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Skyline of Downtown Tampa Bay at Night

12 Things to Know About Living in Tampa

Moving to Tampa? Part of the Tampa Bay area, this Florida city is one of the best places to live in the Southeast, with affordable living options, gorgeous tropical weather, quick access to the beach, and more. If you’re thinking about living in Tampa, here are 12 things to know!

Find Affordable Living in the Sunshine State

Aerial view of Downtown Tampa at night time. Photo by Instagram user @hfflp

Photo via @hfflp

If you’ve always wanted to live in Florida but can’t afford Miami‘s sky-high prices, Tampa is an excellent alternative! The Big Guava is one of the most affordable cities in the U.S., and comes with the added perk of no state income tax. The cost of living in Tampa is also 3% lower than Florida’s state average and over 10% lower than Miami’s cost of living. Plus, Tampa housing costs are on par with the national average for both real estate and rentals, beating out Miami housing costs by over $50,000 on average. With all of these factors, it’s no wonder Tampa is one of the best cities for real estate! Because of its affordability, this Florida city has a larger demographic of singles and young professionals living in Tampa, as compared to many other Florida cities. This brings Tampa’s median age down to 35, while other cities like St. Petersburg and Miami have median ages of 39 and older.

Live in One of the Best U.S. Cities for Veterans

A member of the armed forces with his dog at MacDill Air Force Base. Photo by Instagram user @mc360co

Photo via @mc360co

Not only is Florida one of the best states for military retirees, but Tampa itself is one of the best cities for veterans. No state income tax means no military pension tax, and there are several VA facilities throughout the Tampa Bay area. Additionally, MacDill Air Force Base is located in South Tampa, with unique local memorials like the American Victory Ship & Museum and Veterans Memorial Park paying respects to Tampa veterans from all branches of the US Armed Forces. With all this, it’s no wonder the Tampa area is home to over 21,000 veterans.

Advance Your Career in Cigar City

A wide shot of Tampa General Hospital on the Tampa Riverwalk. Photo by Instagram user @tampariverwalk

Photo via @tampariverwalk

The Tampa economy was historically dominated by cigar manufacturing, earning it the nickname of Cigar City. However, modern Tampa jobs come in a variety of different industries like technology, agriculture, healthcare, and finance. The city is home to the Fortune 500 company Mosaic and Fortune 1000 company Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. Big companies like Sykes, KForce, Masonite, and Suncoast Credit Union are also headquartered in The Big Guava and are some of Tampa’s top employers. Plus, Wellcare and Tampa General Hospital provide plenty of employment options in the healthcare field. These aren’t the only options for jobs in Tampa, though. Large companies like Infosys and PwC have office locations in the area, offering careers for professionals of any age!

Get Your Degree at Tampa Schools

Brick sign with red flower in front of the University of South Florida. Photo by Instagram user @usouthflorida

Photo via @usouthflorida

Moving to Tampa to attend college? The Tampa Bay area is home to several highly-rated public and private universities. Attend the fourth-largest public university in Florida with more than 50,000 students each year, and enroll in top areas of study like business management, biomedical sciences, and social sciences at University of South Florida. Enroll at The University of Tampa—just across the river from Downtown Tampa—for Division II athletics, an ROTC program, and a wide range of degree programs in biology, finance, international business, sports management, and more. Further your education in topics like addiction studies, early childhood education, and nonprofit management through the Tampa Bay campus of Springfield College. Explore everything from architecture and building trades, to engineering or even hospitality and culinary degrees at Hillsborough Community College. Or consider attending a private Christian university in the Tampa area for programs in topics like communication, business, and elementary education at Florida College.

