Moving to Fort Lauderdale, FL? Read Our Ultimate Moving Guide
If you’re considering moving to Fort Lauderdale but don’t know much about it, you may think of it as a party town. Once best known for having hundreds of thousands of students taking over the city every year during spring break, Fort Lauderdale has changed. Today, it’s more about a resort lifestyle with a decidedly cosmopolitan vibe. Even though it has lived in the shadows of nearby Miami for years, Fort Lauderdale is its own place with plenty of good reasons to make it a vacation destination or your next home address. Read on for information about moving to Fort Lauderdale, then call Suddath® to find out how our Fort Lauderdale moving services can make it easier to get there.
The Venice of America
More than 42,000 yachts are registered in the greater Fort Lauderdale area and all of them have a place to park, thanks to the hundreds of miles of canals that wind their way through and beyond the city limits. With the exception of the New River, all of the waterways here are man-made, inspiring Fort Lauderdale’s “Venice of America” nickname.
Even those who don’t have a yacht can explore the canals via gondolas, sightseeing cruises, water taxis or their own watercraft. Living in one of the waterfront mansions along Millionaire’s Row may not be part of your plan for a residential move to Fort Lauderdale, but you can at least get a good view of them from the water!
Getting Around (or Out of) Fort Lauderdale
High-rise building construction projects continue to break ground in greater Fort Lauderdale, and population density is rising along with them. As luxury apartments and condos stack up in the sky, the streets below are getting more crowded. Even though city commissioners are promising improvements, you’ll want to take traffic jams into account if you’re a commuter.
If you’d rather take public transportation or try getting along without a car altogether, here are your options when moving to Fort Lauderdale:
- Broward County Transit (BCT): BCT is the second-largest transit system in the state, right behind Miami-Dade. It offers fixed-route busses, express busses and community shuttles, and serves more than 1600 stops.
- Sun Trolley: The system includes seven routes, most of which are free. There are no stations—you just flag one down along its route like you would hail a cab.
- Tri-Rail: The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority operates this 72-mile commuter line in 18 cities along the southeast coast, including Fort Lauderdale.
- Brightline Rail: This privately owned express train currently runs to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with a new route planned to Orlando.
Rather bike than ride? Take advantage of Broward BCycle, the local bike-sharing program. There are currently 24 stations within Broward County, including 16 within the Fort Lauderdale city limits.
If you need to head out of Fort Lauderdale, there are plenty of ways to go, including:
Where the Great Outdoors is Pretty Great
Most Americans haven’t experienced a traffic backup caused by a giant alligator lumbering across the road, but a fair number of Floridians have. Fort Lauderdale isn’t overrun with these ancient reptiles, but the city is right next to the Florida Everglades where swamp dwellers live. Don’t let that stop you from getting outdoors though—the best parts of Florida nature truly do outweigh the bad.
Here are just a few ways to enjoy the abundant sunshine (and absence of winter’s cold) in and around Fort Lauderdale:
- The beach: Crystal-clear water and white sand stretch for 23 miles within the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. Ski, swim, jet ski, dive, snorkel and people-watch on area beaches designated as Blue Wave Beaches by the Clean Beaches Council of Washington, D.C.
- Deerfield Island Park: A boat is the only way you can get to this natural refuge, but it’s worth the trip. Take the free shuttle to enjoy the park’s butterfly garden, nature trail, and picnic area. You can even rent a boat or do some primitive camping on its 53+ acres.
- The aforementioned Florida Everglades: You can take all types of airboat tours, from a one-hour ride and nature walk to a day-long, naturalist-led adventure into the Ten Thousand Islands.
- The waterways: Choose from a variety of sightseeing cruises that take you through the miles of Fort Lauderdale canals. Check out the Jungle Queen and Intimate Waterway Tours, or take one of the 14 vessels operated by the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi just for fun.
- Secret Woods Nature Center: It truly is somewhat of a “secret” since it’s tucked within a canopy of mangroves. Explore this 56-acre floodplain to go birdwatching along the New River, hike miles of trails, and see giant land crabs up close.
- Sunday Jazz Brunch: Make your way to the Riverwalk for free outdoor concerts on the first Sunday of every month throughout the year. Bring your blanket, picnic basket and leashed pets.
