USA (Florida)

Premier Areas of Coverage

All of Miami 
•  Aventura                   •  Coral Gables
•  Dania                          •  Doral
•  Kendall                       •  Key Biscayne
•  Miami Beach             •  Palmetto
•  Pinecrest                    •  Sunny Isles

Broward County 
•  Coral Springs             •  Ft. Lauderdale
•  Hollywood                 •  Miramar
•  Pembroke Pines       •  Plantation
•  Sunrise                        •  Weston

Palm Beach
•  Boca Raton

Country Details

South Florida is one of the top travel destinations in the world. Because of its proximity to Latin America, South Florida serves as headquarters for Latin American operations to more than 1,000 multinational corporations. It also has the largest concentration of international banks in the United States. Its economic strength includes tourism, agriculture, construction and international trade, where 40% of all U.S. exports to Latin and South America pass through South Florida.

Important things to know when renting a property in SE Florida (Miami-Dade & Broward Counties):

Common Expat Areas - The areas where affordable, desirable rentals are most likely to be located within Miami-Dade County are Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Key Biscayne, Doral, Pinecrest and Aventura. In Broward County the areas are Weston, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, Sunrise, Coral Springs and Plantation.

  • Renting from private owners may require a credit check, a letter of employment and three months of up front.  This includes first and last month’s rent and one month of security deposit.
  • New buildings, such as high rises on the beach (both counties), may require additional fees, such an association deposit for common areas, an application fee, a credit check, and up front payments may differ from above.
  • When negotiating a property with a private landlord, first you place an Offer to Lease with one month deposit.  Once everything is agreed upon then you sign the Lease/Rental Agreement, and the other two months of rent (first & last) are due on move in date.

Q&A

  • Who pays rental commission? The landlord pays the rental commission
  • How much is the rental commission? The rental commission is equal to one month’s rent
  • Is an advance rent required? Yes, usually first and last month
  • Who holds the funds up front? The landlord holds the funds
  • Is there a standard lease term? Lease terms are written for one year
  • What is the frequency of payments? Payments are made monthly
  • Is a security deposit required? Yes, a security deposit of one month is required
  • The lease written in what language? The lease is written in English
  • The lease is normally prepared by? The lease is prepared by the realtor
  • Is a business release clause accepted?  No, in Florida there is a Termination Clause automatically included on the lease, the terms of this clause is negotiated on a case by case.  This clause usually includes a penalty for terminating the lease early equal to one or two months of rent

UTILITIES

Electricity - Florida Power & Light (FP&L) - www.fpl.com.  To start electric service, you need your residential address and your social security number, driver license number or passport information. The deposit is equal to two month’s expected electricity use when the home is occupied, based on past usage.  Deposits are refunded in full after 23 months of prompt payment or when the account is closed.

Telephone - To obtain telephone services you are required to have your social security number or a Florida driver license for identification purposes.  The most common telephone companies in SE Florida are:

AT&T – www.att.com - AT&T offers local phone, domestic long distance, fast internet access (DSL), cable TV (through DirectTV satellite) and cell phone services in one bundle price.
Comcast – www.comcast.com - Comcast offers bundle services for local phone, domestic long distance, fast internet access, Cable TV (digital).
Atlantic Broadband – www.atlanticbb.com - Atlantic offers bundle services for local phone, domestic long distance, fast wireless internet access, Cable TV (digital).  This company is mainly used in the apartment buildings on the beach and not in the single family areas.

International Long Distance Calling:
Vonage – www.vonage.com - Vonage is an internet based phone service which offers very reasonable international and local calling rates for one monthly flat fee.  It’s a digital service, therefore you need to have internet in order to use this company
Multiphone – www.multiphone.com - Multiphone allows you to link several phone numbers to your account and can automatically recharge. Skype – www.skype.com

Cable:
Some housing complexes and apartment/condo buildings have a contract with a particular cable company covering the area.  If this is the case, this service may be included in your monthly rent or association payment for basic cable only.  If you rent or purchase a single family home, the cable company will vary based on the location of the property.  The most popular companies are:

Comcast – www.comcast.com
Advanced Cable – www.advancedcable.net
Atlantic Broadband – www.atlanticbb.com

For Satellite Services you can chose from:

