Not Quite What It Seems
St. Pete wants to present itself as a cool, hip liberal town that is 'open for business.' it might be open for business but none of the rest is true.
It is deceptive, because if you just visit downtown you see all of these restaurants and nightclubs and it seems pretty cool. And I will admit, that part of it isn't bad. The waterfront area on the bay is really nice and riding my bike from the pools at North Shore to work every day south of the university was awesome.
The truth is, it is a lot more backward than it seems at first. It is actually a lot more racist than the Atlantic side of Florida. A lot more small-town and not in a good way. It wants to be a real place and attract talent, but it doesn't want any riff-raff, and regards all thinking people as riff-raff.
The schools are really bad so you must send your kids to private school. The restaurants seem great at first, then they seem all the same. Interesting food is non-existent. It is dog friendly, and that is nice, but not very people friendly.
It also bills itself as a 'walkable' city, but the downtown apartments generally run over $2k per month, and the wages are low so they don't support it. I rode my bike to work, but with the exception of one other person at my company, I was the only person who lived in biking distance, let alone walking distance of the office, because no one could afford to live close by. I worked in a large building, and my bike was all alone in the bike racks for an entire year. And that affects social life, because none of the workers live in town, you can't get together after work, because everyone has an hour drive to get home.
But the real problem with St. Pete is that the C-Suite talent pool is so shallow, the pebble would break the surface when thrown into the pond.
Therein lies the problem, there are capable working people all over town. But 'top' management can't recognize them. They never ever promote from within. And their Florida offices are generally set up to do mundane work, while relying on expertise from New York. In other words, St. Pete is just a stateside version of outsourcing. That means no growth track and no respect.
It is a place where B-level TV sports stars and reality TV losers are treated like heroes. It is one of the places that O.J. Simpson was going to move to when he got out of prison, but decided not to. Take O.J.'s advice, don't. There is really nothing here.
I know this sounds harsh, but it is my experience. For people who grow up here, there are opportunities. If you can afford to retire here, go for it, it is great. They have a wonderful Kiwanis Club. They try. But, I have known dozens of people who moved here and found it a black hole for their careers. If you cannot position yourself as C-Suite, and I mean C-Suite, not a manager, forget it. Move on.
Joni | St. Petersburg, FL