10 Things You Need to Know About Living in Tampa

TampaNamesSo you’re considering a move to Tampa, Florida? Wondering what it’s like to live here? As a resident of Tampa for over 15 years, I can give you some insight to what to expect in Tampa. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many cities including New York City, Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Savannah, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. And of course, I’ve visited more local to home places in Florida like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West, Tallahassee, St. Augustine, and Gainesville. I know visiting places can be much different than living there, but it gives me perspective on how Tampa compares to other places across the United States. I can tell you, Tampa is unlike any place I’ve been and it’s an amazing place to live.

In no particular order, here are some of the things you need to know about living in the great city of Tampa:

1. Weather. Our weather is amazing. Really. A few misconceptions about our weather: “The Lightning Capital of the World.” Hurricanes. Too hot and humid.

We like to boast that we are the lightning capital of the world. It’s true, we have almost daily thunderstorms throughout the summer. You can almost set your watch to it. They roll in around 3 p.m., it cools the place off, and are gone by dinner time. We also have an average of over 360 days each year with sunshine (either sunny or partly sunny), so an occasional storm is actually welcomed in these parts.

Those of us in Tampa always keep a wary eye out for hurricanes every season from June 1 until November 30. Most of us are smart enough to make preparations when we get the news a hurricane is brewing in the Atlantic and moving towards the Gulf of Mexico. Given a choice of natural disasters, I’d take a hurricane over anything else. With days of lead time, you can prepare or evacuate if necessary, but know…Tampa hasn’t had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1921.

The weather in Tampa has never gotten over 100°F. Ever. Year round, our average high temperature ranges from 70 to 90°F, with lows 52 to 76 °F. Mid-May through mid-October tends to be warm to hot. It’s like having 6 months of summer. In the winter, we range in the mid to low 70s during the day to mid to low 50s at night. The lowest recorded temperature in Tampa is 18°F. In 1962. Don’t think you won’t get to wear all your cute scarves and jackets, though. Stay here long enough and you’ll be like the natives.


2. Beaches. Ok…admit it. One of the first things you think about when you picture Florida are those gorgeous, long stretches of white sandy beaches. Sorry to tell you this, but Tampa doesn’t have beaches. Ok, ok, some locals will argue this and tell you we have beach areas at Picnic Island, Ben T. Davis, Davis Island Seaplane Basin, or Cypress Point Park, but in reality, I think this is where we in Tampa go from “Tampa” to the “Tampa Bay Area.” Our sister cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater have incredible, white sandy, award winning beaches. You’re planning a day at the beach? You head across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Howard Frankland, or the Gandy Bridge and visit 35 miles of beaches at one of over 30 beaches including Fort Desoto, Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island, Redington Shores, and Pass-a-Grille.

3. Parks. We may not have many beaches to speak of in the immediate Tampa area, but we make up for it with an abundance of parks to enjoy our year-round, beautiful weather. Tampa boasts over 150 parks. With almost 350,000 residents in Tampa, that averages out to one park for every 2,300 of us. Many of our parks have jogging trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas. Some even have pools, spraygrounds, boat ramps, and canoes launches. We even have some uniquely Tampa parks like Tampa Bay Boulevard Linear Park, which runs along Hillsborough Bay and, at 4.5 miles long, is considered to be the world’s longest continuous sidewalk. Snow Park, which at just 150 square feet, is the “World’s Smallest Park” according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, pictured below, sits on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa, and often hosts concerts, children’s events, and art festivals.

Curtis Hixon Park Tampa

4. Food and Drinks. The first thing you think of when you hear “Tampa” may not be cuisine, but Tampa is coming into its own when it comes to amazing food and drink. Tampa’s culinary claim to fame for many years has been the origin of the Cuban sandwich. In recent years, however, Tampa has drawn national attention for a number of places, including The Refinery with a James Beard nomination, Bern’s with the world’s largest wine cellar, and the world’s largest food truck rally. Check out our Top 50 rated restaurants and we’re sure you’ll agree, there’s no lack of delicious in Tampa! In addition to great food, Tampa is home to some of the best new craft breweries. Cigar City Brewing is receiving rave reviews across the country.

5. Sports. We love our sports in Tampa with professional football, baseball, soccer, and hockey teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2002. Although they’ve got some room to grow, they still have a decent fan base here in Tampa. We can’t say enough about the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This young, energetic team always plays hard and has fun at the same time. Tropicana Field, which is actually located in St. Petersburg, provides an incredible fan experience. The Tampa Bay Rowdies is the local soccer team, and have a unique, die-hard group of fans (Ralph’s Mob) which makes attending the games an exciting experience! Our hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, won the Stanley Cup in 2004, and we’re hoping for another one this season!  As you can see, our “Tampa Bay” team names again emphasize how much Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater is really the “Tampa Bay Area.”

