtown Hollywood itself is smaller than South Beach.

    Twiggers, thanks for keeping us updated. Did they show you nothing at all in South Miami or in the Dadeland area or in the Gables closer to campus?

    There are tons of apartments behind Dadeland and across the way on Kendall Drive.

  8. #28
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    What's up with the dirty walls and dead cockroaches???

    This is one of the reasons why I have always wanted to rent directly from an owner and not use a realtor. If the owner can't be bothered to keep the apartment clean and presentable for a prospective tenant, why would I want to rent that place?

    Twiggers don't be afraid to talk down rent if walls are dirty and such. You can negotiate based on fact that you have to paint, etc ; it may be worth it, though it's a hassle.

  9. #29
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    Thanks again Maria for the information on Hollywood.

    Twiggers, it's good to read your findings, it helps to learn about other areas as possibilities.

  10. #30
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    Hi all.....my apologies for the lack of updates! I didn't have internet access on my main laptop, and didn't want to type out everything using my phone :-)

    So...to continue where we left off.

    After spending all day looking at apartments on Thursday we got back to the hotel and decided to narrow down our selections. Our original list contained about 15 places and we wanted to get the list down to 4-5 serious contenders. Here is what we ended up with:

    1. Our top choice was the apartment in S. Miami. It was quite dirty and priced at $1500.

    2 & 3: These were two units in the same complex. Same floor plan, but one had the better view and the other one had a crappy view but in a bit better shape. Good view was priced at $1500, and bad view priced at $1600.

    4. Apartment in South Beach. Priced at $1600.

    5. Apartment in North Beach area, priced at $1350. This was only on the list as an absolute back-up in case everything else fell through. We really decided that it was not really feasible for me to drive so far every day.

    So, we decided on a negotiation strategy. We would offer $200-300 less for the rent and ask them to waive the last month deposit (i.e. only pay first + security) and try to negotiate down the pet deposit as much as possible.

    We started with the first apartment. We offered them $1300, no last month deposit, no pet deposit, and asked for full cleaning (carpets and walls). Realtor countered back with $1450 and no cleaning. Turns out the place was originally listed for $1650 and they had just lowered price to $1500. $1450 with no cleaning was absolutely too much. We countered back at $1400 with cleaning. They countered at $1400 and no cleaning. We decided to put it aside....$1400 plus all the cleaning was just too much...I mean, this place was really trashed, not only did it need carpets cleaned, but it also needed walls to be spackled and painted, etc.

    We decided to move down to #2 and 3. For the first apartment (listed at $1500) we offered $1300 + cleaning. The second one we offered the same (apartments were virtually identical...and also listed by same realtor). The realtor countered back at $1400 for the first unit and $1500 for the second. We decided to eliminate the second unit. It had only been on the market for 3 days and they really weren't willing to wiggle on the price (don't blame them for wanting to hold out a little longer).

    So we decided to focus in on the one listed at $1500 in this building. So they countered at $1400, first, last, security plus $1400 refundable pet deposit and no cleaning. We were fine with the monthly rent price (this was our budgeted amount), but no way did we want to pay the last month deposit or pay $1400 for my dog. We countered back with no last month deposit and $250 refundable for pets. They countered back with $400 for the pet (refundable). We agreed.

    This all happened on Friday throughout the day. Friday night our realtor emailed us the lease and lease contract. We signed everything and faxed it back to her.

    Didn't hear anything back on Saturday. Finally, on Sunday realtor told us that everything should be signed and ready on Monday.

    Monday we get an email with the signed lease contract and then something from the other realtor saying that they want to run credit. Filled out credit forms and faxed back.

    Now, during this time we have not been asked ANYTHING about our monthly income, our jobs, etc. They verbally asked us for our credit information (i.e. if we knew our scores) during negotiations....and our scores are in the low 800s/high 700s so we weren't worried at all.

