After Clearwater Beach made travel blog headlines as the 2018 and 2019 #1-ranked beach in the country, moving to Clearwater seems to be on everyone’s minds. And while the beaches are beautiful, Clearwater has so much more to offer than powdery sands and it’s namesake clear water. Fabulous weather, tons of local events, and a healthy job market in the technology sector all make Clearwater the perfect place to call home.
Living in Clearwater
The first thing to know about Clearwater is that it is more than just Clearwater Beach. Yes, the beach is excellent, but there’s a very quaint city that’s just as exciting. The second thing to know is that just because Clearwater is beach-town adjacent doesn’t mean it’s unaffordable or lacking the cozy traits of a home town. With an average population of a little over 110,000 people and an average resident age in the mid-forties, Clearwater is mostly average. While slightly behind the U.S. overall, Clearwater falls furthest behind (in the best way) in terms of housing prices.
Cost of Living
According to Payscale, renters and homeowners alike can expect to pay about 28% less on average than other areas of the country. Homes in Clearwater will cost you around $250,000 while renting will typically average out in the high $700s/mo. Most Clearwater households average a $50,000 annual income.
Bonus: One of the most attractive technicalities for many moving to Clearwater is that there is no state tax on personal income in Florida.
The two areas where Payscale ranks Clearwater as just above the national curve is in terms of transportation and utility costs. In terms of transportation, gas prices are a little above the country’s average at $2.77 per gallon, and aside from city busses, there isn’t much in the way of public transport. Lyft and Uber are easily accessible (and in turn, so are a plethora of food delivery options) as are several registered cab companies.
A variety of vendors provide utilities to the Clearwater area, including the city itself.
Water and Gas
The City of Clearwater is responsible for providing water and gas to the city. If you’ll be renting, chances are you won’t have to worry about either of these, as most apartment complexes provide their own water/sewer service, and not many provide gas-fueled appliances. Homeowners will need to call the city to turn on either service. You can read more about both utilities at the City of Clearwater’s website.
Several providers offer electricity throughout the state of Florida. Your zip code will determine which one serves your place of residence, but the Clearwater area is primarily serviced by either Duke Energy or Tampa Electric Company (TECO).
Internet & Cable
While not an actual utility, the world today relies on an internet connection, so it’s important to acknowledge Clearwater’s Internet Service Providers. Spectrum and Frontier Communications are the two most well-known names in the area, but many locals choose WOW! Internet as an alternative to the two major labels.
Sunshine is in the state name for a reason. Clearwater, FL boasts a very sunny climate, with average highs between 90°F and 71°F, and average lows between 74°F and 53°F. Many of us happily flock to the beach for big winter holidays like New Year’s Day!
But we can’t forget that Florida is also the Lightning Capital of the U.S. for a reason. Our rainy season is no joke, and neither are the tropical storms or hurricanes that bring those rains–especially living in a beach-adjacent town like Clearwater. Moving to Clearwater means you’ll have to be prepared, but as long as you are, those rainy days are a small price to pay for summer all year!
Best Places to Live in Clearwater, FL
The state of Florida has the highest concentration of community associations in the nation. This means that moving to Clearwater could mean finding a home bundled with luxurious amenities and more predictable home value. These benefits often come with additional monthly fees, though, so it’s important to weigh that knowledge when searching the home market.
Described as having “plenty of sunshine and fun things to do,” Florida realtor Mary Parks can’t help but gush about Clearwater. “It’s a great place to live,” she says. She also says that her research shows that home appreciation in Clearwater has increased by over 42% in the last decade, which is a good indicator for those considering buying property.
Here are some areas in Clearwater to scope out depending on your lifestyle.
Perfect Places for Starting Out:
Whether you’re going it on your own or settling in with roommates, renting a place or buying, Clearwater’s thriving housing market has options suitable for everyone. The housing market in the area can seem overwhelming to many. Pricing tends to hit both ends of the spectrum, given the cost of flashy beachfront property and the demand for beach-adjacent housing. But plenty of neighborhoods and many apartment complexes are approachable for nearly every income bracket. Here are a few of the more conservatively priced areas for new homeowners to consider when moving to Clearwater:
Great for You and the Kids:
Families are just as well-served in the Clearwater area. Many growing families tend to settle here because of the prime location: Clearwater is local to just about every kind of entertainment a kid (or kid at heart) could want! Add to that a healthy assortment of public, private, and chartered schools in Clearwater and you’ve got an excellent environment for a happy family. Check out these areas for family-friendly homes:
- Rainbow Farms North
- Valencia Park
- Eagle Estates
Beach life is an obvious choice for many retirees, making Clearwater Beach an obvious choice. But if you can’t quite swing the pricey mansion or condo on the powder-white sands, or maybe the beach isn’t your scene even though you love year-round summer, Clearwater is a great retirement space to cater to all of those desires.
