The Eight Emotional Stages of Moving to Miami

From the Midwest to the Plains to Canada to the Northeast, people hold the fantasy of moving to Miami close to their heart — a warm and shiny talisman to get them through the misery of winter. When you tell your Northern kin that you’re actually going for it, they ask, “Do you speak Spanish? What will you do for work? Aren’t you afraid of hurricanes/Zika/sinkholes/flesh-eating zombies?”

But everyone knows you’re not too worried about any of that stuff. Soon you’ll be boating on Biscayne Bay every weekend, hanging out with the cast of Ballers, and wintering in the Keys. You’ve just got to take the plunge. It’s a roller coaster — well, more of a water slide, because of the surprise walls of rain and the fact that you're far more likely to be wearing a bathing suit. But it's a fun one. This is what it feels like, from the time you say bye to your former hometown to the first moments of truly feeling local.

The Eight Emotional Stages of Moving to Miami
George Martinez

Stage 1: South Beach Aversion Therapy
Until now, the only neighborhood you’ve ever visited is South Beach (except for one confusing three-day interlude in a high-rise on Biscayne Boulevard). Everyone loves South Beach! However, you’d be an idiot to move there. People tell you this, and in the same breath they assume that you will definitely move there. You wonder why they think so poorly of your decision-making skills. Yet the first place you rent in Miami (an extended Airbnb stay while you search for a longer-term apartment) sits just off Lincoln Road. Obviously, you have rented it illegally.

Stage 2: App Rage
You’ve spent several weeks browsing real-estate apps, lost in a world of soft-lit house porn. You arrive in Miami with a bookmarked list of prospective homes to view — and learn within 24 frustrating hours that not one of them is available. The app listings are never updated. Or, more likely, the apps are bait-and-switching. Now you must find a trustworthy realtor or be stuck wandering the streets forever, poking around private property in search of “Unit Available” signs.

Stage 3: Real-Estate Hazing
You’ve put an offer on a place — thousands of cash-money dollars wired to the account of a real-estate firm in Miami, oh, God. And the lease paperwork — you thought it was done, but it never ends. The people are asking for a police report, a credit report, and written character references from everyone you’ve met in the past ten years. You actually have to get fingerprinted! Week after week, the deal is still not finalized. More things must be ticked off. It is nobody’s fault. Well, actually, it’s the condo board’s fault, but you can’t be angry with those people or they’ll reject your application.

Stage 4: Where Am I Even?
Maybe you fulfilled everyone's expectations and snagged a South Beach apartment. Maybe you bucked the trend and settled in Doral. Maybe you thought you were moving to North Beach but it turns out you're living in North Miami Beach, which is not, in fact, on the beach. No matter where you live, one thing is certain: You're not in Kansas (or Canada or Connecticut or wherever) anymore. Exploring on foot isn't as easy as it was back home, and driving makes you feel like every car on the highway is out to get you. And if you don't speak even a tiny bit of Spanish? Time to invest in Rosetta Stone.

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