5 Fun, Affordable Cities to Move to If You Don’t Want to Pay for Miami

5 Fun, Affordable Cities to Move to If You Don’t Want to Pay for Miami

Miami is a great place to let loose and party, but it’s also a family-friendly destination with lots of activities for kids — just look at Zoo Miami, the Miami Children’s Museum, and Jungle Island. Besides the benefit of having beach weather in December, Miami is also known for its diverse culinary scene filled with Caribbean, Latin, Mexican, and Italian restaurants.

But living in Miami also comes with a hefty price tag. For some more affordable Miami alternatives, I rounded up five South Florida cities that also have stunning beaches, great restaurants, and outdoor activities for the whole family. The best part? You can pay less for housing and still visit Miami on the weekend. 

Deerfield Beach is home to lots of family-friendly destinations like Quiet Waters Park, a 400-acre green space that includes a sprawling water park for kids, plus plentiful camping, fishing, and walking trails. While Deerfield Beach may not have high rises like Miami, it does have a boardwalk and fantastic waterfront dining like JBS on the Beach and Oceans 234. Overall, Deerfield Beach has a laid-back surfer vibe. Case in point? It’s also home to Island Water Sports, a family-run surf and skate shop that holds surf camps and lessons for students of all ages.

Located in the middle of Florida’s Gold Coast, which stretches from Palm Beach to Miami, Pompano Beach is known for its scuba diving, water sports, and access to public parks. The town’s main beachfront is dog-friendly and has a wide, sandy shore ideal for sunbathing or playing volleyball. There are over 50 public parks, and kids will love nearby Butterfly World, the largest butterfly park in the world. The newly opened Beach House and Oceanic Pompano, located near the Pompano Beach Pier, are great for Sunday brunches with friends. Pompano Beach has lots of local breweries and bars, but if you need something a little more upscale, you can head about 10 miles south to glitzy nightlife in Fort Lauderdale. 

Florida has its own Hollywood, and the area has seen recent improvements with the addition of more shopping and dining options downtown. Hollywood Beach is the main attraction here, and its wide boardwalk is a great place for bikers, joggers, and scooters. Downtown Hollywood is full of eclectic stores and rivals Miami’s Wynwood with its creative street murals. There’s also the ArtsPark at Young Circle, a family-friendly park that hosts outdoor movie nights and live events. If you need some peace and quiet, head to the 1,500 acre Ann Kolb Nature Center for the nature trails and guided boat tours. Hollywood is also the home to the only guitar-shaped hotel in the world, The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. 

West Palm Beach has become an enclave for young families, thanks to a recent uptick in new businesses and shopping venues. The waterfront city’s main thoroughfare is Clematis Street, a dining and nightlife destination, while there’s plenty of art and culture at The Norton Museum of Art, and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. West Palm Beach is a little over an hour’s drive from Miami, and the beaches are just as nice (and a little less crowded). Some of the best beaches are Carlin Park, Ocean Beach Park, and Peanut Island, a public island that can only be reached by ferry or boat. Forget expensive Miami yachts — the ferry to Peanut Island is only $15 roundtrip, and you can bring your own food and spend the day there.

Boynton Beach has some of the cleanest, well-maintained beaches in South Florida, and on the weekends, locals hang out at Oceanfront Park. While Miami has the Florida Everglades, Boynton Beach has the Arthur S. Marshall Loxahatchee National Refuge, a 145,000-acre wetland where visitors can hike, kayak, or ride horses. The best restaurants in Boynton Beach are located near the water: Two Georges Waterfront Grille and Prime Catch are great places to enjoy a dinner with a view. Boynton Beach also has a great collection of art galleries and a downtown arts district full of vibrant street murals. 

Mariette Williams


Mariette Williams is a freelance culture and travel writer, and her writing has appeared in Travel + Leisure, VICE, ESSENCE, Business Insider and more. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two kids.

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A Couple Has Maximized Every Square Inch of Their 528-Square-Foot 1950s House

A Couple Has Maximized Every Square Inch of Their 528-Square-Foot 1950s House

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Name: Anne Marie Hankins and husband, Spencer Wyatt
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Type of home: House
Size: 528 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My home was built in the 1950s and the inside was refinished last year. We have a small house with a big yard, perfect for an 8-year-old blind chihuahua, Munchkin. The house is two bedrooms, one bathroom. My husband and I live in the house together and my husband works from home full-time while I am in law school. That means we spend the majority of our days both working in our 520 square feet of space.

The second bedroom doubles as Spencer’s office and a guest room, thanks to an incredible convertible sofa bed I found at Room & Board. We moved to St. Petersburg last summer so I could start law school and decided to buy because rent prices in St. Petersburg are so high. We fell in love with our neighborhood that houses tons of artists and small businesses and is near downtown St. Petersburg, which is only a few minutes from our home. We also live a 15-minute drive from the beach.

Some of my favorite things about our home are the original countertops salvaged from the 1950s with the amoeba print. Our teal doors are painted on both sides so the teal is on the inside and outside of the home — another of our favorite things. The most challenging thing about this house was making it functional with so little space. Fitting in two desks was a challenge, but we made it work. The amount of shelving we’ve installed and our custom IKEA wardrobe have been lifesavers.

Since figuring out how to store our clothes was the most challenging issue, we found a solution with a bed from Article that has matching under-the-bed drawers. So instead of owning a dresser, we store all folded clothes under the bed. Additionally, having a full-size fridge in our space was not an option, so the builder who redid our home found a great alternative to an expensive Smeg fridge that I loved. It saves us space and is my favorite thing in our home. We’ve mastered the art of living in, working in, and storing all our belongings in such a small space.

I grew up as an Army brat so the constant moving teaches you how to keep belongings to a minimum. Being able to identify what was essential to our living space needs made adjusting to our space a much easier task. I also really enjoy a good balance of color and neutral, which I think I achieved. I also prefer artwork that has meaning or connection to our lives, so every single piece of art and every picture in the home I either bought on a trip, was gifted, or came out of an event in our life. It makes the home feel deeply personal. Lastly, I have a love for vintage, so when creating and furnishing the home, we tried to pick pieces that served modern purposes while having a more vintage feel and fitting the character of our ’50s home.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Florida Functional

What is your favorite room and why? I love the living room because not only is it the space where my family spends the most time together, it’s my study space. I spend most of my day working at my small desk and I love the natural light in the room. I’m also in love with our couch, which I customized from Interior Define. It’s the most expensive thing we bought for the house simply because we wanted to maximize the seating space and I was in love with the look. It also turns out it is so comfortable!!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought for our home was two lighting fixtures from Worley’s Lighting. It’s a small independent lighting company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I saw some of their fixtures in an Architectural Digest article and became obsessed. You can customize each fixture and I think our new fixtures added significantly to the character of our living room and kitchen.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice would be to build your home around pieces you love that will never go out of style. I would also say not to pigeonhole yourself into one type of design style. Mixing pieces and styles is the best way to add character and depth to your home.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.