Tampa Bay is becoming an increasingly popular place to move to for many people from all over the United States. If you’re familiar with the area you understand why. We have a wide plethora of lifestyle options for those looking to live their best life here.
Some people choose to buy chic Downtown urban condos in walkable areas such as Downtown St. Pete or Tampa’s Channelside District. Others prefer the more laid back lifestyle that comes with having a waterfront home. Some folks simply want a spacious home that has plenty of room for entertaining friends and family.
We have a little bit of everything in the Tampa Bay area. Well maybe not the homes you would see in the Hollywood Hills but we do have some of the best options in the country for waterfront living. We also have some amazing downtown areas that have similar nightlife as you would see in a larger city, just on a smaller scale. Most importantly, the cost of living for housing in The Tampa Bay area is still on the lower end nationwide compared to many other major metropolitan areas. I can only imagine prices will continue to go up as this area continues to experience rapid development which is making it a more desirable place to live every year.
So what’s the best place to live in the Tampa Bay area? That all depends on your goals and lifestyle choices. Let me give you a snapshot of the different areas and the subsets of lifestyles within them. To make this an easy read, I will group together the neighborhoods within these cities. We’ll start with the City of Tampa itself and then explore across the bay in the Clearwater and St. Petersburg neighborhoods.
10. Hyde Park
If you follow Bayshore to the east, you will be looking directly at the Downtown Tampa Skyline. Follow this into Downtown where you will quickly run into the riverwalk, University of Tampa, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and also The Channelside district which is where you’ll see the cruise ships docked.
Hyde Park also has it’s own village aptly named Hyde Park Village. This area features a small walkable area comprised of office space, clothing stores, a coffee shop, restaurants, entertainment and more establishments mostly catered towards an upscale crowd. This is a popular area among the South Tampa crowd and continues to grow and expand every year.
Much more well known is the neighborhood just North-West of Hyde Park many times referred to as SoHo which stands for South Howard. SoHo has an eclectic collection of restaurants and bars. You’ll find some high end eateries like the infamous Bern’s Steakhouse or Bella’s Italian Cafe.
You’ll also find an abundance of bars and restaurants catered towards the college crowd and other people that like to go out and have a good time. Many of these bars have nice sunny patios to relax on and enjoy an afternoon beer. This area gets a little rowdy on a weekend night however living in Hyde Park you will be just far enough not to be affected by it, but still close enough to have the option of going out to enjoy this fun area.
9. Davis Islands
Like many coastal areas in the Tampa Bay area, Davis Islands is a man made waterfront. This island that is now home to many high end luxury homes, a little town area and a small airport was once two small natural islands called Little Grassy Key & Big Grassy Key. This area was dredged and filled in the 1920’s to form this amazing little neighborhood just south of Downtown Tampa.
There is an abundance of mediterranean style homes in this area which makes it unique. Since this is a wealthy area, most every home you’ll see is in pristine condition. Similar to Hyde Park Village, Davis Islands has a main street area where the locals gather. There’s restauarants, bars, coffee shops, convenience stores and pretty much all the things you would expect to find in a small town main street area.
I went to a restaurant here called The Fountain Bistro on my birthday. The Fountain is a Mediterranean style eatery with a courtyard and an appropriately placed fountain in the middle which provides a pleasant ambiance. They also serve hookah and have comfy seating to maximize the authentic feel.
My experience with this neighborhood has been somewhat limited but very positive. I’ve noticed the overall friendly demeanor of the people who live and work on this island.
Davis Islands has been around since the 1920’s and has some interesting history. I found this article on floridahistory.org that gives a great overview of the area.
8. Golf View
If you’re looking for a small and prestigious community in the heart of Tampa, Golf View might be perfect for you. Comprised of only 87 households, this neighborhood is the epitome of luxury with massive lawns and oversized estates.
This community is named Golf View because it’s situated around Palma Ceia Golf Course. From the Palma Ceia Website – “Founded in 1916, Palma Ceia is Tampa’s premier golf and country club, offering the best of what the sport has to offer combined with the rich tradition that is Tampa’s oldest private golf club.” If you’d like to learn more, this page on their website explains the details of this private golf club.
Whether you’re into golf or not, this community is one of the most extravagant neighborhoods to live in Tampa. It’s also close proximity to the nightlife in Downtown Tampa and surrounding areas. It’s close to conveniences such as Trader Joe’s, Publix and a variety of sit down and fast casual style restaurants. You’ll find most homes here are currently in the $2m-$6m price range.
7. Parkland Estates
Parkland Estates located just west of Hyde Park is pretty small – Only about 480 households. This area has many of the same benefits of living in Hyde Park including a convenient location relative to Downtown and Bayshore Blvd. You’re close to all the upscale shopping and amenities in South Tampa, and you’re only about a 15 minute drive to Tampa International Airport. It is essentially an extension of Hyde Park with many similar home styles and a prime location.
