Young people are leaving Miami looking for better opportunities elsewhere

Barbara Soto had to leave behind everything she once knew in La Guaira, Venezuela. At the early age of seven, she packed all she could into a suitcase and found safe haven in Weston. Like millions of other Latin Americans, she and her family were displaced by political upheaval, economic hardship, and life-threatening environments. They parted with family and friends, a home full of memories and the crumbling hope of ever returning to their homeland.

But now Barbara is a graduating senior pursuing bachelor’s degrees in business management and marketing. And she is getting ready to leave again – this time from Miami for New York City.

“I will be moving in March 2020 and aspire to stay there for as long as I can,” said Soto. “Ever since I can remember, my dream has been to live in the Big Apple and enjoy the winter since I have never seen the snow before.”

Barbara Soto, 23, is getting ready to leave from Miami to New York City in March 2020. (Courtesy of Barbara Soto).

Although the 23-year-old Venezuelan says she enjoys living in Miami and may come back to start a family, she believes there are minimal opportunities for professional growth here. She has already received a job offer in New York.

A common sight for many, the Departures concourse at the Miami International Airport is the destination for those who are leaving the city. Photo by Antonella Bocaranda.

“Aside from growing professionally, I wanted to have the opportunity to start saving up while living outside of my parents’ house,” said Soto. “I have been living with them for 23 years and moving out when I graduated was something I always aimed for. Wanting to be independent in Miami seems hard as the starting salaries don’t give you much opportunity to do so.”

Barbara is not the only one. In fact, she’s part of an outflow of young people leaving Miami. After laying down roots in a new place, many young immigrants are choosing to move yet again.

Information from Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center showed that, in 2017, Miami-Dade County had a negative domestic out-migration of 47,871 people. Since 2013, the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach metropolitan statistical area “has experienced progressively higher domestic out-migration”, according to the Metropolitan Center. The main source of population growth has been international arrivals such as Barbara Soto. The statistics seem to show that many of them will pack up their things and leave, again.

Many of those departing are children of parents who made a great effort to get them to Miami, to safety and to a place where they could settle. Lack of affordable housing and professional opportunities as well as a desire for independence are fueling this decision. for many. According to a study by MagnifyMoney, a financial website, Miami recently ranked number two out of 50 large cities in the United States for adults aged 25 to 40  living with their parents.

The high cost of living here is one reason 22-year-old Jose Acosta has decided to leave Miami.  “My dream is to work within the general market, a market that is able to influence others regardless of language or race,” said Acosta. “I want to be able to show how my differences are a plus rather than a label.”

Acosta, originally from Venezuela, moved to Miami in 2013 to pursue his bachelor’s degree in advertising at Florida International University. Six years later, he’s preparing to uproot again and head to Boston, where he plans to attend Emerson College and complete a master’s degree in Strategic Marketing Communication.

“I like Miami because it’s a cultural mix,” he said. “But it is a place that, although it has the potential to be a communications hub, keeps putting limitations on the growth of this industry, as I’m sure with many others as well.”

Arsedi Rodriguez, his mother, has worked most of her life to provide a brighter future for her two sons. “You spend your whole life in fear that you will be murdered because of the insecurity, or that there will be a day when you won’t have anything to eat, or of dying because you’re sick and there are no medicines,” she said. “You don’t want your children to live like that so, you find a way to start a life together somewhere else…It’s heartbreaking to still watch them leave after all that effort. But if leaving is what’s best for them, then all you can really be is happy.”

Antonella Bocaranda is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in marketing. She loves music, creativity and writing. She hopes to develop a career combining the three.