West Miami has a host of family-friendly neighborhoods with a range of houses and condos that are typically more affordable than the city's downtown areas. If you're moving to this buzzing part of Florida, these West Miami neighborhoods are worth considering.
Real estate developer George Edgar Merrick created Coral Gables, one of America's first planned communities, during the Florida land boom of the Roaring Twenties. It's known as "The City Beautiful" for its Mediterranean Revival Style homes, tree-lined streets, and fountain-decorated plazas.
Coral Gables has an old world charm and is in no rush to make its facilities too modern. The Mediterranean Architectural Ordinance even offers cash incentives to builders conforming to the city's preferred architecture.
“What’s been here the longest is what continues to remain some of the most attractive elements of the city,” explained local historian Paul George, Ph.D. “The Merrick home, the Biltmore Hotel, the Douglas Arches—all these distinctive places that characterize the city were part of Merrick’s original vision.”
Merrick once claimed that every local business was less than a two-block walk, but the new free circulator trolley system means that residents can now save their legs. Coral Gables is home to many thriving corporations, including American Airlines, Kraft Foods, and Club Med, so it makes a popular choice for businesspeople pursuing career opportunities. The University of Miami is also just two miles south of downtown Coral Gables, so the neighborhood also suits students and families who want to be closer to their college kids.
Locals enjoy upscale retail centers and fine dining at restaurants helmed by some of America's leading chefs. With 30 percent of Coral Gables devoted to green spaces, the residents spend plenty of time outdoors, refining their golf games at the two public courses and playing in neighborhood parks.
Coral Way is another great Miami neighborhood created by local visionary George Edgar Merrick. Like Coral Gables, it's also one of Florida's most beautiful areas, although its architecture has more of a turn-of-the-century feel with Mission Revival and Art Deco style dwellings. These stunning homes are complemented by more than a thousand banyan trees planted in 1929 as part of the neighborhood's Roadside Beautification Program.
Coral Way features several small sub-neighborhoods including Coral Gate, Silver Bluff, Shenandoah, Bryan Park, and Golden Pines. As well as many suburban areas, Coral Way is also home to a diverse mix of retail outlets, offices, and restaurants, including many specializing in Spanish and Greek cuisine.
While motorists still tend to rule, numerous recent improvements have made Coral Way more pedestrian-friendly. A lower 35-mph speed limit and new pedestrian and bicycle facilities are among the innovations.
While West Miami is known as an area, it's also a small city located between Tamiami Trail and Coral Way. It had unlikely beginnings when in 1947, four businessmen were unimpressed with Dade County's plans to ban gambling rooms and reduce the number of cocktail hours. Determined to keep the status quo, the men invested just $400 apiece to create the new city.
West Miami has grown from an area with just 700 residents to one of more than 6,000. It has the fourth highest percentage of Cuban residents in the country, with this Hispanic group making up more than 61 percent of the population, so it's a great place to find peccadillo and mojitos.
Despite its size of just three-quarters of a square mile, West Miami punches above its weight with a host of improvements including recent sidewalk replacement, new parking spaces, and tree beautification schemes. "The city is unique because of its residential component and family atmosphere," explained city manager Yolanda Aguilar.
Flagami is as west of Miami as you can get while staying in the city limits—it's a great pick for affordable Miami suburbs. This neighborhood lies on the western border of Magic City. Its name is a blend of Flagler, the street which runs through the neighborhood, and Tamiami, the nearby canal. This neighborhood attracts families who love the affordable, but small, and brightly painted homes that characterize its suburban streets.
If you’re relocating from a larger residence, you may have problems fitting all of your belongings into these compact homes. However, CubeSmart has a variety of storage units in West Miami to hold the surplus.
Flagami is also home to several small shopping centers, including the Mall of the Americas, Flagler Plaza, and Granada Plaza. Locals can shop up a storm during the day, then kick back at night at Flagami's supper clubs and lounges.
Kendall is a family-friendly neighborhood in Miami's west. It is often divided into many smaller neighborhoods including The Hammocks, The Crossings, Three Lakes, and Country Walk. It has several A-rated public schools, a full-service hospital, and the second-largest campus of Miami-Dade College. Homeowners can choose high- and mid-rise condos on Kendall's busiest streets or larger waterfront and suburban homes with generous backyards away from the urban areas.
Most of Kendall's job opportunities are in the eastern parts of the neighborhood. The commute from east to west can be taxing, so many residents prefer to live close to the business center. The Miami Metrorail also takes locals from the Dadeland North and Dadeland South stations at the northeastern end of Kendall to Miami International Airport and the thriving business areas of Coral Gables and Downtown Miami.
Kendall is home to one of CubeSmart's Superstores, which can provide you with moving services, storage facilities, office amenities, and much more to help ease your transition.
If you have cash to spare, you'll find Doral a wonderful place to raise a family. It costs around 25 percent more to live here than the rest of the country, and the homes aren't cheap, with most running between $450,000 and $550,000. However, most local homes are located in closed-gate communities that provide excellent security and facilities, making it one of the safest neighborhoods in Miami. They're also well-placed to take advantage of the Jim McLean Signature Course and Trump National Doral Miami golf courses.
Doral's streets are clean and well-planned, although they can be thick with traffic during peak times. Children thrive at the local Miami-Dade County public schools, which have maintained A ratings for more than five consecutive years.
Little Havana is Miami's Cuban capital, a colorful neighborhood just west of the downtown area. It became famous as a refuge for Cubans fleeing Castro's dictatorship in the early 1960s, and later welcomed Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans also running from political situations in their own countries.
Whatever your background, Little Havana is a great place to get your foot onto the property ladder. It may not be as expensively stylish as many of Miami's neighborhoods. However, the hard-working blue-collar community is friendly, and the area is much safer than many people realize. The streets often are abuzz with events such as Viernes Culturales and new commercial opportunities.
"More of downtown is coming to Little Havana," explained long-time resident Lesly Arana. "There are more businesses being built. Before, I forgot what there was. I can't even remember, that's how long ago it was." With many great neighborhoods to choose from, considering West Miami as your new home is a wise choice.