Keep in mind that this is a very nice place; it's close to the ocean and the weather is great. Now take a deep breath and scream. Welcome to Florida; please present your papers to the local authorities or the management company in charge (same difference). A lot of people around the nation are down on Florida for that whole hanging pregnant chad thing, but the truth is that it's issues like the lease application process and rental prices that really irritate people. Be prepared for a lengthy wait and for your life to be placed under a microscope. You will start by filling out an application, which seems fine until they get to the part about what you need to include with it. You will find that your application packet is as detailed as an FBI background check for Top Secret Clearance!
Your application packet needs to have copies of your credit report (they will probably run another one in case you photoshopped this one), a copy of your driver's license, letters of reference from your previous landlord and employer (they will call them) and proof of income. Sometimes they want a copy of your birth certificate, so you might want to have one ready just in case. You need to compile this information for each adult member of your family who will be living with you. Most places will run a criminal background check as well. If you have pets, you will need health information from the vet on them. You really just need something saying that your pet is healthy and current with all vaccinations. A note from your previous landlord that Fido and Fluffy aren't going to destroy the place helps as well. Then you get to rent a place, provided you are still young enough not to need to move into a retirement home at this point.
What It Will Cost
A lot. A whole lot. Depending on where you are from, you are going to feel like you are writing your initial checks in blood. This is a very expensive community to live in when it comes to paying rent. Expect to pay enough in rent a year to have bought a new car. Maybe not a Lexus, but certainly a Prius.
As large as this city is, you would think that there would be more neighborhoods, but you would be wrong. There are only four real neighborhoods, but there are literally hundreds of mini-neighborhoods made up of subdivisions and intentional communities.
Harrison: This is the most expensive neighborhood to live in. You will find high level executives, doctors, lawyers and other professional types living here. There are very few rentals here, but you probably won't mind much when the landlords tell you what the rent would be if you did move here. Keep it as an option, but you can do just as well in other places. $$$$$
Oakland: This is a hip and trendy area where you can walk to many cafes and stores. This is a place favored by the young professionals who have started moving up in their careers, as well as well-established and well-off retirees who move to the area to escape northern winters. There are a good number of vacancies here, so you should be able to find something you like. $$$$
Woodgate: If you are a mid-level executive or professional, this is where you want to live. It's nice, there are plenty of available units and this is the least expensive place where you're likely to find that combination. There are plenty of young families living in this area. $$
Sunset Strip: First the good news: this is the least expensive place to live in Sunrise. The people here are educated, mostly young professionals just starting out and trying to figure out how to pay off student loans and eat at the same time. Now the bad news: you aren't likely to find a rental here as there are almost no vacancies. However, if you are single, not picky and willing to hand over a check even before you see the place, you might be able to snap up one of the few rentals that pop up. $
With two golf courses, over a dozen parks and sanctuaries, it's obvious that this is a community where people are going to take advantage of the glorious weather. Of course, there is hurricane season, but locals don't like to talk about that; it might bring down the value of their homes. In Sunrise, you can expect to know your neighbors and spend a great deal of your free time outside. When you are inside, you will probably be at one of the local restaurants or shopping centers.
The holy trinity of restaurants is Chinese-Pizza-Mexican. You have to find new favorites that offer those things before you can start to feel at home in a new city. To relax and really dig your heels in, you also need to find a good burger joint and a steakhouse.
For Chinese food, you have to go to the Pine Court Chinese Bistro on Sunset Strip. The shrimp dumplings and egg rolls are incredible, as is the Dim Sum. This is an Asian Fusion place, and it's amazing. If you want Japanese, try the Sushi at Jin Sushi, also on Sunset. Absolutely delicious!
When you go out hunting Mexican food, remember that Cuba isn't far away, so you might want to sample some Cuban specialties. For great Cuban food, Don Carlin is a local favorite. You will find them on Oakland Park. Be sure to try their plantains and rice. For Mexican, you want Zona Fresca on University. They have an outstanding salsa bar, and the tacos are perfect.
Pizza is simple -- Lombardi's on West Oakland Park. Now some will argue that you have to go to Poppy's on University, but they are wrong. Try them both and judge for yourself. Lombardi's has much more flavor in their sauce, and their cheese is cheesier. Case closed.
There's no question about nightlife in Sunrise. In Sunrise, the real fun starts at sunset! If you are looking for a quiet, classic British style pub, then you want Kingshead on University, which has incredible food and an impressive beer selection. This is a great place to go and hang out with friends after a rough day on the golf course.
If you are looking for something a little more tropical to go with your new surroundings, try the Bahama Breeze on Sawgrass Mill Circle. You'll find great bar eats and live calypso music! This is a flat out fun place to go, and the staff seems to really enjoy working here.
If you are looking for a dive, the Inn-Field is just the place. This is a sports bar where nothing is fancy except the televisions. The snacks and alcohol are good, and the game is what is important. If you are looking for a place to escape for a few hours and watch the game, this is it.
In addition to two world class golf courses, water activities, hiking and biking, there are also other recreational pursuits to look into in Sunrise.
If you have kids, and even if you don't, you might want to go and take a look at the Young at Art Museum. The exhibits change frequently, and there are special shows, entertainment and even classes that can be taken. There are classes for both adults and children, as well as some designed for kids and parents to take together.
The Regional Park also bears a look for their tropical splash playground that is available during the hottest months. There is also a nature trail that is just over a mile long. When you are done with all of that, there are several great sites to have a picnic!