Tampa is the largest city in the Tampa Bay region. While many newcomers may be unfamiliar with the area, the city of Tampa has seen a significant redevelopment over the last five to ten years. It now boasts some of the tallest skyscrapers and buildings along the Gulf Coast.
Whether you are moving for sunshine, quick access to the beach, or a career in one of the leading fields that have begun to base themselves in Tampa, the opportunities are plentiful. Get to know more about one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country and immerse yourself in the Tampa lifestyle. Already know you’ll be moving here soon? Jump to our moving to Tampa checklist.
Where to Live in Tampa, Florida
Are you looking for a downtown lifestyle nestled along the Hillsborough River? Or are you seeking a historic vibe like Ybor City? Various neighborhoods throughout the city of Tampa offer something for everyone.
The Best Neighborhoods in Tampa, Fl
The Tampa area is well known for its history and roots in Italy and Cuba. Every section of the city and surrounding suburbs has plenty of history and lifestyle. There are many shopping and dining options in the neighborhoods, not only in the City of Tampa but in the entire Tampa Bay region.
This historic and trendy section of Tampa is northeast of downtown and was once the “Cigar Capital of the World.” If you buy a historic home here, it might be on the National Register of Historic Places, which means you’ll need to abide by restoration codes.
Ybor attracts many college-aged people, so this area’s residential options might appeal more to the younger demographic. Ybor City is also the place to be for cuisine as it is the home to the famous Columbia Restaurant and the Cuban Sandwich.
Located east of downtown, local businesses and entertainment complexes fill this Channelside District. Sparkman Wharf is a park in the middle of Channelside, providing waterfront views, a lawn for play and relaxation, and a Biergarten filled with refreshing local craft options.
Here you’ll find an assortment of high-rise condos, converted lofts, and quaint boutique shops in this Waterstreet District neighborhood. It is the up-and-coming area of Downtown Tampa and where most of the younger residents tend to live.
This section of Tampa is highly walkable and family-friendly. The historic district was founded in the late 19th century, and bungalows, tree-lined streets, and brick sidewalks fill the neighborhood. Near the University of Tampa, this highly desirable neighborhood has many restaurants, bars, and nightlife for all ages.
Seminole Heights is on the west side of Tampa, with a hearty art scene and delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurants. This neighborhood has pros and cons, but it’s booming with new businesses, bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Many homes are bungalow style, giving the area a unique charm. Plus, with its central location, you’re minutes from the action downtown and close to the Hillsborough River.
The best Tampa suburbs offer space and have a decent commute. Many are planned communities with homeowners’ associations (HOA) and board members that meet residents’ needs. This type of community might differ from what you’re used to, but they are ideal for young families, retirees, and snowbirds looking to get away for the winter.
We’ve gathered a few that had raving reviews from current and past residents.
- Carrollwood — Located about 9 miles northwest of downtown Tampa, this suburb is one of Tampa’s premier residential communities. Different HOAs govern each section, giving you variety when choosing homes. The Carrollwood area is pricier than other Tampa suburbs.
- Westchase — This close-knit community is between Tampa and Palm Harbor. The area has a wide range of price points and various living options, from condos and villas to single-family houses. The neighborhood is a deed-restricted community, meaning you will be part of an HOA and pay monthly dues for community-specific amenities and services.
- Riverview — With quiet and diverse neighborhoods (mostly all HOA and CDC governed), Riverview is a relatively safe and family-friendly community. Riverview and the unincorporated areas, including Apollo Beach, have had an enormous population burst. The added amenities make this area one of the best places to live for all ages.
What is the Cost of Living in Tampa, Florida?
The living cost in Tampa has increased significantly over the last year, but it’s known to be 5% lower than the national average. Tampa’s housing expenses are 11% lower than the national average, so if the weather and remote working capabilities are what you’re after, you may find Tampa an easy adjustment.
- There is no state income tax
- Property taxes are around the 2% mark
- Insurance costs can be more expensive, mainly because of flood insurance
- Sales tax is 7.5% in the city of Tampa
Tampa Job Market
Tampa’s job market is growing slightly faster than the U.S. average. Average individual earnings are somewhat higher than national averages, although average household earnings are slightly less. Many families relocate to Tampa for irresistible jobs, even if that means making less than they might make in cities like Austin, Texas.
