The Truth About Moving To Tampa
By: Kris Lippi
Florida is chock-full of breathtaking beaches, vibrant districts, and an exciting mix of cultures. Tampa is one of the state’s finest cities, offering beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, several sports teams, top-notch amusement parks, and more than enough of those famous Florida thunderstorms.
With a population of around 413,700, the city offers you a perfect combination of metropolitan and beach town vibes. If you’re thinking about moving to Tampa, we’ll give you some food for thought before you relocate. We’ll cover essential topics such as the best neighborhoods, local job market, cost of living, and more.
What Are the Neighborhoods in Tampa?
f you’ve decided to move to Tampa, the next thing to do is choose the right neighborhood. Fortunately, Tampa has a lot of variety to offer. From downtown high-rises, bayside houses, and suburban outskirts, the hardest part is choosing which district among the many fantastic options you want to call home.
Below are some of the best neighborhoods Tampa has to offer:
Downtown Tampa is the most urbanized place to live in the city. It has innumerable attractions, so there’s never a dull moment. You have direct access to numerous restaurants, offices, parks, hotels, universities, and retail shops. The population of downtown Tampa is only around 1,500, so you get the city feel without the overwhelming amount of traffic.
Although downtown Tampa is mostly known as a commercialized location, there are countless affordable apartments and condos throughout the neighborhood. Downtown is jam-packed with some of Tampa’s finest attractions, including the David A. Straz Performing Arts Center.
Hyde Park is a well-known district with a village-like feel, despite being within walking distance from downtown Tampa. It’s family-oriented with outstanding schools and high-quality housing options. If your dream is to live in an old Tampa bungalow home, Hyde Park is your opportunity to do so.
There’s a surprising amount of open space in Hyde Park even though it’s just southwest of downtown. The district offers several basketball courts, baseball fields, and other recreational areas to bring the residents together. As if it couldn’t get any better, you’ll be steps away from the beautiful Bayshore Boulevard boardwalk.
The Channelside neighborhood is located on a peninsula in Tampa, and the Ybor Channel and Hillsborough River surround it. It’s home to various important places of interest, including the Amalie Arena for watching Tampa’s professional sports teams, the Convention Center, the Florida Aquarium, and the Channelside Bay Plaza with its various shops and restaurants.
Channelside has a newer feel to it compared to other districts in Tampa. Accommodation is primarily in the form of modern high-rise apartments. Relocating to the Channelside neighborhood is ideal for young professionals. You’ll be within walking distance to restaurants, a waterfront boardwalk, and even downtown Tampa.
Seminole Heights is part of the handful of historic neighborhoods in Tampa. It’s packed with 20th-century bungalow homes.
For years many of these bungalows suffered from increased crime and little maintenance due to economic depression. Now, Seminole Heights is an attractive and safe place to live, thanks to Tampa’s booming economy and real estate investors who’ve remodeled the homes.
An advantage to living in Seminole Heights is that you’ll have access to the longest stretch of the Hillsborough River in Tampa. Even better, you can look for property for sale that’s directly on the river.
Bayshore Boulevard is Tampa’s pride and joy since it makes up a portion of Tampa’s longest sidewalk in the world. Although many people think of Bayshore Boulevard when they hear Bayshore Beautiful, in reality, this Tampa neighborhood sits at the southernmost end of Bayshore Boulevard.
With houses forming neat rows leading away from the beautiful Bayshore Boulevard, this district has a residential feel with conveniences nearby that don’t require fighting tons of Tampa traffic. For example, a Publix Supermarket and Target border the outskirts of Bayshore Beautiful.
Davis Islands is a neighborhood across a small bridge from downtown Tampa. Once you cross it, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a costly, laid-back island town. Colorful Mediterranean-style buildings await you, along with a yacht club, Dog Beach, and adorable cafes and pubs.
While there are some relatively modest apartments for rent on Davis Islands, for the most part, living on the island requires some serious cash to afford the massive houses that line Tampa Bay. Davis Islands even has its own celebrity—MLB legend Derek Jeter.
