Downtown Miami Got Way Younger in the Past Decade (and Is Now a Rich-Kid Playground)

Miami isn't a great place to be a millennial. As of last year, the city had the highest percentage of young people living with their parents in the nation, and on the whole, young people seem to be fleeing. A Consumer Affairs report in March said young people continually leave South Florida: In 2000, millennials made up 21.4 percent of South Florida's population; in 2014, they composed only 19.9 percent of the area's total.

But a demographic report released today by Miami's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) shows the few millennials who enjoy living here are increasingly clustering around downtown. According to the report, downtown neighborhoods — including Wynwood, Brickell, Overtown, and the Design District — have added 27 percent more millennials since 2010. A full 60 percent of downtown residents over the age of 25 are college-educated.

"Greater Downtown Miami residents are mostly young professionals age 25–44," the study states. "At nearly 40,000, that group represents 45 percent of the total Greater Downtown Miami population."

The DDA consistently claims downtown Miami is the only place where young people want to live. Bars and small startups are part of the appeal. This is true. But it's not where average millennials can actually live; only the wealthy can afford that area. Take a look at the income statistics: The median income downtown is $66,498 — a whopping $18,000 higher than the overall median income in Miami-Dade. The county's median income is $48,100.

The study also broke down the things on which downtown residents spend money. And — surprise! — it's rent. The study said the "average" downtown resident would spend about $1,600 a month on housing. That's lower than the median rent countywide. A study released earlier this year put the average summer rent price at $1,900.

The report says downtown residents also exercise more often than the county as a whole. Studies show that communities that exercise often tend to be wealthier. The affluent have more leisure and vacation time and can afford gym memberships.

So the question then becomes this: What, really, are we creating in downtown Miami? City officials consistently point to areas such as Wynwood to show that South Florida is shedding its reputation as a retirement home for geezers. To some degree, that's true.

But the report mostly confirms Miami is simply creating another playground for wealthy folks. They're just younger this time.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.