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Old 03-05-2009, 03:10 PM
93 posts, read 385,068 times
Reputation: 30


Hi TampaStar, I just feel I have to throw in my two cents' worth.

I'm a CA native, but most of my relatives live in Tampa. I'm getting laid off in a few months, and I previously made rock-solid plans to move to Tampa this year. I had called the moving company and was starting to get rid of things, then I went to Tampa again a few months ago - and I called off the move. Why? Let me list the reasons below:

1. Commuting. I will be basically starting over in the TB area, so I will most likely be working downtown. I'm used to living in a lovely area (I'm currently in Cupertino, CA) so I'd like the same after my move. I realized during this last trip that if I want to live in a "nice" area of Tampa Bay, I'll have probably an hour of commute time each way. What a downer!

Believe me, I've done a LOT of research over the past few years on the areas in Tampa Bay to live in, especially on this board and during the times I've been there. My niece is the entertainment editor on CreativeLoafing, so she is a great resource for information on good and bad areas to live in. I might consider living in the better area of Seminole Heights which isn't too far from downtown, but if that didn't work out, I'd most likely have to drive to Lutz or Tampa Palms (I like Brandon but the commute is awful). So that goes into....

2. Roads - condition, car pooling, etc. I've been spoiled by CA traffic - they've done a lot over the past ten years here to create car pool lanes, meters on the on-ramps, signs stating how long it takes to get to certain areas. etc. Commuting in CA is actually much better than in Tampa, which surprises a lot of people. As someone said in another post, the roads in Tampa are simply not kept up. No car pool lanes - no meters. Traffic is HORRENDOUS during rush hour. If I was living in Lutz, it would take probably 45 minutes - 1 hour to get home. I know, I've been in that traffic many times. Things are better than they were - recently signs were put up that state travel times, but Tampa has a long way to go.

3. If I stay here, I'll have an easier time finding a job during this recession than if I go to Tampa. I've been in CA all my life and I have a lot of connections with a lot of networks. I have nothing like that in Tampa. I realize that's specific to me, but it may pertain to others.

4. I live in Silicon Valley and I'm a computer geek, which means I'm used to the latest technology being used...well, everywhere - work places, homes, you name it. In Tampa - at least to me - it's not the same. None of my sister's friends are on email. Most of them don't know how to turn on a computer. Again this is probably "me-specific", but I'm afraid that technologically, I might be unhappy there. Could be minor to others, but it's a little higher up on the priority list for me.

5. Crime rate - much higher than where I currently live - so much that it's a real consideration.

6. Downtown Tampa. What a waste of good space! It amazes me that they haven't developed more restaurants/sidewalk cafes, etc. there. It's all business and it closes up at 5 PM on weekdays and is a ghost town on weekends. Nobody home, nothing there. Zippo. Nada. Wasteland.

7. Salaries. I realize the cost of living is much lower in Tampa, but I would be earning approximately 30 - 35% (if I'm lucky) of what I make now (I'm an executive assistant). That means I'd be broke all the time. Hey, I went thru my poor times and hated it....I have enough money now to live comfortably and put some in the bank. We exec assts get bonuses and stock options in CA, which is unheard of in Tampa. I don't want to be poor again.

I would still like to move to Tampa someday, but it will probably occur after I retire. By then I'll have more money saved up and I won't have to worry about commuting. I would love to live closer to my sister.

I realize others will probably totally disagree with at least some of what I have to say, but these are my honest thoughts.
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:22 PM
47 posts, read 186,604 times
Reputation: 66
rheadabovewater, I really appreciate that post. I understand not everything is sunny in Tampa.
I'm glad I'm getting all sides of the spectrum.
I'm not sure how old you are but I'm 26 so I'm still young enough to "bounce back" from any salary decrease I might experience. I am hoping that the living expenses being lower will counteract the salary difference.
I currently pay $1200/month for a 2 bedroom apartment in Tampa I'll be paying $790 for a 1 bedroom. I would not be able to find an equally nice 1 bedroom apartment in my area for under $900. Also FL does not collect State Income Tax so that is a bit of money that won't be coming out of my check every week.
Other things I have considered.... we don't have much to do in my area so at least 4-5 times a year we travel somewhere, be it by plane or long car trips, I'm hoping since I will be right near lots of fun and vacation type things I might not need to spend as much to have a good time... Hoping...
Also I have to buy snow tires every other year, another expense lowered. I know I'll still need to get tires changed out but snow tires are more expensive.
I spend roughly $500 a year on a gym membership, an expense I won't have since our complex has a community gym. OH! And no more spending $200 on a seasons pass to the local mountain for snowboarding... I can spending it on swimsuits for the beach!!
I understand that it might not be a successful decision but I'm ready for the consequences...
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:36 PM
240 posts, read 234,904 times
Reputation: 400
Default Commute Time and Beaches

