We’ve just moved to Miami, well Miami Beach, FL. I arrived back in the US (San Francisco) about 2 years ago and it was time to try something new again. So we drove here from San Francisco and saw (and tasted) a lot of this great country.
Why Miami? I’ve been asked this a lot. While Miami is extremely popular with in particular Europeans and Latin Americans, it does seems to have quite a bad reputation amongst most American’s. I don’t know if it’s Miami Vice or just that “Anglo’s” are the minority here?
Better weather for my taste. I like the tropics and heat. Winters here are even a tad too cold for me. I know people love the Bay Area weather, but it’s just too cold for me most of the year.
Miami has been hit by the housing crisis, which sucks if you own here, but as a renter this is brilliant. Apartments that would easily cost $4000/m in downtown SF go for $1500/m in down town Miami. With much better views to boot. You can also find plenty of apartments in that price range in Miami Beach just without an ocean view. Expect to pay $500-1000 more for that. Miami Beach is a great walkable town that actually reminds me a bit of a Palo Alto that never sleeps with an amazing beach and tons of great restaurants and clubs.
I have long been pushing the idea of bootstrapping globally by which I mean founding your startup in a place with low cost of living. Miami currently allows you to do just that while staying within the US. OK it’s not quite as cheap as Argentina, but housing in Panama is more expensive than Miami now (other costs are still cheaper).
I really like the Latin American influence – from Cuban Ropa Vieja to Colombian night clubs, the only place that comes close in the world as true Latin American melting pot is Panama.
The west coast also has a large Latin American community, but it’s pretty much a mono culture, with 90+% being from 2-3 northern Mexican provinces. Here you get lots of people from all over with resulting fantastic things to try:
Uruguayan Chivito restaurants, Argentine Pizza and Steak houses, Venezuelan steak houses, Cuban-Spanish soups to which I am addicted, Colombian hot dog joints etc. etc.
Outward business culture
Business wise, I think Miami is more focused on the rest of the world than say San Francisco. I have always been interested in technologies that make a difference in the poorer parts of the world. Miami being one of the 2 most important centers for business in Latin America (the other being Panama) is by default outward.
San Francisco is extremely international, but in a strangely inward almost insular way. Smart people from the whole world congregate in San Francisco, but it seems to me that once they arrive (including myself) they naturally focus too much on what the SF digerati thinks, assuming the rest of the world will follow. Granted this has created things such as twitter and github which the rest of the world pretty much ignored until recently.
Growing Tech community
The Miami tech community is growing. It is clearly not as large as San Francisco’s and probably will never be. That said, the community is vibrant and everyone seems to know everyone else. Many foreign entrepreneurs are moving to Miami as well. I’ve run in to more Danish (and of course Latin American) web entrepreneurs here than in San Francisco.
Last night I went to the Miami Ruby Brigade meetup which was pretty well attended. Refresh Miami a cross disciplinary group of people interested in technology has become an institution and I’m looking forward to attending my first next week.
What about San Francisco?
I still love San Francisco. Living there was a good experience and I certainly recommend any tech entrepreneur or programmer spend some time there. The best thing about being there is the killer tech and startup community, but thanks to twitter and google groups you can easily keep up with much of that from where ever you are in the world.
Anyway I’m looking forward to spend a couple of years here in Miami.