Downtown Miami vs. Miami Beach: Where's the living better?

Downtown Miami and Miami Beach are just across the causeway from one another — but can sometimes feel farther apart than the few miles that separate them.

One a vital Miami neighborhood, the other a glitzy city in its own right, these two areas are go-tos for Miami dwellers. But have you ever wondered how they stack up against each other? 

Using data from a variety of private sources like Yelp and Zumper, along with public census data, we crunched the numbers to look at how these two areas differ, from rental prices to restaurant density and types of cuisine.

Here's your Downtown Miami versus Miami Beach matchup, by the numbers.

Food & Culture

Downtown Miami currently has approximately 146 restaurants per square mile, whereas Miami Beach has close to 92 restaurants per square mile. This represents a greater than 59% difference in the density of restaurants in these neighborhoods. We also looked at restaurant volume by population and found that Miami Beach has a far greater number of restaurants per thousand residents when compared to Downtown (8.43 vs 5.58).

While the difference in restaurant density might be stark, these neighborhoods are fairly evenly matched when it comes to restaurant quality. According to reviews published by local Yelpers, the average rating of Downtown restaurants is 3.09 stars (out of five), while those in Miami Beach have an average rating of 3.03. This represents a very marginal difference — likely too small to read into.

When you start to look at restaurants by cuisine, though, things get a little more interesting.

In spite of a lower density of restaurants overall, Miami Beach bests Downtown Miami when it comes to Mexican and Italian food. Not only does Miami Beach have more Mexican restaurants per square mile (3.67 vs 2.84), but on average they’re also higher-rated than their counterparts in Downtown Miami. According to Yelpers, Mexican restaurants in Miami Beach have an average rating of 3.16 stars, as compared to three stars for those in Downtown. While not to the same extent, this is also true for Italian restaurants, with Italian spots in Miami Beach getting more favorable ratings on average.

The numbers don’t lie: Miamians love to brunch. Although both areas score highly for breakfast and brunch options, Downtown Miami takes the (pan)cake with far more local favorites nearby (14.75 vs 9.12 restaurants per square mile), as well as better average ratings (3.64 vs 3.48 stars).

Both Downtown Miami and Miami Beach have some great art galleries. Downtown Miami boasts 8.79 art galleries per square mile, compared to 4.5 in Miami Beach. The equation flips the other way when you look at the numbers by population, with Miami Beach having almost twice as many art galleries per thousand residents (0.27 vs 0.14).

Miami has always been one of America’s biggest nightlife destinations, and both Miami Beach and Downtown have many local favorites. But if you're looking for a fun night out that's easier on the wallet, heading Downtown may be your best bet.

According to the data, the average nightlife establishment in Miami Beach is close to 5% more expensive than Downtown, but Yelpers rate the bars and nightclubs in Downtown higher than those in Miami Beach, with average ratings of 3.2 and 2.8, respectively. 

Cost of Living

In April, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Downtown Miami was $2,000, almost 20% higher than the $1,675 median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Miami Beach.

The median size of a 1-bedroom apartment rental in Downtown Miami (800 square feet) was almost 16% higher than similar apartments in Miami Beach (690 square feet). That means that even though you may get a little more space with a 1-bedroom apartment in Downtown, Miami Beach gives you a marginally bigger bang for your buck.

    The equation changes when looking at larger luxury apartments with three or more bedrooms. The median rental price per square foot in Miami Beach was 21% higher than in Downtown Miami for 3-bedroom apartments, and more than 5% higher for 4-bedroom apartments.

    Based on our analysis of Yelp’s price-range data, the average pizza shop in Downtown Miami is approximately 7.5% more expensive than the average pizza joint in Miami Beach.

    Conversely, the average coffee shop in Downtown Miami is almost 6% cheaper than the average coffee shop in Miami Beach.

    In our analysis, Downtown Miami also came out to be slightly more affordable when we compared health and fitness locations. Gyms and workout studios in Downtown Miami are on average 9% cheaper than those in Miami Beach.


    Access to education can be a big part of what makes a strong community. We looked at the number of schools and educational institutions in these two areas and found that Downtown Miami has 1.29 educational institutions per thousand residents, as compared to 0.86 in Miami Beach — a difference of 50%.

    In sharp contrast, Miami Beach has a far greater density of religious organizations, with approximately 0.33 organizations per thousand people, compared to 0.23 in Downtown Miami.

    According to the data, Miami Beach also has 0.13 childcare facilities per thousand residents compared with 0.08 childcare facilities per thousand residents in Downtown Miami, representing a difference of more than 62%.

    Miami Beach also comes in sightly ahead of Downtown Miami when it comes to hospitals and medical centers, with 0.22 facilities per thousand residents, compared to 0.17 for Downtown Miami.

    Miami is for the dogs, and both areas have a large volume of dog walkers and petsitting providers, but here too Miami Beach comes out a little ahead with 0.35 dog walkers and petsitting providers per thousand residents, compared to 0.24 in Downtown.

    However, Downtown Miami has a greater density of public parks, with 3.69 parks per square mile compared to Miami Beach's 2.13.

    So, which area comes out on top? It depends what you're after — but both Miami Beach and Downtown have much to recommend them.