One bonus to finding a job in Tampa is the cultural diversity available. With such a large Spanish-speaking population, there are many more bilingual job opportunities than you might find elsewhere.
Top industries in Tampa include:
- Healthcare — Top employers include BayCare Health System and Tampa General Hospital, also part of the USF Health Medical System.
- Finance — Top employers include Raymond James, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Bankers Financial Corp, and Amscot Financial Inc.
- Supply chain — Top employers include The Port of Tampa, Pak Mail, Jabil, iQor, and OSG Ship Management.
- Technology — Top employers include ConnectWise, TechData, Validity, AgileThought, Accusoft, and many cyber security companies as well that work with MacDill Air Force Base.
- Digital Marketing — Marketing and digital marketing jobs in Tampa are on the rise. Enter this exciting and growing market and work remotely from your favorite neighborhood.
Tampa Schools, Colleges, and Universities
There are many options for education in Tampa. College students can choose between two incredible institutions, including the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. The University of Tampa, or “UT” for short, is a private four-year university. The University of South Florida, “USF,” is well-known for its engineering, technology, and medical programs.
For younger students, Tampa is serviced by the Hillsborough County School District, the 8th largest in the country, with elementary, middle, and high schools within walking distance of most neighborhoods throughout the City of Tampa and the entire Hillsborough County area. One of the area’s most popular Tampa high schools is Tampa Prep, a school for children grades 6-12 that focuses on college preparedness. The school is known for its competitive application process, as it’s one of the only private, non-religious schools in Tampa.
Retirement Life – It’s as Good as it Gets
When people decide to retire from their careers, most determine it’s time for a change of scenery. Choosing Florida as your new retirement destination is easy because of the over 250 days of sunshine every year. Even during the rainy summer season, there’s still a good chance of seeing the sun in the morning, even before the gray skies move in.
Many Tampa retirement communities cater to those over 65+ years of age, but some welcome those as young as 55. So, if you are a more youthful retiree, there may be somewhere that you would enjoy as well. Assisted living facilities in Tampa are plentiful and encourage an active lifestyle.
Some beach communities across Tampa Bay offer a laid-back lifestyle for recently retired newcomers. Sun City Center, a suburb about 25 minutes south of downtown Tampa, is an exclusive retirement community that operates as an independent town. Golf carts are typically the go-to type of transportation and allow residents to move about, whether running errands, going to the grocery store, or even a doctor’s appointment.
Gear up for Tampa Transportation
If spending more than 20 minutes on your commute to work seems intolerable, Tampa may not be the city for you. The more populated Tampa becomes, the more residents complain about the traffic. There is a lack of Tampa alternative ways to get to and from work, including Tampa public transportation.
The commute in Tampa varies greatly depending on where you’re going. Rush hour generally starts around 4 p.m. and ends around 7 p.m. The increase in population has only made traffic woes even greater.
Tampa can be a challenge for commuters, especially those working on opposite sides of the bridge between Tampa and Pinellas County. People who live in Tampa and travel to Pinellas County for work commute on the Howard Frankland Bridge can expect a commute of over an hour during peak times.
Some new Resident Traffic Tips Include:
- Avoid Dale Mabry Highway during downtown Tampa Bay events.
- Steer clear of the Howard Frankland, Gandy, or Courtney Campbell bridges between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Be aware of various speed traps and red light cameras throughout the city.
- Create alternate routes that stay off the interstates during rush hour.
- Utilize the Selmon Expressway for moving around the City of Tampa and beyond.
It might be challenging to get around Tampa without a car, but it’s not impossible. If you’re commuting around the downtown area, there is a streetcar that offers free rides in and around downtown Tampa and Ybor City. A bus system also operates around the city and all of Hillsborough County. One thing the city is missing? A rail system to improve the daily commute.
The Tampa International Airport (TPA) is fantastic, making getting to and from various destinations a breeze. TPA is bursting at the seams with 69 restaurants, shops, and spas within its walls featuring cuisine from many famous and well-known Tampa-based restaurants.
