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Old 05-04-2012, 07:08 PM
Location: Lakeland, TN
10 posts, read 17,591 times
Reputation: 17


I apologize because I know this is going to be long, but I saw that people got angry if you didn't combine your questions, so I'm putting them all in one post.

My family and I are looking to move somewhere on the Gulf Coast between Tampa and Fort Myers. We are planning an exploration trip for the last week of May/1st week of June. I'm hoping some of the local residents can give me some feedback.

We currently live in Lakeland, TN, a suburb of Memphis. My husband is a FedEx pilot and I'm a graphic designer. I have a design business that I run from home with clients all over the US and my husband can commute. So we don't have to find jobs jobs to relocate.

After four years in Memphis I just have had enough. We bought our dream house here, in the "best" school district, but unfortunately you still have to leave the compound and deal with Memphis crime, prejudice and everything else.

For my husband's commute to work we want to be within an 1 1/2 hours of either Fort Myers or Tampa Airports.

We are considering Tampa, Sarasota & Cape Coral but are open to suggestions. Tampa is the one I know the least about. It's a big city and trying to find an affordable area with decent schools is overwhelming me.

We realize that we will have to downsize. Houses are big and affordable here...I think because no one wants to live here. We live in a 4600 sq ft. 5 bed 4.5 bath house. From what I've seen of Tampa, it looks like we will likely get something half the size for the same price.

Schools are a big consideration. Currently my daughter goes to a school that is rated 10 on GreatSchools.org. It's in our neighborhood and has very good parental involvement. She's in 3rd grade and in a gifted program called Apex, and I'm hoping for a school there that will also challenge her. I've heard that Sarasota has the best schools in Florida, and Tampa has bad schools. Are there good schools there in affordable areas?

My daughter is on a competitive soccer team and we heard that Florida is a great state for soccer. Is there a league in Tampa that is better than others?

I realize I'm moving to Florida, and there are a lot of retirees, but I'd really like to have at least some neighbors that are around my age and kids for my daughter to play with. Is Tampa younger? Are there specific neighborhoods to focus on? My husband is 40, I'm 37 and my daughter is 9. Nothing against retirees either. I just want some people my age around.

Crime is a big deal. Tampa really concerns me. I feel safe where I live right now, but not safe when I venture out of my neighborhood. Is my daughter safe to play in her own backyard?

What do you think we should see in Tampa while we are visiting? Is there any specific area that we should focus on? I'm hoping to contact a realtor to at least see a few houses to get a feel for how much we will actually be downsizing even though we aren't going to buy this trip. We will have to buy a cheaper house than we are in currently because my husband will not have as much an opportunity to work his schedule to max his pay while commuting. We will probably not go above $350-400k this time around. I'm concerned because Tampa's market seems pricier. I'm actually really handy and can do a fixer, but if I do I want to have money left in the budget to pay for it. What are the building codes like? Do I have to get a permit for minor changes there like you do in Cape Coral?

Any input would be appreciated. I am going primarily to look at real estate but I will have a nine year old to keep happy too. Anything fun to do? Besides the beach of course.

Thanks so much for your help. I'm going to be posting similar posts in Cape Coral and Sarasota.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:32 PM
Location: Central Florida
103 posts, read 210,590 times
Reputation: 65
Amen neighbor! We live in Bartlett, Tn. and I've lived in Memphis my whole life and have sadly watched it reach the state its in now and we can't stand in anymore. The kids were smart and bailed out as soon as there were able and now its our turn. I just retired from 30 years in law enforcement and we are looking somewhere in the Tampa, central Fl. area. Still have a house to sell and have to see what the market will bear here but you never know maybe we'll see you in Tampa and trash talk Memphis over a cold one! Best of luck!

Last edited by CouchTater; 05-04-2012 at 08:33 PM.. Reason: puctuation
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:52 PM
Location: Toledo, OH
1,725 posts, read 3,132,433 times
Reputation: 1275
I have been to Millington a few times, once for 6 weeks! But I did get to see around where you two live. I did like those big houses with the big yards you two are talking about.

I'm at a little bit of a loss on what exactly to tell you. We have plenty of very nice areas to live around here. We have beautiful beaches (some of the best in the world), numerous colleges, professional and college sports teams, baseball's spring training, yacht clubs (with another big one coming to Sarasota), etc...

My youngest is 16, so it has been quite sometime since dealt with the Elementary schools. Our neighbors have younger kids and don't seem to have any problems at all. I live in Pasco County (just North of Tampa off I-75) and enjoy being outside the city so to speak. I've been told that Hillsborough County (Tampa) have better schools than Pasco, but my daughter seems to being doing great. AP classes and all. So I have no complaints. As a 'military brat' she adjusted well and took her studies seriously and it is paying off.

Don't let the 'RETIREE' part of Florida sway your opinion. I barely notice it here around Tampa. I actually noticed more the further south toward Naples you go. We have Snowbirds and yes, retiree's, but if you drove around here for just a few hours, I would be surprised it you noticed it. Even walking into a SuperMarket, it looks like a complete slice of society.

I'm hesitant to recommend locations as I really am not sure what you are comfortable with but I'll try. Check the 33647 zip code, Wesley Chapel, Land O Lakes, Lutz, and Odessa for starters. If you want to be more by the water (but that will cost you) Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor (areas around Tarpon Springs) and into Westchase. That covers a lot of area but if you get to a good website that lists homes, you'll see a big difference in the number of developments and congestion.

At least traffic shouldn't be an issue for you! Good luck and hope this helps. Others will post and should be able to add more regarding the schools.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:08 AM
Location: Beautiful Pinellas County
1,450 posts, read 2,670,936 times
Reputation: 1041
Dont overlook Pinellas County either, north county is marvellous, has great schools and wonderful neighborhoods. Seminole schools are pretty decent, there are several great pinellas magnet programs our daughter flew in college after doing IB in high school in st pete high, but there are other locations for that too. If your husband flies out of stpet/clw airport or tampa, pinellas county is a good option too
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:09 AM
Location: Lakeland, TN
10 posts, read 17,591 times
Reputation: 17
CouchTater, good luck on selling your house! I hear the market is improving. Our realtor just told us that our neighborhood has very low inventory right now, and we should at least break even. Which considering last year at this time our house was worth about 100k less than we paid for it, seems like good news. I think the whole school consolidation thing will help the Bartlett market. I heard they were the first to vote yes for their own school district. I could go on for hours about the ridiculousness of Memphis, but you already know!

Gulfer, I assume you are in the Navy. I will look at those areas you suggested. One thing that is really exciting for us is the fact that there is so much more to do. Memphis has very little to do, in fact my daughter is in 3rd grade and they are already repeating their once a year field trip because they ran out of places to go.

lavendar, I will look at Pinellas County. I hadn't thought to branch out that far. Looks like I need to find a realtor to help me out.

Thanks all for your suggestions. I am writing it all down. Do you think 3 days in Tampa is enough time? It's so much bigger than the other areas I am looking at.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:43 AM
Location: Toledo, OH
1,725 posts, read 3,132,433 times
Reputation: 1275
Yes, was in the Navy for over 26 years. I didn't want to make another two moves and was ready to call it a career. Will never say a bad word about it though, I had a lot of fun and have been around the world a couple of times.
Pinellas County really isn't that far away from everything else. You will be driving around here and all of a sudden go from Pasco County to Hillsborough County to Pinellas County all in 30 minutes. So don't let that discourage you.
3 days is a fair amount of time if you have some areas in mind. If I may recommend, take 1/2 a day and drive through the areas to see what catches your eye.
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