6. Housing. Zillow recently named Tampa as one of the top three buyer’s markets in the nation. With an average home value of $130,000 for a single family home, you’d be surprised at how much house you can get here for the money. Housing options range from sprawling ranch houses on acres of property, to quaint bungalows, to condos in high rises, duplexes, apartments and even farms. Unlike other cities, however, downtown Tampa is not (yet) a bustling metropolis. In fact, the downtown area is working on revitalizing the area to attract more residents in the actual downtown section of Tampa. As a result, there are many beautiful residential units available downtown with views of the water and skyline.

7. Celebrations! Without a doubt, people in Tampa love any reason to get together and celebrate! You will find that most people in Tampa are friendly and outgoing with many neighborhoods having a tight sense of community and culture. Our celebrations include food and wine festivals, art festivals, music festivals, children’s festivals, and many more. On any given weekend, there is usually something interesting going on in Tampa. Two of our biggest celebrations in Tampa are Guavaween and Gasparilla. For over 20 years, the historic area of Ybor City in Tampa hosts Guavaween on the last weekend in October. It is an annual Latin-flavored Halloween celebration that involves a parade, costumes, concerts and more. Over 100,000 people turn out for the fun each year. Gasparilla, a Tampa tradition, dating back to 1904, is Tampa’s version of Mardi Gras with beads, boats, pirates, parades, and fun! The Ye Mystic Crewe pirates invade the city of Tampa each year to get the party started and the celebration lasts several weeks with a main parade, kids parade, and races.Gasparilla Ship

8. Education. With several major colleges and universities in Tampa, the city provides a wide range of educational opportunities. The University of South Florida is recognized by Princeton Review as one of the top 75 Best College Values (2014). The University of Tampa was recently ranked 22nd in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges Regional Universities (South). Hillsborough County is the 8th largest school district in the United States and is a recipient of the Gates Foundation Grant.

9. Tampa International Airport. Worried a move here will mean relatives travelling here? No worries. Tampa International Airport is consistently ranked among some of the best airports in the world. Clean, efficient, and friendly, you can touch down, grab your bags, and be on the road in about 10 minutes. Really.

10. State Income Tax. There is none. Enough said.

With beautiful weather, friendly people, and plenty to see and do, Tampa is a big town with a small town feel. It’s a place to settle down, raise a family, and enjoy feeling like you are always minutes from a mini-vacation. Whether you are coming for a visit or ready to stay, Tampa welcomes you!

Looking for a particular neighborhood in the Tampa Bay Area? We have articles featuring many areas including Brandon, Downtown Tampa, North Tampa, Palm Harbor, Pasco County, Riverview, Seminole, Seminole Heights/West Central Tampa, South Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tampa Palms/New Tampa/Wesley Chapel, Westchase, and Ybor City.

Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband of 14 years, Matt and their two very active children: Calvin, a gifted and quirky 11-year-old boy, and Kadison, a creative and strong-willed 8-year-old girl. Debbie attended the University of South Florida for both her bachelor's and master's degrees in education. With 20 years of experience, she's a National Board Certified Teacher in literacy and currently teaches 1st graders. Debbie's mission is to get kids to love learning! In her spare time, Debbie loves to read, enjoy the beach, and find the perfect cup of coffee. She is always on the look-out for a great local restaurant or fun place to go to relax! Follow Debbie on Twitter and Pinterest.


    • Maybe some of your AZ friends will move here after hearing how amazing Tampa is from all of us! 🙂

  1. It’s a great looking list. Curtis Hixon Park is always hosting fun events , but I haven’t been yet. I think this list should also mention the great attractions you can visit year round in Tampa, like the Florida Aquarium, the MOSI, the Glazer Children’s Museum, the Straz theater, the Tampa Theater and the Victory Ship.

    • Jenn-I appreciate the suggestion! I figured people may be familiar with Florida theme parks so I left them off the list, but we sure do love our Tampa attractions!

  2. Omg, thanks very much for posting this! It is going to be so helpful when I am thinking about going to Tampa Theatre in Tampa! I am from Clearwater, FL so I am not familiar with Tampa. Next time I visit my family will be much better! Fabulous!

  3. Excellent and very informative article. I am sure it will be helpful to newcomers in our area! Therefore, I am going to tweet it out! I live in Trinity and I think this area also has a lot to offer! Thanks again for sharing this info.

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