Ever since I’ve moved to St. Pete I’ve heard all sorts of generalizations about the southern part of our city. If you’ve never been here before and you ask for advice online from locals many will say “Avoid anything South of Central Avenue”. There is a huge stigma about South St. Pete and honestly it’s very misguided. It’s about time someone put a stop to these broad generalizations about this area. I live in South St. Pete, I love it down here and I’ll tell you why in this article. Next time someone tells you to avoid all of South St. Pete you can say “Well Chris Formico says your opinion is misguided and you should feel bad about it”. With that said, let’s get started in my pick for the Top 11 Neighborhoods To Live In South St. Pete, Florida.
11. Bayou Shores / Highlands
I used to live here before I bought my condo. I was lucky enough to find an apartment overlooking Big Bayou which is the body of water in Tampa Bay between mainland Pinellas and Coquina Key. Waking up everyday to a view of the ocean was amazing. Especially since I was paying less than average rent for a one bedroom apartment in the St. Pete area. It’s located in the Southside and many people just wouldn’t even consider it. I lived there for two years, would often look out my window to see ospreys circling the sky, fish jumping in the bayou and dolphins swimming through looking for food around dusk. I was about 2 miles south of Downtown so I’d usually bike up there a couple times a week. The whole area between the mainland and Coquina Key is gorgeous waterfront. I would often run along this waterfront and look at some of the unique homes in the area.
People were always curious about the area I lived in since it was the general consensus that most people avoided the south side. In the two years I was there, a couple cars in my apartment complex were broken into but that was the worst of it. Honestly that happens in every neighborhood to some degree. Once my friends came to visit me they were always complimentary and a bit jealous that I had this awesome waterfront view for less than what they were paying. This same concept applies to buying real estate in this area. There are plenty of nice neighborhoods where your money will get you much more than other more established areas of St. Pete.
10. Coquina Key
Coquina Key was directly across the bayou from where I lived. I could see the North Waterside Condo Community from my living room window. Coquina Key is a small island comprised of single family homes and two notable condo / townhome communities. Waterside at Coquina Key is an amazing community of condos and townhomes with the vast majority of these units having ocean views or canal access. There are two communities within this development – Waterside North and Waterside South which are on opposite ends of the small island.
Waterside South is typically viewed as the more desirable community. Residents here enjoy boat slips to rent or own, a volleyball court, shuffleboard, a community gathering area complete with a pool/hot tub deck, clubhouse and bar overlooking Tampa Bay. Some people who live here don’t leave for days at a time because it is literally like being on vacation living here. The community even puts together events for it’s residents to add to the social aspect of this complex.
Waterside North is pretty nice too but a little more tame. They have a pool and a club house and the same floorplans as Waterside South. The residents here also have access to all of the amenities at Waterside South. One thing to note – I showed a condo here in December of 2017 and Waterside North is under pending litigation. My buyer was interested in putting in an offer however these units are not able to be financed when an association is dealing with the litigation process. To my surprise this only applied to Waterside North and not South. Both Waterside North & South are gated communities with manned security. Here is our page with all of the current Waterside North & South listings.
Right next to Waterside North is a completely separate town home community appropriately dubbed Coquina Key Townhomes. I’ve always liked these units and I think they provide a pretty solid value for what they are. None of these are waterfront however it’s a gated community built in 2005 with block construction and high quality finishes. The community is located right by the entrance to the island and it is less than 10 minutes to Downtown St. Pete. Most of these townhomes are around 1500 square feet with a spacious layout of living area below and bedrooms up top. You get much more space for your money in this community compared to the Waterside community and a better build quality as well in my opinion. It is a relatively small community and there aren’t always listings available so feel free to Contact Us Hereand I’ll take a look to see if I can find any units available for you.
The rest of Coquina Key is made up of single family homes. They range from small two bedroom one bath homes to custom waterfront mansions. This is one of the areas I would keep an eye on if you’re looking for a house in an appreciating neighborhood. It’s still not as established as other neighborhoods in the area and if you buy right then you can have a solid chance at using your home as an appreciating asset as you put money into your home and the market matures. If you’d like us to do a search for you and see if we can dig up any homes with appreciating potential feel free to reach out to us.
9. Bahama Shores
I didn’t realize that this neighborhood existed for a long time and I was amazed at how gorgeous it was when I finally did find it. Bahama Shores is a upscale neighborhood on the south side off the beaten path. For whatever reason it’s kind of rare that homes go up for sale in this area. That must be a sign that people are happy living here. Usually the words upscale and south side don’t really go together when you’re talking about St. Pete but this neighborhood is an exception. A significant part of the neighborhood is comprised of waterfront homes and in the remaining portion you will find well maintained homes and meticulously maintained lawns.
One thing I like about this area is the lack of traffic. The east side of South Pinellas is not the closest neighborhood to I-275 which may make your commute a little bit longer however when you live down here you’ll notice that there is almost never enough traffic to slow you down. Locally in the Bahama Shores neighborhood you will find brick lined streets and large mature trees. This picture below shows a gorgeous banyan tree in this neighborhood.
