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  1. #1
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    Default Relocating to South Beach

    I will be relocating to South Beach later this year. Am working with a good realtor, but wanted to get other people's advice on South Beach condo rentals south of 5th Street.

    I'm looking for a 2 BR/2.5 bath unit (larger would be great, but don't appear to be in my budget) for $5,000 - $7,000 a month (Of course, less expensive is better). Views are extremely important, as are building amenities (good pool, etc.) & convenient location. Some of the buildings that have caught my eye are Icon, portofino, Murano Grande, Continuum I & II. What are your thoughts on the these topics:

    - Is it better to live on ocean or Intracoastal side?
    - What are the relative merits/weaknesses of these buildings?
    - Are rents negotiable? If so, by how much? Everyone talks about a soft real estate market, but the rental prices still seem pretty high.
    - Is living at the southern tip (i.e., Continuum) too far & inconvenient for daily access (by foot) to stores, restaurants, etc.
    - Are there other things that I should consider?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member sungal's Avatar
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    Hey Zekedad,

    Wow, nice price range! If you want views then I think you'll prefer facing the Bay. Plus that tip of the island is narrow, and walking from the bay to the ocean is easy.
    I just did an apartment search, but didn't get to look at these because of my miniscule price range. I've been to the Continuim..great building and a pool and hot tub facing the bay. With your price range, I would negotiate $700-$1000.

    For that price are you at least getting a penthouse with direct views?

    In the sofi area you'll have the new retail at 500 Alton (Publix, Staples, Best Buy, TJ Maxx, Ross, Vitamin Shoppe, and Petco) Meridian Market (small grocery), Smith & Wolensky, Starbucks, Big Pink, Ted's, The Room, Nikki Beach, Fratelli Buffala (great Italian), Monty's, Sofi Salon.... You also have a beautiful park and a small library.

    I'm sure I'm missing things...are there more shops and restaurants if you live on say 15th St? Tons more, but it's noisy and crowded with tourists. I'm moving to sofi on Friday for that reason.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, my money isn't going as far as I would like. In my price range, I'm not seeing any penthouses. Most are above the 10th floor (IMHO the starting point for really good views), with direct views from most (but not always all) rooms. Believe it or not, it appears to be the lower range for 2+ bedroom apts in these buildings.

  4. #4
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    Hi zekedad, welcome! I don't think you need to be that high up for a spectacular view, especially if you face the bay.

    As a matter of fact, if you are TOO high all you will see is sky and clouds unless you stand right by a window or out on a balcony. A friend of mine lives on the 23rd floor of Murano Grande and that's what it's like.

    So you think you might enjoy a view of the ocean from your bed or desk but really all you see is the clouds rolling by until you stand up.

    Murano Grande is very nice, btw. It is right on the marina walk, which is a very pleasant location. Also, valet parking is free for guests -- big bonus if you want to have friends over!

    I think what you might want to make sure is that you have an apartment with a clear view that is not blocked by another building.

    The ocean views can get kind of boring. But facing due north to Miami Beach gives you both ocean and the island. Facing due south to Fisher Island and Key Biscayne is nice but less cluttered. The bay is my favorite view. It's very interesting and entertaining to watch.

    SoFi is a very nice area but you might consider West Avenue (ie Bentley, Waverley) and a little further north at Sunset Harbour on Purdy Avenue.

  5. #5
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    Maria has a good suggestion... you should look at West Ave also. The views from some of those buildings are amazing.

  6. #6
    Member sungal's Avatar
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    Are you both saying he should look into the buildings on West because they're better buildings or because the location is livlier? South of Fifth is the most expensive, most exclusive area, and I think part of the reason is there aren't as many bars/restaurants/shops/tourists/clubs. Plus I'm moving there.. ;)

  7. #7
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Sungal, I'm saying that because he wanted more info than his realtor has apparently given him. This way he knows he's not limited to South of Fifth and can also explore some of the high-end buildings in other areas.

    I don't think West Avenue is a heck of a lot livelier, though it has more traffic and is closer to more shops.

