The Tampa Bay Area is one of the fastest-growing parts of Florida, and it’s easy to see why. The consistently sunny weather, easy access to beautiful beaches, and no state income tax are what make many folks consider the Sunshine State when looking for a new home.
But there are a few things you should know when moving to Florida, such as the sinkhole problem, and one of the biggest things to know is Tampa’s cost of living. Sure, no income tax sounds like an appealing idea, but what can you expect to spend on food, housing, and healthcare?
Average Costs of Living in Tampa, Florida
Overall, the cost of living in Tampa is 5% lower than the national average. That may be good news to some, but hold up: let us take all costs and average them together against the composite US average.
Tampa ranks higher in cost of living than the US average in several key categories, most notably housing and energy costs. And while everybody seems to be moving to Florida, and that definitely plays a part in these expenses, it is still something to consider when you’re looking at places to live.
According to a recent report from a local Tampa news outlet, a median income of $53.976 a year is required to live comfortably in Tampa Bay and the surrounding metro area. That figure stacks up nicely to the median annual income of $57,703 in Florida.
However, Tampa’s rapid growth rate has had a few negative impacts on its cost of living. Let’s look at how Tampa, Florida compares to other metro areas.
Housing Costs in Tampa
It’s no secret that Florida in general and Tampa, in particular, are growing at an incredible pace, and the housing market is one of the first areas to take a hit for prospective buyers. Since 2020, over 300,000 people have moved to Florida, and the demand for housing has risen accordingly.
In Tampa, the average rent has risen by 28% within the last year and a half. The average now stands at almost $2,000 per month. This sharp increase in pricing has helped make Florida one of the least affordable states in the nation in terms of housing.
The market for home buyers isn’t much better. Limited availability has caused home prices to soar, and the real estate market has become fiercely competitive. It’s not uncommon for buyers to offer up to $40,000 or more over the asking price in the bid for the winning offer, and many houses are only on the market for about a week before getting snatched up.
On top of the crazy real estate market, there are additional “Florida worry factors” that could increase housing costs. Consult a sinkhole map before purchasing any property, as Florida is the number one state for sinkholes. It may also be a good idea to consider flood insurance and a monthly pest control plan.
Food Costs in Tampa
Food—both groceries and dining out—is another factor to consider when looking at places to live. Tampa offers its residents a lot when it comes to food, and it’s not all just your standard grocery fare. Tampa has access to tons of fresh, local produce, and farmers’ markets can be found all around the city throughout the week.
Across the nation, the average family spends around 12.5% of the household budget on food. Compare that to Tampa, where the average jumps to 14.1% of the household budget devoted to food costs. It’s also worth noting that Tampa residents spend more of their food dollars dining in than the rest of the country, perhaps indicating higher overall grocery store prices.
Utility Costs in Tampa
Utility costs in Tampa can be high. All that sunny weather and much warmer than average temperatures can mean that you’ll use the air conditioner for around six months out of the year.
Of course, depending on where you’re moving from, your increased electricity bill may well be offset by your low heating bill. But besides heating and cooling, what can you expect to pay when it comes to water, electricity, waste management, and gas?
According to Payscale.com, the overall cost of household utilities in Tampa is 16% higher than the national average, coming to about $194.99 per month. The cost of energy itself isn’t necessarily higher in Tampa Bay, but you’ll likely be using that energy much more often because of the climate.
Transportation Costs in Tampa
Transportation costs are also higher in Tampa than the national average, but not significantly. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Tampa homestead spends 18% of the household budget on transportation, compared to the national average of 16.5%.
High car insurance rates may be a likely factor contributing to the higher-than-average transportation costs. Insurance rates, especially car insurance, tend to be higher in accident-prone Florida. Between a proclivity to natural disasters and a high rate of vehicle collisions, car insurance premiums can get fairly high in the Tampa Bay area.
Public transportation alternatives are also limited across Tampa Bay, although each of the three major metro areas does have a bus line. And thanks to heavy traffic patterns, soaring gas prices, and an influx of new residents, even ridesharing option costs are going up exponentially.
Healthcare Costs in Tampa
In Tampa, healthcare costs tend to be about right on par with the national average. Statistics vary, but estimates for how much Tampa households spend on healthcare range from 2% over to 2% under the national average.
Part of this could be because, for its size, Tampa has many well-renowned healthcare systems. BayCare Health System, AdventHealth, and Florida Medical Clinic all have multiple sites across Tampa. Tampa General Hospital, one of the area’s most well-known medical establishments, was on the cutting edge of the COVID-19 pandemic research.
Goods and Services Costs in Tampa
Goods and services data can sometimes be hard to pin down. Good and services, without counting food, usually refer to all the miscellaneous expenses a household incurs while living. Costs such as entertainment, clothing, and self-care expenses such as a gym membership or spa services can all factor into goods and services costs.
Similar to healthcare costs, the cost of goods and services in the Tampa area tends to be about on par with the national, as well as the state, average. This is good news for folks considering a move to Tampa, because there is an almost endless supply of things to do in the metro area, and a good portion of it is either free or reasonably priced.
There’s always something in Tampa Bay for anyone and everyone, and you can take your pick of beautiful beaches, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and more. Outdoor attractions besides the beach include scenic hikes, kayaking opportunities, wildlife watching, and the downtown Tampa riverwalk.
Taxes in Tampa
Florida has long been famous for having no state income tax, and this has historically been a large draw for retirees and high-income earners from the northeast. You might be surprised to learn that over half of the Florida state government monies are raised through local taxes, but that money’s got to come from somewhere.
So what can you expect when it comes to taxes and tax rates in Tampa? Florida’s general base sales tax rate is 6%, and Hillsborough County (which encompasses Tampa and much of the Bay area) also charges a 1.5% “discretionary tax,” which is a tax of the first $5,000 of an item’s taxable value.
As far as property taxes go, Tampa’s rates are rising per the area’s hot real estate market. Property taxes on housing are generally less expensive the further outside the city of Tampa you go, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll be catching a break. It’s a good idea to check on the tax estimate before you buy any property in Tampa.
What Is the Cost of Living in Tampa, Florida? Final Thoughts
Tampa, Florida can be a great place to live, and the city has a lot going for it. It offers easy access to beautiful beaches, has a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene, and has an almost endless supply of things to do.
And while the cost of living in Tampa is slightly less than the national average, that number alone doesn’t quite tell the whole story. An influx of newcomers to Florida has sent the real estate market soaring, and housing costs can sometimes be prohibitive and up to 40% higher than in other large metro areas. Add that to higher-than-average energy bills, and you’re looking at building an expensive homestead.
Outside of housing costs, however, Tampa is a reasonably affordable spot for life’s other amenities, whether it be entertainment, day-to-day expenses, or healthcare. All in all, while Tampa can be a very expensive place to live for some, many people are more than happy to foot the bill.
If you’d like to know more about Tampa, Florida, consider reading about if Tampa is the best place for real estate investment, or perusing our site for more information.