The Cost of Living in Tampa, FL: What to Expect

Posted on Nov 09, 2021

Florida is known for its beaches, relaxed way of life, and balmy weather. But what many people might not realize is that this state should be known for its affordability, too. Tampa sits on Florida’s western coast next to the Gulf of Mexico, and despite being a vacation destination and all-around cultural mecca, it’s incredibly affordable to live here.

Thinking about moving to Tampa/St. Petersburg and wondering how your finances will fare? Here’s what you need to know. 

Tampa Cost of Living Comparison: Other Major Cities

Tampa is one of the most affordable major cities in the U.S., offering residents affordable living while still providing all the conveniences and entertainment of living in an urban environment. A laid-back beach atmosphere is prevalent here, and the weather is milder (less humid and prone to storming) than in other parts of Florida. 

The metro area has numerous beaches, award-winning restaurants, trendy bars, art galleries, and plenty of trails for hiking and biking. It’s become a popular destination for people who want all the benefits of a big city while still being able to save money and relax a bit. Tampa overall has a cost-of-living index of (the U.S. average is 100). 

According to Nerdwallet, to maintain your standard of living compared to a pre-tax income of $70,000 in Tampa, you’d need to make:

  • Atlanta: $80,100 (the cost of living is 11% higher)
  • Austin: $78,000 (the cost of living is 11% higher in Austin)
  • Denver: $87,000 (the cost of living is 24% higher)
  • Jacksonville: $69,923 (the cost of living is 0% higher)
  • Manhattan: $196,500 (the cost of living is 181% higher)
  • Miami: $88,600 (the cost of living is 27% higher)
  • Tampa: $70,000

Tampa Real Estate 

Housing has a huge impact on a city’s affordability since it’s typically a household’s largest monthly expenditure. Both the cost of average rent and average home prices have risen over the past several years in Tampa, but still remain very affordable relative to most major cities.

The average rent (via RentCafe):

  • Austin: $1,539, 865 sq. ft.
  • Denver: $1,763, 843 sq. ft.
  • Jacksonville: $1,266, 965 sq. ft.
  • Manhattan: $3,872, 701 sq. ft.
  • Miami: $1,837, 887 sq. ft.
  • Nashville: $1,502, 888 sq. ft.
  • Tampa: $1,647, 927 sq. ft.

Tampa ranks as one of the cheapest cities in the country for homeownership and the median home price in Tampa is currently $323,000, according to Redfin. Home prices have been steadily appreciating over the past 5 years so combined with the relatively low average home price, Tampa is a good city for real estate investment. 

By comparison, here are the average home prices for other major cities:

  • Atlanta: $357,500
  • Austin: $600,000
  • Denver: $565,000
  • Jacksonville: $265,000
  • Manhattan: $1.18 million
  • Miami: $420,000
  • Tampa: $323,000

Living in Tampa: Expenses

Sometimes the easiest way to understand a city’s cost-of-living situation is to compare the price of everyday goods. Though numbers can vary widely, according to Numbeo you can expect these average prices in Tampa:

  • $3.63 for a gallon of milk
  • $66 for internet 
  • $65 for public transport (one month pass)
  • $60 for a mid-range dinner for two
  • $159 for utilities 
  • $30 for a monthly gym membership

Tampa's Job Market

According to U.S. Census data, Tampa was one of the top 15 cities to experience the largest population gain between 2010 and 2019, and a growth in job opportunities paralleled this population boom. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Tampa ranked second amongst U.S. metros for job growth this September - it was also one of only five metros that reported average wage gains above 5% that same month. 

Some of the largest employers in the region include Publix Super Markets, the University of South Florida, MacDill Air Force Base, Masonite International, Tampa General Hospital and more. 

  • Tampa’s average salary (2020): $49,600
  • US average salary: $53,500
  • Tampa unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • US unemployment rate: 8.1%

Taxes in Tampa

One of the big reasons many people relocate to the state of Florida is its taxation rates. Florida is one of just seven states that lack an income tax (though residents will still need to pay the federal income tax).

  • The state charges a 6% tax rate on the sale or rental of goods, and residents of Tampa will need to pay the Hillsborough county sales tax of 1.5%.
  • When it comes to property taxes, Hillsborough county residents pay an average effective tax rate of .94% of a property’s assessed fair market value. 

What Our Local Realtor Has to Say

"If you want to live like you’re on vacation, Tampa can make that a possibility without a six-figure income. The cost of living in Tampa is still relatively low in comparison to other major metropolitan areas," explains Tampa-based buyer agent Leori Bolivar. "Having no state income tax helps you keep more money in your wallet. Also, property taxes are around 2%, which is reasonable in comparison to other major markets."

Further Reading

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