Economic Insights

Out-of-State Driver License Exchanges Remain Above Pre-Pandemic Levels in Miami-Dade County in the First Half of 2024

Economic Insights
Economic Insights from the MIAMI REALTORS Chief Economist

Gay Cororaton, Chief Economist, MIAMI REALTORS®

Driver license exchanges in the first half of 2024 are now at par with pre-pandemic levels in most Southeast Florida counties but remain elevated in Miami-Dade County and St. Lucie County, according to Miami Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) analysis of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data. 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. Driver license exchanges reflect the strength of migration to an area.

Driver License Exchanges Decline in First Half of 2024 But Remain Above Pre-Pandemic Level in Miami-Dade and St. Lucie

In the first half of 2024, 36,096 people who established residency in the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie exchanged their out-of-state driver license exchanges for a Florida license. The number of driver license exchanges fell 11.5% (-4,713) from the same period in 2023, but the number was still 6.2% higher (+2,110 people) than the pre-pandemic level in first half of 2019 due to elevated migration in Miami-Dade County and St. Lucie County.

In the first half of 2024, there were 10,348 out-of-state driver license exchanges in Miami-Dade County, 20.7% more (+1,773 people) than in the first half of 2019. From one year ago, driver license exchanges were down 2.4% year-over-year (-250 people), the smallest decline among Southeast Florida counties.

In St. Lucie  County, there were 3,261 driver license exchanges, 19.4% more (+530 people) than in 2019. From one year ago, driver license exchanges fell 12.6% (-468 people).

Palm Beach had the most out-of-state driver license exchanges at 11,480, down 0.6% compared to the level in the first half of 2019 (-69 people) and 14.8% lower (-1,995 people) than one year ago.

In Broward County, there were 9,647 out-of-state driver license exchanges, down 0.7% compared to the number in the  first half of 2019 (-71 people) and 16.4% lower (-1,885 people) than one year ago.

In Martin County, there were 1,360 out-of-state driver license exchanges, down 3.7% from the first half in 2019 (-53 people) and 7.8% year-over-year (-115 people).

New York and California License Exchanges Remain Above from Pre-Pandemic Levels

Across Southeast Florida, the total driver license exchanges were higher in 26 states of origin in the first half of 2024 compared to the first half of 2019 despite the decline from peak levels in 2022.

In Miami-Dade County, driver license exchanges were higher in the first half of 2024 than in the first half of 2019 among 28 states of origin, including the 10 largest states of origin: New York (+35.3%), California (+57.1%), Texas (+19.9%), New Jersey (+22.7%), Illinois (+47.4%), Massachusetts (+16.9%), Pennsylvania (13%), Virginia (+3.8%), and Michigan (+18.1%).

New York driver license exchanges remain elevated compared to the first half of 2019 in all counties despite the decline from 2021-2022 peak levels: Miami-Dade (+35.3%), Broward (+8.6%), Palm Beach (+8.7%), Martin (+25.5%), and St. Lucie (+30.8%)

California driver license exchanges are also above pre-pandemic levels across all counties: Miami-Dade (+57.1%), Broward (+10.1%), Palm Beach (+29.9%) Martin (+48.1%), and St. Lucie (+25.0).

Out-of-state movers have on average higher incomes than people who moved out or lived in the same county, according to MIAMI’s analysis of migration data released by the Internal Revenue Service based on 2021-2022 tax returns. In Miami-Dade County, the average adjusted gross income of households who moved to the county (total adjusted gross income of movers divided by number of tax returns) was $175,600, which is 78% higher than the average income of households who left the county ($98,800) and 79% higher than the income of households who lived in the same county ($98,100).[1]

What’s Attracting People to Southeast Florida?

Out-of-state driver license exchanges surged in 2021-2022 amid the rise of hybrid/remote work and rising retirement among 55+ workers as suggested by the decline in labor force participation rate among 55+ workers, from 40% in February 2022 to 38% as of June 2024.

Corporate relocations and expansions and new business formations have also fueled strong job growth that has outpaced the national job growth. Payroll employment rose at a faster pace in all the Southeast Florida counties than nationally (1.3%) in 2023: Miami-Dade (3.0%), Broward (2.0%), Palm Beach (3.0%), Martin (1.6%), and St. Lucie (3.2%).

Movers from California and Texas tend to gravitate to Miami-Dade County relative to other Southeast Florida counties and this could be due to cultural and demographic similarities (strong Hispanic and diverse culture, larger presence of single-family, younger households).

Movers from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania tend to prefer Palm Beach and Broward which offer a coastal and relaxed lifestyle.

The lower cost of housing in St. Lucie is also arguably attracting more retirees to the area. As of May 2024, the median sales price of a single-family house in St. Lucie County was $400,000 ($650,000 in Miami-Dade, $625,000 in Broward, $645,000 in Palm Beach, $573,995 in Martin County).

[1] Migration Bolstered Southeast Florida’s Aggregate Household Income by $10 Billion in 2022 – MIAMI REALTORS®

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