Inside Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's Life in the Tiny Beach Town Where They Avoid the Spotlight

Dubbed "Miami's Uptown Beachtown," Surfside allows the couple to shun the scrutiny of their old jobs

Ivanka Trump And Jared Kushner

In statements released sometimes hourly, former President Donald Trump responds to a near-constant flow of controversy and accusation that comes from books written by former advisers, probes by lawmakers and attorneys general and long-simmering rivalries.

He's held rallies and made numerous media appearances to show off his enduring influence over the Republican base. Even without the White House — or an active Twitter account — he remains determined to make noise and remains skillful at making headlines.

Two of his former top aides, however, have other things they're focused on.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his daughter and son-in-law, eschewed public attention after leaving their posts in 2021 — even as their names are also mentioned in tell-alls or by investigators hoping for proof of culpability or at least insight into the tumult of the Trump years.

They have given no interviews, clarified that they are not considering political runs of their own and instead lead relatively low-key lives of travel and leisure and charity and finance, like the members of the New York social class they used to be before embracing Trump.

It's a reversal of their time in Washington, D.C., when the pair were closely covered given their influence in government and also criticized for their lack of qualifications and their mixing of the personal and political.

President Donald J. Trump
From left: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

As the former president welcomes supporters and approval-seekers to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, the Kushners and their three kids have picked a home on the political periphery: Surfside, a tiny Miami-area town that sits miles south, with a population of 6,000.

Dubbed "Miami's Uptown Beachtown," Surfside allows Kushner and Ivanka to soak up the sun while shunning the political spotlight and the scrutiny of their old jobs.

"They're really just settling into normal life and really enjoying it," a Kushner friend tells PEOPLE.

For Ivanka that has meant taking advantage of South Florida's warm weather and more downtime in her schedule to pursue a sportier lifestyle that includes surfing off the town's beaches, playing tennis and rounds of golf.

"Jared's spending a lot more time with his family because over the last four years that was something neither of them could do as much as they wanted to," says the source, who adds that "Jared will say, 'The nice thing about Miami is the moment you stop working, you're on vacation.' "

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, who spoke with Kushner after the family picked pumpkins at the town's Spooktacular in October, told Washingtonian magazine in a recent feature that the most "striking thing" about the encounter with the town's infamous new residents was that "they were like anybody else and blended in with the crowd."

The pair aren't entirely out of public view — at least among their jet-setting cohort. They've attended Art Basel, says their friend, and at one high-end event sat next to Pharrell Williams. They've also had dinner with Pitbull.

They've dined at noted Miami eatery Carbone with restaurateur Jeff Zalaznick, according to the source. And Ivanka celebrated her 40th birthday in October in Surfside with about 20 girlfriends from New York and her Miami social circle.

Ivanka Trump And Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner (laying) and Ivanka Trump in Florida.

The family has been spotted at the town's beach (last summer), at a pumpkin patch (in the fall) and walking the family's dog on the beach.

"They're not just here passing through," Burkett told the Washingtonian of the couple's post-D.C. home. "I believe they want to make this a big part of their life, this part of the state of Florida generally, specifically Surfside."

While Jared is focused on writing his White House memoir (expected to be published later this year) and raising money for his new private equity firm, Ivanka has made a handful of outings for charity and encouraged her social media followers to get their COVID-19 vaccines (drawing mixed reactions from conservative fans).

Before moving to D.C., she was an executive at her family's real estate company and appeared on The Apprentice, among other businesses.

In another change from Washington, she and Kushner now see the former president relatively infrequently, their friend says. They make their way to Mar-a-Lago every few weeks or so.

"It's definitely less than in their time in the White House, where they would see him every single day," the source says, adding that they are also less involved in his decision-making as advisers and sounding boards.

They continue to travel elsewhere, though, with trips abroad — to Dubai and Israel — to promote their work and causes as well as a recent ski vacation at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana.

But the couple appears keen to be at home in Surfside, a mile-long town of only eight blocks that are lined with high-rise condos as well as single family homes. Its beach is protected from daytime fishing, advertising and vendors.

Kushners Opportunity Zones, Coraopolis, USA - 30 Oct 2018
From left: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Keith Srakocic/AP/REX/Shutterstock

While jogging along Surfside's packed sand trail that's popular with runners, Mayor Burkett told the Washingtonian magazine that he nearly bumped into Ivanka one day. When he stopped to introduce himself, he says she suggested they chat some other time.

To Burkett's surprise, he was later invited to the couple's rental in their luxury 12-story condo building, where some residents reportedly pay $40,000 a month for floor-to-ceiling windows and on-site amenities like a beachfront meditation pond, according to the Washingtonian.

Burkett said he had a "very generic" chat with his hosts, whose three children were also there.

"It was not unlike a conversation I would have with any other resident," he said. "It didn't touch on any specific politics. It was a chance for them to educate themselves on their new home."

Town commissioner Eliana Salzhauer, however, was less thrilled when she found out that the Kushner family had arrived in Surfside. Her reaction, she told the Washingtonian, was to ask, "What are they doing in our town?"

But according to her own description, Surfside's vibe has a lot to do with the answer.

"This is like a warm version of New York — the same pace, the same driving, the same kind of brusque attitude about things," Salzhauer said. "It's the same people, but it's warmer, so everyone's a little happier because everybody's not freezing their asses off and having to dig their cars out of the snow."

She also pointed out the two synagogues in town, including Orthodox Young Israel, where Ivanka and Kushner, who are Jewish, have been spotted leaving Shabbat services on foot.

Ivanka Trump

"Everybody wants to live within walking distance, if you're Orthodox, to the temple," Salzhauer said.

Ivanka is also fitting in among some of the other moms at her children's Jewish school, the Kushner source tells PEOPLE, adding that the kids will have play dates with other students.

Like Salzhauer, some others in Surfside are not thrilled to be living next to divisive political figures, according to the Washingtonian report, which cites residents whispering about the Ivanka living her in "own little world" as if the "rules don't apply."

The Kushner source downplayed animosity toward the family, saying that any perceived backlash to their participation in the polarizing Trump years is "just an element of public service."

"You're never going to have 1 million percent of people that like you," the source says.

On the other hand, the source insists there is a lot of love for the couple from some locals in their new town. "I walk with Jared on the boardwalk," the source says. "I've never had anything other than people coming over and thanking him for his work."

Either way, the family will head offshore in the fall when they move into a multimillion-dollar home on nearby Indian Creek Island, which will offer even more privacy as well as security with its guarded entrance and private police force.

The source tells PEOPLE the couple are looking forward to the seclusion of Indian Creek Island and notes how pro-Trump its other residents are.

The island reportedly has less than three dozen waterfront homes and is only accessible by yacht or by using a footbridge that connects it to Surfside. The bridge would allow the family to still walk to their town to attend services at their preferred synagogue and to then retreat to their mansion.

"I've lived in town for almost 16 years now," Salzhauer told the Washingtonian. "I've never been to Indian Creek, and it's a couple of feet from my house. You can't get there unless you're invited. It's like a fairy tale."

* Reporting by ADAM CARLSON

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