Print
  • Hold down Ctrl key and select the sections you want to print. If using a Mac, hold down the Cmd key.
  • Use Ctrl + A or on Mac, Cmd + A to select all sections (if you are using the Chrome browser).
  • Click "Apply" and the site will customise your print guide in the preview below.
  • Click the "Print" button and a print pop up should appear to print to your printer of choice.

Moving to Tampa

With its beautiful beaches, eclectic food offerings, a strong sense of community and affordable cost of living, it’s easy to see why increasing numbers of people from within the US and beyond are choosing to call Tampa home.

Located in Hillsborough County and connected to the Gulf of Mexico on the western coast of the Sunshine State, Tampa has always had historical significance within the US thanks to its bustling port which is one of the largest in the country. Nowadays, the Tampa Bay Area, which encompasses the municipalities of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater is one of the fastest-growing regions in Florida.

Tampa’s year-round good weather continues to draw people from all over. With an average annual temperature of 22°C (72.3°F), it's easy to understand why this city has mass appeal. The climate also contributes to much of the lifestyle benefits of living in Tampa, making it the perfect outdoor playground for a range of fun activities including hiking, biking and boating.

Fondly dubbed the Cigar City because of its rich Cuban history, Tampa is home to a diverse demographic. Spanish, French and Italian influences are visible throughout Tampa, particularly in its food, architecture and cultural events. Tampa’s population leans to the political left and it is also home to a fairly large LGBTQ+ presence, which adds much vibrancy and colour to the community, especially in Tampa’s famous GaYbor District. 

While it has always been a popular option among retirees who long to spend their twilight years basking in the Florida sun and enjoying all the lifestyle benefits this city has to offer, Tampa is also fast becoming a destination of choice among young professionals and families who are drawn by the career opportunities and school options available.

Tampa’s economy is on the up so newcomers with skills and experience in areas such as manufacturing, technology, finance and tourism will find an abundance of job opportunities. For those looking to start a business of their own, the State of Florida actively encourages investment and has incentives in place to support small ventures. 

In terms of accommodation in Tampa, new arrivals will be spoilt for choice. From sleek city apartments and condos to comfortable family homes and palatial villas, Tampa has it all. Although property prices in Tampa are relatively reasonable, demand still outstrips supply so prospective residents may need to act fast to secure a rental especially in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. It’s a fairly large city and while a public transport network does exist by far the best way to get around is by car, especially for those travelling to and from outlying suburbs. 

Not only are properties spacious but there is a strong sense of community in many of the neighbourhoods which will certainly help newcomers settle in. Tampa also boasts a broad range of schooling options including some excellent charter and magnet schools as well as a substantial range of private and international schools. 

There's also no shortage of entertainment and lifestyle offerings in Tampa. Those with a keen eye for art and culture will find a range of excellent museums and galleries. Sports enthusiasts will be in their element too. Boasting no less than three major professional sports teams – the NFL Buccaneers, the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and of course the MLB Tampa Bay Rays – new residents will soon find a local team to back. Tampa’s nightlife knows no bounds either, whether pumping dance clubs are one’s idea of a good night out or a relaxed evening sipping cocktails with a view is more your thing, there is no doubt that this is a city that knows how to have fun. 

Weather in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa will enjoy pleasant weather all year round  Tampa is officially said to have a humid subtropical climate but there are aspects of the weather here that verge on tropical, especially close to the waterfront areas. As is the case throughout much of Florida, Tampa’s climate features hot, humid summers marked by frequent thunderstorms, and mild and dry winters. Spring and autumn are warm and pleasant. 

Most of the annual rains in Tampa fall between the months of June and September. In terms of temperatures, annual highs range between 65–95°F (18–35°C) throughout the year and rarely exceed 100°F (38°C). The city’s proximity to large bodies of water accounts for both its moderate temperatures and high levels of humidity during the summer season. Areas further away from the coast experience greater fluctuations in temperature and weather patterns. 

The hot and wet season starts in May and runs through to October. Seasonal highs are around 90°F (32°C) with lows in averaging 70°F (24°C) with high levels of humidity and the likelihood of thunderstorms on a daily basis. Summer thunderstorms feature brief periods of heavy rainfall, strong winds and lightning. Afternoon storms tend to be followed by pleasant, clear weather and cooler evening temperatures, while morning storms usually bring extreme humidity levels. At times, storms can be quite intense bringing damaging wind, hail and torrential rain as well as the occasional tornado.

The drier months in Tampa begin in November and last till the end of April. Weather during these months tends to be sunny and mild but temperatures do start to drop slightly. While the skies remain clear, Highs during the coolest part of the winter drop to an average of around 70°F (21°C). Tampa residents may also experience the odd cold front which brings with it rain followed by a few colder days. 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Tampa

When one thinks of Tampa, Florida it conjures up images of sun, sea and sand, but there is much more to the Cigar City than its beautiful beaches. It’s important for prospective new residents of Tampa to invest some time researching their new home, including its history, culture, economy and lifestyle offerings, before committing to the move. 

As is the case with any city in the world, there are both pros and cons to living in Tampa. We've listed below some of the main advantages and disadvantages worth bearing in mind before relocating to Tampa.