For retirees ready to embrace the beach life, here are some beach condos and communities to consider:
- Bay House Island Estates
- Regatta Beach Club
- Sand Key Estates
For those just interested in the summer warmth, golf courses, and farmers markets, check out these retirement communities:
While Clearwater itself doesn’t have any general four-year colleges or universities, St. Petersburg College has a campus in the city, as does popular nursing college, Keiser University. That doesn’t mean that there are no local options for secondary education, though. Local graduates have opportunities across the bridge in Tampa and down US-19 in St. Petersburg as well if neither of those options speaks to them. Here are other options just outside of the Clearwater area:
- The University of Tampa – Home to the Spartans, UTampa is a private university with a focus in business. Being a private school does put it more on the pricey side, but many feel that price is well worth it, given the school’s continued high-ranking as a Regional University.
- University of South Florida – A little farther away from Clearwater, USF is a public research university and a popular choice amongst residents state-wide.
Working in Clearwater
Jobs in Clearwater are in no short supply. With an unemployment rate just below that of the national average and a sizable technology hub, there will be plenty of opportunity for someone moving to Clearwater. Something to note is that many highly-ranked workplaces in the area are home-grown businesses and there’s a certain charm to being part of a business that has grown with the city.
Here are a few local employers to scope out when moving to Clearwater:
- KnowBe4 – KnowBe4 is a rockstar in the Clearwater job market. The cybersecurity powerhouse is consistently listed as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 winners, and their employees rank overall workplace satisfaction at nearly 100%. They help companies beef up their own team’s cyber-knowledge.
- TechData – A global distributor of products and services, TechData is a prominent name in the Clearwater technology hub. They help companies like Apple and Microsoft get products to market through technical and business support.
- Vology – Vology offers managed technology services to companies all over the country. They handle the IT-related work, allowing the business to focus on operations.
If the tech sector isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other thriving businesses that call Clearwater home:
- Marketopia – This local marketing agency has seen impressive growth in its six years. The agency offers lead generation assistance to IT companies.
- Baycare Health System – Baycare is a prominent not-for-profit healthcare system that provides essential health services throughout the bay area. At over 10,000 employees, Baycare is one of the largest employers headquartered in Clearwater.
For those hoping to keep work and home life separate, there are plenty of opportunities just outside the city: Clearwater sits between two of the three top-ranked job markets in Florida for 2020 (Tampa at #2, and St. Petersburg at #3). That isn’t to say that there will be a shortage of jobs in Clearwater, though. BestPlaces anticipates a job growth rate of over 40%, nearly 10% higher than the rest of the country. Jobs will likely be in no short supply when you’re ready to call Clearwater home.
Things to Do in Clearwater
There’s plenty of fun activities in Clearwater. Countless dog parks (and people parks, too!) and relaxing golf courses for casual outdoorsy types, clusters of breweries perfect for evening bar crawls, local farmers markets and locally-owned restaurants and shops for fun weekend shopping experiences… it’s all here, giving residents plenty of options for daily excitement.
“There is something for everyone,” remarks Andrea Drennen, founder of Frontage Marketing Group and 18-year Clearwater resident. “Honeymoon Island has a dog beach so your pooch can frolic in the water, and Madeira Beach has some great spots for a picnic with the family. And that’s just the beaches!” Here are a few of her and her family’s favorite non-beach spots to check out:
- The Long Center – A fitness center to end all fitness centers, The Long Center boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a gymnasium, a fitness center, soccer fields, a bicycling and running trail, and yet still even more. They also offer summer camps for kids, swim lessons, and a ton of rental options for parties.
- Bilheimer Capitol Theater | Ruth Eckerd Hall – This historic theater is fun for all ages if you’re looking for a casual night on the town. They show classic films like The Goonies so guests can enjoy watching them on the big screen.
- Moccasin Lake Nature Park – Educational and entertaining, the 51-acre nature preserve is a staple for local class field trips for learning and enrichment. It’s also open to the public for everything from personal education to weddings.
Clearwater Beach is the life of the Clearwater party! The Beach plays host to everything from weddings to community holiday celebrations to sandcastle competitions to nightclubs. You can charter a boat for deep-sea fishing, or go on a dolphin-watching boat tour. There’s something fun for everyone looking for a great time, day or night. Here are a few of the best attractions on the beach:
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium – Made famous after the film Dolphin Tale popularized resident marine life success story Winter the Dolphin, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a phenomenal resource for kids and adults alike. Self-described as “not your typical aquarium,” the growing marine life rescue and rehabilitation center offers a thorough education for all guests and a safe and responsible, yet delightfully entertaining, approach to showcasing the animals they’re working to release back to the wild.
