Tampa, Florida is the largest city in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa mixes business and pleasure with its waterfront activities, amusement parks, financial offices, medical communities, schools and art districts.
Consider these tips to make your move to Tampa as easy as possible.
Try to schedule your move sometime between November and May. Those are the coolest months the area has to offer. If a June-through-August move is unavoidable, remember to schedule the outdoor work of carrying boxes and furniture during the evening or early morning hours so you avoid the intense sun and humid weather with potential highs of 90-100 degrees. It may still be muggy and hot in the evening and morning, but it will be much more bearable. Make sure you have your electricity and air conditioning turned on ahead of time so you have a cool workspace when unpacking.
During the winter months, the Tampa area is filled with tourists and semi-permanent residents from northern states and Canada.
It can be frustrating to drive during this time, as traffic is increased and many drivers aren’t completely confident in their knowledge of the area.
Make sure to give yourself enough time to comfortably travel when moving to Tampa to help reduce any potential irritation. Also, since traffic is heaviest during rush hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., avoid scheduling the driving part of your move during these times.
When moving to Tampa, it’s a good idea to get to know its many neighborhoods and subdivisions. Some of the most notable include:
- Ybor City: The Latin Quarter, known for bars, cigars and great food.
- Hyde Park: The location of a high-end shopping district called Hyde Park Village and nightclub staple SoHo.
- Channel District: This area runs along the Ybor Channel and is located in Downtown Tampa. It’s the location of museums, the Florida Aquarium, the convention center and many restaurants and clubs. The main living spaces in the Channel District are condominiums.
Cost of Living
Cost of living in Tampa is middle-of-the-road compared to other cities in the country. It’s not one of the most expensive cities, nor is it one of the least expensive. Tampa’s average 2011 rent was about $700 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,425 for three bedrooms. The median home price is $155,100, which is just lower than the national average.
Tampa is a busy hub for Florida travel. When moving to Tampa, you’ll find the interstate system helpful in getting around but be warned: the roads are busy in this area with Malfunction Junction, the point at which the north and south running I-275 intersects with eastbound I-4, causing many drivers confusion.
The city has many taxi cab services as well as trolleys, busses and limos that transport to and from the International Airport. Busses in Tampa run to and from many areas throughout the city, but bus stops are often unshaded and some may not have benches, which makes it very uncomfortable to rely on bus transportation in the hot months.
Tampa’s interstate and bridge system is relatively updated, and areas such as US Highway 19 have recently gotten complete overhauls, helping to better direct and manage daily traffic. The Howard Frankland Bridge (also I-275) is the most heavily trafficked bridge from Tampa to the extended Tampa Bay region. This is a non-toll bridge that does not have a drawbridge, but during accidents and rush hour, travel over it can be slow to non-moving.
Another point of access between Tampa and the rest of the region south or west is the Gandy Bridge. In 1996, the Gandy Bridge was rebuilt parallel to the old bridge, which still serves as a walking trail and fishing point. Finally, there is the Courtney Campbell Causeway which links Tampa to towns such as Safety Harbor.
Tampa jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, but there has been some real movement lately in employment creation. And not only are jobs in Tampa finally increasing, the surrounding areas are rebounding as well.
Major Industries for Tampa Jobs
The Tampa Bay area, which extends out to include St. Petersburg and Clearwater, is the location of both Raymond James Financial and Franklin Templeton home offices. This makes the area heavy in financial sector careers. Bankers Insurance Group, located in downtown St. Petersburg, and MetLife in Tampa round out the financial sector by providing insurance industry employment.
If you’re moving to Tampa, you’ll want to discover all the local print resources for getting up to speed on developing news stories and the variety of things to do and places to see in your new city. Kick your Tampa orientation into high gear by checking out the following local media outlets.
Tampa Bay Times
The Tampa Bay Times is the highest circulated newspaper in the entire state of Florida, with an estimated daily circulation of 299,000 Monday through Saturday, and over 400,000 on Sundays.