- Tradewinds Park & Stables: One of the largest county-operated parks, it offers horseback riding, fishing, Butterfly World, disc golf, cricket, picnic areas, and paths for walking, biking and running.
More Things to Do and See in Fort Lauderdale
Southeast Florida has no shortage of entertainment, art, food, attractions and more. After moving in to your Fort Lauderdale home, here’s a list of things to keep your weekends filled:
- Check out the artwalks: Downtown Hollywood Artwalk every third Saturday, Dania After Dark every second Saturday, and FATVillage (Flagler Arts Technology) on the last Saturday of each month.
- Free festivals, markets and events are held throughout the year. Choices include the Las Olas Art Fair, Lauderdale by the Sea Craft Festival, Old Town Untapped, the Marando Farms market, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, Stonewall Pride, Wicked Manors on Halloween, and the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade.
- Stroll the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, park yourself for some people-watching, or take in one of the many exceptional galleries, restaurants, performances and concerts. There are always special events at one of the cultural centers, including some for kids.
- Get to know your new hometown’s history at the Bonnet House Museums & Gardens. This 35-acre estate is open nearly every day of the year for tours, festivals and celebrations. You can even rent the estate for hosting weddings and parties.
- Take a gamble! The Fort Lauderdale area has several casinos, including the Seminole Class Casino and the Gulfstream Park Casino, where you can hit the slots or game tables, or play high-stakes bingo.
Fort Lauderdale Neighborhoods and Suburbs
Fort Lauderdale has two distinct personalities: casual beach town and enclave for the wealthy. That means you may see a shirtless man with a pet toucan on his shoulder strolling past a line of parked limousines, and it also means there are all kinds of neighborhoods and suburbs in which to set up housekeeping. Here’s a look at just a few.
- Victoria Park: Situated in the middle of downtown, this community has managed to maintain a bit of Old Florida charm and still be known as an up-and-coming spot. There are some lovely homes here, but prices are going up.
- Las Olas Isles: Aptly referred to as the Beverly Hills of Florida, this is where there’s a concentration of mega-mansions, nearly all with their own yachts docked nearby. You’ll need tens of millions of dollars to make Las Olas your address.
- Harbor Beach: This exclusive gated community is a favorite with retirees, but it still has its share of young professionals and families. It’s located on Lake Sylvia and the beach is just steps away.
- Downtown Fort Lauderdale: Rather hip and cosmopolitan, the downtown area has galleries, restaurants and cultural center for residents and visitors to enjoy.
- Coral Springs: Twenty miles from Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs was named third in the state on Money Magazine’s list of Best Places to Live. Strictly enforced codes for landscaping and building have restrained the development of tall structures.
- Wilton Manors: This walkable town is diverse, with a mostly gay population. It includes a preserve with nature trails and parts of Middle River wind through it.
- Bal Harbour: Not to be confused with Miami’s Bal Harbour, this area is a sought-after address. Home values are high here, thanks to is waterfront location, great shopping and restaurants, and proximity to downtown and the beach.
Dine and Shop … and Dine Again
If you have the time (and funds), you could spend all of your waking hours at Fort Lauderdale’s shopping and dining spots and it would be months before you’d visit one twice. New places are popping up all the time, but here are some stand-out destinations to check out after your move.
Shopping in Ft. Lauderdale:
- According to its website, Sawgrass Mills is the “largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in the United States.” The enclosed mall is about 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and has more than 350 stores.
- Set a whole day aside for the Festival Marketplace, an indoor market with more than 500 shops and restaurants.
- An approximately 12-mile drive will land you at the Westfield Broward mall in Plantation. It’s a million square feet of retail therapy.
- Las Olas Boulevard is practically a universe unto itself, with its diverse blend of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, spas and salons, museums, galleries, apartments, offices and more. If you can afford it, you can live, work and play in one fantastic spot
Fort Lauderdale Restaurants:
- El Vez offers baha-style mexican fare, steps away from the beach
- Blue Moon Fish Co. by the Intracoastal Waterway
- Thai Spice
- Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits at the Ritz-Carlton
- Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille at the Riverside Hotel
- Steak 954 in the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel
Spectator Sports in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale isn’t known for having its own professional sports teams, but with Miami just a hop away, area residents can still enjoy plenty of action.