Enjoy Tropical Outdoor Recreation in Tampa

A mom and her child playing on the beach in Tampa. Photo by Instagram user @morelessrene

Photo via @morelessrene

One of the biggest reasons people love living in Tampa is the city’s beautiful weather—with summer highs around 90 degrees and winter lows in the 50s, it should come as no surprise that outdoor recreation in Tampa is one of the best things to do in the Sunshine State! Go hiking on the 1.25-mile paved trail, fish the Hillsborough River, or identify native birds in the 240-acre Lettuce Lake Park. Get a unique perspective of Downtown Tampa and all of its waterways by renting a single or tandem water bike from Tampa Water Bike Co. Spend a weekend camping, watching wildlife, canoeing or kayaking, swimming, and more at Hillsborough River State Park. Enjoy an afternoon picnic and bring your furry friends to play at the dog beach at Picnic Island Park in this dog-friendly city. Tan or swim at one of the best beaches in Tampa, Ben T Davis Beach, along the causeway between Tampa and Clearwater. Schedule a tee time for 18 holes or book a private event at Westchase Golf Club—home to one of the most beautiful golf courses in Tampa. Or get incredible views of Tampa Bay while relaxing on the deck of the Shark Boat, Dolphin Quest, or Pirate Cruise at Pirate Ship Royal Conquest.

Explore Historic Ybor City

Located northeast of Downtown Tampa is the historic district of Ybor City (pronounced ee-bor). Founded in the 1880s by Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants, Ybor City was an industrial powerhouse with cigar manufacturing at its heart, helping Tampa earn its “Cigar City” nickname. Today, Ybor City is Tampa’s Latin quarter, featuring everything from local cigar shops and vintage boutiques to some of the best restaurants in Tampa. Hop on the TECO Streetcar—which also runs through Downtown Tampa and the Channel District—to visit Centro Ybor for dining, shopping, and movies. Buy some hand-rolled cigars from Tabanero Cigars, or head over to King Corona Cigars to enjoy a handmade cigar and coffee. Find vintage dresses, jackets, and accessories at Revolve Clothing Exchange, or pick up new denim pieces at Black & Denim Apparel Company. Support local Tampa artists, craftsmen, and creators by perusing their goods year-round at the outdoor Ybor City Saturday Market. Celebrate Pride Month in the GaYbor District with a fun night out at one of the many Tampa gay bars and clubs in the GaYbor District Coalition. And be sure to watch out for Ybor City’s infamous wild chickens while you’re exploring the area!

Discover Tampa Arts & Culture

Tampa has a vibrant spread of arts and cultural attractions, just waiting to be explored! Audition for a show, or let your kids participate in a Youth Ensemble Acting class at the longest-running professional Tampa theatre company, Stageworks Theatre. Attend shows varying from Broadway musicals, to comedy acts, to an opera or ballet at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Sign the kids up for a History Adventure Camp, or learn about the history of Tampa Bay with Florida’s First People, Your Tampa Bay, and Wayne Thomas Gallery exhibits at the Tampa Bay History Center. Examine art and artifacts that date back to 510 B.C.E., or sign the kids up for Summer Art Camp at the Tampa Museum of Art. Visit the site of the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, now a National Historical Landmark, to gain insight into Florida life during the turn of the century at the Henry B. Plant Museum. And admire artistic works by famous historic and modern photographers at the national and international levels at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

Take Your Pick of Tampa Bay Sports

Tampa Buccaneers football player dodging a tackle. Photo by Instagram user @buccaneers

Photo via @buccaneers

One of the best things about living in Tampa is the variety of pro sports available! Cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) at Raymond James Stadium. Watch the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) hit the ice at Amalie Arena between October and April every year. Enjoy two different options for watching professional baseball in Tampa with the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) at Tropicana Field or the Tampa Tarpons (MiLB) at Steinbrenner Field. For even more of America’s pastime, don’t forget to catch the New York Yankees (MLB) at Steinbrenner Field during spring training! If you’re a college sports fan, make sure to support the Tampa Spartans of the University of Tampa in baseball, basketball, and cross country. Or catch the University of South Florida Bulls in a football, soccer, or softball game.

