If you’re reading this you may be considering making the move from California to Florida. I wrote this article because we’ve started to get a lot more inquiries from people living in California, Oregon and Washington where cost of living is some of the highest in the nation. Florida used to be “God’s Waiting Room” and was considered a dull place for the longest time. There are parts of Florida where that is still true. There’s also ares like Miami & Ft. Lauderdale area where cost of living is on par or higher than the West Coast.
Living in California you’ve probably heard the saying “The West Coast Is The Best Coast”. This is actually true in Florida as well. The West Coast of Florida is, in my humble opinion the best part of Florida.
We have Miami which has a reputation of a crazy party city, which it is but it’s also an expensive tourist trap. We have the Panhandle which is much more rural, has beautiful beaches and is Spring Break central for college kids but it’s one of those places that is much better to visit than to actually live in. I would know personally, I lived there for about a year.
We also have the east coast – cities like Jacksonville and St. Augustine. St. Augustine is a beautiful city, actually the oldest city in the United States – almost reminiscent of something you would see in Europe with the architecture and infrastructure being hundreds of years old. It is still one of those places that is better to visit than to live in. Oh yeah and Jacksonville. You know what just don’t even worry about Jacksonville.
So that brings me to my point. The city I moved to in 2013 is hands down the best city I’ve ever lived in and is truly the best city in Florida. Much like the West Coast of the United States, our city is known to be fun, progressive, innovative and accepting.
OK here we go. Drumroll please. If you’re looking to move from the West Coast to Florida, the city you’re looking for is……… St. Pete, Florida!
Known affectionately as St. Pete by many, it is also more formally known as St. Petersburg. This city offers a similar lifestyle as you’d find on the West Coast with a much lower cost of living.
We have a little bit of everything here. Everything from brand new multi-million dollar downtown condos to tiny historic 1920’s Craftsmen style bungalows. This city has both a bustling tourism industry and a historic charm to it. We have a happening Downtown area and beautiful beaches. Each neighborhood has it’s own flavor and there truly is something for everyone.
I think a social factor is something that’s missing in a lot of people’s lives. Whether you’re single and looking to meet other single people or married and looking to make like minded friends, it’s honestly not always easy to meet new people.
So how do you meet new people? You find something that you can do on a regular basis and make friends with the people you run into over and over. In St. Pete we have a bunch of sport leagues for adults that are more about socializing than the sport itself.
Tampa Bay Club Sports does a great job of getting people together to let loose. They organize sports games, run pub crawls and generally make it easy to meet friends. Another one is Running For Brews. A group that meets 4 times a week to go run a 5k and then drink after. They also do biking trips, camping and other events to keep things entertaining.
The vast majority of people here are transplants. They are open to meeting other people that decided to move here. People want to know where you’re from, they want to talk to you and see what you’re all about, they want to know if you’re genuine. That’s cause we keep it real in St. Pete!
With that said, let’s get down to it. What are the Top 8 Reasons To Move To Florida From California?
8. Cost Of Living
OK let’s get this one out of the way. Cost of living is going to be the biggest deciding factor when considering moving to a new area. Cost of living comes in many forms – price of food, different types of taxes, insurance premiums and of course housing. The cost of housing is more than likely going to make or break your decision as it is one of the biggest factors that will affect your quality of life.
Not going to lie – Cost of living has been rising here in Florida as well because it’s becoming a more popular place to live. In fact there are plenty of luxury condos in Downtown St. Pete that are on par with the cost of living in California. $1,200 for a one bedroom is pretty much the average in our very popular Downtown area and it goes up from there.
The good news is it’s a lot more affordable to own a home within a few miles of downtown and you’re still not far away from the action. Even the outskirts of Downtown has some pretty good affordable options relative to the more central Downtown area. There are of course suburban neighborhoods that are much more expensive as well however there are also neighborhoods that are still up and coming and will see appreciation as our city continues to grow. If you like to keep it real like myself then we’ll find you a place on the south side.
Not everywhere in our city is walkable and to be honest our public transit kind of sucks right now but we do have some really fun areas to live where walkability is amazing.
This is going to vary on your needs but I would say the general consensus is that Downtown St. Pete is the most walkable area in the entire Tampa Bay area. In about 1 square mile you can walk to everything you need to live and have a good time doing it. We have over 100 bars and restaurants, trendy co-working spaces, a beautiful waterfront, lounges, wine bars, grocery stores, museums and more. We also have breweries and distilleries in the more urban district right outside of our Downtown area.
This urban district I speak of is dubbed The Warehouse Arts District. As I mentioned it’s home to most of our breweries and a huge artistic presence. If this sounds like your style I’d recommend checking out The Second Saturday Artwalk when you make it down here. It’s a monthly event where 20-30 art galleries open up their doors to the public. You get to walk around, meet the artists and sip on some refreshments if you choose to while enjoying all sorts of artwork from glassblowing to murals to pottery and everything in between. Some of these artists are relatively amateur while others are world class. I’ve gone at least 6 times and still haven’t been able to visit all the studios. I always told my friends that The Duncan McClellan gallery looks like something you’d see in LA!
