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Old 05-16-2007, 09:00 PM
 
3 posts, read 14,161 times
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We are going to be moving from Corpus Chrisit, TX to MacDill AFB in Tampa. Can anyone give me advice on whether we should try to live on the base and have kids attend Tinker on base or shoudl we try and find a place in a safe neighborhood and have hubby commute? I see that Rents for a 3/2 are about $1400 and and utilities average about what? It seems that auto insurance is very high there too - and do you need to have hurricane insurance? Any advice or info would be great!
Thanks,
Jennifer
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Old 05-16-2007, 10:12 PM
 
121 posts, read 468,961 times
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Hello,

Think of MacDill as the bottom of a big "U". Going outside of Macdill, consider the following:

On the "right" side of the "U" are very quaint, very old houses, in nice neighborhoods with tree-lined streets. This area is considered "downtown Tampa" and while a bit pricier, is definitely a nice pocket to be in. However, the further up the right side you go, the worse it gets.

The "left" side of the "U" is the opposite. The bottom half is fairly crummy, but as you go further north you'll hit a little pocket on the west side, right around a road called S. Westshore. There are some very quaint home and streets in there as well, and many of the houses are situated on or near the Gulf.

Unfortunately, Tampa is known for this magical little thing called the "instant good/bad" effect. Consider the two sides of the "U" I mentioned above. In both cases, you will find yourself driving down a block of truly wonderul houses where the neighbors wave and little children are playing on beautiful lawns, when BAM! - you're in the ghetto. Then a block or two later...here come those tree-lined pockets of beauty again.

If you do not own a home, I would NOT start now. Not yet. Most mortgages will require all three: property, hurricane, and WS (windstorm) coverage, with most windstorm coverage being FULLY EARNED. (Meaning if you cancel it, you get nothing back. Nada. Zip.)

The property taxes here have SKYROCKETED. People who have been homeowners for years are being forced out over the taxes alone. HOWEVER, yes there is a bright side. That's why I said "not yet." The state of Florida is right now in the beginning stages of doing a massive reform on property taxes. Where the final results will end up, who knows. I am optimistic, but then again, our government may surprise us. So you may want to consider giving the state a bit of time to get this insurance ball rolling, while you spend a year on base, where I'd imagine you'll get better financial deals.

Auto Insurance - really isn't as bad as people say it is. I own a '98, basic 4 door car, and I pay $115 per month.

Utilities aren't bad, BUT - I live in a 600 sq ft apartment. My electric bill runs between $40-$50 in the winter, and $70-$90 in summer. Hope this helps!
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Old 05-16-2007, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Mesa
4,011 posts, read 8,632,274 times
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If you currently have USAA insurance, you should be able to transfer coverage here as they do cover active duty transfers (retirees are SOL - no new policies being issued in FL). I definitely suggest renting - renter insurance is more affordable here than homeowner. If you're in a flood area, consider adding flood coverage to your renters policy. I pay $134 a month with USAA, but that's renters with high replacement value coverage AND car insurance with business use coverage.

Rents go down the farther north you go from downtown and the base (south of downtown). I don't go to the Brandon/Riverview area much, but with the Crosstown it might be convenient enough for you to consider. You might also consider NE St Pete - hubby would be going opposite much of the traffic (especially if he uses the Gandy Bridge), and the express bus service from that area to downtown Tampa is great (too bad it's not as easy to get to downtown Tampa from Tampa). The parks and restaurants are nicer in St Pete, but more of St Pete is evacuation zoned (as opposed to in Hillsborough or Pasco County).

While the property taxes are high, high, high, consider that we have very little other tax here. My car tag registration is less than $100 a year, sales tax is 7% (groceries/prescipts not taxed) and we have no state income tax. I was appalled at the total tax burden in many of the states I've been considering for relocation. Staying here is starting to look much more appealing.
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Old 05-16-2007, 10:48 PM
 
Location: Mesa
4,011 posts, read 8,632,274 times
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Oh, for utilities: I rent a 2-bedroom mobile home (not the best insulated but I have a nice tree on the backside) and water/sewer is about $36, electric is $50-$60 winter and about $100-$120 on my highest summer month (usually August). When I lived in a condo in Carrollwood, the electric was about $40 lowest and $90 highest (north exposure, well insulated). Basic cable with internet (no pay movie channels) is $89 (Pasco county) and DSL runs less (but coverage varies).
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Old 05-17-2007, 07:50 AM
 
Location: la hacienda
2,259 posts, read 8,804,943 times
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Call MacDill housing, they should have good info for you and be sure to get on the waiting list for housing on the base. I believe there is limited available although some new is being built. The elementary school on base is a good one, and if you're only going to be there a couple of years and not need the middle/high schools (those are off base) then I would suggest trying to get base housing.

