Miami Impressions

I recently spent a week in Miami to escape the winter and decide if it’s a city I might want to actually live in. What attracted me was the warm weather, beaches, no state income tax, and relatively low cost of living compared to NYC. Although this would be my 4th time in Miami, it would be the first time that I’m coming solo and completely on my own terms with the goal of seeing if I could see myself living here.

I spent the first couple nights in Fort Lauderdale next to Sebastian Street Beach, and spent the rest of my time living on the north side of Miami Beach on 32nd St. I visited the neighborhoods of Brickell, Downtown, and Wynwood, and drove through Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Key Biscayne. There is much more to Miami than just these areas, so obviously I only scratched the surface.

For those not familiar with Miami – it is jokingly called the capital of Latin America, and there is some truth to this because it almost feels like a South American city, except with the safety and materialism of the U.S. There are many immigrants from countries like Cuba and Venezuela, and Spanish seems to be spoken just as much as English if not moreso. Fort Lauderdale on the other hand feels more white, and the small area I stayed felt more like a resort place for old people.

Ultimately I love the weather and the beach, and the walkability of the Miami Beach, Brickell, and Downtown areas, but to put it as politely as possible – I’m not impressed with the people, and that is why it is hard to imagine myself truly feeling at home in Miami. The customer service is generally terrible with workers being both incompetent and rude. The food options are extremely disappointing and limited outside of Latin food, and outrageously overpriced – I would even argue more expensive than NYC (unless inflation has changed prices dramatically in NYC since I last visited, which is possible). Although you don’t need a car in neighborhoods like Brickell and South Beach – Miami like practically every other U.S city requires you to have a car to get around due to poor public transportation and poor U.S car-centric city planning. The walkable areas although fine are not big enough to be sufficient for someone used to living in big cities.

I’m about to make some massive generalizations that will offend a lot of people, but I have a duty to keep it real. So brace yourself…

The people here on average seem dumb, shallow, materialistic, stressed out, and miserable.

Customer service here is generally terrible with the workers being slow, incompetent, aloof, rude, and bothered by your presence. The typical worker wields a giant resting bitch face and never says thank you. When I enter an Uber/Lyft and say “hi” it seems that half the time I get no response (Ukraine was like that as well). The funniest thing is that every time you pay for anything anywhere, you need to swipe through a screen that asks you if you want to leave a tip with preselected tip amounts starting at 18%. This will happen even after many restaurants already include a 20% service fee.

For example today I ordered an acai bowl and was told it would take 10 minutes. After 20-25 minutes I reminded them that I was still waiting for an acai bowl and the worker seemed confused and asked another worker who told her “oh <insert name> took it”. Eventually I got my acai bowl but nobody ever apologized or seemed to care in the slightest.

Later in the day I went to a Chipotle and the worker gave me a pathetically small portion of meat, I asked if I could get more, and the worker said “so you want double meat?” and after I explained that I just thought the portion size was smaller than usual she repeated herself with an attitude and refused to add more. I’ve probably been to Chipotle 40-60 times in my life and have never experienced this.

Although there are many beautiful women in Miami, many of them have plastic surgery, dress like prostitutes, and look like they’re on OnlyFans. You even see fake asses which make women look like cartoon characters. Feels like more of a city to find hookups and sugar babies than serious girlfriends with wifey material.

The people here on average seem dumb with a lot of shady people and grifters, conforming to the Vice City stereotype.

For example I was in a Walgreens when a man walked in, and the cashier said that this guy comes in all the time, takes whatever he wants, and walks out without paying. The workers are instructed not to intervene.

I met a 46 year old man in a restaurant with a shopping bag from a luxury store who hasn’t attempted to work in years, financially supports himself through leeching off his family, smokes weed and chases strippers, and parties till 5am every morning. He asked if he could use my phone to call his brother to ask him for money, and when it came time to pay the bill his card was blocked, something he later said enabled him to get things for free (he asked me if I could pay his bill telling me he’d pay me back. I paid the $20 knowing of course I’d never see the money). He claimed to be dating Instagram models with 1.2m followers and 300k+ followers. Afterwards I saw him trade weed for a vape from a homeless man, and then he went out – probably to go to some strip club. Although there were actually some positives I took from the interaction, ultimately this guy represents everything I criticize about South Beach.

I’ve heard people talk about Miami being an up-and-coming tech hub, and Anthony Pompliano suggested it could be the next Silicon Valley. Bullshit.

Miami is not a tech hub, and I don’t think it will ever be.

I personally didn’t find any tech meetups or meet any tech workers. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I didn’t get the vibe that there were thriving tech communities.

Yes there will be the occasional rich founder or investor who buys a second/third home or even retires there, but Miami will never be a major center for the actual engineers. Culturally Miami is just too far away from being a place for serious tech work. There is not enough local talent, and no great local universities. Although Miami will grow in population as remote work becomes the norm, it is just not interesting or cheap enough to attract the transplants and competent professionals that would be needed to turn Miami into a real tech hub. The city already has expensive housing, along with bad traffic and poor public transportation. I think all of this talk of Miami being the next SIlicon Valley is complete bullshit, just like the broke dudes on South Beach with rented Lamborghinis telling girls that they own the car.

Don’t get me wrong I want Miami to succeed and I do see it growing to an extent, I just don’t see it happening in any major fashion. But I’m certainly rooting for Miami and would love to be proven wrong. If there were a thriving tech hub in a tropical paradise by the beach I’d certainly be interested in living there.

Ultimately the problem with the U.S is a lack of real walkable cities. Outside of NYC, the U.S doesn’t have any real large walkable cities. NYC although fun is extremely dense and expensive, and there’s not much of a middleground between NYC and boring small American cities like Boston (or even worse, the suburbs).

Although I rented a car for a day in Miami (Porsche 911), the traffic was terrible, finding parking is a hassle, and it all reminded me that I prefer walking and public transportation. The problem with driving in the U.S is that there’s always some slow idiot blocking the fast line, so I wasn’t able to go fast and really take advantage of having a fast car.

I think for a city to thrive, it needs walkability. Without walkability, there are little to no spontaneous interactions, and you might as well be living in the suburbs. Outside of NYC, the U.S seems to lack any real cities that are attractive.

For a city to thrive culturally, it should be affordable so that it can attract entrepreneurs and artists. Cities like NYC have become so expensive that the only people who can afford to live their are rich people and golden handcuffed wage slaves.

If I were mayor and trying to turn a city into a hotspot, I’d ensure that my city is walkable, that affordable housing is available, create public workspaces (a more modern version of a public library), and host tech meetups. Of course that may not be enough, but I see it as the common sense bare minimum.

I’ll probably end up heading back to Europe due to the lack of affordable cities in the U.S, maybe with a pitstop first in Florianopolis, Brazil since that was always a place I wanted to visit. I’d love to be somewhere cheap in Asia, but unfortunately the time zone difference while working for a U.S company makes it a bit impractical. Within Europe I’m most interested in Barcelona and Lisbon, the latter moreso due to Portugal being probably the easiest Schengen country to get citizenship in. But do I really want to commit the 5-6 years or so that would be required for that? Probably not (f*ck visas, passports, immigration, and borders).

I wanted Miami to work, but it’s just not it for me other than for a quick tropical escape. Next time I’ll maybe try more of Fort Lauderdale again like Hollywood, though my guess is that I’ll probably find it too small and boring. The U.S needs more walkable cities, and I think the lack of walkable cities is one of the reason for the country’s decline.

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