Skyline of Downtown Tampa Bay at Night

13 Things to Know About Living in Tampa

Considering relocating to Tampa? Part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro, this Florida city offers affordable living, gorgeous tropical weather, quick access to the beach, and more. If you’re thinking about moving here, check out these 13 things to know about living in Tampa Bay!

An Affordable Place to Live on the Gulf Coast

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

If you’ve always wanted to live on the coast in Florida but can’t afford Miami’s sky-high prices, Tampa is an excellent alternative! The cost of living in Tampa is equal to the national average and only 1% higher than the Florida average, and the city’s housing costs are 4% lower than the national average with median home prices at $172,100 and median monthly rent at $983. In addition, real estate forecasters predict that Tampa will see positive growth for home values and continue to add more entry-level homes throughout the metro over the next few years. So if you’re hoping to buy a house in Tampa, now might be a good time. Of course, there are some expenses—like flood and hurricane insurance—that can make housing more expensive, but the Tampa Bay Area in general is an affordable place to live!

One of the Best U.S. Cities for Veterans

Air force members saluting flags at MacDill AFB. Photo by Instagram user @macdillafb
Photo via @macdillafb

Not only is Florida one of the best states for military retirees, but Tampa itself is also one of the best cities for veterans. With no state income tax (which means no military pension tax), several VA facilities throughout the Tampa Bay Area, close proximity to MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa, and unique local memorials like the American Victory Ship & Museum and Veterans Memorial Park & Museum, it’s no wonder why the Tampa area is home to more than 21,000 veterans.

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Enjoy the Tropical Weather

Red yellow sunset in Tampa over palm trees. Photo by Instagram user @floridalust
Photo via @floridalust

One of the most common reasons why people move to Tampa is for the beautiful weather. Winters and springs are warm and sunny, summers and falls are humid and wet, and temperatures rarely drop below 60 degrees. And since Tampa is located on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, the ocean is warmer, too! But living in Florida also means you need to be ready for hurricanes. June through November is the official hurricane season—with September typically seeing the most hurricane activity—for those on the Atlantic side of the U.S. Especially if you’ve never lived in an area with this weather phenomenon before, be sure to review these hurricane preparation tips to prepare for your new life in the Sunshine State.

Explore Historic Ybor City

Street view of Ybor City with purple skies as the sun sets. Photo by Instagram user @erinpaytonphotography
Photo via @erinpaytonphotography

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 nickname of “Cigar City.” Today, Ybor City is Tampa’s Latin quarter, featuring everything from local cigar shops and vintage boutiques to some of Tampa’s best restaurants. 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. Find vintage dresses, jackets, and accessories at Revolve Clothing Exchange, or pick up new denim at Black & Denim Apparel Company. Stop into pirate-themed restaurant Gaspar’s Grotto for pulled pork tacos, wood-fired Margherita pizza, or Pasta Fra Diavolo. And be sure to watch out for Ybor City’s infamous wild chickens while you’re exploring the area!

Soak Up the Sun on the Beach

Aerial of Clearwater Beach on a sunny day. Photo by Instagram user @cytz_madisen
Photo via @cytz_madisen

When you live on the Gulf Coast, you have to visit the beach! The Tampa Bay Area is home to tons of white-sand beaches with the clear warm waters of the Gulf. Where are the best beaches in Tampa? If you stay in the city, your best option is Ben T. Davis Beach along the causeway between Tampa and Clearwater. But some of the largest and most beautiful spots are the beaches along the shores of St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin and Fort de Soto Park in St. Petersburg are about 40-50 minutes away from the city and offer more relaxed beaches that are good for families with young children. If you don’t mind more tourist-friendly spots, Clearwater Beach in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach in St. Petersburg are bigger, offer everything from tiki bars to cabana rentals, and have plenty of dining, shopping, and nightlife within walking distance of the sand.

Hop on a Cruise in Tampa Bay

Cruise ship leaving port in Tampa. Photo by Instagram user @cruisegram_22
Photo via @cruisegram_22

Not only will you have incredible beaches close by when you live in Tampa, but you’ll also be able to board cruise ships for Caribbean vacations in the area, too! Port Tampa Bay has several terminals where you can hop onto Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Norwegian cruise lines for trips lasting anywhere between four and seven days or even a full two weeks. And the best part is you won’t have to spend any extra money to fly somewhere to get on your cruise—it’s just right there in Tampa Bay!

