Is a change in life taking you across the peninsula and up I-75? To be sure, it’s hard to say goodbye to those South Florida sunrises and the cultural richness of the Miami-to-Palm-Beaches corridor, but there’s still a lot to love about the fast-growing Tampa-St. Petersburg area. If work, family, or a simple change of pace should take you to the Gulf side, here’s a little of what to know before moving to the Tampa suburbs.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who have long struggled to draw drivers to their St. Petersburg home, would be happy to tell you about the challenging drive times in the area. Similar to the San Francisco Bay Area, the bay-and-peninsula shape of Tampa-St. Pete makes many destinations tough to reach. Without robust public transit, that means some of the worst traffic in the nation. The bottlenecks may not be as bad as the infamous cases up in Atlanta, but nonetheless, be prepared to find more companionship from your car stereo than you may have been used to in South Florida—itself no haven for quick and easy commutes.
Beware of Aging Septic Tanks
This should be familiar to many South Floridians. Nearly one-third of Florida households don’t connect to a municipal wastewater system, instead relying on a freestanding septic tank to handle waste. This is the case throughout much of suburban and exurban Tampa and has been for many years. Some tank constructions age more quickly than others, so if you move into a new home of older housing stock, be forewarned that the septic tank beneath your new property could be nearing its expiration date.
No Relief From HOA Headaches
Florida trails only California—and not by much—in its number of homeowners’ associations, with nearly 49,000 such groups throughout the state. Just as they did in South Florida, HOAs loom large in the Tampa burbs as well. You may have balked at some of the restrictive rules and regulations that exist in these groups. Unfortunately, you may have to navigate those covenants and restrictions once more as you settle into a safe and comfortable community.
The Best of Both Worlds
Even though traffic can be tricky at rush hour, part of what to know before moving to the Tampa suburbs is that you’ll be able to enjoy frequent visits to a fast-ascending major city. Though Miami gets all the attention as Florida’s cultural hub, Tampa is nothing to sneeze at, with the Florida Aquarium and Salvador Dalí Museum both within what can be, at the right time, a reasonable drive away. Don’t forget the sports—thanks to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, the loaded Lightning, and the pennant-winning Rays, Tampa is well on its way to being a City of Champions.