Welcome to Miami
If your long distance move takes you to the sandy shores of Miami, Florida, congratulations! This bustling city is hot, hot, hot in more ways than one. Keep reading to hear all about Miami’s unique culture.
At first glance, Miami can seem like a flashy playground populated by rich people who speak Spanglish and zoom around town in Porches. This is untrue; they mostly drive Ferraris.
Kidding. Miami is not the only major city in Florida, but it’s easily the most recognizable to anyone from out of state. Miami culture stands apart from other regions in the United States thanks to a combination various local influences including Latin culture, perpetually hot weather, and the vacation-heavy industry. As such, anyone moving to Miami may experience a much stronger sense of culture shock then, say, someone moving to other major Florida cities like Orlando or Tampa.
The Latin Influence
You don’t have to speak Spanish to live in Miami, but you will experience it here almost everywhere, from bodegas to coffee houses. The Latin culture is on full display in Miami, baked into the region’s foundations and recognizable in everything from the architecture to the music and language. It’s a beautiful thing to experience another region’s culture, especially when that culture is so vibrant and exciting. Be prepared to immerse yourself in the culture; you’ll be glad you did.
A quick note: it is an accepted practice in Miami to greet other people with an embrace and a quick kiss on the cheek. It needs to be stressed that “quick kiss” means lingering no longer than a second and it’s bad form to turn at the last second to initiate lip-to-lip contact, even as a joke. Follow the example set by the locals. If they go in for a handshake, for example, don’t respond with tongue. Violence may ensue.
Weather is Better
Miami is the true land of forever summer, or at least it would be if it wasn’t for those days when the Fahrenheit gauge dips below 80. When that happens, the locals will immediately throw on heavy jackets, shawls, and wool beanies and parade around town like it was the height of a Green Bay winter.
Anyone using the word “blizzard” in Miami will be referring to the Dairy Queen treat. Or an alcoholic beverage. Or a combination of the two.
During the year, you may occasionally spot people trying to wear winter wear like leather jackets or pea coats in an attempt to seem fashionable. Those people will be instantly recognizable by the sweat coming off them by the bucketful. If they aren’t sweating, they’ve just had some plastic surgery done and probably won’t ever sweat again; it’s not fashionable.
Yes, Miami weather won’t change much, but don’t be fooled into thinking that living here will be like an endless summer vacation. For one thing, you’ve still got to go to work. For another thing, it’s quite possible some residents will actually look forward to their annual pilgrimage to Orlando to experience the briskness of 70-degree weather during January. We can’t say for sure.
Don’t judge. If the air conditioner goes out in your home, you’ll discover a new level of discomfort. If the air conditioner goes out in your car, that discomfort will follow you around town and sit with you when you’re stuck in traffic. And there will be traffic. Don’t trust all those television shows like Miami Vice and Burn Notice where the protagonists zip along the roads without fear of encountering bumper-to-bumper nightmares; traffic is coming.
Living in an area where other people like to vacation can have some drawbacks, kind of like living near a ski resort or a port where cruises operate. This reality can produce a selection of pros and cons. Yes, the beach is nearby, but so are the condos filled with tourists who take up the parking spaces and the best spots on the beach. Yes, you’ll likely become familiar with the best restaurants, bars, and clubs quickly, but the tourists will eventually find them too; they’re insidious like that.
Speaking of weather and discomfort, it should be noted that Miami tends to attract events of nature like hurricanes, storm surges, and the occasional tornado. This is in no way the fault of Miami; the entire state of Florida hangs off the rest of the U.S. like a toe through an old sock, making it a prime target whenever Mother Nature decides to metaphorically drop a hammer on it. And while Miami isn’t even located at the southernmost tip of the state, it does sit right on the edge of the state in a region of the Atlantic famous for catastrophic weather conditions.
But not to fear. Living in Miami will teach you several important skills to survive such massive weather dangers: how to secure a house against a hurricane, when to purchase essential supplies like food, water, and batteries, and which liquor stores offer the best prices for hurricane party libations. Hurricane parties tend to occur when a storm, regardless of size or strength, holds even the slightest possibility of making landfall. These parties mostly serve as a way to blow off steam about the potential damage a storm can cause should it come ashore, because if there’s anything you need to survive the “will it or won’t it” tension of an approaching storm, it’s rum, vodka, and margarita mix.
Power goes out, wifi gets disabled, and roofs can get yanked away by the storm, but liquor still works with only a twist and a tilt.
Sports culture will come into your orbit while living in Miami too, especially football. Miami is home to the University of Miami Hurricanes, which has one of the most famous college football teams in the nation. How famous? The most rabid Hurricanes fans never even went to school there, and nobody cares.
Yes, there are technically professional sports teams in the area (the Heat and the Dolphins), but the Hurricane fans represent something truly special in the region. We’re not entirely sure what it is, but we suspect it’s mostly a celebration of young college-aged men running into each other at 90 mph while fighting over a ball that vaguely resembles an ostrich egg.
Quick note: Anyone trying to sell you Florida State gear in Miami is not your friend. They’re trying to get you beat. Don’t fall for it; it would be like going hunting with a friend who insists you wear antlers.