Living in Fort Lauderdale: 12 Pros and Cons
Thinking about moving to Fort Lauderdale? This South Florida city certainly has its advantages. With 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and miles upon miles of clean, white-sand beaches against the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s hard to imagine that this city has any drawbacks at all.
Still, no place is perfect, and it’s important to be informed before you pack your bags and relocate. This guide provides the full rundown of the pros and cons of living in Fort Lauderdale, including:
- Pro: The weather
- Con: The other weather
- Pro: Low rent
- Con: The cost of living
- Pro: Easy transportation
- Con: The traffic
- Pro: Lots to do!
- Con: The crowds
- Pro: No income tax
- Con: Other taxes
- Pro: Natural beauty
- Con: Local wildlife
Let’s get started!
Pro: The weather
No surprises here that the weather is one of the top reasons for living in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Most days are sunny—246 days per year, in fact—and nights are breezy and warm. The year-round average temperature is a perfect 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
May through October is hot and sunny, with highs in the 80s. November, March, and April are a little more temperate, with nighttime temperatures dipping into the 60s. December through February is what this city calls “winter” (and what New Englanders and New Yorkers might call tropical paradise) with highs in the mid-70s and lows hitting 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s not hard to see why Fort Lauderdale weather is considered heaven on earth.
Con: The other weather
As unbelievable as it may seem when you’re huddled next to a radiator for warmth, you can have too much of a good thing—balmy weather included.
Unfortunately, the Fort Lauderdale climate can occasionally bring trouble in two main ways:
- The heat: In the peak of summer, this area is 90 degrees and humid. That humidity is what pushes the heat over the top, leaving you to search for adequate air conditioning, beachfront real estate, or a pool to cool off in. Luckily, there’s plenty of all three to go around!
- The hurricanes: The summer and fall bring heavy rain and the occasional hurricane along Florida’s coasts. The locals are seasoned pros at this point, but newcomers may be in for a slight surprise, whether you’re living in a house, apartment, or condo.
For many people, the summer‘s heat and downpours are a small price to pay for the area’s natural beauty and the overall ratio of sunshine.
Pro: Low rent
Although Fort Lauderdale and its nearby cities are some of the most expensive in Florida, the rent is comparatively cheap for transplants from places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.
According to Business Insider, the average rent for a three-bedroom house in Fort Lauderdale in 2019 was $2,250—about the price of a relatively nice one-bedroom apartment in other major cities. Some pay just $600 per month, including utilities, for a bedroom in a 1,300-square-foot home.
Average rent prices are affordable regardless of where you live:
- Studio: $1,059
- One-bedroom: $1,198
- Two-bedroom: $1,510
- Three-bedroom: $2,161
- Four-bedroom: $2,614
With those prices, hardworking young professionals and digital nomads can easily make their home in this Florida city.
Con: The cost of living
Rent prices notwithstanding, the general cost of living is relatively high. Overall, the cost of living is 16 percent higher than the national average.
Let’s look at how that breaks down across your day-to-day expenses:
- Housing: 52% higher than the national average.
- Utilities: 1% lower than the national average.
- Groceries: 3% higher than the national average.
- Transportation: 8% higher than the national average.
- Healthcare: 3% lower than the national average.
It can be difficult to visualize what these statistics really mean, and if you’re relocating from a more expensive city such as San Francisco, then you’ll likely be thrilled about the prices in this city.
To help you determine whether the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale fits your budget, let’s look at some common expenses:
- Loaf of bread: $3.49
- Gallon of milk: $1.99
- Carton of eggs: $1.86
- Bunch of bananas: $3.44
- Hamburger: $4.35
- Doctor’s visit: $107.06
- Dentist appointment: $91.97
- Optometrist check-up: $100.32
- Veterinarian’s visit: $52.86
While the cost of living might be higher than the national average, there’s a good chance it’s still lower than or equal to the cost of living in the city you’re thinking about leaving.
Pro: Easy transportation
Fort Lauderdale is an incredibly compact city. In fact, almost everything you’ll need will be in a five-mile radius, so you won’t do a lot of damage to your car’s mileage. You can save up your gas money for weekend trips to Miami or nearby state parks.
It gets better: You might not even need a car. This city has multiple reliable public transportations options, including:
- Amtrak: Amtrak can take you to nearby cities like Miami or all the way across the country.