Oh yeah and guess what? We have some awesome places to live that are walkable to the beach. You might be amazed at how much home you can get here for under 500k near the beach. And hey if you are just one person you can get a beach home for much cheaper than that. We are home to some of the nicest beaches in the nation. Our water is warm and our sand is soft, beaches are top notch here which brings me to my next point.
We have a long stretch of beach that spans through a number of beach cities. We have anything ranging from Pass-A-Grille where you’ll get a residential island feel with little traffic to St. Pete Beach which is more tourist focused. We also have beaches like Redington Shores and Indian Rocks that are not quite as touristy or built up yet. Your money will go a bit further here. Feel free to reach out and let us know what you’re looking for and we can give you some pointers!
We have not only many of the most beautiful beaches in the US but also plenty of great places to go boating. Around Tampa Bay are sandbars and islands that are great boating destinations. Some you can camp on while others are limited to daytime boating only. Most of these islands and sandbars are on the west side of our city which opens up to the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa Bay also has Beer Can Island which is a hugely popular destination for boaters in Tampa.
The water here stays warm for a good part of the year. Between about March and October is a good time to go swimming. The rest of the year the water is a bit more chilly but it’s still nice to spend at the beach.
Who doesn’t love a good hurricane? We are actually pretty sheltered from hurricanes compared to the rest of Florida but they still happen from time to time. We haven’t had anything too major in over 100 years which is probably why we still have a large concentration of historic homes from the 1920’s.
OK so here’s my argument. What’s the better natural disaster, a hurricane or an earthquake?
Here are my top 3 reasons Hurricanes are better
- Hurricanes are predictable and you can see them coming so it’s easier to get out and let your insurance take care of the damage when it’s over.
- If it’s not a huge storm and you can just bunker down. What’s more fun than a hurricane party? You can also bond with your neighbors after all the destruction.
- If you have to leave town and your work shuts down, that’s a fun spontaneous vacation!
4. Florida Man
Have you ever heard of Florida man? He’s always up to some sort of shenanigans. Our public records are open here so many times Florida man’s criminal activities are published in the news. Florida woman also likes to make an appearance from time to time. Nothing like a little bit of public shame to spice things up a bit.
3. Lack Of Pretentious People
Look at this – You guys made the top 3. My brother used to live in Long Beach and I loved going to visit. He would tell me a bit about his dating life – how most women are wondering right off the bat how much money you make and what kind of car you drive. I love nice cars but damn that doesn’t sound like my type of environment. Maybe my reality living in Cali would be different since I am obviously the better looking man between the two of us but probably not. Do any of you have Elon’s direct number? I’m going to need a Tesla once I can afford to sell my POS BMW and upgrade.
In all seriousness, most everyone here is pretty laid back. We like to joke about pretentious hipsters but everyone here is pretty accepting even if you wear rolled up skinny jeans and a scarf in the middle of summer. For what it’s worth, I’ve been called a hipster because I have a beard. Ryan has two kids which means he’s a dad hipster. I guess everyone is a hipster in St. Pete. It’s one of those words that starts to sound weird when you say it too many times. Hipster hipster hipster hipster hip-ster hips-ter. See?
2. The Arts Culture!
It’s really good around here. Despite prices going up, there are still plenty of artists that can afford to live around here. You’ll find everything from local artists selling their art for a few hundred dollars in coffee shops and bars to world class artists like Duncan McClellan whose artistic glass pieces typically run into the $10,000+ range.
There’s also a ton of art that doesn’t cost anything to enjoy. Our street art scene is expanding every year with intricate murals stretching from DTSP through the EDGE District, Grand Central and the Warehouse Arts District. Here’s a video I put together of the Second Saturday Artwalk that happens every Second Saturday of the month.
1. Local Culture!
How cool is it to live in a city that’s big enough to keep occupied but small enough where you run into friends and acquaintances on a regular basis? This is the only city I’ve lived in that has had this sort of local feel. Downtown St. Pete also embraces outdoor seating which is a great way to run into people you know walking down the street.
On top of that, local residents love to support local businesses. We really don’t have almost any franchised or corporate owned businesses in our Downtown area. This local culture kind of ties into why people like to support these aforementioned local artists.
Florida has had a long come up. I had a client in town this past weekend from NYC and he mentioned how he never liked Florida because he thought it was all run down strip malls and retirees. That used to be the case but now we’re coming up fast. He mentioned that he didn’t know cities like St. Pete existed otherwise he would’ve moved down here a long time ago. The reality is – St. Pete only has become a great place to live in the past 5 or so years and it’s continuing to get better so now is the time to move here.
I don’t think there is anywhere like St. Pete. There is always something going on and it still maintains a local feel. Although I sometimes wish that I lived in a bigger city, I love St. Pete as a home base. I also stop to appreciate the fact that I live here during the come up, when artists and entrepreneurs have a chance and real local people running businesses are prioritized over established corporations. I can always go jump on a flight out of Tampa International if I need to scratch my bigger city itch but St. Pete is the perfect place to put down roots. If you’re considering a move to St. Pete, feel free to call/text me at 727-307-1111, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or drop your information below. Thanks for reading!