Established in 1884 under the name The West Hillsborough Times, the newspaper has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize a total of eight times, and is also one of the most highly read newspapers in the country. The newspaper features daily news, business, sports, jobs, and arts and entertainment coverage.
The Tampa Tribune
The principal competition of the Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Tribune reaches a significantly smaller audience, yet is still considered to be one of the most widely read daily newspapers in Florida and in the United States. Published seven days a week, the newspaper has an average daily circulation of 225,000. Since its founding in 1895, the newspaper has won one Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. Daily features include local and world news, sports, business and jobs, and local arts and entertainment listings.
With a circulation of over 40,000, Centro Tampa is officially the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the city. Launched in 2005, the newspaper is published once per week and has in that time won numerous state journalism awards. It has been named among the best Spanish-language newspapers in the state of Florida. Weekly coverage includes news, business, sports, community events and feature stories aimed at the Latino community of Tampa and nearby St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay
The third-largest newspaper in Tampa, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay is also its most comprehensive city guide. Covering everything from local news to the Tampa music, arts, theater, dining and nightlife scenes, Creative Loafing is a free publication that hits newsstands and bookstores once per week and reaches an audience of over 40,000 readers.
Local TV and News Channels
For local news coverage and stories that impact you as a Tampa resident, tune your TV to these channels.
Those moving to Tampa need to be aware of the almost year-round presence of various pollens and mold spores. Since Tampa has both waterfront and inland communities, individuals moving to Tampa will notice a range of climates in the area. Those on the gulf will enjoy cooler temperatures and breezes, as will those on the Bay to a lesser extent, while areas inland will be hotter, muggier and more stagnant in summer months.
Tampa residents should expect rain in short bursts on summer afternoons and occasional street flooding. Since summer storms can often happen just before rush hour, you may want to find alternative routes home to help avoid some of the heavy traffic and flooded areas.
The Tampa weather begins to cool in October, but it’s rare to have a day with lows in the 50’s before January. In March, the weather generally starts to warm up again. Hurricane season is from June to November, so after moving to Tampa, it should be a priority to create a hurricane kit with non-perishable foods, water, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, candles, pet supplies, a first aid kit and medications.
Tampa schools give parents and students a number of different options for educational styles and focus. There are private and public K-12 schools as well as charter, magnet and Montessori school programs. Students in Tampa can also be educated at home or through the state’s virtual education program.
Tampa schools are rich in extracurricular activities including sports, chorus, band, drama and other programs. Those in public schools grades 3 through 11 are expected to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) annually. This test measures reading, math, writing and science skills and helps identify areas in which schools are falling short.
Some of the best public schools in Tampa, according to GreatSchools.org, include:
- Mabry Elementary School
- Coleman Middle School
- Plant High School
Driver’s Licenses & Vehicle Registration. Those moving to Tampa will be happy to note that the city has six different locations for driver’s license changes and four for motor vehicle registration, and this does not include the locations in the surrounding areas. To find the location closes to you, visit the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It’s important that driver’s license changes are made soon after relocating. When it’s time to register your vehicle, remember that Florida requires drivers to have auto insurance and you will be asked for proof of insurance when you register. Florida no longer requires emissions testing before renewing a vehicle’s registration.
Voter Registration. To become a registered voter in Florida after moving to Tampa, you must have a valid Florida driver’s license or ID. Luckily, you can register to vote at the DMV while you change your driver’s license information. You can also apply for voter registration online with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Taxes. There is no state income tax for Tampa residents, but there is a sales tax, and you may be expected to pay a use tax when you buy certain items online or in tax-free states if the items will be used or stored in Tampa. If you own property in Tampa, you will also be expected to pay property taxes each year to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser. Permanent residents should also file for a homestead exemption in order to reduce their property tax liability.
Permits. Residents may be required to obtain permits for certain activities, including construction and renovation, fishing and business activities. They can apply for a permit at their local government offices or online.
Trash & Recycling. Tampa has a recycling program that accepts cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans and more. For full details on what can and can’t be recycled, visit TampaGov.net. Garbage pickup is based on neighborhood and house number, and details about it can be found here.