The Real Cost of Living in Fort Lauderdale

Are you planning a move or just curious about the cost of living in Fort Lauderdale? Living in this sought-after Florida city means navigating a cost of living that’s 21% over the national average. From the price of a beachfront condo to the cost of a grocery cart, our guide walks you through what to expect financially without unnecessary jargon or sales pitches.

We live locally, and a lot of this website has various recommendations on where to eat, visit, and hang out in Fort Lauderdale.  We cited many sources, including Rent Cafe, in creating this guide, so a lot of research went into presenting the facts about our home town.  If you ever have questions, feel free to leave a comment or email us!  We’re here to help!

How Much Does it Costa to Live in Fort Lauderdale?

  • The cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is 21% higher than the national average, significantly influenced by housing, utilities, transportation, and groceries.
  • The median household income in Fort Lauderdale is $75,376, and employing the 50/30/20 budgeting rule can help manage expenses and savings effectively.
  • Fort Lauderdale’s real estate market is trending upward with median home prices at $459,612 in 2024, and despite the absence of state income tax, sales and property taxes must be factored into the cost of living.

Navigating the Fort Lauderdale Cost Landscape

City skyline at night in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is no exception to the rule that beauty comes at a price. The cost of living here is 21% higher than the national average and 20% higher than the state average. However, don’t let these numbers deter you. It’s all about understanding where your money is going and how you can get the most value out of every dollar spent.

Breaking down the cost landscape in Fort Lauderdale reveals that the main expenses lie in:

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Groceries

Analyzing each of these categories will provide a comparison with your current city and other cities or states.

Housing Affordability: Renting vs. Buying

Real estate market in Fort Lauderdale

In Fort Lauderdale, the choice between renting and buying is a significant decision. Here are some factors to consider:

  • The typical monthly rent cost for an apartment here falls within the range of $2,000 to $2,859.
  • The median price for purchasing a home is $699.9K.
  • Your lifestyle preferences, financial readiness, and housing market trends can influence the best choice for you.

The real estate market in Fort Lauderdale has been on an upward trend, with home prices increasing by 2.4% to 4.7% compared to the previous year. This dynamic market, coupled with the city’s allure, makes buying a home an appealing long-term investment for some. Yet, others might find renting more appealing for its lower upfront costs and greater flexibility.

Utility Bills: Estimating Monthly Costs

After housing, utilities form a significant part of the monthly expenditures. The cost of utilities in Fort Lauderdale is 6% higher than the national average. This makes it more expensive for residents to cover their basic living expenses. This includes:

  • electricity
  • water
  • gas
  • garbage disposal

Factors such as the size of your home and your consumption habits can influence your estimated monthly costs.

Budgeting for utilities is not just about setting aside money. It’s also about mindful consumption. Simple measures like using energy-efficient appliances, managing heating and cooling needs, and reducing water usage can help control these costs.

Transportation: Getting Around in Fort Lauderdale

Busy highway in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is predominantly a car-centric city. Some key points about car ownership in Fort Lauderdale are:

  • The estimated annual cost to own and operate a new car here is $10,728
  • Florida residents pay an average of $6,765 per year for car ownership
  • Gasoline prices can vary, but residents often rely on services like GasBuddy to find economical options within their vicinity.

If you prefer public transportation or a combination of both, Fort Lauderdale offers the following options:

  • Community Shuttle
  • Tri-Rail
  • Water Taxi
  • Regular transit services
  • Ride-sharing options

With a single one-way fare of $2 to a 31-day adult bus pass for $70, public transportation can be an affordable alternative to owning a car.

Groceries and Food Expenses

Fresh produce at a local market in Fort Lauderdale

Feeding oneself or a family is a significant part of the monthly budget. Grocery prices in Fort Lauderdale surpass the national average by 19%. The average expenditure on groceries per individual typically falls within the range of $350 to $500 per month, with variations based on the household size.

While the cost might be higher, there are ways to mitigate these expenses. Fort Lauderdale has several discount grocery stores like $.99 Farmer’s Market, Supersaver Supermarket, and Save A Lot. Alternatively, shopping at farmers’ markets or growing your own vegetables can also help reduce your grocery bill.

