Review of Tampa, Florida

I should have done my homework...
Star Rating - 8/25/2018
Where to start. I haven't noticed a groundswell of anti-outsider sentiment because everyone is from somewhere else. Anecdotally (based on license plates I've seen) it does seem like the bulk of transplants are climate refugees fleeing from the frigid NE and Ohio. The irony of climate refugees fleeing to coastal Florida is not lost on me.

I mention the number of transplants you'll find here because how you feel about Tampa (and Florida in general) depends on where you're moving from. I suppose if you shoveled snow in 28-degree weather for 4-5 months of each year, then Tampa may look like Valhalla. I relocated from a beautiful and temperate part of the country to Tampa for work. Generally, I find Tampa charmless and in many ways, I feel like I stepped back into 1986. Here's why:

1. Florida has some of the most aggressive drivers I have ever encountered. Weaving in an out of traffic at 30 mph over the speed limit, each time within 18 inches of your bumper. No signaling. Refusal to let you merge. Odd traffic control (making left-hand turns across 3 lanes of oncoming traffic zooming toward you at 50mph). Florida has some of the worst pedestrian safety in the country. It also has more uninsured drivers than any other state, a big problem with wrong-way drivers, and some of the highest car insurance premiums in the country (mine went up 40%). I wouldn't think about riding a bike here or even walking in parts of Tampa. I spent my first 3 months in near tears whenever I had to get in the car, which is important because...

2. You will have to drive everywhere. Tampa and surrounding areas do not have much in the way of mass transit. You will be in your car all the time, and much of what is interesting (parts of downtown, the beaches, St. Pete) is a 45-minute drive away. I had a friend visit me from my hometown and every time we wanted to go somewhere, we'd punch it into Waze and it was always 45-60 minutes away in what I have already mentioned are stressful driving conditions even under the best circumstances.

3. What isn't from1986 is the cost of renting. Buying is cheaper than renting and housing prices are a bargain here compared to many parts of the country. I didn't want to buy until I was sure I wanted to stay long term. Renting is not inexpensive and Florida has few tenant protections that you may enjoy in other more progressive states. A decent and safe 1 bedroom apartment in one of the many huge apartment complexes that dot this area will cost you at minimum $1,200 a month, plus nonrefundable pet deposits of $300-$400 each and pet rent (despite paying aforementioned deposits) of $20-$40 per month. I should have done my research a bit more carefully since this is easily obtainable info. As it turns out, I moved from a higher cost geography and took a large pay cut, but because of my relatively low fixed costs in my hometown, my monthly living expenses have actually edged up. Again, this depends on what you're used to. Do your research because the pay here isn't all that great.

4. Tampa is not a progressive city. There is a general lack of environmental awareness that befuddles me considering it's a state surrounded by water. For example, my garbage collector offers bi-weekly curbside recycling, but I had to provide my own containers and very, very few of my neighbors participate in this. I am from a part of the country where reduce/reuse is a way of life. I'm treated like an exotic creature for bringing my own bags to the grocery store. Piggybacking on this lack of environmental awareness is the general weirdness that is Florida. When I jokingly asked my cable installer if he had any advice for a new FL resident and he responded by telling me to buy a gun.

5. Tampa suburbs. Suburbs anywhere tend to be uninteresting places, but in Tampa, factor this by x10. I live in a suburb that doesn't have a downtown but is a confluence of highways lined with chain restaurants, outlet malls, and gated communities. You can get concerts in Tampa and Orlando, but other smaller cultural happenings are hard to find (smaller artists, bookstore readings, independent movies, small coffee shops, etc.)

6. Florida is a transient place. I've met a lot of people who moved here because they had great memories of summer vacations in Florida when they were growing up. I get it - nostalgia is powerful. Some move here and love it. A lot don't. Living in Florida is a little like living in Las Vegas - lots of people cycling in and out. That has an impact on how invested people feel in their local community.

7. The weather. Yeah, it's hotter than Hades from April through September. Surprisingly, this didn't bother me all that much. I have AC at home and at work and am generally not an outdoorsy person. If you want to be outside at 5 pm in August then you are in for a big surprise. I posted a photo of a summer downpour on my Facebook feed and one of my hometown friends mentioned how "refreshing" that would be. Uhh, no. There is nothing refreshing about warm rain when it's 95 degrees outside. Side note - FL landlords are not required to provide AC to tenants. Heat, yes. AC, no. Most do because they want to get their place rented. There are people that live here without AC but I don't know how they do it.

