Located about halfway down the Florida peninsula, close to the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is one of Florida’s finest cities. But despite the city’s reputation for good food, good weather, and good times, many may worry about things like crime or hurricanes. So is Tampa, Florida, a good place to live?
Tampa is a great place to live! The city has a ton of amenities, including a huge assortment of dining options, great shopping, and easy access to the beach. Add in the warm weather, great schools, and vibrant local culture, and it’s easy to see that Tampa is one of the best cities in Florida.
So how is the weather in Tampa? Are hurricanes a big problem? Is there good transit? How are the schools and hospitals? Please continue on to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Tampa: Something for Everyone
Whether you’re approaching retirement age and looking for a place to settle or a young college student just starting out, Tampa is a great place to live. There is endless entertainment in the city, plus it’s close to the beach and just over an hour away from Orlando. Cigar City, as it is sometimes called, has something for everyone.
So Tampa is fun, but is it a good place to live? Let’s take a closer look at this gorgeous city and see how it stacks up.
Tampa is a sunny place. Residents enjoy about 246 sunny days a year, well above the U.S. average of 205 sunny days a year. However, it is also a rainy place. Tampa averages 51 inches of rain annually, versus the U.S. average of about 38 inches. Much of this rain comes during the summer storms — Tampa doesn’t tend to have long periods of gray skies and drizzle.
Tampa is quite hot. The summer months, especially July and August, can be scorching. You should expect high temperatures near 90 plus high humidity, which can lead to heat indexes of more than 100 degrees. The late autumn through early spring tends to be far more comfortable, with temperatures in the 70’s and lower humidity.
Tampa is not immune to hurricanes, but it doesn’t get hit as much as Atlantic-coast cities like Miami. This fact is due to some quirks in the local topography and oceanography that tend to direct most hurricanes offshore. In fact, since reliable record-keeping began, the city has only suffered four major hurricanes that have caused property damage and loss of life.
If a hurricane does strike Tampa, remember that the most significant hazards in a hurricane are storm surge, flooding, heavy winds, and tornadoes. So stay away from beaches and the coastline and hunker down at home or evacuate if directed. Even though Tampa is not prone to terrible hurricanes, it’s a good idea to keep water, food, batteries, flashlights, and other essential supplies in stock, so you don’t have to panic-shop when the storm comes.
Like any major city, Tampa has some crime. However, the city’s overall crime rate is below that of the average American city. Cities like Dallas, for example, experience much more crime than Tampa.
Much of the crime in Tampa is minor crime like petty theft and assault. While it’s impossible to prevent crime completely, you can minimize your likelihood of being a victim. Keep your wits about you, pay close attention to your surroundings, listen to your gut feelings, and don’t go looking for trouble. If you’re a regular person living an ordinary life in Tampa, you probably won’t experience much crime.
Tampa’s public school system is well-regarded and has earned an overall grade of B+ from Niche.com. The pride of Tampa’s public school system is Plant High School, which boasts a 96% graduation rate and an average SAT score of 1240!
Tampa also has an assortment of private and charter schools available. The best prep school in Tampa, and arguably the best in Florida, is Berkeley Preparatory School. Your child can spend their entire educational career from pre-K to high school at Berkeley and will come out prepared to head to college or pursue their destiny wherever it takes them.
If you or your kids are looking at college, Tampa is home to many fine institutions of higher learning, including:
- University of South Florida
- University of Tampa
- Hillsborough Community College
- Strayer University
- South University
Phenomenal Florida Fun Fact: Tampa is home to Gasparilla, an annual pirate-themed festival that celebrates the legacy of notorious Tampa pirate Jose Gaspar, whose reign of terror was ended by the U.S. Navy in 1821. Celebrants stage a mock pirate attack on Tampa, which culminates in them being handed the keys to the city by the mayor.
People need hospitals. Even the healthiest among us can fall off a ladder, get hit by a car, or accidentally cut yourself while cooking. Luckily, Tampa has some of the best hospitals around.
For traumatic injuries, Tampa General Hospital has an excellent trauma program. TGH is also a teaching hospital and, as such, has access to cutting-edge medical technologies.
Another excellent local hospital is St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, which treats children with injuries or illnesses ranging from a minor boo-boo to a broken leg or rare genetic conditions.
St. Joseph’s Hospital is an adult hospital that can treat nearly any medical condition you can imagine. Of course, there are many other hospitals in Tampa, but these are among the best.
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Transit in Tampa is run by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or the HART. Florida’s peculiar geology does not lend itself to subways or other subterranean travel, so the HART runs buses throughout the Tampa Bay area.
If you don’t care to ride the bus, Tampa has many ride-share drivers for services like Uber and Lyft. There are also many private taxis and car services available.
What about those who prefer to travel on foot? Tampa has many walkable neighborhoods, but it would be difficult to get around solely on foot or by bicycle, especially if you travel between communities.
Neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Channelside, and Uptown are very walkable and bike-friendly, but others are far less walkable. If you plan to walk or bike, bring water: Tampa tends to be hot, especially when you’re out on the pavement.
Food and Drink
Eating and drinking are among life’s great pleasures, and Tampa has an incredible variety of delicious goodies available. For breakfast, we recommend finding a local Cuban café and getting yourself a cafecito and a guava pastry. Cafecito is a special Cuban espresso with a sweetened sugar crema on top that is…well, just have one and thank us later.
For lunch, you can find anything from fast food to gourmet soups and salads, sandwiches, ethnic food, hamburgers, pizza, or even seafood. Perhaps the best lunch option in Tampa is Thee Burger Spot, which makes unbelievable hamburgers.
What about dinner? Tampa has everything from Applebee’s to Texas de Brazil. Probably the most famous dinner spot is Bern’s Steakhouse, which has a formal dress code and an entire dessert room. Not in the mood to dress up? Try the Chop Chop Shop for tasty Asian-fusion cuisine.
Tampa is a highly entertaining city. Sports fans will love the pro sports scene in Tampa. Footballs fans will want to head to Raymond James Stadium to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crush the opposition. And despite the heat, Tampa has its own NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nothing is better than watching the Lightning play at Amalie Arena and cheering with the crowd.
One of Tampa’s premier entertainment options is Busch Gardens. This theme park features educational and interactive exhibits with wildlife, but also offers thrilling and exciting roller coasters. Adventure Island, Busch Gardens’ water park, features fun water rides and is a wonderful place to take the kids in the heat of the summer.
Looking for more? Tampa also has:
- Movie theaters
- Easy access to beaches and boat ramps
- The Museum of Science and Industry
- The Florida Aquarium
- Lowry Park Zoo
For the shoppers in your family, Tampa has several high-end shopping malls. International Plaza is a high-end mall featuring retailers like Nordstrom, Apple, Crate & Barrel, and Williams-Sonoma. Citrus Park Town Center is another popular shopping center in Tampa that offers shoppers an astounding variety of retail establishments.
Hyde Park Village is another popular shopping area, but it has the unique twist of being in a more residential area – it feels far more like walking in a neighborhood than like going to the mall. It also features unique experiences like The Candle Pour, where you can make a custom-scented candle, and The Cake Drip, where you can indulge in high-end treats and make custom candies in a dizzyingly exciting atmosphere.
Tampa: A Fine City Indeed!
Florida is a gorgeous place to live, and Tampa is one of the best cities in the Sunshine State. Between the endless entertainment and dining options, the convenient location, and the incredible amenities, it’s easy to see why more than 300,000 people call Tampa home. So if you’re thinking about moving to Tampa, we say that you should pack your bags and come on down – once you settle in The Big Guava, you’ll never look back!