To hear Yoisy Gonzalez tell it, Hialeah might as well be the center of the universe — or at least, of Miami-Dade.
“You can get everything in Hialeah. Nobody wants to live in Hialeah but when you want something, you come to Hialeah to get it,” Gonzalez said. She owns and rents out property in Hialeah but also resides in the area herself.
Truth is, Hialeah actually IS in the center of Miami-Dade — at least if you’re talking east-to-west, and north of Flagler. Maribel Yepez-Fernandez, a real estate agent with United Realty, said one of Hialeah’s greatest advantages is its centralized location. And its proximity to major highways allows easy access to places like the beaches and Broward County, she said.
As for the idea that “nobody wants to live in Hialeah,” the numbers tell a different story. With a population of almost 240,000 Hialeah is Miami-Dade’s second largest city. And its location makes it an attractive choice for buyers — especially among locals with family already living in the area. It has the highest percentage of Cuban-born residents of any city in the United States (more than 61 percent).
According to data provided by Zillow, the average Hialeah property is only on the market for about three months, so buyers have to act fast. On average, homes in the Miami-Dade area are on the market for 110 days, making Hialeah a slightly hotter spot than the rest of the county.
Extended Cuban families sometimes find their way back to each other in Hialeah. Esthela Morera, Yepez-Fernandez’s sibling and business partner (they’re known as “The Sister Group,”) bought a home with two extra bedrooms so that her parents could eventually move in when they could no longer care for themselves. Many other buyers do the same, she said.
The median list price in Hialeah is currently $320,000, according to Zillow. But finding a single-family home at that price can be a struggle. Yepez-Fernandez said that single-family homes in the area almost always go for at least $350,000-$400,000. One of the neighborhood’s chief attractions: backyards, where residents can plant and grow fruit trees. But buyers will likely have to go for a single-family home or uniquely situated townhouse to find that kind of space.
Below the $300,000 mark, buyers will mostly find low-rise condos and townhouses. Buyers can decide if they want to live in a gated community, like Bonterra or Lago Grande, or live in a row parallel to Hialeah’s residential streets.
For example, a 2016 townhouse listed at $300,000 is situated in the Bonterra community, where townhouses are grouped together in identical blocks. The 3-bedroom, 2 1/2- bathroom property is 1,545 square feet has both beige carpet and white tile flooring and features white granite counter tops balanced by dark cabinet fixtures. The property is close to a community swimming pool, recreational area and gym. It needs few improvements, although residents have to deal with limited parking spaces and no garage.
For those willing to take on a fixer-upper to save some cash, there’s a 1983 condo with 1,462 square feet of living space listed at $225,900 and situated in the Lago Grande community. Yepez-Fernandez said the 2-bedroom, 2-bath townhouse needs about $20,000 of work, including window treatments and new flooring. The popcorn ceiling gives it a dated look, as do the older kitchen appliances, although the kitchen now features upgraded granite countertops.
Yepez-Fernandez and Morera grew up in Hialeah and have tracked the town’s changes. The plus side: more amenities. The negative: increased construction and traffic.
“They keep building in every open lot,” Yepez-Fernandez said.
Chains like Walgreens, CVS and Publix have moved onto Hialeah’s every corner. And 49th Street has seen the addition of popular restaurants like Longhorn, Red Lobster and Olive Garden.
Still, Morera is happy where she is.
“Would I ever move out of here? If I win the lotto; I want open land, further north,” Morera said. “But for now, my family is here.”
- Population: 238,942
- Median household income: $31,012 (2013-2017)
- Median age: 44.2
- Main intersection: 49th Street and 12th Street
Average School Grade: B
Personal Crime Index: 117
Property Crime Index: 127