Moving to Tampa
With its downtown skyline of soaring skyscrapers, Florida’s third largest city might look from a distance like it’s all about business. But there’s much more to this city than high-rises and multinationals; you don’t have to move to Tampa to know it.
From those gleaming downtown lights to the Creole vibe of Ybor City, Tampa is a cultural melting pot. With a population of 3.53 million, it’s a young, vibrant boomtown undergoing major redevelopment.
The Tampa checklist includes a growing job market; an influx of multinational companies; world-class museums and galleries; a thriving foodie scene; craft microbreweries; designer and vintage shopping and annual festivals.
The job market
Tampa has a growing job market with opportunities in a wide range of sectors. Some of the largest employment sectors include healthcare, tourism and retail, so those moving to Tampa should be able to find jobs in these industries.
Source: Flickr | Amy Kellogg
Job creation and business in Tampa has the second fastest growth rate in Florida. International business links and a significant Spanish-speaking population mean bilingual employees are welcomed. Finding work as an expat should not be too much of a challenge. One of the first places to get an idea of the local job market is local paper the Tampa Bay Times.
Jobs in Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay area boasts the highest number of available jobs in the state of Florida, with nearly 50,000 available in September 2015, and 28,000 new jobs created over the previous 12 months. Tampa’s unemployment rate was 5% in September 2015, just below the national rate of 5.1%, the lowest rate for the city in seven years and falling from 5.9% the previous year.
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A number of corporations have offices in Tampa, including several Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in the city. JPMorgan Chase & Co has 5,000 employees in the area and global bank Citi has 4,000 employees, while Coca Cola opened two service centres in the city in 2002.
Healthcare is a major employment sector, with the BayCare Health System the largest local employer and Tampa General Hospital and the Moffit Cancer Centre also major employers.
Other job sectors
Shipping provides another important source of employment. As the largest port in Florida and the seventh largest in the USA, the Port of Tampa handles both freight and cruise ships. And nearby, the MacDill Air Force Base is also a significant employer.
There is a thriving agribusiness in the area, centred on Hillsborough County with its citrus fruit, dairy, beef, and vegetable farms and related agricultural supply industries.
The cost of living in Tampa is lower than other Florida locations like Miami, especially if you pick your area well and do a little research into the most cost-effective eateries and stores. The average monthly disposable salary after taxes is $2,702 in Tampa, which goes further here than in larger metropolises like New York or Los Angeles.
You’ll want to enjoy the varied local cuisine in Tampa, and eating out can be affordable. Two people can generally eat out in a mid-range restaurant for $45, or one person can grab lunch in the business district for $12.
A bottle of domestic beer costs around $4 and a cappuccino typically around $4. Buying wine in a supermarket is the cheapest option, with a bottle costing you around $10. If you’re buying groceries for day-to-day cooking, Tampa is cheaper than many major US cities.
Source: Flickr | katebartnik
Tampa has both a trolley car system and streetcar line as well as local bus routes. A one-way ticket on local transport will set you back around $2, while taxis cost around $2.50 plus a dollar a kilometre (though don’t forget the USA uses miles). Gas (petrol) will cost you around $0.58 a litre.
Healthcare is relatively affordable, around 14% cheaper than New York. Keeping fit at a gym or fitness club will cost you around $33 on average a month.
Rents levels in Tampa depend on your location. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is likely to be available for around $1,085 per month, or a three-bedroom apartment for $1,820. Outside the centre, rents drop to around $870 for a one-bedroom or $1,370 for a three-bedroom.
With its young, professional population, renting is popular in Tampa. Housing is pretty evenly split between renters and owners, with 50% of its residents renting, compared to a state average of 35%.
Most of the city’s housing stock is detached one-unit housing, but there are also a large proportion of multiple unit condos, with over 11,000 50-unit apartments in the city.
House prices are rising, having increased by 9.3% in the last year and predicted to rise a further 2.2% in the next year. In 2013 the mean price of a detached house was $267,149. The median price of a home in the city went up 12.4% in the last year, with family homes rising by 14.7% and condos by 2%. Still, renting is more affordable than in other cities like Miami.