Celebrate With Annual Tampa Festivals

A woman playing keyboard at Sunset Music Festival in Tampa. Photo by Instagram user @tylerchurch

Photo via @tylerchurch

With the year-round sunshine and balmy Tampa weather, there are plenty of opportunities for fun festivals! Spend Memorial Day weekend sampling dozens of margaritas and listening to live music, while also enjoying a variety of games and shopping at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. Jam out with one, two, or three days of electronic music and vibrant outfits at Sunset Music Festival. Marvel at the performers of Cirque Ma’Ceo and the Great American High Dive Show, or enjoy fun rides and watch livestock competitions at the Florida State Fair. Prepare your best sea shanties for Gasparilla Pirate Fest, where you can enjoy the Parade of Pirates, live music, and plenty of drinks, or take the kids to the Children’s Gasparilla for an alcohol-free festival and children’s parade. Or take over the Tampa Riverwalk in the summer for a good time listening to live music, trying food from local vendors, watching a wiener dog derby, and more at Riverfest!

Check Out Family-Friendly Tampa Attractions

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids? Ride on the Cobra’s Curse spin coaster, watch cheetahs and elephants in their habitats, or catch a live show with musicians, ice skaters, or acrobats at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. See everything from alligators and manatees to orangutans and giraffes at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. View sharks in the aquarium, take a wild dolphin cruise, or meet penguins up-close at The Florida Aquarium in Channel District. Visit the Idea Zone, Dinovations Lab, and The Saunders Planetarium exhibits while learning more about science and technology at Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Terrace Park. Get creative with paint, slide down a fireman’s pole, and build robots at Glazer Children’s Museum in Downtown Tampa. Or hit the batting cages, play arcade games, and challenge the kids to a go-kart race at Grand Prix Tampa.

Get a Taste of Tampa

Big plates of pasta with bread loafs on a table from Oggi Italian. Photo by Instagram user @oggiitalian

Photo via @oggiitalian

The best restaurants in Tampa are all around you! Try savory brunch dishes like the Goddess Omelette, Turkey & Avocado Skillet, or the Buccaneers Feast at Brunchies in Northwest Tampa. Stop into Ulele on the Tampa Riverwalk for Native American-inspired dishes like Native Sauté, Charbroiled Oysters, and Blackened Redfish. Try the Salmon Almeria, La Completa Cubana, or Palomilla at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Order the Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, or Goan Fish Curry at Flames Indian Cuisine in Palma Ceia. Indulge on pastas like Pollo Margherita, Butternut Squash Ravioli, or Diavolo Penne at Oggi Italian in Davis Islands. Stop in for Pulled Pork Quesadillas, The Cuban Sandwich, or a Buccaneer Burger at pirate-themed restaurant Gaspar’s Grotto.

Experience Cigar City’s Nightlife

Three friends enjoying food and drinks on an outdoor patio. Photo by Instagram user @thesailtampa

Photo via @thesailtampa

If you’re looking for things to do in Tampa, why not check out the local nightlife? Try the Headbanger American IPA or the Saison in Paradise at the 7venth Sun Brewery taproom in Seminole Heights. Kick back at a dog-friendly waterfront bar on the Tampa Riverwalk and enjoy all-day “Yappy Hour” with an Original Lime Mojito, The Sail’s Nautical Cucumber Lemonade, or the Tampa Riverwalk Grey Goose Mule at The Sail! Experience five different floors of music styles and dance the night away at a party or one of many theme nights at Club Prana. Watch a Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) game on the big screen while sipping a Dirty Harry Martini, Lightning Lemonade, or Apple Jack at one of Downtown Tampa’s best sports bars, Hattricks Tavern. Hit up goth-themed dance club The Castle in Ybor City for drinking, dancing, and some of the city’s best cosplay fun. Or hang out with the regulars at Hyde Park dive bar Tiny Tap Tavern, where you can get affordable local beers on tap and shoot some pool—just remember to bring cash, since they don’t take credit cards!


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Tampa, FL: 12 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.