Alligators, mosquitoes and only 1 million Americans. This is what Florida looked like 100 years ago, a suffocating and almost uninhabitable state, then largely swamp-covered by the Everglades. But that was before the air conditioner. Since the 1950s, the Sunshine State has established itself as a tourist destination and a preferred retirement home. For a long time, the place where 22 million Americans now live (in 2032 there will be 25 million) was considered old-fashioned and superficial. But in America things can change very quickly. Today, the adopted land of Shakira, Tiger Woods, the late Gianni Versace and Donald Trump – he resides in Mar-a-Lago, his rococo palace in Palm Beach – is becoming “the place to be.”
Florida, the 3rd most populous US state
© / Infographic by Dario Ingiusto
“People used to come here to visit their grandparents or finish their days there themselves; now people in their forties from Wall Street and Silicon Valley are coming to settle their families, relocate their businesses, build their lives,” says Christopher McKnight, an entrepreneur who said goodbye to New York four years ago to run his business remotely from Parkland, a residential area north of Miami that is home to one of 1,100 golf courses in Florida (and where fourteen students died in a school shooting five years ago).
“In New York, where I run a remote monitoring company, I was exhausted at work. Here I discovered a new way of life,” he explains, sitting in a shopping mall in Aventura, in the northern suburbs of Miami. I wake up under blue skies , I drink coffee in the garden, I look at the palm trees around and I say to myself: I will never come back to live in Manhattan again.
This 40-year-old man isn’t the only one to swap out his suit and tie for a sporty T-shirt. Every day, a thousand Americans land in Florida. They come from everywhere: from New York and Boston, from the Midwest (Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit), from Seattle (northwest of the country), from California. In one decade, the population increased by 15%, twice that of the rest of the United States (331 million souls). And over the past three years, it has gained 1 million inhabitants. Currently the third most populous state after California and Texas, Florida overtook New York in 2014.
Since the last census, the twenty-eighth seat has been allocated to Florida’s representation in the Washington Congress to reflect its demographics. Conversely, the states of New York, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania lost one seat. Meanwhile, Texas gained two seats. This is the main trend known to demographers: there is a movement of internal migration from north to south.
Joe Biden Successor Candidates Crowd in Florida
Politically, Florida weighs more and more. There are no fewer than five Republican candidates looming in the 2024 presidential election: Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis, two senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and a vibrant Miami mayor, Francis X. Suarez, who wants to make his city the capital. . “The next US president will be from Florida!” wants to believe Republican MP from Florida Mario Diaz-Balart, whose aunt was the first wife of Fidel Castro! – which rules out the re-election of octogenarian Joe Biden.
View of Miami from Miami Beach, Florida
© / AG
From an economic standpoint, Florida’s prosperity is visible to the naked eye everywhere. In Miami, for example, which includes two municipalities – the slender island of Miami Beach, facing the ocean, and Miami Tote Court, on the mainland, where the business district is located – there are three times more skyscrapers on the skyline than a decade earlier. Buildings and villas are being built everywhere. Yachts, malls, restaurants, fashion boutiques, gyms, hotels with swimming pools and art galleries are multiplying like hot cakes.
If not, then traffic jams are daily. “Rush hour starts at 3:30 pm instead of 4:30 pm three years ago!” says Vivian Goode, a Cuban-American who came to Florida in the 1960s. When the movement is smooth, some kind of slalom at breakneck speed, like in the chase in the series “Two Cops in Miami” (Miami Vice). Times are changing: the danger in “Magic City” (Miami’s nickname) is no longer free-falling crime, but traffic accidents.
Florida is freedom! This is real America!”