Tampa has a wide range of housing stock, from downtown pads for young professionals to suburban family housing. Before moving to Tampa, make sure to take a look at these neighbourhoods and see which one best fits your
Family-Friendly:New Tampa – suburban Tampa offers new housing stock including ranch-style family homes and townhomes. This area is popular with families because it boasts a low crime rate and plenty of recreation locations.
Carrollwood – an area of attractive and quiet residential streets with a reputation for being a safe place to live. Proximity to the airport is an added advantage.
Seminole Heights – historic charm combined with a suburban location. Offers family homes, condos and bungalows.
Upmarket:Bayshore Boulevard - the high-rise luxury condominiums in this area attract young professionals and couples.
Downtown Tampa – this central area has some residential stock, with a range of high-rises and condos for professionals. Prices are pushed up by proximity to Tampa’s business district.
Hip & Trendy: Ybor City – Tampa’s Latin quarter still shows a strong Latin influence. Think historic buildings, trendy lofts and a younger crowd.
Channel District – converted warehouses and loft living are popular in this growing development close to downtown.
South Tampa – a magnet for young professionals because it’s close to downtown and the General Hospital. The area also has a lively nightlife. Houses, condos and lofts of all sizes are available.
Up & Coming: Sulphur Springs – a popular tourist resort in the 1940s, Sulphur Springs became something of a ghost town until it was absorbed by the city. House prices are 91.2% cheaper here than other Florida neighbourhoods.
Tampa Heights – the area doesn’t have a great reputation locally and crime rates are high, but housing is cheaper than elsewhere in the city and it is slowly gentrifying.
Source: Flickr | Holmes Palacios
Cost of moving to Tampa
When moving to Tampa, you should keep in mind the cost of shipping your belongings. Below are some of the estimates for moving a 20-foot shipping container based on some of the more popular origin cities. This price doesn’t include the costs of airfare or visas.
Schools and education
If you’re moving to Tampa with your family, you’ll be pleased with the school system and class sizes here. The Hillsborough district has 130 public elementary schools, 42 junior high schools and 26 senior high schools, with an average teacher to pupil ratio of 16:1.
There are also private educational institutions, one of the most respected being the Tampa Preparatory School, which welcomes international students.
Universities in Tampa
Hillsborough County has five higher education institutions, the largest being the University of South Florida with 34,000 students and particular specialisms in healthcare and marine studies. The university is ranked 43rd in the USA for expenditure on research and is in the top 2.3% of all universities in the US for research.
Other institutions include the University of Tampa, with specialisms in liberal arts and business, Florida College, Tampa College and the Hillsborough Community College. There are also over 20 research institutions in the area, many specialising in healthcare and technology.
Ranking against the world
Florida is a hotspot for expat communities and Tampa is no exception. The lively expat community blends in easily in this multicultural city, which has plenty to offer those considering making it their home.
This year, Money magazine named Tampa as Best City in the South East and one of five top “urban gems” across the US when rated on job market, affordable housing, healthcare, outdoor space and culture.
Forbes magazine named the city America’s 5th best for outdoor living, with Tampa residents enjoying the sun in the city parks and nearby beaches for nearly three quarters of the year.
Personal finance tool WalletHub also loves Tampa, finding it both Best City for Retirees across the whole of the US, based on cost of living and recreational facilities, and eighth best Wallet-Friendly Foodie City, based on availability of affordable gourmet food options.
A day in the life
While your working day in Tampa might be spent in a downtown office block, there’s plenty in the city to keep you entertained outside work. A typical lazy weekend day in Tampa might start with a creamy cup of café con leche at the King Corona café in Ybor City, where the locals enjoy traditional hand-rolled Cuban cigars and take their time reading trilingual newspaper La Gaceta.
You could move on to a leisurely rummage through the crowded racks of prom dresses and Cuban shirts and unearth a vintage bargain at Sherry’s YesterDaze Vintage in Seminole Heights, grab a lunch of chorizo crusted octopus at nearby farm-to-table restaurant Rooster & the Till, then take an afternoon stroll along the palm-fringed waterfront in the sun or drop in on the historic Bro Bowl skate park for a slice of 1970s American skater culture.Then round off the day with a craft beer and a Cajun burger from a pop-up food truck in the parking lot of Cigar City Brewing. Perfect!