These are a few South Florida teams that can help you get your sports fix:
- Florida Panthers (NHL)
- Miami Dolphins (NFL)
- Miami Marlins (MLB)
- Miami Heat (NBA)
Important Fort Lauderdale Links
These links can help you get settled in your new Fort Lauderdale home:
Garbage and recycling: Solid Waste and Recycling handles services for the Broward Municipal District.
Vehicle registration and driver’s license: Register your vehicle with Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department. Note that as a new permanent resident of Florida, you have 10 days from the day you begin working or enroll a child in a Florida school to register your vehicle. The same department manages driver’s licenses, and you have 30 days to transfer an out-of-state license to a Florida license.
Hurricane and emergency shelters: You can find your nearest emergency shelter and pet-friendly shelters on the Broward County website.
Evacuation map: All residents in evacuation zones have designated evacuation routes. Note that when an evacuation is ordered, everyone in an evacuation zone is required by law to leave.
Utilities: Electricity is provided by Florida Power & Light (FPL). Water and sewer services are provided by the City of Fort Lauderdale.
Voting: Find your polling location and register to vote on the Broward County Supervisor of Elections website.
Trust Our Expert Fort Lauderdale Movers
Relocating is stressful enough without worrying about packing, loading, moving and unloading at your new home. If you’re planning to move to Fort Lauderdale, Suddath can help with every task.
Take advantage of our free, no-obligation moving quotes, which give you your choice of three methods:
- Complete our online request form to schedule a visit to your home
- Call us to discuss your needs
- Use your smartphone for a convenient video walkthrough
Make sure you also check out what our Fort Lauderdale customers have to say.
Moving to Fort Lauderdale, FL : FAQ
On average, it’s more costly to live in Fort Lauderdale than other places in Florida and the U.S., but it’s less expensive than nearby Miami. Costs can be high across the board, in rent, home prices, utilities and groceries. According to Salary Expert, Fort Lauderdale is the eighth most expensive city in the state with a 28% higher cost of living than the national average and 32% higher than the national average. These numbers are influenced in part by the cost of healthcare in the region.
As of this writing, Zillow estimates the median home value in Fort Lauderdale at $315,200, which reflects a 3.2% rise over the prior year. The median rent price, also according to Zillow, is $2,100 a month. Keep in mind that these are just median figures—there is a wide range of rental and home prices across Fort Lauderdale’s diverse neighborhoods.
In a recent survey of Fort Lauderdale residents, the city scored below the U.S. average in ratings of the city as a place to raise children and an overall feeling of safety in the city. On the other side of the coin, there are several highly rated schools in the Broward County Public School district, which includes 141 elementary schools, 42 middle schools, and 33 high schools. There are also virtual and charter schools throughout the area.
For fun (and fun ways to learn), Fort Lauderdale offers plenty of options. In addition to having miles of beach as a playground, there are nearly 6,500 acres of parks maintained by Broward County, which also provides summer programs and camps, after-school and teen programs, events throughout the year, and more.
Some favorite destinations for family outings include:
• Everglades Holiday Park offers airboat tours for an up-close look at wildlife.
• Bluefoot Pirate Adventures takes visitors on a treasure hunt, bestowing an official “pirate certificate” to kids at the end of their adventure.
• Butterfly World is the world’s largest butterfly park. It includes six aviaries, a museum and a bug zoo.
• Camp Live Oak, in Birch State Park, has activities led by certified teachers for kids ages 3 to 16, including archery, arts and crafts, swimming, trail biking and more.
• Gecko Parx has 40,000 square feet filled with things to do, such as parkour, a Ninja course, rock walls, arcade, jousting and more.
• Hang Loose Surf School is the perfect spot for kids ages 4 to 16 to learn surfing, stand-up paddling and skimboarding.
Like any retirement destination, the one that’s right for you depends on how you want to live. South Florida is filled with retirees who want to leave their snow shovels behind, but there are, of course, more reasons to come here. The lack of state income taxes can make a nest egg go farther, and there are good choices in healthcare facilities and retirement communities.
Some retirees envisioned a home by the water and plenty of sunshine, but found when they arrived that waterfront real estate comes at a premium price, and the sunshine comes with sometimes-oppressing heat and humidity. There’s a large influx of tourists in the winter months, and the constant presence of insects, which thrive year-round.