A Foodies Paradise: Best Restaurants in Tampa
Tampa’s claim to fame in the culinary world might be the Cuban sandwich, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding food choices. The top restaurants in Tampa offer the culinary diversity you should expect from such a melting pot. Whether you’re looking for a newly opened farm-to-table spot or a Latin-inspired food truck, you’ll quickly find whatever you’re craving.
If you are a craft beer fan, then Tampa is the place to be. There are a plethora of local breweries to wet your whistle.
Favorite places to eat in Tampa :
- Berns Steakhouse — With over 60 years of experience in fine dining, this Tampa gem won the James Beard award for outstanding wine, but their steaks should not go unmentioned. This dining experience is educational, where the wait staff explains the different cuts of meat on the menu to every table.
- Datz — As the most reviewed business in Tampa Bay on Yelp, people can’t stop talking about this restaurant’s stellar brunch. With a unique menu featuring The Cheesy Todd, a juicy burger surrounded by mac-n-cheese buns, The Food Network has featured this restaurant.
- Armature Works — In Tampa Heights, Armature Works is a fully restored mixed-use building that houses many restaurants in a marketplace-style atmosphere, sometimes referred to as a “food hall.” Choose from pizza, BBQ, sushi, ramen, and more, then place your order and take a seat at one of the many family-style tables lining the open walk space.
Food Trucks — Food trucks are everywhere around Tampa, boasting diverse cuisine with new culinary infusions and the classics. The food trucks will even post a schedule on their social media pages of some local businesses they visit each week.
Entertainment for the Whole Family
In Tampa, Fla., there are outdoor activities year-round. You might need a jacket in 60-degree weather (because 60 feels cold in Florida). But Floridians take advantage of their more pleasant days with various festivals and celebrations.
Festivals for the Fun-loving
Some of the most lively festivals in Tampa include Gasparilla Music Festival, the Sunset Music Festival, and the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. Don’t miss the Gasparilla Pirate Fest if you love to don a pirate hat and swagger across the deck.
From art festivals, fine food and wine, and unusual Tampa activities like the Cuban Sandwich Festival, living in Tampa allows you to be spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend galavanting.
Bring the Youngsters: Kids Activities, Tampa
Tampa is a family-friendly destination. From outdoor adventure to indoor Tampa activities, this list will help you expend your kid’s excess energy while feeding their curious mind.
- A visit to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo offers children a unique experience, whether with a nighttime sleepover or by feeding the giraffes.
- Busch Gardens is right around the corner, providing thrills for the whole family.
- The Tampa Bay History Center is another excellent option for children and families looking to learn more about the area.
- Glazer Children’s Museum is perfect if you’re looking for indoor activities in Tampa for your little ones. It offers play areas to fuel imagination and creativity through an interactive learning environment that encourages children to play with purpose.
- The Bits-n-Pieces Puppet Theater can expose your curious kids to the world of puppetry.
- The Dunedin Fine Art Center exhibits fascinating art while offering your tiny artist or creative teen drawing, cooking, clay sculpting, and storytelling classes.
Explore these outdoor activities if you desire a more leisurely way to spend your time. Tampa offers over 150 parks to get you breathing the fresh air and giving the kids a much-needed screen detox.
- Bayshore Boulevard Linear Trail — This trail is the world’s longest continuous sidewalk. This isn’t just any sidewalk; it’s 10 feet wide! Enjoy a 4.5-mile stroll of scenic views along the bay and gaze at the mansions lining the streets.
- Snow Park — Parks don’t have to be large to be worth visiting, even if it’s just a walk by. Snow Park is considered the world’s smallest park and is dedicated to Major E. Henry Snow, an influential figure in Tampa’s history.
- Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park — This 8-acre park is an urban oasis in Tampa. The park is directly next to the Tampa Museum of Art and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, so entertainment is just footsteps away. Be sure to visit their two interactive fountains: the Louver fountain and the Mist fountain.
- Urban Kai — If you’re a water bug, you might want to try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Urban Kai has locations on the waterfront throughout the bay area for paddleboard rentals. They even offer a SUP yoga class for those more experienced.
- Pedal Pub St. Pete — If you’re an active person who loves to check out new bars, try the Pedal Pub in St. Petersburg. Locals come pedaling down the streets to explore the city’s breweries, bars, and more.
