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Things You Should Know Before Moving to Tampa, FL

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A city adorned with Post-modern and Art Deco high rises amidst tropical palm trees and picturesque waterfront views are just a few highlights that may have sparked your interest to move to Tampa.

It's a city where history flourishes, namely due to its ties to Native American tribes who once inhabited the area in the early 19th century. No matter the influence that brought you to the decision to consider moving to Tampa, this guide is full of information designed to help you navigate through your potential move with ease.

Tampa Climate

Tampa sits on the western side of Central Florida over Tampa Bay, and is categorized as a humid subtropical climate. If you're considering moving to Tampa for warmer temperatures, you'll get your wish almost year-round. With temperatures ranging from 70-90 degrees, summers are long lasting, but have more consistent temperatures between June and September. Hot and humid summer days are often paired with numerous thunderstorms with strong winds and lightning due to breezes from the Atlantic and the Gulf.

The temperature change in winter months is not too drastic, with lows averaging in the mid-50 range in the evening and night. Tampa also has tropical weather trends. While rare, it isn't unheard of to see some hard freezes every few years depending on your location in the city.

The threat of hurricanes always looms in any Florida location, but Tampa is most affected by tropical systems and some tropical storms.

Tampa Neighborhoods

You'll have plenty diverse neighborhoods to choose from if you're relocating to Tampa, which include incorporated neighborhoods and unincorporated communities in the area. The city is divided into Downtown Tampa, New Tampa, West Tampa, East Tampa, North Tampa, South Tampa and many other well-known communities.

For authentic city life, you may consider Downtown Tampa, as it is the city's central business district with companies like Bank of America, PNC Financial Services, SunTrust, TECO Energy and Verizon in close proximity. Downtown Tampa is also rich with arts and culture, housing the Florida Aquarium, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and the Tampa Theater. Being an epicenter for architecture, Tampa has recently developed the Channelside District next to downtown and port authority, with multi-story buildings and entertainment, reminiscent of Miami's South Beach.

For a more suburban and outdoors lifestyle, New Tampa is full of modern communities with parks and biking trails. Stick with surrounding unincorporated communities like Citrus Park for good public schools and a minimal commute to downtown.

Registering Your Car

You have 10 days to register your car in Florida from the date you begin working in the state, or register a child in a Florida school. You must have proof of ownership of your vehicle, verification of your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), and proof of Florida insurance requirements.

You have 30 days to transfer your existing out-of-state driver's license to a Florida driver's license. To do so, you will need your primary identification, proof of Social Security Number and two documents verifying your Florida address. The Florida DMV issues over 400,000 new resident licenses per year, and advises you to know your requirements and have your documents ready prior to going to the office.

Tampa Schools

Hillsborough County Public Schools, or more commonly known as the School District of Hillsborough County runs the public school system for primary and secondary education in Tampa. The school district is countywide and is home to 267 schools including 4 career centers and 43 charter schools. The 2009-2010 annual report boasted a 82.2 percent graduation rate – the highest among the Tampa Bay school districts. Over 90,000 elementary students, 43,000 middle school students and 53,000 high school students are enrolled for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Tampa is also home to the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida. Other notable higher education institutions in the area are: Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College and Eckerd College.

Tampa Employment

As of fall 2012, Tampa leads the state of Florida in job creation, employing over 10,000 people in August and September. In November 2012, Tampa Bay Area's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent – the lowest since 2008.

In addition, minimum wage in Florida, $7.67/hour, increased to $7.79/hour as of January 2013, and a minimum wage of $4.77 for tipped employees, according to the US Department of Labor.

Real estate, retail, service, finance, professional sports, tourism, insurance and shipping all support Tampa's economy. The city's employers for the Department of Defense employ over 15,000 active military personnel. Many fortune 1000 companies are also headquartered in Tampa.

Living Costs in the City

The cost of living in Tampa is approximately 8.7 percent lower than the national average, and approximately 6.7 percent lower than the Florida average. The average salary is about $42,000 annually.

You'll pay more for running your air conditioner longer (generally about 8 months out of the year), but if you live in the Bay area as close to the coast as possible, you'll be in slightly cooler temperatures that will allow you to open windows for breezes. Heating your home with expensive fuel or natural gas operated heaters won't be too much of an issue unless there's an uncommon freeze or cold front.

Many apartment buildings include utilities in the overall rent cost, and washer and dryers. A two bedroom apartment can range from $700-$1200 depending on the location, amenities and utilities included. Some apartment complexes also offer discounts on local cable company and high-speed internet services. The average single family home in Tampa is in the $120,000 range, and can cost roughly $1,500-$2,500 or more in property taxes annually, based on numerous factors including Homestead exemption, fire, garbage, lighting, drainage, sewage, water and homeowner association fees.

Tampa Moving Resources

Tampa moving companies and storage companies are ready to help you with your move, whether you're moving from out of state or from another county in Florida. Be sure to get estimates from multiple moving services before you make your decision (at least three estimates). Check back to our guides for tips on how to choose your moving service wisely with important questions to ask, differentiating between types of estimates, and mistakes to avoid. Visit the following pages at Movers.com to get quotes for the following services:

Tampa Transportation

With four major airports, public mass transit by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, and an extensive railroad legacy served by Amtrak today, commuters can get almost anywhere they need efficiently.

The Tampa Union Station on Nebraska Avenue was built in 1912 and closed in 1982, but was restored and reopened in 1998. Schedules and fares for Union Station trains can be found on Amtrak's website.

Public transit includes a public bus, whose main hub is in Downtown Tampa at the Marion Transit Center, and 2.7-mile streetcar service route. There's also a chartered water taxi option, mainly for tours along the Hillsborough River.

Culture & Contemporary Life

If you're looking for a place with recreation, or a constant excuse to be outdoors, Tampa has plenty to offer. With over 165 parks and numerous attractions and theme parks, the area stays busy year round. It is also home to many events and festivals, like the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, a Mardi Gras-esque parade led by a pirate ship invasion that draws in over 400,000 people.

Tampa celebrates many cultures with its various festivals, including the India International Film Festival of Tampa Bay, Fiesta Day (recognizing Cuban, German, Italian, African-Cuban Jewish and Spanish heritage) and Guavaween, a Halloween street celebration.

The cuisine of the city is both varied and distinctive, paying homage to Spanish heritage with traditional paella and other seafood dishes, along with many bistros and fine dining. The Cuban sandwich and café con leche are also dining staples in the bay area.

Professional sports create a significant draw to the city, with three major sports leagues in the area: the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning and MLB's Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa has also hosted four Super Bowls, the first being in 1984.

Tampa Relocation Tips

  • There's a rainy season in Tampa, so stock up on rain gear like umbrellas, rain boots and raincoats. You may want to look into better windshield wiper blades for your car or wet weather traction for your tires.

     

  • Make sure you do your research on your prospective new city, don't just go by one or two reviews, as there are many enticing neighborhoods and places to live in the surrounding areas of the city that may suit your individual needs.

     

  • Just like any other city, high volume of people means considerable traffic for morning and evening commutes, so allot yourself extra time to get to your destination.

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on April 2, 2013

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