There are tons of military commuting from the Brandon/Valrico area and it's a very family friendly area with good schools. Many military carpool from there and also a bus that picks up at Kingswood elementary just for those working at the base.

not sure if you have found militarybyowner.com There is a lot for sale or for rent on this website ... good luck!
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:06 PM
 
3 posts, read 14,161 times
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Default Thanks - a lot of help

Wow, well that is a lot of help, we will definitely go on the housing waitlist either way and look at what they offer us, we will most likely have to rent a place first and wait til something comes up. We are just concerned that if we stay on base will that really limit us as far as school, shopping, etc? With the taxes and electric it sounds like we may be better off on base than with renting in a suburb. They are redoing their housing and are telling us there could be a 9-12 month wait for a new unit.

How far of a commute would you say St. Pete or Brandon/LOL would be to the base everyday? Is it a toll road that leads to the base? Is the traffic that bad in that area?

I guess I am spoiled here, our car insurance for two vehicles both full coverage is only $370 every 6 months and GEICO (which is cheaper than USAA's quote by the way) is telling me that will change to $950 every 6 months if we move to Tampa!

Is there anyone familiar with the base? Can you tell me about it?

Also, I keep hearing about hurricane evacuations - how often would you say you have to evacuate? Is it a big ordeal? We have had to leave here twice just last year!

Thanks again for all the info - really appreciate it!
Jennifer
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:42 PM
 
121 posts, read 468,961 times
Reputation: 64
Hi Jennifer,

As far as travel from MacDill, you're probably looking at the following. To:

Downtown Tampa: 5-15 min
North Tampa: 20-40 min
St Pete: 20-40 min
Clearwater: 30-50 min

If you travel to any of these places during the morning, evening, or weekend "rush," expect to add as much as 30 additional minutes onto each trip.

Many people who work on base live in St. Pete. Depending on which part of St. Pete, a daily drive to the base can be considered a "hop, skip, and a jump."

Though I'm not familiar with St. Pete, check out some of the rentals on Gandy Blvd. I know there are several, and in passing by, they appear to be very nice. And no, it's not a toll road. You can either take Gandy Blvd. up to Dale Mabry, then hang a right to the base, or you can take I-275. Both roads are about the same as far as traffic, especially during rush hour. I have a feeling it will just end up being a matter of preference for you.

Evacuations? Who knows - you're at the mercy of the season, lol. But evacuation is not mandatory. There are differenct evac "zones," naturally the closer you are to the bay the more chances you'll be in a first level evac zone.

My own area reached evac level a couple years ago. Being on a 2nd floor apartment about 1/4 mile in from the bay though, I didn't evacuate. Some consider those who don't evacuate stupid, and in some cases yes, it IS stupid. But you weigh your options, you evaluate the situation, and you decide. Many people who evacuated a couple years ago ended up leaving what turned out to be SAFER areas. Hurricanes are so unpredictable that you just...don't know. Trust your instincts and be smart about it, is the best advice I can say. Hope this helps!
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Old 05-18-2007, 09:50 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
1,222 posts, read 4,193,508 times
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We lived in Valrico Husband worked at McDill, there is a bus to the base. When we moved there we were advised NOT to put our children in the base school. We now live in Texas and yes things - apart from property taxes are cheaper here.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:21 PM
 
3 posts, read 14,161 times
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Really - advised not to do the base school huh? Any particular reason? You had your kids in school in Valrico? Did you like it there?
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:53 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
1,222 posts, read 4,193,508 times
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Went to Burns Middle then Bloomingdale High very good schools, my Son had gone to DODDS schools in Europe before that.
The base is really nice even has it's own bech and bar, you can hire boats there too. Lots of nice places to go in the area but more humid than here in Texas and also seems to rain a lot in the summer.
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