- Run Tampa — If running is more your speed, check out the Tampa Area Race Calendar to find a race that suits your lifestyle. In addition, there are 5Ks nearly every weekend.
- The Tampa Riverwalk — Walk, jog, or bike along the Tampa Riverwalk, which takes you around Downtown Tampa and the scenic views of the Hillsborough River and surrounding areas.
A Beachy Life: Tampa’s Best Beach Spots
One of the pros of living in Tampa could be its proximity to clear, clean beaches. Pick one that has amenities suited to your family, or visit them all! A quality beach in Tampa or a neighboring city will usually be just under an hour away.
- St. Pete Beach is the most scenic beach with the country’s longest undeveloped stretch of public beach. While there are spots to relax, dozens of Tampa restaurants and bars line the beach, open for daily entertainment to tourists and locals alike.
- Treasure Island offers white sandy beaches and picturesque sunsets with an assortment of dining options.
- Indian Rocks Beach feels like a private retreat. There are fewer tourist attractions which means more time for relaxation. Visit this beach to feel like a local, but be wary of open parking as most of this area is residential.
- Fort Desoto is part park, part beach. This Tampa Bay destination has 1,136 acres to explore. Appreciate nature and creatures. Fort Desoto has 328 species of birds.
Art and Music Food for your Soul
If you are interested in music and art, Tampa is thriving with creatives in every corner.
- Dali Museum showcases beautiful paintings from the surrealist Salvador Dali. The museum in St. Petersburg hosts different exhibitions highlighting other artists’ work alongside the surrealist creator.
- Tampa Museum of Art is in the center of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Whether you want to stop in for a bite to eat with a lovely view or explore the unique exhibitions rotating each month, this is a prime destination for art lovers.
- Straz Center for the Performing Arts is steps away from Curtis Hixon, offering weekly performances for those who enjoy Broadway musicals and plays.
- Jannus Live is just over the bridge in St. Petersburg and is an intimate concert venue that locals frequent. The venue hosts artists big and small, and with only a general admission standing room, there’s a good chance to get up and personal with the band.
- Amalie Arena is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning and hosts multiple Tampa events annually. From Cirque du Soleil and the Trans Siberian Orchestra to Jeff Dunham and Elton John, this venue is the go-to spot for concerts, comedians, shows, and sporting events.
For the Tampa Bay Sports Fans
Over the last few years, Tampa Bay has been nicknamed “Champa Bay” as the Tampa Bay Lightning Team have hoisted two consecutive Stanley Cups, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their second Super Bowl title on their home turf at Raymond James Stadium. The Tampa Bay Rays, located across the bay in St. Petersburg, made a run towards the World Series.
Grab a jersey and tickets to any of the following teams’ home games:
- NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning
- MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays
- NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tampa Hidden Gems
One of the best pros about living in Tampa could be its proximity to clear, clean beaches. Whether in Tampa or a neighboring city, a quality beach will usually be just under an hour away. Pick one that has amenities suited to your family or visit them all!
Best Florida Beaches:
- St. Pete Beach — If you are looking for the most scenic beach, this one might be it. The beach includes the longest undeveloped stretch of public beach in the country. While there are spots to relax, the beach is lined with dozens of restaurants and bars that are open for daily entertainment to tourists and locals alike.
- Treasure Island — White sandy beaches and picturesque sunsets can be found at Treasure Island, along with an assortment of dining options within walking distance.
- Indian Rocks Beach — Compared to the more famous Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks feels like a private retreat. There are fewer tourist attractions which means more time for relaxation. Visit this beach to feel like a local, but be wary of open parking as most of this area is residential.
- Fort Desoto — Part park, part beach, this Tampa Bay destination has an incredible 1,136 acres to explore across five interconnected islands. Appreciate nature and all the creatures in it. Fort Desoto has 328 species of birds on its grounds.
Eight Interesting Tampa Facts You May Not Know
- Tampa hurricane season is from June 1 until November 30, but significant landfall damage was last recorded in 1921. Updated hurricane evacuation zones and preparation guides are posted each year for residents to keep you safe.
