A lot of my friends in the Bay Area (looking at you Adam), New York & Seattle often ask me why I "still live in Miami". This will hopefully explain why I love Miami so much as a web developer & entrepreneur. When I refer to Miami I mean the downtown(ish) area of Miami - not Miami Beach, or North Miami or Coral Gables or South Florida - where everything is walkable / dense.
Affordability is the name of the game.
I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco about how much he pays in taxes recently, when I found out that his difference in taxes between Florida & California is enough to pay a McDonald's employee for a year, I nearly vomitted. Just being aware of a state that doesn't have a 0% state income tax makes me quiver. To put the numbers in perspective, the average web developer in San Francisco makes $124k year - that's about $1490 after taxes each week. In Florida that's $1700 a week. Annualized thats $11,000. For me, that tax burden is higher - that's a serious deterrent, I'd need to find a position that pays in the $275k+ range just to stay at my current take home pay.
Moving on, the places are much nicer & much more affordable here in Miami (that's my apartment above). I've visited a handful of friends in SF & NY and they pay what I pay ($1800-2000) for well located, but small or run down places. You can live across from the American Airlines Arena for $1600 a month in a condo with 15ft ceilings or in Midtown for $1800 with floor-to-ceiling windows with an ocean / coastal view. Say what you will, but I'm stoked to wake up every day to a view of Miami on one side & a bay view on the other - I don't think I'll be able to find a similar view or quality of living space in those cities for less than $3500-4000/mo based on what I've read about rent in SF & NY.
Deliciousness is steps away.
One of my favorite things about Miami is the amazing food that is pretty much everywhere. I live within walking distance of two zagat top 10 rated restaurants. That's just where I live, where I work there are tons of amazing places that serve fresh vegetables (I'm a vegetarian/wannabe vegan) & it's never crowded. For me, food is a HUGE selling point on never leaving - one of my favorite restaurants, Juvia (a sushi restaurant) is 10 min from downtown / midtown.
The neighborhoods are awesome.
There are 4 main neighborhoods in downtown Miami & they're all pretty kick ass. I don't own a car and I am able to traverse these neighborhoods daily on my way to & from work. A handful of my friends do the same. You've got
Brickell which is essentially the financial district & home to tons of startups, including 1Sale, .CO & LearnerNation as well as the amazing coworking space - Pipeline. Tons of great places to eat & bunch of really fun bars, you're just a stones throw away from Vizcaya & the Miami Museum of Science.
Midtown / Wynwood which is literally filled to the brim with Art & Music. You can be walking through the streets & see graffiti artists working on a commissioned piece any time of the year and you can't forget about the monthly artwalk through the 20+ art galleries. The coolest musical acts pass through (there was just this awesome festival called iii points) all the time & it's home to what Rolling Stone recently named one of the best dance clubs in America. Plus there is a ton of really great restaurants, between Sugarcane & Wynwood Kitchen / Bar. That's not even mentioning the massive coworking / event space: LAB Miami. Oh & I can't forget the awesome indie theatre, O Cinema!
Downtown is also brimming with awesomeness - you've got the American Airlines Arena, home to the now back-to-back NBA champions :), tons of awesome restaurants, Bayfront & some really great music venues like the Gusman theatre & Grand Central. You've also got a really awesome park called Grand Central Park with a skate park built in. All of this is within walking distance or a few steps to a metro mover.
Biscayne Corridor is great for people who love to be physically fit, there are like 3 bikeshops within 10 blocks; Margaret Pace park, a beautiful waterfront park & a bunch of cute little spanish restaurants amid all the bay view condos. It's right between downtown & midtown so you get a little of both :)
The developer ecosystem is healthy & growing!
Back when I first started web development in South Florida there was not a lot of community involvement from companies. Now there are a bunch of really great companies providing a lot of support to the developer community & doing really cool things. Larger companies with revenue in the millions like .CO, 1Sale, ISPrime, CareCloud & OpenEnglish are providing space, sponsoring events & consistently hiring talented programmers at above market rates to compete with all of the smaller startups here in Miami.
There are regular meetups around Ruby, Python, Front End, Android & iOS development. The ruby brigade is tons of fun. They're hosted all over, LAB Miami, O Cinema, 1Sale HQ, CareCloud hq & more. As a developer, I can go to any of these events any week of the month & learn / meet new people!
Finally the growth that RefreshMiami has seen has been amazing. Growing from a few guys in a coffee shop to 400-500 people attending & $150k in funding from the Knight Foundation to focus on improving the content quality & connecting more people to the tech community down here.
I can't forget about all of the other awesome (200+) startups here in Miami! Check them out on MapYourStartup!
The over all entrepreneurial climate is awesome.
For a while, it was really hard to meet investors here in South Florida, but they've really opened up & made their presence known as the community has shown it's first signs of maturity. We're fortunate enough to have some pretty damn smart investors - the very same people who put money into companies like Salesforce, TaskRabbit, Rapleaf, Summit Series & GetAround have offices here and are making investments.
Here is a breakdown of the players in the ecosystem...
On top of those killer investors, no matter what co-working space you're at or area you're in there is support. Everyone is always trying to lift everyone else because they know that "a rising tide lifts all ships". Whether it's a monthly entrepreneurship dinner, a facebook group to ask web development questions, a customer referral or referring you to a journalist for a story - we all care & I'm so happy to be a part of this ecosystem.
The weather :D
Lastly, the weather in Florida is unparalleled from November to March. It's usually pretty good the rest of the year too, but the late fall to early spring stretch is so damn amazing I don't know if I'll ever leave.
Oh p.s. Free RubyConf ticket & 1Sale is hiring!
So at 1Sale are sponsoring RubyConf & happen to have an extra ticket - we'd really love to give it to an awesome Ruby dev - all you need to do is (something awesome) & send it to firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll even cover your flight if you're extra awesome!
Finally - we're hiring for Ruby Developers, Front End Engineers & UI/UX Designers. We offer relocation packages & generally awesome compensation. You can apply here: http://1sale.com/jobs/