Accommodation in Tampa

+ Pro: Neighbourhoods to suit anyone

As the third-largest city in the Sunshine State and home to over 350,000 residents, new arrivals can rest assured that they’ll find a neighbourhood that meets their needs. Whether it's living close to the action in Ybor City or the Channelside district or finding a family-friendly suburb with good schooling options for the kids, areas and suburbs in Tampa are plentiful. 

- Con: Short supply of accommodation

The population of Tampa is increasing rapidly and, although there is constant construction going on around the city to accommodate these new residents, supply continues to fall short in relation to demand. This means that new arrivals may need to act fast to secure a suitable property, especially in a sought-after location. 


Working in Tampa

+ Pro: The economy is growing

Tampa’s economy is on the up and it's doing slightly better than the US national average. Newcomers with skills and experience in sectors such as technology, avionics, healthcare and manufacturing will find lots of exciting career prospects in the Cigar City. The cultural diversity of Tampa’s population means that there are also loads of bilingual job opportunities; those who speak Spanish will certainly have an edge when it comes to finding work in Tampa. 

- Con: Wages are lower than in other US cities

The fact is that most people that move to Tampa do so for the lifestyle benefits offered by this Sunshine State city rather than the big bucks. While career prospects here are good and Tampa’s skyscrapers are a symbol of booming business, salaries don’t match those found in other US cities such as New York City or San Francisco, or even the boom towns like Austin, Texas.


Cost of Living in Tampa

+ Pro: The cost of living is reasonable and there is no state income tax

While salaries may not be lucrative in Tampa, the low cost of living evens things out a little, especially when one considers what money can buy here. It is possible to find a dream home close to a beach without having to have a six-figure income. The fact that there is no state income tax in Florida also means that wages can go further. 

- Con: Insurance expenses can be high

There are some expenses that just can’t be avoided when move to Florida and one of those is the cost of insurance. Tampa is prone to flooding and residents are required to protect their homes from flood damage. Unfortunately, this type of insurance won’t come cheap. 


Education and schools in Tampa 

+ Pro: Lots of schooling options Hillsborough County Schools District 

Hillsborough County Schools District is one of the largest in the USA, so when it comes to schooling options in Tampa, new arrivals will be spoilt for choice. While admission to magnet and charter schools may not be as strict, newcomers should factor their proximity to good schools when deciding on an area or suburb to live in as public schools do give preference to students in the local area.

- Con: The cost of private or international education is expensive

There are plenty of good schooling options in Tampa and it has a diverse range of international offerings too. It's therefore a great city for foreigners or internationally-minded families who would prefer to have their child study the national curriculum of another country or the globally recognised International Baccalaureate diploma (IB). That said, both private and international schools in Tampa charge extortionate fees so parents will need to budget accordingly. They’ll also need to factor in the cost of additional expenses including uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular activities and field trips.


Getting around in Tampa

+ Pro: Public transport is an option for those living close to downtown Tampa

While the public transport infrastructure in Tampa is no match for the sophisticated systems found in cities such as Chicago, New York and San Francisco, it’s sufficient for anyone looking to commute around the city centre. The bus network is fairly extensive and streetcars are fine for a quick trip in the downtown area. That said, those living out in the suburbs or families with children will find that having a car will make their lives infinitely easier and give them more freedom when it comes to getting around Tampa.

- Con: Traffic can be a nightmare

Naturally, commuting times vary according to where a person is based in relation to their place of work. In Tampa, the evening rush 'hour' lasts from around 4pm to 7pm. So if spending longer than 30 minutes commuting to and from work is a problem, new arrivals may struggle to adjust to life in Tampa. As the city’s population continues to increase, traffic becomes more of a bugbear for Tampa residents. 


Lifestyle in Tampa

+ Pro: Tampa’s weather is conducive to a great outdoor lifestyle

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Tampa and the great Florida weather just provides an excuse to spend more time outdoors. With an abundance of hiking and biking trails as well as festivals galore, new arrivals will love getting caught up in the fun of it all. 

+ Pro: It’s a family-friendly city

Tampa is a great place to raise a family, not only because of the array of schooling options but because of the wealth of family-friendly activities on offer. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is always a hit with kids. Busch Gardens is another popular choice and the Tampa Bay History Center also makes for a great educational experience. Of course, we can’t forget the beaches or the lush green parks which provide for lovely family outings too. 

Working in Tampa

Tampa is home to a relatively diverse and robust economy and newcomers to the Cigar City will find ample opportunities for professional growth.

With the Tampa Bay Area being home to three seaports, trade has historically had a huge part to play in the city’s economy. The Port of Tampa is one of the largest cargo ports in the US and is also a major cruise port. This sector, in particular, contributes USD 15 billion a year to the local economy by employing over 100,000 Tampa residents. 


The job market in Tampa 

Prospective residents with skills and experience in areas such as avionics, business and information systems, finance, manufacturing and tourism will find plenty of job opportunities in the Tampa. Salaries in the city are a little lower than the national averages so those looking for lucrative employment packages may struggle here. 

Entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Tampa will find that government incentives from the state of Florida make this quite viable. The city is also home to a fairly educated workforce with over a quarter of Tampa’s population having a college degree. 


Work culture in Tampa

Being a Sunshine State city, the pace of life in Tampa is quite laid-back compared to major US economic hubs such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC. Those that hold senior positions within a major corporation may still be required to work long hours and be under pressure to reach certain targets but, on the whole, workplace success isn’t the sole focus of work culture in Tampa.

New arrivals will generally find that the work environment in Tampa is somewhat less competitive than elsewhere in the US. Many companies offer their staff wellness programmes and encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employers make a concrete effort to ensure people are happy at work as this also serves the company well in terms of employee loyalty and staff retention. 

While it does depend on the individual company as well as the industry in question, flexible working hours and the option to work remotely are quite commonplace in Tampa. 

Cost of Living in Tampa

Before committing to relocate to a new place, it's important for prospective residents to consider the cost of living and compare this to their earning potential and the lifestyle benefits that their new home offers. Those considering a move to Tampa will be pleased to learn that the city's cost of living is slightly less than the Florida state average, and a fraction higher than the national average. Naturally, an individual’s personal living expenses come into play too, which can make budgeting a little more complicated.

Those weighing up a move to Tampa need to consider a number of factors when drawing up a budget. These include the cost of accommodation, transport options, healthcare expenses, lifestyle choices and, if they have children, the price of schooling. This should all be compared alongside one's earning potential as well as the expenses of physically relocating, which in itself can be a costly exercise. 

Here is our breakdown of the expenses new arrivals should expect to incur when residing in Tampa.


Cost of accommodation in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa generally start by renting till they find their feet and decide whether they want to settle down long-term in the Sunshine State.

Tampa’s rental market is fairly solid so it makes sense to invest in buying a property at some stage. In general, though, housing prices are more affordable in Tampa that than they are in Florida and the US as a whole. Furthermore, the standard of housing in Tampa is excellent so new arrivals are likely to find good value for money regardless of whether they decide to rent or buy in Tampa.


Cost of education in Tampa

As is the case in most US cities, the cost of education in Tampa depends on the schooling path parents choose for their child. Tampa offers newcomers a broad range of public and private options when it comes to schooling, so parents have tough decisions ahead. 

The cost of public schooling in Tampa is minimal whereas private institutions set their own fees which are generally expensive and increase as the students get older. In addition, those considering private schooling for their kids will need to budget for additional extras such as uniforms, textbooks, field trips and extra-curricular pursuits. 

Parents who feel their child may need support from a private tutor to help them keep up with their studies or give them the extra push needed to succeed at university entrance exams will also need to budget accordingly. 


Cost of healthcare in Tampa

There are a number of good healthcare facilities in Tampa. The cost of healthcare in the Cigar City is almost on par with the state average, and accessing the best facilities won’t come cheap – this will be especially noticeable to those relocating from countries with free or heavily subsidised public healthcare systems. 

Foreigners and newcomers relocating from elsewhere in the US should invest time researching health insurance schemes on offer in Florida. There are loads of competitive insurance packages available but it’ll be up to the individual to find a policy that not only meets their own health needs and those of their family members, but also realistically fits into their monthly budget. 

Anyone moving to Tampa for work should negotiate a health contribution into their employment contract as this will allow for a significant monthly saving.


Cost of transportation in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa will find that public transport fares are affordable. But while public transport is a viable option for those living close to the city centre, it isn’t quite as convenient as having a car at one’s disposal. For this reason, most Tampa residents opt to invest in a vehicle of their own. 

As is the case throughout Florida, cars in Tampa are reasonably priced. In fact, used vehicles in the Sunshine State cost around 10 percent less than in the rest of the US. This is partly owed to the fact that Florida has an ageing population, many of whom are giving up their cars, along with large numbers of wealthy people who upgrade their vehicles on a regular basis. These factors make for an ideal car buyers market. 

That said, maintaining a car won’t come cheap in Tampa. Petrol (gas) prices are expensive, and with most residents driving long distances regularly this expense quickly mounts up.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Tampa

Lifestyle expenses really do depend on an individual's taste, preferences and financial priorities. Tampa residents can choose to splurge or save depending on where they go for fun and what they do. On one hand, it's possible to eat out at fine dining establishments or hang out at fancy cocktail bars for those looking to splash some cash. On the other hand, there are plenty of activities that cost little to nothing. 

Entrance to most of Tampa’s museums and art galleries is reasonable and there are often discounts offered to students and pensioners too. 


Cost of living in Tampa chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Tampa in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 1,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,100

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,280

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,670

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.30

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.90

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.80

Loaf of bread

USD 2.85

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 13.80

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 6.60

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.90

Cappuccino

USD 3.90

Bottle of local beer

USD 5

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 60

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.15

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 62

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 160

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.90

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 2

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.60

Accommodation in Tampa

Prospective residents looking to settle down in the Cigar City will be pleased to know that Tampa has a wide range of housing options with something to suit just about every taste and budget. Most newcomers tend to rent initially while they find their feet and get a feel for the city and its neighbourhoods, before settling on a more permanent situation. The renting process is fairly standard and in line with what one would expect in most major US cities.

