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The perception of Florida is probably a little bit different for everyone. Some people imagine the glamorous Miami lifestyle with nice cars, beautiful women, you know that rockstar life. Others may hear about crazy people on meth fueled benders, people getting high and eating a random bystanders face. Luckily we have a little bit of both those lifestyles in St. Pete so let me know what you’re into and I can point you in the right direction.
Before I moved here almost 7 years ago I was considering a few different cities across the US. I was just getting out of my 4 year contract in the Air Force on my 24th birthday and I knew that I had to make the next chapter in my life more exciting. I wanted to live somewhere fun and vibrant since my past 4 years had been somewhat boring and bleak. I felt like I missed the “college experience” so I was keeping my eye out for a city with a younger population of millennials like myself.
I ended up moving here on a whim and honestly when I came in 2013 this city was still a bit run down with a bunch of vacant shops and not a whole lot going on. I moved here on a Friday and I remember driving down Central Avenue that night looking for some food. There was almost nothing going on in Downtown St. Pete and I remember questioning if I had moved to the right city.
I must’ve moved here at exactly the right time because in the next two years I saw the beginning of a renaissance in Downtown St. Pete. It seemed like every week I’d hear about a new bar or restaurant opening, new intricate murals popping up, more people walking around Downtown and tons of new construction both residential and commercial.
I moved here as it was coming up, however now is an even better time to move here because our little big city is much more established. I’ve had a few friends around my age visit and realize that they would love to live here. The whole Tampa Bay area is a great place to live but Downtown St. Pete really takes the cake as the best place to live in the area. It’s basically an adult playground, especially appealing to people in the millennial generation.
With that said, let’s get into the Top 11 Reasons Millennials Love Living In Downtown St. Pete.
11. Proximity to Tampa
OK so ask anyone and they will tell you that St. Pete is the superior city as a millennial, however Tampa can be pretty fun too. Tampa has Channelside – a fun area with a Riverwalk to take a stroll or a bike ride. There are a few bars/restaurants along the Riverwalk and it ultimately ends at Armature Works which is best described as a huge converted warehouse filled with upscale food and drinking options. They have lounge areas, games and a perfect view of the Downtown Tampa Skyline.
You can even bring your bike on the Cross Bay Ferry from St. Pete which pulls right into Channelside. From here you can enjoy your day biking around Downtown Tampa and the Riverwalk area. I love living in St. Pete but sometimes it’s fun to just go across the bay for a day trip and pretend like you’re on vacation.
10. Tampa International Airport
Rated one of the best airports in the US, Tampa International has direct flights to different cities all around the US and plenty of international flights as well. Last international trip I took I flew directly to Amsterdam, did a little trip around Europe and then took the direct flight back. Previously I had to transfer at either Atlanta or JFK to get overseas however every year they are rolling out more and more domestic and international flights through Tampa. It’s nice to have that option when it’s time to travel!
Millennials have in the past put priority on travel over home ownership but as our generation ages, I’ve sold plenty of millennials homes that continue to travel after. Just because you’re buying a home doesn’t mean you’re settling down into a boring life. In fact home ownership gives a bit more stability with a predictable monthly payment and equity you can potentially leverage. For example I bought my house last year and since I have equity in it I can take out a home equity line of credit for anything. It was originally meant to allow folks to improve their homes but you can use it how you please. Hypothetically if you go on a trip and run up a few thousand on your credit cards, you can use your line of credit to pay it off at a much lower interest rate than you would pay with a credit card. This is one example of leveraging a banks money to your advantage. I’m not suggesting living outside of your means but it is good to have that option instead of running up credit card debt.
9. Proximity To The Water
Our Downtown is located on Tampa Bay. Although this is not an ideal place to swim, it is still a beautiful place to walk along the waterfront. There is something very serene about being near water, it calms the mind. Our Downtown has dozens if not over a hundred acres of waterfront parks that overlook Tampa Bay.
We of course have world class beaches just a short car ride away if you’re looking to swim as well as plenty of marina’s where you can launch a boat or rent one which brings me to….
8. Boat Life
Sometimes it’s not enough to just be near the water, it’s pretty great to get on the water. There are lots of options when it comes to boating – Whether you like sailing, fishing or just casually cruising to a sandbar for the day with some friends, we have options for everyone here.
I personally joined Freedom Boat Club which allows you to choose the type of boat you’d like for the day and has over 20 locations around Tampa Bay. You simply reserve a boat, go jump on and then pay for gas when you get back. The boat club crew is always super accommodating and friendly so it’s nice to leave them a tip as well.