- Pros of living in Tampa, Florida is the affordable cost of living, exciting outdoor life for adventure and fitness enthusiasts, and an abundance of parties and festivals.
- The biggest con of moving to Tampa is the traffic! Download your favorite podcasts or playlists, and be prepared for longer commutes and rush hour traffic.
- Tampa is one of the best cities for veterans. Not only is there zero state income tax, but there is no military pension tax either. You’ll also find your community of veterans in several VA facilities throughout the Tampa area.
- If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, you’ll feel comfortable in Tampa and can find some exciting gay and liberal bars in the GaYbor, or Ybor City areas. There is an annual Pride parade in the GaYbor district that showcases the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Don’t get struck by lightning! Florida is also called The Lightning Capital of the World because of its summer storms. Make sure to check the weather before you head to the beach!
- Are you a farmer? Then Tampa may be the perfect relocation for you since phosphate is the city’s number one export. (For the non-farmers: phosphate is invaluable for fertilizer production).
- As Florida’s third largest city, Tampa is home to over 385,000 residents and growing. The town makes up a decent chunk of the metropolitan area known as the Tampa Bay Area.
Must-know Tips for Moving to Tampa
Once you’ve decided to move to Tampa, it’s time to plan your seamless transition. Here are some things to remember before you relocate.
1. Find a reputable moving company in Tampa.
The first step to making a successful move is to pick a competent mover. While doing your research, make sure your mover has an AMSA membership. AMSA trains and certifies all member companies under strict ethical, legal, and safety standards.
2. Switch over utilities and internet service.
About three weeks before your move, make it a point to call your local utility provider to schedule a shut-off/turn on date. Tampa runs on Tampa Electric, while anywhere in surrounding areas like St. Petersburg typically runs on Duke Energy.
Next, figure out who the best internet providers are in the area. Call them and try to renegotiate your contract for your new address if it’s the same company you already have. If not, sign up with a new company and take advantage of one of their specials.
3. Handle all automotive paperwork.
If moving from out of state, you must re-register your vehicle with the DMV. You’ll also need to update your driver’s license and car insurance.
4. Transfer medical and school records.
Once you select a new doctor and school system, transfer all information. You may need to visit your current office to sign a release form.
5. Complete a change of address.
Two weeks before you move, visit your local post office (it doesn’t have to be in Tampa), complete a change-of-address card or do it online.
6. Rent a storage unit for excess belongings.
Sometimes relocation dates don’t match up exactly. If your belongings arrive before access to your home, consider temporary storage in Tampa with Life Storage.
7. Get your new and old home ready.
There are a variety of things to do before you move. This moving checklist for your home will get both your old and new residence ready for the transition.
8. Create a hurricane emergency plan.
Every Florida resident needs to have an emergency plan for evacuation if necessary. Make sure you’re prepared for hurricane season with the Tampa Hurricane Preparedness Guide.
Read Also: 5 Essential Tips for a Less Stressful Move
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Tampa Tips to Remember
- Is Tampa safe? That depends on who you ask. Every city has areas with higher concentrations of crime and Tampa is no different. Before you move, explore the Tampa crime rate using this map. Find out which areas you wish to avoid and remain vigilant.
- Looking for a job? Start your job hunt in Tampa with a simple Google Search. Once you’ve found your ideal job, research competitive salaries in the Tampa area. It’s very important to know your worth before the interview phase. Next, update your resume and have it proofread.
- Do I need a Realtor®? Even if you plan on renting in Tampa, it is essential to have a licensed Realtor® on your team. There are a lot of HOA’s and planned neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay Area. Find a realtor you can trust who will be able to accurately explain the differences among communities.
- Which Florida city is for me? Living in Tampa offers a different feel than other popular Florida cities. Not so sure? Decide for yourself by reading our moving to guides for Jacksonville and Orlando.
Moving to Tampa has pros and cons, but for many residents, the good far outweighs the bad. What do you think about living in Tampa? Follow us on Facebook and share your experiences!
Update: This post was originally published on September 29, 2017, and was revised on December 21, 2019, from Tampa expert, Ashley Spencer. It was revised again with new information by Tampa expert, Bethany Cohen, on July 28th, 2022.