Those who decide to buy property in Tampa further down the line will find it has great investment potential. Not only is the city's property market robust but the city continues to attract more and more people every year, which in turn increases the demand for rental property. 


Types of accommodation 

The standard of accommodation in Tampa is generally good. Most buildings are well-maintained and property sizes are generous. New arrivals searching for their new home will have a range of options to choose from, including apartments, condos, duplexes and larger family houses.

Apartments

Modern self-contained apartments within a larger building can be found in most parts of Tampa. They tend to be fairly well priced and are a particularly popular choice among those living in downtown Tampa where space is limited.

Condos

Condos are a middle ground between houses and apartments. The major benefit of condo living, especially for newcomers to the city, is more space and the benefits of communal living. Condos are self-contained units within a bigger complex where residents share a range of amenities including communal swimming pools, gyms, gardens and laundry facilities. While it depends on the complex itself, condos are a great option for those new to the city as it allows them to make new friends in their local residential area. 

Family homes

Over half of Tampa residents live in houses, so newcomers looking for a more spacious pad in Tampa will find an impressive array of options. From humble craftsman-style bungalows to grand colonial revival mansions, there are properties to suit a range of tastes and budgets. There is also a continuous stream of new-built properties springing up to meet the demands of Tampa’s rapidly increasing residential population.


Finding accommodation in Tampa 

Prospective residents should start their hunt for a home in Tampa well before they even start to plan the physical relocation. Demand for property is high in Tampa and it is not always easy to secure a suitable property. 

The best place to do some research would be on reputable online property portals. These allow those unfamiliar with the city to get an idea of the different property types available in various areas and suburbs and prices. 

Real estate agents are another great source of information. These professionals have an intimate knowledge of Tampa’s property market and are well placed to advise new arrivals about the type of property and suitable areas. 


Renting accommodation in Tampa

With more and more people seeing value in the lifestyle and career benefits that come from relocating to Tampa, the demand for property is pretty high. As a result, new arrivals need to act quickly to secure rentals in sought-after parts of the city. 

Making an application

Once prospective tenants have found a suitable home, they’ll need to express their interest either to the agent or the landlord directly. Credit and reference checks are always required and only once these have been verified, the tenant and landlord can go ahead and sign the lease. Expats moving to Tampa from outside the US should open a US bank account and have a social security number set up before applying for a rental property as this will likely speed up the process of securing a rental contract. 

Leases

Rental contracts in Tampa are usually valid for a year with the option to renew at the end of the initial term. At the discretion of the landlord, it may be possible to request a shorter lease. For tenants who want to negotiate any aspect of their lease, it is better to do so outside peak holiday season when there isn't as much demand for holiday rentals. 

Utilities

Prospective tenants should invest time studying the terms of their lease agreements to determine which utilities are included. In most cases, the landlord covers standard utilities such as water and electricity but optional extras such as internet, cable TV and landline telephone services are usually for the tenant's personal account.

Deposits

Anyone looking to rent in Tampa will be required to put down a security deposit to secure the lease on a property. These rental deposits are fully refundable once the lease terminates, provided that the property is left in an acceptable state. For this reason, it is important to carry out a detailed inventory at both the beginning and end of the rental term, as damages will be deducted from the deposit. Florida state law places no limit on how much a landlord can ask for a security deposit, but most landlords will ask for the equivalent of one month's rent. State law does, however, stipulate that the deposit minus any legitimate deductions have to be returned to the tenant within a month of them vacating the property.

Areas and Suburbs in Tampa

The best places to live in Tampa

With over 80 different neighbourhoods to choose from, deciding where to live isn’t always easy for those unfamiliar with Tampa. New arrivals often opt for a short-term rental when they initially relocate to the Cigar City as this gives them a little breathing space to explore their new surroundings. Pinpointing particular areas and suburbs is easier once an individual has established their priorities. Real-estate agents tend to have a better understanding of Tampa's property market and are a great source of information when it comes to discussing options. Factors newcomers should consider when picking a neighbourhood in Tampa include housing options, budget, lifestyle priorities, proximity to places of work and, for those with kids, proximity to good schooling options. 

Here are some of our insights into the most popular areas and suburbs of Tampa. 


City living in Tampa

Many new arrivals in Tampa start by finding temporary rental accommodation close to the city centre. While the public transport infrastructure in Tampa is hardly sophisticated it will suffice for those living in certain central neighbourhoods. There are, of course, other benefits that come with city living, and those living close to downtown Tampa have the best access to the city’s main attractions as well as a wider range of dining options and entertainment facilities. 

Tampa Skyline

Harbour Island

Centrally located, this island neighbourhood is located within Tampa’s city limits close to the downtown area and consists mostly of private residential communities. There are a wide range of housing options available here including high-rise condos, apartment complexes, row houses and larger family homes. Being close to the action of the city centre means that residents of Harbour Island have a wide range of dining and entertainment options. Residents also have easy access to the streetcar system, which is great for getting around central areas. 

