Known worldwide as the home of the glitzy and glamorous, South Beach, is also one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. More than 400,000 people live in an area of less than 36 square miles which is penned in by two of Florida's most beautiful landscapes: the marshy diversity of the Everglades and sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay. Despite the high population density and modern infrastructure, Miami has excellent air and water quality, ranking as America's Cleanest City for 2008. Miami's high fashion and great weather have made it an extremely popular city for new residents. During the past 100 years its population has exploded so rapidly that the city has garnered the nickname "the Magic City."

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As you would expect for such a popular destination, living in Miami doesn't come cheap. As one of the richest cities in the United States, Miami is also one of the least affordable to live in, with housing costs eating up over 42% of the average person's income, more than 15% above the national average. Miami is also nearly 50% above the national average for overall cost of living. The average cost of a house or condo in Miami was over $400,000 in 2007, which exceeds the average for the state of Florida by more than $100,000.

The high population density in Miami has created a lot of demand for housing, so the city is in the midst of a high-rise building boom. Modern condominiums and apartments are the order of the day in Miami, especially downtown, but the city also has some excellent specimens of historic architectural styles, both public and private. The Miami Beach Art Deco District is the largest collection of such buildings - over 800 - in the world. Miami was also the epicenter of a new architectural movement in the 1950s and 1960s that became known as MiMo or Miami Modernist, which featured the stark lines of modernist architecture with an artistic flair.

These are the most eccentric examples of housing in Miami, however. Most of Miami's neighborhoods consist of ordinary single family homes and condominium complexes. Some, like Coconut Grove and Coral Gables, are older with a historic feel and tree-lined streets, while others are more modern suburban planned communities. Expansion is limited, however, by the surrounding national parks, so development tends to occur up rather than out. The most expensive part of town is the northeast, where you'll find the Design District and the Upper East Side.

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