The Saint Petersburg-Clearwater-Tampa scene is an up-and-coming area with endless potential for any age! In recent years the bay area has grown wildly in appeal and development. From the vibrant downtown nightlife, to the new age artisan avenues of Gulfport, to the quaint tree lined neighborhood streets of Seminole, there is something for everyone here. The reasons for moving to this area can be endless, however, here are the top 10 reasons to call the Bay Area home!
Low Cost of Living
Start with the happy fact that you no longer need winter coats, boots, scarves, and mittens. And, keep smiling when you learn that residential monthly electric bills will be surprisingly lower, even if you factor in the warmer summer months. Florida has no state income tax, property taxes are much lower, and home prices are less for comparable living space, compared to most areas of the country. With all the sunshine, you can even grow some of your own produce at home, shaving hundreds off the annual grocery bill. Or visit downtown St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market for veggies fresh from the farm and more.
Dolphins in Your Backyard
If you’ve always dreamed of a waterfront home, you will find everything from charming beach cottages, towering condominiums with balcony views, custom-built mansions, contemporary single-family homes along canals, as well as villas, carriage and town homes in gated, master-planned communities with lakes stocked with fish. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 137.6 square miles (356.4 km2). 61.7 square miles (159.9 km2) of it is land, and 75.9 square miles (196.5 km2) of it or 55.13percent is water. Rest assured, wherever you live will be near water. Where else can you find dolphins in your backyard?
Growing up across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, I did not truly appreciate Treasure Island beach. Sometimes we need to go away and come back to realize the value of what we had. Even after a career that included travel to Caribbean islands, The Bahamas, and Ocean City, my vote for the city with the best and most accessible beaches is still St. Petersburg, hands down. Joint efforts on the part of Pinellas County, the State of Florida, our local beach municipalities and citizen volunteers employed in dune replanting make you realize how important the beaches are to local residents, as well as tourists. St. Petersburg is one of the few destinations where you can see both sunrise and sunset. And until you’ve seen the famous green flash from any of the beaches of St. Petersburg, your bucket list is not complete.
Pediatricians actually outnumber gerontologists here—so much for the stereotype as a city for old people! HCA’s West Florida Division is the largest healthcare system in the Tampa Bay area. Emergency room wait times below the national average are posted on hospital websites, billboards or by texting “ER” to 23000 – what technology! A total of 10 hospitals in St. Petersburg are served by a network of medical specialists throughout Pinellas County. And nearby Tampa General Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center rank number one and two respectively in the area. ¹ Three of the hospitals are acute care centers and the award-winning All Children’s Hospital, a Johns Hopkins Medicine facility, treats critically ill children from all over the state of Florida.
¹U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospital Survey 2012-13
“Only in St. Pete” is a frequent refrain here. We roll our eyes when traffic stops on 66th Street to allow a mother duck and her ducklings to cross the six-lane road. Turtles and tortoises are gently turned around when they wander into dangerous territory. Dog friendly beaches and parks can be found here.Travelocity lists nearly 60 pet-friendly hotels where the whole family can stay as you relocate. Animal lovers are good people and more than 100 neighborhoods throughout St. Petersburg are populated by kind, generous humans who rally for local causes, support each other, and exhibit pride in their “Burg.”
Unlimited Outdoor Activities
If you are seeking opportunities to spend more time outdoors, you will love the Florida lifestyle in St. Petersburg. Our area is a sporting paradise for participants and spectators alike. St. Pete is the home of major league baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and a Guinness World Record sanctioned autographed baseball collection that has been named Little Cooperstown. Every year, downtown becomes a raceway for theFirestone Grand Prix. Play tennis or golf, go biking and birding or indulge your favorite water sports in the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay or numerous lakes. Sunken Gardens is now a century old collection of Florida’s botanical best. Walk through Roser Park, an outdoor museum dedicated to the historic district. Nearly every community offers a recreation area, and, if not, you can go to one of 150 county parks where children’s playgrounds, ball fields, racquetball courts, bicycle and walking trails abound. Even the shuffleboard courts here have achieved international renown.
Year-Round Fruit and Flowers
St. Pete is quite simply, pretty, with tree-lined streets, flowering bushes, and green lawns. Thanks to wise city leaders in the 1970s, reclaimed water is used for irrigation keeping everything lush. Northerners will admittedly miss the marked change of seasons, but it won’t be long before you appreciate brilliant red Royal Poinciana, purple Jacaranda, and yellow Tabebuia trees, wafting scents from jasmine and orange blossom, fresh aloe and surprising night-blooming cactus. Winter here brings bright impatiens, bougainvillea,hibiscus and begonias in a variety of colors. Neighbors welcome help harvesting grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, and avocados. Soon you’ll be stringing holiday lights on palm fronds, too.
Entertainment and Attractions
Hop on a trolley, ferry, helicopter, or Segway to tour downtown St. Pete during the day. At night, discover jazz clubs, beach bars, and restaurants with an array of talented musicians who continue to play after hours so diners can dance off their meals. You’ll find ballroom dancing, stand-up comedy, and poetry readings, or head to Gulfport Casino (though deceptively named) for swing and salsa dance events. No less than nine festivals take place here annually, notably the EATS festival downtown and Bands on the Sand each Memorial Day in Treasure Island, providing plenty of wide beach to stretch out and watch the world go by. You might even have a chance to be the entertainment since this area’s Film Commission attracts lots of film crews that need extras. Keep a watchful eye for celebrities. St. Pete/Clearwater has been the location for such films as Dolphin Tales 1 and 2, Six Dance lessons in Six Weeks, The Investigator, Sunlight Jr., Spring Breakers, and Magic Mike.
Arts, Culture and Music
American Style magazine ranked St. Petersburg its top mid-size city in 2011, a testament to the vibrant arts community. Artists here are opening galleries, sponsoring art shows, putting on plays, and hosting special events to celebrate visual and performing arts. Several downtown venues combine with the local college theaters to offer artistic programming year round. Among an impressive list of five museums is the Dali, a unique structure that is art in itself, built to house the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Europe. For eclectic local art, experience the Old Florida feel of Gulfport and its Art Village Courtyard.
St. Petersburg averages 361 days of sunshine each year. Need we say more?