Situated just west of downtown is West Tampa, an “up and coming” neighborhood with a ton to offer. West Tampa residents enjoy a privileged location close to the International Plaza and Bay Street, a vibrant outdoor shopping center full of unique restaurants and high-end retailers.
You can find several old cigar factories spread throughout the neighborhood since West Tampa used to be one of the most popular production sites. Over the last few decades, West Tampa has become quite a culturally diverse neighborhood, with a wide range of age demographics.
Ybor City is one of Tampa’s most historic neighborhoods and has a unique story. Vicente Martinez-Ybor, a cigar manufacturer from Spain, founded the town. After about five decades, Ybor City grew to produce hundreds of millions of cigars every year.
During the late 1890s and up until the Great Depression, Ybor City enjoyed prosperity, offering well-paid jobs to thousands of residents. After the Great Depression, the demand for cigars decreased drastically, so nearly all of those residents lost their jobs. However, the city made a comeback in the 1980s when several artists flooded in and began gentrifying the neighborhood.
Located in the Tampa Bay area close to the coast, Gulfport is a cozy district filled with attractive properties and shopping areas. You’ll have plenty of housing options to choose from, including bungalows, blockhouses, seaside condos, and more. Many describe living in Gulfport as a way to slow things down from the active Tampa lifestyle.
People ranging from artists to business people to retirees and families choose to make Gulfport their home. So, if a laid-back atmosphere is your goal for relocating to Tampa, Gulfport is an excellent option for you.
We saved Harbour Island for last because it’s a well-known neighborhood near downtown Tampa, but it’s not the best fit for many people due to its high-priced real estate and limited amenities on the island.
Most of the island is for resident access only, controlled by a gate. However, within the gated island, you’ll have access to several high-end cafes, shops, and restaurants. That said, the island is small, so you’ll likely find yourself taking the short trip into downtown Tampa frequently.
How Is the Job Market in Tampa?
Tampa is one of the best cities in Florida for job demand. In fact, future job growth in Tampa is expected to be around 42% by 2030. The healthcare industry is massive in Tampa, and some of its top employers are the Tampa General Hospital and BayCare Health System.
Another significant employer in Tampa is the United States Air Force. MacDill Air Force Base currently employs around 2,300 personnel and is expected to grow over the next 5 to 10 years. Tourism and hospitality also make up for a large portion of the job market in Tampa. There’s the massive 335-acre Busch Gardens along with several beach resorts and restaurants.
Universities are another major employer in Tampa. The private University of Tampa sits right downtown. Despite its relatively small size, it’s made impressive expansions over the years, allowing it to employ more locals.
The University of South Florida is a public university with over 50,000 students. Located at the northernmost side of Tampa near Busch Gardens, the University of South Florida is a massive employer of Tampa residents.
The top industries for employment in Tampa include:
Business and Information
Top Companies to Work For
Combining several factors, such as diversity, salary, size, and benefits, the top companies to work for in Tampa include:
Tampa General Hospital
University of Tampa
University of South Florida
WellCare Health Plans
In addition to these larger businesses, Tampa offers many unique, smaller forms of employment. For example, Oxford Exchange is a horse stable turned restaurant, café, and coworking space. The Tampa Bay Farmers Market is a place for artisans to sell their work. Small boutique shops in Hyde Park and Ybor also offer local employment.
How Is the Tampa Real Estate Market?
If you’re relocating to Tampa and are thinking about buying a property, we’ll share some critical insights about the local real estate market. The Tampa real estate market has become extremely competitive in recent years, primarily due to big investors putting a significant amount of their cash in residential and commercial properties.
According to Redfin, the average Tampa home sells within fourteen days and has three offers from which to choose. If these numbers don’t sound striking enough, Redfin explains that the price of Tampa homes has increased by about 16% since the previous year.
You might be wondering—how much does the average home cost in Tampa? Like anywhere, location is everything. As a general rule, the closer you’re located to downtown Tampa, the more expensive housing will be.
Districts such as Hyde Park, Davis Islands, Harbor Island, and Bayshore Beautiful have the highest-priced homes and apartments.