Get Your Degree in Tampa

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. University of South Florida is the fourth-largest public university in Florida. The school educates more than 50,000 students each year in top fields like business management, marine science, and nursing and has excellent athletic programs for football, track and field, and basketball. There’s also The University of Tampa just across the river from Downtown Tampa. This private university offers Division II athletics, an ROTC program, and a wide range of degree programs in biology, finance, international business, sports management, and more. Outside of Tampa proper, students can find other great schools like Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and Southeastern University in Lakeland that have incredible undergraduate, graduate, and athletic programs.

Take Your Pick with Tampa Bay Pro 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! Like football? Cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) at Raymond James Stadium. Prefer hockey? The Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) hit the ice at Amalie Arena between October and April every year. How about America’s pastime? You actually have two options for professional baseball in Tampa! Catch the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) at Tropicana Field or the Tampa Tarpons (MiLB) at Steinbrenner Field—and don’t forget that Steinbrenner Field is home to the New York Yankees during spring training!

Stroll Along the Waterfront

Families on the Tampa Riverwalk on a sunny day. Photo by Instagram use @angiethemuggle
Photo via @angiethemuggle

Did you know Tampa has its own riverwalk? Located in Downtown Tampa along the Hillsborough River, the 2.4-mile Tampa Riverwalk is home to restaurants, bars, parks, public art installations, and community events—all accessible as you stroll along the river! Stop into Ulele for Native American-inspired dishes like Native Sauté, Charbroiled Oysters, and Yellowfin Tuna. Kick back at The Sail, a dog-friendly waterfront bar where you can enjoy happy hour specials from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Play with your little ones at the playground and splash pads at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Or attend Riverfest in the summer, where you can hear live music, try food from local vendors, watch a wiener dog derby, and more!

Check Out Tampa’s Family-Friendly Attractions

Sea turtle swimming in the water at the Florida Aquarium. Photo by Instagram user @floridaaquarium
Photo via @floridaaquarium

Looking for things to do in Tampa with kids? Ride on the Cobra’s Curse spin coaster, watch cheetahs and elephants in the animal habitat, or catch a live show with musicians and comedians at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. See everything from alligators and manatees to orangutans and giraffes at ZooTampa in 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, Dinovation Lab, and Saunders Planetarium exhibits while learning more about science and technology at Museum of Science & Industry 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, enjoy arcade games, and challenge the kids to a go-kart race at Grand Prix Tampa in University.

There’s Plenty of Outdoor Recreation

Rushing water over rocks at Hillsborough River State Park in Tampa. Photo by Instagram user @briannaelise_photography
Photo via @briannaelise_photography

With gorgeous weather throughout the year, it should come as no surprise that one of the best things to do in Tampa is spend time outside! Go hiking, fishing, or birdwatching in the 240-acre Lettuce Lake Park along the Hillsborough River. Get a unique perspective of Downtown Tampa and all of its waterways by renting a single or tandem Tampa Water Bike. Spend a weekend at Hillsborough River State Park, where you can camp, watch wildlife, canoe and kayak, go swimming, and more. Enjoy an afternoon picnic and bring your furry friends to play at the dog beach on Picnic Island. Schedule a tee time at Westchase Golf Club—one of the most beautiful golf courses in Tampa. Or get incredible views of Tampa Bay while relaxing on the deck of a catamaran with Tampa Bay Boat Tours.

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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

Where are the top restaurants in Tampa? All around you! One of the best things about living in Tampa Bay is that you can find everything from by-the-water seafood joints and upscale steakhouses to Mexican taco trucks and Korean barbecue restaurants. Try the Seafood Paella, Breaded Pork Milanesa, or Chorizo Crillo Tapas at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Order the Chicken Tikka Masala or Lamb Vindaloo at Flames Indian Cuisine in Palma Ceia. Indulge with pastas like Pollo Margherita, Butternut Squash Ravioli, or Bucatini Genovese Pesto at Oggi Italian in Davis Islands. Or try savory brunch dishes like the Goddess Omelette, Turkey & Avocado Skillet, or the Buccaneers Feast at Brunchies in Northwest Tampa.

Experience Cigar City’s Nightlife

Cigar on top of a glass. Photo by Instagram user @justin_klingbeil14
Photo via @justin_klingbeil14

If you’re looking for stuff to do in Tampa, why not check out the local nightlife? With craft breweries, dance clubs, cigar lounges, and more, it’s easy to find something to do at night in the Tampa Bay Area! Try the Headbanger American IPA or the Saison in Paradise at the 7venth Sun Brewery taproom in Seminole Heights. Head over to King Corona Cigars in Ybor City to enjoy a handmade cigar with a whiskey or an ice cold beer. Watch a Tampa Bay Lightning game on the big screen at one of Downtown Tampa’s best sports bars, Hattrick’s 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 cheap beers and shoot some pool—just remember to bring cash since they don’t take credit cards!

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13 Things to Know About Living in Tampa