    While waiting to get the lease signed by owner, we started to inquire about the association application. The MLS listing mentioned that there was a $100 application fee for the association. I called the association, and it is an on-site management company. She informs me that the building just switched management companies and they are not doing any formal reviews. Instead, they just have a set of forms that you fill out and turn in. Things like contact information, vehicle information, pet information, etc. Again, no questions about criminal history, jobs, etc.

    We picked up the information from the management company on Monday. Found out that we need to put down a $500 deposit (refundable) to reserve the elevator for move-in day. Management company reserved elevator for us.

    Stay tuned....

  11. #31
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    Well, now it's Tuesday. Our last full day in Miami. We made arrangements with our realtor to meet her so that we could walk through the apartment again and take pictures and assess what we need to do to get moved in. We also wanted to drop off all of the paperwork to the management company.

    My husband and I arrived a little bit early. We went to hand in the paperwork and the gal tells us that they are now charging the $100 fee. I have no problem paying....I just want to finalize things. However, I didn't have any personal checks on me (I had written her my last one for the elevator deposit) and asked if I could pay cash. She goes to check with her manager. During this time my realtor calls me to tell me she is running late....and tells me that I should not have to pay any application fee if they are not running credit or criminal background checks (which they are not). The management lady comes back out again, and states that because they have not implemented the new protocol for new tenants/owners that we do not have to pay the $100 fee. Phew!

    The realtor arrived and we went up to the apartment. It wasn't as bad as I remembered! The apartment had all new laminate flooring (so that just needs to be wiped down and dusted)....which is a blessing (so easy to clean)! The kitchen appliances needed to be cleaned....I mean, it looks like someone wiped everything down, but not clean enough to my standards. The oven looked clean (phew) but the stovetop had drywall dust on it. The cupboards were clean on the outside, but the inside was dusty and needs to be sanitized before I put any dishes on them (I am a bit of a clean freak). The tile floor looks like a couple tiles were replaced and used white grout...but rest of grout is like dark brown....I'm guessing just dirty and needs to be scrubbed.

    The walls actually looked like they had been touched up....the corners need to be cleaned (nothing a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can't do), and the white baseboards have some scuffs (again, Mr. Clean eraser is a great friend). Doors were pretty clean, and closets all have wire racks, so no real cleaning to do there.

    Bathrooms looked good....just a normal cleaning/sanitizing needed. The closet where the stackable washer/dryer is needs to be fixed. We're handy though, and can fix that. Washer/dryer were very dirty/dusty though....will run a couple loads of empty laundry with bleach (as I always do).

    So really, the place wasn't any worse than other apartments I've moved into!

    So, we took our pictures and left. Oh, we did check out the pool area (very clean and well maintained) and the fitness area.

    Realtor emailed us a copy of the signed lease that everything. So everything is now finalized. Just need to send in the checks.

    Still have some lingering questions about things when I left Miami....but now it's Thursday @ noon and I've figured some things out.

    WIll update more later :-)

  12. #32
    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    Wow, twiggers, you guys really know how to wheel and deal! I admire your spunk! I hope your apartment works out for you. I can't believe someone told you $1400 for a pet deposit. That's just crazy.

  13. #33
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    LOL I know!!! My poor dog didn't even cost me $1400 when I bought him....nevermind doing that much damage!!! I was prepared to pay $500 and be non-refundable. SO I was quite happy to only pay $400 and have it be refundable :-)

  14. #34
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    Maria: We only looked in the S. Miami area....I had the other realtor send listings near the University and nothing around Dadeland came up. I don't know if it was just how picky we were about places and our price restrictions!?!

    I was also surprised by the condition of some places. In the past I have always rented from management companies, and the places were always presentable. I mean, I would go through and bleach everything and sanitize like crazy.....but these places...oy! Dirty carpets, nails in the walls, etc. At least the place we ended up getting has laminate floors (no way to really dirty those up...they are pretty much indestructible unless you get them wet and leave them that way) and it looks like they went around and filled in nail holes and did touch up painting.