Carver City - Lincoln Heights

Home to a large African-American community in the 1950s and 1960s, Carver City - Lincoln Heights is another central area that has undergone a process of gentrification in recent years. Nowadays, the area is full to the brim with trendy bars, quirky boutique shops and a broad range of eateries. Carver City - Lincoln Heights is popular with a liberal crowd mostly made up of young professionals and small families. There are a number of good public schools in the neighbourhood but those wishing to attend need to apply well ahead of time as there is a shortage of places and no guarantees a child will get in, although priority is given to Carver City residents.


Family-friendly suburbs of Tampa

Many of the people that move to Tampa each year do so for the better quality of life that this Sunshine State city offers its residents. This is especially true for those relocating with children. Naturally, new arrivals with families will want to find larger properties, which they're more likely to find further away from the city centre. Tampa is home to a fair few good public schools as well as private and international schooling options, so those with children will need to consider proximity to school when deciding on suitable neighbourhoods. 

Tampa Sunset

Swann Estates

Swann Estates is a small family-friendly suburb of Tampa which is home to almost 2,000 residents. As it is not too far from the city centre, residents of Swann Estates get a really good balance between the urban and the suburban. Swann Estates is home to a number of good public and private schools so it is a popular choice among those with kids. It is also popular with young couples. In terms of residential properties, the area has lots of comfortable single-family homes. Residents have access to a good range of amenities such as shops, restaurants and parks. 

West Meadows

West Meadows is a fairly affluent, family-friendly suburb of Tampa. While residents do have access to the city's bus network, most people here do tend to have a car of their own. The homes in the area are mainly spacious family abodes and townhouses often with gardens, many of which are located within gated communities. There are a number of excellent schooling options which explains the area’s popularity with families. New residents will enjoy the strong sense of community here which makes it easy to settle in. 

Beach Park

For those who are moving to Florida to be by the water, then Beach Park would be a wonderful choice. This is a fairly affluent suburb with a culturally diverse population. The majority of properties in Beach Park are spacious family homes with ample garden space. There are a number of good schooling options which serve to increase property prices to some degree but also mean that it's a great place for those looking to invest in a home too. 

Healthcare in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa can rest assured that they’ll be in safe hands as far as the medical needs and those of their family are concerned. Tampa is home to some world-class hospitals staffed by excellent physicians, surgeons and nurses. The Cigar City boasts over 30 hospitals and a number of speciality care facilities. The state of Florida continues to invest a fair amount into healthcare and the medical establishments in Tampa are paving the way when it comes to the advancement of medicine and health in the area. 

Tampa General Hospital is one of the most comprehensive medical facilities in Florida and contains the area’s top trauma centre and one of the country’s leading transplant departments. The city is also home to the Moffit Cancer Center which is the top cancer care hospital in Florida and among the leading facilities nationally.

As is the case throughout the US, Tampa residents should be in possession of a comprehensive private health insurance plan if they want easy access to the city’s top medical facilities. While medical costs in Tampa may be more affordable than other US cities such as Austin, Atlanta and Denver, it is by no means cheap. Prospective Tampa residents should spend time researching their options to find a policy that best suits their needs and those of their dependants. 

Below is a list of some of the most well-established healthcare facilities in Tampa.


Hospitals in Tampa

Memorial Hospital of Tampa

www.memorialhospitaltampa.com
Address: 2901 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609

Kindred Hospital Tampa

www.kindredhealthcare.com
Address: 4801 N Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

Tampa General Hospital

www.tgh.org
Address: 302 W De Leon St, Tampa, FL 33606

St Joseph’s Hospital

www.baycare.org
Address: 3001 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Tampa, FL 33614

Education and Schools in Tampa

In line with the US standard, the schooling system in Tampa is split between three levels:

  • Elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8
  • High school – Grade 9 to 12

Anyone planning a move to the Cigar City with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions on where they’d like to live. The Hillsborough County Schools District is the body that overseas schooling in the Tampa Bay area and, with over six hundred different schooling options available, making a decision on what is best for one’s children isn’t always straightforward. 

Factors to consider when picking a school include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of tuition fees, extra-curricular activities and proximity.


Public schools in Tampa

The Hillsborough County School District (HCSD) is the authority that oversees public schools in Tampa. Tampa residents can have their children attend a public school at little to no cost. That said, public school admission does depend somewhat on catchment areas which is something worth bearing in mind when deciding where to live.

As is the case in most US cities, the standard of public schools varies. Some public schools are brilliant and provide a standard of education that falls in line with those at private schools. On the other hand, there are also some underperforming schools that suffer from underfunding and staff shortages. In general, though, the standard of public school education in Tampa is pretty decent.

Charter schools 

Tampa also boasts a number of good charter schools. These are a sub-set of public schools that are overseen by external actors. Although they do have more freedom in terms of teaching methodology and admissions, these schools remain accountable to the Hillsborough Country Schools District. 

Each of these institutions will have a charter which details the school's operations, programme, goals and methods of assessment. Some serve particular populations or students that are struggling in a traditional learning environment whereas others follow a particular instructional theme. Charter schools are generally more flexible when it comes to catchment areas.