My advice is likely relevant for people who value the same things that I do. Really examine those values before you move to a new city and consider how you live your life on a daily basis. Sure, the beaches are beautiful, but will you go every weekend or even monthly (the answer is probably not). What is your commute going to be like? Can you easily live your values here, whatever those may be (ie leaving a small environmental footprint, being able to support small businesses, etc.)

Allizon | Land O Lakes, FL
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6 Replies

Why did you write your long, nonsensical, subjective and factually wrong review for Tanpa when you live in a poor outlying community over an hour away? I get it, you people move here are immediately agree to learn things aren't exactly what you're used to. Go home, problem solved.
Christopher | Brandon, FL | Report Abuse

Clearly, you are from the west coast somewhere based on your analysis of a city you don't even live in. I grew up in Tampa and while it's not perfect, it's a whole lot better than the cesspool of a state I currently live in (California). It takes me over 1 hour to get to work, which is 37 miles away. The people here claim they love the environment yet every freeway is littered with mounds of trash including car parts. Most Floridians know that "climate change" is a freakin' joke which is why they aren't wringing their hands about it. Talk about aggressive drivers. These people couldn't drive if Mario Andretti taught them. I've been sideswiped and run off the road. I had a driver make a gun with his hand on the freeway. If you're miserable where you are you're always welcomed to move back to your home state.
Carol | Petaluma, CA | Report Abuse

Traffic and congestion are indeed terrible and getting worse since there is basically no mass transit. Weather is great (in winter) and there is always something to do. Tampa is an event and party town. A lot of transients, of course, and there are loads of bad and aggressive drivers. Being Florida, you know lots of weird stuff is gonna happen here. But I have lived here for 40 years and if I didn't like it here I would have moved by now.
Ed | Brandon, FL | Report Abuse

Obviously you have not been to Vegas! Vegas is like #1 when it comes to transiency! We have soooooo many people moving in from California because of cheaper homes and rental property. But since they have moved here, the average rent for a two bedroom is about 1400.00 now. So many illegals and foreigners here, that its hard to find an American! Most jobs in casinos are held by foreigners (mostly Chinese, Filipinos, and African Countries), 90% or more of our hospital staff is Asian, as well as shipping in boatloads of teachers from the Philippines! The weather gets hot, but it's not humid. I enjoy the hot weather so Florida does not bother me. The crime in Vegas is getting worse. With the number of people moving here daily from other countries crime has gotten out of control. Police do not in force many traffic infractions and actually, you do not see a lot of cops around, except during special events, concerts... mega OVERTIME for them! We have so many gangs moving in, its unbelievable. Many people do not realize the homeless population taking over our neighborhoods either. I live on the Summerlin (supposedly, high class town:(:(:() and the homeless have taken over our area. My home is worth over 300,000 and basically in my backyard, there are tents set up and of course, no cops around to enforce anything. When we moved here there were a few lanes of traffic, now we have 5 lane highways (similar to CA.) and a lot of these people DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE. We have daily accidents, flip overs, motorcyclists killed, hit and run none stop!! My insurance went up and when I asked why, I was told because of all the uninsured people driving in Vegas. Vegas is also not very diversified. In fact, its very racist and people stay to themselves and very seldom go outside of there home. Very hard to get to know your neighbors! So after reading your stuff and me analyzing Vegas, I think Ill be moving to Tampa, your dads can't touch the bass here in Vegas.
eva | Spring Valley, NV | Report Abuse

i live in south tampa and completely agree. I'm less than 10 mins from channelside area and all of this is still accurate.
Ash | Tampa, FL | Report Abuse

Agreed!! While it very nice here...getting around is outrageous and the drivers are nutsss...everythingg is soooo far away...but it honestly a nice place to live if you love water...orlandos not too far u kinda get use to the drive when everythingggg soo are okk...if u like call centers n is high but the areas like lakeland or ruskin that offer cheaper rent...downtown nice the riverwalk is can ride scooter around downtown anywhere it a good time ybor ok not really my scene tho but if thats ur thing its a good time...plentyyyyyy of things to do.. boat golf...beaches.....more i like it but im not in love id say...ppl can be kinda rude...the beaches get old fast...n driving everywhereeee gets old. Id like to take my dog for a walk outside my appartment complex without having to drive to a park...but no there not many sidewalks...and the neighborhoods are set up...different from what im use to which id thought i like...but say tampa alot better the ny..thankfully i landed a good job and can keep up with rent but im waiting for my work from home position and im moving...thinkinggg Columbus or Charlotte
Michael | Tampa, FL | Report Abuse
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