Everything You Need to Know When Moving to or Around the Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay area is buzzing with excitement from St. Petersburg to Clearwater to the city of Tampa itself. Filled with sun and sights, there's a lot to love about living in Tampa. Thinking about making it your home? To get you started, here's a guide for anyone moving to Tampa Bay.
Who Lives in the Tampa Bay Area?
As a whole, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area has a population of 3,194,831 people, with a population density of 1,270.2 people per square mile. Tampa is the largest city with a population estimated at 399,700, and it has been rising over the past decade. It's already one of the most densely populated cities in Florida, at 3,187 people per square mile.
The racial demographics of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area are:
- 61% White
- 21% Hispanic/Latinx
- 12% Black
- 3% Asian
- 2% two or more races
What Is It Like to Live in the Tampa Bay Area?
Income and Cost of Living
Tampa is a relatively inexpensive place to live. The cost of living in the city of Tampa is 5% lower than the national average. Plus, did you know that there is no state income tax in Florida? The median household income in the Tampa Bay Area is $57,906, about 10% lower than the national median.
More good news—housing is comparatively cheap in Tampa, too. Housing costs in Tampa are 23% lower than the rest of the country. On average, the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Tampa is $1,436 per month and the median price of a home is $300,000. Even better, in St. Petersburg, the average rent is $1,300 per month and the median home price is $212,800. And in Clearwater, the average rent is $1,564 and the median home price is $250,191
Finding a Job
The unemployment rate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area is slightly less than the national average, clocking in at 4.6% (as of May 2021). The largest employers in the area include Publix Super Markets and MacDill Air Force Base, as well as healthcare institutions like BayCare Health System, and educational institutions like the University of South Florida. Job-seekers will also discover that the tourism and hospitality industries have a significant presence.
In addition to USF, the University of Tampa and Florida Southern College additionally make their home in the area. 87.9% of Tampa residents over the age of 25 have a high school education or higher, and 38.6% have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Getting Around Tampa Bay
When you are living in Tampa, you likely will need a car. The city of Tampa has a Walk Score of only 24, and it is labeled as "Car-Dependent," indicating that almost all errands require a car.
Yes, there is public transportation in Tampa, but it has been ranked as the 8th worst system in the country. The public transit options are better suited to tourism or going out on the town rather than for meeting your daily needs. The TECO streetcar line runs through the urban center, connecting downtown Tampa with the Channel District and Ybor City. The Pirate Water Taxi can also be a fun way to explore downtown. Additionally, Tampa has a bus system, Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit (HART).
Yet, commute times are still comparatively short. In the Tampa Bay area, the average commute time is 28.3 minutes. Rush hour lasts from 4-7 PM. There is plenty of parking in Tampa, but you should expect to pay for street parking or a garage when going downtown.
Climate in the Tampa Bay Area
It's no secret why they call Florida the Sunshine State. Tampa has a lovely tropical climate. The summers are long, hot, and wet while the winters are short and fairly cool. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically stays between 52° F and 90° F.
Culture, Nightlife, and Outdoor Activities
Tampa buzzes with culture and nightlife. The scenic Tampa Riverwalk makes for an exciting place to explore, by day or night. It features a thrilling mix of restaurants and bars, along with fascinating architecture and a great selection of museums. History buffs will love the Tampa Bay History Center, and the beloved Glazer Children's Museum always makes for a fun afternoon. Plus, the city's Latin Quarter, Ybor City, is legendary for its Cuban flavors and unforgettable nightlife scene, In fact, this was where the Cuban sandwich was invented.
Hand-in-hand, you can see a lot of Latin influence in Tampa's vibrant arts scene. Art-lovers will find much to enjoy, from street art to museums like the Tampa Museum of Art to the annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. (By the way, you're bound to hear about pirates when you're in Tampa, as a lot of the unique local culture comes from the city's historical connection to the pirate invasion led by José Gaspar, also known as Gasparilla.)
Just an hour away from Orlando, the Tampa Bay area is an amazing place to be if you love theme parks. At the helm is Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This unforgettable park is jam-packed with thrills, from animal experiences to roller coasters to its water park, Adventure Island.
