scorecardMiami's mayor said the 'single hottest city in the world' will keep attracting tons of transplants in 2023
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Miami's mayor said the 'single hottest city in the world' will keep attracting tons of transplants in 2023

Kimberly Leonard   

Miami's mayor said the 'single hottest city in the world' will keep attracting tons of transplants in 2023
PoliticsPolitics4 min read
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez poses for a photo with the Miami skyline, Friday, October 29, 2021, at City Hall in Miami.    Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez predicted people from all over the world would move to Miami in 2023.
  • That means high prices for housing will continue, even as 30,000 more units are being built.

Thinking about moving to Miami in 2023? You're not the only one.

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a huge influx of residents have moved to the Magic City. There are a lot of reasons for this, including that more employees started working remotely and reimagining what they wanted their day-to-day lives to look like. Others wanted open schools, better weather, lower taxes, or to move closer to grandparents who'd already retired to Florida.

That has made Miami a far more expensive place to live than even just a few years ago.

As the top executive for the city, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has shepherded along much of the city's economic changes by encouraging tech and venture capital companies to plant offices downtown. In an interview with Insider, Suarez called himself the "chief cheerleader" for the city and predicted the mass migration to Miami would continue even in the year ahead.

"I don't see any reason why it would slow," he said Wednesday at City Hall in Coconut Grove. "The dynamics that have created the migration have not changed."

People coming here from the US are moving out of New York, California, and Illinois primarily, Suarez said, and were drawn to zero state income taxes, as well as concerns about crime and homelessness in certain large US cities.

"We have a very simple formula for success: We keep taxes low, we keep people safe, and we lean into innovation," Suarez said.

People from outside the US will be moving to Miami as well, Suarez predicted, particularly following the elections in Brazil and Colombia.

But the continued changes are also expected to make Miami more crowded — and the increased demand, coupled with still-high inflation, could make housing even more expensive.

On top of that, scientists and climate experts warn that Miami and surrounding coastal regions will face increasing flood risks as sea levels rise an expected two feet over the next 40 years, threatening development and vulnerable residents.

While Miami's offerings continue to be lower-priced and offer more space and amenities than housing available in many other large US cities such as San Francisco and New York, the soaring rents have been a struggle for longtime locals. Their salaries cannot compete with the salary of someone who holds a remote job here from a place headquartered in Los Angeles or Washington, DC.

Suarez knows it's a deep concern. When asked what he would choose to change about the city if he had a magic wand, he replied, "affordability and housing."

"That's the most pressing thing on people's minds, and the one that affects them directly the most," he said.

Cities in Florida aren't allowed to set rent prices, but Suarez said Miami is building more affordable housing and added that the housing supply would increase by roughly 20%, with 30,000 more units expected over the next 24 to 36 months. The city would not be raising taxes and Suarez didn't have any tools to prevent people from moving here, he said.

But the city does have a plan for housing insecurity. Miami has 640 people who are unhoused and has a two-year plan to get that number even lower, the mayor told Insider.

"We want to be the first major American city to have zero homeless," he said. The city is pouring millions of dollars into shelters, mental health treatment, and job training. The money became available through President Joe Biden's COVID relief package, the American Rescue Plan.

miami mayor francis suarez
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican, predicted the Magic City would be able to weather a recession.      MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images

'Single hottest city in the world'

Suarez, 45, is of Cuban descent and leads the National Conference of Mayors. While he's a Republican, his role as Miami's mayor is considered to be nonpartisan.

He has crossed the aisle several times, including by not voting for former President Donald Trump in 2020, and voting for a Democrat for governor in 2018 before switching his support to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022.

Looking ahead, Miami is considering ways to improve its transit system.

Elon Musk's Boring Company submitted a proposal to construct a 6.2-mile underground transit system in the city, Insider first reported. Suarez said Wednesday that Miami was conducting geological studies to assess whether the transit would be feasible, given that the subsoil would need to be strong and dense enough to handle the pressure of a new tunnel.

All the changes to the city are leading people to pay "attention around the world," Suarez said, from the Middle East to South America.

"Florida, mostly through Miami, has become a national and international success story," he said.

Currently, Miami is No. 1 in job and wage growth and has 1.4% unemployment. The Financial Times called Miami "the most important city in America."

As some analysts forecast a global recession hit in 2023, the mayor predicted Miami would be able to weather it.

"I think we're the most recession-resilient city in America, because we have a 1.4% unemployment, we have a very favorable business environment," he said. "So to the extent that the rest of the world feels a recession, it's possible that we feel it less or not at all because of the demand and the amount of of interest that there is in Miami right now. I think Miami is arguably the single hottest city in the world."

One of Miami's biggest business gains in 2022 was the hedge fund and financial services company Citadel, which moved its headquarters from Chicago. Suarez said such business migrations would help turn Miami into what he called the "capital of capital" and "the epicenter of aggregation and deployment of capital."

"Those kinds of big-movement events have an ability to change the dynamic and continue the process of changing the reputation of our city — from a city that was just a place to go to have fun, or a place that you would maybe go to retire, to a place where you could do serious business," he said.