  15. #35
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    So Sungal asked in another thread about my apartment.....so here is some details (without giving away exactly where I live!):

    It is in Coral Gables and located around Douglas somewhere between US 1 and 8th Street (it is on the "good" side of Douglas). It is a condo building that is newer (built in early 2000s). The building has secure access, swimming pool, fitness room, and on-site management. There is secured parking, and because it is on a side street, there is also plenty of street parking. The rent comes with 1 space, but if I really want another one I can try to 'rent' a space from another tenant....but given the amount of street parking, this probably won't be an issue. The building itself is very nice! The outside is colorful and has some character and the inside is marble floors, etc.

    During the day the building seemed very quiet! Lots of dogs though....each time we visited we saw several dogs....from little terriers to bulldogs. There is a park right next door....it looks like it has gates that it gets closed at night, but that's fine. My dog and I play frisbee in the morning and early evening. There is a baseball diamond and enclosed tennis courts....so I'll be able to let him off leash and he'll be OK! In addition to the park, there are lots of bushes and shrubs and trees for him to mark :-)

    As I mentioned before, I was concerned about him and his barking while I am gone (at least initially). Well, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. The floorplan we have should prevent him from disrupting neighbors. We have a split bedroom floorplan (2/2). Basically, you walk in and there is the living room/kitchen in the middle...the master bedroom with bathroom to the right (cool floorplan...basicaly master bed has a private hallway with 2 closets - one small and one walk-in that leads to bathroom) and then to the left is the other bedroom (with a huge closet as well), coat closet and bathroom. I'll be able to put the dog in the living room against the outside wall and his barking shouldn't disrupt neighbors.

    The apartment has new laminate floor and tile kitchen. Appliances are just white (dishwasher, stove, fridge) and probably about 5-6 years old....but will work. There is a small balcony off the living room. I'm pretty happy with it :-)

    Overall, I feel like we did pretty good for all of the requirements that we had!

    I've been doing some stuff today with movers, etc. and will detail more of that later!

  16. #36
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    Hi Twiggers! I'm so glad you found a place you can be happy with! I'm not sure what your cross street is, but from what you described, I think I know what building it is, and that's a short drive from campus, downtown Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. There's also a metrorail station on Douglas and US1. Excellent, central location.

    Thanks for sharing all your experiences with us. That post about your negotiations is a real lesson on how it can be done.

    Yeah, I can't understand the nerve some landlords or rental companies have wanting to charge regular rent prices yet handing over the apartment "as is" in filthy condition.

    Again, congratulations!

    PS -- there is a doggie park in Coconut Grove too.

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    Thanks Maria!!!! We are pretty happy with everything. I am going to have to decide whether to drive and pay for parking on campus....or take Metrorail to work. I'm also excited at how close the airport is....I'm so used to having to drive 2 hours to get to a big airport. So excited to get down there now and join in some meet-ups.

    I will definitely need to check out the park in Coconut Grove....I really liked the Grove area....so pretty!

    I forgot to mention that our rent includes water, sewer, garbage, basic cable, and DSL. The cable and DSL was a nice bonus and will help with our monthly bills!

    I'll update more with some of the moving stuff that might help others moving across the country!

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    Just to get everyone completely up to date:

    Yesterday we got home and I received an email from the realtor regarding where/how much to send for the first month/deposit/pet deposit. I ran to the bank today and got two cashiers checks (one for her and one for the other realtor). Fortunately my bank allows two free cashiers checks per month....so all I had to pay was the overnight fee to mail it to her ($17.50). So the money part is completely taken care of.

    Emailed the management company to ask about the access cards, parking space number, and what the process is on move-in day (i.e. is there somewhere special to park the truck, etc.). Also had some questions re utilities. Was told that realtor has all the keys (mailbox, apartment, access keys, etc.). Was given parking space number and told that there are some guest spots, but they fill up quickly, but that there is a lot of street parking. Also, was told to come and see her on move-in day (office opens at 9 AM and we have elevator booked for 9 AM) to get a key to open a gate to park the truck. Finally, was given the number for electric company (owner has electricity shut off), cable company (to upgrade service and get boxes for TVs). Oh, and was told that I don't need any special equipment for DSL...just need a wireless router that I can get from Best Buy. Need to add all this to my enormous 'to-do' list.

