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Moving to Tampa

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, 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.

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.

Living in Tampa as an expat

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 the city, 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. 

Tampa’s economy is on the up, so newcomers with skills and experience in areas such as manufacturing, technology, finance and tourism will find plenty 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. Not only are properties spacious but there is also a strong sense of community in many of the neighbourhoods which will certainly help newcomers settle in. 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. 

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, Tampa makes it easy for new residents to find a local team to back. Tampa’s nightlife knows no bounds either, and there is no doubt that this is a city that knows how to have fun.

Cost of living in Tampa

Those moving to Tampa will be pleased to learn that the city's cost of living is slightly less than the national average. Salaries are also slightly lower than the national average, however, so new arrivals will need to consider their budget carefully. That said, if budgeting properly, new arrivals in Tampa can live an extremely comfortable life, with a good standard of living. 

Expat families and children

Tampa 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. Both foreigners and those moving from elsewhere in the US will be able to send their children to public schools in Tampa. That said, many expats may prefer the familiarity of an international school, particularly one that teaches the curriculum from back home. 

Families looking to have some fun on the weekends will be spoilt for choice in Tampa. From the range of parks and gorgeous outdoor areas in the city, to the zoos, aquarium and museums, expat families will certainly have their pick of fun activities. The city also hosts exciting events throughout the year with entertainment for both the young and the old. 

Climate in Tampa

Tampa’s year-round good weather continues to draw people from all over. With an average annual temperature of 72°F (22°C), it's easy to understand why this city has mass appeal. The climate also contributes to many 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.

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.

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, 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 from 65 to 95°F (18 to 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 summer. 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 averaging 70°F (24°C). Humidity levels are high at this time of the year and there is a good 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 high 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 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 city than its beautiful beaches. It’s important for prospective residents of Tampa to invest some of their time into 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, Tampa has a neighbourhood to suit everyone. 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 growing and it's doing slightly better than the US national average. Newcomers with skills and experience in sectors such as technology, healthcare and manufacturing will find lots of exciting career prospects in the city.

- CON: Wages are lower than in other US cities

Most people who 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 especially 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. When deciding on where to live, it's best to keep catchment areas in mind.

- 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. However, both private and international schools in Tampa charge high 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 good 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.

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 discover plenty of job opportunities in Tampa. Salaries in the city are a little lower than the national averages so those looking for lucrative employment packages may struggle here. 

Entrepreneurs wanting 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. 


Finding a job in Tampa

Potential new residents to Tampa can begin their job search online before arriving in the city. Online job portals are a great place to start and will give new arrivals an accurate idea of what jobs are available and which industries are hiring. Those who are not having luck searching online should consider approaching local recruitment agencies in Tampa, as these professionals will have all the knowledge of local businesses, who's hiring and maybe even specific information regarding company culture. 

Those who plan to find a job once already in the city can also look in local newspapers. Networking is also always a good way for new residents to expand their contacts and get a foot in the door with prospective companies. 


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 may 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. Those considering a move to Tampa will be pleased to learn that the city's cost of living is slightly less than the US national average, although it is a fraction higher than the Florida state 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 until 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 a property at some stage. In general, though, housing prices are more affordable in Tampa than 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.


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 children. Tampa offers newcomers a broad range of public and private school options.

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


Cost of healthcare in Tampa

There are a number of good healthcare facilities in Tampa. The cost of healthcare here 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 plenty 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 attempt to 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. 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 adds 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 January 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 1,200 – 2,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 900 – 1,500

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,800 – 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,400 – 2,900

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.45

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.65

Loaf of bread

USD 2.95

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 15

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 7.60

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8.50

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.20

Cappuccino

USD 4.30

Local beer (500ml)

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 66

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 155

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 2.50

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 2

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.80

Accommodation in Tampa

Prospective residents looking to settle down in Tampa will be pleased to know that the city has a wide range of housing options, with something to suit just about every taste and budget. Most newcomers rent initially while they find their feet and get a feel for the city and its neighbourhoods. 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 in Tampa

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 upsides 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.

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 their 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 types of property available 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 standard. 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. 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.

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 here 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 Gardens

Carver City-Lincoln Gardens is full to the brim with trendy bars, quirky boutique shops and a broad range of eateries. The area is popular with a liberal crowd mostly made up of young professionals and small families. There are a number of excellent public and private schools in the area, making it a good spot for those with children.


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 good balance of urban and 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's 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 tend to have a car of their own. The homes in the area are mainly spacious family abodes and townhouses 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

Those who are moving to Florida to be by the water should consider Beach Park. 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. 

Healthcare in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa can rest assured that they’ll be in safe hands as far as their 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 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. Tampa 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

AdventHealth Carrollwood 

Website: www.adventhealth.com
Address: 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33614

Memorial Hospital of Tampa

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

Kindred Hospital Tampa

Website: www.kindredhealthcare.com
Address: 4555 South Manhattan Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611

Tampa General Hospital

Website: www.tgh.org
Address: 1 Tampa General Circle, Tampa, FL 33606

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 Tampa with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions on the area or suburb they plan to live in.

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


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. Public school admission is determined according to 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 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 subset 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 that 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. Private schools tend to offer a higher standard of teaching and better facilities than most public schools.

Naturally, the downside of private education is the cost. Parents who choose to send their children 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 of 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 a new 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 here.

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. 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.


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. 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 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 city through its wealth of attractions. From scenic parks to historic buildings and fascinating museums, there is plenty to see and do in Tampa. 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.

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. 

Tampa Theatre

Dating back to 1926, 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. Here, cinema-goers can view a great selection of documentaries and art films.

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. 

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 Greek and Roman antiquities to modern photography. The Tampa Museum of Art is driven by a commitment to provide Florida residents with innovative public arts programmes. With a dynamic schedule of exhibitions, new arrivals will need to visit this attraction more than once to truly do it justice. 


Annual events in Tampa

Newcomers to Tampa will quickly learn that locals love to have a good time. This is evident in the city's packed and exciting events 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 it's food, cocktails, art or family-friendly fun that new arrivals are after, Tampa won’t disappoint.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival (January)

Described as ‘the Mardi Gras but with pirates’, the Gasparilla Pirate is one of Tampa’s favourite 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.

Florida State Fair (February)

Each February, the annual Florida State Fair takes place in Tampa. Visitors are treated to live performances by local musicians, food stalls and art exhibits, and children have 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. 

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 under-represented communities. The event is bright, colourful and noisy, and features a broad range of art exhibits, photo displays and musical performances. 

Tampa RiverFest (May)

This free event takes place along the Tampa Riverwalk, and features a number of stages showcasing music acts. Encompassing the best of the Cigar City’s food, culture and music, this is an event for the whole family. Many museums also offer discounts, so be sure to pop in. Without a doubt, the hot air balloon glow is a RiverFest highlight. 

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival (May)

New residents are sure to have a blast as they join Tampa residents and indulge in a sneaky margarita (or three!). 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 in for a treat.

Getting Around in Tampa

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


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 varies from one route to the next and also depend on the time of day, so it's 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.


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. That said, for those travelling from or around the suburbs, it's 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, but 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. 

Popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are pretty well established in Tampa. Fares are similar to taxi prices, but ride-hailing tends to be more reliable and efficient. Users simply need to download the relevant app onto their smartphone and register using a bank 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 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, riders 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 heavy on I-275, I-4 and SR60 during morning and late afternoon on weekday's.

Holders of a foreign driver's licence can use it for up to 30 days after they become a Florida resident, at which point they'll need to obtain a local licence to keep driving.