7. Friendly People
If you’ve ever traveled either to different parts of the US or outside the states to different countries, you know that some places are more friendly than others. While we don’t necessarily have the “Southern Charm” that other states are known for, we do have a lot of friendly people here. As I’m updating this blog in 2022 I’m sitting on South Beach drinking my $9 bottle of Heineken and have some reflections on Miami – it’s not nearly as friendly as St. Pete. I’m assuming that’s because it’s a much bigger city and also not everyone speaks english so it’s a bit harder to navigate for a gringo like myself. As much as Miami is fun to visit every once in a while, I can’t ever see it feeling like the friendly, hospitable city that St. Pete is. Miami is fun though, nice to be only a few hours away for the rare times I want to come visit
St. Pete is a very progressive city with a lot of transplants from all over the world. I know in other parts of the world people are discriminated against for their nationality or sexual orientation but no one cares here – you’re free to be who you are. That’s the epitome of the American Dream if you ask me.
Big cities are fun but a lot of times everything is very spread out. This can be especially frustrating in America where our mass transit systems are lacking. It seems like everyone, especially millennials nowadays want the same thing where they live – a home that is easily accessible to fun things to do.
Fun things is relative to who you are as a person. It could be walking out your front door to go get your morning coffee. It could be going to your gym where you do group fitness classes and make friends. Maybe it’s being able to meet a friend for a few drinks and dinner without worrying about how you’re going to get home. It might be taking your dog to the local dog bar and having places to walk him safely at night. We have all of this in Downtown St. Pete and more.
5. Local Feel
Some cities have a bit of a soulless feel when they’re oversaturated with chain restaurants and corporate owned establishments. Downtown St. Pete is the opposite of that. Local businesses are encouraged to prosper here and corporate owned businesses are limited, especially Downtown. That seems to be part of what gives our city have a unique energy. One local event worth checking out is the Saturday Morning Market. This market is an impressive gathering of food vendors, artists, vegetable/produce farmers and even live music.
The best part of living in a city with a local feel like St. Pete is the fact that you run into the same people over and over. Some would consider this a negative but I love it. As an adult it can be hard to make friends. When you live here and you just happen to see the same people it’s super easy to strike up a conversation. You don’t even need a ton of good friends when you live in a city where you have a bunch of great acquaintances.
OK so 100 years ago no one wanted to live in Florida. Before the invention of air conditioning it was not a pleasant place to be. Now we can escape the heat and humidity for a bit which makes it a much more pleasant place. The summers here can be pretty brutal during the day but it’s perfect at night. Sometimes it’s just too hot to be outside unless you’re near the water either at the beach or on a boat. Our winters are amazing during the day and tolerable at night with a light jacket. It’s the perfect weather to have a bonfire, which is always a good time!
Anywhere there is a condensed downtown area with a bunch of restaurants will create a competitive environment where only the best make it. There are so many good restaurants here where the price to go out to eat is not much more than it would be at Applebees. Of course there is a spectrum with some high end restaurants and affordable eats as well. Here’s a few I recommend in all price categories.
There’s a bit of everything from relaxed day drinking to classy bars for dates, to late night sh*t show bars in our little city. The bar scene is competitive in the same way the restaurant industry is – there’s so many places to have a drink so only the best survive. The nice thing about this is many places offer some pretty great happy hour drink specials as well. This is perfect for people like me who enjoy having a few day time drinks and then returning to the comfort of my own home to avoid the crowds. Another great way to avoid the crowds is to go out on a weeknight – Thirsty Thursday is my favorite, or is Wine Wednesday my favorite. They’re both fun but I guess it’s more socially acceptable to be hungover on a Friday.
1. Arts & Progressive Culture
There is something to be said about the effect art has on the general vibe of a city. I’m paraphrasing but I saw a video the other day where a local artist described this phenomenon. When you’re in a city that just has empty walls it feels like no one belongs there, but when you see an intricate piece of art, you and everyone else have a sense of belonging in that space. It gives people a reason to stop for a second to enjoy and ponder the artist’s creation.
There’s more to this than one can put into words but who doesn’t appreciate well done art? It makes our city a more interesting place to live.
Every month there’s an event called The Second Saturday Artwalk where about 20-30 artist studios open their doors to the public. You can go meet the artists, check out live demonstrations including glassblowing and pottery, enjoy live music and grab a drink and some food. It’s a great event to go to for a date or with some friends.
If you’re reading this with the intention of finding a fun, vibrant, exciting city to live the best years of your life, congrats this is it. I believe St. Pete is a great place to own property since it is becoming a more desirable place to live every year.
If you find it necessary to move to another city at a later point in your life, it is still a great place to own a property since our rental market is also getting more competitive every year. We have only recently caught up and surpassed the national cost of living for housing in the United States and the market is becoming a bit more buyer friendly in 2023 so I think this may be a good time to get in.