In February 2020, Investopedia published a piece on what kind of home $175,000 will get you in the Tampa area (which, in their study, includes nearby St. Petersburg and Clearwater). Their findings showed that a person could purchase a one or more bedroom home or a condo for $175,000. In reality, these numbers are most common outside of Tampa’s center.
With the help of Zillow, let’s take a closer look at average real estate prices in Tampa, according to the districts we covered earlier. We’ve listed them from the highest average price to the lowest average price. Note that some districts, such as downtown and Channelside, primarily contain apartments and condos instead of houses.
Ybor City: $210,228
West Tampa: $281,586
Seminole Heights: $294,536
Harbour Island: $420,296
Bayshore Beautiful: $681,878
Davis Islands: $852,872
Hyde Park: $1,170,000
How Does the Cost of Tampa Homes Compare to the United States?
According to Zillow, the average home in the U.S. costs approximately $263,350. Their studies indicate that home values have increased by 7.5% in the past twelve months. However, it appears that’s only the beginning. Within the next 12 months, Zillow expects home prices to rise an additional 10.3%.
So, how does the average U.S. home price compare to Tampa?
According to Realtor.com, Tampa homes average just under $300,000 as their listing price. They sell at around $290,000. Either way, Tampa’s real estate is above the national average.
Demand for real estate in Tampa isn’t new. Back in 2017, Forbes listed Tampa as a real estate market to watch out for because of its job market and attractions. While it’s exciting to relocate to such a booming area, you may feel intimidated as the buyer. Let’s face it—in today’s current market, the seller has the leverage.
To give you the best chance possible of closing a deal on the house of your dreams, prepare yourself by following these strategies:
Get preapproved for a mortgage. Doing so will make you look serious about buying a home.
Stick with your budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and bid more than you’re able to afford.
Don’t dawdle. The moment a home becomes available, drop everything as quickly as feasible, and see it. Place an offer on it immediately if you like it.
Offer the seller shorter due diligence, which means that you’ll be required to do inspections in a shorter amount of time than the standard 30-day period.
Start with the strongest offer you’re able to manage.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Tampa?
Knowing the cost of real estate in Tampa is important, but it doesn’t offer insight into the long-term financial implications of relocating there. Here’s some good news—according to Salary.com, the cost of living in Tampa is 5.6% lower than the national average.
Now, let’s look at the average cost of some of Tampa’s most common living expenses.
Food and Groceries
Tampa has many grocery stores ranging from economical options like Walmart to expensive health food stores such as Whole Foods. If you’re looking for something in between the two, Publix is an excellent option.
According to Expatistan, you can expect your groceries to cost the following approximate prices:
1 dozen eggs: $2.73
500 grams of cheese: $7.00
1 bottle of good quality red wine: $13.00
2 pounds of apples: $3.55
If you go out for lunch, you can expect to spend around $14.00, assuming you don’t go over the top with your order.
Numbeo estimates that a one-bedroom apartment will run you approximately $158.49 per month in basic utilities. That includes electricity, heat and air conditioning, garbage pickup, and your water bill. The Internet, of course, is a necessity too. You can expect 60 Mbps of the Internet to cost you around $60.54 per month.
Of course, the exact amount of your utility bill will depend on how large your home is and how many people live there.
Driving is the most common way of getting around Tampa, although the bus network is extensive. Gas prices vary greatly. According to Payscale, gas prices in Tampa are approximately 6% higher than the national average.
Numebo estimates that a one-mile taxi ride will cost you around $3.00. It costs around $65.00 for a monthly bus pass.
Healthcare and Medical
Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t have the best reputation for low health care. A study run by John Hopkins University revealed that Florida makes the top ten states for having the highest health care markup.
All hope isn’t lost, though. Retirement Living indicates that the cost for full-time home health care runs a few hundred dollars less per month than the rest of the United States.
Florida is known for its more lenient tax laws compared to northern states. You can expect to pay around 8.5% combined in sales tax in 2021. Many people choose to move to Florida since there isn’t a state income tax.
