More than 13 years after LeBron James put Miami on the NBA map by “taking my talents to South Beach,” a host of tech startups and tech billionaires are suddenly targeting its sunny climes in southern Florida with plans to relocate, despite the city being at the top of list of U.S. urban areas facing climate emergencies.
Just as retirees still flock to Phoenix and Arizona despite the region having more than 100 days of brutal temperatures over 100 degrees each summer, the lure of beaches, a wealthy populace and preferential tax treatment is overshadowing climate concerns as people exit traditional business hubs such as New York and California’s Silicon Valley.
The biggest name to move came last week when Jeff Bezos said he would move to Miami after almost three decades in Seattle to be closer to his parents and to girlfriend Lauren. He bought a $79 million mansion, according to Bloomberg, and is only one of a migrating herd of tech entrepreneurs hoping to turn the city into a new type of digital hub for the work-from-home world.
Miami routinely makes the lists of coastal cities most vulnerable to climate change, but construction continues in the hopes that the city can build its way to safety, and several neighborhoods in the hills outside town are suddenly becoming popular, displacing existing residents.
One of the arguments some tech executives make is that the city – and indeed all of Southern Florida – with rising seas, regular hurricanes, and stronger rain storms is the perfect region to test and improve climate resiliency. A recent article by Vox (Climate change and Miami: How is Miami adapting to rising sea levels? – Vox ) detailed some of the technology companies are experimenting with.
The moves also demonstrate what little regard many people have for the potential for climate change to impact them, especially when compared to the lure of a state with no income taxes and favorable inheritance taxes. The race is on.