Magnet schools 

Like charter schools, magnet schools in Florida are state-funded in part, but because they do receive some funding from external sources, these schools have more autonomy over their curricula. Magnets benefit from allowing students to pursue a more vocational path in line with their individual strengths. 

Magnet schools tend to focus on a particular area such as sports, performing arts, foreign languages or the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).


Private schools in Tampa 

There are a fair few private schools in Tampa, many of which have a religious affiliation, mostly with a branch of the Christian faith. Generally, private schools offer a higher standard of teaching and better facilities than most public schools. They also offer more advanced placement and honours programmes for academically-gifted students as well as sports, music and arts programmes for children that show an aptitude in those areas. 

Naturally, the downside of private education is the cost. Parents who choose to send their kids to a private school in Tampa should be prepared to budget for tuition fees. On top of the fees themselves, they’ll need to factor in other expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular pursuits and field trips.


International schools in Tampa

There are a handful of international schools in Tampa, most of which follow the globally-recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. IB schools are a great option for expats or internationally-minded families that might see themselves moving overseas again in the near future. 

It is also worth bearing in mind that there are a number of magnet and charter schools in Tampa that offer the IB programme. Although these schools do tend to be oversubscribed, securing a place at one of them will allow families to have their child study for the IB at a fraction of the cost they’d pay at a private institution. 

For foreigners that are intent on having their child continue studying the curriculum of their home country, it is worth exploring options in wider Florida as many of these schools do offer boarding options for their students. 


Special needs education in Tampa

The education system in Tampa is well set up to provide for students with learning difficulties. There are multiple federal and Florida state laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost. 

Both public and private schools in Tampa have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. Following an assessment, if a student’s disability is said to be too severe for them to be accommodated in the mainstream education system, there are also several special facilities that are able to offer those with special needs a variety of programmes tailored to meet their specific requirements.


Private tutors in Tampa 

As academic excellence becomes increasingly competitive, students are often expected to do work outside school in order to excel and stand out from the crowd. Tutors are a great source of support for students who want that extra edge in preparation for university admissions exams or simply to keep pace with the curriculum. Thankfully, there are plenty of private tutors at hand in Tampa.

We’d recommend parents begin by enquiring at the child’s school to find out about recommended tutors in the local area. Failing that, families will find a number of established tutoring agencies that can assist. These companies often have various packages ranging from subject-specific programmes to one-to-one classes and group sessions. 

Lifestyle in Tampa

Prospective residents pondering their relocation to the Sunshine State city of Tampa won’t be disappointed when it comes to the lifestyle opportunities on offer. From world-class museums and art galleries to hiking trails and lush green parks, there is something for everyone in the Cigar City.

Tampa’s nightlife scene is a lot of fun and getting out and about for an evening is a great way for new arrivals to mingle with the friendly locals. Eating out in Tampa is also an awesome experience with a wide range of restaurants and eateries that’ll suit a range of tastes and price points. 


Arts and culture in Tampa

New arrivals in Tampa with a passion for arts and culture won’t be disappointed. Tampa boasts an array of cultural gems mingled with history which will interest even the most discerning culture vultures. From historic artefacts to modern art, the scene in Tampa is eclectic, to say the least. Particular highlights include the Tampa Bay History Center and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. For theatre, musicals and comedy shows newcomers should head to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts which boasts a full calendar of entertainment offerings. 

Regardless of whether one is a history buff looking to take a trip back to yesteryear or a music fan looking for a sensational live performance, a wealth of options await in Tampa. 


Eating out in Tampa

The culinary scene in Tampa is as rich and unique as the city itself. From local favourites such as devilled crab, smoked mullet, garlic shrimp and those legendary Cuban sandwiches, to a myriad of international options, foodies are in for a gastronomic journey as they try out the eateries of the Cigar City. 

From exquisite fine dining and farm-to-table experiences to more humble seafood feasts and authentic Latin dishes, there is something to satisfy every craving and budget. 


Nightlife in Tampa

Of course, Tampa is famous for sunshine but newcomers looking for a good time will be pleased to learn that the city comes to life at sunset too. From unique dance venues or intimate live music venues, the Cigar City’s nightlife offerings are pretty impressive. 

Tampa boasts everything from down-to-earth Irish pubs and trendy microbreweries to sophisticated cocktail lounges and sleek martini bars. Revellers will never need to look too far when it comes to opportunities to let one’s hair down and getting acquainted with the locals. 


Sport and outdoor activities in Tampa

Tampa is a real treat for the avid sports enthusiast. From the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and the MLB Tampa Bay Rays, the city’s sports calendar is pretty packed. Then there is the fact that every spring season the New York Yankees head to Tampa for training. There is also a range of semi-pro and collegiate teams worth keeping track of too. 

For those who prefer participating in sport rather than watching from the bleachers, Tampa provides plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors in the Florida sun pursuing a range of sporting pursuits. From deep-sea fishing, golf, cycling and hiking, Tampa residents score big when it comes to sport. 