Hi, I just wanted to tell you that while you are sitting in traffic either in Pinellas or Hillsborough, you won't have the "ocean" to look at. If you are on one of the bridges (Howard Frankland, Hwy. 60, or Gandy) between Tampa and Pinellas, you will be looking at the bay. Believe me, it gets really old creeping along and coming to a full stop during rush hours, when you'd rather be home enjoying your family.

In Pinellas you will likely be on Hwy. 19 which is much better than it used to be, because of several new "flyovers", but the further north you have to go (such as Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs) it gets worse. McMullen-Booth road is just as bad. These main arteries are basically the only two choices for north and south. There are a few decent side roads, but with the traffic lights, school zones, stupid slow drivers, they take just as long.

This area grew too fast for the roads during the last couple of decades. The roads for the most part are in need of a lot of repair. No sooner do they fix one area, they tear up another and on and on.......I wouldn't move here if I were you. The heat and humidity are very unpleasant and last from May to September. Yes, you get the thundershowers, but most of the time I find the humidity worse after one of them.

Just my opinion - hope it helps.
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:38 PM
Location: Slightly west of Downtown Boise
314 posts, read 1,111,083 times
Reputation: 127
I recently read about the Gasparilla Pirate Festival that occurs in Tampa annually. Is this as fun as it sounds? Or is it basically for the kids?
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Old 03-06-2009, 10:59 PM
47 posts, read 186,604 times
Reputation: 66
I was wondering about Gasparilla too... Also Gauvaween?

I'm still pretty well convinced that I will enjoy living in Tampa... It's not really a question on whether or not I will make the move... I was just trying to be prepared... that's kinda my thing... being prepared.

As far as bad roads go, I cannot imagine they are any worse than our roads here in VT with our frost heaves and ENORMOUS pot holes... our roads are pretty narrow and get even more narrow in January and February when the snow and dirty take an extra 2-3 inches of each side... so that doesn't give you much room to avoid all the cracks and potholes. I think I can handle a few bad roads as a trade for no more salt stains on all my jeans and scraping snow and ice off my car. Every place has it's pros and cons.... no where is perfect... It's time for something new.

Any other thoughts or advice for someone new?
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:49 AM
13,772 posts, read 35,333,244 times
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Gasparilla has 3 parades, one for the little kids and the other 2 are always very crowded with more than a few drunks wondering around. You can take your kids to all of them but if your kids are little the guns they shoot are VERY loud and might scare them. Also in the past there were always at least a few young women flashing the pirates for beads. Don't get me wrong it is a lot of fun and there are a lot of ppl who do bring small children..