Crafting Your Budget: Income vs. Living Expenses in Fort Lauderdale

Financial planning and budgeting

Once you have a fair idea of the key expenses, the next step is to craft a budget that balances your income with these living expenses. The median household income in Fort Lauderdale is reported to be $75,376. This figure represents the midpoint of household incomes in the area. However, on average, residents allocate 30% or more of their income towards housing expenses.

To ensure a comfortable lifestyle without stretching your resources thin, consider applying the 50/30/20 budgeting rule. This rule recommends allocating 50% of your income to necessities, 30% to discretionary spending, and 20% to savings and debt repayment.

Understanding the Median Household Income

The median household income in Fort Lauderdale is reported to be $75,376. This figure represents the midpoint of household incomes in the area. This figure can help you determine if you can maintain a comfortable standard of living in the city. However, remember that factors such as overall economic conditions, per capita income, and poverty rates can affect this median income.

Over the years, the median household income in Fort Lauderdale has shown an upward trend, increasing from $64,313 in the previous year to $66,994 in the latest data. This increase in median income, coupled with the city’s vibrant lifestyle, makes Fort Lauderdale an attractive destination despite the higher cost of living.

The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule Applied

Balancing income with expenses is crucial for financial stability. The 50/30/20 rule can be a useful guide in this process. According to this rule, you should allocate:

  • 50% of your after-tax income to essential needs (housing, food, utilities)
  • 30% to personal wants and lifestyle choices
  • 20% towards saving and paying off debts.

In practice, the 50/30/20 rule can help you create a clear financial plan. It allows you to cover your necessities, enjoy your income, and still ensure a secure financial future. Remember, this rule is a guideline, not a rigid framework. You can adjust the percentages based on your lifestyle and financial goals.

Fort Lauderdale’s Tax Environment

One of the financial advantages of living in Fort Lauderdale is the absence of state income tax. This means residents can keep a larger portion of their income. However, residents still pay sales and property taxes. Fort Lauderdale’s property tax rate is marginally lower than the national average, standing at 1.54% compared to the national average of 1.89%.

Apart from the state income tax, other taxes like sales tax (currently at 7%) and property tax also contribute to the overall cost of living in Fort Lauderdale. You must consider these taxes in your budget when deciding on the affordability of this city.

Lifestyle Quality and Cost: Can You Afford the Good Life?

Living in Fort Lauderdale is not just about surviving; it’s about thriving. The city of Fort Lauderdale FL offers a good quality of life with a plethora of recreational, cultural, and social opportunities. However, maintaining a high lifestyle quality comes at a cost. Expenses like gym memberships, healthcare, and leisure activities can add up quickly.

Balancing lifestyle quality and cost in Fort Lauderdale requires careful budgeting and prioritizing expenses. By planning your budget wisely, you can enjoy the best of what the city offers without straining your finances. After all, a good life is not just about how much you spend, but how well you spend it.

Comparing Fort Lauderdale Prices to Other Florida Cities

How does Fort Lauderdale compare to other Florida cities in terms of cost of living? Here are some comparisons:

  • Fort Lauderdale is 7.1% less expensive than Miami
  • Fort Lauderdale is 4.2% more expensive than Orlando
  • When it comes to housing, the costs in Fort Lauderdale are significantly higher, with a 70.2% increase compared to Jacksonville.

However, it’s not all grim. Compared to housing and utility costs, grocery prices in Fort Lauderdale are lower, with a 13.2% difference compared to Tampa. This comparison can help you determine whether Fort Lauderdale is the right fit for your budget and lifestyle.

Making Sense of the Numbers: Using a Living Calculator

When it comes to financial planning, making sense of the numbers is crucial. This is where a living calculator can be a handy tool. A living calculator, or a cost of living calculator, can provide an estimation of the income required to sustain a particular standard of living in Fort Lauderdale. By using this tool, you can get a better understanding of the living index and living compared to other locations.

