Living near the University of Miami
December 19, 2007 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Where should I live near(ish to) the University of Miami?

I was accepted to the UofM nursing school. I have visited Miami for a week, so kinda know the layout, but am not really sure where I should live.

Here's what I'm looking for:
1. being near (walkable, bikeable) grocery stores, laundry, restaurants and things to do if possible.
2. I want to live in a diverse, affordable, and working class area.
3. i want to be near public transit.

I want to avoid having a car if at all possible. That would mean living somewhat near the U of M (metrorail?). The other thing is I could be doing clinicals at a bunch of hospitals around town: Baptist, Jackson, Miami Childrens, South Miami, Mercy, and VA. Would getting to those make a car totally necessary? I just want to be realistic, though i'm willing to try real hard to avoid it.

Where would be a good place to live? I've had friends who lived in little havana, and they said it was decent and affordable. Maybe parts of that neighborhood would be well connected by bus or bike towards school? I'd like to live on the metrorail line, but that leaves like coral gables, south miami, or downtown? is that right? I'm a little nervous to return to the spread out sprawl/car based areas (takes me back to my youth in california), but maybe living in an interesting neighborhood would outweigh those factors. Secretely i'm hoping to find a place with space for fruit trees (avocados, mangos, etc).

I have a few friends and they live in hialeah, sweetwater, overtown, and the design district. Those are all out-they-way though I think.

Thanks for any help for this confused stuck-in-portland-mentality fool.

posted by aussicht to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
If you are really going to be going to all of those different hospitals then a car is probably going to be your best option. Miami mass transit isn't the best, and you probably don't want to find yourself waiting for a bus for 30 minutes in the middle of summer. (Have you been to Miami in the summer?)
Unfortunately most places in Miami are just not amenable to having no car.

It would be insane to try to get from Hialeah or Overtown to UM by mass transit. Sweetwater wouldn't be as bad since the bus-lines going up 107th (past FIU) are decent (by Miami standards). But, sweetwater to UM would still be much better by car. The Design District isn't too far north of Downtown, so you could conceivable figure out a relatively easy way to get to the Metro Mover (basically the downtown extension of Metrorail) and then you would be all set to get to UM. So, basically, of those neighborhoods the Design District is the best. But, you might want to consider a place on the beach (close to Lincoln road was affordable for a long while). Then you'd only need a car to cross the bay to downtown (the causeway gets packed with traffic but it's a short drive).

So you can manage, if you really, really want to, to exist without a car in your daily commute (well there is the problem of the other hospitals, but still). Unfortunately, to do most of the interesting things you'll want a car anyway. Or at least a friend with a car and who won't get sick of driving you everywhere.

South Miami, is IMO, a less interesting neighborhood although it's close to the Coconut Grove (which has some decent bars at least). It's also become more expensive lately. There are areas of Coral Gables (the northern end) that are affordable and close(ish) to UM.

I admire your desire not to have a car and to live in a more holistic neighborhood, but I'm not sure that Miami is going to be the kind of place where this is highly likely.

If you do decide to get a car, take a look at the neighborhoods just south of Bird Road (40th St.) Between 57th (more or less the boundary to the Gables) and the 826. That area is definitely working class and affordable, it's got a small park nearby and a nearby Publix. It's also not far from highways and interesting places like Little Havana (well not far by car). It might be what you are looking for (I have friends that work at UM and live in that area).

I lived in Miami for most of my life, e-mail me (see my profile), you want more specific (or just more) advice.
posted by oddman at 6:13 AM on December 20, 2007

Oh, one more thing, Miami is not a bike riding town. No drivers will be looking for, there are almost no bike lanes. I used to ride my bike around as a teenager, but now that I'm older and a bit wiser, I don't think it's very safe.

If you do ride your bike around often, ride very, very defensively.
posted by oddman at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2007

What's your budget?

You don't want to live in little havana unless you are latin yourself.

My best suggestions, in the following order, if you can afford it:

1 - Sunset Place area (there are some new condos in that area)
2 - Dadeland/Pinecrest area (lots of condos around here)
3 - Coconut Grove area (be careful here, as there ARE some bad areas there).

The first two provide direct access to metro-rail, and are close to hospitals. Sunset Place is right next to UM. Coconut Grove has some nightlife and such, but not as easy to get to school.

No matter what, Miami is not a public transport oriented city, so don't expect much out of it beyond the range of Metro Rail.
posted by eas98 at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2007

Another former Miami-ite here. My experience is now 6 years out of date but I don't think it's changed much, based on more recent visits to family.

You're really going to have an issue being car-free in Miami, particularly if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the U of M area. If you want your personal life to be walkable you may be happiest living over on South Beach and having a car you can drive to school and your internships. However it's even farther east (and over the causeways) than the Design District.

