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Where to Stay in Tampa

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Raleigh, NC
posts: 2
reviews: 3
Where to Stay in Tampa


My husband and I are thinking of relocating to Tampa and are coming to visit to check the town out over thanksgiving weekend. We want to stay somewhere that will allow us to explore the town and get a good feel of what it might feel like to live there. Does anyone have any recommendations? I don't really have a good idea of how large the town is and how easy its easy to traverse from one side of Tampa to the next. Any other tips are also welcomed.

Tampa, Florida
posts: 29,924
reviews: 7
1. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

I'd contact the Chamber of Commerce -- I know that they have a relo package that they could post to you.

As far as getting a feel for living here, I'd make sure you get a hotel in one of three areas -- New Tampa/USF, Brandon, or Town n Country -- that would give you a better idea of the location from which you'd be most likely to be commuting, as those are three of the biggest residential areas.

Clearwater, Florida
Destination Expert
for Clearwater
posts: 7,984
reviews: 24
2. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

I would suggest staying in the Westshore area. This is just S/SE of the airport. Plenty of shopping/dining at International Plaza and Westshore Plaza malls. Many other restaurants nearby. Is a safe area also. Good, central location for driving just about anywhere, Downtown/Channelside/Ybor, St. Pete, Clearwater Beach etc.

Rush hours M-F 7-9am, 4-6:30pm can really add some time to the drive just about anywhere you are in the area, but it really is pretty easy navigating around Hillsborough (Tampa) and Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete) counties.

Tampa, Florida
posts: 29,924
reviews: 7
3. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

Westshore is good logistically for seeing the area, but nobody lives there...so it would give a very skewed (if awesome!) view of the city.

St. Petersburg...
posts: 320
reviews: 6
4. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

Hi -

I have been here 6.5 years and have lived in Palm Harbor, Holiday (south Pasco county), and now north St. Pete. But during that time, I've worked in far east Tampa, Clearwater, downtown St. Pete and Lakeland (a very long commute, for what that's worth). I've spent a LOT of time driving this area - my commute time has varied from my current 20 minutes - which I'm very lucky to have - to upwards of 2 hours each way.

While the area isn't difficult to navigate once you have your bearings, it is very spread out, and traffic can be a real nightmare, depending on where you're coming from/going to... Until you have some idea where you might be working, I think it is difficult to get a feel for where you might live - at least permanently.

Driving "one side of Tampa to the next" can be 20 minutes if you're really driving only Tampa, but if you're driving the Tampa Bay AREA, it can be an hour or more... The counties that make up "Tampa Bay" hold about 1 million people and are growing daily, so it's not a small geographic area.

Do you know where you might be working? Are you sure you want to live in Tampa and not St. Pete? What about Clearwater? Do you want to be near the beach? If so, Tampa isn't a good choice as there are no "real" beaches there. Know, of course, regarding housing that your economic situation will dictate where you land as well. Housing isn't cheap, despite the downturn in the market; if you can afford the house, the insurance and taxes can double your fixed expenses...

And, of course, if you really want to know what it's like to live here, come in July. lol... ;-)

I'm sorry if my comments sound negative - I'm not trying to discourage you, but I am being realistic. I think it's great you're learning more about the area before making the move. The post above recommending contacting the local Chamber is a good one. And you also might just look at a map of the area to get a feel for how it is laid out.

If you care to share more about your personal situation, I'm sure people here can help more...

Tampa, Florida
posts: 29,924
reviews: 7
5. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

Oh so true on all points, Bailey -- I love living in Florida, but like everywhere, it has its downside.

St. Petersburg...
posts: 320
reviews: 6
6. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

don't it though, sunshine...

sarasota, FL
Destination Expert
for Sarasota, Venice, Siesta Key
posts: 8,682
reviews: 119
7. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

I agree with the previous posters with one additional comment.

I don't think you can get the feel for any town the size of Tampa over the Thanksgiving weekend. Just like any other large city there are many neighborhoods and suburbs. How did you decide on Tampa?

Have you spent any time in FL? One poster mentioned the summer months. This is a valid point. Visiting the state in the winter doesn't give you any idea of the months of June-October.

If you have children, the school system is another consideration.

If possible, I would plan a 2 week minimum stay to give you time to look around. Relocation is a major decision. I ususally recommend that people rent rather than buy for a year and see how thye like it.


Tampa, Florida
posts: 29,924
reviews: 7
8. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

That's a *great* idea -- I know several people who have rented first, and several more who have bought first -- and the renters have it far easier to up stakes and move across town (also gives you a chance to shop for a house at your leisure!)

Tampa, Florida
posts: 1,483
reviews: 11
9. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

Please do not relocate here until you have a job. Once you have found a job then you can begin look for a place to live.

If you will be working in Tampa, you may not want to deal with living near the beach, because the beaches are in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, et. al.). But it seems newcomers almost always want to be as close to the beach as they can afford.

I know people say "Oh, don't mind commuting an hour." But unless you have been doing it day-in and day-out for years and still don't mind, think twice.

As far as where to stay, it probably does not matter as you should be driving around town and exploring the neighborhoods. Pick-up the apartment finder booklets and look at real estate ads in the local newspaper.

Great a good map and explore. You might need to get several maps of Tampa/Hillsborough County, Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater) and west Pasco County (New Port Richey to Land o' Lakes) and east Pasco County (Zephrhills and Dade City area).

St. Petersburg...
posts: 320
reviews: 6
10. Re: Where to Stay in Tampa

You are getting some good advice. I tend to agree with Donna, but I came here myself without a job and I've managed to stay well employed.

Maybe you're independently wealthy, or are in a high-demand profession (the medical field is very hot here), but failing that - know that the cost of living is high and wages haven't kept pace, since distances are great, gas costs can really eat you up. Insurance and property taxes are causing an exodus of people to more reasonable COL states. And summer is really long, and really REALLY hot. We spend much of summer inside, it's just too danged hot to be outside. Of course there are good things here - gorgeous beaches, wonderful winter weather, some beautiful vistas near the water, etc. - but it's important to know the downside as well.

As for housing: renting is certainly best to start - and if you can do it month to month for a while until employment is set, do that.

We came here for a few days vacation, did a lot of wandering, then came back two months later to find an apartment. We never intended to live in Tampa so that cut out a large part of the area for us; I've always lived on the "Pinellas side," but after 6 years and three moves, I feel I'm finally located where I really want to be.

So anyway, I digress... Come visit for the holiday weekend. Drive around both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties (but realize traffic won't be the same on a holiday weekend..). Talk to locals. Ask a lot of questions. Go to the beach. Go to a grocery and check food cost. Pick up rental magazines. Maybe even look at a few places.

Think about what you really want, and as another poster mentioned - why Tampa? I'm actually kind of curious as to why you decided this was where you want to be. Hope you let us know.