Considering Relocation from KY to Greater Tampa Bay Area (Brandon: bank owned, sales)
Tampa BayTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater
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Considering Relocation from KY to Greater Tampa Bay Area
Recently, my wife and I had the chance to visit the area for a wedding, and I've since fallen in love with the idea that I could have a beach to go along with my 90 degree, 100 % humidity weather. To top it off, I can get rid of nasty winters and ice accumulations, which is more than great.
The wife just graduated with a bachelors degree in Biology and has had some difficulty finding work in our area. I am currently employed as a mechanical engineer in what has been somewhat of a dead-end job that I have grown to dread for a couple of reasons. One has to do with a lack of growth opportunities and the other has to do with the fact that I feel like I am not making a difference in the world but rather padding some already-rich board member's pocket.
Up until a couple of days ago, my idea of relocation was a silent pipe dream. That changed when I realized that Florida's teaching certification only requires a bachelors degree for minimum education. Obviously her choice would be in natural sciences, and very likely biology, but I would have to stretch my ME degree a bit further than today's daily grind to make the teaching thing a reality. I wouldn't have a problem with taking the pay cut because we would both be working and I would be actively making a difference in the lives of the area's young people. I like that idea.
So anyway, back to the relocation. Once I found that there was a potential for career opportunities in the area, that changed everything. The Hillsborough County School system has a ridiculous number of openings and while several school systems in the area have had hiring freezes, there are many, many openings within about 50 miles of the downtown Tampa area.
Here are there details for us:
She is 25 and I am 26. We have two dogs and two cats, so home ownership is what I'm leaning toward. We actually own our home here, so the sale of it is likely going to be a big part of the move if it does indeed happen.
We're not big on going out to bars or anything like that. We're fairly big home bodies and certainly enjoy the comforts of technology, but at the same time, I love the idea of having a beach within close driving distance. The 2000 mile round trip was not a fun drive. Speaking of driving, I'm very much into automotive tinkering. We both have BMWs and I have a little side hobby of competitive driving. Thus, a garage - at the very least 2 cars - is a must.
Here's what I need from you all:
*What bad things didn't I see in the short time I spent there?
--I saw the traffic, which doesn't really intimidate me as long as I can yell freely at the idiots who can't drive as well as myself.
*How is the housing market outlook?
--I know it is currently depressed as I have done a minor spot of research on the Pinellas County PVA website. Seems to be fairly low. Do we expect it to go lower or are we at rock bottom?
*I'm reading horror stories about HOI. What gives?
--I see huge numbers compared to my current ~$750/yr premiums. I understand that the opportunities for devastating damage is certainly higher near the water and expect higher premiums, but I'm reading things about $3k+. Is this just people trying to scare others or perhaps a result of bad credit or just the plain truth?
*How does this tax thing work?
--I'm very confused about the no income tax thing. I'm guessing sales tax is significantly higher than the 6% we have here.
*We have some friends who live in Seminole, which seemed nice. Does anyone have any other recommendations out of the flood/sinkhole areas?
--Initially, the quality of the local schools isn't 100% crucial, but we are looking to start a family in the next few years, so I guess we're probably about 10 years out from having to worry about those aside from the whole profession thing. I'm focused on providing a safe environment for said family as well. Guns will be in the house and my dogs are a pretty good security measure as well, but I really don't want to have to use them. Who does, really?
*How common are basements down there?
--Everyone loves a basement. They're rare here because of the amount of rock near the ground surface, but I imagine they're likely rare there for the opposite of this reason.
*What is the political lay of the land?
--I'm very much on the conservative side of things, especially economically. Everyone wants to be near their own kind. How do things look down there?
*What am I forgetting?
--We've never done this before and we're just now starting to line things up. Tips would be fantastic.
Sorry for the book, but thanks for responses in advance!
I'm also originally from Lexington. Here are some of your answers:
Bad things : You mentioned the traffic, which is way worse than it is in Lexington. Think rush hour traffic on Nicholasville Rd. for most of the day. There's also more driving due to living further away from the city. It's not uncommon for people to commute nearly an hour to work, however you probably won't have such a problem with that in teaching. Another bad thing is the crime, which may or may not bother you. Even marginal areas of Tampa make Winburn, Centre Parkway, and around the old Bluegrass Aspendale area look like nice places. The crime rate here is several times higher than in Lexington. Obviously there's a lot more population density and things are spread out a lot more. Many parts of the bay area are also old, while much of the construction (especially retail) in Lexington is new. That will be a big change. Drive down Winchester Rd. or North Broadway and look at the old strip malls--that's how a lot of the area here is. And also, not that it should be looked upon as a bad thing by any means, but there's a lot more diversity down here than there is up in Lexington.