Additionally, Tampa has plenty of outdoor markets, parks, and nature trails, perfect for enjoying the sun. Nature-lovers will especially love the phenomenal zoos, aquariums, and nature preserves in Tampa Bay, like The Florida Aquarium.
And of course, with its prime waterside location, there are tons of truly gorgeous beaches in Tampa Bay. Caladesi Island, Fort De Soto, John's Pass Beach, Treasure Island, Pass-a-Grille, and Ben T. Davis are just a few of the local favorites. Likewise, boating and water activities are huge in Tampa. Residents love to spend their weekends hitting the beach, taking a sunset cruise, going tubing, or hanging out on the pier.
Where to Live in the Tampa Bay Area
Whether you are looking to live in an urban center or take in the space of the suburbs, Tampa has some memorable neighborhoods. There's a bit of something for everybody, with plenty of access to all of Tampa's amenities. Take a look at some of the top places to live in Tampa:
Just east of downtown Tampa, the Channelside District is an up-and-coming mixed-use urban district that puts you right in the heart of the action. The neighborhood is on the rise, with new development projects like Sparkman Wharf making headlines and bringing countless amenities to Channelside residents.
As mentioned above, Ybor City is a hip neighborhood in Tampa defined by its colorful Cuban cultural roots. There's no shortage of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops to check out, making it a great option for young professionals looking for culture and fun right on their doorstep.
Charming and historic, Hyde Park is a great neighborhood in the city of Tampa for families and young adults alike. At the center is Hyde Park Village, which offers up wonderful shopping, dining, and entertainment. You'll find some hustle-and-bustle in Hyde Park, while also getting to enjoy pleasant scenery and amenities.
If you're looking to live in the Tampa suburbs, Wesley Chapel is a great choice, especially for families. Wesley Chapel features everything you're looking for in suburban life, including spacious homes, great schools, and plenty of parks--and it's still only a 25-minute drive to downtown Tampa.
Farther out and a little more independent, Brandon is a neighborhood that is becoming increasingly popular, especially for those looking to escape the city vibes. Close to many state parks and trails, Brandon is a great place for those who love the outdoors. Better yet, the expressway makes for an easy commute.
Greater Pinellas Point
On the southern tip of the peninsula, this up-and-coming St. Petersburg neighborhood provides a mix of urban and suburban living. It has fantastic access to the water and over 140 acres of green space, with beautiful views all around.
How to Move to the Tampa Bay Area
Moving to Tampa Bay from Out of State
Naturally, packing up and moving to a new city comes with a long to-do list. Here are a few points to check off when you are relocating to Tampa:
- Get your Florida driver's license within 30 days of establishing residency.
- Get insurance from an insurance agent that is licensed in Florida in order to title and register your vehicle within 10 days of establishing residency.
- Consider signing up for flood insurance —even if you don't live in a flood zone .
- Sign up for utilities and electricity.
- Sign up for local cable/internet.
- File a change of address with the post office.
- Register to vote.
Making a Cross-Town Move
If you already live in the Tampa area and are looking to move, here are a few items for your own to-do list:
- Transfer your utilities and electricity.
- Transfer your local cable/internet.
- File a change of address with the post office.
- Update your voter registration.
Should I Live in the Tampa Bay Area?
As you've already seen, there are lots of reasons why you should consider Tampa as a place to live, but moving always comes down to what works for you personally. To help you decide, let's take a look at the pros and cons:
- Affordable cost of living
- Inexpensive housing
- Good job market
- Tampa is a growing city with lots of culture and things to do
- Great access to water and outdoor activities
- Beautiful climate
- Limited public transportation
- Comparatively low median income
Summing up, Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg and Clearwater offer all the exhilaration of living in a growing metro with tons of things to do—without breaking the bank. If you are looking to move somewhere where you can ditch your car, Tampa's probably not right for you. But all in all, you can get a lot of bang for your buck when you move to the area, and it can be a great choice for anyone who wants a taste of urban life with suburban benefits.
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