See and Do in Tampa

New Tampa residents will enjoy getting acquainted with the Cigar City through its wealth of attractions. From scenic parks to historic buildings and fascinating museums, there is plenty to see and do in Tampa. Naturally, the all-year-round good weather in Florida makes Tampa a great place for outdoor pursuits too. Those relocating to Tampa with children will be pleased to find that there is an abundance of attractions that accommodate the whole family. 

Here is our list of some of Tampa's top attractions to get new arrivals started.


Attractions in Tampa

Florida Aquarium

Located at the waterfront in downtown Tampa, the Florida Aquarium is home to 10,000 aquatic creatures that call the Florida seas home. From river otters and alligators to stingrays and sea dragons, there is so much to discover. The kids will enjoy the touch pools where they can get up-close and personal with these underwater critters. The 4D movie theatre that showcases some stunning undersea features is always a highlight for visitors of all ages.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Opened in 1987, the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge which connects St Petersburg to Terra Cela across Lower Tampa. The structure itself is quite spectacular and the views are breathtaking. Those with a fear of heights might be in for a challenge, but it’ll certainly be a fun and rewarding experience. While there is a toll required to cross the Skyway, it's a small price to pay for what is a memorable drive. 

Tampa Theatre

Dating back to 1926, once known as the ‘movie palace’, the Tampa Theatre is one of the city’s most prominent historical attractions. Impressively, it is still fully operational today and visitors can be transported back in time as they purchase tickets at the vintage glass booth before settling into plush velvet seats. While cinema-goers won’t catch the latest blockbusters at the Tampa Theatre they can view a great selection of documentaries and art films. 

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The ultimate in family adventure, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay features everything from thrilling rollercoaster rides to live entertainment, not to mention the more than 12,000 animal residents. Falcon’s Fury which involves a 335-foot drop tower and Cobra’s Curse which is certainly not for the fainthearted are highlights for the thrill-seekers, but there is something for the whole family at Busch Gardens. 

Tampa Bay History Center

Travel back in time through 12,000 years of Florida’s history. From the conquistadors to the Cuban cigar rollers of Ybor City, visitors are treated to some wonderful insights into the state's storied past. With hands-on exhibits and an immersive theatre experience, the Tampa Bay History Center is always a hit with the kids. Located just off Tampa’s Riverwalk, this is a great attraction for a fun family day out. 

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

At the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, visitors can explore contemporary life and culture through the medium of photography. With collections and exhibits featuring both historic and contemporary works by nationally and internationally renowned photographers and graphic artists, a visit to FMOPA never disappoints. 

Tampa Museum of Art

Florida’s largest museum of art features everything from collections of Greek and Roman antiquities to modern photography exhibitions. Since 2010, the Tampa Museum of Art has been driven by a commitment to providing Florida residents with innovative public arts programmes. With a dynamic annual schedule of special exhibitions, new arrivals will find they’ll need to visit this attraction more than once to truly do it justice. 

Contanchobee Park

Located on the Waterfront along the Garrison Channel in downtown Tampa, Contanchobee Park is an oasis of calm in a bustling city. The 4.5 acre includes a children’s playground, a spectacular pier and a memorial to the Seminole Indian Wars. A popular spot among Tampa’s recreational runners and cyclists, Contanchobee Park is also a great place to spend a family day out in the sun. 

What's on in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa will quickly learn that Cigar City residents love to have a good time. This is evident in the city's packed and exciting event calendar. With festivals of all kinds including fireworks, parade floats, live bands and fabulous food vendors showcasing their fare, there is no shortage of fun to be had. Whether its food, cocktails, art or family-friendly fun that new arrivals are after, Tampa won’t disappoint. 

Here’s our take on Tampa’s best annual events.


Annual events in Tampa

Gasparilla Pirate Festival (January)

Described as ‘The New Orleans’ Mardi Gras but with pirates’, the Gasparilla Pirate is one of Tampa’s favourite annual events. Dating back to 1904, the highlight is the Parade of the Pirates, when sea-faring buccaneers invade the bay of a giant pirate ship and take to Bayshore Boulevard. There is also an illuminated children’s parade that takes place in Ybor City. A colourful festive event that can be enjoyed by Tampa residents of all ages. 

Florida State Fair (February)

Each February, the annual Florida State Fair takes place in Tampa. This historic event was traditionally staged to showcase Florida’s agricultural industry. Today, the State Fair attracts thousands of people each year. Visitors are treated to live performances by local musicians, food stalls and a variety of art exhibits. Children are fully catered for with plenty of fairground rides to keep them entertained. It's an especially good opportunity for new arrivals to meet other local residents and get acquainted with the area’s culture. 

Taste of South Tampa (March)

Held at the Tampa Garden Club, this has become one of Florida’s premier food festivals over the last couple of decades. Ticket holders can have their fill with unlimited food and drink samples from some of the state’s best restaurants as well as up-and-coming eateries. There is plenty of live entertainment which adds to the festive atmosphere. The dedicated Kid Zone is a perfect place for the little ones to have some fun while their parents enjoy a day of gastronomic indulgence. 

Tampa Pride (March)

Join the crowds of Tampa residents as they take to the streets to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Taking place over two days, Tampa Pride raises funds for various programmes that support these underrepresented communities. The event is bright, colourful and noisy, and features a broad range of art exhibits, photo displays and musical performances. With family-friendly areas, parents can rest assured that the kids will be kept entertained too. 