8. Lakewood Estates
This is an interesting neighborhood. Located just south of Lake Maggiore, this neighborhood is both a residential neighborhood and a golf course. The vast majority of neighborhoods in Pinellas County are located on a grid with Avenues stretching from east to west and Lanes traveling from North to South. This makes for a lot of straight streets and 90 degree corners. Not the most exciting layout however Lakewood Estates is a bit different. These streets are designed around the golf course so it makes it for a more curvy, unpredictable layout which gives it some character. Lakewood Estates is home to St. Petersburg Country Club which is a private members only golf club.
You’ll notice the buffer between the alligators that live in Lake Maggiore and the Lakewood Estates neighborhood is something called Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. This is a gorgeous outdoor retreat with nature paths, alligator lookout points, and even a portion where they take care of caged birds of prey includes eagles and owls. One of the great things about this city is that the people who originally developed the land had the foresight to allocate space for locals to enjoy nature. There is everything from waterfront parks, dog parks, nature preserves, picnic areas and more at these parks through St. Pete. Here’s a link to the city park directory to see what’s out there.
Broadwater is a community comprised of mostly waterfront homes in southwest St. Pete. This neighborhood has always been nice however the surrounding area was not always the best. In 2013 The City of St. Pete designated The Skyway Marina District as a vital redevelopment area. This is the southernmost point of Pinellas and is the gateway into our county. The other road that passes east through this area is also one of the main access points to our beautiful beaches. The city wanted to make a better first impression on folks that are coming over the Skyway and seeing St. Pete for the first time.
For years this area was a bunch of run down vacant shops. It has only recently started to transform from local government incentives giving a push to new local business owners as well as larger corporations. It still has a long way to go but there is a comprehensive plan set forth to completely transform this whole area. Many of the South St. Pete neighborhoods I’m mentioning in this article will benefit from the redevelopment of The Skyway Marina District.
6. Warehouse Arts District / Palmetto Park
If you’re familiar with Kenwood, you know that it used to be a run down neighborhood with a bunch of historic homes that were falling into disrepair. Kenwood is now one of the hottest neighborhoods to live in, in all of St. Pete. Part of this revitalization had to do with the development of all the businesses on Central Ave in The Grand Central District.
Kenwood is north of Grand Central, the Warehouse Arts District is just south of it. The good news is that this neighborhood is still up and coming. While Kenwood is now an established neighborhood, The Warehouse Arts District still has many homes in disrepair but also has an immense amount of home flipping as well as new home construction. If you’re looking for a great up and coming area, this is it. If you buy right you will most likely see significant appreciation in your home in the next 5-10 years. Here’s an article I wrote on up and coming areas that includes more information on this area.
The Grand Central District is becoming the next best alternative to Downtown. While Downtown is busy and loud, Grand Central has a much more relaxed environment and is less congested. There are many great bars, restaurants and especially art friendly establishments in this area. If you’d like to get a taste of this area be sure to check out The Second Saturday Artwalk where about 20-25 art galleries open up their doors to the public to check out their art for sale and many also have live art demonstrations. The vast majority of these art shops are located in and around The Grand Central District.
The city of St. Pete hired a professional film crew to document different neighborhoods around the area.They call it the Living Local series. Here’s a well done video showing the local area and residents of Palmetto Park.
5. Pinellas Point
Pinellas Point is dear to my heart because this is where I bought my first home and live now. I like this area for a number of reasons. A lot of these reasons I didn’t realize until I actually lived here and saw how it compared to other neighborhoods.
First of all I like how it’s still up and coming. The homes here are typically sold at a lower price per square foot than other neighborhoods in North St. Pete. I would rather buy a home in an area that has potential to appreciate than a home where the local market seems to have topped out in value. Another thing to note is that many of these homes are block construction and in a non-flood zone. This is the perfect situation for a first time home buyer to keep their costs down.
I like how it’s close to both Downtown and the Beach. It’s about a ten minute drive to Downtown and about 15 minutes to the beach. The drive to the beach almost seems closer because the view along the way is gorgeous.
Like I mentioned before, I appreciate the minimal amount of traffic. If you go to areas like Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park and parts of North St. Pete, the traffic is insane. Our roads don’t really serve as a thoroughfare for people who don’t live here, it’s mostly just people who live in the area. 54th Ave S also serves as an access point to I-275. Without much traffic it’s always super easy to get on the highway.
I like how it’s quiet. As much as I’d like to live near Downtown one day, I like being able to sit on my patio and hear nature. There are a lot of nice areas of Pinellas Point that are many times overlooked.
4. South Pasadena
South Pasadena isn’t a neighborhood in St. Pete, it’s actually it’s own city within Pinellas County. Located between mainland Pinellas and the beaches, South Pasadena is a great place to live if you want to be close to the beach but not have to constantly deal with all the congestion on Gulf Blvd especially during tourist season.
