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The Wealthy Are Competing for Florida’s Most Exclusive Lifestyle

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  • Wealthy South Florida residents are competing for all the trappings of exclusivity.
  • Demand for luxe living, private schools, and social clubs in Miami and Palm Beach has skyrocketed.
  • Insider outlined the schools and social clubs coveted by transplants who moved during the pandemic.

South Florida is the new Wall Street, according to some. To others, it’s the new Silicon Valley.

During the pandemic, wealthy residents from New York, California, and beyond moved to the Sunshine State. Newcomers are now competing with each other and locals over luxury amenities, from selective private schools to exclusive social club memberships.

Remote workers, financiers, and startup founders flocked to the stretch of Florida coastline from West Palm Beach to Miami over the last year and a half. New residents range from billionaire Carl Icahn and almost all of the Trump family to former PayPal exec David Sacks and Barstool Sports’s Dave Portnoy. Big finance and tech companies are coming along for the ride, too: Goldman Sachs, Citadel, Microsoft, and Apple are just a few of the firms that are expanding their presence in the region.

Beyond skyrocketing home prices, the rush of deep-pocketed residents has increased demand for other trappings of elite life. Take local boat dealers, who can’t keep up with demand as newcomers purchase watercrafts for fun. 

“I’m not exaggerating,” entrepreneur Scott Galloway, who lives in Delray Beach, told New York Magazine. “I’d say 50 percent of the people I know with a net worth over $10 million have contacted me in the last 10 months asking for information about Florida schools and the lifestyle.”

The schools to attend 

Parents are fighting to find their kids a place at one of Miami’s top schools. 

“There are wait lists at every private school and it has become extremely competitive,” Compass agent Chad Carroll told Insider, adding that K-8 and K-12 institutions like Le Petit Papillon, Miami Country Day, and Fisher Island Day School are some of the most in demand.

Ransom Everglades, Lehrman Day School, Carrollton, Saint Andrews, and Pine Crest are fielding a slew of new applicants, too, Danny Hertzberg of The Jills Zeder Group told Insider.

“I’m hearing that the wait lists are longer than ever before. These schools have become as competitive as the most sought-after NYC schools,” he said, comparing the Florida schools to popular New York institutions like Horace Mann and Trinity. “In fact, many students have transferred from these elite schools as their families have moved to Florida.”

Miami Country Day Director of Enrollment Ingrid Palmisano told Insider that applications have gone up. But total enrollment numbers aren’t increasing in order to maintain small class sizes, making admission extremely competitive. Hundreds of new would-be students are on the wait list, she said, hoping for a spot among the school’s 1,300 enrolled students ages three through 18. 

miami country day

Miami Country Day School.

Courtesy of Miami Country Day School/Ingrid Palmisano


“We had to add an extra person to the admissions team to manage the length of the wait list,” she said. “It’s six degrees of connection, everyone knows everybody and is calling on their friends’ or relatives’ behalf, and it’s a really difficult place to be.”

Tuition at Miami Country Day runs parents about $40,000 a year, Palmisano said, and while tuition assistance programs are available to students in need, wealthy families do tend to make up a good portion of the enrollment. After school, it’s not uncommon to see parents picking up their kids in Rolls Royces or Bentleys, according to an anonymous parent.

The clubs to join 

The most elite of South Florida social clubs are tough to get into, with invitation-only memberships, high initiation costs, and steep annual fees. 

Miami’s Faena Rose is an art and cultural events club that hosts around 60 engagements a year for its 500 members.

Applicants have to undergo a series of interview-like conversations before a complete dossier of professional and personal information is submitted to an anonymous membership committee, which has the power to grant or deny acceptance. It costs a single person $10,000 in initiation fees to join, plus $8,000 in dues each year.

Faena Rose event

An event at Faena Rose.

Courtesy of Pablo De Ritis/Faena Rose


Members range from royal princesses to former Victoria’s Secret supermodels, Faena Rose president Pablo De Ritis told Insider, while event speakers have included Clive Davis, Salman Rushdie, and Martha Stewart.

Another exclusive members-only club, Casa Tua, is top of mind for the wealthy too. “The Club at Casa Tua is Miami’s first members club and an icon for both old and new money,” Carroll said. Similarly, people are lining up to join Miami Beach’s Fisher Island Club despite its steep membership fee of $350,000, he added.

The clubs at Indian Creek in Miami and La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach are popular among wealthy families and golfers, too, Carroll added. La Gorce is hugely popular with golfers and tennis players, Hertzberg said, emphasizing the club’s undisclosed — but notoriously extensive — wait list.

“ZZ’s Club, located in the Design District and started by Major Food Group, is one of the newest and most sought-after memberships in Florida right now,” Hertzberg added. “SoHo Beach Club is popular among singles, and the new Bath Club membership has become a favorite among young families.”

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