But why is Florida, like California in the past, a magnet? Part of the answer lies in one word: taxation. Like seven other states, including Texas and Alaska, Florida has no income tax. Here only the federal state collects taxpayers. “In New York, where I lived for twenty years, I was taxed at a rate of 54%, details, in Palm Beach fund manager Paul Epstein, a fifty-year-old man whose income is in the upper bracket. Here I pay only 37% Knowing that in New York, private tuition easily reaches $40,000 a year and, on the contrary, the public schools here are of good quality, I saved a lot of money by moving to the sun,” welcomes this fifty-year-old millionaire.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after a building collapse in Surfside, north of Miami, on July 3, 2021.
©/Getty Images via AFP
Another key to success is the Covid-19 policy. After six weeks of beach closures, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is changing his stance: there will be no isolation, no vaccinations, and no mandatory masks during the pandemic. “Florida is freedom; here is the real America, like in the days of Ronald Reagan,” summarizes the entrepreneur in a T-shirt and sneakers (and not vaccinated) Christopher McKnight, delighted with the fact that he left New York “and his democratic nonsense. “. Result? The record is not much different from California, where the rules were strict. Therefore, it is not surprising that the governor was re-elected last November, ahead of his Democratic opponent by 19 points. I must say that with unemployment at 2.5% and good In Florida, everyone smiles, even sports results: the players of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the hockey players of the Tampa Bay Lightning won their championships in 2021.
Starting before Covid, the hype in Florida has been accelerated by remote work. “Originally we thought about going back to New York, but after tasting the tropics, the temporary became permanent,” testifies independent designer and father James Sanderson, who now lives with his Hispanic wife thirty minutes from the Bahamas. and two hours from Costa Rica. David Zalben, another neo-Floridian who owns the Pink Bastard fashion boutique in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, agrees: “The people here may be less sophisticated than in New England, but they’re more friendly.” Actress Celia Gruss, a 7-year-old Miami Beach resident, adds: “There are hellish parties here like crazy at the Bitcoin 2021 conference, with DJ Deadmau5 on the decks. It lasted three days, with amazing sound and a crazy laser. effects. It was like Ibiza in 1992!” concludes this yogi and Gov. DeSantis like a connoisseur.
Pink Bastards store in Wynwood, Miami.
© / AG L’Express
The Florida mania is also fueling the growth of the real estate market. Prices have increased by 70% since 2020. Those of luxury housing are skyrocketing. “There’s nothing left to sell on Palm Beach,” says real estate agent Ines Flaks. “But in Miami, on Star Island, a private island with thirty exceptional villas—Madonna owned hers; Gloria Estefan still lives there – transactions are going well, with six houses changing hands this year and in 2021 compared to one a year in previous years, which shows the viability of the market.” Less expensive 140-square-meter apartments with sea views are trading for “as little as” $1 million.
For its part, Miami City’s business district is undergoing a metamorphosis. What was once a ghost town is popping up with businesses, hotels, a massive Apple Store and more. A “signature bridge” is being built with six giant arches in the sky, which will soon give a visual identity to the metropolis. “Like Manhattan, our downtown will soon be alive twenty-four hours a day,” promises developer and cruise line executive Russell W. Galbut. And soon, in 2023, Miami will be connected to Orlando by a new Bright Line rail line, fully funded by the private sector. It will then spread to Tampa, also thriving on Florida’s west coast.
“Florida is the epicenter of everything cool!”
After driving along the Ronald Reagan Highway (which crosses the entire region), we land at the opening of a chic rooftop restaurant in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood, famous for its murals. Among the well-dressed men and women in high heels, we find local personality Tara Salomon sipping a cocktail under the starry sky at the bar. A former celebrity journalist for the Miami Herald, now head of the public relations agency, she is the one who provides the “com” of the event, which coincides with the Art Basel Miami contemporary art fair. [chaque année début décembre].
“Florida, and especially Miami, is the epicenter of everything cool: music, design, fashion, culinary arts,” enthuses this kid from the Sunshine State. Here we define a new way of life, where parties and remote work. It’s in the air. The energy is there, tangible, fueled by the melting pot of Latinos, the world of creators, and the money flowing from everywhere.” This is how Florida reinvents the American dream.