Here you will find well maintained single family homes, waterfront properties and also a few condo buildings that overlook the intercoastal waterway. Some of these condos are restricted to folks in the 55+ age range. On a side note here is our page that shows all 55+ condos currently for sale in Pinellas County.
Bowling alley in South Pasadena
South Pasadena has a main shopping center area with restaurants, grocery stores, a bowling alley and other necessary amenities. One thing to keep in mind when buying a property here is it’s flood zone designation – The majority of South Pasadena is in flood zone AE which means your lender will require you to carry a flood insurance policy if you finance your new home here.
Winery in South Pasadena
It seems like there is a very specific type of person that enjoys living in Gulfport. It’s a quirky, artsy laid back little city with a small walkable downtown and neighborhoods that have homes filled with lots of vibrant colors. Like South Pasadena, Gulfport is actually it’s own city. It has a little bit of everything – a variety of restaurants and bars, a beach front, eclectic homes and condos as well.
I have never lived in Gulfport however I do spend most of my Sundays there during and after my kickball games. It’s a fun city during the day and pretty quiet at night. It’s a perfect place to have lunch and a few drinks and the perfect size town to run into other people that you happen to know. There are many formerly residential homes on Gulfports main street that have been turned into local businesses. This sort of main street vibe is one of a kind and it really makes this city special. There’s only so much I can say about Gulfport because in order to fully experience it you need to go see it for yourself. Gulfport is a weird place and people love it.
The courtyard in Gulfport has restaurants, shops and a kava bar
2. Historic Roser Park
Historic Roser Park is hands down the most unique neighborhood in not just South St. Pete but all of Pinellas. This area is located at the southern part of Downtown St. Pete and you will know when you’ve arrived because the landscape drastically changes. You will see beautiful historic homes built on hills, brick lined streets, mature trees and even a small river that runs right through the neighborhood. Many of these homes were built in the 1920’s and much like Historic Kenwood, lots of people here have renovated these homes to bring them back to their original glory.
Canal in Roser Park
This neighborhood is the best of both worlds – The charm of a historic neighborhood and the close proximity to Downtown St. Pete. If you’re looking for a historic home near Downtown, your money will go further here than it would in neighborhoods such as Historic Old Northeastor Old Southeast.
Here’s another video from the Living Local series that highlights beautiful Historic Roser Park.
1. Old Southeast
Speaking of Old Southeast, I wanted to save the best for last. This is where I plan on buying my next home. This area has historic homes, close proximity to downtown and also a beautiful waterfront park overlooking Tampa Bay. There are also lots of homes that are legally zoned for multi-family which means they typically have a rental home/apartment on premise separate from the main home. This is the best way you can maximize your investment if buying a single family home. The rental market here is really strong and having a rental unit can easily cut your mortgage payment in half. There are actually income properties in a lot of different neighborhoods around St. Pete. For whatever reason most of these are homes from the 1920’s. Here is an in depth article I wroteabout the benefits of owning an income property in St. Pete.
Old Southeast is comprised mostly of these historic 1920’s homes. It also has two smaller neighborhoods attached to it. Tropical Shoresis a mostly waterfront neighborhood attached to the south end of this area. Most of these homes were actually constructed in the 1950’s. While most homes in the 1920’s were built using wood frame construction, these homes built in the 1950’s are mostly built from a more sturdy block construction.
Entrance to the beautiful Driftwood Neighborhood
Driftwood is the other neighborhood in this area. Driftwood is one of a kind. It’s scenery includes winding roads and dense subtropical vegetation. It’s an exclusive neighborhood in the fact that it only has a few dozen houses and is a neighborhood that is truly unlike any other in St. Pete. Jump on your bike and go explore Driftwood and Old Southeast with a friend. Check out this video below from the Living Local series! It’s a great depiction of the Driftwood neighborhood.
This area seems to have a strong community feel. One stop in at the Old Southeast Market and you’ll experience the friendly camaraderie of this area. Another local gem is The Chattaway. It’s hard to miss The Chattaway, it’s a restaurant on the corner of 22nd Ave S and 4th Street that has a huge patio lined with bathtubs. The patio also has a stage for live music, a koi pond and a bunch of other eccentric decorations that make this place interesting. The owners are originally from England so you’ll find a combination of American and British culture mixed in together to form their menu and atmosphere.
There truly is a lot of stigma against any neighborhoods in South St. Pete but if you do some research and see for yourself, you may find that there are plenty of neighborhoods that are perfect for what you need. Generalizations are dangerous so be sure to go check out these areas and form your own opinion.
Did none of these neighborhoods sound appealing to you? That’s fine too, we would love to learn about you and what kind of neighborhood fits your needs. St. Pete has a little something for everyone. Feel free to reach out to us here and we’ll be happy to help you get acquainted to our beautiful city.