Living here you’ll be a short drive to Downtown Tampa which has The University of Tampa, Amalie Arena, Tampa General Hospital and much more. In the other direction you’ll be a short drive to Tampa International Airport as well as International mall right next door.
This area is home to many different styles of home and architecture. You’ll find everything from Mediterranean style homes built in the 1920’s to more sleek and modern newer construction homes built in the past few years. I’ve noticed that the majority of the homes here were built within 5 different time periods – The 20’s, 50’s, 70’s, 90’s and present day. As you can imagine all of these time periods have different styles, resulting in an eclectic mix of homes in this wealthy suburb.
All these neighborhoods mentioned above – Hyde Park, Davis Islands, Golf View and Parkland Estates are all zoned for Plant City Highschool which is well known for having one of the top Football programs in the State of Florida. Now that we’ve covered some of the best Tampa neighborhoods, let’s explore the Clearwater area.
6. Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is known as the mecca for tourism in the Tampa Bay area. The area of Clearwater is a densely populated city right next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The combination of relaxing beach front and an active night life is the perfect breeding ground for tourism. There’s also some great options to live here as well if you’re looking to reside where most people on vacation.
The downside of living in a tourist area of course is the amount of congestion that can take place here. The roads here are pretty limited on the main strip and you will often find yourself in a long line of traffic. The good thing about living here is that it’s a relatively small island and you could easily bike or walk around instead of getting stuck in traffic.
As you would expect from a tourist mecca, Clearwater Beach is filled with all sorts of attractions. There is no shortage of amazing restaurants and all sorts of entertainment. If you’re into boating, there are a few great places to park the boat and relax in the sun. The most well known areas are Honeymoon & Caladesi Island.
I’m part of an organization called Freedom Boat Club which allows me to reserve a variety of boats including pontoons, deck boats, deep sea fishing boats and more. It’s as simple as making a reservation, jumping on the boat and then returning it whenever you’re done. Freedom currently has 13 locations all around the Tampa Bay area including the city of Clearwater.
5. Belleair Beach / Belleair Bluffs
Belleair Beach and Bluffs are technically two different cities however for the sake of the article let’s consider them the same. Also they are both cities but are small enough in comparison to Clearwater to be considered neighborhoods.
If you look at the map above you’ll see that Belleair Beach is directly west of Belleair Bluffs which is connected to mainland Pinellas. The intercoastal waterway separates the two. There is plenty of waterfront property to go around here, including residential homes directly on the beach.
The beach side has some of the highest concentrations of expensive and extravagant direct beach front homes in Pinellas County. There are other neighborhoods that have similar sized homes however these massive homes directly on the beach are considered a bit more desirable. These homes are pretty hard to miss. The first time I drove by I had to do a double take to see if they were hotels or single family homes.
Consider this area a wealthy suburb of Clearwater. Belleair and Belleair Beach are the first cities to border the southern portion of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. While Clearwater is more urban and their beach is more tourism based, Belleair and Belleair Beach are more focused on upscale residential suburban living.
4. The Pink Streets
The Pink Streets is a many times overlooked neighborhood located on the southernmost tip of Pinellas County. Technically this area is a part of a bigger area called The Greater Pinellas Point Neighborhood however The Pink Streets have a few unique factors that set them apart from the rest of the neighborhood.
First of all, the streets are pink. This was purposeful in their initial design. The original planners of this area wanted The Pink Streets to be known as the premiere neighborhood in Pinellas County. I’m assuming they thought making it stand out with some salmon colored streets would be something people would talk about – and they were right.
This area is where the undercover wealthy live, as opposed to some neighborhoods in Tampa Bay where status is the priority. There are so many unique and gorgeous homes in this area but the appeal is in their character instead of their extravagance.
You may have heard of the stigma surrounding South St. Pete. Some people are under the impression that anything south of Central Avenue automatically equals bad. While there are some crime ridden neighborhoods on the South Side, you have to realize that the south side is still a massive part of the city and the majority of it is actually nicer neighborhoods.
The benefit of buying on the south side is that many times your money will go further. This will be in your favor when the appreciation of these neighborhoods catches up to other more established neighborhoods in the city. If you’d like to read more about neighborhoods on the South Side check out this article Top 11 Neighborhoods To Live In South St. Pete.
3. Historic Kenwood
Kenwood is a pretty famous neighborhood in the St. Pete area. It’s well known because it has the highest concentration of Craftsmen style bungalows in the entire state of Florida. These homes were mostly built in the 1920’s time period and have a few characteristics that set themselves apart from homes built in more modern time periods. As early as the 1950’s, homes started getting more boxy, mass produced and bland.
