Residents of the Tampa Bay area enjoy both a laid-back beach lifestyle and the amenities of a large metropolitan area, including professional sports teams, interesting museums, and an array of entertainment and dining options.
The Tampa Bay metro area is a sprawling and diverse region that encompasses three cities – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater – each with a distinct personality.
Living in the Tampa Bay area is like being on vacation all year. Located north of the bay, Tampa has a hip social scene and a thriving Hispanic community and is notable for Ybor City, once known as “the Cigar Capital of the World.” On the opposite side of the bay, the beaches of St. Petersburg offer water sports and activities like parasailing and dolphin-watching cruises, while the city itself has become a major arts destination, home of the renowned Salvador Dali Museum. Clearwater is popular with the spring break crowd and in recent years, the city’s notoriety as the headquarters of Scientology has been eclipsed by its marine movie star, Winter, of the 2011 film “Dolphin Tale.”
U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there.
Tampa, Florida is ranked:
#36 in Best Places to Live
#20 in Best Places to Retire
#14 in Fastest-Growing Places
Best Places to Live Scorecard by US News & World Report
US News & World Report Best Places to Live Scorecard ranks Tampa 6.8 overall out of 10. The breakdown:
Job Market 6.7
Quality of Life 6.7
Net Migration 8.4
Tampa, FL Quick Stats
Metro Population 3,030,047
Average Annual Salary $47,750
Average High/Low Temps 81.7/65.1 Degrees
Median Age 42.1
Median Home Price $214,258
Average Annual Rainfall 46.3 Inches
Unemployment Rate 3.2%
Median Monthly Rent $1,070
Average Commute Time 27.4 Minutes
What is there to do in Tampa, FL?
The Tampa Bay area is home to a number of diverse communities, and residents tend to seek entertainment in these cultural enclaves as opposed to more touristy areas like the Channel District or Southshore.
Historic Ybor City pays homage to its populations’ Cuban roots with authentic cuisine, music and cigars. In Seminole Heights, artisans sell their crafts at the morning market, held monthly for part of the year.
The region’s beaches are located in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Fort DeSoto Park in St. Petersburg features kayak rentals, fishing piers and a dedicated dog beach and dog park, while Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin is a pristine retreat only accessible by ferry.
What’s the cost of living in Tampa, FL?
The cost of living in the Tampa Bay area is slightly lower than the national average.
Value Index Score: 5.7 /10
Tampa offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.
Housing Costs 2019
What’s the weather like in Tampa, FL?
Tampa, unlike most regions, actually suffers its worst weather of the year during the summer. This time of year brings intense humidity, daily rain showers, high temperatures and occasional hurricanes
What’s the best way to get around Tampa, FL?
Most residents depend on their cars to get around. Locals bemoan the lack of a highly developed transportation system that traverses the bay, though public transit is available on either side of the water.
Both Tampa and Pinellas counties have public bus and trolley systems. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or HART, offers public bus routes throughout the Hillsborough County area, and the TECO Line Streetcar runs between downtown Tampa, Harbour Island, Channel District and Ybor City. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, known as PSTA, operates the public bus system in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, and the Suncoast Beach Trolley runs between downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches.
Tampa is also home to the Tampa International Airport and the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, home to low-cost carrier Allegiant Air. Port Tampa Bay serves several major Caribbean cruise lines, and Amtrak trains from the Northeast, Midwest and the South offer routes to and from Tampa Union Station.
Who lives in Tampa, FL?
Most residents are transplants from other areas of the U.S., drawn to the region by its good weather, recreational activities, job opportunities or retirement communities.
Written by Ginger Warder, local expert