The living calculator considers essential costs like housing, transportation, and groceries to provide a tailored estimate of the overall cost of living. While it may not be 100% accurate, it offers a reasonably good start in understanding how much you need to earn to live comfortably in Fort Lauderdale.

Real Estate Market Snapshot: Fort Lauderdale 2024

The real estate market in Fort Lauderdale has been on an upward trend. The median home price stands at $459,612 in 2024, reflecting a 2.4% increase from the previous year. This upward trend is expected to continue, with home prices expected to rise by approximately 1% to 2% above the current inflation rate in the coming year.

However, these rising prices don’t necessarily translate into bad news. Higher property prices could mean a good return on investment for homeowners. If you’re considering buying a home, monitoring market trends and making informed decisions is vital.

Planning for Education and Childcare Costs

Education and childcare costs are significant considerations if you’re planning to raise a family in Fort Lauderdale. The average annual cost of private education is $13,278, while public schools allocate approximately $10,480 per student annually. In addition to education, childcare costs can significantly impact a family’s budget, ranging from $162 per week to $903 per month.

These costs can be a significant portion of your budget, particularly for families with more than one child. However, by planning ahead and exploring various education and childcare options, you can ensure that your children receive the best care and education without breaking the bank.

The Hidden Costs: Insurance and Unexpected Expenses

Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant. Hidden costs like insurance and unexpected expenses can significantly impact your budget. In Fort Lauderdale, homeowners generally incur an annual cost of $3,547 for insurance, while health insurance averages at $467 per person. To better prepare for these expenses, consider calculating the four estimated monthly costs to ensure you stay on track with your budget.

Preparing for these unexpected expenses involves creating an emergency fund equivalent to three to six months’ worth of total expenses. This fund serves as a financial safety net for unexpected needs like home and auto repairs, medical emergencies, or unexpected travel.

Adapting to Life in Fort Lauderdale: Tips from Locals

While adapting to life in a new city poses a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for learning and growth. In Fort Lauderdale, understanding the local cost landscape and being prepared for fluctuations in expenses is crucial. According to locals, they handle daily expenditures with financial prudence, especially in light of the city’s above-average cost of living.

Locals suggest considering the following neighborhoods for more affordable housing options in the city:

  • Central Beach
  • Imperial Point
  • Rio Vista
  • Sailboat Bend
  • Tarpon River

Interacting with local residents can provide invaluable insights into the city’s job prospects, landmarks, culture, and challenges.

Overall, we love living in Ft Lauderdale because of the climate, although the average temperature in the Summer is a little harsh, so we try to travel to cooler climates during the Summer months.


Living in Fort Lauderdale comes with its unique set of financial challenges, but with careful planning and budgeting, it’s possible to enjoy the city’s vibrant lifestyle without breaking the bank. Whether you’re considering moving to Fort Lauderdale or are a new resident, understanding the cost landscape, seeking advice from locals, and being prepared for fluctuations in expenses can help you navigate the city’s cost landscape with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Fort Lauderdale expensive to live in?

Yes, Fort Lauderdale can be more expensive to live in compared to other cities in Florida, with the total living expense per year ranging from $28,300 to $51,800 including housing, food, utilities, transportation, and other costs. The cost of living in Fort Lauderdale is around 20% higher than the state average and 21% higher than the national average.

What salary do you need to live in Fort Lauderdale?

To live comfortably in Fort Lauderdale, you should aim for a salary of at least $65,080 annually, based on the 30% rule for rent. This would ensure that you’re not spending more than one-third of your gross income on rent.

Is it cheaper to live in Fort Lauderdale or Miami?

Living in Fort Lauderdale is generally cheaper than Miami, with lower housing costs including rent and home prices.

Is Fort Lauderdale Florida a good place to live?

Yes, Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a great place to live with its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, diverse culture, and a wide range of dining and entertainment options. It offers an urban feel with many amenities and a diverse community.

What are the main expenses in Fort Lauderdale?

The main expenses in Fort Lauderdale are housing, utilities, transportation, and groceries. These are the key areas where your budget should be focused.

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Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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