It’s not just you: Miami really is one of the least affordable places to live in the country.
But it’s not only because of the high cost of housing, healthcare, transportation and taxes.
A family of four spends almost $85,000 per year to live in Miami-Dade County, according to the updated Family Budget Calculator released by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive Washington-based think tank. Along with the above-mentioned items, the calculator estimates costs for food, child care and “other necessities.”
That makes Miami the 41st most expensive place to live among America’s largest 100 metros when measured in pure cost. The EPI study mirrors previous surveys that have ranked Miami as high on costs and low on wages, and adds further context to how difficult it is to make ends meet here.
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But the real problem is low wages. The median two-parent, two-child Miami household earns less than $52,000 a year, according to the Institute, which uses data from the U.S. Census and nonprofits to create its analysis. That makes Miami families the least well-paid among the top 25 metros in the country, and makes the city the second least affordable among the top 100. (Only New York City is less affordable.)
According to the EPI calculator, the average Miami rent for an “adequate but modest” two-bedroom apartment, is about $1,300. For instance, Zillow currently lists 82 two-bedroom units in Miami that cost between $1,200 and $1,400. Most are concentrated in Little Haiti.
But don’t go thinking Broward is necessarily cheaper. According to the calculator, the annual cost of living in Broward is $87,000. The reason: While food and healthcare costs are about the same as Miami, other expenses are higher.
One crucial difference: Broward’s median family income is higher than Dade’s — $64,000 a year — meaning Broward dwellers can more easily afford the costs.
Miami-Dade’s economy remains dominated by low-wage jobs in retail and healthcare. The city also has low rates of unionization (just 5.8 percent are members). All are factors that economists say can keep a city’s wages low. An attempt to boost the minimum wage in Miami Beach was thwarted by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a coalition of business groups.
While Broward has many of these same characteristics, it also has a higher share of individuals with college degrees, which are more likely to result in high-paying jobs. In Broward, 31 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, while Miami-Dade’s college-educated population sits at 27 percent.
According to research assistant Zane Mokhiber, it is unclear whether costs are higher this year than in previous years, thanks to a new methodology.
In Florida, Naples has the highest median family income, at $70,577 — and actually has a slightly lower cost of living than Miami, at $84,000. In West Palm Beach, the median family income is $69,882, and the cost of living is $85,600.
But they are far from the norm in the Sunshine State, where the median family income among counties is $56,000 — well below the national average of about $68,000 — while the median cost of living for a family of four is $69,000.
“It’s clear from our analysis that, even in less expensive areas, many families will struggle to meet their basic needs,” Mokhiber said in a statement.