My thoughts so far (on relocating) (Tampa, Clearwater: houses, neighborhoods, buy)
Tampa BayTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater
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I've been in the area for a few days and have been spending tons of time looking around. Here are my thoughts so far:
Pros: Beaches, weather, sun, birds (I'm a bird person), ability to be active all year, cycling trail(s). There are some nice houses (I like stucco).
Cons: US 19 is the devil. The sprawl is unreal here. It seems to go on forever on 19. I'm feeling a little discouraged about finding that perfect place, although the pros may outweigh the cons. It seems to be a mixed area in regards to politics. I wouldn't want to end up somewhere more right-wing so I'll need to choose carefully. It doesn't have to be super liberal but it does need to at least lean that way.
St Pete (N/NE of downtown)
Pros: I liked the Crescent Lake and Euclid/St Paul neighborhoods best, even more than the Old Northeast. Crescent Lake is an awesome lake/park/dog park in the city. Very nice. I liked it. Downtown seemed pretty nice as well. It's a city so it's urban and there are more amenities. It's walkable and bikeable. I liked how the houses were all different...some were really nice.
Cons: Most houses did not have garages or pools. That's a bummer. Also, I walked all around, and parts of MLK (between Central and 9th) seemed like they could be sketchy at night. I don't know, maybe it's just because I'm not from the area, but that was my impression. If I lived in St Pete, I'd just have to make sure to be in the right parts. I know the south part is bad but I also wouldn't want to live west of 16th St.
Pros: Seemed liberal and pretty safe. Bayshore Blvd was nice. Would be convenient to be close to downtown Tampa (but not extremely important for us).
Cons: I went through SoHo, Hyde Park, Palma Ceia, Virginia Park, etc. The neighborhoods seem nice enough but I don't think it's really for us. It seemed too pricey, the houses are bigger than we'd like (even if we end up in a smaller one we'd rather not be in a neighborhood with houses that dwarf ours), and a younger/party scene. There were a bunch of bars in SoHo on South Howard. Not really our thing.
Pros: Most all of the houses seem to come with a garage and pool. That's nice. Extremely safe. Very good school district. Seems liberal or at least left-leaning. Close to the Gulf and its beaches. Amazing health food store (very important to us, as that's where we shop).
Cons: Very suburban. I really wish there was a downtown or some walkable core. I see why some people say Palm Harbor is working on building an identity. US 19 divides it. It's a terrible, sprawl-filled road. I never knew sprawl was so bad down here. It's unreal on 19.
Pros: Safe. Good schools. Walkable. Close to beaches. Having the causeway and Honeymoon Island would be nice.
Cons: Downtown, while walkable, is definitely geared toward tourists. There are a few restaurants but it seems like most all shops are antiques, gifts, etc; therefore, it doesn't seem practical (or worth it) to live near/in downtown. US 19 sucks.
Not really for me. I haven't spent much time there because it didn't seem like a possible fit.
St Pete Beach/Pass-a-Grille
This wasn't on my radar but I went there just to check it out. The beach is nice and, while it's a nice area, I wouldn't want to live there. Too touristy, small, expensive, and away from everything.
Any tips/recommendations from anyone? Right now I'm thinking St Pete and Palm Harbor are highest on my radar, if we end up moving here. I really do hate the sprawl but maybe the pros outweigh the cons.
Are you absolutely sure you don't want to give Sarasota a look? The downtown fills the bill for you on every front, and it is walkable/bikable to the beaches. And best of all, you DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH US 19! LOL
Some of the best schools in Florida are here in Sarasota, too. Sarasota has a pretty "low-key" liberal vibe here with pretty much an even split on voting. What have you got to lose, it seems like you are not really "bowled over" by any of those options you have checked out so far.
You are correct, that road (US 19) is the devil, and I think I have read somewhere one of the most dangerous in the country. And if you move to any of the areas you are considering you will have to deal with it - sprawl indeed - and some not so nice parts of it.
I appreciate you posting your thoughts - it is always interesting to see how someone feels when they actually get here - sometimes it's better than they expected and sometimes not. I am surprised you are interested in Palm Harbor - I think it's nice, but doesn't a downtown and seems so suburban to me. We have a friend who lives in one of those "cookie-cutter" neighborhoods, definitely not my style.
You have made me really appreciate where I live now in my nice little community after reading your thoughts on the area. Even in season I don't find the tourists that bad here, in fact it makes downtown more lively.
It's interesting that you find downtown Dunedin 's shops skewed toward tourists. We did too, at first. The lack of "real " stores was troubling. We thought the lack of a hardware store, a bike shop, and a small grocery store was a big flaw. But after circling Pinellas tentatively for years, we chose Dunedin and are happy that we did.
Sure, there are tourists, and soon there will be lots of snowbirds, but there are lots of things for locals too. We were delighted to stumble upon Friday night movies in the park --- kids running around on the grass, couples of all ages with their dogs, multi- generation families. We enjoy Eli's BBQ under the oaks on Fridays and Saturdays, and found the Our Lady of Lourdes Octoberfest, complete with Oompah band and ferris wheel great fun. We enjoy the Pinellas Trail tremendously. The section that goes through Dunedin is shady and lined with colorful bushes. It's fun to watch people from all over unloading their bikes on weekend mornings -- and knowing that we live here and can easily ride all of the time.
Our plan is to stay Far away from US 19, and to limit trips on Gulf to Bay. We find ourselves heading up to Ozona and Palm Haebor a lot for dinner and down to Indian Rocks Beach for swimming. On the way back we like to go through Clearwater Beach to enjoy the last of the sunset, and, after many years, have started going to Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on the beach again --- wonderful setting, good food, friendly service.
There are so many festivals, fairs, outdoor concerts, art shows, and regattas in the immediate area that it is impossible to go to even half of them on a given weekend.
Drawbacks to Dunedin include small houses and what we found to be limited inventory in our price range -- under about $170,000. There was very, very little to choose from. Unfortunately, historic bungalows in good shape right downtown were out of our price range. I think that is where the most vibrant, liberal neighborhoods are found. We ended up a bit farther out, but so far are very happy with our home and our neighborhood.
Good luck in your hunt for a home and a neighborhood!
Great review, thanks for sharing, not sure what you meant by west of 16th st as most of St Pete is west of 16th St. and north of Central..
I see you've discovered hwy 19
Its a deathtrap from St Pete to at least Weeki Wachee, if you end up living in this part of Florida there arent too many north/south options unless you want to take a longer route and use the Suncoast parkway or I-75.
xbillyx, I know everyone is going to tell you where to look and have their own opinions. I think you may want to look in the areas on Indian Rocks Beach Road from Belleview Rd down to Park Blvd. These areas are suburbia from the 1960s meaning these areas are in a downtown. They are quiet, comfortabe and beautiful areas though that are very close to the beach.
I never drive on 19 unless its on the sections that do not have lights. I avoid it as much as I can and probably only drive on it two - three times a month. In the area I live 19 is a bit a ways from me and I can find everything I need without getting on it.
Great review, thanks for sharing. Let me know what you think if you pass through Safety Harbor.
Safety Harbor is very beautiful and nice, and downtown has lots of charm, but it is VERY small. If you like tiny towns with lots of shade, it's for you. I like it myself, but anyone needing more "city feel" will probably not. I don't think there is much shopping there, one would need to go into Clearwater for most of it.
Trust me, go, you will get over the name, especially once you see the marina, Phillipe Park,.............. and the bowling ball house.
If I'm wrong I'll buy you lunch!
Just don't **** off Cecil of Cecil's Grave fame, a Safety Harbor urban legend.
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