Venezuelans in South Florida: Venezuelan Expatriates Building New Lives In Record Numbers - Great News for Miami

by Rosa Eckstein Schechter
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Last fall, when Hugo Chavez won re-election as President of Venezuela, more and more Venezuelans were expected to move here to South Florida. And they have.

In fact, Venezuelans have been leaving their homeland for new lives in Florida for many years now: for over a decade, South Florida - and particularly the Miami area - has been a welcoming community for people wanting to escape from Chavez's Venezuelan government.

Why Miami?

Venezuelans have long felt Miami to be welcoming - its widespread Latin American influence and the large number of people who speak Spanish fluently, together with a growing Venezuelan population have made our area one of the main relocation targets of Venezuelans for many years now.

This week, the Sun Sentinel reported on how many Venezuelans have indeed come to the Sunshine State to build new lives in an article entitled, "Venezuelans increasing their presence in South Florida's real estate market."

As referenced in the article, the United States Census reports that within Broward County and Palm Beach County (together with Miami-Dade, the three counties that form the South Florida Metropolitan Area), between 2000 and 2011, the number of Venezuelan-born residents more than doubled.

What happened?

Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1999, and Venezuelan's educated population began looking for alternatives, particularly after Chavez rewrote the constitution. Other factors also played a part: skyrocketing crime, economic crises (including a devalued currency), and other issues of instability have contributed to the influx of Venezuelans into the Florida area.

Last fall, Caracas had become known as the "city of departures" among Venezuelans as citizens were fleeing the capital due to growing dangers there. Kidnapping is a profitable business there. Murder rates in Caracas are said to be higher than some areas of open war.

Venezuelans in Miami are Buying Lots of Real Estate

Venezuelans are making more foreign real estate purchases in Miami today than any other country according to the Miami Association of Realtors. According to their records, Venezuelans are buying 16% of all international real estate purchases in our area.

Which is good news for Miami not only for the influx of revenue into the local economy. The folk that are relocating to Miami from Venezuela are highly educated, professionals and entrepreneurs and their families. Not only are they bringing their cash to real estate closing tables, they are also bringing their ability to contribute to our culture and our communities in many other ways.

What's next?

In February, Venezuela gutted its authorized system for foreign exchange of the nation's currency, the bolivar, as well as devaluing the bolivar by 32%. This has serious repercussions for Venezuelans and their ability to move their funds out of Venezuela and into more stable financial institutions in other countries as well as their ability to purchase real estate here.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelean government issued an official report this morning that President Hugo Chavez was facing serious health issues and his condition was characterized as "delicate."

Which means that the instability of Venezuela is expected to continue, if not escalate, and those wishing to expatriate from their homeland to Florida and elsewhere may be doing so sooner rather than later. Which is good news for Florida.

 

Written by:

Rosa Eckstein Schechter
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