I'd suggest you avoid Hialeah and in fact anyplace north of Miami International Airport. Just draw a big old line across Flagler and don't try to live North of it if you're going to have to travel South of it for work. And sadly I think you're going to have 0 success affording someplace with room for fruit trees unless you have a roommate or four, though my price info is pretty out of date.

I can give you more concrete information on the hospitals (a mom who is a nurse is helpful here), though I am a bit insulted you left my birthplace, Doctor's, off the list. Okay, so what if it's walking distance to U of M campus?

Baptist is over in Kendall and pretty bad for public transport but not impossible if you ride the metrorail to the end of the line and take a bus out on Kendall Drive.

Jaskson is probably most accessable, being right on a metrorail stop if I recall correctly, and if you mean the VA medical center then it is effectively the same location. Ditto South Miami Hospital on the metrorail, which is also quite close to U of M campus.

Mercy isn't bad and may be walkable (damn you google maps for not having stop markers!) but you need to remember one important thing about living in Miami. It rains, and not like Portland. Rain in Miami is a Ark-level event every time, and often anything short of a golf umbrella will still leave you wet from the collected water and splashing. The water table in Miami is about 3 microns below the surface, so when it rains water collects very quickly and is slow to absorb and run off.
posted by phearlez at 8:14 AM on December 20, 2007

Thanks for all the comments. It sounds like maybe I should get a car, and if I can manage then get rid of it.

I think Doctor's is in the rotation, though until you said it I didn't think it was a name of a hospital. I am also planning on living with others since I assume a studio or 1bd would be crazy expensive. I'm used to paying in the 300-400$/month range for rent so...

My budget would hopefully be in the 500-600$/mo range but I'm not sure if that's realistic. If I could live alone i probably would, but I like having a house with a yard, and am not opposed to living with others.

I had thought of living on miami beach because of the density, but the distance and cost (and frat boys) are prohibitive.

It sounds like its worth looking into the area immediately around the school as well as further (like the design district) if I have a car. Is little havana really a bad idea? I had non-latin friends who lived there and liked it.

posted by aussicht at 10:49 AM on December 20, 2007

Little Havana is not necessarily a bad idea, but it really depends on your temperament and tastes. It is filled mostly with working class Hispanics, but it has been a trendy location for the indie/artist set for a few years now. So if that sort of eclectic mix of cultures appeals to you, you'd probably like it. I would however strongly recommend visiting a few places before agreeing to move in.

There is also one very important caveat that you need to consider: Spanish is the language of choice in much of Miami, but especially in little Havana. You will certainly find that most people speak English, and you'll have no trouble getting by if you don't know Spanish (Hialeah might be a different story). But, you'll need to get used to people who assume that you speak Spanish, because almost everyone will assume that you speak Spanish (this might be especially relevant at Jackson). You'll also have to get used to the people who will get irritated with you, if you make them speak English. Yest this happens (thought this subset is definitely a minority). Some of my friends hated that people presumed that they spoke Spanish, ymmv.
posted by oddman at 11:35 AM on December 20, 2007

I didn't get through all the responses but I went to the University of Miami for law school and lived on Salamanca Ave., between Ponce de Leon and Douglas Road. That is the the border of the ultra glitzy Coral Gables and the not-so-glitzy Little Havana. I loved it. Yes, almost all of my neighbors were Cuban but I'm dark and Caribbean-looking so most just thought I was a Marielito. They were all pretty nice but yes, you'll have to constantly remind people that this is America and therefore, they shouldn't assume everyone speaks Spanish. There was plenty in walking distance (you can't spit without hitting a Publix grocery store in Miami)...and if you like gelato you'll be in heaven with Bacio ...which I still sometimes wake up at night dreaming about.

As for not having a car, that's going to be tough. There is public transit from the Gables to the University but it takes fa-eva! and if you want to get to the beach...and you will want to get to the will again, take fa-eva.

Option 2 is to actually live on South Beach...not cheap anymore but really all-inclusive and you can take the little light rail right to the university. If I were you, that's what I would choose.
Good luck.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:49 PM on December 20, 2007

I am aware of the issues with spanish... for me its actually a benefit since I speak some spanish, but am hoping to use miami to help me become conversational/fluent with some studying.
posted by aussicht at 7:05 AM on December 21, 2007

A few things.
First, as my Spanish professor said, "Spanish in Miami is...different."

Second, about that transportation may not need a car, but I promise you are very very likely to want one. Don't make the decision about getting rid of your car in January. Make it in July.

Third, I go to school in Sweetwater at FIU. I live in Hollywood. I structure my life around the Turnpike because I think I-95 is mostly evil. You'll find folks who feel exactly the opposite. Try them both and realize that it sounds to me like you'll mostly need 95.

See my previous post from before I moved to Hollywood.

And, uh, don't make the mistake that I did and refer to Hollywood as Miami. It pisses some people off. (Seeing as it's in a whole different county.)
posted by bilabial at 8:02 PM on December 21, 2007

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