By Austin Rhoads
When I told friends and family I was moving to Miami, their initial reaction was: "You're doing what? You... living in Miami?!" Once over the initial shock, the next natural question they asked was how soon could they come visit. Before finding an apartment and even stepping foot on the ground, I had already experienced one of the biggest challenges this city faces.
Miami has a reputation for being a wonderful place to visit. A playground for the rich and famous. A place where the sun always shines, drugs and alcohol flow freely, exotic cars grace the streets, and clothing is optional. People from around the world flock to Miami for vacation. But who in their right mind would ever want to live there?
As it turns out, I do.
I have only been here for two months, but I can already tell you Miami is a much different place than I ever imagined. Yes, the stereotypes mentioned above exist. But they are just that -- oversimplified generalizations. Consider the following: I certainly don't own a lime green Lamborghini, my rock-hard beach body is a work in progress at best, and I have yet to hang out with Pitbull on the weekends.
Guess what? There are hundreds of thousands of other Miamians like me who don't fit the stereotypes. From institutions like the Knight Foundation and the Miami Foundation to entrepreneurs at the LAB and cycling activists in Emerge Miami, there are people in this city who care deeply about making it a better place. I'm not talking about people who say they care and then run off to their next rah-rah speaking engagement. I'm talking about people who are sacrificing their personal lives (and in some instances their careers) to pour their hearts, time, and money into the future of this city.
I just graduated college and am, as Elite Daily so "eloquently" puts it, an idealistic twenty-something. I may be overly naive and inexperienced, but I see tremendous potential in this city.
Each year when college graduates frantically decide where to begin their new lives, why shouldn't Miami be at the top of their list? Instead of waiting until retirement to figure out S. Florida has some of the best weather and opportunities in the world, why not reap the benefits now? Does it really make sense to run off to NYC and join a saturated, highly competitive market when you have a city like Miami that is ripe for change and young talent?
Millions of people both young and old visit Miami each year. Instead of merely visiting, let's get them to stay.
Let’s get them to stay and become engaged in this community we call home.
Austin Rhoads graduated from Elon University in North Carolina in May and moved to Miami through the Venture For America entrepreneurship program. He currently works for Vero Water in South Beach where he focuses on a variety of functions from sales to operations to business development. Follow him on Twitter @austinrhoads.