    Sunset Harbour, while not as luxurious as South of Fifth, is a really nice two-building hi-rise condo complex adjacent to the residential luxury home area of South Beach (North Bay Road). It is walking distance to Lincoln Road.

    And as a matter of fact, there are some high-end condos on the east end of Venetian Causeway as well.

    And obviously Collins is full of them on Millionaire's Row. But if you want to be closer to a city scene, I'd rule that out.

  8. #8
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Zekedad, forgot to mention - proximity to the intracoastal depends on where you live and where it's running. So when I said bay views, I meant intracoastal, but there's way more to Biscayne Bay than the intracoastal.

    In South Beach, which is only about a mile wide, the difference is that the ocean side is the crazy touristy part, and the west side (bay)is more residential. South of Fifth sort of skirts the two and has been developed as more upscale.

  9. #9
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    Zekedad, friends of mine were in town so i stayed at the W on 22nd and collins, what a great view!! From the 5th floor, it was so beautiful, there are a lot of high rises there that are def not in my price range, but seems like you should be able to find something that has a nice view of the ocean even on a low floor!

  10. #10
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    Great information everybody. I agree with you about the views. I like looking towards the bay & city, so you get a combination of water & lights. Will also check out slightly lower floors to see how the view changes.

    Have looked at Venetian Island & liked some buildings there, but am inclined to be closer to the beach. Also, I really like South POinte park & being away from the crowds along Ocean Drive. That's how I ended up focusing on SoFi. I just wanted to make sure that it didn't feel too isolated. I guess the opening of the new Publix will make it a bit more convenient.

    I prefer being in a more luxurious building with full amenities, so have been concentrating on Continuum I & II, Icon, Portofino, Grande Murano , Murano @ Portofino & South Pointe Tower. Actually like the floor plans at Portofino the best. Is the Bentley similar to those buildings?

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    I love SoFi for the park, marina, local beach and the general feel of the neighborhood. It does feel set apart from the madness a bit further up the beach.

    The Bentley is part of the Hilton hotel next to Nikki Beach, on 1st and Ocean.

  12. #12
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    If you move to the Portofino, Anna Kornikova will be your neighbor! I heard it on the City Tour.

    I'm moving to my new apartment in sofi on Friday! I'll let you know my thoughts when I actually live in the area. It does have restaurants but most of them I wouldn't go to on a regular basis. The Haitian place, the fancy French place, Smith and Wolensky, Danny Devito's restaurant, Red..they're just too upscale for everyday eating, at least for me.

    Other than Big Pink and the Buffula Italian place, I'm not happy with the choices.
    I'll really miss Juice and Java, Lime, a panini place, Jerry's Deli, The Food Factory, and Pascha's that are close to me. I think Planet Sushi on 8th will be close enough.

    I guess people who live in sofi do a lot of cooking and just go out to nice dinners.

  13. #13
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Zekedad, the Bentley I am referring to is not the hotel that Jess mentioned, but the Bentley Bay Condo at 520 West Avenue, right across the causeway from the Icon.

    I don't know if you will have a car or not, but either way, I don't think you'll feel too isolated. Everything is so close on the beach anyway, as the crow flies.

    I used to live in mid-beach and never felt isolated, even though that's further away from the heart of south beach.

    The people I know who live or have lived on the west side of SoFi have enjoyed it much. That area by the marina has a very relaxed feel to it. Plus SoFi puts you close to the causeway and downtown/Brickell and the Grove. Always a beautiful drive coming and going (when you avoid the expressway). I can't blame you for wanting to live in one of those high-rises! It'd be my first choice were I to live on the beach again.

  14. #14
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    We live in the Yachtclub at Portofino and are lucky enough to have both bay and ocean views. The Bay views are definitely the best but sea views are nice during the day.

    Here you can see the views we have:

    Ocean by day:



    Ocean by night:




    Bay by day: (The view changes constantly due to weather)



    Bay by night:




    You might be able to get a penthouse here at the Yachtclub for your budget, but while nice the facilities are probably not up to the Murano/Continuum buildings.