Even brand new construction homes today can seem really boring and soul-less even with high end finishes. In the 1920’s it seems, more effort and passion was poured into these homes. There are little details that made a home a home instead of a box to live in. Many of these Craftsmen bungalows make the most of their small spaces both inside and outdoors.
You will find many of these bungalows have a signature front porch with a pleasant seating area making it easier to socialize with your neighbors as you see them walk by. Many of these homes have sunrooms and enclosed porches that provide an extra nook to read a book or relax on the couch. Many of these kitchens are minimalistic but filled with character.
These yards are typically small but charming because the space is used intentionally. You will find that some of these yard with guest homes or artist studios, patios for entertaining, small swimming pools and hot tubs, semi-enclosed outdoor living rooms with TV’s and more.
A lot of these homes are built for entertaining which is perfect because it’s a social neighborhood. What better reason to have some friends over if you have the perfect place to host a party?
These homes are small but perfect for a young couple or folks that don’t have a big family. You will mostly find 2-3 bedroom homes here most of which will be under 1,500 square feet. Like I mentioned before – it’s really not the size of these homes that’s impressive but rather the pride of ownership you see that reflects in the character of these homes.
2. Snell Isle
Snell Isle is where you will find the nicest homes in St. Pete. This neighborhood located about a 5 minute drive north of Downtown is filled with luxurious homes both waterfront and landlocked. Even a million dollar home here will be somewhat basic compared to some of the extravagant multi-million dollar homes found in this area.
As you would expect this neighborhood is very well maintained and somewhat of a status symbol to live here. In St. Pete, the majority of the neighborhoods were established either in the 1920’s or the 1950’s, as I mentioned before Kenwood is filled with mostly 1920’s bungalows whereas Snell Isle is filled with homes built in the 1950’s and newer.
Since property value here has gone up dramatically, many of these homes have been razed and new construction built instead. This is especially true on the waterfront lots where you will find some of the most decadent homes near Downtown St. Pete.
1. Old Northeast
Old Northeast combines the historic element of Kenwood with the location and prestige of Snell Isle. You’ll find a combination of historic homes and more modern styles in this neighborhood.
Old Northeast also has the benefit of being in a very walkable area bordering the north end of Downtown St. Pete. Unlike Historic Kenwood, Old Northeast doesn’t have the limitations that come with living in a historically designated area. Some portions of Kenwood are limited to the types of renovations because they are required to maintain the historical integrity of the neighborhood. Old Northeast doesn’t have these limitations which is why you see such a diverse mix of architecture both old and new.
Waterfront options are limited here however you will find many massive historic homes here. I mentioned earlier how Kenwood is limited to mostly smaller bungalows under 1500 square feet. You will find a higher concentration of larger homes in Old Northeast, typically 2,000 to 6,000 square feet and above. The yards are larger on average with some homes taking up 2-3 lots.
I mentioned this story in another article I wrote specifically about Old Northeast but I thought it would be necessary to tell it again here. One of my first memories of Old Northeast was when I hosted a couch surfer and took him through the area to help him explore St. Pete. He’s a British guy and this was his first time in the US. When we were driving through he commented on the beautiful nature of this neighborhood with the mature trees, brick lined streets, historic homes and the signature front porches you see on many of these homes. He said something I’ll never forget “Wow this looks like the American Dream”.
I thought that was the perfect way to describe this neighborhood. A neighborhood that’s in a beautiful area, eclectic, family friendly and bordering an amazing Downtown area, you really can’t go wrong.
As you can see we have plenty of nice neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area. Although these are some of the most well regarded neighborhoods in the area, there are still a ton of other neighborhoods that are also great to live in. The purpose of this article is to just scratch the surface and give you a little sample of what each neighborhood has to offer to see what resonates with you best.
Does a home with historical nature and a ton of character stand out to you? Would you like to be part of a community that takes pride in restoring and owning these homes from the early 20th century? Do you enjoy picturesque neighborhoods with mature trees and shaded brick streets? If so you may want to consider the St. Pete neighborhoods of Old Northeast, Historic Kenwood or The Pink Streets. In Tampa you may consider the prestigious South Tampa neighborhoods mentioned in this article such as Hyde Park, Golf View and Parkland Estates.
Do you prefer an exclusive neighborhood in which you’ll find more modern homes with the potential to live on the water? Is being close to an urban downtown area important to you? Consider Davis Islands just south of Downtown Tampa, Snell Isle which is just north of Downtown St. Pete or the greater Clearwater area including the neighboring cities Belleair and Belleair Beach.
How about we make this easy for you. You can reach out to us here and let us know a little bit about yourself and your real estate search. We can then help you narrow down your search once we learn a little bit more about your lifestyle and real estate goals. Thank for reading and have a great day!