Going to the beach is free—it costs nothing to settle under an umbrella with a good book by the shore—and the entire area is lush and beautiful. As a full-time resident, you can take advantage of plenty of discounts to world-class local attractions.
Fort Lauderdale, according to Forbes, is booming. The growing investment in the residential and hospitality sectors means more places to live and go, and more jobs to go with that.
Major industries include:
• Aerospace and aviation
• International trade
The largest employers in Fort Lauderdale by number of employees are:
• Nova Southern University
• AutoNation’s corporate headquarters
• American Express
• Spirit Airlines
• JM family Enterprises
• Ultimate Software
• DHL Express
Several attractions and vacation destinations are close by, and the Gulf side of the state is only an hour and 40 minutes away. The Crazy Tourist has a great list that can get you started exploring South Florida, including these spots and more:
• West Palm Beach – 30 minutes: Stroll the historical city center to take in nightclubs, restaurants, live music and more. West Palm Beach has seen a surge in culture, art, dining, shopping and entertainment over the last few years.
• Delray Beach – 35 minutes: This small town is a favorite with Fort Lauderdale residents, thanks to its pedestrian-friendly streets lined with shopping, dining, arts and culture.
• Miami and Miami Beach – 42 minutes: Leave yourself a lot of time for a day trip, or stay overnight, because there’s a lot to see here. Restaurants, bars, museums, parks, Little Havana and, of course, South Beach are the major draws.
• The Everglades – 20 minutes: There’s nothing else like the vast wilderness and wetlands of the Everglades in the U.S. Schedule a tour on an airboat to see this unique ecosystem up close.
• The Florida Keys – 1 hour and 40 minutes: The Keys are a don’t-miss destination. This string of islands and coral reefs take you through one of Florida’s most beautiful natural environments.
• Naples – 1 hour and 40 minutes: Known mostly for its affluent residents and the high-end shops and restaurants that cater to them, Naples has another side, too, as a classic Florida beach town. It’s a great place for everything from a romantic getaway to a fun family vacation.
• Fort Myers – 2 hours: This slow-paced city has some of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Stay overnight so you’ll have time to explore Sanibel Island and Captiva while you’re there.
• Orlando – 3 hours: It’s not impossible to make an Orlando attraction a day trip destination, but with more hotels than any other Florida city, you can probably find an affordable place to make a weekend of it.
On one hand, you’ll be posting pictures of yourself to Instagram at a beachside bar in February; on the other, you may be heading for the nearest evacuation route six months later when a hurricane is on the way. Here are few other upsides and downsides to living in Fort Lauderdale:
• The beaches top the list. When people in northern states think of Florida beaches and blue water, they imagine a shoreline just like Fort Lauderdale’s.
• It’s lush. Greenery that functions as a house plant in most other parts of the country grow to tree-size here without even trying. Even the most modest neighborhoods have 14-foot schefflera plants in the yard.
• Fort Lauderdale has a terrific arts and cultural scene. The town attracts artists and wealthy patrons who contribute generously to area museums and cultural initiatives.
• Thanks to its status as an international destination, it’s diverse here. The people, the food, and the art reflect several of the world’s cultures.
• If boating and leisure is near the top of your list of things you want in a place to live, Fort Lauderdale should definitely be on your list.
• It’s hot, humid and buggy, and the roaches here have wings. Mosquitoes are a serious problem, too—the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region is high on the list of the worst cities for these annoying and possibly dangerous insects. There are snakes, alligators and iguanas, too. If you can’t make peace with Fort Lauderdale’s wildlife, this may not be the place for you.
• The traffic is bad and with the pace of development, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
• Once you’ve been here long enough to consider yourself a “local,” you may find yourself annoyed at the crowds of tourists who descend on your favorite spots around town.
• The above-mentioned hurricanes are a real concern for anyone who lives on or near the Florida coast, and it’s not just about personal safety: Staying prepared for and dealing with these storms costs money. As a homeowner, you’ll likely need wind insurance and flood insurance (in addition to your regular homeowner’s insurance, which doesn’t usually cover every hurricane-related possibility.) During hurricane season, which runs from the beginning of June all the way to the end of November, you need to stay vigilant and get things in order if and when you learn a hurricane is on the way.