Housing Market : Could go lower, but probably not a lot much from what I've read. The big drops have already hit. It's still a great time to buy, especially if you're looking at bank owned properties. We've even had some homes in my neighborhood start selling for more than they were last year.
Insurance : It runs the gamut and has a lot to do with where you are and how old your house is. Building standards were changed dramatically in 1992 and again in 2001, so houses built before either of those years are going to cost more to insure. The newer the house the less the insurance costs. Also, living in an evacuation zone pretty much guarantees that you're going to need supplemental flood insurance, which really will hike the price up. My house was built in 2007 and I pay around $900 a year. I don't live in a flood zone.
Taxes : State sales tax is 6% and the county adds an extra 1% onto that. The main form of tax revenue here is from property taxes, which are a lot more than in Kentucky. The millage rates depend on where you live, but you can probably bet on paying around 2-3% per year of the assessed value of your home in property taxes. The assessed value is usually less than the market value, plus you get a $50,000 homestead exemption. So if the millage rate is 2.5 and your home is assessed at $200,000, after the $50,000 exemption you'll pay $3750 in property taxes. There's no property tax on vehicles here like there is in KY.
Basements : With the sandy soil basements just aren't possible down here. Usually in Lexington the mid to upper end homes all have basements. Down here you won't find any homes with them. Make sure to get a house with a large garage if you need storage space.
Politics : It's not at all as conservative here as it is up there. Not by a long shot--especially in the city. You're going to find more conservatives in the smaller cities surrounding Tampa than you're going to find in the more urban areas, but it's pretty much like that everywhere.
Also, the job market for teachers here is extremely bad. School districts in some places are giving out pink slips and in other places they're only hiring temporary positions. I'd look into the job market very carefully before making the move.
I am currently employed as a mechanical engineer in what has been somewhat of a dead-end job that I have grown to dread for a couple of reasons. One has to do with a lack of growth opportunities and the other has to do with the fact that I feel like I am not making a difference in the world but rather padding some already-rich board member's pocket.
You appear to not be very old, so I will give you a little advise: Welcome to corporate America, very rarely is your job both personally rewarding as well as financially lucrative. If you are moving because you think it will be different here, I would say guess again...
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES relocate without a job for both you and your wife. Doing so will lead to financial and personal ruin.
I like the area, I was born here and have lived here most of my life. Funny, actually in 2003 my company got bought out and I had the options of getting laid off or moving to London, KY which as you know is somewhat near Lexington an hour or so. I am glad I did not relocate. I visited for about a week and the lifestyle was not for me.
The job market is not good here right now, and teachers are losing their jobs left and right. I do not personally think the housing market will get worse. In my subdivision homes are selling for quite a bit more than they were last year. Homeowner's insurance is expensive. The statewide average was almost $1400, and that number is about 3 years old. It has not been updated yet, and premiums have been skyrocketing a lot since then. It all depends where you live (floods, sinkoles, etc), how old/well constructed the house is, how much it is worth, etc).
There is no state or city income tax! Sales tax is 7% around here, so not that much higher than Kentucky's. I don't think anyone here has a basement- at least not anyone I know.
I don't mean to be rude, but why would you give up a lucrative career as an engineer to be a teacher? I know a lot of teachers and besides the amount of time off the get and the short work days, there's not much they like about it. Even your wife with a biology degree should be able to get into something better than teaching.
I am originally from Lexington as well, born and raised there. Tampa is a much better fit for me, because of the job area I work in and because I prefer a warmer climate. I live outside of Tampa so I don't have to deal with traffic unless I go around Brandon for shopping.
The main advantage of Tampa over Lexington is the variety of things you can do here. I am a huge outdoors person (biking, kayaking, nature walks, etc.). With beautiful beaches, water, state parks, and wildlife, this place is priceless for a nature lover. Tampa also has a good arts/music scene, way better than Lex.
In my opinion, having a job *before* you move here is pretty important. The job market is bad everywhere, but it's definitely not good here. I wouldn't pick up and move to another town with the hopes of finding a job, because it may take quite a while to find one. If you can secure a job first, then make the move, I think it will be a much more enjoyable process for you.
I moved mainly because of the climate, the variety of things to do, and probably most importantly because I make about double what I'd make working in Lexington and have a better retirement and benefits package. There are certain things that I do miss about Lexington, but Tampa is better for me on many levels.
Being a teacher is much better in Lexington than down here. I have family in education in both places. You aren't paid any better down here than you are up there and the schools are a lot rougher in most areas. Also, as I said before the job market for teachers is atrocious.
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