    Generally I like living here. It's just a few minutes stroll to the beach or the lower parts of Washington/Collins and Ocean. As long as there isn't an accident on the McArthur causeway its quick and easy to get on and off island.

    It's also great walking to Meridian Market through the very green lower rise neighborhoods. It is definitely too far to walk to Lincoln road though, but I don't find it too much of a problem as there is plenty great parking in that area. La Playa is also a great little grocery store on Collins in SoFi.

    Restaurant wise most of it is pretty expensive but there is always Clarke's, Monty's, Big Pink, Primo Pizza and a couple of great chilled specialty beer bars (Abraxas and the Room).

  15. #15
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Pelle, thanks so much for stopping by with your input! Those views are incredible.

    I think it's important to point out that life in Miami Beach is very different with a car. You won't feel isolated anywhere.

  16. #16
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    Fantastic views; hope that I'll be able to find something as nice. Yes, I'll have a car (though hoping not to have to use it everyday), so it should make access easier to other areas.

  17. #17
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    Finally had a chance to visit the buildings. Here are my general impressions.

    Murano Grande & Icon felt more like hotels than apartment buildings. The concierge desk at one actually had stacks of Visitor Guides on the desk... The views from Murano Grande were beautiful, but apartments are a little on the small side & they tried to charge us $25 for parking! The Icon has nice public spaces, but many of the apartments look right at the MacArthur Causeway. You really feel as if you're stuck in the middle of a traffic jam.

    Murano at Portofino has a better location (IMHO) & great amenities: beautiful gym & pool, plus a private club with another pool & very nice restaurant. However, the apartments are very tiny (they may have larger units, but not in my price range).

    Portofino is the oldest of the bunch, but seems to have aged pretty well. Its location on the southern tip of SoFi creates the broadest range of views (ocean, city, Fishers Island, bay/Intracoastal/Miami), some apartments feature virtually all of those views; all apartments have multiple exposures. Gym is quite nice & is on the 28th floor, so htere are great views. Pool isn't quite as fancy as others, but it has a 2nd newer/larger pool shared with South Pointe Tower.

    Continuum is definitely the cream of the crop. The pools/spa are incredible, plus it has a great restaurant, HarTru tennis counts & beach access (with its own attendant). However, you pay dearly for those amenities. Prices are the highest here & apartments are smaller & quite "cookie-cutter." Some fabulous views from the higher floors, but often a single exposure & relatively small balconies. Some views are blocked by South Pointe & Portofino Towers Also, the view from some units disappear at night, since you're looking at the ocean & nothing else). Continuum II seems less thought out than I: the lobby is a strange series of rooms & winding hallways...

    Didn't look at the Bentley, as have heard that the building is having some financial difficulties.

    Hope to make a decision soon & join everyone else in MB!

  18. #18
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    Definitely do not buy in the Bentley Bay. I stayed there for 3 weeks last Feb and the building was a ghost town. They finished building right at the start of the decline of the market, so the place is (at least) half empty. The units and views are definitely nice, but the management office is non-responsive, and the staff is meh at best. Also, the sauna and hot tub were not working. I think they turned them off in an effort to save money.

    Further, since I was considering buying there, I finally got a hold of their financial statements from an owner. Although all the other buildings I was considering freely offered the financials, the Bentley management office would not provide them, even to a prospective buyer. When I saw them, I understood why. They had huge special assessments on the owners last year. Plus, they have a higher delinquency rate than many other buildings.

    I just reread your post, and it seems that you are renting, not buying. So maybe this will not bother you.

  19. #19
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Zekedad, the Murano Grande wanted to charge you $25 a month for parking or just when you went to see the unit?

  20. #20
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    Just to see the unit. The listing broker apparently forgot to validate our parking & the building was very prickly about the whole situation (the broker had already left by the time we were leaving, but the front desk knew that we had just gone in to see a unit). I could see a problem with guests in the future & a very different treatment than at any of the other buildings.

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