Hillsborough county’s tax rate is 2.5%, and Tampa city does not have sales tax. Property taxes in Hillsborough County are 1.02%, which is below the national average by 0.06%
Is Tampa a Good Place to Retire?
Florida is known as a retirement state. Although Tampa tends to attract a younger business professional crowd, it’s still a great place to retire, especially if you enjoy a more active lifestyle.
According to the Census Bureau, there are approximately 23,350 people between 55 and 59 years and 5,786 people 85 years and over. These numbers equate to about 20.3% of Tampa’s population aged 55 years and over.
If you want to retire in Tampa but desire a break from the younger city culture, there are various popular Retirement communities from which you can choose. Below are some ideas:
The Estate at Hyde Park
Discovery Village at Tampa Palms
Arbor Terrace Citrus Park
Tampa offers a variety of things to do for seniors. Below are some ideas:
Watch a show at the Straz Center. This non-profit performing arts center offers theater performances year-round. Before the show, consider relaxing at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to enjoy beautiful views over the University of Tampa.
Visit museums. Tampa is home to several museums, including the Henry B. Plant Museum, the Dali Museum, and the Tampa Bay History Center.
Stroll through Antique Shops. Thanks to Tampa’s history, there’s no shortage of antique shops. We recommend Gaslight Antiques since they’ve gained the title of being one of Florida’s best antique stores.
Visit a farmers market. There’s no shortage of farmer’s markets in Tampa. The Sanwa Farmers Market is located on Hillsborough Ave and is open seven days a week. Meanwhile, the Tampa Downtown Market occurs on Thursdays. The Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village is another fun market to visit, although you have to time it well since it only runs on the first Sunday of each month.
As a retiree in Tampa, you have various options for medical care. BayCare is an organization that offers health services geared toward seniors. Their friendly team will ensure you feel comfortable with transitioning your medical care to Tampa.
The Senior Connection Center is another medical service for retirees. This non-profit offers an Elder Helpline where they’ll provide free guidance and referrals for doctors, long term care, and home-based services.
What Are The People and Culture Like?
Tampa has a rich cultural diversity, dating back to the 1800s when Vicente Martinez Ybor started his cigar factory. People from Cuba, Spain, and Germany arrived in Tampa to work for him.
Tampa celebrates several festivals throughout the year to honor the city’s different cultures. Fiesta Day, Hispanic Heritage, and the Cuban Sandwich Festival are among some of the festivals you’ll get to enjoy. Oktoberfest is also an annual German event held at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Aside from history bringing a diverse culture to Tampa, the University of Tampa (UT) and University of South (USF) Florida attract students worldwide. Forty-one percent of UT students are minorities or people of color. USF ranks higher than the national average across all diversity categories, including ethnic, geographical, and gender.
Although Tampa is a hub for students and business professionals, it also has a strong family culture. In fact, it ranked number eight in 2018 for being a family-friendly U.S. city.
While we’re on the subject of friendly, the Florida sunshine keeps Tampa residents happy and welcoming. Residents of various ethnic backgrounds live and work together. If you’re from a different country, the chances are good that you’ll encounter people from your country living in Tampa.
What Are the Popular Things to Do In Tampa?
Tampa and its surrounding area offer an incredible array of fun activities to do. We’ll first cover things to do directly within Tampa. Then we’ll delve into popular nearby destinations that you can do as day trips.
Popular Things to Do in Tampa
From go-to Tampa favorites to some lesser-known local businesses, get ready to check these places off your list once you start living in Tampa.
Tampa Riverwalk. The new 6-mile boardwalk follows the Hillsborough River. You can choose to walk or bike. Along the way, you’ll encounter parks, restaurants, and public art. You might even see a manatee in the river!
Florida Aquarium. Located on the Channelside end of the Tampa Riverwalk, the Florida Aquarium is home to 9,000 critters.
Armature Works. A hip public market offering high-end food, Armature Works used to be a maintenance building for Tampa Electric’s streetcars.
Busch Gardens. If you’re looking to get some adrenaline pumping through your veins, the nearly 300-acre Busch Gardens will delight you with roller coasters and their animal exhibits.