- Broward County Transit (BCT): The county’s buses cover 410 square miles, with a fleet of 299 buses and over 1,600 bus stops.
- Brightline: The privately owned express train connects the downtowns of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.
- B-Cycle/AvMed Rides: Enjoy sunshine, fresh air, and the city’s bike-sharing network.
- Carpool: Contact South Florida Commuter Services to request a ride match with other commuters who live and work in your area.
- Riverwalk Water Trolley: This free trolley allows you to cross the New River of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
- Sun Trolley: The Sun Trolley covers five different routes to help both tourists and locals travel around the city.
- Tri-Rail: This commuter rail connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
- Water Taxi: For a bit of fun, you can use a water taxi to navigate the area’s waterways.
Con: The traffic
As the city grows and tourists continue to flock to its beaches, the traffic in the area has become increasingly congested.
A survey by the ETC Institute found that satisfaction with traffic in Fort Lauderdale was significantly below the national average. A total of 39% of residents said they were satisfied in 2012, but that number dropped to 20% in 2016 and further still to 15% in 2018. City and county officials are addressing the issue by adjusting the timing of traffic lights to reduce congestion and increasing the county sales tax to redistribute funds towards the problem.
Carefully choosing where you live can go a long way toward reducing traffic frustrations. Find a central location within walking distance of stores and public transportation. This is even easier if you’re working remotely or will be moving to the city without geographic limitations.
Pro: Lots to do!
With the number of fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale, you’ll never get bored. Kickstart any day of the week with these exciting activities:
- Head over to Fort Lauderdale Beach or Las Olas Beach to soak up the constant sun.
- Spend the day shopping at Sawgrass Mills.
- Stroll down the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District.
- Sign up for a boat tour to see South Florida in style.
With countless museums, parks, and nature reserves, Fort Lauderdale really has something for everyone.
Con: The crowds
Fort Lauderdale’s natural beauty and ample entertainment options have turned it into a major tourist hub. In 2018, more than 13 million tourists flocked to Fort Lauderdale’s shores. For some, this might be a disadvantage. Others, however, might love the hustle and bustle and vibrant spirit brought into the city by this constant influx of new faces.
Pro: No income tax
Florida has some pretty appealing tax laws, such as:
- No state income tax
- No estate tax
- Property tax rates below the national average
- Some of the lowest gas taxes in the country
A 2013 study found that Florida has the fifth-lowest tax burden on businesses and residents out of all 50 states. These tax incentives are a big reason that so many retirees and people want to make their homes in cities like Fort Lauderdale.
Con: Other taxes
Unfortunately, not all Florida tax laws are quite as friendly. Sales taxes are a major way for counties to make up for lost revenue. Broward County, where Fort Lauderdale is located, has a sales tax rate of 7%. Florida’s average sales tax rate is the 23rd highest in the country, and the state’s alcohol taxes are also some of the highest compared to other states.
Pro: Natural beauty
The natural beauty of South Florida is undeniable—where to even begin?
Fort Lauderdale enjoys miles of coastline along the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. The New River and other waterways curve their way inland, where you can find state parks and other nature reserves like the Florida Everglades. A short drive from Fort Lauderdale, you’ll also find the world’s largest butterfly sanctuary and a nature reserve filled with exciting wildlife like flamingos.
With all that and more, this city is a great place for nature lovers.
Con: Local wildlife
Spotting exotic animals in a nature reserve is one thing, but sharing your backyard with them is another altogether. For some, the beautiful wildlife will be a drawback rather than a benefit, especially when it’s a bit too close to home—literally.
There are snakes, spiders, alligators, fire ants, bears, sharks, and even wild boars who will share the area with you. However, these animals aren’t a real threat to you if you stay away from their habitats and stay aware as you navigate this tropical oasis.
Moving to Fort Lauderdale, FL
Overall, Fort Lauderdale is a wonderful place to live. When you take the time to weigh the pros and cons, living in Fort Lauderdale looks like a pretty sweet deal.
If you are considering moving to Fort Lauderdale, Landing offers fully furnished apartments in Fort Lauderdale with flexible lease terms that make moving a breeze. Browse Landing’s available apartments in Fort Lauderdale, or contact us to learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you.