Tampa is one of the most appealing cities in Florida. It’s a beautiful city with a rich history, a colorful local culture, a ton of stuff to do, and a great atmosphere, which makes it highly desirable. But is it expensive to live in Tampa?
Tampa is a reasonably priced city. It is more expensive than the median American city but less expensive than metros like San Diego or New York. For example, a family of four will need an income of $50,000 to $90,000 to live in Tampa; a single adult can live in the city for about $32,000 a year.
So how much does housing cost in Tampa? What about commuting expenses, utilities, groceries, and entertainment? Will I need to cash out my retirement funds or win the lottery to live in Tampa? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and to see if Tampa is in your price range.
Life In The Big Guava
Living in Tampa is a great experience. The city’s location is convenient for mariners and fishermen, and it is just a short drive from the beautiful beaches of Pinellas County – and only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Disney World. Even without leaving town, Tampa has plenty to offer just about everyone. In addition, the crime rate is below the national average. Let’s discuss how much it costs to live in this fabulous city.
The real estate market in Tampa has been a seller’s market for some time, a trend that is likely to continue. Median home prices in Tampa are approximately $350,000. The average rent in the city is between $1,500 and $2,000 a month.
According to Census data, Tampa is more expensive than the median American city but much less expensive than places like Dallas or San Diego. As a result, many people opt to live in nearby bedroom communities to enjoy the amenities of the city without killing their wallets. Lakeland, a significant and growing city, is just a half-hour or so away.
Transportation expenses in Tampa vary depending on your specific needs, but you should expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 a year for transportation. If you commute by car, you will want to obtain a Sunpass transponder to save money on tolls: many local roads, like the Selmon Expressway, are tolled. On the bright side, gasoline in Tampa generally costs less than the national average.
In terms of transit, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) offers inexpensive and reliable transportation via bus routes. For example, a 31-day pass on the express lines is only $95, or you can enjoy the local and limited express pass for just $65 for 31 days. Not sure where to get a bus pass? Use the convenient and free Flamingo Fares app.
Phenomenal Florida Fun Fact: Tampa’s most common nickname is Cigar City due to the city’s history in cigar-making. However, the city is also called The Big Guava as a tribute to businessman Gavino Gutierrez, whose exploration of guava farming in Tampa led cigar magnate Vicente Martinez-Ybor to relocate to Tampa from Key West.
Recent data shows Tampa utility bills are lower than the national average. The average utility bill in Tampa is about $238 per month, compared to a national average of about $316 a month.
However, like other cities in Florida, the need for air conditioning during most of the year will drive up your utility bill – your summer bill will likely be much higher than your winter bill.
TECO, Tampa’s electricity provider, has a number of energy-audit programs and other programs designed to help residents keep their electricity bills in check.
Childcare, unfortunately, is not cheap. Residents of Tampa should expect to pay anywhere from $130 a week and up for childcare. But, of course, there’s no upper limit to this particular expense. You can hire a private nanny to help with the little ones if you have the dough.
If you’re of family age, you can probably convince mom and pop to move to Tampa with you to help with the kids. Mom will love the massive assortment of retail shopping available, and Dad will love the nearby sports arenas and the world-class fishing.
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Tampa’s food scene ranges from fast-food joints to high-end gourmet dining. For a nice meal, we recommend The Columbia; the prices are moderate, but the food is just the best. And while you’re in Tampa, you absolutely must get a Cuban Sandwich!
Back to the topic at hand: how much should you expect to pay to eat out in Tampa? On average, diners in Tampa should expect to pay about $35 a day for meals. There are plenty of great and inexpensive restaurants in Tampa, but of course, you can spend much more on a visit to Charley’s or Bern’s.
Groceries are essential: we all need to eat! You should expect to pay about $400 per person per month for food in Tampa. This amount is about 7% more expensive than Omaha and 11% more expensive than Asheville, but less costly than the Miami metro.
So how can you save money on food in Tampa? For starters, consider a membership at a discount club. There are several Costco locations in the Tampa metro. Shopping at big-box stores like Wal-Mart or Target can save you money on non-perishable items like soup and cereal. Avoid stores like Dollar General or Family Dollar; they often mark up the prices on food items.
Finally, while we all love Publix (I know we keep saying it but seriously, get yourself a chicken tender sub), this beloved grocery chain often charges more for staple items than competitors. So you may be able to shave dollars off your bill by shopping at competing grocers like Winn Dixie.
We all want to live long and healthful lives, so exercise and healthcare are essential. The cheapest way to exercise in Tampa is to go outside. There are many walking trails that are great for stretching your legs and getting some light exercise. The Hillsborough River State Park has excellent hiking trails too. Paddling sports like kayaking and paddleboarding are also fantastic ways to get exercise outdoors.
If you prefer the gym, Tampa has plenty to choose from. You can pay as little as $10 a month for a great gym like Planet Fitness, but there are also specialty gyms that can cost between $50 and $100 a month in the area.
Love it or hate it, we all need to go to the doctor at some point. Tampa is home to many excellent healthcare providers, including world-renowned Tampa General Hospital and major health systems like BayCare and Advent Health. These systems have doctors’ offices throughout the city, and there are plenty of specialists and subspecialists who can care for just about any health need.
Of course, this all comes at a price. The average Floridian spends $7,389 a year on health insurance, making it more expensive than other states. This average may be skewed by Florida’s popularity among older Americans, who often have more expensive health needs than younger Americans.
On average, Florida’s healthcare costs are somewhat higher than the rest of the nation. According to the Florida Health Price Finder, things like primary care visits are slightly more expensive, while other things like appendectomies are less expensive. Of course, your specific healthcare costs will vary based on your level of health, your insurance, and other factors.
Tampa is home to four major sports arenas: Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning; Raymond James Stadium, home of the famous football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the Yuengling Center (USF Sun Dome), home of the USF Bulls; and Steinbrenner Field, home of New York Yankees spring training. Plus, the Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg. The sports fan in the family will love living in Tampa and being so close to professional sports teams.
How much does it set you back to go to one of these games? There’s no upper limit – you could easily spend 10 grand on box seats – but regular people like us can go to games for anywhere from $40 to $100 a ticket, depending on your seats.
Tampa is also home to Busch Gardens, where visitors can enjoy seeing fun animals and learning about nature while also experiencing the thrill of awesome rides like the Cheetah Hunt, Cobra’s Curse, and Sheikra. Tickets start at $90, but residents can enjoy annual passes at prices between $153 a year and $399 a year.
Another noteworthy attraction in Tampa is the Florida Aquarium. You can see everything from an amazing Goliath Grouper to sea turtles and sharks here. Prices vary, but adults should expect to pay about $30, and kids cost about $25.
Cigar City: Gran Corona Quality, Robusto Prices
Tampa is a beautiful and fun city that is highly desirable to live in. Cigar City is close to some of the best beaches on earth and just a short drive from the world-famous attractions of Orlando, but it has a lot of charm and fun to offer on its own.
Tampa is more expensive than the median American town, but it’s not nearly as expensive as other major metros like Dallas or New York. So if you have a decent job and you’re willing to manage your expenses, you can easily afford to live in this grand city!