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Old 03-07-2009, 10:48 AM
5 posts, read 15,574 times
Reputation: 19
The Tampa/St. Pete area is overall a nice place to live. I lived in this area for 6 years. We only moved away because my husband lost his job and the market seemed to crash in Florida before everywhere else! There was a lot we thought we didn't like about Florida until we moved away. We relocated in February of 2008 to Arkansas where I have some family. Though it's a lower cost of living here if you are only looking at housing/rent it's higher in every other aspect. We make the same here in Little Rock as we did in Tampa but we have state taxes coming out and it sucks. The taxes on groceries here are ridiculous! In St. Pete we could go to Winn Dixie with coupons and the coupons Winn Dixie would give out for $25 off of a $75 total purchase and walk out with $150 of groceries for $30-$50! I had just gotten my bargain grocery shopping mastered there when we ended up relocating here! There is a lot to do there as well. We enjoyed going to the Tampa Improve for comedy, the malls, Channelside District, and the restaurants! Bahama Breeze off of Courtney Campbell Causeway was one of our favorites! There are some great little bars in South Tampa off of Howard Ave. There's Old Hyde Park Village with cobblestone walkways and little shops and restaurants. International Plaza is the biggest mall in the area and it has an outdoor area as well with restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory, etc. Most the places on the outskirts of town are about a 30 minute commute in my experience. Brandon for me was never a far commute. I have heard the veterans expressway can get bad with traffic though. I-4 near Downtown Tampa can get congested as well. I've experienced far worse traffic here in Little Rock if anyone can believe that! I couldn't at first. When I was there Tampa Palms (or New Tampa) was a great place to live as was the Citrus Park area. I've always felt there were lots of nice areas to Tampa. I know 22nd St. right by University Mall is not a good area to live but you can see that when you drive down it! In fact, I think it's mostly the areas by the University and possibly Busch Gardens that might not be as good. When I would go apartment hunting my friends would tell me to stay away from Waters Ave. as well. Not sure how accurate that is though! I lived on Bearrs Ave. and loved it. I also lived in St. Petersburg, and Brandon. Brandon is very congested for it's size but you get more for you money there and it's not far from Tampa at all. All in all most areas you should be fine in. I'm 26 as well and I felt safe pretty much wherever I was in that area! In the end, we are saving up to eventually move back to the Tampa area. So I would definitely recommend this area to others looking to escape wherever they are currently living! I hope this helps!

Last edited by funkyv; 03-07-2009 at 10:51 AM.. Reason: left out information and had typos to correct
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:34 PM
47 posts, read 186,604 times
Reputation: 66
Hey funkyv, thank you for the informative post!

Any recommendations for a good date night activity?
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Old 03-08-2009, 09:41 AM
Location: Tampa
1,236 posts, read 4,246,960 times
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I would not wait to move to Tampa because of the weather. If you are going to wait until the weather is better, why move here? It is HOT 6 months out of the year. The storms come almost like clock work, around 3 or 4:00. It is a 15 minute downpour and it is all over with and sunny and, oh yeah, HOT and more humid. I love the storms. They are something to see. I was amazed when moving down here from NJ. I had never seen it rain soooo hard. NJ would get 2 inches of rain on a rainy day. Florida gets 2 or more inches of rain in the 15 minute downpour.

A friend of mine is looking for the same type of job, but has not been successful for 3 months now. When you are lucky enough to find a job, your commute probably won't be along the beach, so don't count on the beach view, your view will be of the cars exhaust pipes.

As far as homesickness, you seem like you want to do all the fun stuff this area has to offer. Get busy doing all them, then visit New England in winter and realize what you have down here. It took me about 3 visits to start changing my mind about moving back. I am still getting adjusted after 4 years down here. Not sure if I like it in Tampa. There are many things I don't like about the people down here, but I have not done all the fun stuff.

What kind of food do you like? If you are into funky vegan, Grass Roots in Tampa (though it is very expensive). I don't know your area, so I cannot recommend restaurants. I love going to Anna Maria Island for their sunsets. There is a nice restaurant at the end of the island that is right on the beach (The Sand Bar). You could eat dinner, enjoy a nice drink and watch the sunset from your beach chair, walk up and down the beach. Make sure before you check to see that the red tide is not in bloom. I drove the hour and a half with an out of state guest and forgot to check the web for the bloom and when we got to Anna Maria Island, there were dead fish everywhere. YUCK.

I know there are sky diving places that you go with an instructor (tandom style). There are hot air ballooning. If you go to Clearwater or even to Sand Key island, you can rent a wave runner or go parasailling.

St. Petersburg has a nice Saturday morning farmers market.

If you are into anything specific, like photography, nature walks, whatever, check out a website: www.meetup.com. You can search groups with similar interests and start meeting people. I have more friends and social life here than NJ.

It will take at least 2 years for you to get use to the heat and to realize you don't have to shovel the snow anymore.

The economy sucks especially here in Florida. So if you have a job up there, they are saying the later part of this year is suppose to get better. You are better off waiting to see if things get better. If you don't have a job, don't wait for the weather to get "nice" to move. You will end up dealing with the heat eventually.

True there is no state tax, they get you in other ways.

I have never been to the gasparilla, there is a kids version a week before, then there is the adult one. WOO HOO! Expect wall to wall people. That is why I have never been.
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:17 AM
93 posts, read 385,068 times
Reputation: 30
I love St. Pete and would really enjoy living there. The only problem is the long drive for the commute, but it's a great place.
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