Tampa RiverFest (May)

This free event takes place along the entire length of the Tampa Riverwalk, and features a number of stages showcasing some great music acts. Encompassing the best of the Cigar City’s food, culture and music, this is a fun-filled event for the whole family. Many museums in the downtown area offer discounted admission during RiverFest so be sure to pop in. Without a doubt, the hot air balloon glow that takes place in the evening is a RiverFest highlight. 

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival (May)

New residents are sure to have a great time as they join Tampa residents and indulge in a sneaky margarita (or five!). The festival features a showcase of margarita tastings, a lineup of local musical talent and an impressive fireworks display to end off the night. With all the cocktails being handcrafted by professional bartenders, festival-goers are bound to be in for a treat. 

Getting Around in Tampa

While Tampa does have a public transport system, this is mostly focused on the downtown core of the city. On the whole, Tampa remains a car-centred city and having a vehicle offers new arrivals greater freedom to explore the surrounds independently. 


Public transport in Tampa

New arrivals in Tampa might find the nature of the city’s public transport network to be somewhat disappointing, especially if they are accustomed to more sophisticated systems such as those found in cities like Boston, New York, San Francisco and Chicago. 

Public transport in Tampa is mainly useful when it comes to commuting within the city centre. There are some suburbs that have adequate public transport links, but on the whole, those living on the outskirts of the city would benefit from owning a car.

Buses

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transport Authority (HART) provides a fairly extensive network of bus routes for Tampa. There is a combination of local routes that have a number of stops within a small area and commuter express lines that cover larger areas from the suburbs into downtown Tampa. 

Although transfers between the two types of routes are not permitted, fares in Tampa are reasonable. There are also a number of discounts available for students, senior citizens and those with disabilities. 

The frequency of services vary from one route to the next and also depend on the time of day. It is, therefore, best to consult a schedule and plan journeys accordingly. 

Streetcars

The TECO Line Streetcar runs from Whiting and Franklin Streets in downtown Tampa to Centennial Park in Ybor City with 11 stops along this single route. The streetcar is mainly useful for tourists and convention-goers as the route runs past local shopping areas, entertainment districts and attractions including the Convention Centre, the Tampa Bay Time Forum and the Florida Aquarium. 

Streetcars are quite a novel way to get around so even if new arrivals don’t necessarily use them as a regular mode of transportation for commuting, they do provide a fun way to see some of the city’s main historic and cultural attractions.

Trollies

There is also a trolley system which serves the downtown area of Tampa. Although these diesel-fuelled buses look a little like streetcars, they aren’t electric and don’t run on a fixed track. The trolley services run in a north-south direction from the I-275, through downtown Tampa to the northern end of Harbour Island. 

There are 17 stops along the route and services run every 10 minutes from 6pm–9am and 3pm–6pm on weekdays. Trolley rides are incredibly affordable with day passes offering an even greater saving. Senior citizens, students and those with disabilities are entitled to a discount and children under the age of 4 travel free. 


Taxis in Tampa

Taxis are quite readily available in downtown Tampa and they're easy enough to hail outside any major attraction or along a busy shopping street. However, for those travelling from or around the suburbs, it is best to book a taxi ahead of time. 

While taxi fares in Tampa are reasonable, they might not be a financially viable mode for longer journeys. That said, it’s always useful to have a reputable taxi company’s number on hand. Well-established taxi companies include the United Cab Company, Tampa Taxi and Yellow Cab of Tampa. 


E-hailing in Tampa

Popular e-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are pretty well established in Tampa. Fares are similar to taxi prices, but e-hailing tends to be more reliable and efficient. Users simply need to download the relevant app onto their smartphone and register using a credit card.


Cycling in Tampa

Over the last decade or so Tampa has become a more cycle-friendly city. There are now over 100 miles of cycle lanes and trails in and around the city. City authorities have also installed hundreds of bike racks and shower/locker facilities scattered throughout the downtown area. Buses and trollies in Tampa also have a limited number of spots for the storage of bikes.

Coast Bikeshare Program is a great alternative for those that don’t own a bicycle of their own. With about 300 bikes scattered across 30 hubs around the city, it's easy for commuters to borrow bikes using an efficient mobile app. Depending on usage, people can opt to save by investing in a daily, monthly or annual membership. 


Walking in Tampa

On the whole, Tampa isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly city. That said, if new arrivals do want to get around without a personal vehicle or just enjoy getting some fresh air, there are certain neighbourhoods that are better explored on foot.  Downtown Tampa, Ybor City, the Channel District and Seminole Heights are all great places for a leisurely stroll. 


Driving in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa will find that having a car will make their life infinitely easier. Beyond the downtown area and selected routes that connect the city centre to the suburbs, public transport in Tampa is a little limited for most of the city’s residents. 

While the standard of road networks in Tampa are fairly good, as the city’s population grows traffic continues to worsen. It is particularly bad on I-275, I-4 and SR60 during rush hours from 7.30pm–9.30am and 3.30pm–7.30pm on weekdays.