- Pier 60 – This pier is more than just a landing to fish from, although that is a pretty popular activity. Stretching over 1,000 ft in length from its recreational park (yes, the pier has a recreational park) all the way out to sea, Pier 60 is an event in and of itself 364 days a year (weather permitting, of course–can’t forget about those hurricanes). Host to the nightly festival, Sunsets at Pier 60, plus an annual fireworks display on Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, Pier 60 brings an extra splash of life to the beach.
- Shephard’s Beach Resort – Simply known as “Shephard’s” by the locals, this beachfront resort isn’t just a classy hotel for out-of-towners. It’s the night club to be at in Clearwater. Their nightclub WAVE features both locally-famous and internationally known DJs and has a vibe that calls out to everyone looking for a great night.
Location, Location, Location
Though you may never run out of things to do in Clearwater, you might want to get away without actually getting away. Luckily, Clearwater is right in the middle of Tampa Bay, so exciting city life is in nearly every direction:
To the East – Tampa
From Hyde Park to South Howard (SoHo), Ybor City to the Riverwalk, and now the newly revitalized Sparkman Wharf (formerly Channelside), Tampa has plenty to offer a local looking for a little something special. Hop across the Courtney Campbell Causeway for a whole new world of swanky restaurants and engaging sporting events.
To the South – Downtown St. Petersburg
Downtown St. Pete (DTSP) has the same energy as Tampa and is just as close by for Clearwater residents–basically, double the fun! Central Avenue boasts a plethora of night-life hangouts and brunch spots for judgement-free day drinking, with plenty of dog-friendly places perfect for, quite literally, the whole family.
To the North – Tarpon Springs
Tarpon Springs is a unique adventure that every Floridian needs to experience at least once in their life. A bit of a tourist trap, but no less lively than each spot mentioned above, the town is known for its vibrant Greek community and natural sponge docks.
To the Northeast – Orlando
A more significant drive, but very much worth the mileage, is the theme park utopia kids (and kids at heart) crave. About two hours away, Orlando is home to favorites like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios (home of the magical Harry Potter World). Moving to Clearwater means you can take advantage of those lower-priced Day and Weekend Passes, skip the hotel costs, and take a memorable vacation with the whole family for significantly less than a tourist would pay.
Eating Around Clearwater
Another benefit to Clearwater’s closeness to major cities is the meld of food styles you get as a result. The Tampa Bay area’s Asian community is fierce and very well represented. Tarpon Springs’ Greek influence can be felt for miles. And of course, being in Florida, there’s Cuban and Spanish cuisine all around. Not to mention the seafood. Locally-caught grouper is one of the most popular choices throughout the area.
Beachy eateries are (unsurprisingly) pretty popular, both on and off the sandy shores of Clearwater Beach. These are two of the most popular spots beachside:
- Clear Sky Cafe – If you’re looking for beachy chic, you’ve found it! The patio has a beautiful view of the shoreline, but the atmosphere isn’t some kind of tropical kitsch vibe. It’s classy and elegant with gourmet dishes and delicious brunch options, making it the perfect spot to start your beach day!
- Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill – Also a beachfront eatery, Frenchy’s has several restaurant locations after many years of love from the locals. Their drinks pack a punch, and their grouper sandwich is one of the tastiest in the city–and that’s saying something!
Chain restaurants are predictably approachable, but you can’t beat a local treasure when it comes to great food. Clearwater has plenty. This list doesn’t scratch the surface of how many there are, but these are a few of the most renowned names in local Clearwater eateries:
- Lenny’s – A New York Deli with a lot of sass, Lenny’s never fails to have a line of people waiting outside for a seat. Their sign always boasts their daily special, and being open for only breakfast and lunch keeps them in pretty high demand.
- Umai Cafe – Craving hibachi but without the crowd? Umai Cafe, a serene sushi restaurant, has just what you need. Generous hibachi meals, sans the 6 – 8 strangers gathered around a hot stove, complement delicious sake and sushi rolls.
- Don Pancho Villa – A true hole-in-the-wall, Don Pancho Villa is a tiny Mexican restaurant in the back of a Mexican grocery store. So authentic that the menu isn’t in English, and the Dulce De Leche cakes are often gone before midday.
- Ha Long Bay – A great mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, Ha Long Bay offers the only dim sum in Clearwater. While you won’t find little carts carrying little plates, you’ll still get the authenticity of a Chinatown dim sum house. Unless you’re in the mood for a Bahn Mi or pho, both of which are just as delicious.
What Are You Waiting For?
Ready to “live where everyone else vacations?” With arguably the best view in the Greater Tampa Bay area and a true ‘best of all worlds’ lifestyle, Clearwater, FL truly embodies the popular beach bum adage and is an excellent choice for all. When you’re ready to make the move to Clearwater, Life Storage has the local resources you’ll need to help make that process a little easier.