    Emailed realtor to ask about the possibility of getting a cleaning crew to come in and professionally clean place before we move in (we'll pay for). She mentioned that she needs to meet realtor to give him the check and can let in cleaning crew. I emailed back saying that I need electricity turned on so that appliances can be tested and so that cleaning crew can get fridge and stove cleaned, etc. I have no problem turning it on early and paying for an extra 2-3 weeks of electricity...it can't be much since no one will be there. Am waiting on her response.

    Booked our rental truck today. We are using Penske. We used them when we moved from CA to IN and had no problems. They were the cheapest company and their trucks are always less than 1 year old. In fact, on our last trip from CA to IN we drove past a UHaul on fire....so we'll stick with Penske again. They have four different sizes of trucks (12', 16', 22' and 26'). The 12 and 16' are the same price, and the 22' and 26' are the same price. We are a bit unsure about the right size (we used a 26' when we moved from CA and we had some room left over and we were able to not stack anything, which is safer). To err on the side of caution we booked the 22' truck.
    Here are the cost breakdowns:
    12 and 16' truck were $773 using internet pricing. After applying my AAA discount it was $650-ish.
    22 and 26' truck were $878 using internet pricing, and $750-ish after AAA discount.

    The total fee for the 22' is $900 after taxes and fees (not including purchasing extra insurance - need to check and make sure that my insurance doesn't cover it - another item on to-do list). Spoke with Penske and they said that we can switch sizes of truck without penalties and can even switch the dates. We booked the truck to pick up on Friday 5/15 @ 5 PM and it has to be returned Wed. 5/20 by 5 PM.

    That puts everything up-to-date, but there is so much more to do! Stay tuned as I transfer bank accounts (from local credit union to national bank), do shopping for things needed for apartment, sell furniture, hook up utilities, etc.

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    Today I was concerned with trying to set up movers for when we arrive in Miami. My husband contacted one company off of Craigslist....said they could do it for a flat rate of $250. Seemed really low. Contacted a national company recommended by realtor. $89/hour for 2 guys, minimum 1 hour charge for their travel. We're estimating that it will take 2-3 hours. We don't have that much stuff, but the elevator thing will probably take some time. We went ahead and booked with the $89/hour company.....just seemed more professional. We don't want to have to worry about them damaging apartment complex and costing us our $500 deposit.

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    Spoke with my realtor yesterday. Originally we were going to try and arrange to have cleaners come in before we moved in. Today she told me that she's meeting the other realtor on Tuesday to exchange checks and keys, and said that they had cleaners come in this week!!!!! I'm guessing it's just a surface cleaning, but still, that helps me out. So I am going to hold off on hiring cleaners until I arrive and assess the situation. I am a pretty picky person when it comes to cleaning, so I'll probably just do it myself!

    Yesterday I also started a spreadsheet that keeps track of everything I need to do here in Indiana before I leave, and things that I need to do in Florida before I leave. As I plug away on the list I'll keep you updated!

    The thing on the list today is opening a bank account. Currently, my husband and I have a credit union account....but since my husband is staying here (he'll be flying down twice a month and then eventually moving once our house sells up here) we need a national bank that has a branch here and one in Miami. Since we had a bad experience with Wells Fargo/Wachovia, we decided to go with Bank of America. We had them back in CA and liked them, plus they have some good programs. Since we have to transfer direct deposits, etc. we want to get it taken care of early, so that we'll be fully transitioned by the time we leave.

    Oh, we also listed some furniture on Craigslist. My kitchen table & chairs won't fit in the new place, plus coffee & end tables, and our living room set. The plan is to buy some new stuff up here so that we can use the moving truck to haul it down there. The new place is pretty picky about using elevator to move stuff in, so since we already have the elevator booked, we might as well take advantage of it and get all the big stuff now.

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