Second in a series.
Tampa consistently ranks among the top cities to call home in the United States, but what’s it really like to live here?
Yes, beautiful beaches are only a short drive away, plenty of outdoor water activities are available on rivers, bays, and inland lakes, and the weather is usually terrific year-round, but what will your day-to-day life look like?
Say you’re a student at one of several colleges or universities? Or maybe you’re accepting a new job and you have spent less than 5 years working as a professional?
Ideally you’ll find a city with a reliable public transit system, an affordable cost of living, a vibrant night life, and a vibrant and eclectic food scene reflecting the city’s rich diversity of culture, right?
Tampa is rapidly getting there as a 24/7 city. Residents seem to be on the go round the clock -- walking, biking, driving, boating -- getting to a broad variety of jobs or giving back to local nonprofits, enjoying the arts, local festivals and music, dining out, and taking in the vibrant nightlife.
Despite a lack of citywide transit, the city offers lots of options for getting around. Scooters, skaters, runners, walkers, paddle boarders can be seen most everywhere. Ride-sharing is popular with the Downtowner, water taxis, ferries, a variety of private cabs and limited public bus service.
While not a perfect transportation system yet, community leaders, both public and private, are talking about solutions and making plans for the future.
Tampa’s award-winning international airport is phenomenal and growing. The city has sporadic train service and cruise ships come and go from the Port right in downtown.
Tampa even ranks number one in the nation for number of Bicycle Friendly Businesses, per the League of American Bicyclists in January 2021.
Diversity of lifestyles
Living in downtown Tampa provides not only an urban vibe, but easy access to The Tampa Riverwalk, Sparkman Wharf, Armature Works, the Oxford Exchange, and endless outdoor activities for those who like to engulf themselves in nature.
Tampa's most popular neighborhoods are often an eclectic mix of old, renovated, and new housing. The city has invested in significant sidewalk and bike path improvements in recent years along with mini parks for shade and dog parks for the canines among us. Even the downtown street grid has undergone improvements to remove most of the one-way streets to slow traffic, improve safety, and enable greater mobility. Empty blocks and more stagnant neighborhoods offer lots of opportunity for investments and improvements.
And if you're young and into the party scene, there are plenty of bars and restaurants, dance clubs and hookah lounges, mostly along South Howard Avenue in South Tampa and along Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. The music scene is hopping on weekends and most weeknights with a variety of concerts hosted year-round and covering all genres of music.
If you're a parent, the area offers a wide variety in size and quality among public and private schools as well as daycares and childcare centers. Finding the best fit will require some research, recommendations, and awareness of the differences.
Sherman Milton, real estate agent
Real estate agent Sherman Milton, a millennial who sells homes mostly to people in his same generation, sums up Tampa neighborhoods like this:
- Ybor City still owns the nightlife and bar scene;
- Channel District and central downtown offer mid- to high-rises in a very walkable area;
- Hyde Park features fine dining and retail outlets;
- Bayshore Boulevard is pricey with incredible water views; and
- Seminole Heights showcases historic homes and friendly mom and pop restaurants.
And, despite Tampa’s recent championship run among its major professional sports teams, tickets can easily be purchased to watch the Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning, and Buccaneers play on their home turf.
If you’re a ‘foodie’ or just love trying new cafes or restaurants, Tampa’s vibrant and growing food scene continues to rank high based on a variety of publications with its diverse options.
Endless outdoor activities
Those looking for a chance to spend their free time outdoors have plenty of hiking trails and state parks all within close proximity to the city. Check out Bayshore Boulevard, Courtney Campbell Trail, Upper Tampa Bay Trail, Ream Wilson Clearwater Trail, and paths and greenways that offer ample opportunities to bike or walk. And, within a two-hour drive, you can spend your day in the crystal-clear natural springs of Weeki Wachee, Silver Springs State Park, Rainbow Springs, Kelly Park/Rock Springs, or Devil’s Den Spring.
Or spend your day basking in the sun in your own backyard, local parks, or at multiple nearby beaches along Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, or find a place to go kayaking, boating, or fishing in salt, brackish, or fresh water along shorelines or on inland rivers and lakes.
If you’re looking to work out after your day of work, but also want to enjoy the weather, you can participate in one of the free weekly fitness classes held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Classes are offered Monday through Thursday, and also on Sundays at 6 p.m. There’s everything from yoga to barre and Zumba. More information on classes can be found on the Tampa Downtown Partnerships website.
“I had offers in Orlando, I had offers in Jacksonville, Melbourne, but I think what drew me to Tampa is that I’m a beach bum,” says Amr Khader, a pre-construction manager. “I love the beach, and the fact that it’s a lot of people Bryan McLaughlin, UT graduate who stayed in Tampa
my age that I can be around.”
A few years ago, there were a couple of thousand people living in downtown Tampa and now there are upwards of 16,000.
“I spend most of my free time out on the water, where I can get away for a while. Not only do I get a chance to follow my passion of spearfishing, but I’ve met so many amazing people just like me who have relocated here,” says Bryan Mclaughlin, account executive and recent University of Tampa graduate. “Then on days when the water’s too rough, I’m able to enjoy the city life.”
Why millennials are moving to Tampa