Commute to Westshore - Carrollwood, South Tampa, & St. Pete? (East Lake: house, neighborhoods)
Tampa BayTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater
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Commute to Westshore - Carrollwood, South Tampa, & St. Pete?
First, thanks to those of you who take the time to answer questions here. I have found many of your comments on other threads very insightful and helpful (especially TampaGuy and TampaKaren).
On to my questions:
(1) I am relocating from Virginia to the Tampa area in a few months and will be working in the Westshore area (W Cypress Street). So far my family (wife, kids (2 and 4)) and I have focused our house search in the South Tampa and Carrollwood areas, but just recently we've been told to look at St. Pete since there are neighborhoods similar to South Tampa, but albeit cheaper than South Tampa (not sure if that's true). Anyway, I believe the South Tampa commute to Westshore should be relatively easy, but I am concerned about a commute from Carrollwood or St. Pete (if we decide to start looking in St. Pete). I've done the awful commute here in Nothern Virginia and I am absolutely done with that so any insights on drive times are much appreciated.
(2) Also, if anyone can comment on the public schools in Carrollwood or St. Pete that would be a huge help. If the local public schools are crummy then please feel free to throw some good private school names out there so we can begin researching costs, etc.
Thanks for the help and we are looking forward to joining y'all down in Tampa area in the near future!
You have two options regarding the commute from St. Pete. You could go over the Gandy Bridge, which never seems to be quite as bad as the other bridges, and then just go up Westshore. You could also go over the Howard Frankland Bridge (carries I-275 over the bay) and either get off on Kennedy and go to Westshore or get off on the Tampa Airport/60 exit, then get off that at Spruce, and then go down Westshore. The Howard Frankland bridge and subsequent interchange complex in Tampa is always slow at peak times, especially with the ongoing construction. Keep that in mind.
Living in Carrollwood, you'd have two real options when it comes to high schools. Old Carrollwood (closer to Busch Boulevard) goes to Chamberlain, which has its issues. Northdale and Carrollwood Village (way up north, by Ehrlich) goes to Gaither, which is one of the biggest and better schools in the district. Sorry, I'm not too familiar with all of the middle and elementary schools up there.
I'm not sure about St. Pete, but they have Northeast High in the northern third, St. Pete High in the middle third, and Lakeview in the southern third. They also have Gibbs High, but I would stay away from that place/that part of town.
Thanks ferret11! Very helpful information about the St. Pete commute. The next time we are in Tampa I think we are going to spend some time looking in Old NE to get a feel for the area. We looked at Westchase and some neighborhoods last time we were down. Although we thought the neighborhood/area was very nice, we did not like the "feel" of the master planned community. Though during the same trip we did see some older master planned communities like East Lake Woodlands and Lansbrook that we really liked, but they seemed like they'd involve a longer commute to the Westshore area so I think we've ruled them out.
Can anyone comment on the Carrollwood commute time to Westshore area and the elementary/middle school situation in that area? Thank you.
If you'll be working on W. Cypress, Westshore Yacht Club would be an awesome choice...it is close and a beautiful community.
Coming from St Pete may be a drag at rush hour since you only have 2 bridges to work with (Gandy or 275).....
Coming down from Carrollwood is like this:
1. either you drive down Dale Mabry and be subject to 1000 stop lights which in rush hour or rain is a PAIN.......or
2. Get on Veterans (Toll) and from Veterans there is an exit for W. Cypress.....however rush hour in that area is CRAZY!
I would definitely pick South Tampa...all tho you do have to consider that even down there you will still have some traffic because Kennedy always gets packed up at rush hour times with traffic going to 275 or coming from Veterans......If you lived off of Westshore Blvd, that meets with W. Cypress and you will experience some traffic because it is a 2 lane road, However if you leave a bit early or a bit late you can avoid it.
You're absolutely correct on the commute from Lansbrook and East Lake Woodlands. If you like that kind of community, Westchase might be doable.
Schools in St Pete (Pinellas County) are, for the most past, an incentive to use private or homeschool. The exception might be either magnet or fundamental schools, which are sometimes difficult to get into. As for private schools, there's a huge range, depending on your religious sensibilities and budget. Options include pretty much everything from Christian schools to Waldorf.
Hillsborough County Schools have their good points and bad as well. Do your research carefully, and check the St Pete Times and Tampa Tribune sites as well as the "Great Schools" kinds of websites. Ratings websites will tell you how many kids passed the FCAT and how many get free lunch, but probably won't tell you if teachers or students have been arrested for anything creepy.
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Thank you for your kind words.
I drove business hours from Carrollwood North to Westshore (1410) for 6 1/2 years. Albeit before the Veteran's was built, I had my choice of Dale Mabry Hwy, Anderson Rd, and Himes. Algia is correct there are traffic lights and rain is a pain...but you will encounter this everywhere outside the expressways. Mass-transit is non-existent, so everyone drives. If I left my house before 7:30AM, the commute was always under 30 minutes. If I left after 7:30AM, the commute was 40 minutes plus, but never over an hour. Same thing at 5:30PM. Though I'm rarely on the roads during peak commuter hours today, I can take the Veteran's expressway and drive to the airport in 20 minutes or less. My best time was 12 minutes .
Public schools in Florida do not have a reputation for being at the top of education analytics. The federal No Child Left Behind Act changed the focus from individualized education to every child can learn. Some will say the curriculum is now directed to the lowest level of education which prohibits accelerated learning for higher achievers.
Public Schools are determined by residential address, but School Choice is also an option. The Carrollwood area schools have consistently scored higher statewide. Better Elementary School choices are going to be Claywell, Northwest, Carrollwood and, Essrig.
Private schools in the Carrollwood area I'd suggest you research further are Independent Day School and Carrollwood Day School. There are several faith-based private schools as well. If you're interested in those, let us know.
Another choice for education is the new Virtual School, but they're accepting only a small number of kindergarten children at this time. You can read more about public education including virtual training on the Hillsborough County School District website.
Last edited by TampaKaren; 09-14-2009 at 08:40 AM..
Algia, Aconite, and TamapKaren, thank you for the posts about the commute time and education choices. It sounds like its going to be a tough decision because the commute from Carrollwood does not sound choice, but you definitely get more house/yard/community amenities for your buck when compared to South Tampa. I think when we come down in the next few weeks we are going to really look hard at South Tampa, Carrollwood, and St. Pete and I think I'll actually get out in the traffic in the various areas to get a real sense of what I am facing.
If any of you (or anyone else reading this) have any ideas for areas/neighborhoods that are like Carrollwood, Old NE in St. Peter, or South Tampa that we may be orverlooking please feel free to suggest them. Thanks again, we appreciate the insights.
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