As with any urban center situated near the water, the numero uno rule in real estate is that the closer you get to it, the higher your rent will be. The second rule is that if you want to live in a city where lots of other people want to live, you’re going to have to pay for it. Handsomely. I will add, also, that the housing market crash, while resulting in record-high foreclosures, didn’t seem to do anything to deflate high rents. If, knowing these things, you’re still set on finding your little slice of beachy paradise in Ft. Lauderdale, it can definitely be done.
I’ll have the $4000 bottle of wine.
If perhaps you have family, money and, I don’t know, a yacht, relocating to Fort Lauderdale is simple. You’ll want the palatial waterfront estate in Las Olas, complete with a slip for your yacht and space for all the glitzy entertaining of hip-hop moguls you have planned. Dropping $35,000 a month for a four bedroom condo should be no problem, right? Calling Las Olas home has plenty of other benefits, too. Las Olas Boulevard transverses the city’s eastern canal system, running from the water west into downtown and is home to the city’s nightlife. Upscale shopping, four-star restaurants and ultra-posh clubs line this huge street and range from classy to funky and back again. Thankfully, it offers a few options for even those peasants forced to live without a yacht. Peasants!
I said FOUR olives in my martini.
If social life is key, but extravagant wealth isn’t quite so plentiful, you can also rent a luxury two-bedroom condo in the downtown end of Las Olas starting at around $1500. The commercial and financial center of Fort Lauderdale plays host to a growing multitude of high-rise condominium developments. For urban dwellers and young professionals who want to stay connected to the city’s most upscale nightlife without spending millions on a villa, downtown might just be your place. Few houses are available here, but proximity to amenities – such as the beach, which is only 10 minutes away – makes up for what you lack in space to stretch. Don’t expect to spend less than $1500 for safer areas, and if you find something cheaper, question it immediately. Nearby Victoria Park is considered a good compromise between downtown and Las Olas locations, but prices are often still yacht-worthy.
If it’s on special, I’m drinking it.
If you, like most of the rest of the universe, fit into the more modest income bracket and enjoy a night out on occasion, but aren’t racking up $1000 bar tabs, odds are you’ll need to look outside of Las Olas and downtown for more reasonably priced accommodation. Areas like Plantation, Davie, Weston, and Coral Springs are considered safe and a bit quieter than their glitzy neighbors. You’ll lose sight of the waves, but living around here still only puts you about 15 minutes from the action or, for those who have retired that lifestyle, it gives you a 15-minute buffer zone from all the shenanigans. Areas here are more suburban and family-friendly. They come filled with Starbucks and strip malls, but you can get one bedroom apartments for around $1000/month or single family homes starting at around $2000. Roomshares in three and four bed homes are also more of an option here for the single set and, if you’re willing to embrace that kind of living arrangement or are moving to town with friends, you can get your rent down to around $500 a month. This is by far the best option, so I’m suggesting (telling) you bring (drag) your friends.
Where’s my mojito?
In recent years, Fort Lauderdale has become known as an extremely LGBT-friendly city. If you don’t know what I mean by LGBT, you might be in for a cultural surprise, by the way. The most concentrated Pride areas are in Wilton Manors –affectionately referred to as “The Gayborhood”—and Oakland Park. While rents in the desirable parts of these areas still don’t really fall below $1000, the same money will get you quite a bit more space. Here, $1000 will get you a small studio in a nice building, a two bedroom townhouse will ring in around $1400, and a three bedroom home at around $2300. The presence of LGBT-run commerce here has slowly turned Fort Lauderdale into an LGBT destination, and the community here is thriving. If this is your crowd, Wilton Manors and Oakland Park will make you feel right at home.
Think tranquil traffic thoughts.
Transportation in Fort Lauderdale is annoying, to put it kindly. Cars are by far the top choice, and once the massive influx of retiree snowbirds hits town for the winter, the roads go from annoying to extreme-road-rage inducing. But I’m sure YOUR grandmother is a great driver. Parking is, imaginably, a hassle, especially downtown and nearer to the beach, so be sure to see if a spot is included in your rent. Broward County Transit also provides a moderately-priced bus system, and Sun Trolley operates four or five routes in Fort Lauderdale proper that will mostly shuttle you up and down Las Olas Boulevard and from hotels to the beach and back.
Danger, Will Robinson!
Unfortunately, the list of caveats for renting in Fort Lauderdale is long. Many places want first and last month’s rent AND a deposit AND $100 application fee per one year lease, which can put you out of pocket in a huge way. Parking may not always be included, either. Building codes for hurricane safety have changed over the years, so older buildings may be cheaper but not as safe come storm season. Property management in this city is a big business, and unfortunately that means you may end up bilked by shady maintenance groups, unscrupulous building managers or any variety of uncool people working in the business. With the tangled web of areas, neighborhoods, municipalities and other confusing distinctions that make up South Florida real estate, it’s often a good idea to consider using a broker. You’ll have to pay a fee, but that might outweigh the headache of trying to track down the right number of beds in the best location for you.
I’m not trying to get all ‘Negative Nancy’ on you.
All this is not to say that Fort Lauderdale is a disgusting swamp of thieves–it just means it’s a big city in a very desirable part of the country with great weather and beaches and you’ll have to do your research. Research here, by the way, is fun: you start at the bars and the water and walk west until you can afford something. When in doubt, just ask where the spring breakers and snowbirds are and then go in the opposite direction. Just sayin’.