DIRECTV - www.directv.com
Dish - www.dish.com

Cellular Phone
There are a variety of cell phone companies that offer you good services.  Most will require you to have your social security number, unless you purchase a pre-paid package.  Their pricing and services vary based on the promotions they are running at the time you purchase your cellular phone and service package.  The most common companies are:

T-Mobile: www.tmobile.com - (800) 937-8997
AT&T: www.att.com - (888) 333-6651
Sprint: www.sprint.com

Some excellent private schools in Dade County are:

In Broward County:

Public school admission will depend on where your residence is located as they are zoned to maintain accurate class sizes.  To learn more about the public school system you can visit www.browardschools.com and www.dadeschools.net

Day Care /Pre-school: Day Care Centers and Pre-schools operate either all year round or during the school year from August to June.  Costs may vary depending on full-time or part-time care.  If your child turns four (4) years of age by September 1, he/she is eligible to participate in Florida's free Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) education program. VPK gives children a jump start by preparing them for school and enhancing their pre-reading, pre-math, language and social skills.

Elementary School: Kindergarten (5-6 years old) your child must be five years old by August 30 in order to enroll in that school year’s Kindergarten class, 1st (6-7), 2nd (7-8), 3rd (8-9), 4th (9-10) and 5th grade (10-11). Public Schools do not have any cost/monthly fee.

Middle School: 6th (11-12), 7th (12-13), 8th (13-14)

High School: 9th (14-15), 10th (15-16), 11th (16-17), 12th (17-18)

Registering your Child/ren

Non-English records may need to be officially translated. Some schools will not require translation of these records or may translate them for free; this requirement will be determined based on the school your child/ren will attend.

Required documentation:

  • Vaccination Records & Physical – you must bring the current vaccination records.  While in Florida, we will assist with the necessary appointments to transfer the vaccinations to the Florida forms required by the Department of Education as well as a complete physical by a local doctor.
  • School records from the your home country
  • Original birth certificate
  • For private schools, you may be required to provide other school documentation such as teachers’ recommendations and written essay(s) by the child(ren).
  • For public schools you will need to provide proof of residence (either a utility bill or copy of a document showing you rent or own a home).

Social Security - In order to qualify for a Social Security number you must have an L1, L2 or H1B Visa.  You can apply after 5-7 business days of entry into the US to allow the Homeland Security Systems to update your entry.

The L2 visa holders (spouse of an L1 visa holder), may apply for a social security number for non- working purposes after 5-7 business days of entry.  In order to obtain an unconditional social security number the L2 Visa holders must obtain a work permit.

In order to apply for your social security number you must apply in person with the following documents:

  • Passport with visa - L1, L2 or H1B
  • I-94 Form - this form will be supplied at the time of entering the US 
  • Marriage certificate (L2 visa only)
  • Birth certificate
  • Work permit (L2 visa only)

ITIN
The ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for dependents of L1 or H1B visa holders that are not eligible for a Social Security number.  The ITIN allows the contributor to declare dependents on their tax return.  The required forms are the W-7 form (in English) or the W-7SP (in Spanish).  For more detailed information you can visitwww.irs.gov.

Driver License – You will be required to obtain a Florida driver’s license within 10 business days of establishing permanent residence (house/apartment). If you have a prior US or Canada driver’s license, you may be exempt of taking the required exams, like the road rules/signs exam and the driving exam.  A driver’s license from most other countries will require you to take the exams mentioned above.  For more information, please visit http://www.flhsmv.gov/html/dlnew.html.

Required documentation:

  • Passport with visa - L1, L2, H1B, H4, etc.
  • I-94 Form - this form will be supplied at the time of entering the US
  • Rental agreement
  • Social Security card
  • Current country license
  • Original birth certificate, as requested

Note: If you or any of your family members has not held a driver license previously, an alcohol and drugs course certificate needs to be presented before taking the written test to obtain a driving permit.  You can obtain your certificate on-line or in one of the appropriate agencies.  The course is approximately four hours, for more information you can visit http://www.firsttimedriver.com.

SunPass Prepaid Toll Program
If you need to travel any of Florida’s toll roads we recommend getting a Florida SunPass, this will save you time and money.  SunPass customers typically pay 25 cents less than cash customers at most toll plazas and exits on Turnpike roads. You can purchase a transponder at participating stores such as Publix supermarkets and CVS pharmacies or directly from the SunPass website at www.sunpass.com.

Hospitals

Malls