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Economic Insights

Driver License Exchanges in Southeast Florida Continue to Normalize in 2024 Q1 But are Still Higher than Pre-Pandemic Levels

Economic Insights
Economic Insights from the MIAMI REALTORS Chief Economist

By Gay Cororaton, MIAMI REALTORS Chief Economist

Driver license exchanges from out-of-state movers continued to trend down in 2024 Q1 but are still above the pre-pandemic level. In 2024 Q1, 16,906 people who established residency in the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin exchanged their out-of-state driver license exchanges for a Florida license, a 16% decline from 2023 Q1, but a 6% increase from 2019 Q1 (+917 people), according to MIAMI REALTORS® analysis of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data[1]. New residents must exchange their out-of-state license for a Florida driver’s license within 30 days after establishing residency to drive on Florida’s roads.

 

Miami-Dade County Drives the Increase in Out-of-State Driver License Exchanges Since 2019

 

In 2024 Q1, out-of-state driver license exchanges in Miami-Dade County decreased 6% year-over-year but were 21% higher than in 2019 Q1 (+897 people).

 

In Broward County and Palm Beach County, out-of-state driver license exchanges declined 20% to levels at par with 2019 Q1. In Martin County, driver license exchanges fell 5% in 2024 Q1 to about the same level in 2019 Q1.

 

Out-of-state driver license exchanges surged in 2021-2022, driven by more remote/hybrid work and a surge in retirement (indicated by the drop in labor force participation among workers 55+ years old). Those forces have waned, so migration has slowed. In 2023, net domestic migration in Florida eased to 194,439 from 317,923 in 2022, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2023 population estimates.

 

However, Southeast Florida’s strong economic fundamentals—strong job growth and  relatively lower real estate taxes —continue to attract people from other states. In February 2024, total employment rose at a faster year-over-year pace than nationally (0.6%) in Miami-Dade (2.0%), Broward (1.6%),  Palm Beach (1.2%), and Martin (1.2%) with strong job growth in health and education, leisure/hospitality, and trade/transportation.[2] Florida has lower effective real property tax rates (median real estate taxes to median property values) at 0.73% in 2022 than states like New York (1.5%), Texas (1.6%), Connecticut (1.8%), Illinois (2%) and New Jersey (2%).[3]

 

New York and California Driver License Exchanges Remain Outpace Pre-Pandemic Levels

 

New York, New Jersey, and California were the top origins of out-of-state drive license exchanges. While the number of driver license exchanges continued to trend down, the levels are still higher than in 2019 Q1. New York driver license exchanges  decreased to 3,853 in 2024 Q1, down 21% year-over-year, but up 18% from 2019 Q1 (578 more people than in 2019 Q1). California driver license exchanges decreased 13% to 1,403 but were 40% higher than in 2019 Q1 (401 more people than in 2019 Q1).

 

Foreign Driver License Exchanges Have Nearly Quadrupled Since 2019

 

In 2024 Q1, there were 10,691 foreign driver license exchanges, a decline of 14% from one year ago but about fourfold the level in 2021 Q1 (data on foreign license exchanges is not available for prior years). Foreign driver license exchanges accounted for 52% of total driver license exchanges in 2024 Q1 from 35% in 2021 Q1.

 

Cuba, Haiti, and Colombia were the top origins of foreign driver license exchanges. There has been a huge surge in driver license exchanges since 2021 Q1 from people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Ukraine.

[1] Converting Your Out of State Drivers License to a Florida License (dmvflorida.org)

[2] Education/Health, Leisure/Hospitality, Trade/Transportation Lead Employment Gains in Southeast Florida in 2023 Q3 – MIAMI REALTORS®

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

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