Would it be a good/bad idea to live in the North Miami Beach/Hallandale area and get to UM by public transportation every day? Is that too far?
I've heard Coral Gables is expensive.
See my earlier post about South Beach ... Miami Beach is farther away from Coral Gables than South Beach. Trust me, unless you want to get to law school in an hour and a half, don't plan on taking public transportation from Miami Beach to the law school. I stayed in Miami Beach at a hostel when I was in Miami and it was easily 15 miles to Coral Gables -- maybe a few more miles actually. And the bad thing is that there's just no public transporation that would work for you. You would have to take the bus into downtown Miami and then transfer to the elevated train. But the bus is quite slow and b/c you have to make a detour into downtown, you'd have to travel like 20 miles probably on public transportation -- and I don't know how much you've traveled on the bus in your life, but 20 miles on public transportation everyday is an absolute nightmare. It would seriously take you well over an hour on a good day.
Even driving from North Miami Beach would take you a while -- traffic in the morning is probably pretty bad. And from all that I've heard, parking is bad at Miami.
You are right that Coral Gables is a bit expensive, but it's not nearly as bad if you share with one or two others. The law school tries to help 1L's find roommates (one of the few law schools to do such a thing I believe). They have over 70% of students coming from out of state so there are plenty of students who you'd be able to share with (I get the impression that Miami recruits very heavily from out of state b/c Floridians tend to want to go to Florida and Florida State b/c despite being in the middle of nowhere (gainesville) and in Talahassee (FSU) they are cheap for in-staters.
I think you'd be better off to find out from the law school where other law students live and check those areas out. My suspicion is that North Miami Beach will end up being a lot more expensive than Coral Gables (from what I heard when I visited) anyways.