Oxford Exchange. The boutique Oxford Exchange offers opportunities to taste tea from all over the world in their café or enjoy a nice sit-down meal. They also have a boutique bookstore.
Observe manatees. If you don’t see any manatees on the Riverwalk, you’ll almost certainly see them at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center. The manatees congregate there for the warmth that the electric plant generates.
Popular Destinations Near Tampa
Tampa offers plenty of things to do. Nevertheless, the day will come when you want to explore outside the city. Below are some great day trip ideas from Tampa.
Beach it. You’ll have countless beach options less than an hour from Tampa. Head to nearby St. Pete Beach or travel over to Clearwater. From Clearwater, you can drive south to enjoy a chain of barrier islands, stopping at whatever beach calls to you.
Tarpon Springs. Located north of Tampa, Tarpon Springs is known for its Greek community and sponge divers. Make sure to go with an appetite, and don’t be surprised if you leave with a bag full of real sponges from one of its many gift shops.
Weeki Wachee Springs. Rent an inner tube and enjoy floating down the river near Weeki Wachee Springs. During the journey, the crystal clear water will showcase the rich aquatic life beneath your feet.
Bok Tower Gardens. Nature lovers will love the flowers and greenery at Bok Tower Gardens. Home to 126 bird species and a tower housing 60 bells, this is the perfect getaway from Tampa’s bustling city life.
Pros and Cons of Living in Tampa
Tampa is an attractive place to live, but even so, relocating is a tough decision. To help you decide whether moving to Tampa is the right fit for you, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest pros and cons.
Pros of Living in Tampa
No state income tax. Additionally, property taxes are slightly below average.
Excellent school district options. With options like Plant High School and the University of Tampa, your children will have access to highly acclaimed schools.
Low rental costs. A one-bedroom apartment near downtown will run you around $1,100. Renting can be a great option while you work on looking for a home to buy.
Year-round destination. Tampa rarely gets too cold for outdoor activities in the winter. Although summer brings strong thunderstorms, the rain is frequently predictable, arriving in the afternoons.
Easy beach access. It takes less than one hour to drive to Clearwater and the beaches in St. Petersburg.
Culinary mecca. Tampa has a large mix of diversity, and with that comes delicious restaurant options with food from around the world.
Bilingual job opportunities. Thanks to Tampa’s large Spanish-speaking population, people bilingual in English and Spanish will have an array of job opportunities from which to choose.
Quieter summers. Between retired winter birds migrating back up north and university students returning home, fewer people live in Tampa during the summer.
Cons of Living in Tampa
Summers are hot. There’s a reason that all those snowbirds flee Tampa in the winter. Nonetheless, air conditioning is plentiful in Tampa, and the mornings and evenings are cool enough to enjoy outdoor activities.
There are alligators. Alligators make their homes in freshwater and even grace the Hillsborough River with their presence now and then. You’ll need to keep your children and small animals away from these bodies of water.
Allergies can occur year-round. Tampa enjoys a lush, tropical environment. However, that comes the possibility for pollen to instigate your allergies throughout the year.
Fun Facts About Tampa Florida
If you’ve decided to move to beautiful Tampa, you’ll likely have friends and family wanting to visit you. Equip yourself with these facts to make them even more impressed with your new hometown.
Babe Ruth’s famous home run occurred in Tampa. At 587 feet, it was his longest home run.
Look out for ghosts in Ybor City. The National Historic Landmark District has many reported hauntings and enjoys the title of one of the most haunted cities in the United States.
Despite its warm, humid weather, Tampa’s temperature hasn’t ever touched 100 degrees.
The Gasparilla Pirate Fest is a yearly parade that runs along Bayshore Boulevard. It’s full of pirate costumes, drinks, and lots of beads.
Having opened in 1905, Ybor’s Columbia Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Florida.
Tampa Bay is the biggest estuary in the state and is only 12-feet deep in its most profound areas.
Whether you’re planning on moving to Tampa for work or retirement, the city offers countless neighborhoods and activities to fit varying interests. We’re confident that before long, it’ll be hard to picture your life before you began living in Tampa.