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Old 08-19-2007, 09:29 PM
 
43 posts, read 244,581 times
Reputation: 35

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We've been considering a job opportunity that would require us to move from Philly to Tampa. As a result, we’ve spent the last two weekends visiting a few areas, including Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Westchase Community, Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor. Below are some notes that may help others…

We had 2 primary requirements:
- Walking Village/Town (charm): We live in a NWest Philadelphia area called Chestnut Hill, which we love. Like other old NEastern villages/towns (Princeton NJ, Montclair NJ, Doylestown PA and many others), having a community, in which we could walk to the hardware store, grocery store, park etc... was/is extremely important to us
- Proximity to Palm Harbor: Our 6 year old daughter would attend School of the Suncoast (Waldorf) and my wife wanted a short commute (15/20 minutes max), which limited our choices.


Below are some pros-cons based on our limited time in the area:

DUNEDIN:
+ Community Pride: It was very clear that the community is very proud of the area and they certainly show it - in the way the downtown is kept and promoted.
+ Family Oriented: The town’s library, community centers and bike trail make it seem like a nice place to raise a family. Oh yeah – I can’t forget the beach (10 minutes away).
+ Some Shops: Despite not having all the more practical shops (at least I didn't seem them), like hardware stores, small grocery store, drug store in the walking downtown area, the shops are nice, the few restaurants are pretty good too. Bottom line - Dunedin has some great potential...
- Downtown Too Small: We had to constantly remind ourselves that we were not in Chestnut Hill. Downtown Dunedin is very small, compared to what we are used to, but then again Chestnut Hill does not have the beautiful weather and beach.
- Housing near Downtown: I was surprised to find that other than a few streets (Scotland), many of the nicer homes are further away (appx. 0.5 miles – still walking distance) from downtown. This was a real surprise to us, since in the NEast it’s often the opposite. At times, it was also disappointing to see a nice home neighboring a home that was not well taken care of...

SAFETY HARBOR
+ "Practical" Shopping. Safety Harbor did appear to provide easy access to the typical day to day convenience shopping (Hardware, Dry Cleaners, Coffee etc...) and a mix of a few restaurants. I hear they have a nice farmer’s market on the weekends.
- Combo of Naples & Depressing. Safety Harbor had this one block that reminded me of Naples (w/out the high end shops), yet it had some streets just a few blocks away that were down right depressing. I had heard that the housing situation in FL was in bad shape and it was very evident as we drove around some streets of SHarbor... I think what made it depressing was the combination of million dollar homes and depressing shacks just a few blocks away. It was really an odd mixture that is hard to explain. Again – the nicer communities where further away from the downtown. This concept is very odd to me...
- Family Oriented: Safety Harbor (Downtown) maybe a family oriented place - it just didn't seem like that to us.
- Expectation. Perhaps, our expectation was set too high. We had heard so much about Safety Harbor....


WESTCHASE
+ Convenience. The area appears convenient to the office (West Waters/Veterans Pkwy and my daughter's school (Palm Harbor).
+ Typical Suburbia. The communities (mostly gated) were beautiful and the homes were very well priced for new homes. Think ‘Desperate Housewives’.
+ Convenient Shopping Centers. Anything and everything you could want (on a regular basis) is in Westchase via shopping centers...
- Suburbia: Westchase - although very nice. It’s just not our style. Westchase has a 'downtown' area, but it’s more for show... It appears to be modeled after Downtown Celebration, except everyone seems to drive there and it’s much smaller than Celebration.

PALM HARBOR
+ Witch Cafe. I can't recall the name of the coffee shop. It’s very cool
- Tiny Downtown. It’s very small w/ shops spread apart from one another.

TARPON SPRINGS
I only spent an hour in the area, but it appeared a bit touristy to me. However, they seem to be investing quiet a bit in the area (roads, downtown etc...)

BOTTOM LINE
We are moving to Tampa. On the plane back from Tampa, a women (originally from Philly) said to me, 'FL ain’t all Puppies and Ice Cream, but if you appreciate and take advantage of the nice weather and the beach you will enjoy living there.’

We'll miss Philly...
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:33 PM
 
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
1 posts, read 30,176 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you for the advice, I am considering moving to Tampa or Clearwater for a job promotion. Having a hard time trying to find out what towns would be good with children and pets.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:06 AM
 
2 posts, read 37,323 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the great info. We are from Plymouth Meeting, PA and are also considering a move to the Palm Harbor or Tarpon Springs. We are heading down in the fall on a fact finding mission. Your info is very helpful!
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:25 AM
 
89 posts, read 320,678 times
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We're moving in September to Odessa. We first started looking at homes in January before finally settling on an area. We looked from Westchase to Land O Lakes, focusing on Trinity. Trinity may have what you want but I thought the homes were a little too close and too similiar. Wesley Chapel is very nice. Our daughter is teaching there. But, after much searching we found Odessa to meet our needs and it's really growing. Best of luck and pm me with any questions if you'd like
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:27 AM
 
Location: temporarily corporate housing in washington d.c area, but a los angeles resident.
19 posts, read 112,957 times
Reputation: 13
I agree with your descriptions 100%. My husband and I have been staying in a corporate apartment in Clearwater while we find a home....the first day I cried...it's been a month now and Florida is growing on me. Chestnut Hill is a great town...I have lived in Haddonfield NJ, and worked in center city Philly several yrs ago...we loved it there! Anyway, I am for sure seeing great things about living here....but it for sure is it's own place and find it better to not compare it to other cities...that's where we are anyway=) wishing you the best!
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:50 AM
 
104 posts, read 457,464 times
Reputation: 39
Default Tampa suburbs

Congrats to you all on your move. We were considering accepting a GREAT offer in Tampa and relocasting our teenagers from south shore ma to tampa. After 7 weeks of "soul searching" we turned down the great job and weather in Florida for the lifetyle and schools for our teenagers...I am still struggling with it but they have not even heard of lax! Good luck to you all!
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Old 08-20-2007, 08:55 PM
 
43 posts, read 244,581 times
Reputation: 35
Thanks for the responses and well wishes. I believe we will grow to love the area. I do plan to provide more information once we are physically in the area...
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:56 PM
 
4,406 posts, read 9,246,069 times
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Too funny. You totally nailed Westchase. Thanks for the chuckles!
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:58 PM
 
4,406 posts, read 9,246,069 times
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By the way, did you check out the Eastlake area of Oldsmar? You can go McMullen Booth to avoid the Hwy 19 traffic.
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Old 08-21-2007, 07:12 PM
 
43 posts, read 244,581 times
Reputation: 35
I know we drove through "Oldsmar" on our way to Dunedin, but not the specific are that you describe. I'll make a note of it. Thanks.
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