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Economic Insights

Southeast Florida Sees Sustained Migration in 2023 with Driver License Exchanges up 8%

Economic Insights
Economic Insights from the MIAMI REALTORS Chief Economist

By Gay Cororaton, MIAMI REALTORS Chief Economist

Migration into Southeast Florida from other states and abroad in 2023 remained strong compared to the pre-pandemic level based on driver license exchanges, an early indicator of migration trends.[1] In 2023, 153,347 driver licenses were exchanged for a Florida license in the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin, up 8.3% from the level in 2022 (141,621). Altogether, these four counties accounted for 27% of the 572,797 driver license exchanges in Florida in 2023.

Out-of-state driver license exchanges (73,068) fell 8.7% from 2022 but  were 12.7% higher from 2019. The normalization of the pandemic-induced surge, rising interest rates, and sustained home price appreciation may help explain the decline in domestic migration in 2023 after peaking in 2022.

New York, New Jersey, and California continue to be the top states among out-of-state driver license exchanges. Despite the slowdown in 2023, driver license exchanges remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels for migration from New York (+26.9%), New Jersey (+12.5%), and California (+43.2%). The migration trend from driver license exchanges is consistent with official state-level migration data released by the US Census Bureau that New York, New Jersey, and California were the top states with the largest net migration flow into Florida in 2022.[2]

While out-of-state driver licenses slowed in 2023, foreign driver license exchanges kept up the strong growth, rising 30.4% from 2022. Cuba, Haiti, and Colombia were the top origins of foreign driver license exchanges. The lifting of  COVID travel restrictions in March 2023 as well as current political conditions in these countries may account for the increased migration into Southeast Florida.

 

Miami-Dade

In Miami-Dade County, driver license exchanges rose 15.9%, driven by both out-of-state driver license exchanges (+1.2%)  and foreign driver license exchanges (+24.2%).

Compared to 2019, out-of-state driver license exchanges are up 21%, with very elevated levels among the top states of origin: New York,  (+41%),  California (+56%), and New Jersey (+29%), the top feeder states of out-of-state license exchanges.

Foreign driver license exchanges  (46,920) more than doubled the out-of-state driver license exchanges (21,573), with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Colombia as the top origins of out-of-state drivers. Among these countries, those coming from Venezuela and Colombia are more likely to be homebuyers, according to the 2023 International Homebuyer Transactions of MIAMI Members.

 

Broward County

In Broward County, driver license exchanges rose 10% as the increase in foreign driver license exchanges (+35.5%) more than offset the decline in out-of-state driver license exchanges (-7.8%). Compared to 2019, out-of-state driver license exchanges were up 10% and remain high relative to pre-pandemic levels: New York (+25%), New Jersey (+15%), and California (+29%).

Haiti, Colombia, and Venezuela were the top origins of foreign driver license exchanges.

 

Palm Beach County  

In Palm Beach, driver license exchanges fell 4% as out-of-state driver license exchanges fell 16%. However, out-of-state driver license exchanges are up 11% from 2019, with elevated levels among the top feeder states: New York (+21% ), New Jersey (+6%), and California (+41%).

Foreign driver license exchanges rose a strong 50% in 2023, with Haiti, Cuba, and Colombia as the top sources of foreign driver license exchanges.

 

Martin County

Out-of-state driver license exchanges fell 14%  from 2022 and are also 3% below the level in 2019. However, driver license exchanges are still higher  compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels among New York (+7%) and California (+44%) movers but declined among New Jersey movers (-10%).

Foreign driver license exchanges surged (+68.4%) in 2023, with Venezuela, Canada, and Hati as the top countries of origin.

 

Positive migration outlook in 2024

Migration from other states and from abroad into Southeast Florida is likely to remain strong in 2024 due to the area’s strong job growth, a rising retiree population, and Florida’s low tax environment.

As of November 2023, employment rose at a faster pace than nationally (+2.1%) in most of Southeast Florida: Miami-Dade (+3.1%), Broward (+3.9%), Palm Beach (+2.0%),  and Martin (+2.8%).

America’s population is aging, and counties like Palm Beach and Martin tend to attract retirees. The number of persons 65 years old and over is most likely to continue to increase through 2100 while the number of other age groups decrease (e.g., the 25-44 years old count will peak in 2035), according to population estimates of the US Census Bureau.[3]

Florida’s lower cost of housing compared to New York and California[4] and its zero tax on personal income will continue to draw people to Florida.

Sustained migration and falling interest rates will bolster demand for for-sale and for-rent housing. In 2024, I expect home sales to increase 7% and home prices to appreciate 5%.[5]

[1] A person who establishes residency in must obtain a driver’s license within 30 days to drive in Florida. See New Resident – Welcome to Florida! – Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (flhsmv.gov). A person who establishes residency in must obtain a driver’s license within 30 days to drive in Florida.

[2] Out-of-State Movers to Florida Hit Highest Level in Nearly Two Decades with New York, California, and New Jersey as Top States of Origin – MIAMI REALTORS®

[3] 2023 National Population Projections Tables: Main Series (census.gov)

[4] Florida Homeowners Typically Spent Less on Housing Expenses than Nationally in 2022 – MIAMI REALTORS®

[5] Southeast Florida 2024 Outlook: Sales Rebound and Sustained Price Appreciation – MIAMI REALTORS®

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